Friday, December 08, 2006


I realized, while scrubbing the kitchen sink clean of raw chicken juice, that I’m not a goal maker or goal achiever. I like to think that I am, but really I’m not. I used to contemplate resolutions and list out goals, but I never accomplished them so I only wound up depressed at my lack of ambition and my subsequent failure to produce. Yet….I FEEL like I need to be goal driven, ambitious, driven to succeed, to accomplish great things. I’m not content with being ordinary, yet I don’t have the ambition to be extraordinary. The problem as I see it is that I’m a consummate dilettante. I’m interested in too many potential life scenarios to commit to just one, or rather, be trapped by any one. If I get close to making a commitment to pursuing one particular dream, I can always talk myself out of it and into a different one. I don’t have enough passion for any one dream to get it off the ground. Should I be bothered by this or simply accept it?

Monday, August 07, 2006

I want to eat those cheeks!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I'm an Auntie!

My sister finally gave birth to her first child! He was a week overdue. I was beginning to think my sister had a large growth instead of a baby in there. But no. At 4:35pm on August 1, 2006 Dexter Stanley popped out at 7 lbs 9 oz and 20 1/4" long. He's also the first grandchild for the family so my parents are probably crying from delight right about now. They've waited thirteen years for this kid to appear on the scene, not that they were pushy or anything. I told my sister she had to be the first to give birth. It's her duty as the eldest. Now that she's done it, I guess this means I'm next....eek!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A ring of hell

This report reminded me of those plastic surgery horror stories you'd hear in the 80's. I want to say this happened to Kenny Rogers, but I can't be sure. The doctore would suck the fat from thighs and buttocks but then the remaining lumps of lard would redistribute to a place more unsightly for fat deposits than the original position like the back.

We thought we excised the Taliban from Afghanistan only to witness the horror of it reappearing in Somalia. I didn't think Mogadishu could get any worse, but I'm obviously wrong. Although, some semblance of structure might be a relief to the inhabitants after decades of anarchy. How long will that relief last when you can get stoned for painted toenails?

I must admit to a morbid curiousity about Mogadishu. How much chaos, violence, and evil can a people withstand? In their case it appears limitless. After all these years Mogadishu still exists as an entity unto itself run first by warlords who didn't answer to the larger government and now the Taliban who will not defer to the Somalian government either. Who do you think has the greater resolve to win all of Somalia?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Death is not the End

My day was filled with thoughts of death. I had no intention to think about death all day. It started with Moxy (not her real name) a woman I work with telling me about her grandma. She was 87 years old and only ate hot cereal for breakfast. One morning she woke up and told her husband to prepare her bacon and eggs. She sat down across from her son and started to dig in. After taking a few bites her head fell back and her eyes rolled up. Died on the spot. That is the perfect way to die. In action doing something enjoyable with people you love all around living life to the very end. Granted it was a bit shocking to the son and husband, but I’m sure they’d much prefer that than watching her waste away in a hospital month after month day after day.

Moxy then brought up her desire to kayak around the Channel Islands, but she’d heard the water is shark infested so she’s a bit fearful. Her friend kayaked down the California coast. About the time he got to the cliffs of Big Sur he noticed a shark the size of his kayak following him. The shark tracked him for over a mile determining if this strange object was worth the effort of attack. Creepy! That got us started on the topic of violent death. Ways we'd choose to die IF it had to be violent. Any kind of death connected to water is abhorrent to me. It took living in Hawaii for six months to make me amenable to swimming in the ocean as I always had a fear of odd creatures eating my toes. My imagination kicks into overdrive especially in a lake since I can’t see the bottom and I know some snakes like lakes. About the only type of water death that doesn’t terrify me is drowning in a pool. A pool is so suburban and banal I can’t work up any fear about it.

From this conversation it seemed perfectly natural to check out the LA Coroner’s website. I’d heard that you could take a tour. I didn’t find any tour info, but I did find the section with photos of unidentified dead bodies. My morbid curiosity led me to look at all of them despite the depressing nature of their stories. Many of them were suicides mostly jumpers. Many were homeless folks with no real identification only street names used as façades for their lives between the cracks. Behind the façade is a mystery that the Coroner’s office is hoping will be solved by people like me randomly looking through photos. One of the mysteries was an Asian guy between 22 and 32. He had kidnapped one or two people and held them for ransom. One of the victims pulled free turned on the kidnapper and shot him with his (the Kidnapper) own gun. Now he’s in the morgue unidentified. So many sordid stories encapsulated in those photos.

After that “tour” I was thoroughly depressed. Depressed at the “lives of quiet desperation” they must have lived. Depressed that they had no hope, no love, and no joy to sustain them through trials and troubles. Depressed at the violence that shaped and ended their lives. Depressed because many people think death is the end. They despair of this life and hope for relief in the next or they hope for non-existence the cessation of all thought and experience. Unfortunately for them, death is not the end. It’s merely the beginning of life with God or life without God based on our choices before death. Do we believe in the promise of life given to us through Jesus Christ or not? This life is preparation for the life to come.

I leave you with the lyrics to “Death is not the End” by Nick Cave:

When you’re sad and when you’re lonely And you haven’t got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end
And all that you held sacred Falls down and does not mend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
When you’re standing on the crossroads That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end
And all your dreams have vanished And you don’t know what’s up the bend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
When the storm clouds gather round you And heavy rains descend
Just remember that death is not the end
And there’s no-one there to comfort you With a helping hand to lend
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
For the tree of life is growing Where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation Up in dark and empty skies
When the cities are on fire With the burning flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end
When you search in vain to find Some law-abiding citizen
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

Friday, April 21, 2006

He said what now?

Which ex-president said the following:

"Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority." He continues. "In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own."

My first guess would've been Jimmy Carter since he says asinine things like that all the time. But I'd be wrong. I can't believe ANY president of ANY democratic country would say something so stupid.

What exactly are the ideas that he subscribes to? Perhaps he's been a closest homosexual hater all these years and he's cool with that "progressive idea" of killing them. Or perhaps he subscribes to that "progressive idea" that young girls who happen in self defense to kill their rapists should be stoned to death. Or perhaps he meant the "progressive idea" of pushing Isreal into the ocean. He made no qualification or distinction between the Iranian government and those who are trying to overthrow the tyranny of the mullahs. If he had openly sided with the later group I would give him props for doing the right thing. Giving them support in an international setting like Davos could go far in helping their cause. But no, that's not what he did.

He's talking about IRAN (egads man not IRAN!) of all countries, which should make us seriously question his grip on reality. Perhaps he's already slipped into the fuzzy thought of senility and he's got his countries confused. At a minimum it's sloppy thinking /speaking for someone supposedly so "intelligent".

You'll find the answer in this excellent though scary article by Mark Steyn.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Our Only Hope

"Man," writes Loren Eisley, "is the Cosmic Orphan." He is the only creature in the universe who asks, Why? Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has learned to ask questions. "Who am I?" he asks. "Why am I here? Where am I going?"

Ever since the Enlightenment, when modern man threw off the shackles of religion, he has tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible. "You are an accidental by-product of nature, the result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death. Your life is but a spark in the infinite darkness, a spark that appears, flickers, and dies forever."

Modern man thought that in divesting himself of God, he had freed himself from all that stifled and repressed him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself.

Against this background of the modern predicament, the traditional Christian hope of the resurrection takes on an even greater brightness and significance. It tells man that he is no orphan after all, but the personal image of the Creator God of the universe; nor is his life doomed in death, for through the eschatological resurrection he may live in the presence of God forever.

This is a wonderful hope. But, of course, hope that is not founded in fact is not hope, but mere illusion.

Read the rest of William Lane Craig's article on the hope we can have because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


So, ILLEGAL Mexicans want all the priveleges of U.S. Citizenship, yet their own government will not extend those same courtesies to LEGAL immigrants in Mexico (can there be that many? I'm asking this seriously not sarcastically...). Instead the Mexican constitution confirms that immigrants will be treated as second-class citizens within their adopted home. Where are all the protests over that?

Here's a taste of Mexican hospitality:
• Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
• Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
• Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
• Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants)and hand them to the authorities.
• Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process.

(HT: David Frum's Diary)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cutting away the pain...

A woman I worked with did this to herself for about a year or two. Talk about creepy! She'd arrive covered in criss-cross cuts all along her forearms on both arms. When we tried talking to her about she'd deny anything was really wrong, but the cuttings mixed with the hysterical crying fits told us otherwise (yes, that's an understatement). She's still at my company, and she still crys every now and again, but the self-mutilation did stop.

I believe she stopped when she started volunteering for a small theater company and they eventually made her their stage manager. She required an activity that gave her purpose and pleasure and a peer group that needed her. Once she felt she was part of something bigger than herself she got better. Ain't that the truth for all of us though? We all need a purpose greater than ourselves to give our lives meaning.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I am 1,006,292,425 seconds old! Can you figure out how many years that is?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Down with Tyranny!

I love stories like this. I have to laugh because compared to the signs people create about Bush, this was child's play. Yet it caused a furor that required forced demostrations in the streets in support of their "fearless" but apparently thin skinned leader.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Signs of Life

I took these during a short walk through my 'hood. One of those brilliant SoCal days after the rains where everything looks extra sharp and clear. The sun blazed but the crisp breeze kept me cool. A gorgeous, gorgeous day that underlines why I love California.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What ho!

What great taste the Indians have in their choice of British literature. Too bad the British penchant for taking the piss didn't rub off on them though. Life would be so dreary if you couldn't laugh at yourself.

The best Wooster is still Hugh Laurie who can now be seen as a cynical, sarcastic politically incorrect American on House, MD.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Run Dog Run!

I knew my dad should have patented his design. It was so perfect for small dogs with limited space to run. When our Westie was a pup my dad built a hamster-like wheel for him. Bogart (our beloved dog) LOVED that wheel. He'd get frustrated and jump on the wheel running furiously for ten minutes or so until he exercised away his frustration. Doing that several times a day gave him great exercise. I'll post a picture if I can find it of that wheel.

Yet the idea of exercising your fat Chow Chow on a treadmill in public seems so frivolous in my conception of Chinese life. I still think of that country in terms of Mao's cultural revolution. They propably would've eaten the dog not exercised it during Mao's reign since so many were starving from his cruelty.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Hypocrisy of Hate-Crime Reporting

How many rural southern churches have to burn before any of the major news outlets report it as something serious and as a cause for concern? Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe gets to the nub of the problem (in my opinion) here.

SUPPOSE THAT in 2005 unknown hoodlums had firebombed 10 gay bookstores and bars in San Francisco, reducing several of them to smoking rubble. It takes no
effort to imagine the alarm that would have spread through the Bay Area's gay
community or the manhunt that would have been launched to find the attackers.
The blasts would have been described everywhere as ''hate crimes," editorial
pages would have thundered with condemnation, and public officials would have
vowed to crack down on crimes against gays with unprecedented severity.

Suppose that vandals last month had attacked 10 Detroit-area mosques and
halal restaurants, leaving behind shattered windows, wrecked furniture, and
walls defaced with graffiti. The violence would be national front-page news. On
blogs and talk radio, the horrifying outbreak of anti-Muslim bigotry would be
Topic No. 1. Bills would be introduced in Congress to increase the penalties for
violent ''hate crimes" -- no one would hesitate to call them by that term -- and
millions of Americans would rally in solidarity with Detroit's Islamic

Fortunately, those sickening scenarios are only hypothetical. Here is one
that is not:

Ten arson attacks against 10 churches -- all of them Baptist, all in small
Alabama towns, all in the space of eight days: If anything is a hate crime,
obviously this is.

Or is it? ''We're looking to make sure this is not a hate crime and that we
do everything that we need to do," FBI Special Agent Charles Regantold reporters in Birmingham.
Make sure this is not a hate crime? If 10 Brooklyn synagogues went up in flames
in a little over a week, wouldn't investigators start from the assumption that
the arson was motivated by hatred of Jews? If 10 Cuban-American shops and
restaurants in Miami were deliberately burned to the ground, wouldn't the
obvious presumption be that anti-Cuban animus was involved?

Apparently Baptist churches are different.

Jacoby ends with this:

But real progress will come only when we abandon the whole misguided notion of ''hate crimes," which deems certain crimes more deserving of outrage and punishment not because of what the criminal did, but because of the group to which the victim belonged. The burning of a church is a hateful act regardless of the congregants' skin color. That some people bend over backward not to say so is a disgrace. (emphasis mine)


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


“Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power.”
--Aldous Huxley

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Compare and Contrast

The brouhaha over the publishing of cartoons "offensive" to Muslim sensibilities is a joke. I can't take seriously those Muslims who claim they're shocked, shocked by the portrayals of Mohammed in the Danish newspaper, but then have no problem with cartoons like these published regularly in Middle East newspapers. If these outraged Muslims want respect for their religion, perhaps they should encourage their own Muslim governments to respect the religious sensibilities of other religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism. The Taliban destroyed ancient Buddhist statues in Bamiyan. I don't remember any Buddhists burning down Afghan embassies or responding in violence as a result. Christians and other minority religious folk are regularly persecuted in Muslim countries. Call me unimpressed with the current outrage for poorly drawn cartoons of Mohammed. Above are several of the cartoons that supposedly started the outrage. However, I read recently that these cartoons were published in an EGYPTIAN newspaper months ago without any violent reaction on the part of their readers. So my question is, why the violence now?

Thursday, January 19, 2006


The receipt on the left (who I'll refer to as Figgy) is from 8/17/03 at 3:26pm. Mine, as you can see, is from yesterday. I checked out the same copy of Lost in the Cosmos as Figgy along with two titles that have the word "Peace" in them. But why did Figgy check out a different copy of the same book at the same time (items one and three on his receipt)? I want to know. You're Worthless and Other Depressing Nuggets of Wisdom is item two on Figgy's list and The Rough Guide: Europe is item four. Those two don't seem to go together. The first three or rather two books go together for those who are mildy depressed or questioning their existence (or so it would seem from the titles). But a travel guide suggests hope, fun, adventure all lovely things. Perhaps Figgy was hoping to dump depression or find meaning through travel.

I do have a mild curiousity now to read You're Worthless just to see if it matches my own conception of what makes me (or one) worthless. That, and I like the word nuggets.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Fashion Flare

Are these for Mennonites, Mormons, or Muslims? If they were more retro, say circa 1907, they'd be a fashion trend, but as is I'd fear for the mental health of my child after being seen in public wearing such a garment. The taunts would haunt her well into middle-age. I know from personal experience what can linger on when all other memories fall away. Hint: It's usually not the pleasant memories that last. I believe the promises for this piece of clothing are doubtful at best. However, I do double dog dare you to purchase and wear to determine if there is truth in their advertising.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fatwah of Futility

Did you hear about the fatwah issued by an Egyptian Cleric declaring that any Muslim couple having sex in the nude had thus annulled their marriage? Their nakedness defeated their union. As they say, you can't make this stuff up!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is this Cynicism on Display?

I bought this postcard and others like it at the Museum of Communism in Prague because it lampooned Communism and made me laugh in the process. Steve's father, however, thought they were cynical. I paused and thought about it because that's not the first word I would use to describe them. Are they cynical? Cynicism has always had a negative connotation in my mind. I think it's more apt to say Communism is cynical rather than those attempting to poke fun at it, which is a very healthy response to the evil that was /is Communism. Perhaps the one positive definition of cynicism is when it's regarding Communism!

To be honest I had hoped for sensational stories of rescue and escape from behind the Iron Curtain, tales of heroism and subversion. But what we got were the pedestrian details of "normal" life lived under government scrutiny and control. It reminded me of that statement about the banality of evil. Evil can be so prosaic that we forget it's evil. The sensational details of arrests, interrogations, deportations, and gulags boil our blood and convict us to do something about the evil, like naming it such.

The Czech people got the last laugh since the Communist museum is squashed between a McDonald's (Go American Imperialism!) and a Casino (Yeah Greedy Capitalism!).

A Tableau of Domesticity

I'm giving you a peek into the domestic life of me and Steve. Adventures abound in this realm as neither of us like to clean (so we invite people over so we're forced to clean) and if we fight it's usually over food (see previous posts). Anyway, this night I call Steve, who acts as my prep chef, while on the road home and tell him to prep the asparagus for roasting. I instruct him to dab the asparagus with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper (my favorite way of eating asparagus). Now Steve is a great helper but I forget that he doesn't actually cook (except on rare but utterly delightful occasions) and therefore, doesn't understand certain terms like dab, as in place small pieces of butter at varying points across the row. As you can see from the above picture, Steve interpreted dab to mean "butter the asparagus", which for some reason struck me as hilarious. I can see now, in this retelling that the humor may not translate. Say "buttered asparagus" out loud though and I'll bet you giggled...or not. Maybe it really only tickled me. But he did a damn fine job of buttering the asparagus and I heartily ate all of mine.

After dinner Steve read the first pages from a bunch of essays from Air Guitar by Dave Hickey. The first pages are the best because it's all concrete writing. After those introductory pages Hickey delves into the meaning and interpretation of the events he describes at the beginning. Those bits aren't as interesting to me, but maybe they are to his erudite readers, like his wife Libby Lumpkin. What a marvelous name, but I certainly hope she doesn't look like her name sounds. The onomatopoeia of it suggest dumplings, soft and squishy. I guess for BOTH their sakes I hope she's neither. The one exception was his homage essay to deceased friend Grover Lewis, who sounded like just the sort of character you'd want as a life-long friend. But if you wonder what I mean by that you'll have to read the essay yourself.

I'm notoriously bad at remembering band names and song lyrics. In fact I'm not really musically inclined at all (sorry, mom and dad, that you shelled out the bucks for my nine years of piano lessons) especially when it comes to modern music. I'm simply clueless on my own, but Steve keeps me educated and open minded to new music. However, he does have his moments of frustration. I'll ask him over and over again the name of a band I should know (I think I have a tumor) and he patiently tells me over and over after offering me a few clues that I never get. Well, tonight I think I asked one too many times. He just wouldn't tell me, but I kept nagging. He then drops to the floor and starts rolling around. Then comes up and makes the characteristic signs for a charade. Yeah! I love charades! My man plays charades so I can guess the band and now it's fun for both of us. His rolling around on the floor (plus some other not so clear pantomimes that had me guess culvert originally) led me to the correct answer: Catherine Wheel. He wasn't so good out of the gate on the next charade since the miming of shooting a bow/ arrow doesn't lead one to naturally guess Slayer as the band. However, the sword thrusts certainly did.

So folks, that's a not so normal night behind the domestic curtain.