Saturday, December 29, 2007

damnable details

So, it's looking like I'll be starting term sans computer. This makes me sad. But if Sara can do it, then so can I. Hopefully, a new one (or a repaired old one) will be on the way shortly.

In other news, I still haven't ordered my textbooks, or even found out which ones I'll be needing. I may end up biting the bullet and paying bookstore prices. I suppose it depends on how many books I'll need and how immediately I'll be needing them. Oh, I hate details.

Regular updates will resume when I once again have regular computer access. Until then, I make no guarantees.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

grr

My computer is off being fixed. I want it back. I'd forgotten just how much I hate the library's ones. And this whole half-hour internet time limit thing is just not acceptable.

*UPDATE*
My computer is, for all intents and purposes, dead. It needs either a new hard drive, or to be completely replaced. D:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

infinite

I was going to write some nostalgic/excited blog about tomorrow, about all my years wearing glasses and contacts and how, if all goes well (knock on wood), that part of my life will be over tomorrow. Was going to.

But I just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and my god. Everything else has been temporarily driven from my mind. I got it from the library yesterday on a whim; I was there for something else the they ended up not having, and I happened to remember it as something someone recommended to me once, so I checked it out. I sat down to read it this evening after Dad and I wrapped presents, thinking I'd get a few chapters in before temporary blindness sets in tomorrow (Mom said I may well not be able to read comfortably for two or three days—eep!), but I just kept going. It was so, I don't know, perfect. I can't pass judgment yet (I just finished the damn thing ten minutes ago), but when I finished the last page, I was literally breathless. I just sat there for a moment, overwhelmed by how striking, how emotionally perfect, how—I don't even know what. I can't remember the last time I had such a strong reaction to a book. I kept getting such flashes of recognition throughout, such authenticity, from a character, an action, an emotion. When Charlie talked about feeling infinite, I went back and read it three times over. I know that. I've felt that. I've even tried to describe it, though the word I found myself using was "ineffable." But that's what I meant.

I really ought to go to bed now. I mean, I have a pretty significant appointment tomorrow morning, and I don't want to be any more sleepy than the drugs are going to make me. But—wow. I can't sleep after that. I'm going to take a long bath and think about life. And seriously kids, if you haven't, read this book.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

unsurprising

I just took this quiz to see which of the current presidential candidates best matches my political views (according to that quiz, at least). The results? Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. Unsurprisingly, relegated to the margins yet again. *sigh*

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

achievement

This is how I spent the better part of my afternoon today. The part I wasn't sleeping, that is.



I'm not proud. Although, that high score there is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

stir crazy

(Is that supposed to be two separate words? Or is it hyphenated? Or just one word? Google Fight says...I'm right! yay.)

I'm going nuts here. Like srsly kids. I usually like long periods of time when I'm not required to do anything. But I like having the option of doing things.

I've started posting angsty Myspace bulletins. This is bad.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

leftovers

So, Thanksgiving's been more than a week ago now, and the fridge has been emptied of all but the most hardcore leftovers. The pie was the first to go, and the mashed potatoes and gravy disappeared within two days. The turkey turned into sandwiches, and the last holdouts became turkey and noodles over the weekend. The corn and peas were finally subject to someone's late-night snacking, and I had the last cold half-cup of stuffing for lunch yesterday afternoon. Which left the relish tray. Oh, the relish tray. Seriously. Nobody wants that much celery and dip. So what to do with it?

Well, we made pasta primavera. And it was soooooo delicious. And easy! It's not like we had a recipe or anything; we just kinda made it up as we went along. Hell, we didn't even know what we were going to end up with when we started. We steamed the leftover veggies (the usual: carrots, broccoli, celery, cauliflower), and in the meantime, sautéed half an onion with some butter, garlic, and parsley. When the veggies were done, we dumped 'em in with the onion, and then Dad found a packet of alfredo sauce mix in the cabinet, so we fixed that and boiled up some egg noodles, mixed the whole mess together, and voilà! Pasta primavera. Just as good as Casa!, if not better, imo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas commercials

Well, it's officially the holiday season now. I've just seen the M&Ms commercial:



Now if only they'll bring back the Hershey Kisses one too:



That will make it really official.

Santa's transportation

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Santa Claus does not drive a motorcycle, an airplane, or any other ridiculous vehicle you idiots with your giant inflatable lawn ornaments can dream up. He drives a magical sleigh, drawn by eight tiny reindeer. The only acceptable variation on this form is the possible addition of a ninth reindeer in the lead, sporting a shiny red nose. That's how Santa rolls, bitches. Deal with it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving, and congested ramblings

Thanksgiving was lovely. The trip to Aunt Lori's was generally pleasant, the dinner was excellent, and the company was good, and dinner today here at Dad's was also delicious, with equally excellent company (though rather fewer meat-free options—I really must say, I appreciate how Aunt Lori & co. take into account my dietary preferences without me having to ask and feel like I'm putting people out; I don't get that here).

At any rate, it was a lovely holiday, and so wonderful seeing everybody (and especially the kids; I am related to such adorable children!). My only complaint is that the cousins at Auntie L's all had some nasty Florida flu, and I have apparently picked up the bug. I refuse to get sick-sick; I simply won't do it. I have every confidence that it will not happen. But I am thoroughly congested, which is probably part of why I'm not asleep yet, and it will make sleep rather less comfortable when it arrives.

Ah well. I've found free internetz again for the moment (hooray!), so I can while away my sleepless hours with the other weirdos on the interwebs. And of course, I've got the TV, though its company, as always, is sometimes less than joyous. Right now, for example, all the good shows (read: SVU reruns) are over, and the "music" channels won't start playing videos for another couple of hours, but I want the noise, so I left it on and put on C-Span. It's generally easy to ignore if I'm interested in what I'm doing, and sometimes I catch interesting bits of information. But right now they've got Fred Thompson on, and before him was Mike Huckabee, and they're saying such stupid, stupid things, and it's making me upset. Why are they so stupid? Why?

The tissues are hurting my nose. :(

Sunday, November 25, 2007

highway musings

I really love driving through Chicago at night. It's so huge and exciting and alive. And I don't mean the actual city, although I like that on its own terms. No, I mean the highways themselves.

I suppose most people would say I'm just easily awed. But it's not like it's something I haven't seen before. It's not like I'm some country rube that's never left my little town in rural Indiana. I've seen insterstate highways, and numerous large cities (in numerous foreign countries, even). But really, they're so huge when you really think about it. I-90 through Chicago is mostly twelve lanes—twelve lanes—of traffic, with the Metra tracks in the middle—think how wide that is. If each lane is what, twelve feet across, plus the shoulders and the tracks, you're talking well over a hundred feet—that poor chicken'd have a hard time crossing this kind of road. And the overpasses have always amazed me, ever since I was little—bridges upon bridges, stacked three and four deep, curving up and down, left and right, soaring over empty space and each other, cars criss-crossing over and under other cars in seemingly random directions, but all ending up going where they need to go. And the lights, all the lights, a constant stream of red taillights on one side, and the oncoming white headlights on the other, and the impossibly tall orange streetlamps, endless rows between each set of lanes, snaking on and on until they merge with each other and all the other lights and disappear over the horizon. It's all so huge and brilliant!

Now, don't get me wrong; the environmentalist in me rails at the miles of concrete and steel and the tons of noxious fumes emitted daily by the traffic. It's a long way from the pioneers and their dirt roads, that's for sure. But that's neither regrettable nor commendable; it just is. Hopefully, we'll wise up someday and think of some new form of transportation that's not quite so disgustingly wasteful, and it will have wonders all its own. And that will be good. But for now, the child in me still loves the lights, the vast concrete expanses with their orderly lanes, the soaring chaos of bridges upon bridges stretching impossibly across the fume-filled sky. It really is marvelous.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

killing time

Earlier today, I happened to be at Wal-Mart (because there's no place else to get what I want in this godforsaken place, gr) and I happened to see the movie Rose Red in the five dollar bin. Now, I love a good haunted house flick, and Kat and I watched this one last year, and I highly enjoyed it, so I grabbed it. Now, as I'm sitting here contemplating the long hours ahead of me in my quest to stay up 'til 4 AM in preparation for tomorrow's drive, I happen to notice the DVD sitting there on the table, and I think to myself, "Hey, that's a four-hour movie; I could put it on now and that'd take care of my whole evening in one go."

Then I look around and think that perhaps staying up 'til all hours of the night in a basement that has been on my list of creepy places since childhood is not the best environment in which to watch a good haunted house flick. I mean, I don't want to sleep yet, but I do want to sleep.

Le sigh. There's always my SVU DVDs. I think I'll go lose myself in season 2.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thoughts

It's kind of ridiculous how much I miss my Knox friends already. I've only been home, what, two days? Le sigh.

Ah well. I'm sure I won't be severely lacking for things to do over break. Well, that's a lie, I will, but I'll manage to fill the time. I always do. I'd really much rather have nothing to do than too much to do, because then I have time to pursue leisure activities, or just sit and think, which I find to be a good thing. Perhaps I'll write, or get some reading done.

One thing I will do, I have decided, is take up knitting, at least for the time being. It looks like such a soothing activity. My intention is to make myself a scarf and a hat, and see how I like it. Perhaps I'll acquire a new hobby; if nothing else, I'll acquire a scarf and a hat.

And it will give me one more thing to do on the way to Minnesota and back. For which we're leaving tomorrow at four. And driving straight through. Meaning we'll get there at four. AM. I seriously do not understand what my mother hopes to gain by not taking Michael out of school for half a day. Seriously. Have you seen an elementary school classroom the last afternoon before a break? There is no learning there. So why we can't leave at noon is a mystery to me. But I've long since stopped trying to fathom the inner workings of my mother's brain.

So I'm planning to stay up ridiculously late tonight, sleep late tomorrow, and then I'll be awake for the duration of the trip. I expect I'll be driving a good portion of the after-dark hours, as usually ends up being the case. I don't mind. It's kind of nice, really, a car full of sleeping people, all under my watchful care, trusting me to get them safely where they need to go. It makes me feel very calm and capable. I like being calm and capable.

Of course, for the time being, I also have to finish the laundry. This is the downside of responsibility.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ya know what?

It's really nice to be home.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flip!

Ladybugs are pretty much the coolest things ever. I'm sitting here on the porch finishing my poetry final, and they're frickin' everwhere, which is pretty annoying, but one of them was crawling on my laptop, so I brushed her off onto the floor and she landed on her back. Well, she sat there for a moment, legs flailing in the air, and then she very deftly just popped her wings out and flipped herself neatly over onto her feet again.

I wish I could do that!

...and this is me procrastinating. Gah. Okay, off to finish my final.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

maps in my head

I spent most of last year having absolutely no idea where pretty much anything was in Galesburg, so this year, I've been working on filling that gap in my knowledge. In furtherance of this aim, I've done a bit of browsing on Google Maps, as well as a good deal of walking and riding my bike around town, and I feel like I'm getting fairly proficient with the basic layout of the town and its main streets. I don't have quite the extensive knowledge of the different areas that I can claim in Huntington, but then again, I haven't lived here for most of my life either. Although I must say, Galesburg is much easier to figure out than good ol' H-town—almost all the streets follow the same basic grid, and the street signs have numbers like the county roads at home as well as the names, so you can always figure out where you are relative to the square.

I'm also getting better with the street names, and knowing which streets are where. I've pretty much got the area around campus down pat, and I have at least a vague mental picture of pretty much everything north of Main St. My goal for the rest of the year is to flesh out this knowledge, as well as figuring out the southern half of town (although there's not as much there, and that's also where the sketchiest parts are, so I may not spend as much time on that part).

Partially in furtherance of this pursuit, and partially just because it was a gorgeous afternoon, I went on a bike ride today. I stayed pretty much around the residential area north of Main St., mostly in the historic section, and the sun was shining and the leaves were brilliant and it was just a really nice day. I enjoy riding my bike pretty much anywhere, and Galesburg is nice, because a)it's hard to get lost, and b) it feels very friendly to me; it seems like I always see somebody who smiles at me. And nobody's honked at me yet. Seems like there's always some asshole who doesn't know how to drive yelling or honking at me when I'm riding around at home. Usually in the S. Jefferson St. area. Jerks.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Season's Greetings!

I had to go watch a movie for class this evening, just as I have every Thursday evening this term. When I came home, I found various members of the house in the living room watching E.R. The first commercial break we came to, I was reminded very forcefully that it is now, in fact, the day after Halloween, because the first three commercials in a row were, you guessed it, Christmas themed.

x_x

Monday, October 29, 2007

sleepy time day

So I come home from lunch today (bringing two meals' worth of smuggled food with me) to find Tasha asleep on the living room floor, Sara preparing for a nap on the couch, Julia lying in bed trying to convince herself that was worth getting up to do her homework, and Tony awake but inexplicably sprawled on the floor in the doorway of his room.

Ironically, this is the first day in quite some time that I have neither fallen asleep in class nor felt like napping when I got home from lunch. Craziness.

I do hope at least Tasha and Sara wake up soon though, because I got a movie on reserve from the library and I need to watch it and return it by five, and I don't really want to disturb them. They look so peaceful.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So, um...

As of brunch today, I am officially out of meals. Out. Done. Nada más.

Eep.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

vocabulary

I am in love with words. Seriously. There are so many of them, and they can say so many things.

I am also a big fan of the subtleties and nuances of language; think how much more you are saying when you describe something as "convoluted" rather than just plain old "confusing."

Of course, sometimes I feel like people think I am taking this too far. For example, yesterday, I was trying to come up with a word for my Facebook status to describe just exactly how I was feeling. It was a crummy kind of day, and I was feeling vaguely icky: sleepy, mildly depressed, slightly grumpy and just a tad sick of the world. I found the exact word to describe these symptoms in lassitude: "weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor." But it was a noun with no corresponding adjective, and I wanted an adjective to fit with the "Andrea is" in my Facebook status. (Granted, I could have just said, "Andrea is suffering from a feeling of lassitude," but seriously, that just sounds dumb.) Tasha suggested "lethargic," which was close to what I wanted, but not it exactly. I also could have used "listless" or "languorous," directly from the definition, but those still (in my mind, anyway) did not have the exact connotations I was looking for. I suppose this is probably just me splitting hairs; I think I have a habit of ascribing subtle connotations to words that most people don't. But still!

However (and this is me bragging, pure and simple), I quite enjoy having a reasonably large vocabulary, as well as a smattering of knowledge-bytes from other languages. It means I don't often come across a word in English that is utterly foreign to me, and when I do, I can usually make a reasonable guess as to its meaning based on its parts. For example, I was recently reading and came across this gem: verisimilitude. Fairly straightforward, phonetically speaking, but I had never seen it before in my life. So I thought about it for a moment, glanced over the contextual clues, and formed a hypothesis: "veri-" would be something meaning "truth," as in "verily," from the Latin veritas, and "-similitude" would probably be related to "similar," so "verisimilitude" would mean something like "the quality of being similar to the truth or reality." This made sense in the reading, so I accepted it and continued. Later, I went back and looked it up; according to the American Heritage Dictionary (via Dictionary.com), it is "the quality of appearing to be true or real" or "something that has the appearance of being true or real." Hot damn.

Friday, October 26, 2007

contentment

I think yesterday was the most perfect day I've had in quite some time. I was kept busy for pretty much the duration, but it wasn't a rushed kind of busy, and almost everything I did was new or interesting or otherwise not boring and required.

I had classes in the morning, which were fairly unremarkable, except that I managed not to fall asleep in World Music, which was nice. Then there was lunch and an hour's break and I was off to work until four.

At four, I went to the Caxton Club reading in Old Main. I'd never been to a CC event before, but I'd meant to on numerous occasions, and the reader at this particular one was Cyn Kitchen. I was in her Beginning Fiction Writing class last year and loved it, so I figured now was a good opportunity to actually make it to the event. I was very glad I did—she's a wonderful writer, and great to listen to.

Then it was home for dinner and then back to Old Main at six for a discussion about what it means to be an environmentalist. It was part of the Environmental Awareness Week and sponsored by the Philosophy Club, another organization by which I've always been vaguely intrigued but never actually got around to checking out a meeting. I enjoyed the discussion immensely, and even contributed a bit in the latter half, which I hadn't expected to do.

After that, I headed upstairs for the weekly movie for American Studies. This week's selection was a pair of one-hour documentaries about the Black Power movement; I watched the first one, but decided to leave at before the second, partially because I was slightly bored and afraid of falling asleep, but mostly because I just really really wanted to go to ballroom. (I'll still have to get the second documentary from the library and watch it this weekend, but that's okay, because it's much easier to stay awake and attentive watching in my own living room in the mid-afternoon than in a dark classroom.)

Ballroom was, as always, grand. I haven't gotten to go to many of the Thursday night practices this term (because of the movies), and it was encouraging to see the healthy number of people (and especially leaders) in attendance. And of course, the other nice part of going on Thursdays is that I get to practice my leading, which I'm growing to enjoy quite a bit at times.

After ballroom, I was kind of wanting to go to Jazz Night at McGillacuddy's, and at first nobody really seemed into it, but then Tony and Allison decided they wanted to go, so the three of us headed over and hung out there for awhile. Then we came back and I sat in the living room and chatted with Tasha and Sara and Dan for a bit, until I fell asleep in the bean bag chair and Sara woke me up and made me go to bed. It was, all in all, a very full and interesting day, and I wish I had more days like that, but alas, homework seems so often to render such things impossible.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Damn you, Doublemint!

I have been scouring the vast interwebs off and on for the past three hours for a particular Doublemint Gum commercial, and it's driving me bat-shit insane. I remember it from when I was fairly little; the only lyrics I could remember initially were the last few lines: Double your pleasure, double your fun, that's the statement of the great mint in Doublemint gum. For awhile I thought I was nuts, but Google finally reaffirmed my sanity with this hit, confirming that, if I was hallucinating the ad, at least it was a shared hallucination.

If anybody else remembers this, or better yet can find a clip somewhere online, I'd greatly appreciate hearing about it before I go completely mad. As I said, I was pretty young at the time (think early 90s). And FYI, It's not this one, this one, this one, or this one, and most certainly not this one.

And no, I really do not have a life. We've established this.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The moose is on the loose!

The Knox ballroom moose, that is. I guess you kinda had to be there...

Anyway, the competition Saturday at U of I was strange and horrific and wonderful in various ways, much like last year. There are a number of things about which I could complain (east coast swing is NOT best danced to jive music, thank you very much!), and a number of other things about which I could rave (the dancing M.C.!), but I've neither the time nor the energy at this point, and it probably wouldn't be very interesting or coherent to anyone who wasn't there anyway.

Our team as a whole made a decent showing, especially for being a small team from a tiny school, which was nice. As for me personally, I led three dances and followed in five others, so I felt comfortably occupied throughout the day. I'm sure my leading of the foxtrot was abominable, and I felt kind of bad for Katie, the dear, whose following skills I put to the test. I also was not the most brilliant leader in E.C. swing (advanced group, yikes!), but Jen is a doll and we both agreed that we were just out there to have fun, which we did. And honestly, even though we didn't place, I do feel like I did quite well for having very limited experience with swing leading, even successfully throwing in a move I'd picked up only moments before going on the floor.

Elisa and I made finals in beginner E.C. swing (she led), in group A (the "good" group, to put it quite bluntly and not very accurately), and ended up taking 5th, which made me very happy. Even more exciting, Chrissy and I made finals in cha-cha (with me leading!) and took 6th, which was pretty much the best thing ever. Don even complimented us on our cha-cha-ing, which pleased me greatly, because I often don't feel like I do much that's particularly compliment-worthy in ballroom, and I also feel like Don doesn't generally give undeserved compliments.

And I can't forget to mention that we had Greek food for lunch and Indian for dinner. And don't forget the Moonstruck Café. These are, of course, the important parts of any ballroom competition.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Success!

I must say, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush one gets by printing off a paper fifteen minutes before it's due, only to realize that the printer's out of ink and one must make a mad dash across campus to Founders to print it off and then to Old Main to turn it in, and accomplishing all this in only seven minutes. God love bicycles.

And now I can sit here and bask in the lovely post-midterm glow, brooding contentedly about the meaning of life on this rainy Wednesday afternoon. Glorious.

Friday, October 12, 2007

so much information...

It all started with a Google search for a slightly more in-depth definition of "periphrasis," because for once, dictionary.com's terseness just wasn't enough.

It ended up being a multi-hour jaunt through Wikipedia, learning more than I ever needed to know about rhetorical devices, speech impediments, and autism spectrum disorders.

It is for situations like this that I both love and hate Wikipedia, in fairly equal measures. I got no studying done, nor did I begin my midterm paper that's due on Wednesday. However, I did find out that there is a name for the way I don't say my 's'es quite properly—it is a (slight) lateral lisp. Fascinating.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

malaria

So, there was a blood drive today. I signed up for it a few weeks ago, and then I was a little worried, because I had to get that tetanus shot and I wasn't sure if that would disqualify me from donating.

Well, turns out a tetanus shot is okay (as long as you don't show any symptoms, which I didn't), but my trip to Costa Rica in March is not, and I shouldn't have been allowed to donate when I did in May. The reason they didn't catch it was because both the places I stayed are not malaria-risk areas. However, we traveled by land through malaria-risk areas, which the lady then didn't ask about, and I didn't think to say. So, I'm ineligible until next March.

On the one hand, I understand the need for rules like this, and the fact that they can't make any exceptions, etc., etc. On the other hand, we drove straight through, in a closed car with the windows up. I can say with 100% certainty that I did not get any mosquito bites during the journey. It's a bit frustrating.

Ah well. Guess the vampires at the Red Cross will have to wait a bit for my malaria-tainted blood.

a declaration

As of the end of fall term, I will have achieved junior status. This means I have to declare my major before the end of term.

There's really no question of what to declare; I've known for awhile now that I want to do creative writing. But putting it on paper makes it so official. I'm not some aimless first year wandering through my classes anymore; I've got a purpose and a goal.

In some ways, that thought is very pleasant. It does have a certain sadness to it, though.

My mind is wracked by ambivalence.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

epic adventure

It was a Saturday afternoon early in October, the weather still ridiculously warm for the season. I'd just finished my allotment of studying for my World Music midterm the coming Tuesday, and Sara, Dan, and I were melting in a heat-induced stupor, trying to decide what we should do with the rest of our day.

"We should have an adventure," Dan posited.

I raised my eyebrows and replied, "What kind of adventure, Dan?"

"I dunno. An epic adventure."

There was a brief silence while we considered this statement, and then someone, maybe it was Sara, said, "We should go to Lake Michigan."

So we did.

We went to dinner early, woke up Tasha, grabbed some snacks from the c-store, and started out of town. There was a bit of a hitch in the beginning, as there always is with this sort of thing: Sara's car was making a strange rattling noise, and we, being calm and reasonable teenagers, were worried it might to explode, fall apart, or otherwise cause us serious bodily harm or death. So I called my mother, saint that she is, and described the noise to her, and she, being a genius as well as a saint, correctly diagnosed a loose muffler, which ailment we verified and then, deciding it was not a life-threatening condition, opted to continue on our quest to put our feet in Lake Michigan.

We arrived in downtown Chicago shortly after 10:00 PM and managed to find a free parking place quite close to the lake shore. We then played in the sand, waded in the lake, looked at the few stars we could see (being in the middle of Chicago and all), and contemplated the immense black void of lake and sky before us.

Then we drove through a pretty sketchy area, a not-too-sketchy area, and into the western suburbs, which are very large and suburban and odd.* There, we met Dan's friend and her friend, and we went to a Denny's at something like 1:00 AM, and found that Denny's has exactly no entrées that do not include meat. So I got a Western burger, sans burger, which ended up being absolutely delicious, in a Denny's-at-one-in-the-morning kind of way (which, let's be honest, is often the best kind of way).

Then we parted ways with our new friends and piled back into Sara's car to go home. Sara drove the whole way, and the rest of us slept or dozed or looked at the stars. Once we got away from civilization, we could see quite a few of them, as well as the moon (a lovely crescent, with the dark part visible—so cool) and a really bright planet (we think it was Venus). It really was a gorgeous night.

Meanwhile back in the car, Dan was curled up in the front seat with Sara's teddy bear, and it was both hilarious and adorable. I think Tasha was asleep for a good portion of the trip also, but it was dark, and I couldn't tell for sure. I dozed in almost exact 15-minute spurts, as is generally my habit when I'm comfortable, and stayed up to make sure Sara stayed awake the last half hour. And I have to say, props to her for the driving; there aren't many drivers in whose cars I can sleep half that well.

We rolled back into Galesburg sometime around 5:30 AM, having completed our epic adventure and achieved our quest. It was probably the best time I've had so far this year. I love these people.


*I'm sure there's nothing really all that odd about West Chicago, as suburbs go. I'm just not used to suburbs in general, and therefore they all seem immensely sprawling and empty and odd to me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

calm

So, September was apparently a bust month for blogging. For me, at least. Hey, cut me some slack, I was mourning the death of summer break.

Anyway, here I am, back at school, and despite my many peevish complaints, I really do love it here. Words cannot express my utter delight at having a house full of friends instead of a dorm full of random people or some other housing nonsense. It's definitely a very different experience from living in the either the quads or the townhouses last year; we have bedrooms that are just that: bedrooms. We can hang out there if we want, and sometimes we do, but we can also be in the living room, the kitchen, the front or back porch, or just sprawled out somewhere on the lawn. There are so many options.

Of course, living in a house with ten friends and seeing them so very often does have its downsides. We've got our fair bit of drama floating around, and it can get pretty nasty sometimes. Anybody who knows me at all knows how I feel about drama: I just won't do it. But it's still kind of odd hanging around the periphery of a lot of awkwardness and unpleasantry, and sometimes it gets upsetting. I think that's partially why I haven't blogged in awhile; I keep feeling like the biggest things on my mind are mean or gossipy issues, or things that aren't mine to tell. I mean really, there's not that much fascinating stuff to write about in the first month of school. But I've decided, as I always do, that I'm not going to let it get to me. As I said, none of these are really my issues, and insofar as they don't concern me directly, I'm not getting involved. I'd like to think that at least most of the people living in this house have the capability to handle themselves as mature adults and can manage to work out their issues enough to keep the peace.

Anyway, enough of that blather. It's a gorgeous afternoon; I've spent most of it reading peacefully in the quiet sunshine in my room. Now I'm hungry, and I'm going to dinner. Self-determination is a lovely thing.

Monday, October 1, 2007

OUCH!


↓THIS THING stabbed my foot. IN. MY. FOOT. Right through my shoe. See?→

Okay, so I'll back up a minute here. Sara and I went for a walk last night, because it was a lovely evening and we felt like taking a stroll around the 'burg. We went north on Seminary and ended up going rather farther than we'd expected (all the way to Fremont St., actually), and then we went back home via Academy. A grand total of 3.5 miles, according to Google Maps.

Anyway, during the eastbound portion of our trek, I managed to step on the monstrous bolt in the above picture, which punctured my flip-flop and the bottom of my left foot, necessitating a 15-block limp back to the house to fetch my wallet and then a 1:00 AM drive to the emergency room for a tetanus shot, during which I crushed the life out of Sara's hand.

And I ended up fifty dollars poorer, with a sore foot, achy arm, and unfinished journal entry for the class I ended up skipping today because I was too damn tired to go to it after being up so late last night. Oh, life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My adventure with cars and a ditz

Yesterday evening, my mom had a meeting at church, and she also wanted to get some grocery shopping done. So she asked me if I would drop her off at the church, go get groceries, and then come back and pick her up. No problem. So I go drop her off, and as I'm pulling out of the parking space, I don't turn sharply enough, and I scrape the car behind me. Shit. So Mom comes hurrying back across the parking lot, and I hop out of the car and we go inspect the damage.

You can hardly see it. I mean, I didn't think I hit it very hard, but it was even less than I'd expected. No dents, barely a scratch; nothing much that won't come off with a bit of buffing. So Mom said to go on and get groceries, and she'd go in and find out whose car it was (assuming it was somebody in the meeting; I mean, who else would be parked in the church parking lot, right?) and it would be no problem. Seriously, if you didn't know it happened, you wouldn't notice the mark.

But no. As I'm getting back in the car and she's turning to go in the church, this chick comes running up from the house next door, looking like the sky is falling. Apparently the car belongs to her fiancé, and they can't park it in the garage or driveway on their property, due to some vague reasoning having to do with the landlady. (Right.) She asks if I hit the car, and we reply that yes, I did indeed make contact. She comes around to look at the front of her (fiancé's) car, and has to ask where the damage is. I would assume that having to have the damage pointed out would make one realize that it's not serious, but no, she says her fiancé is "paranoid" about his car and we'd better just call—well, who do we call? The insurance company, right? Or the police? She doesn't know—she's apparently on the point of a nervous breakdown or something. So my mom, amazing person that she is, is trying to communicate to the woman that we don't have to call anybody; there's not enough damage to meet any insurance deductible in existence, so we exchange phone numbers and info, and if repairs are required, we'll pay for it. No big deal. We'll come and buff it out ourselves; it's not difficult.

Well, no, we have to do it exactly by the book, 'cause her fiancé's paranoid, and he'll kill her if anything happens to his precious car, blah, blah, blah. (Sidenote: It's a dingy-looking, late-90s Pontiac Grand Prix. Does anyone else see the ridiculousness here?) So who do we call? Well, my mother says, first you call the police. The ditz is ready to call 911, I swear to god. So my mother (I'm really glad she was there; I woulda killed this chick. As it was, I didn't have to talk much.) explains to her that no, you don't call 911 for a parking lot ding, if you insist upon calling someone, you call the local police station. So she does, and we wait half an hour for a cop to finally show up, and when he gets there and sees the "damage," you can tell, he just can't believe he got called for this. So he gives us "exchange of information forms" and we exchange information, like Mom suggested we do in the first place, and so we ended up wasting 45 minutes getting each other's phone numbers.

My god, the stupidity.

So now we get to wait and see if her fiancé's as big an idiot as she is. I swear, if I end up paying for them to repaint the bumper on their decade-old Pontiac, I will lose what little faith I have left in humanity.

Monday, August 20, 2007

relaxing afternoon

It's been raining all day. Most of the past few days, actually. This rather limits my mobility, given my current driving policy and my desire to stay relatively dry. I was feeling particularly disappointed this morning, because I'd composed a couple of emails last night and was hoping at least to get to the library today to send them. And of course, I haven't been on a decent bike ride in at least a week, and was considering this as a possible addition to my afternoon activities. But no, the morning's thunderstorms have been followed seamlessly with a strong, steady rain that has rendered me stationary, at least until four o'clock obliges me to go pick up Michael when he gets off the bus.

Having little else to do, I retired to my room and commenced reading, thinking to finish a few more chapters in Frankenstein before I got too bored. I had previously found the book oppressively dull, and so I despaired of finding some way to entertain myself when it grew too tedious, but I resolved to cross that bridge when I came to it, and settled down to read. I found myself pleasantly surprised, however, with the rest of the story. Perhaps it just suited my mood today; at any rate, I ended up finishing the whole thing.

I must say, I'd forgotten how delightful it can be, on a gray and dreary day such as this one, to sprawl out upon one's bed and become entirely lost in fiction. The house was quiet, save for the faint murmur of the TV downstairs, and my only soundtrack was the steady tapping of the rain outside my open window. I began with the intention of reading another few chapters, spending perhaps half an hour, and ended up over two hours later, looking up from the last page with the realization that my feet were numb with cold and I desperately needed to use the restroom. I haven't done that in a good long while, and it reminded me quite pleasantly of long afternoons I used to spend thus occupied as a child. It's good to know I can still do that.

And now four o'clock approaches, and I must be off to pick up Michael at Mom's house. I shall use the wireless internet there to post this and send my emails. Excellent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I live! and other miscellany

Woo, I return! So, the past three weeks, Kim was here, and then I was at Kim's, and in short, I wasn't online like, at all. I know, I know, you missed me terribly, all you imaginary people who read this stupid thing.

Anyway, yeah, well, nothing much has been going on anyway, so it's not like I've failed to report anything noteworthy. My mother's in China, and I'm chillin' at Dad's, like I have been for most of the summer, so, nothing new. I went to a ballroom dance at IPFW on Saturday with John, and it was pretty frickin' sweet. Except, of course, for the fact that I wore my new shoes, forgot to bring Band-Aids, and ended up with a grand total of seven more or less huge blisters on my feet. I was limping all of yesterday. But it was fun nonetheless. AND (drumroll please) a guy asked for my number. Of course, it couldn't be some hot college student (honestly, I didn't really see any of those there, though there were college kids around); no, it was this guy, I'm pretty sure his name is Scott, but I could be completely wrong, as I'm completely awful with names. But anyway, I've seen him at the studio I've been going to with Mom, and we've danced before, and he seems like a nice enough guy, if a little on the geeky/socially awkward side. But the thing is, I was (and still am, honestly) under the impression that he was significantly older than me, like, late twenties at least, possibly thirty or so. So, I'm not really sure how this rates on the creepy scale. I mean, I hardly know the guy (I can't even for sure remember his name!), so I don't wanna pass judgment or anything, but, well, eh. I dunno. I told him I didn't have a cell phone and gave him my email instead, so, we'll see. He hasn't emailed me yet, which I take as a good sign; hopefully that means he's not creepily obsessed or something. *sigh* Where's my prince charming, dammit?!

Anyway, in completely unrelated news, my dad is being weird this evening and it's getting on my nerves. Adults should not be allowed to act like children. Just...no. But I made a reasonably non-disgusting vegetable stir-fry this evening, and for a first attempt, I consider that a success. Michael actually said he liked it a lot, which amazed me, being that it was composed entirely of vegetables and tofu. I love being pleasantly surprised. It was kind of funny though, when I went to the store; going through the checkout line, I had a sudden image of what the lady checking me out was thinking of me. Here I was in sandals and a tie-dye t-shirt, my hair in braids, checking out with a bunch of fresh (some organic) produce and package of tofu, explaining to my little brother the difference between two brands of veggie burgers. Total hippie, you could see it on her face. But she seemed to not mind and was quite friendly, which is not always guaranteed around here. I enjoyed myself, anyway, and my dinner was, if not the most delectable thing I've tried, at least passable. My skills shall improve, I am certain, with practice.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

progress

Okay, so this is kind of long, but come on, it's the middle of summer, right? Anyway, my mom's been teaching the young adult Sunday School class (the term "young" here is sometimes applied loosely, but it's a good bunch o' folks) at the church in Roanoke, where she goes regularly and I am technically still a member. The current curriculum series is called "Confronting the Controversies," and it's a seven-week run covering all the recent hot-button issues, from abortion to euthanasia to prayer in public schools and all the rest. This, the final week's topic, you guessed it, is homosexuality.

Now, the rest of the chapters didn't really do much for me; it was old hat, just perpetual repetition of the same things all of the middle-of-the-road denominations have been saying for pretty much ever. Reading through this chapter, however, it's clear that Adam Hamilton, the pastor who wrote the book, is actually giving the issue a great deal of personal thought and energy, something that doesn't always come through with a lot of this kind of literature. He ended the chapter with a brief statement of his personal views on the issue, which I found at least thoughtful, though still perfectly in line with the church's official stance: he basically concluded that homosexuals are people too, and we should love them, but being straight is really better and it's a Christian's duty to love them enough to lead them to the light. Something along those lines.

This conclusion, he then explained, was written in 2000, and he goes on to add a postscript, written in 2004, that shows some, dare I say it, evolution in his thinking. It's not a complete 180, by any means, but I think it shows progress, and I found it encouraging, at least, that there are religious leaders at least willing to take a serious look at the question and even to possibly consider reevaluating their beliefs. I've typed up the postscript and put it up here for easy perusal; please keep in mind that I typed all this reading it straight from a book between 1 and 2 AM, so any typos are strictly my own.

Postscript—Further Reflections Four Years Later...

In the time that has passed [since 2000], this issue has become one of the most polarizing issues in our society. "Sodomy" laws were struck down by the United States Supreme Court, homosexual marriage became legal in most provinces in Canada, marriage licenses were granted to homosexual couples in Massachusetts, and the Episcopal Church in the United States has consecrated an openly gay bishop. In part as a response to these challenges to traditional values, the Republican Party called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman; and a large number of conservatives, and even many moderates, have taken on the cause of opposing gay marriage.

During the years since I originally wrote what you have just read in this chapter, I have spent several hundred hours reading and studying the literature on both sides of this subject. I have read the latest biblical studies and the arguments posited by progressives and the responses of traditionalists. I have attended debates and have myself debated both sides of this issue. I have listened to the stories of gay and lesbian people in my congregation, as well as the stories of their parents, siblings, and children.

Rather than leading to greater clarity on this issue, my reading, research, and particularly the time spent listening to the stories of homosexuals and their families has led to a distinct lack of clarity and continuing discomfort regarding this issue. The last time I preached on homosexuality, I shared with my congregation that the one verse that kept ringing in my ears as I was reflecting on this topic was 1 Corinthians 13:12: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known."

Having carefully studied the latest progressive arguments regarding homosexuality—particularly those dealing with the biblical texts—I remain persuaded that Scripture, tradition, and reason point to the fact that God creatred us male and female and intendeed sexual intimacy to be expressed within the context of the marriage of a man and a woman. Using the terms of Leslie Weatherhead's helpful book The Will of God, I believe that heterosexuality is God's "intentional will" for our lives. I believe God created us intending that we be born with a natural desire for the oppposite sex. I believe God intended sexual intercourse as a means of bonding husband and wife together, as well as a means of allowing humanity to be co-creators with God. I believe God designed our bodies with heterosexual intercouse in mind. I believe this is God's intentional will for humankind.

But I also know that sometimes life does not line up with God's intentional or ideal will. For example, I am persuaded that God's ideal will is that every baby be born healthy and perfect; yet the processes by which embryos develop into children sometimes lead to birth defects—they are rare, but they happen. Such children do not conform to the pattern of God's ideal will; yet God, in God's providence, knows such children will be born with spina bifida, or Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or autism. Nevertheless, these children, with their "defects," are enfolded into God's plan for the world. We do not blame God for the disorders, nor do we blame the children. This is just a part of life, and we trust that somehow God uses these children to accomplish his purposes in the world.I have seen God's handiwork through such children in my congregation again and again.

Likewise, we also know that a small number of children are born as "intersex" or hermaphrodite; that is, they are born with undifferentiated genitalia or shared male and female physiology or chromosomal patterns. I do not believe God's ideal will is that any child be born with any of the several conditions labeled as hermaphrodite, yet God certainly knows that such children will be born. These children are loved by God, and they have some purpose to fulfill in God's plan.

As I have considered these things, I have wondered if the same reasoning might be applied to persons who are not, of their own volition, choosing same-sex attraction but whose sexual orientation seems to have been shaped either by prenatal forces or by the environment in which they were raised. Is it possible to say that homosexuality is not God's ideal will but that God knows that some persons will be homosexual by no conscious choice and that God has an extraordinary compassion and care for them, anticipates this condition, and includes them in his plan and purposes for the world?

My point is simply that an omniscient God must know that some persons will be born and grow up to be emotionally and sexually attracted to the same sex. God must understand the intense struggle and pain that some of these persons experience as they wrestle with their identity. God has head the prayers of these people when they have begged God to change them, yet their prayers have remained unanswered. Is it possible that for these persons God's ideal will gives way to what Weatherhead describes as God's "circumstantial will"—that is, God's "plan B." God's circumstantial will, as Weatherhead defines it, is God's will given the unique set of circumstances that prevented God's intentional will from being fully experienced.

Here traditionalists would argue that God's circumstantial will is that homosexuals remain celibate, devoting themselves wholly to God's work, to honoring God with their bodies, and to not acting upon their innate desires. Progressives would suggest that God's circumstantial will—God's "plan B"—might involve allowing persons who are a part of the 1.6 percent to 5 percent of the population who are born with what might be seen as the "birth defect" of homosexuality to marry and experience the blessings of intimacy, love, and marriage with persons who are "afflicted" with the same "birth defect."

Based upon my conversations with homosexuals, I believe that some may, in fact, be born with a tendency toward homosexuality. I have met some gay men who seem to fit the stereotype of those shaped by their environment: young men who had no close relationships with males growing up or who were sexually abused as children. But I have met many others whose stories did not fit these stereotypes. In listening to the stories of homosexuals, then, I believe that there are likely multiple factors that might influence sexual orientation and that some persons may have their identity as homosexuals shaped in utero. In the cases of homosexuals whose sexual identity is shaped by their environment or by childhood sexual trauma, therapy might have a significant impact upon sexual identity. Here it should be noted, however, that even faith-based "reparative" therapies report only a thirty-to-fifty percent success rate among persons seeking help in changing their sexual orientation. This should not be minimized—many who have been through this therapy report great joy at the new life they have found thanks to such treatment. At the same time, the magnitude of the challenge of transforming sexual orientation, if not a near impossibility for some, must be understood by God.

A third category of persons involved in homosexual relationships are persons who were born with a natural desire for the opposite sex but who have chosen to pursue homosexual relationships. For some this choice was the result of failed relationships with the opposite sex. For some it was out of a desire for companionship that was never satisfied in heterosexual relationships. But for some, homosexuality takes root in the same way a host of other sexual sins take root—through fantasy, pornography, and sexual experimentation. Some of these persons struggle with sexual addiction and are involved in dangerous sexual practices. For me this last group of persons most clearly fit the profile of those the Bible is speaking to in its passages forbidding homosexuality. I would suggest that these persons must be taught the nature of sin and God's plan for sexual intimacy and be helped to leave behind this life in the same way we would help heterosexual persons find freedom from sexual addiction or sin.

But what of the first two categories of homosexuals—persons who seem either born or shaped by their environment to be homosexual? What should be the church's stance toward such persons? Here I find myself experiencing a high degreee of ambiguity. I have tried to understand what God's word would be to such persons—and it is difficult for me to see this clearly. As I have contemplated the various responses from both progressives and traditionalists, I find myself dissatisfied with both; yet I cannot clearly see a middle way. Hence, on this issue, I often feel as though I "see through a mirror dimly."

During the 2004 Presidential campaign, I found it illuminating, as a United Methodist pastor, to look at the two most powerful United Methodist laypersons in the United States: President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. President Bush, whose children are both heterosexual, took a position very popular with many voters, advocating a "marriage amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, which would define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Vice President Cheney, another United Methodist layperson, has a daughter who is a lesbian. In a rare show of disunity in the election season, the Vice President publicly disagreed with the President on this issue and indicated that he did not support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

What this pointed to, for me, was what I have learned from visiting with dozens of parents and family members of homosexuals: When your child is homosexual, there is a strong tendency to see this issue very differently than when you are not personally touched by it. Most of the parents I have spoken with who had a gay or lesbian child were disappointed, at first, that their child was homosexual. They had a difficult time accepting their child's homosexuality. They often tried to help their son or daughter "overcome" it. But in the end, many of these parents, acting out of the love they had for their child, came to accept their child's homosexuality and to see it with more understanding and grace than they had ever thought possible. They would tell me, "I didn't believe homosexuality was God's plan; but I love my son/daughter, and their homosexuality will not stop me from loving them." Some had even attended the civil union or wedding of their gay or lesbian child, not because they approved of such a practice, but because they loved their child and wanted their son or daughter to find happiness. Most prefferred that their child be involved in a committed, monogamous relationship rahter than live life going from partner to partner. Hence, while these parents' ideal plan for their children—heterosexuality—was not realized, they came to have a kind of "circumstantial" plan for them that involved their health and welfare given their homosexuality. Nearly always, these parents indicated that they would not turn their back on their children despite their struggle with homosexuality.

As I considered these stories, I began to think of my own daughters and wondered how I would respond if, years from now, one of them came to tell me she was a lesbian. I would certainly want to go to counseling with her to try to understand why she believed this was so. I would want to talk about God's ideal will, as I understand it, with her. I would be saddened and disappointed because for so many years I have been praying for the man she would marry one day, someone I hoped would love her as much as I love her. But if one of my daughters said to me, "Dad, I have tried counseling. I have prayed and prayed to God to change me. I have come to accept the fact that I am a lesbian and nothing will change that. But Dad, I still want to be your daughter. Will you still be my father? Will you still love me?" what would I do? I know exactly what I would do. I would wrap my arms around her and hold her and tell her how deeply I love her and that nothing, not even her belief that she was a lesbian, could change this.

And it is here, as I contemplated these things, that I began to wonder about God's response to homosexuals who wish to follow Christ. I have always identified closely with Jesus' use of the term Abba ("Father," or "Daddy") to address God. I appreciate the need for inclusive ways of speaking of God; but for me, perhaps because I am a father and I know how deeply I love my children, I identify with this image of God. So I wondered, If I, as a father, would respond this way to one of my daughters if she came to believe that she was a lesbian—if I would hold her in my arms and love her despite this—is it not possible that God, whose love, mercy, compassion, and understanding are infinitely greater than mine, would also love and embrace his homosexual children who longed to follow Christ?

What are the implications of such an idea? I am not certain. I still believe that God's ideal will for our lives is heterosexuality. I still belive that God's plan for sexuality is sexual intimacy practiced within the bonds of Christian marriage. I believe that it is possible, though very difficult, for some homosexuals to live into heterosexuality. I believe many others may be called to celibacy and the dedication of their lives wholly to God (perhaps the "eunuchs for the Kingdom of God" that Jesus mentions in Matthew 19:12, lifting them as an example of faithfulness to God). But I have come to believe that God's grace is wider than I had imagined and that God may respond to his children who are gay and lesbian exactly as I would if one of my children were homosexual.

One final thought. I am certain that our society is moving toward much greater acceptance of homosexuality, with or without the church. I believe that legalized homosexual unions or marriages will be performed in many states in the decades ahead. Today's children and youth are already much more accepting of homosexuals than are their parents. In twenty years our churches will regularly deal with the situation of married homosexual couples wanting to attend church. These couples will not only be legally married, they will have adopted, or in the case of lesbians, birthed, multiple children. The church will need to respond. Will we demand that two people who have loved one another for years, who love their children, and who are legally married, whose children love both of their parents, divorce and divide their family before they can participate in the church? Or will we find some way to see them with different eyes and to invite them to participate in the life of the church? I do not know the answer to this question, but I am certain that your church will face this situation in the years ahead.

Yes, I admit I cannot see this issue clearly. I have had many long talks with God about it—and I am conflicted. I see the Scriptures as God's inspired Word by which I seek to live my life and from which I seek to guide my congregation week after week. Yet I see, in some instances, homosexuality falling into a category of life that may not neatly fit the rules laid out in the Bible. And I see the response of many Christians to homosexuals as often destructive and a far cry from how I think Jesus would respond to them. So I identify with Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13:12: When it comes to this issue, I see through a mirror dimly. But, having said that, I recall that Paul did not end that magnificent chapter by describing what he could not know but instead with a description of what he was certain of. In verse 13 Paul says, "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." These words define how I as a pastor will approach the issue of homosexulaity and homosexual people. While I may not fully understand all that God understands about this issue, I do know something about faith. Our church will call all people, gay and straight, to faith in Christ. We will call persons to entrust their lives totally to Christ. We will invite them to surrender their lives to him and to place their lives in his hands. We will challenge them to invite him to do as he wishes in their lives. My experience is that for some, both gay and straight, this will include a change in some of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, including their sexual practices.

While I cannot see all that the future holds when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, I do know about hope. Hope is one of the greatest benefits of faith. Part of our hope, as it pertains to this issue, comes from knowing that homosexuality is only a temporal issue. Jesus has told us that "in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). We will not wrestle with this issue forever. Furthermore, we have hope that God understands what we cannot and that God knows what can and cannot be changed, transformed, and re-oriented in us. But more than that, we have hope in God's grace, in his mercy, and in his steadfast love. Finally, though I feel some tension in knowing exactly what ministry with homosexual persons might look like, I do know about love. I know that in the end I can be morally right; but if I do not have love, I have missed the mark. I know that when Jesus was asked to summarize the Law and the Prophets, he did so by giving us two great commandments, the second of which is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I know that this love is sacrificial, it is compassionate, and it covers over a multitude of sins (and mistakes and failures of understanding). I know that in my life and in the church I serve we will seek to love homosexual people.

I am told that someone once asked Billy Graham what he would do if one of his children were a homosexual. His response went something like this: "I would love them all the more, for they would need my love all the more." I suppose this captures my response to homosexuals. I have this sense that God's mercy is wider than we can see. Yet I still maintain that the Bible offers God's ideal will for how we exercise our sexuality. I am trusting that God will help us see, in the years ahead, how to bring these two ideas—God's mercy and God's ideal will—together. Until that day, I will approach this issue with a measure of humility and grace, while continuing to call all people to a life of faith, through which we know a profound hope, which calls us to live lives of sacrificial love.

Adam Hamilton
September 2004


Now, there are some things in here with which I must take issue for a moment.

-His statement about the success rates of "reparative therapy" was not sourced, and I could find absolutely no stats online to either back it up or to disprove it. In fact, the only relevant and seemingly reliable information I could find was on a number of (mostly pro-gay) sites saying that ex-gay organizations generally will not release success statistics, for the pure and simple reason that it's impossible to tell whether or not the "therapy" was successful. A change in behavior is not necessarily a change in orientation. He also failed to mention that the American Psychological Association, as well as most other respected organizations involved in the issue, have issued statements saying that reparative therapy does not work, and often does more harm than good. Either he didn't know this (doubtful) or he purposely didn't mention it; either way, it seems an awfully irresponsible omission.

-His "classification" of homosexuals into different categories sounds completely bogus to me. I'm really too tired at this moment to look up anything more, but haven't we determined that being abused as a child is not a cause of homosexuality? And the one about fantasies and porn leading to homosexuality—does that strike anybody else as a little bit ridiculous? The porn doesn't tell you what you like; you get the porn that appeals to you. I think he included that last category simply because it's the one he most wants to believe exists; he feels like he understands and can fix it.

So, obviously, there's still progress to be made. I mean, likening gayness to a birth defect is hardly what I'd call ideal. Haven't we decided that it's not a "disease?" I'm not gonna lie, there were some things in there to which my first reaction was complete offense, and I don't even consider myself 100% gay most of the time. However, one must stop and remind oneself that this guy isn't a gay rights activist or even all that liberal; he's a pastor, for goodness sake. This is progress. Yes, it's slower than I'd like, but you know how it goes—Rome wasn't built in a day. We're talking about a religion that's been around for about twenty centuries now, and the younger generation isn't in charge—yet. But soon they will be, and we have to have faith that society—government- and church-supported or not—is moving in the right direction, and sooner or later, our great institutions will have to catch up.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chillin' in the AC at the library.

It is too hot. Oi.

Anyway, I have returned from the family camping trip in Minnesota/Iowa with my mother and various members of her side of the family and their friends, and it was grand. We went canoing and made s'mores and all the rest, and despite some rather less-than-well-behaved minors, the trip on the whole was quite a success. I would definitely say that the high point was the canoe trip, because my cousin and I finished a full three quarters of an hour before everyone else, and so enjoyed plenty of quality swimming time before being made to assist in the cleanup and herding of children back to the campsite. I also managed to come out with a rather remarkable tan, which is a rare accomplishment for me.

I have been working on my self-imposed summer reading list, though I'm not as far on as I'd planned. Having been made to drive most of the way to and from camp and apparently possessing some child-magnetism that attracted every being under the age of ten constantly to my side for the duration of the trip, I accomplished rather less reading there than I'd expected at the outset. However, I am making progress. I'm currently in the midst of Frankenstein, and I think it's starting to affect the way I think (and write, and speak). Damn those early 19th century authors and their antiquated language! So I pray forgiveness if I start to remind anyone too strongly of English class.

On a side note, THE LIBRARY HAS WIRELESS INTARWEBZ!!! I was rather pleased to discover this fact.

Anyway, I'd best be off. I have to go drag my brother away from the TV and make him play outside or something. It simply isn't healthy for a child to be indoors all the live-long day, especially on a lovely summer day such as this.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

lulz for the day

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Curse the rules!

This whole "no disks from home in the library computers" thing is really getting on my nerves. I mean seriously kids. How am I supposed to put the posts I've written on my laptop onto my blog when I can't use my flash drive? Stupid neighbors putting a password on their wireless network so I can't borrow it anymore. *sadface*

Actual posts when I've figured out how to successfully flout regulations. 'til then, peace out.

pretending to be a movie critic

...for lack of anything better to do.

Dad and I rented and watched three movies this evening, because we lead exciting lives like that. The first was American Dreamz, which had its amusing moments, I suppose. The thing I noticed though, and I guess this is pretty true of political satire in general, is how very quickly it can become dated. I mean, this movie isn't particularly old (it came out what, last year?), but a lot of it didn't seem all that fresh or funny, because it's all been so very done at this point. Wow, the president's a halfwit, ha ha. Never seen that one before. I really wish I'd seen this film in the theater when it first came around, because I feel like I might've appreciated it a lot more then. (Or maybe not; maybe it wasn't really that funny to begin with, and it's just easier to make excuses about it now. Who knows?)

The second one was Invincible, about the average-Joe bartender guy who goes to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was your pretty basic underdog sports flick, except that the end seemed rather sudden; it was happy, yes, but there was no miraculous championship run, ending in one amazing play by the rookie to win it all. It seemed a little darker and somewhat more subtle than your average Disney movie as well; I can't decide if I liked it more or less for that. If you want an all-out, feel-good football flick, Remember the Titans is probably a better bet. Thumbs up on the soundtrack though; you really can't miss with Ted Nugent and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, among others.

And to finish out the night, we watched The Good Shepherd, the one about the CIA, starring Matt Damon and enough other big names that if I'd had internet access, I could've actually kept myself interested for the full 2:47 playing six degrees on IMDB. As it was, I had to actually pay attention to the movie, which made things rather less enjoyable.

Okay, I'll admit, that's probably not fair. I suppose it's just the sort of movie you'd like, if you like that sort of thing. For me, well, not so much. To be completely honest, I actually missed the first twenty minutes or so. I was busy making a tortilla pizza. It was delicious. As for the movie, well, it's got a bunch of spies and mystery and intrigue and the like, and a lot of people telling other people not to trust people. And it's got a lot of Matt Damon, sitting around, standing around, sometimes walking or riding in a car, wearing old-fashioned glasses and not talking much. It takes subtlety past a science or an art and into the realm of the vaguely absurd, and it drags the viewer along by the ankle, keeping the plot just close enough to sensible to make you think that if you watch five minutes more, maybe you'll actually understand it. A successful movie, IMO, makes you feel something: triumphant, despairing, uplifted, intrigued, inspired, unsettled. This one left me with a feeling of vague confusion and mild glumness; it seemed way too detached to make a strong impression, and for a close-to-three-hour-long movie, that's not much of an achievement.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Heritage Days

I must say, there really is nothing in the world quite like a street fair. Technically, it ought to be a horrible experience. I mean, if you stop and think about it, there's no way you're going to enjoy yourself. For one thing, the prices are outrageous. For what you pay to get a fair number of tickets, you could almost go to a themepark for an entire day and ride more and better rides, and the "unlimited pass" armbands aren't all that much better. And have you seen some of the people that hang out at street fairs? That safety bar you're clutching for dear life has had who-knows-how-many other people holding on to it, with who-knows-what on their hands. You're eating deep-fried snacks sold by questionable-looking characters from dingy little trailers parked along the street with hoses running from the back into the sewer grate under the curb. You're whirling around at 30 mph, 50 feet up in the air, on a piece of equipment that's been taken apart, driven around, and reassembled countless times by people who often have a questionable-at-best mastery of English, and sometimes seem like they may well have flunked out of the third grade. And we do this for fun?

...Well, yes. At least, I do. I suppose I can't speak for you. But really, it's a grand experience, if you want look at it that way.

You can sit on a bench and in ten minutes you'll have seen a fascinating array of people walk by. There are parents shepherding herds of small children from one place to the next, the adults in various stages of mental breakdown, the children thrilled or overwhelmed or upset they haven't gotten to go on their ride of choice. There's the shirtless guy with a mullet, cigarette dangling from his lips and beer sloshing occasionally from the can in his hand, yelling friendly obscenities at one of his buddies he's just spotted down the street. There's the old couple strolling nostalgically past the game booth, smiling as they head for the car show on the next block. There's a knot of 13-, 14-, and 15-year old kids, girls with tight shirts and makeup piled on thick, boys with baggy jeans and ball caps turned sideways, all engaged in an unspoken contest to see who can be the hottest, the toughest, the coolest, and who can say "fuck" the most times in a sentence while they have the advantage of being away from their parents. If nothing else, it's a fascinating study in bahavior.

And then there's the smells. Above all, you've got food: the hot, salty smell of pretzels and fries, the tang of onion rings, the warm, slippery butter scent of popcorn. There's the sugary blanket of cotton candy, elephant ears, and ice cream, and there's the unmistakable aroma of hot, greasy pizza. Underneath those are innumerable slight undertones: the odor of too many people, of sweat and unwashed bodies; the sour atmosphere around a garbage can where somebody had one too many sodas before going on the scrambler; the clouds of cigarette smoke or the slight whiff of marijuana if you get to close to the guy running the spaceship ride. They all whirl and blend together into one fantastic concoction that's never the same twice, but is always unmistakable as the smell of a street fair.

I don't really have much more to say on the subject. I've probably bored you already (all like, two of you that might actually read this). But I just had quite a lovely day, and I felt like emphasizing the glory that is a street fair. The lights, the music, the deliciously gaudy displays and utter lack of class—it's irreplaceable. I can't wait 'til next year.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'll spare you the pun.

So, I know we're all tired by now of hearing about the guy who's suing the dry cleaners about the lost pants. Ridiculous, yes? The comparisons between him and the hot-coffee lady have been drawn, the American civil law system has been derogated and defended, and the pants man has been confused with Marion Barry (?!). Digression aside, I probably wouldn't bother to comment on it, except for one thing that kind of bothers me: I heard about it on the Australian news.

Now, I was only in Australia for ten days, and during those ten days, I think I might've watched a grand total of four hours of TV, one of them being an episode of SVU (shut up, okay? The obsession must be fed). Point is, I didn't watch a lot of news, so I can't say I have a great handle on the Australian news perspective. But I did see some (mostly because my roommate seemed to love obsessively watching the weather feed across the bottom of the screen), and I remember hearing exactly two things about the U.S., one being a brief mention of the alleged theft of George W's watch, and the other being a brief mention of the pants suit. (God, the puns really are unavoidable, aren't they?)

Assuming that this is a reasonably well-spread sampling of the Australian media (and as I said, that could be assuming a lot, but for the sake of argument, let's say it's not), what must they think of us? And this is Australia—as countries go, the U.S. is less of an anathema there than in many other places. *sigh* I really do hate the bubble that so often seems to surround this country. I need to surf foreign news sites more often.

(For anyone interested, it seems that there is at least some semblance of justice left in the world. Not much, but some.)

On a completely unrelated note, one of my lifelong dreams has been shattered: I will never be a contestant on The Price is Right as hosted by the inimitable Bob Barker. His final episode aired June 15, and I (being out of the country) couldn't even watch it. So I am left to console myself with various highlights on YouTube.

And finally, I would like to note that jetlag really, really sucks.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Well, after what has probably been the single longest day of my life, I finally find myself in my own bedroom once more. It has been, as they say, a trip. Honestly, coming home wasn't that bad, for it being such a long day (3 AM Sydney time to 3 AM Indiana time: 38 hours in all). Qantas is an awesome airline, and they officially have the best in-flight entertainment in the world. Not only do they have movies, they have a huge selection of movies, on-demand (meaning you can start, stop, pause, rewind, etc.). Over the whole trip there and back, I ended up watching Pan's Labrynth, Borat, The Pursuit of Happyness, Freedom Writers, Words and Music, and The Blues Brothers. (Think how much money I've saved on movie rentals now!) And this is all not to mention the on-demand TV selections, video games, music library, and a dozen radio stations. I brought five books and my mp3 player, but honestly, I could've gotten away with nothing and not been bored on the long flights. Amazing.

Today was also a day of trying new things. I used the airplane bathroom (not once but twice), and did not freak out, as I am often wont to do in tiny bathrooms.I also slept—real, full-on, loss-of-consciousness sleep—for close to two hours straight on the flight from Dallas to Indy. I don't know if this will be a repeatable experience, as it only happened because I was utterly exhausted by that point and I somehow managed to be the only person in my row and so could lay down across three seats. Either way, it was certainly nice. (Of course, it also ruined my plan of wearing myself out and going to bed right when I got home so I could get up in the morning—I'm now completely wide awake.)

They managed to have a "special" (read: vegetarian) meal for me at every in-flight meal except for dinner, which was ironically the only one that actually included meat in the regular meal, so I got to pick around the chicken for that. I felt kind of bad for the flight attendant, because he was all flustered and apologizing, and I told him it obviously wasn't his fault and it was no big deal, but he still felt bad, you could tell. So then he went off and found a plate of vegetables somewhere and heated it up for me. It was spinach and mushrooms and something else in the middle, kind of mushy and gross, to be quite honest, but the guy was obviously trying really hard, so I thanked him profusely and ate most of it anyway.

And, wonder of wonders, I made my connection in Dallas! I know, I could hardly believe it either. This does not entirely disperse my utter loathing of that airport, but it does mitigate it somewhat. That and the fact that I now have a new airport (LAX) to completely loathe. Seriously, what were those people smoking when they built that place?

Anyway, I'm off to go stare at the ceiling now and pretend I'm sleeping, so that I can lie to myself tomorrow and pretend that I'm not tired. God love jetlag.

Friday, June 15, 2007

fin!

Just finished up with our final summit simulation, and I must say, it's a rather nice feeling. No more editing proposals, no more networking, no more griping about drunken members of the summit team not showing up...it's pleasant.

The simulation itself was fairly unremarkable, and pretty typical of these mock summits, I expect. My group's proposal passed uneventfully (environment); some others passed, some others failed. The public health group's proposal was passed unanimously, and the science and tech one also passed, despite apparently lukewarm support during the debate (I expect this was due to a number of vote trading deals; that's why we supported them anyway). So, yeah. It was mildly interesting, if you're into that sort of thing, but I'm definitely glad it's done.

Of course, this also means we are nearing the end of our stay, and though I have been enjoying myself to a good extent (despite my frequent griping), I am definitely ready to go home. The thing about these trips is, half the fun is getting back and telling people about them. And I must say, even though the schedule beats the hell out of the one we had for NYLC, it's still quite full. I'm ready to get home and relax, and work on some things I want to do for me (like getting this damn blog up to date). So, wish me luck on my ridiculously long flights tomorrow, and I should be stateside in short order.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

bleh...

I've been getting headaches on this trip, and I don't know why. I don't often get headaches, but when I do they're usually pretty much unbearable. These haven't been *so* bad, which is nice, but they're still highly unpleasant, and what makes it worse is the fact that I can't figure out what's causing them. I thought at first I was just getting dehydrated, but the last few days I've been purposely drinking extra water, even to the point where I have to pee more often than usual, and it doesn't seem to be helping. So then I thought perhaps it was sleep deprivation, but really, that can't be it, because I've actually been getting plenty of sleep. It's not too much time in the sun, because there hasn't been that much sun, nor any even remotely warm weather until today. My diet hasn't changed, except for perhaps a slight increase in starch (these Aussies like their potatoes, apparently), and I haven't been exerting myself any more than usual. So really, I can think of no reasonable physical explanation for these mysterious headaches.

The only thing I can think is that perhaps it's the seemingly constant contact with so many people, especially people that I don't really know all that well. I mean, I get that at school too, I guess, but I have good friends there, and I can usually find someplace to go be alone when I need to chill. So maybe I'm just getting temporarily burnt out on leadership. Pfft. Not really surprising.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

adventures in Australian cuisine

I had spaghetti for breakfast this morning. That in itself would be interesting enough, but the funniest part was, the flavor was exactly that of Spaghetti-Os. Seriously. Straight out of the can. I was really surprised the pasta wasn't in rings. (This isn't to say it wasn't delicious, of course; I'm honestly a huge closet fan of Spaghetti-Os, no matter how much they violate every law of what is good and healthy in the world. I just never really thought of them—or anything that tasted exactly like them—as a breakfast food.)

This has been only my latest adventure in what I am discovering to be Australian cuisine. I'm finding that it's a lot like American cuisine, in that it's hard to say exactly what constitutes a "typical Australian" dish; basically, it ends up being everything that's not explicitly "ethnic" food. It doesn't seem to be inherently bad, but I have to admit, what I'm finding so far has often been rather less than inspiring.

My theory is that the basic Australian palate is closely related to that of the British (makes sense, no?). This accounts for the prevalence of the term "chips" in referring to fried bits of potato, as well as such interesting concepts as baked beans as a breakfast food, and the horror that is Vegemite. (Seriously, how do they eat that stuff?)

However, there is significant Asian influence as well, undoubtedly due to the large immigrant population. This means that for every egg and mayonaise sandwich you have to choke down, there's a Thai restaurant somewhere nearby waiting to serve you rice and yellow curry to make up for it. So it all works out in the end.

Friday, June 8, 2007

the introvert speaks

If I ever tell you I've decided to go into politics, please, for the love of all things holy and good, shoot me on the spot.

Seriously though, we got to practice our "networking skills" today. There are not words to describe my utter loathing of this practice. I mean, it's one thing to go to some big gathering and go around meeting a bunch of new people, striking up some *hopefully* interesting and memorable conversations, and coming away with a few new contacts with whom you've got something in common and with whom you might want to work on something someday. There are numerous things I'd rather do, but to my understanding, this is ideally what networking should be. In its less refined forms, what you often get is people walking around, being smarmy and kissing up to gain a well-connected contact or a powerful ally. Even this I can understand, repulsive as it seems to my own personality. However, shoving your way through a crowd and yelling to each passing person about his or her preferences in sleepwear does not prepare you for either of these things, and serves no purpose except to give you a headache. Seriously, that was our exercise: go up to as many people as you possibly can in the next five minutes, and find out their names and what they wear to bed. This does nothing, except perhaps teach you how to shout, which is generally a skill one already has from early childhood.

Ridiculous exercises aside though, I find it interesting how much I really don't feel like I fit in with most of the people here. I mean, so many of them are those kids you know in school who are president of Circle K and leader of their Greek organization and all the rest; lots of business and poli-sci majors, lots of kids from big universities, lots of outgoing, type-A personalities.

I'm not a leader. I'm an observer. Sometimes, yes, I am even shy. (Okay, a lot of times.) Many times it's not even that though; I simply see no point in talking to someone unless I genuinely have something to say to that person. Call me lazy, but I long ago stopped expecting to be one of the ones to jump right in and make friends. It didn't happen in summer camp in third grade, and it's not happening now. The difference, of course, is that it really bothered me at summer camp. I was the only one who didn't have any friends, and I was pretty sure the others were all making fun of me behind my back. Now, I know that the fact is, they just don't notice me at all. Some people would be upset by this, but I actually encourage it. It makes life so much easier for me. I don't have to put up with awkward conversation about a topic in which I have no interest just for the sake of talking to someone; I'm instead quite content to stand off to the side and watch everyone else.

Granted, I'm pretty much guaranteed not to make a lot of close friends that way, but let's be real guys, we're only here for ten days. I highly doubt that I'm going to meet my new best friend and become bosom chums before it's time to go home, and after that point, we're not going to be anything more than perhaps Facebook friends anyway. I don't want to go out partying with everybody at night, and it's easy enough to latch on to a group for those "lunch on own arrangements" days, so what do I need a group of "OMG BFFS!" for?

It is interesting to talk to new people, to meet people from different backgrounds and hear what they have to say about various issues and life in general. That doesn't necessarily mean I have to have to be best friends with every one of them. I have no desire to keep in contact with most of the people here after I go home. Honestly, this whole thing so often makes me want to quote a crass t-shirt and say, "Fuck you! I have enough friends." Friendships require constant care and work, and I like to cultivate them fully; I'd really rather have five good friends than a hundred different Facebook friends I've only met once or twice. If I'm going to put the effort into a long-distance, online friendship, I'd much rather it be with somebody I already care about and with whom I have a little more than ten days' history.

Anyway, back to the leadership stuff: I know all the self-help books and motivational speakers and all the rest stress the importance of being a leader, but c'mon kids, we can't all be leaders. Remember the saying about too many cooks in the kitchen? I'm not a blind sheep or anything, but I really have no desire to be a "leader." There are other ways of helping people.

I really would like to change the world, but I have absolutely no desire to go into business or politics. I'd much rather write a life-changing book or something like that. And yes, I realize I will have to go out and interact with people in the "real world" at some point, and yes, even do some lobbying and networking, but I can do that already. I know how. It's not even all that difficult. I just have to have time to recharge after big crowd experiences like that, and it's not something I enjoy in the least, nor does it get easier with practice. On the contrary, the more I have to go out and conduct myself in large groups of people, the more loathsome it becomes, so I'd really like to keep my exposure to a minimum as much as possible.

I'm rambling. I'll stop now.

Monday, June 4, 2007

the amazing exploding laptop

Thankfully, it wasn't mine.

So I'm getting on into my fifth hour of sitting here in LAX on the 9-hour layover from hell, and after some stupid lady trips over my laptop cord and gripes at me for not sitting on the floor next to the outlet (!), I decide to give it a rest, so I head on down the hall to the Burger King and procure some grub. I do so in the form of a most delicious veggie burger and some decidedly soggy fries, and start heading back down the hall to good ol' Gate 41. Halfway there, I detect an acrid smell, and the air around me becomes very hazy. Weaving my way through the gathering crowd, I piece together what has happened: some guy's laptop overheated, exploded, and then caught fire. There were a bunch of TSA people milling around, and the requisite gawking travelers, and even some actual firefighters. It was—well, it was something. Broke the boredom, anyway.

I don't know for sure if it was related or not, but about ten minutes after the fact, there was an unidentified beeping noise that lasted for maybe a minute or so. I don't know whether or not it was a fire alarm, but if it was, I just have to say, well done, LAX. Well done.

Please note, if this post sounds angry and cynical, it isn't. I'm quite amused by the whole thing, and really am enjoying my ridiculously long day of travel, even if my legs do keep falling asleep.)

I'm headed for the land down under!

Yes, that land down under. It's for GYLS, and I'll be there for 10 days, give or take some international dateline crossing. It's going to be amazing. If I have internet access there, I might post about it. At any rate, catch ya in a fortnight.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Placeholder

I promise I'm not dead. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

I've got a bunch of half-written things that I need to post, that I WILL post, and backdate accordingly, but not now, because I have to get up in the morning, and not this week, because I'm leaving Monday for ten days in Australia. After that though, I promise I will get things back on track around here.

Has anybody actually even found this blog yet? I kind of doubt it, because I've only posted one link to it. Well anyway, I'll be back, I promise.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Schooooool's OUT! FOR! SUMMER!

Ah, Alice Cooper.

So, I'm on summer vacation. Well, sort of. I mean, technically, it has begun, but it doesn't really feel like it yet. I'm home for a week, and then I leave for ten days in Australia, and then when I get home, I'll feel like summer break has truly begun. Australia, though it will be awesome in many ways, won't really feel like a vacation, I'm thinking, because it's a student leadership summit-type-thing, which involves a lot of meetings and presentations and "professional attire." Interesting and educational, I'll wager, but not exactly vacation.

Anyway, I have to note a few things upon returning home.

1. Z-94.1 turned into NPR?! WTF mate?! The radio situation in Fort Wayne is swiftly declining. First, there's the whole "WMEE/WAJI format switching/both starting to suck royally" thing (long story, don't get me started). Then, one of the only decent alternative rock stations gets taken over by a Spanish-language station (which would actually be really cool, except the music they play is awful). Then, just when I think things couldn't get worse, WBNI takes over one of my favorite classic rock stations and turns it into NPR! Now, I actually like NPR for news and stories and talk stuff. It's really interesting, and informative, and all such jazziness. But they already have an NPR station in the area. There's no call for another! Especially not at the expense of "Fort Wayne's only classic rock morning show," i.e. the classic rock station that actually plays music in the morning, not the Bob & Tom Show. Don't get me wrong, Bob & Tom are often quite amusing in their crude and offensive way, but sometimes you need MUSIC, especially when you're trying to drive somewhere in the morning without falling asleep. And anyway, it was nice having an alternative when 92.3 got boring. But no longer.

2. Lake Clare is disgusting. This has been true for awhile now, but it's getting even truer. It used to be a really nice place to swim: spring fed quarry water, cool and clean. That was back in the day. Awhile back now (before my scope of memory, anyway), they closed the deeper part of the lake to swimmers, eliminating the raft and high dive. In more recent years, they started draining the field across the road into the lake. N-A-S-T-Y. And then the birds came. I'm not 100% sure on the reasons behind this (my mom says it's because their usual haunts are being destroyed, which sounds quite plausible), but whatever the cause, ducks, geese, and all other manner of waterfowl have taken over a huge portion of the area around the lake, to the point where you really don't want to walk around on the sand for fear of stepping in something unpleasant. And the unpleasantness is obviously not limited to the sand. My dad said he heard that they're not even opening the swimming area this year, because (a) they don't want to mess with cleaning it up, and (b) lately they've been having to add water to keep the levels up, and this messes with the water table and ends up putting water in nearby basements. So, no more Lake Clare. Not that I'd swim there anymore anyway. What a sad, sad mess.

3. As I said at winter break, two-ply toilet paper is amazing. End of story.