What's on my mind.

31 October 2008

Buffalo and a Manatee?

I don't think so.

Is it just me or does Appa look an awful lot like a water bear? Interesting that a sky bison would look like a water bear, seeing as how those are completely different nations. But maybe it was foreshadowing of the sky bender Avatar's partnership with two water nation kids?

Thank you to Chad for having a weekly picture of Appa with baby for scale (or that the other way around?) and Ugly Overload for reminding me of the cutest polyextremeophiles around.

27 October 2008

Another nit-picky correction

A few weeks ago I mentioned going to the young adult service at my church. I've gone almost every Sunday since. We've been going through Acts, because the idea behind this service is that it's a gathering similar to the way the early church met, or something like that. My only complaint is the music.

Last night's readings were from Acts 10, at the start of worship we heard about Peter's vision or the sheet filled with animals that he refused to eat because they were "unclean" and then God chastised Peter for saying something He had made clean was unclean. After this we sang "My God is Mighty to Save" and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Neither of these are bad songs ("Mighty to Save" is actually descent, unlike much of the CCM that we've sung, IMHO.) but they don't have a whole lot to do with receiving visions. The passage that was preached on was Acts 10:34-48 - Peter's preaching to the Gentiles and their conversion and baptism. The songs we heard during the setting of the table and communion had little to do with the egalitarian nature of God's salvation. The last song we sung was "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love", which could have a better melody but at least did sort of relate to the topic of the day.

I think the hymns sung and other music should relate to the passage. I think you have more leeway with opening hymns, but musical response to the sermon (or any reading) should tie into that reading. I don't think God really needs us to sit around and sing about how awesome he is or what great Christians we are; and, in church, we don't really need to sing a whole lot on the how awesome God's love is because we are preaching to the choir, almost literally. I think hymns should reinforce the message of the sermon. They can be purely worship/praise but they can say SO much more. And songs are easy to remember, which means if you can put your message to music people will remember it (or at least get it stuck as an earworm for days).

And I haven't even touched on the really shallow lame CCM stuff we've sung - like the song that had unrelated verses and chorus. Does this make me a music snob?

Oh, the correction: Georgia Tech played the UVA Cavaliers Saturday. Not Virginia Tech. (I looked up which one they actually played, and guessed right that he had the correct mascot, wrong university.) This detail had nothing to do with the content of the sermon but it really stuck out. At least to me, a former Virginian, even though I care very little about college football.

21 October 2008

Real America?

On last night's The Daily Show John presented an equation and a short quiz to help one figure out if one lived in Real America™ or not. Obviously, I failed the quiz since I was watching The Daily Show, but I was wondering about Tuscaloosa in general. To check the validity of the equation I'm going to do Andalusia, AL, also. I lived there for two years; it is pretty much Real America™. So I've collected the numbers I could and guessed the ones I couldn't. Here goes the calculations:

(p*c*a*Jr)/(S*(Pth-Pt)*(1/t-b)) = R
If R is less than 10 you live in Real America, if not you are going to hell.

p, population = 89000 (Tuscaloosa City), 171160 (Tuscaloosa Co)
c, Cost of a cup of coffee = $1.85
a, # of art house theaters = 2 (Bama, and the Ferg)
Jr, # of streets named for ML King, Jr. = 2 (one in T-town, one in Northport)
S, # of ids needed to buy Sudefed = 1
Pth, # of people who wear trucker hats = IDK
Pt, # of truckers = IDK
t, # of churches = 205 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 352 (in the county total, best I can tell YMMV)
b, # of bars = 12 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 13 (in county)

For whole of Tuscaloosa county: (171160)(1.85)(2)(2)(352-13)/1(1000c)=1717488

For Andalusia:
p=8794; c=1.50; a=0; Jr=1; Pth=IDK, Pt=IDK the ratio is higher than in Tuscaloosa is my guess; t=60; b=3


I think I've just found a couple of serious flaws in this equation. One improvement would be to put (t-b) in the denominator not the numerator (or 1/(t-b) in the denominator). The higher the church to bar ratio the "realer" a town gets, so it should make R get smaller. If your town has an art house theater or a street named for Dr. King then the population has to be tiny. Of course many would argue that the existence of an art house theater means you are not living in Real America™. Another problem with the equation is the whole Pth thing. Does have more non-truckers wearing trucker hats make your town realer? I've seen them on students who might not have been real Americans™.

Luckily all of this will be rendered moot in two weeks when all Americans, Real™ or otherwise (but legally eligible to vote), vote for our next president and, hopefully, all talk of "real" Virginia, "real" American values, and any thing else that tries separate the country stops for another 4 years. (Ok, 2.25 - until the next primary season begins.)

a Several zip codes outside the city limits show up as Tuscaloosa, a cursory yellowpages.com search doesn't separate the two.
b the phone book listings include many restaurants with bars as well as pure drinking establishments.
c I'm estimating here, I'm not sure I know the true differences between a baseball hat and a trucker hat but I don't see very many of the later, as I would define them. This number could be as high as half a freshman class at UA (or 2,250).

20 October 2008

Nit picky, I know

But Election Day (in the US) is not the first Tuesday of November. It is the Tuesday following the first Monday, which is slightly different. We will never vote for president on a November 1st, but we could on a November 8th.

That's your civics lesson for the day.


Can some one please explain why anyone thought that "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" needed a chorus? Those 4 verses, by Issac Watts, served just fine for 300 years. Did Chris Tomlin really need to add this bit?
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name
(from here)
Just wondering.

Update: This dovetails (1 word or two?) nicely with something I read the other day. First a comment from Cosmic Variance: "...Actually [Christian Rock] mostly sucks because the lyrics are so lame." And linked in another comment there, a (partial) explanation of why it is so.

14 October 2008

Thank God, not my

...gynecological horrors. (Those with weak constitutions and men may wish to read about the daily exploits of an adolescent polar bear.)

My mother has a prolapsed uterus. It's been getting worse since my youngest brother was born (4 years before me). For a long time it just sat a little low and pushed on her bladder, making for frequent stops on family trips. In the last couple of years it has fallen even further, occasionally making it difficult for her to urinate. In the last year, it has started to try and fall out. (I warned you it would be unpleasant.) Having one's uterus attempt to exit one's vagina on it's own is bad enough but the non-surgical solution to this is even worse (IMveryHO, I am not a doctor...).

The obvious solution, especially at my mother's age is to have a hysterectomy, but Mom tries to avoid surgery so she decided to try the non-surgical solution. The doctor, initially, made it sound not too bad. "We insert a pessary and it holds everything in place, sometimes they fall out." The pessary is a doughnut shaped device that is folded up to fit up the vagina and through the cervix. It then unfolds and is suppose to keep whats inside from fallin out. Assuming everything works, it is removed a month later to make sure nothing it isn't causeing any problems in there. Assuming that ckecks out, the doctor inserts another one, which has to be removed every TWO MONTHS forever or until one gives up and has a hyterectomy. The really fun thing is that the doctor has no way of knowing exactly where the pessary is when he goes to remove it, so it's a bit of a fishing expedition to find it and it's difficult fold it up again. All in all the best case secenario sounds pretty unpleasant. I can't think why anyone would choose this treatment except to allow for future pregnacies, to which I suggest adoption. (It is possible that the whole thing is not as unpleasant for everyone as it was for Mom, I certainly hope it isn't.)

My mother was not a best case; it fell or was pushed out. I can not imagine how unpleasant that must have been. The nurse said there was the possibilty of trying a larger size, Mom was not interested. Yesterday, when she saw the doctor, he didn't suggest it anyway. Unfortunately, she can't have a 'normal' hysterectomy (vaginal or laparotomy). She's going to have to have major abdominal surgery (I know, kind of redundant) to remove the offending organ and have some reconstructive work done. This means a much longer recovery time both from the physical assult and from the full anathesia (which is liable to screw her up for months).

Yet another reason I'm glad not old.

Football injury

Ok, all I did was sit in a stadium for 3.5 hours. My nephew badly twisted his ankle in a vicious tailgating game of catch, but I'm fairly sure I didn't actually hurt myself playing bocce ball.*

My oldest brother, his wife, and children came down this weekend to see the ASU Mountaineers take on the Samford Bulldogs. Yosef was denied his stein but got to keep his shotgun. (Damn that thing is loud. I practically jumped out of my skin for each touchdown.) I had to explain to Rob that it may be a dry campus but guns are perfectly fine. Guns are good wholesome family fun in Alabama (and probably in Boone, NC, too). The Mountaineers kicked ass. 35-24 is a respectable score; it was 35-17 for a good bit of the second half. If they hadn't had so many stupid penalties and turnovers they might have kept the 'dogs to a lower score or got down the field a time or 2 more. Additionally, Rob said this was the first time he'd seen the cheerleaders in normal uniforms. Usually they have to wear warm-ups for the games.

A few thoughts on Samford's stadium and tailgating there. They had these cute little signs in the parking lot (across Lake Shore from the main campus) asking the visiting team to respect their tradition of an alcohol free campus. Sure thing, it really took two coolers to carry all that cream soda and water.:) By the way, you might want to treat those ant beds, not all visitors will be as acquainted with fire ants as locals are. (Like my niece) My high school in VA had a bigger stadium. We had a real 1/4 mile track that went all the way around the field too. I think Hillcrest's band was bigger (and the school had fewer than 500 students at the time). We certainly had more color-guard, but then the color-guard, majorettes, and most of the dance line were made up of the extra woodwind players. (That way at least the marching band was balanced.) Thanks for putting the visitors on the sunny side of the stadium, I needed to work on my farmer's tan. And last, but not least, I'd like to suggest not deflating the dog before the end of the game. It looks really pitiful and leads many jokes during the 4th quarter; these would be on top of the inflatable field house comments throughout the game.

After the game we meet back at my brother's house for another nephew's birthday. He turned 21 yesterday. Hopefully, Nathan won't get too blasted tonight (had to work today but is off tomorrow). He's been there and done that; I think he's smart enough to know it's not much fun to barf up all the beer, et. al. Rob and Kate got him great presents - airplane barf bags. Rob hands him one while saying "I know we're a couple of days early but I want you to use this when you go out Monday." The bag was folded up (from where I was sitting it looked a bit like a bank envelope) so Nathan had no idea what it was at first. Nettie had a really good card, too, although I don't think she fully realized why it was so funny. (Is it sad that all of my nieces and nephews drink more than me? Am I old because they can all do it legally now?)

Anyway - Happy Birthday, Nathan. And remember, it's not nearly as much now that it's legal.

*'boccie' can not be the correct spelling, because that would be pronounced, in Italian, baa-chih-ee (baa-chee-eh?). I don't care if dictionary.com says both are acceptable.

09 October 2008

Random Comments

I was on a business trip the first half of the week. The following are a series of comments I wrote down while trying not to completely zone out during the incredibly repetitive talks.
..but politics reign supreme

Arizona DEQ defines an aquifer as a geologic unit capable of producing 5 gal/day water regardless of TDS?!?!?! (If TDS high enough you won't need 5 gallons the next day.)

It can't 'outcrop' at 8000 feet BELOW sea level.

Walla Walla has a huge feed lot/slaughter house and a paper mill but they don't want a power plant because it might make the air worse???? Trust me after those two a power plant smells like a rose.

But I thought ethanol was suppose to save us? (Ethanol plants are large CO2 sources.)

Who planned this? (in reference to the breaks being after 2 hours of talks and only one hour before lunch and the end of the day respectively)

Why don't people bother to subscript the '2'?

Stuff moves in the high perm direction??!?!?! REALLY?

These are all from the work group meeting Wednesday (I was just there to listen):
We are talking in circles.

Why are we discussing the wording of the hypotheses?

Gas is a fluid, it is displacing a liquid.

Does Sue always talk that much?

01 October 2008

Banned Book?

It's National Banned Book Week.

I believe that school libraries should have age appropriate books. First off, there are books with content that is appropriate for high schoolers that are not appropriate for elementary students. Secondly, they have limited resources and need to spend it on books the students can actually benefit from. I think librarians can figure out what books meet the above criteria, it's why we hire them. I don't believe in censoring the ideas in books.

Out of curiosity, I looked at several lists of challenged books* ('Challenge' is the polite library word for asking for a book to removed from the shelves and the process of getting books removed.) Many I understand why a parent (or whomever) challenged the book - sex, drugs, impolite language,... I don't agree but I understand why someone might object to the book. Some truly baffled me.

One group of books on the lists are 'what the hell is happening to me/your guide to puberty and adolescence' books. These aren't fiction books that a kid might think is interesting because of the back cover and then learn all about Heather's two mommies. How often did you peruse the human development section of your library as a preteen? Probably not often, unless you had questions which these types of books address. And you were probably directed there by someone (parent, teacher, counselor). Oddly enough (or not so) parents (and others) objected more often to informing girls about puberty and their bodies than boys.

"The Light in the Attic" is a book of often silly, sometimes profound, poetry written and illustrated Shel Silverstein. I'm going to have to get my copy out and read it because I can not figure out what could be so offensive to some overly sensitive reader in that book. Any of you guys have a guess?