Blogging to Empty Seats

Sometimes blogging seems like this.. not being able to speak face-to-face is an interesting aspect to blogging.. sometimes you just have to quote a few other folks to feel good

Blogging is the new poetry. -Unknown

Your blog is your unedited version of yourself. -Lorelle

I sincerely believe blogging can save America. -John Jay Hooker

The influence of blogging is overall a very positive force in the media. -Garrett M. Graff

A blog is in many ways a continuing conversation -Andrew Sullivan

Cuss Free Week

Sometimes when I read the News it seems that it is all bad news. So I was surprised when this AP article showed up in my Google Reader. It is titled "Cuss-free week? Calif. lawmakers voting on it". Here is a clip from it:
The state Assembly passed a resolution Thursday calling for a statewide "Cuss Free Week," to occur annually during the first week of March. It next goes to the state Senate for a final vote on Monday.

The rest of next week will be officially swear-word free if both houses approve the resolution.

The resolution by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, was inspired by a South Pasadena teenager, McKay Hatch, who founded a No Cussing Club at his junior high school in 2007. His efforts to stamp out profanity have generated international attention, with 35,000 members joining the No Cussing Club's Web site.
I love this! Yeah it may seem to be a piece of unenforceable fluff legislation to some but I think that it may send a message to the folks in California.. and it just may help create a level of civility.. even if it is on a small level.

If you are interested in how much cussing you do on your blog you may want to visit the Cuss-O-Meter page.. the results are pictured above.

What do you think? Will you join in next week? Not that you cuss all that much

Man's Search for Meaning

It is not too often that I write about a book that I want to read. I saw something on Facebook this week (I think that is where I saw it) that caused me to check it out. Here is part of what the Wiki says about it:
Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. According to Frankl, the book intends to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory of logotherapy.
According to a survey conducted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, Man's Search For Meaning belongs to a list of "the ten most influential books in [the United States]." (New York Times, November 20, 1991). At the time of the author's death in 1997, the book had sold 10 million copies in twenty-four languages.
The Wiki gives a synopsis of the book and a bit of depth into Frankl's experience.. they also list some quotes from the book.. here are a few:
  • We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
  • A man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how.
  • When we are no longer able to change a situation – just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.
That first quote floored me when I read it. This also causes me to ponder:
Frankl also concludes that there are only two races of men, decent men and indecent. No society is free of either of them, and thus there were "decent" Nazi guards and "indecent" prisoners, most notably the kapo who would torture and abuse their fellow prisoners for personal gain.
The piece concludes that "Frankl's meaning in life is to help others find theirs." The book seems to be one that might do just that. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the book (especially if you have read it) and if you recommend my reading it.

Not all Pain is Gain

I woke up this morning with a bit more arthritic pain in my wrists than usual - not all pain is gain.

Reminds me about this "Cholesterol" drug that I was on for a few years.. one of the side-effects of the drug was pain.. didn't know about it until my sister described the leg pains that went away when she went off the drug.. I stopped and in a short while the pain in my left leg was gone and was no longer keeping me awake at night - not all pain is gain.

Also think about the antibiotic that Ann was prescribed in November - that drug gave Ann extreme tendinitis in her upper arms and impaired her ability to get in and out of her wheelchair - not all pain is gain.

Guess my point is that pain is sometimes inflicted on us by well-meaning folks like doctors.. often they are prescribing them to counteract something like high cholesterol.. how high is high anyway? My suggestion is to always examine the side-effects of drugs, and even natural remedies, before you begin taking them.. and discuss alternatives with your doc - not all pain is gain.

Your turn - let me know if you have had any bad side-effects from "medicine".

WWW: $1M Super Comic Book

In this edition of Weird World Wednesday, I submit to you this Associated Press article titled Superman's debut comic book issue sells for $1M:

A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman sold Monday for $1 million, smashing the previous record price for a comic book.

A 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books, was sold from a private seller to a private buyer, neither of whom released their names. The issue features Superman lifting a car on its cover and originally cost 10 cents.

Reminds me that some people have more money than sense. Have you ever spent a large sum of money on something absolutely frivolous? A few things come to mind: vinyl covered steel siding that I had installed in 1973 that cost 20% of what I paid for the house; a 1979 VW Rabbit that used a quart of oil a week - I just had to have that car!

How about you? Ever paid way too much for something and regretted it later?

Facebook Friendships

Yesterday's Reuters article titled How to decline Facebook friends without offence got me to thinking about the whole "friend" thing.. I seem to have been processing for a long time.. wondering if the idea of a "friend" is a mainly seasonal thing or something greater.. consider this excerpt from the Reuters piece:

"Can I be your friend?" might work as an ice-breaker among small children, but it's not a question you hear often between adults, at least not outside of Las Vegas.

Friendship, it is generally understood, is a relationship that evolves through shared interests, common experiences and a primeval need to share your neighbor's power tools.

Yet for many people, Facebook permits a return to the simplicity of the schoolyard.

Rather than inviting someone to be our Facebook friend only after we've become friends in the real world, many of us are using Facebook as a short-cut around all that time-consuming relationship building.
Looking back I think that I have had many Facebook Friends in my life.. work friends.. church friends.. neighborhood friends.. relationships built around situational proximity and common interests that never went deep.. never got past the Facebook stage.. but I have other friendships.. not many for sure.. that went past the Facebook stage.. went deep.. were vulnerable.. evidenced transparency.. embraced honesty.. so encouraging.

So I am wondering today if Facebook friendship is the overwhelming norm or if you have found more in your life? I have to admit that I have found but few people in my life that I can bear my soul to.. not that I am opposed to sharing with more.. just seems that I have not found many who want to go deep.

What has been your experience in this area? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Olympic Artist or Athlete?

Last week USA figure skater Evan Lysacek won the Olympic gold medal in men's figure skating. In an act of sour grapes his opponent, Russian Evgeni Plushenko, made this comment to the press:
“Just doing nice transitions and being artistic is not enough because figure skating is a sport, not a show.”
Alexei Mishin, Plushenko's coach, had this to add:
“This is nonsense,” Mishin told Yahoo! Sports. “It is wrong. It is criminal. How can it be like this? They are killing figure skating and taking it back 20 years. They have robbed him of his destiny.
The idea of robbing somebody's destiny probably speaks to the real issue of his complaint. Anywho, all this hoopla seemed to center on the idea that a quadruple jump makes a guy a better skater than a guy that just does triple jumps.. and it begs the question of whether Olympians are athletes, artists or something else.

Tonight I will be watching and enjoying the Olympic Dance Pair competition.. did you catch that I will be "enjoying" the event? Yes, I understand that it does not involve the athleticism of the (non-dancing) Pairs Skating.. but I simply enjoy the athletes competing.. notice I said athletes.. these skaters need to be mentally tough and have to work together on many very athletic moves.. but again many ask - are these folks really athletes?

So what do you think makes someone an athlete? Hitting a golf ball or a baseball a long distance? Consistently knocking down 10 bowling pins? Riding a bobsled down a slick ice path? Or maybe racing in NASCAR? What do you think? Are these folks artists or athletes?
I would look up the definition but I don't think that it makes much difference. If you golf you probably think it to be a sport - even if you use a cart

So what do you think? Olympic Artist or Athlete?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington | ★★★★★

I spent a few hours this weekend and watched this 1939 classic for the first time. My expectations were pretty high - after all the movie did get 11 Academy Awards nominations and won an Oscar for Best Original Story.. and I did get past my disdain for movies filmed in the Black and White genre. I thought the movie started well.. a senator died and a governor nominated a young idealistic man (played by Jimmy Stewart) to replace him thinking he would be a senator who would not makes waves.. reminded me a bit of last year's battle to replace Hillary Clinton's senate seat.

Alas, from there I thought the movie went downhill a bit.. sappy dialog.. predictable plot.. schmaltzy characters.. all a bit too much.. seemed a bit too contrived. And the ending was so bad.. it was like the writer ran out of time and just abruptly stopped writing.

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★

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Alexander Haig, 1924-2010

Former Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, died yesterday. According to Wikipedia:
Haig was a United States Army general who served as the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In 1973 Haig served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the number-two ranking officer in the Army. Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe. A veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War, Haig was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart.
I think that this Haig quote is an indication of why he rose to the highest levels of leadership in our country - both in military and government service.
"Practice rather than preach. Make of your life an affirmation, defined by your ideals, not the negation of others. Dare to the level of your capability then go beyond to a higher level."
I like the focus on doing rather than talking.. on affirming your ideals and going beyond your limitations. My prayers are with his friends and family.

The Covenant Marriage Upgrade

This just in from Topeka, Kansas.. well actually this article, titled Kansas looks to superglue some marriage bonds, appeared on Thursday in the Kansas City Star. Here is the way the piece begins:
Kansas lawmakers have a plan to put the deadbolt back in wedlock: optional “covenant marriages” that could be ended for only specific reasons or after a trial separation.

To break these bonds of matrimony, couples would have to undergo marriage counseling and live apart for at least a year. Divorces also could be granted after an infidelity or when one spouse has committed domestic violence or has been convicted of a serious crime.

Couples would have to undergo premarital counseling to qualify and sign an affidavit affirming that their marriage is for life. Covenant marriages also would cost more — $25 on top of the existing $69 marriage license fee. Already married couples could upgrade to the covenant marriage.
My first thought is that this might be a part of the full-employment act for lawyers.. there might be a bunch of unemployed divorce lawyers out there.. I just don't know.. maybe they need this legislation.

In theory I think that this sounds like a really good idea. Really.. who would not support beefing up divorce laws.. some may think that our current no-fault divorce statutes need to be strengthened so that terms like "irreconcilable differences" are not the norm for marital breakups. There are critics of the idea though.. the article goes on to say:
Critics contend that the extra obstacles could trap abused spouses or prolong the agony of couples who were never meant to be.

“We need to be in touch with reality,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. “Some people who get married discover they shouldn’t have gotten married. … I don’t want to force those people to stay in a marriage that is hurting them.”
So I guess we have to talk about the ugly subject of spousal abuse. I guess that is a concern that I have but it does seem that marital separation is not prohibited by the new legislation.. battered spouses could still separate from their abusers.

The real question is should anyone get married to a person who would not commit to a covenant marriage? A few weeks ago I wrote about Commitment Challenged Relationships and focused on SC Governor Mark Sanford's resistance to including a vow of fidelity in the marriage ceremony. In his case it seems that a covenant marriage was not an option.

Another issue is what happens to the non-covenant marriages? Do they become second-class marriages for people who cannot commit to forever.. or cannot afford the extra $25?Will Kansans one day think that these folks were never really married because they did not marry in a state-defined covenant?

Lastly I have to ask what this new covenant marriage would do to existing marriages where the couples choose to honor their first marriage vows and not upgrade to covenant status? I think many of those folks (like me) feel that marriage is a covenant between them, their spouse and God.. these folks probably would not feel a need to upgrade simply because the state passed a new law.. after all.. the covenant most of us want is not with the state.

So what do you think? I have been rambling a bit. Anything you want to ramble about?

Legalized Gambling - Just a Con Game?

Yesterday's MSNBC article titled "Is Hawaii gambling with paradise?" got me thinking about the early 70s when I lived in New Jersey and voted down the initial proposal that would legalize gambling in Atlantic City.. after I moved the proposal was affirmed and the casino industry moved into that south Jersey city. Here are a few clips from the MSNBC piece:
Hawaii is one of the last two states with no legalized gambling, but lawmakers facing billion-dollar budget deficits and hunting for ways increase revenue are thinking about allowing casinos in tourist-filled Waikiki or on Native Hawaiian lands.

Proponents say casinos would draw much-needed new money and jobs into the long-troubled, tourism-dependent economy.
Gambling supporters dispute claims that legalized gambling would spread crime. They're more focused on the potential for gambling to jump-start the economy, especially if a casino could get running within a year as they claim.
I thought it interesting that 48 other states had some form of legalized gambling.. did not realize that gambling had that kind of reach in America.. the stat must include state lotteries. I tend to agree with Tom Landry's message in the image above.. legalized gambling comes with a price tag that is paid by society as gambling ruins lives.

I am not an expert on the topic but I do think that, generally speaking, legalized gambling has not delivered on it's promise to boost state coffers and fund schools and other government obligations. Seems to me that the promise to keep taxes from being raised is just a smokescreen.. I think the lion's share of gambling revenues go to out-of-state corporations and a mere pittance of those monies stay in state.. but I may be wrong?

What do you think Hawaii should do? Does your state or country have legalized gambling?

Christian Zionism

A few months ago Dave over at Not The Religious Type wrote a post titled Your Thoughts on Christian Zionism?.. I have been thinking about it off and on since then. Here are a few excerpts from Dave's post:
Christian Zionism, most think, started with a man named John Nelson Darby, who created Christian Dispensationalism in the late 1800s.  It was popularized by the Scofield Study Bible, which had a massive influence on the development of Christian Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism.

Regarding Christian Zionism, it effectively points to verses that say that God can only bless people who bless Israel, which gets interpreted as "modern-day Jews living within the biblical boundaries of Israel."  It can get pretty in-depth, pushing for the construction of a third temple, for instance.  It can, in some strains, get pretty heavy: some strains argue that conversion of Jews to Jesus isn't necessary, since they're operating on a separate covenant.  However, in the final battles of the last days, most Jews will be wiped out.  (Again, this is only in some strains of dispensationalism.)  The upshot is that Christians are absolutely commanded to support modern-day, political Israel down the line.
That last sentence caught my attention.. I once attended a congregation who embraced that idea.. in essence to go against Israel was to go against God. I recently received a viral email forward from a friend and responded by saying:
I support Israel because they are an ally and a free nation but not because I see them as God’s chosen people.
I guess that is where I have a concern about Christian Zionism. I think that seeing a secular and culturally religious country as an embodiment of the spiritual seed of Abraham flies in the face of the messianic prophetic scriptures that were, in my opinion, filled in Jesus. I thought that John Kim had a good response to Dave's post.. here is an excerpt:
I find Christian Zionism incomplete and dangerous as it chooses sides in a battle where I struggle mightily to see the moral highground. If I were to summarize the conflict here in the brief context of a blog comment, I would cite a quote (I believe from Richard Rohr)- that "Pain that is not transformed is transmitted." There is no denying that both Jews and Muslims have suffered mightily in the hands of the other, and there is little to be gained in debating who has had the rougher go. Unless that pain is transformed, the transmittal back and forth will continue unabated. The question of how to resolve this goes to the heart of how one perceives the Gospel and what it means for God to be incarnate. Needless to say, I don't think Christian Zionism embodies this particularly well.
Lastly I feel a need to issue a caveat.. I may be wrong in my perspective.. many of my friends hold a Zionist point of view.. and many of them have studied this issue more than I have.. I hope that they will read what I have written and respond to it in a helpful way. I am open to discussing the issue and would love to hear what you think.

The Shame Game

A commenter recently thought my post about Sarah Palin's palm notes was "shameful".. it got me to thinking about how sometimes people try to shame others into thinking or acting a certain way. Often shame is mistaken for guilt and is falsely thought to be a response to bad behavior. I like what some of what this site says about the difference between the two.. here are a few excerpts:
When we feel guilt, it's about something we did.
When we feel shame, it's about who we are.
Shame comes from being taught that we are worthless or bad or something similar.

It comes in childhood from adults who say things like:
"You'll never amount to anything!"
"You are worthless!"
"I wish you were never born!"
"Shame on you!"
People who are shamed have to live in the same world as all the rest of us but they have to live in it with the deep-down conviction that they are worthless.
People who've been deeply shamed need to be fully loved and accepted and valued!
I so agree with that last sentiment. A lot of my pastoral ministry was spent encouraging and loving people who were raised by parents who were masters at playing the shame games.

Of course the commenter's use of the term shameful is not the same genre as the one I have painted here.. it just reminded me of why I don't like the word.. of course I did use the word in the response I had for their comment

Too much brain-dead partisanship..

"There's just too much brain-dead partisanship, tactical maneuvering for short-term political advantage rather than focusing on the greater good, and also just strident ideology."

"The extremes of both parties have to be willing to accept compromises from time to time to make some progress because some progress for the American people is better than nothing, and all too often recently, we've been getting nothing."

"The people who are just rigidly ideological, unwilling to accept practical solutions somewhere in the middle, vote them out, and then change the rules so that the sensible people who remain can actually get the job done."

"The president I know is desperately trying to accomplish this. Congress needs to listen and the American people need to help with this process."

"I love working for the people of Indiana. I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress."

-Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.. from his retirement announcement

Olympic Attitude

Peggy Fleming
One of my first Winter Olympics memories was watching a graceful and gracious Peggy Fleming glide across the ice to win the gold medal for the USA in the women's single event. Here is an excerpt from the wiki on her:
Her unusual style led to five U.S. titles, three World titles and the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. Her award in Grenoble was singularly important for the American athletes and the nation as a whole, for this was the only gold medal that the U.S. Olympic team won in the 1968 Winter Games. It signaled a return to American dominance in the sport of women's figure skating following the unprecedented tragedy of the 1961 plane crash.
The crash they reference was the one that killed the entire United States Figure Skating team, who were en route to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Thinking about that tragedy in 1961 causes me to think about Nodar Kumaritashvili's death last Friday on the luge run in Vancouver. It is a sad and sobering thought to think about what happened to this young man. I feel for his family and teammates.

As I watched the Olympics this weekend I was struck by my partisan Team USA attitude.. I was happy to see Team USA march in the opening ceremony on Friday night..guess some of us are just wired to root for the "home" team.

But as I watched Chinese Pairs Skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo skate a wonderful routine last night I began to experience something different. I listened to their story.. I started rooting for their success.. I began to see that the Olympics are so much more than the number of medals won for our country.. it is celebrating with young athletes.. even if they are not from your land.

Maybe that is what the Olympics are all about.. mourning losses and celebrating successes.. and cheering on young athletes.. regardless of the country that they represent.

The Absurdity of Dreams

I woke up this morning remembering the dream I dreamed during the night - LOL, I dreamed that I was running against Sam Brownback to be the next governor of Kansas.. not sure that it was in the GOP primary or if I was running as an Independent. Either way it was truly an absurd dream.. at least it seemed that way to me.

Do you dream much? Do you usually remember your dreams the next morning? I usually don't.. either that or I just don't dream all that much. When I was a pastor people would occasionally speak to me about reoccurring dreams and ask for my opinion on them.. sometimes there seemed to be a message hidden in the dream.. other times the dream just seemed a bit absurd.

The bible is full of dream stories. I think about the story in Genesis where Egypt's Pharaoh had a frightening recurring dream that no one could interpret but Joseph - that dream turned out to be prophetic of the coming years.. interesting how Joesph advised Pharaoh in such a way that led to Pharaoh becoming more powerful at the poor Egyptian's expense.. but I digress.

In the New Testament Jesus' adopted father Joseph dreamed two dreams.. first he was told by God that Mary's baby was divine.. second he was instructed to flee to Egypt to protect the baby Jesus from being slaughtered by King Herod's soldiers. Amazing how God sometimes uses the absurdity of a dream to reach out to us.

All that said I do not believe that God was communicating with me early this morning and calling me to enter the governor's race.. unless you all start sending me some big checks pretty soon.. email me and I will give you my mailing address 

How about you? Are you a dreamer? Any stories to tell about the absurdity of your dreams?

Valentine Memories

Fifteen years ago on Valentines Day Ann and I got engaged - today we celebrated and reminisced about that day over lunch.

How about you? Do you have any special memories that come to mind this time of year? Care to share a bit?

Pugilistic Wisdom

A champion is someone who gets up when he can't. -Jack Dempsey

Life doesn't run away from nobody. Life runs at people.
-Joe Frazier

Until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have
a life. -Rocky Balboa

Before I fight, I always pray that no one gets hurt. -Sugar Ray Leonard

Fear was absolutely necessary. Without it, I would have been scared to death.
-Floyd Patterson

A champion shows who he is by what he does when he's tested. When a person gets up and says 'I can still do it', he's a champion. -Evander Holyfield

A boxing match is like a cowboy movie. There's got to be good guys and there's got to be bad guys. And that's what people pay for -- to see the bad guys get beat. -Sonny Liston

I'm scared every time I go into the ring, but it's how you handle it. What you have to do is plant your feet, bite down on your mouthpiece and say, 'Let's go.' -Mike Tyson

"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people." -Muhammad Ali

I don't even think about a retirement program because I'm working for the Lord, for the Almighty. And even thought the Lord's pay isn't very high, his retirement program is, you might say, out of this world. -George Foreman


Thinking about my family and friends on the east coast.. the snow has paralyzed activities out there.. of course some activities might need a bit of slowing down

Last real KC snow was last Friday. How is the weather where you are?

Indigenous Community

Smart Planet recently interviewed 34-year-old British investigative journalist Olly Steeds.. here is an excerpt from it:
You’ve spent a lot of time living with tribes, including one that practices cannibalism. What have you learned?

Where do you start? On a personal level—its’ so easy to take things for granted in our world—to complain about this and that. The indigenous people have no place for moaning and complaining; they just get on with it. They have an incredible generosity of spirit, which makes sense in that world–you have to be kind to your neighbor in case you ever need him. So it’s the kindness, generosity, hospitality, the need to look after your neighbor, the notions of community–it’s easier to see in their world because in some capacity they have a simpler life, compared to our modern world and the great sort of complexity we like to surround ourselves with.
Hmmm.. that makes me think about about the difference between my life in the heated and air-conditioned suburbs (where nobody really has to go outside and run into their neighbors) and the lives that these folks are living. Seems like America used to be like that.. before we had air conditioning my New York family used to spend summers outside having picnics and barbecues.. seems like we really knew our neighbors. But I am not so sure it was the same kind of community as the ones that Olly Steeds encounters in indigenous settings where people seem to really need each other.

Did you grow up in a community where you knew your neighbors? How about now?

Simple Things

Chris, over at Enchanted Oak has issued a challenge to all bloggers. For every blogger who posts a list of the simple things that make them happy, she will donate $2.00 to Heartline Ministries in Haiti. Here are the rules from her blog:
Post your piece this weekend and include a link to my blog. Then pop in here to say you’ve posted your “Simple Things.” Post by midnight, Pacific time, Sunday and don’t forget to link with me and notify me that you’ve posted. You can borrow the “Simple Things” photo. If you don’t have a blog, a comment on my blog will count too if you tell me so.
Here are some simple things that make me happy:
  • Playing with my grandchildren - they are so full of life and joy.
  • Eating a meal with my wife - there is nobody like Ann.
  • Sharing my life with friends - they listen with their heart.
  • Penning my thoughts here - you all are so very gracious.
  • Singing along with a song - just something special about music.
  • Watching NFL Football - even cheering for the Chiefs is fun.
  • Enjoying a good movie with Ann - I am a sucker for flicks.
  • My morning cup of coffee - the first one tastes the best.
Feel free to join in Chris' challenge if you read this on Sunday.. and let me know if you do.

There Will Be Blood | ★★★★

This movie lingered on my Netflix queue for a long time.. I wish I had deleted it before it showed up in my mailbox. Yes.. I know that it was an acclaimed movie with all sorts of "Best Picture" nominations.. and possibly I just didn't "get it".. that said I'll try to opine a bit about it.

Firstly I have to say that the acting was great - no surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis was spectacular in the role of a greedy mean-spirited silver miner turned oil well driller. I also enjoyed the movie's take on the beginnings of the oil industry. Thought that the costumes and cinematography were good as well.

All that said I have to say that I thought that the movie was self-indulgent and way too long.. it was filled with scenes that really went no where. And I think the main characters  revealed the screen writers penchant for cynicism. Both Lewis' character and his preacher adversary are written in the worst of terms revealing the writers' disdain for both Oil and Religion.

The movie was just a downer for me. The ending had no redemptive qualities to it and painted a sad picture of the depravity of both religious and nonreligious people. I came away from the movie feeling that I had wasted a night wading through the darkside of human behavior.

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★

The Essence of an Apology

A Facebook friend recommended this link dealing with the different ways that people apologize as listed in the book pictured below. Here is the list in brief:
“Expressing Regret” is the Apology Language that zeroes in on emotional hurt. It is an admission of guilt and shame for causing pain to another person.

Accept Responsibility: It is very difficult for some people to admit that they’re wrong. It makes them doubt their self-worth, and no one likes to be portrayed as a failure. However, as adults, we must all admit that we are sinners and that we will make mistakes.

Make Restitution: In our society, many people believe that wrong acts demand justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for their wrongdoing.

Genuinely Repent: For some individuals, repentance is the convincing factor in an apology. Some mates will doubt the sincerity of an apology if it is not accompanied by their partner’s desire to modify their behavior to avoid 
the situation in the future.

Request Forgiveness: In some relationships, a mate wants to hear their partner physically ask for forgiveness. They want assurance that their mate recognizes the need for forgiveness.
I liked this list.. you can check out more of it here. I can see myself in several of those apology explanations.. I tend to be a show-me-you-really-mean-it kind of guy.. although I am a soft-touch for an emotional apology. How about you? Do you resonate with any of these?

Bemoaning Commitment-Challenged Relationships

According to yesterday's AP article about South Carolinian first lady Jenny Sanford:
South Carolina's first lady says her wedding was a "leap of faith" because Gov. Mark Sanford, who famously cheated on her with a woman he described as his soul mate, did not want to include a vow of fidelity in their marriage ceremony.
The article also gives these insights from the governor's wife:
Not having a vow of faithfulness "bothered me to some extent, but ... we were very young, we were in love," Jenny Sanford tells Walters. "I questioned it, but I got past it."
"With the benefit of the knowledge I have about Mark now, I could point to this moment as a clear sign of things to come," she writes. But at the time, she found his honesty "brave and sweet" and thought he just had cold feet.
I am not sure what to make of this idea that what one says in the marriage vows are an indicator of things to come. I do think that the words "till death do us part" are difficult for some to say in this day of commitment-phobic individuals.

I think that, because of the prevalence and normalcy of divorce, many young people have difficulty embracing the idea of permanency and fidelity in marriage. Some might say that folks like this are simply being honest about their fears about the future while some might say that such people are not ready for marriage.

Of course there is another aspect to coupled-life these days.. many people do not marry but choose to live together.. this seems to be the an alternative that my generation normalized and ushered in to our culture. One could say that this temporary state of couple-hood is a bit more honest than someone who wants to say marriage vows that do not include words of fidelity or permanency.

Did I really say that? Of course I do not endorse living together before you are married. In the same sense I do not endorse entering into marriage with the idea that you can always divorce if things do not work out. I think that commitment is the word that is sadly lacking from each relationship scenario.

I have taken marriage vows twice.. the first vows ended when death did us part. I believe that marriage is a permanent relationship. Yet I do understand that divorce can happen even when the vows are filled with heartfelt fidelity and permanence. I just think that commitment to fidelity in times of difficulty and hardship is a good thing even if one does follow through on those vows. What do you think? Any stories to share?

The Prestige | ★★★★★★

Ann and I viewed this movie the other night on DVD and found it to be very entertaining.. frankly I liked it better than she did. It is somewhat of a suspense thriller type with a flare for the dramatic. I thought that it was packed with great actors in pretty good roles.. I am a huge fan of Michael Caine.. I thought that Christian Bale did a good job of playing a creepy sort.. Hugh Jackman was okay in a role that reminded me of his character in Kate and Leopold. Overall I thought that the acting was pretty good and the characters were developed in a pretty good and believable fashion.

The movie is about two magicians and their competition to be the best Illusionist in London.. but the movie is really all about revenge and how people carry grudges and often cannot forgive offenses. For this reason I found the movie to be a bit dark. There are plenty of turns in the movie and you have to pay attention (or rewind) to get the significance of what is transpiring.. a lot of twists and turns that you have to think about - Ann thought that she liked it better today than she did right after she saw it.

In retrospect I think that the movie was a tad too long and and dragged a bit in parts - it could have used more editing to bring a bit of focus to it. I did like it though and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a decent mystery.

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★

Are Geezers sleeping less than Whipper-Snappers?

According to an article titled Healthy Adults Can Get By With Less Sleep "older adults without sleep disorders can have a reduced “sleep need” and are less sleepy during the day than healthy young adults." Here are a few clips from the piece:

Researchers discovered that during a night of eight hours in bed, total sleep time decreased significantly and progressively with age.

Older adults slept about 20 minutes less than middle-aged adults, who slept 23 minutes less than young adults.

Doesn't it amaze you how many "studies" are going on these days? That said I don't know that I agree with the study. In my younger years I seem to remember staying up later and getting up way earlier than I do these days.. of course I am retired. What is your experience - are you sleeping less these days?

Cubicle Farms

This cartoon brought back many memories of my 20+ years of working in cubicle farms.
A few thoughts about the rules for working in a cube farm from the folks at Office Zen:
  • If you have to sneeze, stand up and sneeze into the air so that you can make sure and give something back to the dimrod that came to work sick and gave it to you.
  • Keep a picture of you and your sister/brother next to a picture of you and your wife/husband on your desk. Keep track of those people who ask the question because those people are detail oriented and will get stuff done.
  • In the mess of sticky notes on your desk, intersperse some notes with themes like the names of diseases. In this case, those that ask the question are people who can't stay focused and did not have the guts to ask about the pictures.
  • Everyone knows that if you stay in you cube and do it, not only will the smell be confined by the three and a half walls around you, but you are likely to destroy any productive conversation with one of your co-workers who always seem to show up when you need to flatulize. 
  • If a co-worker has purposely left you high and dry at any point, leave a note on their computer that says "please call network security" without signing but with the extension. This will keep them worried the rest of the afternoon.
One of my earliest remembrances was sneezing too loudly and having gal in a cube close by always having to comment on my sneezes.. made me a bit hesitant to sneeze.

How about you? Have you worked in a cubicle? Any stories to tell?