Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Collapse and a Clumsy Stumble

I stayed up last night watching my Braves as I have a hundred times before.  I was tense, but perhaps not as tense as I may have been in years past, or in different circumstances.  See, when a team like the Braves goes into a win-or-go-home game like last nights ended up being, but they have zero momentum, the game loses it's edge.  Given the way they have played in the last month, I had little confidence that even should the Braves advance past the best team in baseball with a fluke win, that they'd have anything left in the tank to battle St. Louis.  Once the game went extra innings, I began to think maybe it would just be better to end the suffering now rather than prolong the struggle of September. My wish was granted.  The game shaped up to be so emblematic of the last part of this year's Braves season: little offense with runners in scoring position, a key error here, too many walks there, a blown save, a squib hit by the other team and suddenly the season was over. 

I was sad for Atlanta, especially after such a close, competitive game.  My small glimmers of hope that they could get back into an upswing just in time just didn't materialize.  The old guys looked old (that's you, Chipper), the young guys looked tired and nervous (that's you Venters and Kimbrell).  They just had nothing left in the emotional or physical tank,  so they stumbled clumsily out of the playoffs.  Meanwhile the team with the hot hand did their job with an exclamation point - big run total, complete game shutout from Carpenter. 

At the close of the Braves game, I quickly turned to the other baseball, needing distraction.  And thank God I did.  I got to witness the other parts of what ESPN's Tim Kurkjian called one of the greatest nights of baseball he can remember.  The Rays stormed back, the BoSox looked sure to close it out.  So eerily similar though has their track with the Braves been this September, one had to wonder if their 3-2 lead...like Atlanta's...wasn't quite as secure as Papelbon's steely gaze.  And indeed, it was not.  And perhaps their 9th inning debacle was worse than the Braves' for they had 2 outs, and gave up both the tying, and winning run.  Not to mention that they gave them up to a team that, unlike the Phillies,  haven't seen the playoffs in years. 

I posted on Facebook when the O's tied the game. 
sorry Sox nation...but your misery is kinda making me feel better. kinda

At the time, I referred only to surrendering the tying run, and to their dismal September.  I had no idea that about 3 minutes later the O's would score the winner, then a few minutes after that, the Ray's would score their winner.  I had no idea the true misery that Boston would suffer within minutes.  But to be honest, as a sad Braves fan, it helped lift my spirits.   Like the same way that people with sad, hurt-filled lives watch sad, hurt-filled reality television because it makes their lot seem not quite so crazy.  Or how I feel when I watch Hoarders.  "Oh, well my house isn't THAT messy."

So, thank you Boston, for giving Braves fans the space to say, "Oh, well at least our team isn't THAT shameful."

Sure, my Bravos lost a big playoff lead, but with half the payroll of the Sox, with 2 starting pitchers injured for much of the season, other solid players nagged by injury, a young team and a new manager.  I will not write them off, just like I haven't all the previous years of enduring dissapointing post-season losses, or like I never did after the 80's Braves were laughable in their awfulness.  I still watched and cheered.  And I will still look forward to those four beautiful words that signal the advent of Spring Training.  "Pitchers and catchers report." It's not so very far away. 

In the meantime, Go Phils (that's for Jeff) and Go Tigers (that's for my Michigan family...and all of Detroit really). 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worth a Look

Somehow between my daughter's first day of "school," a girls weekend to Miami, the U.S. Open Finals, restart of Premiership and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I've managed to have nothing profound or exciting to write.  Or perhaps I've just been busy and satisfied at reading other people's thoughts. 

So on that note, I would encourage readers to visit Rachel Held Evans' blog and peruse the "Ask a _____ " series.  I haven't read all of them, but I have read enough to have great respect for both the readers kind, well-meaning questions, as well as the respondents honest answers.  It's not a perfect tour of a variety of viewpoints, but a nice entree into conversations.

Here's the link to the most recent iteration, "Ask a Gay Christian." You'll find links there to all the other participant Q&A's.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Still Believing? (A Sports Post)

 Hey, remember when I enthusiastically heralded the Klinsmann era, and revealed my not-so-secret crush on the U.S. Men's National Team coach?  It seems so very long ago.  Two losses later, I guess I'm still Krushing on Klinsmann, but with a firm dose of reality.  See, two losses and zero goals later, I'm realizing that no matter what kind of magic Jurgen can conjure he can't make up for the fact that our crop of players just isn't that good.

He was hired for this reason, and for that, I say give him time.  The naysayers will bark about formation, style, personnel, but let's face it, some of the Belgian subs looked more active and threatening than the U.S. starters.  Yes, we have our Donovan (whose impressive goal tally is largely PK's and who probably wouldn't start for a top-tier premiership team), Dempsey (won't dog him because he went to Furman and I like him), Boca and Cherundolo, and big supply of world class goalkeepers.  But the supporting cast just aren't good enough. 


Take the Belgian case.  While the Flemish and Walloons squabble about language and frites, immigrant kids are busy playing pick-up in Brussels parking lots and parks.  And they're the new national team.  Still a young group, and by no means a European powerhouse, but that Belgian team showed players with individual skill that far outmatched most of what I saw from the Americans.  And their team play wasn't too shabby either.  Was it a "dominant" performance, as one writer called it, by the winners?  No.  Was it only a friendly, meaning result is less important that experience? Yes.  

But it's a loss.  And in watching the last two losses, I'm seeing why and how past teams have featured the defend-big and boot it forward method. Because we're just not there yet with the possession, slick passing game.  Trying it with players that make poor first touches or innacurate passes can expose the team much more than the bunker-down, boot it forward method.

At the end of the day, I'm less annoyed with Jurgen, than with America.  Maybe there's a someday when our immigrant kids who grew up kicking the ball around tennis courts and dirt patches will become the next hope.   I think Klinsmann is looking to that day (hence his insistence on playing an outmatched Edgar Castillo), but it does not seem quite here.  With the possible exception of Texas-born Jose Torres.  I've always been a fan, and am excited that Klinsmann sees what he can add. The potential of a Da Silva like playmaker with good skill, hustle, and poofy hair.

But for now, we may have to be patient with the good German, hopeful for a future with better players, kids who are hungry for success.  Who eat, breathe and live the game.   Maybe the recent results are unimportant if Coach he has been just weeding out the no-go's to find the top tier.  And maybe, when that top group all comes together for games that actually mean something, they'll figure out how to score goals.  How to hold a lead.  How to look dominant.  Time will tell.  But in the meantime, perhaps that open International Friendly date in November should be with some small island nation that we can easily trounce.  Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dead Things in My Yard. For Real.

Buckley dog was doing that terse, unsure barking last night.  The kind that says, "I've got prey. I want to play with it, paw at it and such, but it's not moving."  Bark. Bark.  "MOVE, you stupid thing."

Our big Maglite is out of batteries, and missing.  I was in pajamas and barefoot so wasn't going to wander into the backyard to inspect what Buckley was hunched over.   I firmly yelled for him to come in immediately and to my surprise, he obliged.  I made a quick mental note to check the yard in the morning before letting him back out.

I forgot to check in the morning.  I wandered out on the back porch this evening with Hadley, then I saw it.  The prey.  Mouth agape, tiny teeth glowing, it's body rolled in red clay, and covered in flies.  I dared not touch the baby possum, and thankfully, Buckley was disinterested now that it was dead and unmoving.  With Hadley by my side I decided to return immediately inside and remove the carcass once she was in bed.  I should note here that Jeff is out of town all week, so I'm Weaver Animal Control this week. Dangit.

Tonight, as the light faded, I shoveled up the body.  Baked by the sun, eaten away and fly infested, the smell was putrid.  I quickly headed for the back of the yard, intending to hurl the little wretch into our neighbor's yard.  Yep. I'm that neighbor.  I mean, not usually, but in this case I felt my reasoning sound:   A. They're renters. B. the back corner of their yard is thickly overgrown and I'm sure no one goes back there since their children are older and they don't have pets.   C.  Since we have a clumsy dog who roams our yard looking for things, I shudder to think of the smell of his paws were he to accidentally step on the carcass, or God forbid, try to nuzzle it some more to try to bring it to life.

One flick of the shovel sent the little guy flying toward the neighboring underbrush.  But he hit a branch mid-flight and landed in thick ivy, on our side of the fence, in the very area where Buckley likes to roam around.  See, if Jeff would have been here, I would not have dealt with any of this.  As it was, my dead-possum juice covered shovel was making me gag already, and now I would have to go dig the thing out of the ivy for a second attempt.  Well the dang shovel kept snagging in the ivy, flinging the crumpled little beast here and there, spraying his stink around the edge of our yard.  Finally a clean pull, a furtive flick over the fence and the pest was gone.  But his odor lingered.

I sure hope Jeff is happy.  All his frolicking around Utah's canyons while I'm dealing with stinky dead things.  Blech.  I much prefer the sight of a dead zucchini plant to that grossness.

What would you have done with the dead possum?  Should I bring the neighbors cookies, just because?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Passive Aggressive Notes - Home Edition

This is a spray bottle of cleaner that I use around the house.  I mix it from a concentrate, but have marked the bottle so we know what it is. It has a lovely fresh lemon scent.
I have a habit of leave the bottle out on the counter instead of putting it away.  Most often this is because I intend to use it again somewhere, then forget or get distracted by another pressing issue, say, a toddler falling down the stairs or something.  Or its because I'm too lazy to pry the child lock off the under-sink cabinet.  My propensity for leaving out the Meyers spray frustrates Jeff.   I'm sure it's in an endearing way, like, "aww, that silly Katie always leaves the cleaning spray and aluminum foil out.  I'd sure miss that little quirk if she weren't around." Right? I'm sure it's endearing... 
One day I came home to find that Meyer's cleaner had a new label: 



Poor Spray, feels so abandoned on the counter, must have note instructing user what to do when user is finished.   I now refer to the Meyers as "Put Me Away Spray."  With this new moniker and new directive, I have gotten better about actually putting Spray away.  But clearly I've not been good enough.  My sickness must run deep, for I recently found this NEWER label written on the bottle:

Such high stakes now, with this new (passive?) aggressive note.  I like to think I put Spray away even more often now.  But my record is not peerless. Now, if Jeff sees "IfYouHateJeff" Spray out, he just lets out a beleaguered sigh. 

The bottle is running out of room for labels, but what note would you leave to get the Spray put away?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dead Things In My Yard

Call me what you will, "Brown Thumb," "Agent Orange," not in touch with my inner-Eve...er, I mean, can I even use that one now? Now that apparently she's not real anymore?  Regardless of the metaphor, the end result is that I don't do well with caring for the earth's bounty.  I wrote about my battle with the earth in more detail a few months ago, and THAT was when the weather was bearable.  So here I am, nearing the end of summer, still wanting to be an uber-spiritual, in-touch with the earth, steward of God's creation, but confessing that I just tend to kill things.

I have a friend who swears she has that effect on ministries.  Her heart is so big and willing to help people and affect changed, but, as she would tell it, things just tend to die when she comes on board.  She calls herself a "Ministry Albatross."  While I enjoy that metaphor, I try to assure her that it's not entirely true (though we can chuckle and list quite a few examples of her hypothesis).  However, there is no denying my fatal effect on plantlife (and probably some ministries).  Sad green and brown skeletons litter the grounds of my home.  And now some photographic evidence that though I love the earth, I'm not the best at caring for it.  Does God redeem our intentions?

Dead Basil. Probably could revive it with water. Maybe.


This used to be an English Laurel.  Where decorative plants have languished, weeds and pesky growth have flourished.

Foreground: Zucchini Plant. Yielded approximately 2 before it's untimely death. Background: Dead carrots, and other stuff.

Dying Boston Fern. Dying other plant.  (Remaining flowering plant is fake.)
Dead flat-leaf parsley.  I came to water it the other day and it was covered with caterpillars. This was the net result. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Streaking

Yesterday, the 2nd basemen with the awkwardly large upper body had his hit streak snapped at 33 games.  That player, of course, is Dan Uggla who plays for my home team Braves.  It's always nice to have a home-towner getting press from such a streak as his, but I honestly can't say I wanted him to break the great DiMaggio's streak.  I mean, Uggla went into it hitting under .200, his own streak of miserable hitting had earned him the name "StrUggla."   But he turned it around, and raised his average like 30 points and has helped the Braves win, but still be almost out of spittin' distance with the insanely winning Phillies.

Sports, and baseball in particular, is a stats-driven game.  What would it all be without the numbers to tell us who is good and who needs improvement?   How else would we compare athletes from one generation to the next?  For what other purpose would Fox use their over-the-top animation graphics?   Goalkeepers can have a shut-out streaks, a basketball player may make 25 straight free throws, a quarterback can have a streak of completed passes, what kind of streaks to I aim for in my non stats-driven world?   What is the measure of sucess on a day to day basis for Joe Everyman?   What could I do 33 days in a row that would be record-book worthy?

Hm....If I made home-cooked dinner for 33 days straight, that'd be impressive.  If I made a home-cooked, from scratch dinner for 3 days straight that would be a feat.  I'm thinking of the DiMaggios in this realm, the marathoners who feed their families multi-colored plates of goodness every night.  Now that's a streak.   Or what if I had a streak where I responded to all emails within 24 hours for 33 straight days.  It would be unbelievable, SportsCenter worthy, right? 


What would your streak be? What would be a feat for you to do for 33 straight days?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oh, More Mr. Nice Guy?

Last night while watching the pre and post-game commentary and interviews surrounding the U.S. Men's National Team Friendly against Mexico, I was struck with how NICE Jurgen Klinsmann seems.  The recently hired head coach was utterly positive after a very lackluster first half performance by his new team.  He smiled comfortably, vowing that there was still time to play, saying he was pleased with how things had gone for the first 45.

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Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
(Womanly Aside)

But, oh, that smile.  Here's a little tidbit overheard in the Weaver living room last night before kick-off.  Me: "Ya know, I think I have a little crush on Jurgen Klinsmann."  Jeff:  "Yea, me too."

Hm, okay, well that was easy.  Like Jurgen is easy on the eyes I guess.  I don't know whether it's that aformentioned smile that exudes a coolness and nonplussed confidence, or whether its the physique that leads one to believe he could still keep up with the pros in a pick-up game.  Maybe it's the European tan, the steely eyes or the German accent, now heavily Americanized.

"He looks like my people," I said to Jeff last night.  And maybe that's it, strangely, that his German features are so very similar to my Uncle, Father, Grandfather and so on that they seem comfortable to me.  Not exotic, just ruggedly good looking like my Uncle was at his age.  Add to that his impressive soccer lineage, and my hopes for his impact on my home-country's national program and well, there's magnetism.

The only thing I find slightly worrisome about any of this discussion, however, is that my attractions are now turning from players to coaches.  Lord, am I getting that old?  I remember going to England in 1999 and seeing a post-card of Michael Owen in his England kit and having an instant crush on him.  I bought the postcard, hung it in my college apartment for several months after returning.  Sure, I still think he's great looking, but now I also pine after Klinsmann, Leonardo, Guardiola?  Yea, I'll admit it, I even think Mourinho is attractive.  You younguns can have your Jack Wilshere's and Chicharitos, I apparently am moving on to the old guys.  Sheesh.

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Kinsmann's smiling and positivity before, during and after the game wasn't in pure opposition to his predecessor, it just had added notes of positivity. Perhaps because he had more inflection in his voice than a Speak N Spell, something which Bob Bradley usually lacked.  But my first thought upon hearind Klinsmann during his half-time interview was how much it reminded me of Pia Sundhage, another tanned European U.S. National Team coach.

Commentators seemed often bemused by Sundage's positivity during the Women's World Cup, even in the face of poor play, or frustrating calls.  But by the end of the tournament, we all expected it, and for me personally, quite liked it.  The the key result for Sundhage wasn't to ensure that critics and fans liked her glass-half-full approach, but to ensure that her team responded to it.  And they did, in a World Cup Final kind of way.

So does all this happy-clappy on the sidelines represent a turning-tide in sport from the rough-and-tumble venom-spewing macho-men inciting fear in their players?  Are we past the days of the Woody Hayes', Bear Bryants, by God, the Bo Schembechlers ?  Sure, maybe the gridiron is different, but maybe not. Perhaps even the tough-as-nails ranks of college and professional football are falling prey to the nice guy epidemic.  Are we in for more Tony Dungy mentor-types? More Mark Richt's. Sure, they might yell at you in the locker room, but then they pass you a note with an encouraging bible verse and ask about how your sick grandmother is doing. These guys are positive, kumbah-ya coaches and players like playing for them.

Shiny Happy Players

The Wall Street Journal featured a marginally scientific inquiry into the amount of body contact done by NBA playoff teams as it relate to their success.  Wouldn't you know it that the Dallas Mavericks, the most affectionately touchy team on the court went on to win the big trophy.  Those guys were always hugging, butt-patting, chest bumping and high-fiving.  Clearly, positivity pays.  (Interesting note that one of the ring-leaders in this hug-fest was German star Dirk Nowitski. Maybe we'd all be happier if we ate more brats and drank more beer. Hm.)

I've seen this happy trend on the Braves bench this year, too.  The team is transitioning from future hall-of-fame manager Bobby Cox, one of the planets most fantastically lovable, crotchety old guys to Fredi Gonzalez, a smiley, portly, low-key latino whose first name ends in "i" (seriously? Does he dot it with a heart? ).  And you know what I've noticed this year?  More hugging.  Sure, we loved Bobby's dirt-kicking, spitting, red-faced antics, but maybe Fredi's laid-back style is bringing a new sensibility to even the dirtiest, manliest place on earth - the baseball dugout. 

Wednesday night at the U.S. - Mexico game, there was an awful lot of hugging. Coach on coach hugging. Player on player, coach on player etc.  Klinsmann's first reaction in the post-game interview: "I really had fun." What coach says that? And after a tie no less.  But you could tell he meant every word of it.  That positivity seemed to trickle down to his players, even 11 days in.  I'm pretty sure I saw him tell sub Ricardo Clark (who plays in Germany) to "Mach SpaB" (that means "have fun" in German) as he ran onto the field.  Macht SpaB, eh? Naturlisch.

So, whether or not we are in a new Nice-guy era of sport, U.S. soccer is at least in a slightly upgraded version of that with Herr Kinsmann.  And I'd be happy and proud to find myself in the middle of that hug-fest.  Ja? Bitte?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In Georgia Augusts, I Dream of Seattle

Nothing makes me long for the Pacific Northwest more than late summer in Atlanta.  By this time of year my patience is worn thin with sticky mornings and evenings, and unbearable afternoons littered with thunderstorms that seem to do nothing to break the humidity's stranglehold.  But yet, every third day or so by this time of year, you catch a fleeting breeze that cools, that doesn't carry the burden of 70% water.  It sneaks in, cools your face and sends a reminder of what summer in Seattle can feel like.

Three years ago, in an August much like this one, Jeff and I headed west to visit family, soak in nature, and cool our internal temperatures a few degrees.  We hiked, strolled, boated, ate and played frisbee in beautiful places.  We had sun, drizzle, downpours, fog, sometimes in the same day.  We loved it. 

While I toil to till the parched earth of our fledgling garden and rue the damage that critters have wrought on everything but the zucchini (it just died from lack of water.  Sorry old boy.), I think of my uncle's garden in Kent.  How plump and delicious the blueberries were as I picked hundreds of them, my mouth watering in anticipation of eating every one.  I think of how awestruck I was by the massive, "pesky" weed of a blackberry bush gone rampant across from Uncle Bernie and Aunt Karen's house.  I had to run back to the house for buckets, tupperware, whatever I could grab that would hold the bounty of those deep purple blackberries.  My Aunt and Uncle seemed indifferent to my collecting the sweet fruit, while I acted as if I'd never seen a bush nor tree bear anything but leaves in my life.   That is Seattle, bountiful in rain, thereby bountiful in beautiful flowers, summer fruits and vegetables and rich green grass.  The reward of the gloom I suppose.

So as I wallow in the heat of Georgia's August, I dream of Seattle, and Vancouver and the San Juans, and how one day I'll show Hadley these places because they are so stunningly beautiful.  

Points if you can name where each of the following was taken. (and if you guess "Katie's Uncle's back yard" on that last one, you're genius)






 


Monday, August 08, 2011

Stages of Conversion

I'm completely lifting this from someone who lifted this from someone who lifted this.  I'm not sure what the blogosphere / social networking term for all that is, but it may involve more hat tips than a debutante ball.

I picked it up from Pithless Thoughts, a very funny, honest blogger who I check in on once in a while.  He is an Orthodox Christian, and I believe perhaps the original poster is as well;  however, I'm sure that believers of all shapes and stripes have seen this process, at least a few stages through. I know I have, probably several times.  Have you?

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(from Steve at Pithless Thoughts )

Stages of Conversion

I don't think I have ever lifted a complete blog post from someone else's blog (though I've quoted and recommended a few... very few).  Silouan posted this on Facebook and I read it. It is about the process of "converting", something many or most of us have done.  I'm posting it because I don't want to take the chance that you won't take time to click the link.

Wisdom, let us attend!
____________________________________________
It doesn't seem to matter what version of the Christian faith you join, because this seems to be a near-universal process:

Phase 1: The Cage Phase
So you've found your new tradition, and you've finally discovered all the answers to life's problems encompassed within it. You've also read a few books that explain how every other Christian tradition (especially the one you just left) has absolutely ruined the piss out of the Christian faith as a whole. As God's apostle to the unconverted, it now falls upon you to save the world (especially your friends and family in the old tradition) by enlightening them as to just how perfect everything is about your new tradition and how stupid and wrong everything about their current tradition is. It is very important for you to have a blog during this time so that you can enlighten as many people as possible.

Phase 2: Addiction
After having ruined all your relationships from your past life, you are now disillusioned with the willful ignorance and impiety of all those outside your new church. Let the heretics stew in their heresy. It is now time to busy yourself with drinking as much religious Kool-Ade as you possibly can, preferably until your skin becomes the same color as Purplesaurus Rex and your body's pH levels are completely thrown off. You need to read every theological or devotional book you can, buy lots of the assorted trinkets associated with your tradition, and make lots of pilgrimages to either theology conferences or monasteries, depending on how your church rolls.

Phase 3: Apostle of Renewal
You've recently noticed that most of the other people in your church are not nearly as obsessed with it as you are. They aren't reading those books, and they aren't buying all that crap you've strewn your house with. They're more concerned with paying the bills than why those awful sectarians are wrong. They even have friends outside the church! Many of them are not aware just how right and perfect their church is, or how great their lives would be if they would just fling themselves with total abandon into the kind of obsession you yourself have. This is clearly a problem that must be fixed, for it threatens to destroy the purity of the faith. As God's chosen agent of change, you busy yourself with trying to whip up everyone in the congregation into the same frothing devotion you yourself exhibit.

Phase 4: Beaten by Reality
You've finally faced the harsh truth: The people in your new tradition are, at their core, a whole lot like all those people from your old tradition that you despised so much, with all the same foibles and failings. You give up on saving the world, on restoring your tradition to its purity, and have lost your confidence that God himself has appointed you to fix everything. You've discovered that your new church in fact has a lot of ugliness in its history, has a lot of jerks in its power structure, can't solve all of life's problems, and isn't always all that consistent or believable in what it teaches or what it does.

Phase 5, Option 1: The Rat Leaves the Ship
Clearly, you were had. You thought you had found the One True Perfect Tradition, but you were deceived. You know what you must do--find the tradition that really does get it all right, because it must be out there. Back to Phase 1 for you!

Phase 5, Option 2: Complete Disillusionment
You have realized, perhaps after going through this cycle several times, that you are perhaps the only sincere, thinking Christian in the world. Everyone else is a hypocrite or a dunce, and all these corrupt denominations and hierarchies have ever accomplished is completely screwing up everything. Completely embittered at the idea of organized religion, you isolate yourself in order to go be a true follower of Christ without all those awful other people screwing things up. If you meet some like-minded folk, you start meeting up with them in order to transcend organized religion by organizing a religion. It's very likely that you eventually realize that all religious people are deluded fools and become an atheist or agnostic.

Phase 5, Option 3: Partial Disillusionment and Accommodation
After facing the harsh reality in Phase 4, you've further realized that phases 1 through 3 ought to be renamed "Jackass," "Nutjob," and "Know-it-All," respectively, which suggests that you are, for the most part, much worse at being a decent human being than all those people too stupid and impious to realize how awesome your new religion is. While many of the reasons that you had for joining your current tradition remain, and thus so do you, you decide it's time to cut yourself, your church, everyone else's churches, and rest of the world some slack.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Instant Replay

Last night's 19 inning marathon of a baseball game between the Braves and the Pirates not only gave baseball fans something to talk about for it's longevity, but gave way to a fresh new debate on the use of replay in baseball.  Fortunately, my team, the Braves, were on the lucky end of the questionable (okay, flat wrong) call, but as a game-decider it is unfortunate it had to come down to one man's split-second decision based on eyes that must have been tired after over 6 hours of calling balls and strikes. 

So what is baseball to do with this quandary.  Always one to hold out in the wake of technology's onslaught, America's game still holds to it's traditions. But when a call can mean a win or a loss, is it worthwhile to use technology?  Before I speculate further on whether baseball should go 21st century, I"ll comment briefly on a few other sports and use of replay.

Football.  The use of instant replay is so annoying in football, particularly the NFL (I can't even think of what the CFB rules are on replay).  That is not to say I don't think it's important, but more that I value my Sunday afternoons too much to have games last for 4 hours because guys in stripes are huddled under dark hoods for 15% of the time.  Maybe, just maybe, replay adds to the suspense of the game, but it also adds on precious minutes to a game that last for hours but where only a small percentage of those hours are actually people playing football.  The challenge system is a decent way to reign in the chaos of having open season on every close call, so for that I'm thankful, but in a game like football, you win some, you lose some, just let  them play.

Soccer.  For being as pitifully (at least according to most American sports fans) low scoring a sport as soccer is, it is inbelievably intense for that same reason.  One goal can make the difference in a game, and often does.  For this reason, I am wholly in favor of using technology for goal-line calls.  That soccer has lagged on this for as many years as it has when similarly goal-scant sports like pro hockey have had it for a while is puzzling.  Perhaps the fear is that using replay would interfere with one of soccer's greatest strengths, it's predictable time-frame.  Games last 2 hours. That's it. Tournament games can have overtimes, but even then, the utilization of penalty kicks still puts a firm end to the contest (different argument for a different day).  Since goals are so scarce, I feel that simply adding goal-line technology would do little to slow the pace or tempo of the game.  Were technology to be expanded in soccer, the next logical tiers would be to add off-side "invisible lines" which could simply buzz a line-judge if he missed a call. That's do-able right?  The second use, which would likely involve replay, would be on corner vs. goal kicks.  Because set pieces can change games, and who kicked a ball out of bounds isn't so much a judgment call (as it would be with say, a trip or a handball), I can see an argument for using technology there.  But in all, I like the flow of soccer without over-teching it, save on goal-line calls.

Tennis.  Love technology in tennis.  Those nifty shot-spots are quick, conclusive and truly can affect match outcomes.  Allotting a certain number of challenges to players means its not a line-call free-for-all, but that at key stages, a player can question the ability of a line-judge standing 8-10 feet from where a 130mph serve hits the court. 

So back to baseball.  As America's game loses traction to college and pro football, both of which have replay, adding some technology could help with fan rapport.  Plus, games are already long, so what's a few extra minutes to ensure a call is right.  From an umpire's perspective, while the use of replay may be a ding to my pride, ultimately it would also take some weight off my shoulders.  Don't you think that 1st base ump who missed the out call, thereby thwarting a kid's no-hitter chance would have liked some back-up?  If last night's umpire knew that replay technology was part of the game, he might not feel so bad this morning. 

I have the utmost respect for officials in every professional sport (Women's World Cup officials not withstanding), and particularly for baseball umpires.  I find it astounding that over more than a century of close calls, those guys have gotten it right about 90% of the time, maybe more.  But they get it wrong a few times, which is why I think I'm in favor of replay for base calls. Balls and strikes, no way, lets keep SOME drama in the game. But because of the importance of runners on base, allow managers challenges, just like in the NFL.

I would only hope that said challenge system would not do away with portly guys over 50 in tight pants waddling out of their respective dugouts to get in the face of umpires.  Because that is a classic part of baseball that no gentleman (or lady ) would want to lose.

What are your thoughts on instant replay / technology in baseball ? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Perspective

My love of sports is both a blessing and a curse. 
Most acutely on days like today.  

Let me explain.  The U.S. Women's soccer team has given soccer a front page billing for the past few weeks and given me a reason to delight again and again in the joy of sport.  Their 11th hour comeback against Brazil, their thorough defeat of a resilient French team; it all seemed to be a perfect segue for a championship.  But they lost, after dominating the game against a smaller, overmatched Japan team, somehow they lost.  I left the house with 15 minutes to play, the girls up 2 goals to 1 in the second overtime.  I headed to a tennis match. And while the fate of the US soccer team unravelled, my tennis-playing fate soon followed.  Up 5-0 in the decisive 3rd set, my partner and I somehow then lost 5 consequetive games, ultimately losing in a tie-breaker.

I wanted so desperately to throw things, storm off, because really I made too many errors. Just tooooo many errors particularly down that stretch.  Ugh, it's so massively frustrating because of the high respect and love I have for sport.  That when I fail, choke, crumble. It's devastating.  

I returned with great hope, to finish out the rest of the recorded soccer match and at least have something to celebrate.  But another collapse played out in front of me.  I suppose the blow was not so harsh watching it on tape, but the message was clear.  Sport deals harsh blows as much as it deals great glory.   Now I think back on the 2 sporting collapses tonight and feel gutted. Betrayed by the thing that I love so much. But I suppose that's what love is, and what it means sometimes:  failure, redemption and everything in between.

But while I feel depressed by losses, I'm reminded of friends and family whose life has dealt them anguish that sport has only temporarily inflicted on me today.  Broken marriages, illness, the loss of loved ones seem to abound when you've walked this planet long enough, and most particularly of late.

When sport, or even life deals me blows that leave me scowling or frustrated, I can't help but look to the things I'm thankful for.  As I came in the house from my match, my precious daughter was there smiling and saying "Mommy!"  She had been well-cared-for by my dear husband while I was gone.  And this made me very happy.  I held her tight and felt the rush of anger and aggression I had experienced moments earlier just dissipate. 

The U.S. lost to a Japan team whose nation still reels from loss, destruction and heartbreak wrought by the spring tsunami.  If anyone has perspective on sport, it is that team.  I'm glad that for these moments and days to come they can celebrate with their teammates and countrymen the joy and unity of sport. I'm sad it's at my teams expense, but that's the way it goes sometimes in life and in sport.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Journals on Journeys

A Slow Journey, a Long Pathphoto © 2008 Cristian V. | more info (via: Wylio)



It is Monday of Holy Week.  The end of this fast and season seemed so far away a few weeks ago, it's hard to believe it's already just a few days before Good Friday.  As usual, I feel not as entered in as I'd like.  My great intentions for shutting down Facebook, Twitter, and constant gazing at my phone have been rationalized away so not much is different I suppose from last week.  

I do feel a bit of the added weight to pray.  I feel more a draw to silence.  And I've been reflective.  In particular, these past 2 days have been a picture of reminiscing.  We went yesterday to St. Patrick's Episcopal church.  I grew up in that  church.  I was baptized there, went to Sunday school there, had first communion, first children's play, first friends, first youth group, all that stuff.  There. In that early-80's "modern" building with the courtyard and the giant Jesus.  Then one day it was all over.  Our summer of discontent, or rather, my parents' summer of discontent abruptly ended our life at the only church we'd known.  Their views too liberal, their leadership to haughty, whatever it was, we were out, and with us several other families, and eventually many of the youth leaders and peers I'd known.  The classic church split.  I did okay, I was sad I couldn't go back to the EYC room anymore, but our newly forming church made of the rebellious defectors was a neat experience for me, in its own right.  

But being back on Sunday brought back sadness, memories of lock-ins and bible studies and our Montessori Sunday school.  I still remember the blue walls, toddling around from station to station.  And I remember the painting of Jesus with all the little children coming to him.  (it was always a bit of an artsy fartsy church).  The building is nearly unchanged, save some additional Celtic paraphernalia, and by God, some icons. Score.  Definitely didn't have those when we were there, I think the St. Patrick icon now presides in the nook formerly reserved for that (in)famous 70's laughing Jesus drawing.  

There was less charisma this time around.  For better or for worse, the congregation seems to have evolved out of that a bit.  Not that it was staunch and southern Episcopalian, but it wasn't hands-raising, tongues-speaking, words-of-knowledge charismatic.  But I still recognized a dozen faces.  Faces more seasoned than I remember them, with more salt than pepper in their hair, but familiar no less.

Memories. Bad ones faded, good ones flood back, and I chuckle at the comedy of what-ifs.  What if we wound up back there.  On this wacky journey of faith and church that we are on.  (could I ever tell my parents!?).  They certainly were more scarred from the battles than I.

And today, as I rolled yesterday's palm Sunday experience around like stones in my hand, I ran into an old friend.  A friend of the blissful Redeemer days.  Those days when I met Jesus in a new and different way, when the Gospel came alive.  When this guy with a handlebar moustache and veiny forearms demonstrated such love and openness I couldn't believe it.  And there he was in Trader Joe's, sans the moustache, but still with the lines of time and experience on his face, and designer pants.  Yes, I've seen him now and again since he was fired from Redeemer.  Even since he separated from my friend Lauren.  But today brought back this hint of certain joy that I once had about church and community.  Upon reflection, that joy has given way to sadness that I don't have that same affection any longer.  But I love the memories of those times - my courtship with Jeff, Twister at Susan's apartment, Abby, the Portico, worship in the Chamblee UMC gym, John Thomas, the DeLoach's spooky artwork, walking to church, community weekends in highlands talking about Dallas Willard and Kierkegard, etc., etc.  

Journey's go on, and sadness happens, and leavings happen, and, as Greg said today, God is SO patient.  When we want it Now Now, He sees the bigger picture.  In this bigger picture I have lots of fond memories, and I have to believe there are more still, even as I struggle to see what is immediately ahead. 

Is there a place that is particularly poignant as a marker in your journey?  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vinyl

Today is “Record Store Day,” commemorating all the independent record stores out there, and folks who are, presumably, still selling records. Those honest-to-god vinyl spherical objects with lots of tiny ridges.  It’s got me thinking about records: the first record I heard, the ones I played all the time and what is in my digital collection now that would sound amazing on vinyl. 


I think that the first vinyl I ever heard was Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes.  My mom had this collection of 45’s that I’d give anything for now.  Beach boys, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis. God, what happen to those 45’s?  I think she had a little 45 player, too.  It opened at the top like a jewelry box and was maroon on the inside.  

When I was older, we’d listen to records on the “nice” stereo.  I think my dad brought it into the marriage.  My  parents record collection was varied to be sure.  As a kid, I mostly liked the showtunes, like Oklahoma! and Carousel and Guys and Dolls.  I would leaf through those big square record jackets and look at the ones that looked interesting.  In between the Streisand and Johnny Mathis, I pulled the Mamas and the Pappas, all nestled so cutely in their little bathtub on the cover.  And Janis Joplin, this funky looking brunette lounging on a couch holding a SoCo on ice, who I discovered had soul like I’d never heard before.  When the record player got moved from the family room to the upstairs, I’d sit up there in the old mustard-color lounge chair and listen to Janis, and Simon and Garfunkel, and the Hair Soundtrack, and feel entirely hippie and cool. 

But it was more than feeling cool, I like to think that good music transcends generations.  I must have know somewhere in me that what I was hearing was GOOD music.

The first vinyl I ever bought with my own money was Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon.  Looking back, I love how vinyls lent themselves to listening to a whole album.  And that is a great album.  It was work to switch from song to song. You couldn’t just skip to the big hits, when you had a vinyl you had an album, crafted by the artist as such.  I surely age myself by lamenting what we’ve lost with music’s digital age, but there’s just something warm about a record.

Thinking about my current collection of digitized music, albums numbering in the hundreds, there are some that I’d love to hear on vinyl.  Probably anything Radiohead would take on a ethereal stripped of digital fanciness.  Artists like Iron & Wine or Nick Drake seem almost made for the analog simplicity of vinyl. I’d like to hear that. And of course anything Beastie Boys, mostly just because they’d want to be heard on vinyl. 


What was the first record you remember hearing? Buying?
What’s in your collection that would sound better on vinyl?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Buckley O'Weaver

As we lead up to St. Patrick's day, I felt it appropriate to do a tribute post to the Irishman in the house....our dog.

Here reads the description of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier from the AKC website (emphasis added): 

A truly Irish breed, the "Wheaten" has a special connection to St. Patrick's Day, having first appeared in the show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937. The name of this breed describes the characteristics of the coat–soft, silky, with a gentle wave, and of warm wheaten color. 

Underneath is a formidable dog that enjoys plenty of exercise every day. Most Wheatens are natural greeters towards people, and extremely alert in their surroundings. They are quick learners and love to travel with their owners. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1973. 

Known for more than 200 years in Ireland, the "Wheaten" shares common ancestry with the Kerry Blue and the Irish Terrier, but was not owned by the landed gentry. They were the poor man's dog, an all-purpose farm dog, given to patrolling the borders of small farms, ridding them of vermin, herding sheep and hunting with his master.


Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other terriers but they are true terriers and will be more active than many other breeds, enjoying plenty of exercise every day. They relate well to children and can adapt to city, country, and suburban life. The Wheaten is single coated and sheds minimally, but needs regular grooming to keep its coat mat free.

Clearly we picked the right breed for our family since we are not, in fact, landed gentry (despite the fact that we currently own 2 properties. Ugh. More on that another time).   Buckley has been a fantastic dog for us, first as a newlyweds, then as parents of a baby, now toddler.  He is exceptional with our little girl, and she loves him.  In fact, every morning, when her fussing gets loud enough to rouse me from slumber, I go into her room, pull her out of her crib and the first thing she says is not "mama!" or "baba (bottle)", it's "woof woof." 

Descriptions are correct that this breed needs lots of activity.  Even from his youngest days he has been a great walking, jogging and hiking companion with seeming boundless energy.  The downside to that energy is that he has always been a leash puller, despite our best (well, sort of ) efforts at training.  And his energy is only limited by the temperature and length of his coat.  See, Wheatens, or at least our Wheaten, get uncomfortably hot pretty easily.  One sunny Saturday, we took young Buckley  to a hike up Blood Mountain.  Once we'd reached the top, poor pup was hot and thirsty, seeking water at any cost.  He found a small, stagnant mud puddle and proceeded to roll himself completely around in the gray soupy muck, much to the chagrin of passers-by.  We were frozen, wanting to pull his squirmy body out of the nastiness, yet entranced by the spectacle.  Gosh he was dirty after that. That's our Buckley, sad eyes, playful heart.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to our little Irishman.  Maybe we'll give him a sip of beer tomorrow....just to watch him sneeze.  Works every time.

Will you be celebrating your Irish Heritage on the 17th...or just wearing green so you don't get hassled by co-workers and store clerks?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Woman Vs. Nature

The weather was stunningly beautiful in Georgia this weekend.  It's that time of year here when the mornings and evenings are cool enough where you wish you had an extra layer when you go to your friends house for a cookout.  The days are warm in the sun, cool in the shade, and the pollen isn't so thick that you feel like you're breathing through cheesecloth. That time will come...soon.  For weeks in the spring, and a few weeks in the fall, my husband and I quell our "Atlanta sucks" grumbles and enjoy weekends like this one. 

After a couple hours of pick-up soccer with our regular Saturday crew, my body ached a bit, yet somehow because of the blissfully sunny, temperate day, I was motivated to do yard work.  I have an odd relationship to yard work, not unlike my relationship to running, I suppose.  I feel good and satisfied when it's over, but I don't really enjoy myself while I'm doing it.  I so want to be the person whose soul is deeply satisfied by digging in rich soil, pulling weeds, mowing lawns, raking leaves.  I want to love nature and feel in harmony with it, not at war, as I often do when I'm bagging endless piles of leaves.  On paper, I should really enjoy yardwork:  I'm a self-confessed tough-girl, love the outdoors, hiking, etc.  I grew up in the country (that is now more suburb than woodlands, but that's another story) running around barefooted in creeks and leafpiles.  I love sports and physical exercise, but doggone if working in the yard doesn't just make me feel itchy and sweaty.  My husband would be the first to attest at my absolute prissy attitude toward anything resembling outdoor chores.  I huff and puff with the lawnmower cutting uneven rows, grumbling about how sweaty I'm getting.  I hate getting scrapes and burns from pulling underbrush and thistles.  My back aches after planting flowers.  Bagging leaves, the chore which I so heroically took on Saturday, is a total drag.  But, determined to conquer my bad attitude, I marched up the hill like the Grand Old Duke of York, hoping and praying Jeff would see my self-sacrifice and be impressed with my valor.  Trying to look muscly and tough, my workrate was really quite paltry. I think I filled 5 or 6 bags, but not without knocking them over, bending the sides with the rake so the big bundle you have squeezed between rake surface and (elbow-length gloved) hand goes careening over the side of the toddling bag and back to the ground.  Boo. 

I hope I will grow to appreciate tilling the soil and working the land.  It's quite Biblical (like as in, God cursed Adam with the duty after he ate the dadgum apple and blamed Eve).  But perhaps I need a few more years of wisdom.  I think of my grandparents and how Grandpa Evan would spend hours chopping logs.  He built up a woodpile the size of a school bus and he must've figured axe therapy was a hell of a lot cheaper than paying a shrink. AND, you could have endless hours of warmth in the hearth. My Oma in Michigan had a cherry tree in her back yard that she would tend to and yield gorgeous fruit from. She took pride in her beautiful rosebushes that lined the fence.  Yes I hope for that patient wisdom that desires to garden, with all it's joys and frustrations.  But for now, I just have to confess that this prissy missy would MUCH rather be playing soccer on Saturdays than getting pesky dirt under my fingernails.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Theology Thursday: Lent and Parenting

I remembered! It's Thursday, and while I'd planned to do some sort of more focused Lent-related post today -  You know, why do it, some good resources, etc. - I will instead share a journal entry I made this morning.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. - Prov 3

One of today's readings, and SUCH a familiar passage, but one we need to say to ourselves every hour probably.  There is too much that I fret about, try to control, or think I am wise about.  Yes, He has enabled me some wisdom, but His is infinitely greater.

Parenting is humbling, and an arena wherein I trust God too little, nor do I trust myself much, honestly.  The past week or so has been trying as our little 15 month old has more an more of a mind of her own, and has been especially whiny and needy.  Her naps have been sporadic, and her night sleep on occasion as well.  Of course poor sleep begets poor sleep and makes little babies fussy.  Whether it’s teething, pollen, bad parenting or just a phase, I have felt anger well up in me this week that has surprised me.

Yesterday, the first day that we took on the discipline of our Lenten fast, is of course when I was stretched by her.  It was rainy and gloomy, I was hungry much of the day, Jeff had a late meeting so was not home until after she was in bed.  At some point in the afternoon, I attempted (for a second time) to put her down for a nap.  I KNEW she was tired, and I had loads of things to do but she just cried and stomped and would NOT sleep.  I jerked open the door to her room and yelled “what!” We were both taken aback I think, She stopped her whining for a moment and I felt immediately awful and morphed into kinder tones. But inside, oh inside my blood was boiling, and I'm pretty sure I hated her in that moment. 


Whether it was the enemy’s temptations on our first day of Lent, or God’s tender discipline and exposing of my heart I know not, but I am yet again reminded how much I need Him.  Later we took a trip to the gym just so I could put her in the childcare and get a breather for an hour. When I picked her up she started crying and didn’t stop until we were home.  The anger and bitterness started to well up yet again, even after listening to an hour podcast on the Purpose of Lent and getting me all pumped up!  Of course in hindsight, it seems one of the purposes of Lent is exactly that, to expose our hidden anger, bitterness and pride.  But dang, day 1, really!?  

I dreaded the evening ahead, counting the hours until Jeff got home and I could shower or just be away.  But you know, after she had a snack and some milk, she turned a corner.  Suddenly she was my sweet little girl again and we just rolled on the floor and I tickled her til she couldn’t control her giggles.  It was incredibly sweet, a moment of clarity within my little doom loop.  Despite the struggles, she brings us great joy and I’m so thankful. 

Lesson learned. For now.  I'm sure it will be promptly forgotten if the same thing happens next week. So a final Theology Thursday point to that ends:  we need Lent, and other holidays and feasts that happen every year, over and over again like the seasons.   Our memories are incredibly short, at least mine is. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Anniversary

Jeff and I got married seven March 6ths ago.  While we've never been big on celebrations, we felt like this one needed some extra love.  Seven years and one baby in we decided on a little getaway.  Not too far, so as to burden any friend or family member with caring for our baby for too long, but away enough to feel...away.  It's amazing what thrills you when you become a parent, and this anniversary weekend for me, was completely emblematic of what its like to celebrate US as we are now, still in love, but in very different ways than we were 7 years ago. 

What Would You Do With a Free Day?

Our actual anniversary fell on Sunday, so we decided to celebrate Saturday night.  But first, the weekend kicked off with me getting a day to myself.  Jeff took off work and agreed to keep Hadley all day Friday.  I left fairly early,  contented to sip coffee and read the paper in peace at a local coffee shop (insert quick trip to tag office - a day cannot be entirely non-functional).  I then meandered to the mall to make some returns and try on a bunch of clothes at Anthropologie (long story). I took FOREVER.  If you've ever shopped with me (that's you mom and sister!) you know it can be laborious. Well I could think of nothing better to do without the encumbrance of time constraints than to shop for clothes.  WHY do I take so long? Because I don't like doing it. I'm too analytical about purchase decisions, I'm not entirely comfortable with my body or how I look in clothes and I hate spending money.  But anniversary Friday, I psyched myself up and I actually enjoyed the pampering of the dressing room attendant (well, "enjoyed" may be a strong word, lets just say the whole thing didn't make me all sweaty red-faced.  I think mostly because I had the luxury of time. ).  I even ended up with some clothes that I (might) like.

After a fairly successful shop stop, I got my eyebrows waxed. That's pamper-ey right? Then, almost thoroughly me-ed out, I went home, even managing to ignore the whines of my girl as I whisked back out the gym.  As evening drew near, I took a long long shower, then the three of us went out for Mexican food.  It was fun and by the end of the day I felt incredibly relaxed.

Will Trade Childcare for Laundry

View of Atlanta from our room
As for Saturday night, an oh-so-generous friend volunteered to watch our daughter for the night, under the condition that she could do laundry at our place.  Uuuh.  Deal.  She said that theyhad a grand old time, and Jeff and I, well we did too.  While the fancy hotel and overpriced sushi place were amazing, I truly think we enjoyed the little things with most pleasure.  We sat in the hotel's lovely lobby sipping 5 o'clock beers, reading the paper and joking with each other about what conference must be in town to gather the odd variety of people milling about.  I took a LONG bath in the incredibly comfy big bathtub in the hotel room. We pulled back the curtains and just stared at the Atlanta skyline, gray and rainy though it was that dusk.  We took our time at dinner, ordered expensive things (I had to breathe deeply and be re-assured by Jeff many times that this was okay to do once in a while).  We walked arm in arm to and from dinner, through the chilly rain, and it was lovely.


When in Buckhead....Act Like You're in England

One of the delights of being "away" was the prospect of sleeping in.  Given that our little bundle of joy has a bit of an early waking habit, sleeping in past 7, and waking of our own volition was a luxury to anticipate.  Unfortunately, Jeff was up at 5, and I at 7, unable to get back to sleep.  BUT, at least we were able to just relax.  We sipped hotel-room coffee and read the paper propped on cushy feather pillows.  It was fabulous.

Our kind babysitter took Hadley to church Sunday morning, so we knew we were free until noon.  But rather than visit a museum, or pop over to Lenox to shop some more, we felt it fitting to enjoy our child-free time together by going to a nearby pub to watch an English League soccer match.  This is another luxury which we don't enjoy very often, watching those 8:30am European games in a pub setting.  And after our lean, hip sushi night, there was nothing we craved more than a big greasy Irish breakfast and some footie.  And it was a fantastic match. Wins all around on that windy, gray anniversary morning.   We truly enjoyed each other last weekend, and the fondness of common rituals that in our current rhythm of life are not so common.  An anniversary well spent.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Oh What a Universe

"Wouldn't it be a lovely headline... ' Life is Beautiful ' on the New York Times? "
- Rufus Wainwright, "Oh What A World"

Last Saturday I had some restless sleep. At about 1am I took at peak at Twitter and was surprised to see author / pastor / speaker Rob Bell as a top Twitter trend.  Okay, I know this story is SO last week, but since reading about Bell's forthcoming book "Love Wins....,"  I've been doing a good bit of reading and stewing on the issues of Salvation, Heaven, Hell and bathroom renovations (but that's a separate issue).  Critics quickly pounced on the "universalist" implications of his book promo video.  Bloggers called for calm.  Tweeters wrote Mr. Bell off. The New York Times picked up the story.  It's been a fascinating week if you're into this sort of thing.

Among the things I've been reading:
Greg Boyd's take on the  "Is Rob Bell a Universalist" issue.  Hint: He's actually read Bell's book.

A thorough article on hell from Tim Keller. 

And, because I am a confessed quote-o-phile, I will leave readers with this thought-provoking little gem from Bishop Kallistos Ware, Orthodox Author and Theologian.  (h/t theycallmepastorbryan )
How are we to bring into concord the two principles, 'God is love', and 'Human beings are free'? For the time being we cannot do more than hold fast with equal firmness to both principles at once, while admitting that the manner of their ultimate harmonization remains a mystery beyond our present comprehension… Our belief in human freedom means that we have no right to categorically affirm, 'All *must* be saved.' But our faith in God's love makes us dare to *hope* that all will be saved… Hell exists as a possibility because free will exists. Yet, trusting in the inexhaustable attractiveness of God's love, we venture to express the hope – it is no more than a hope – that in the end… we shall find that there is nobody there. Let us leave the last word, then, with St Silouan of Mount Athos: 'Love could not bear that… We must pray for all.'
        - Kallistos Ware | The Inner Kingdom

Is there something worth adding to my reading list? Have you heard about this hullabaloo? Bathroom renovation suggestions? j. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Theology Thursday


Maybe this is the start of something wonderful...a way to focus my blogging energies toward topical posts, since the more I live I discover that I like the rhythm of routine.

So for this inaugural Theology Thursday post, I will simply post some quotes that have struck me this past week.  I don't know what it is about quotations that can so often capture the essence of a thought or idea, be it absurd (see any number of the latest Charlie Sheen interview quotes), or profound. Here are a few for today, hopefully they venture closer to profundity than...er...Sheenery.

"Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" - Finley Peter Dunne, as quoted by journalist (and Furman Graduate) David Gibson when asked what he hopes to accomplish in his work.

This quote challenges me because I am sorely lacking in both comforting afflicted, and being willing to disrupt the comfortable. Probably because I'm too often one of the comfortable.

"Divine Zeal is as a fire, but it does not heat the blood, it cools it and reduces it to a calm state. The zeal of the carnal mind is always accompanied by heating of the blood and by an invasion of swarms of thoughts and fancies." - St. Isaac the Syrian

I find this quote particularly poignant in light of today's reactionary society. The boiling blood of anger and self-righteousness can be particularly evident among Christians, and particularly through blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. While I am not prone to angry outbursts in person or in print, I am prone to judging those who are, and for that, my own "Divine Zeal" need not lead me to "needless swarms of thoughts," but to contemplation of my own heart.

And to that end, I would be remiss to not point reader(s) ;-) to a blog post I found most illuminating this week, from a blogger who is a new favorite.
Read How to Write a Controversial Blog Post With No Regrets. It's a good primer for avoiding saying things with heated blood in most online contexts.

Any quotes that have struck you this week (they needn't be theological in nature)?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Signs of the Age

10 Signs that I'm Old(er).  In no particular order.

10.  We just got our "Willmaker Plus" software in the mail. Blech.
9.  I've been to bed before 9:30 twice this week.
8.  The show Parenthood makes me cry, like weekly.
7.  I thought The Hangover was pretty funny, but was NOT amused by all the baby shenanigans.
6.  When I see teenagers at our local park, I sort of grumble to myself, "hmph. crazy teenagers...go somewhere else to smoke and makeout."
5.  I *sometimes* turn it to B98.5 (easy listening)..just for nostalgia. (But if I listen too long I feel like I'm at the dentist. )
4.  I met an acquaintance for lunch this week.  We talked a lot about home improvements.
3.  When the local highschool lets out and I see kids (yes, I said "kids") walking home, I sometimes think "how did your parent let you out of the house wearing that!"
2. I always regret not bringing ear plugs to concerts.
1.  I recently spent way too much (by my meager standards) for a way-to-little container of "facial creme." Because that's what one does when one becomes an adult. I think.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Twitter

Image Courtesy: Bicoastally
I'm trying to make sense of Twitter. Whether it is a meaningless, time-sucking medium or something of an ingenious, culturally appropriate way to communicate is hard to say.  I mean, I don't think it's the latter, but what do I know.  Seriously, what do I know?  Not a lot, especially about Twitter.  I haven't figured out all the slang, what with all the RT's and @ symbols and hashtags (is there a bank of hashtags from which to call or do you make them up as you go?).   I'm also trying to understand the relational aspects of the medium.  There's this giant, growing web of interconnectedness.  But it's not like facebook where you can comment directly on posts in a personal way.  You sort of can, but as I understand it, it becomes yet another worldwidely accessible thing that happens to be directed at a single person solely because you threw an @ symbol in.

Is Twitter a marketer's dream (see: Dogfish Head / Red Cross faux pas gone good)? Will it bring peace to the Middle East (or at least democratic governments)?  Will it eclipse Facebook?  Will I succumb to the machine and 'follow' Justin Bieber?

Because these questions are being asked (all but the last one, really), I feel I need to be in on it, at least enough to talk about it at the watercooler.  Sheesh, I think i just stumbled upon my life philosophy.  Be in on "it" enough to be able to talk about it, or enjoy it with friends, but not enough to pay for your college or land you an awesome job.  Hm, this self-illuminating moment brought to you by Blogger. And Twitter. #secrettobeingeasytotalktoatpartiesbutnevermakethecoverofTimemagazine

So, Twitter is interesting.  My lineup of....er...followees is intersting.  Not sure what it says about me, but I'm sure some marketing exec knows exactly what it says about me, and good for her because I don't care.  I just want to know what Ellen, Conan, Vanessa Hine, Stuart Holden, Carlos Bocanegra, Thomas Friedman (never posts), Johnny Wier, SportsNation, Kim Clijsters, my sister and a few others have to say about the world.  And gosh that @stuholden has a lot to say about the world.  And he posts cute pics! And lots of these: :-) !!!! (I've decided that his twitter persona is as 110mph as his onfield presence. And that's a good thing.

P.S.  Add me.  You won't be sorry. (but you may not be impressed).  @kwittgens

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cold & Rainy

When it's cold and rainy, I think of England.
I think of walking the streets of Covent Garden, listening to David Gray.  Of huddling into the British Museum along with the hundreds of others who take refuge in the historic monstrosity on London's rainy days.   The main hall echoes with children's shouts, umbrellas and squeaky boots.  Then you look up, and some Assyrian god is towering over you. There could be worse places to spend a rainy afternoon, navigating relics, curiosities and slick marble floors.

When it's gray outside my window, I imagine how differently rainy days feel in England than here.  In Georgia, where we go from garage, to car, to parking lot, to store, back to car.  We need only be prepared for brief interludes of getting wet.  We grumble about how the rain impedes our life and activity.  When I lived in London, you just went about your day same as before, just better prepared for the elements.  Knowing I'd have to walk from my hotel, or guest home, several blocks to the tube meant I was prepared for getting wet.  And every other Londoner on the tube was wet, too. And we all stood in silence (that odd European public transportation ritual), hundreds of us, with nary a sound but the clack and rattle of the tube car zipping through tunnels underneath a worldclass city.

I love the bright warmth of the meticulously organised shops contrasted with the damp chill of the streets.  I love that shops are accessible simply by walking down a sidewalk and ducking into the doorway, rather than, as we must stateside, precariously navigating through a parking lot filled with oversized cars on a mission for the best spot. And the pubs, by gosh the pubs with their rusty-colored warmth, meeting you with a rush of conviviality as soon as the double-doors open to the inside.  The chatter of people huddled together, the glow of the tele playing a match.  I even love the warm beer, because, after all, you're already cold.  England's pubs would not be famous were it not for England's cold and rain.  They go together beautifully, like, well, bangers and mash.

Walking through the parks on a rainy morning takes on a mystical quality.  Regent's colors and grandeur that are so alive on crisp, sunny fall weekends, shrink back into impressionistic swirls of faded hues.  Wide swaths of gray-green grass lie still, save for a few shadowy figures, traveling the park's sidewalks.  Nameless commuters in black overcoats walk with determination on these days, taking in little of the beauty for the sake of a quick arrival at their destination.  But the beauty is there.

St. Pauls windows have less glow on rainy days, but the cavernous cathedrals feels just as much, if not more, of a sacred retreat.  Candles burn brighter, and the golds are warm and brilliant.  Standing on Westminster bridge in drizzle just seems right.  The Thames is gray and milky, and nearly fades into the chalky tones of the historic buildings lining it's shores.  They are distinct, yet the same. 

It is London, and it's cold and rainy. And it is beautiful.  (now where is the nearest entrance to the Tube...I'm freezing!)

*photo note: the observant reader will notice this picture is NOT Westminster Bridge, or even London. It's Lyon, France. But it sure was cold and rainy.