23 April 2008

US States compared to countries with similar GDPs

More from the email archives...
It's kind of ironic that I live in Idaho and one of my best friends is from Ukraine. We have the same GDP. Notice that California is comparable to France. Must be the wine market. :-)

via Strange Maps, as of June 2007.

10 lead balloons

Continuing the theme of this post...

Joe Carter:
"The following are ten fixtures of evangelism that I find particularly harmful. None of them are inherently pernicious (well, except for #10) but they have a tendency to be used in ways that are counterproductive to their intended purposes (emphasis mine)."

1) Making converts (instead of disciples)
2) The Sinner's Prayer
3) "Do you know Jesus as..."
4) Tribulationism
5) Testimonies
6) The Altar Call
7) Witnessing
8) Protestant prayers
9) The Church Growth Movement
10) Chick Tracts

I think Carter does a good (and often humorous) job of explaining that while most of these things are not inherently bad, they have been pushed to such limits that they don't serve their original purpose anymore.

See the rest here.

22 April 2008

Who Am I?

No, I'm not going soft in the head or having a quarter-life crisis.

Amanda Witt, on being yourself:
"But if we die to ourselves, as Christ calls us to do, He does what we cannot and makes us more sharply and brightly ourselves, beautiful, distinct. With his help, we find our truest and best selves."

True identity is found in Christ. See the rest here.


New link in the sidebar: Refractions, by Makoto Fujimura. I'm not very familiar with Fujimura's theology or the teachings of his pastor, Tim Keller, but I'm intrigued by the organization he began. The International Arts Movement, while not an explicity Christian group, strives to create art the "way it ought to be".

From the IAM website:
"Noted critic and artist Robert Kushner has written about IAM founder Makoto Fujimura's art, 'The idea of forging a new kind of art, about hope, healing, redemption, refuge, while maintaining visual sophistication and intellectual integrity is a growing movement, one which finds Fujimura's work at the vanguard.' International Arts Movement is an outgrowth of this 'forging of a new kind of art' and desires to collaborate with other influencers, empowering their work and growth."

18 April 2008

Music as Shared Language

I once considered music therapy as a college major, so this quote stood out to me the other day.

Starbucks "The Way I See It" #267
"Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears - it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more - it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity."
~Oliver Sacks, Neurologist and author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

I think it points to the way God created music to have the potential to be a language unto itself. The other day I attended the final rehearsal for the Idaho Philharmonic, and even without the program, the music tells the story clearly in Stravinsky's Firebird suite. There's a prince, a princess, an evil monster, a call for help, a battle, a scene of triumph, and a transformation of an evil castle into a radiant paradise. Anybody, regardless of their language, can understand elements of the Russian composer's message through his music. In a different approach, Jim Cockey's new composition An Idaho Symphony blends audio and visual through the use of a slideshow of Idaho photographs (Glenn Oakley), which plays throughout the piece. It was captivating to hear how the music had been matched to scenes the photographer had taken over a year earlier. But perhaps the most demonstrative composition was Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, originally written for piano, over a period of 7 years following a visit to an art exhibit with works by Victor Hartmann in 1874. Maurice Ravel orchestrated the work in 1922 after Mussorgsky's death. Throughout the 10 movements, we can hear scenes such as a troubador wandering old Italy performing on his lute, a big heavy oxcart making its way down a country road, a lighthearted ballet, and the famous last movement The Great Gate of Kiev. Outgoing Philharmonic conductor James Ogle commented on the decline of new music being produced in classical spectrums today, but also noted that popular music simply can't fill the void that would be left if we didn't have the works of composers such as Stravinsky, Cockey, and Mussorgsky. Classical music takes a little more effort to appreciate, but perhaps that's what makes it worthwhile.

The Wisdom Of Luther On Books

"The number of theological books must also be lessened, and a selection made of the best of them. For it is not many books or much reading that makes men learned; but it is good things, however little of them, often read, that make men learned in the Scriptures, and make them godly, too. Indeed the writings of all the holy fathers should be read only for a time, in order that through them we may be led to the Holy Scriptures. As it is, however, we read them only to be absorbed in them and never come to the Scriptures. We are like men who study the sign-posts and never travel the road. The dear fathers wished, by their writings, to lead us to the Scriptures, but we so use them as to be led away from the Scriptures, though the Scriptures alone are our vineyard in which we ought to work and toil."
—Martin Luther, An Open Letter To The Christian Nobility
via Rev. Danny Hyde of Oceanside URC

Spider Stories

What's up with all the spiders lately? Is it the warm weather that's driving them into my house? That doesn't make sense to me because I would think the spiders would want to be outside living it up in the sunshine like the rest of us. But no... they have to invade my living room...

Spider Story #1:
So the other day, I came home from work exhausted. I was really tired. One of the things I love about wearing glasses is that you can just take them off, set them on the table, and throw your head down on the pillow. No contact case and solution necessary. So I was zonked out on the couch for about half an hour, then I started to wake up. I hadn't even opened my eyes yet, but I could feel someone watching me. I wondered if my landlord had walked in, because she's around here sometimes fixing things. No... 5 more minutes... I want to sleep for 5 more minutes. But wait. There's somebody watching me. Open eyes. Look around. See dark fuzzy spot on carpet that I didn't think was there before. Uh-huh, it was a spider! And the bad thing about wearing glasses is that if they are not nearby when you need them (immediately!) you can't see anything but fuzz. This little guy was fuzzy enough, he didn't need my near-sightedness to help him out. I won't give you the gory details, but he went away, and not on vacation.

Spider Story #2:
This evening after I got home from work, I was trying to clean up my apartment a little bit. It's kind of hard since I'm rolling around with one knee propped on a wheeled office chair that happens to react to linoleum like high heels on ice. So I usually go flying from one side of the kitchen to another and stop myself by reaching out for the counter or the wall. I gathered up the trash and was speeding towards the front door when I saw something run out from under the rug. Aha! Little scoundrel! Slam on the brakes! I went at him with the garbage bag and prayed it wouldn't break open and spill coffee grounds and moldy mozzarella everywhere. Bam! Bam! Bam! Sorry man... no mercy for arachnids.

16 April 2008

Party Hearty

In case some of you are wondering if I've disappeared yet again, fear not my good fellows. I am simply having a busy week. The doctor prescribed 2 aspirin and a phone call in the morning, but I'm opting for a few good nights with friends. Bible study was on Monday, which always is fun because I get to hang out with friends and learn about God and the Bible he wrote; Tuesday I conquered 2 flights of stairs* to enjoy Shannon's authentic homemade Thai spring rolls and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls; tonight I had coffee and deep conversations with Meredith, then we (Lisa, Meredith, Colleen, Sharla and I) celebrated Sharla's birthday with dinner at Old Chicago; and tomorrow is the annual Lifeline banquet, and I get to sit at a table full of friends, once again. I am blessed.

*If you ever have to use crutches, carpeted stairs are not recommended.

Just a little shout-out to Progressive

No, I did not get paid for this plug for Progressive Insurance. But I am very happy with the $150 I saved by switching from Geico. Take that, little gecko.

10 April 2008

It's Not Every Day You Get A Foot In The Mail

I opened the mailbox and what did I see?
A foot -with red toenails- staring right back at me!

*Inside of card reads: "Hope your day is toe-rific!"*

Thank you Uncle Keith, Aunt Margaret, Janine, Nate, Lorissa, and Renee, for the well wishes. Every time I see the card I think of you. :-)

Thank you Annette!

My cousin Annette and I have recently got back in touch via my blog. She and her family live in Sacramento, so we only see each other every two years or so. She happened to notice my plea for towels, and I was very happy to find this in the mail a week ago!

These will be great for the bathroom in my new apartment. Thanks Annette!

03 April 2008

Stop That Hearse!

Wait! Return the casket, give the flowers to your grandma, and divvy up the ham buns. This blog ain't done yet.

I took an unannounced hiatus from blogging to have foot surgery, as most of you know already. I was all set to provide a play-by-play on the experience, but medications and blank-stare types of exhaustion got in the way. Shoot. As my friend Karen said, "You should have written anyway; that would have been really interesting."

So I'll try to give you the short version of the long story, but since you all know me and how I write, I'm not surprised to hear your coffeepot starting to percolate or the teakettle starting to fire up, depending on your caffeine addiction preferences.

Mom flew up to Idaho on Wednesday night (March 12) to help me out for a while. The next morning we were getting ready to be at the surgery center at 9:30am and Mom is asking me... "Marie, where's the cereal?" "Marie, where's the coffee?" Now I definitely am not a morning person, but I am most definitely a breakfast person. I must have breakfast. My stomach growls at me and that's how I wake up. I can kind of laugh about it now... a little... but I begrudged Mom her breakfast and coffee. The first thing I said later when I woke up from the anesthesia was "I'm hungry!" Ask the nurse. He was cute, but he didn't know how to make an omelet. Too bad, or else I would have kept him.

Our friends/relatives/fellow troublemakers Merv and Diane happened to be on their way through Boise to an unknown destination Thursday morning, from Seattle. They knew my mom was here, so they tracked us down to come by and see me walk the runway in my gown and paper slippers. Then they all left to get lost in downtown for an hour before deciding to go to the doughnut shop 3 blocks away. It was raining, and my mom was driving my car for the first time, so she wasn't familiar with any of the controls. She found the windshield wipers and the headlights before an accident happened. Diane assisted.

The headlights are important to note. So important, in fact, that they got forgotten. All afternoon. All evening. All night. Until they died somewhere around 3:26am Friday morning. You have to cut Mom some slack here, because she's used to her fancy Tahoe with lights that turn on and off automatically. I guess you don't even have to mess with the lights unless you want to blind someone in their rearview mirror.

Meanwhile, as the lights lay dying, I lay dying in my bed because of my own stupid mistake. You're thinking "Oh don't call yourself stupid, everybody says that when they don't really mean it..." But oh yes. I mean it. I had my wisdom teeth removed in 2006. They gave me a prescription for Norco (vicodin). I don't think I used any of it, so I had a half bottle sitting in my cupboard. I got a prescription from the podiatrist for... Norco. Same dosage, in fact. Sweet! One less prescription to fill--I already have some! How smart am I?

The surgery prep crew gave me a "pop-block" by which they numb your leg from the knee down. The nurse said I wouldn't remember getting this pop-block after the surgery. I did. Anyway. The pop-block lasts 12-24 hours on most people, and I was at the shorter end of the stick. Something about metabolism. So my leg started to thaw at about midnight. No big deal, I'll take a Norco. 1 hour later. Huh, this Norco isn't working. This is really starting to hurt. Should I take another one? No, this is heavy stuff, I need to wait a few hours. 2 hours later. Hmm... I am in pain. This is not fun. This is really not fun. I think I'll take some Advil because the doctor said I could take it for swelling along with the Norco. 6 Advil later, still in pain. By this time it's about 5am and Mom wakes up, which is great, because she can drive to the pharmacy to get my (real) prescription!! Except the pharmacy doesn't open until 9am. And the car won't start. We had just the loveliest morning, drinking coffee and popping Advil, until AAA came to our rescue. I love AAA. I should write them a letter.

The Norco turned out to be almost useless, since it begins to deteriorate 6 months after dispensed, and so the ones I had taken did nothing. I was oh-so-happy to see that new bottle.

Mom and I basically hung out at the house for the next 4 days... she did everything from grocery shopping to laundry to cooking to bringing me ice bags whenever I asked to changing the DVD to a new episode of Gilmore Girls, while I sat, and sat, and sat. I had to keep my foot up the whole time or else I would have ended up with the Goodyear Blimp for a foot.

So I'll end this part of the saga with a few pictures.
Here's Mom:

The lovely tulips she got for me. Tulips are some of my favorite flowers!

Flowers from Meredith

And a cheer-you-up balloon from Meredith!

There's one more picture, but for my fair readers who have fair stomachs, this would be a good time to stop reading. If you don't look away now, you might end up running for the door on the starboard side, dashing across the planks and grabbing the handrail and... the fish would never be the same.
So au revoir...
Ok you're still here. I'm warning you, this isn't pretty!
Ok, if you're still reading you must not mind watching ER.

There are two incisions: one down the side of my big toe (they adjusted the bone and shaved some off) and one across the top of my foot, where they installed the hardware. Yes, 5 screws and 1 plate. Just the thing to set off the suspicious airport security people. This is going to be fun.