Friday, March 31, 2006

Gourmet Food Club

With all the talk of food, I have a proposal. My dad was telling me the other day that he and my mom used to be in a gourmet food club. As young marrieds, they got together with other couples, picked a country, and did a theme dinner. Each couple would bring a different dish from that area. They had a chance to try new food & recipes and visit with friends. Anyway, I think it's a great idea. Perhaps Catherine can be our resident expert since she has lived and visited more places internationally then most of us have locally. :)

Here's the actual proposal:
- One night a month
- Rotate hosts
- Different country or type of food each time
- Start in May with the exotic food potluck!

Anyone interested? Maybe we can all become hardcore eaters! :)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Say What?

     My laugh for the day:  A couple of my associates were discussing the movie The Holy Grail yesterday and made some reference to canigets (sp?).  I had no idea to what they were referring or why it was so funny until they explained – canigets: pronouncing all the letters of knights.

Laptops Banned

     In undergrad at IU-Kokomo, the use of notebook computers in the classroom was nearly unheard-of.  I think I was about the only one in my classes who used a laptop my senior year.  When I went to law school the following year, they were much more common, but even that first year there were no more than a handful in most of my classes.  But by my third year, it seemed like a clear majority of the students were using them to take notes in class.  
     This steady growth of laptop users just hit a bump.  Whether it was a minor speed bump or something much larger has yet to be determined.  At the Memphis University School of Law, Professor June Entman has banned laptops from her class.  Many students are furious, and petitions are circulating to reverse the decision.  One student even promises to transfer to another law school if the ban remains in effect!
     I too would have been very unhappy at such a ban.  At the same time, I can understand some of the professor’s concern; she believes that the students are so busy keyboarding they can’t think and analyze the cases upon which she is lecturing.  I believe that could easily be the case.  I found it very easy to attempt to type every word spoken, and to focus all my energy on that one goal, without really think about what was being said.  (I heard of one student who was so intently transcribing every word he typed a professor’s “Bless you!” in response to another student’s sneeze before he realized what he was typing!)  This intense focus on transcribing certainly doesn’t lend itself to thoughtful consideration of the issues being discussed.
     (A much more obvious distraction is not mentioned in the article above: the Internet, where admittedly I spent too much time in class, as did many of my classmates, I believe.)

Sign Language

     After reading once about gangs which use certain hand gestures to identify themselves and/or communicate with one another, I’ve occasionally wondered what messages I may inadvertently be sending (especially as I talk with my hands).  Well, it seems there may be some confusion as to what certain Sicilian gestures mean.  After leaving church this last week, Justice Scalia moved his fingers back and forth under his raised chin, which was interpreted by a reporter for the Boston Herald and, subsequently, the MSM across the country, as an obscene gesture.
     In response, Justice Scalia wrote what CNN describes as a “scathing letter” to the editor of the Boston Herald.  In his letter, Justice Scalia quoted from Luigi Barzini’s book, The Italians: “The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means ‘I couldn’t care less. It’s no business of mine. Count me out.’”
     To add insult to injury, the Herald labeled Justice Scalia an “Italian-American jurist.”  Scalia stoutly insisted in his reply letter that “I am, by the way, an American jurist.”  I think that is a particularly fitting response for one who insists that American law, not law from foreign jurisdictions, should control decisions in the United States!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sushi II

I thought of just a few more things I wanted to say about sushi before putting the subject to rest. So here it goes.
  1. The seaweed is beautiful and I think it would make nice scrapbook paper.

  2. We did make sashimi (I guess) with raw tuna…I actually liked it the best.

  3. For those of you that like it, do you really have to eat it in one bite? Is it rude to not?

  4. Pickled ginger is disgusting.

  5. Do you really make an entire meal out of it? (ie. I’m going out for sushi and that’s it!)

  6. If yes to 5, how many do you eat to make it a meal?

  7. Can you make it without seaweed?

  8. How many times do you have to try it before you like it?

  9. Is there a stereotypical “sushi eater”?

  10. The cut roll is gorgeous…so many colors & textures.
That’s it for now. I’ve enjoyed this topic. Please, know that I have tried several different kinds of sushi and have tried to like it. I would really like to be cool, trendy and sophisticated but if this is the measure, I think I’ll pass. I consider myself a fairly adventerous eater and really enjoy a variety of foods...I’ve even tried raw oysters (also not a fan). Oh well, my dad & brother love sushi! I’ll leave it for them.

P.S. I’ve responded to all of the comments…check it out!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


It’s official…I’m not a sushi fan. I’ve tried various kinds and I don’t care to eat it again. That said, if you serve it to me, I will be polite and choke…I mean eat it.

I just went to a super fun sushi class. It’s a blast to make – it’s like an art form and I would definitely enjoy making it again. I’m trying to decide what I don’t like about it and here’s the list so far:
  1. Texture

  2. Seaweed

  3. Flavor

  4. Texture
Here’s the other big thing, you eat the whole thing in one bite. Wow, it’s just way, way too much. I ate a crab one and had to convince myself I could chew it and swallow it and keep it down. Even the vegetable ones leave a bit to be desired. It just doesn’t seem like much of a delicacy. I can’t believe people pay so much for it!

My final thought is this: Do people actually like the taste of sushi or is it just trendy? After all, it’s a very cool word and makes you sound very sophisticated.

Oh well, I can’t lie, it’s just not my thing!

Thinking on Things Above

     I have been reading through Colossians, one of my favorite New Testament books, in my private worship (what one calls such times, whether quiet times, devotions, private worship, etc., is a topic I’d like to ponder another time).  A couple days ago, I read chapter three, where Paul instructs the believers in Colossae, “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,” and “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (3:1-2.)  I’ve been thinking about those “simple” commands and how they can and should be translated into action – mental, thought-ful, action, that is.  It seems to me that this command should go hand in hand with Paul’s command in Philippians chapter four: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.  But I think it is more than just the content of our thoughts; it also reaches to our focus, in line with Christ’s instructions in Matthew chapter six, to seek first the kingdom of God.
     So the challenge is, in a world in general and in my life in particular, where so many things are neither true, noble, and right, nor “things above,” to think and to set my mind on the things above.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Good for a Laugh or Two...

     This weekend at the Men’s Retreat, Dave Long read the following story.  I laughed so hard it hurt; I can’t remember laughing so much at one thing for a long time.  So I hope y’all enjoy it, too.  (I made a few edits to make it more family-friendly – as well as grammatically correct – from the version I found online.)

     Last weekend I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 22nd anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife, Toni.
     What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser. The effects of the taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing you adequate time to retreat to safety.... WAY TOO COOL!
     Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two triple-A batteries in the thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I’d get the blue arch of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.  Awesome!!!
     (Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Toni what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.)
     Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be all that bad with only two triple-a batteries, right?
     There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I were going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?
     So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, taser in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries. All the while I am looking at this little device measuring about 5” long, less than 3/4” in circumference; pretty cute really and loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries thinking to myself, “no possible way!”
     What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best.....
     I am sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as if to say, “don’t do it, Master.” Reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny little ol’ thing couldn’t hurt all that bad, I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and @!#$*!%@*!!!
     I am pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs. The cat was standing over me making meowing sounds I had never heard before, licking my face, undoubtedly thinking to herself, “do it again, do it again!”
     Note: If you ever feel compelled to “mug” yourself with a taser, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one-second burst when you zap yourself. You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three-second burst would be considered conservative.
     A minute or so later (I can’t be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. How did they up get there??? My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs.
     Still in shock.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Colts' Kickers

     In a rather unexpected move (though a very wise one, it seems to me), given their seeming lack of interest in free agents this year, the Colts have agreed in principle to terms with Adam Vinatieri.  It will be an interesting relationship, given that Vinatieri was the star kicker for the New England Patriots, a team that has been a constant thorn in the flesh for the Colts.  Among the more interesting facts I learned about Vinatieri is that he is a descendant not of General George Custer (no favorite of mine), as I had originally heard, but of Custer’s bandmaster (I didn’t know he had one?) and a third cousin of Evel Knievel.  Interesting connections.  Additionally, Vinatieri once caught Herschel Walker from behind and tackled him.  I understand why he hasn’t had to hear about being “just a kicker” since then.
     The irony of the overall situation is that current Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt was considered by the Patriots to take Vinatieri’s spot in New England!  I understand that the Patriots talked to Vanderjagt, but he has just been signed by the Cowboys.  I am guessing that Vanderjagt probably wasn’t too eager to go kick in the cold, outside (the Patriots don’t have a dome).  I’m actually very happy that he won’t be playing for the Patriots, who we play every year, it seems.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My "Almost" Snow Day

Yesterday it snowed. I wish I could have a do over day.

First of all, I was really hoping for a snow day…everyone in my office drives at least 20 minutes and some 1 ½ hrs. to get to work. I was getting ready for work at 6a.m. when one of my bosses called and said we were delaying until 10a.m. I felt a little crabby because I was already up and half-way ready for work. She said that there were some accidents on I-65 and I should be careful when I do come in. Great.

I went back to bed until 8:30. (Maybe that should have been my start over :)

I kept hoping my phone would ring but alas, we headed into work. Yes, I was grumbling to Andrew all the way: “Who needs their teeth cleaned today?” “Why does she think it’s a good idea to come now…it’s snowing even more.” “This is ridiculous.” “Nobody is going to show up and we will all just sit around.” “We aren’t going to make it on time.”… You get the idea.

My sweet husband said, “Honey, do you think you're mad because you wanted the day off or because you really think it’s dangerous?” Gotta love him…I guess one of us needed to be cheery.

Anyway, to further irk me, we arrive with a good 20 minutes to spare and had even stopped for gas (ruining one argument) and the roads really weren’t that bad (ruining another). As I walked into the building, a giant snowball fell from the roof and landed squarely on my head. This was too much. I had soaking wet, flat, snow encrusted hair and snow sliding down my back. I didn’t even turn around, though I’m sure the guys shoveling were laughing their heads off. I got on the elevator and who should be on it? A patient I know that works in the building. I try to make pleasant, small talk all the while fuming inside.

To top it all off, nearly all of our patients came.

The snowball was perhaps my due reward for all my complaining and yes, my husband was annoyingly right that at least half of my crabbiness was due to wanting a day off.

So much for my imagined news headline: Man Dies Trying to get Teeth Cleaned…Office Refused to Close.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Family & the A.T.

I seriously think I have the coolest extended family!  Friday night, we had a great time gaming with a few cousins…intended to leave at 10p. but stayed until 1a. or so…sorry Brian.  Anyway, my cousin, Leslie, is getting ready to set out on the journey of a lifetime.  She quit her job in NC and will be hiking the Applachian trail starting in April and finishing in Sept. or Oct.  I’m so excited for her and proud of her.  If you would like to keep up with her journey, she has a blog and will be posting periodically in towns along the way.   I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.  We have a fantastic heritage and our grandparents and parents have instilled in all of us the importance of faith and family.  Please keep Leslie in your prayers!

A Note on Hand Cleaners...

     I read a fascinating article on hand cleansers today (free subscription may be necessary to read the article).  It turns out that not all alcohol hand cleansers are created equal.  Buying tip: make sure that the alcohol’s concentration is between 60 and 95 percent.  If it is less than that, it won’t do the job.  Indeed, it actually just pushes the germs around instead of killing them.  The study doesn’t knock alcohol hand cleaners; just make sure you use a good one, and use enough: “If your hands are dry within 10 or 15 seconds, according to the C.D.C. guidelines for health care workers, you haven’t used enough.”

Pippi – and Peter

     This evening I was washing some dishes before supper.  Pippi was beside me, rinsing a plate or something before it went into the dishwasher.  (That is not, I assure you, a standard, every-day procedure, which I state because I do want many of you to dine with us again.)  I needed a dish towel from the drawer, or perhaps from upstairs.  My hand were dripping.  Alaina was busy elsewhere.  I asked Pippi if she would get a towel for me, but she just looked at me quizzically, head cocked.  No, our training has not progressed rapidly, and I did not expect she would comprehend, much less obey.  But I thought I’d try.
     But the thought made me think: I sure look forward to having some little ones around to whom I can say, “Hey, Frank, would you run get me a dish towel?”  (Name used in this example is unlikely to actually be used :)  The next thought followed quickly: regardless of whether our children are eight months or twenty-four months when they come home, it will be several years before they will be able to respond to such requests!
     That thought in turn recalled to my mind one of my earliest (and fondest) childhood memories: the night Dad and Mom brought Peter home from the hospital.  I was about two and a half, and was busily playing with my toys.  I was thrilled to have a brother, and delighted that he was home from the hospital!  Just like Dad, I had my warehouse and my forklift and was seriously moving pallets from one side to the other.  I fully expected Peter to sit down and play with me.  I just couldn’t figure out immediately why he wouldn’t or couldn’t.  My disappointment did not, however, eliminate the excitement that the potential was there, and Peter was home from the hospital!  In later years he did prove to be a great companion, always eager to play, but that was a few years down the road!

My Tribute To Chocolate...

     Alaina admits she’s a chocoholic.  I wouldn’t go quite that far myself, but I do love good chocolates, too, and Toblerone is just about my favorite.  I totally love the chocolate, and the touch of honey and nougat is irresistible!  I always resolve to save and savor it slowly, but before I know it, more sections than I intended are gone. (And isn’t its triangular, mountain-like shape the coolest thing?!)  A good friend, Patrick (the link is a great article, by the way!), introduced it to me when I was in college (how I missed out on it that long I cannot fathom) and it has been a particularly delicious and favored treat ever since.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Air Travel

Wow! So it’s been a long time since I last posted. We’ve been super busy…although Andrew seems to find time. ;) First of all, I need to talk about Delta airline.

Have any of you traveled Delta lately? What is up with the zones? Instead of boarding by row they are boarding by zone. You have to get out your ticket to see what zone you are in – there are different numbers of zones dependent on the size of airplane (I guess? It kinda makes sense?). Anyway, instead of the nice orderly boarding from the back to the front, you board front to back. Although, sometimes it didn’t seem there was rhyme or reason to what zone you were in. We were in row 5 which was zone 3 and row 37 which was zone 5. Go figure. It all seemed random and sometimes the back seemed to board first.

By the way, if you get an especially good deal and they won’t let you choose your seat, beware. We had seats in row 37 (or 38) and they wouldn’t let us change them in the airport. Here’s why, they are the worst airline seats in the entire world. I didn’t even know they allowed people to sit there! They were the last row, by the engine, by both lavatories, didn’t have a window, and the seats did not fully recline. We are talking the back of the plane! It was horrible. We unfortunately had these same seats both ways…so much for a great deal. Poor Andrew was so stiff afterwards and of course, we were the last to exit the plane.

Such are the joys of air travel in this age of fewer airlines, less snacks, more security (I was frisked in Indpls. for no apparent reason, yet again…this regularly happens to me), longer lines, higher prices, and bad seats. Oh well, at least you get to your destination faster!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Attire

     Today I’m back to the bathroom project, but am waiting for the grout to dry to start the next step.  So I have time for a couple reflections . . .
     Thursday night and Friday morning I was thinking a lot about Kevin and Amy’s blog entry for St. Patrick’s day two years ago (no, guys, I don’t remember all your posts this well!)  What makes this post memorable was Kevin’s comment to a friend that it is more appropriate for us Protestants to wear orange than green on St. Patrick’s day.  That’s been my practice, too.  
     (Last year, however, my efforts were met with disastrous results.  It seems our secretary had never heard of this rule, and I couldn’t explain quickly enough.  Despite my bright orange tie, I received a hard pinch.  Ouch!)
     This year, I decided to wear an orange and green tie.  (There are several other colors in it also, by the way.)  I found this particular tie some years ago but haven’t worn it recently.  Well, Alaina saw me as I was putting it on.  Her reaction was immediate and unmistakable.  I didn’t know she could look so surprised and horrified all at once.  She didn’t know what to say first: “Where did you get that?!?  You’re not going to wear that today, are you?”  
I think she had several other things she would have liked to have said, but she was too speechless.  Obviously, she had never seen that tie in my closet.  And when I told her I had matching braces, she clearly didn’t believe me.  Until I returned to the closet and produced them.  Same reaction, more pronounced.
Usually she prevails on issues like this.  But it was St. Patrick’s Day, the tie was orange and green, and I was determined.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have dress slacks with buttons for braces that worked with the tie, so I couldn’t wear them.  So I have a new item on my wish list.
(Interestingly, the wardrobe evaluations were not one-sided.  Like Kevin two years ago, I also faulted Alaina’s top, which, coincidentally, might also be called sea foam green.  And she found a different one, more appropriately colored!)  

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Of Tile and Toilets...

     I thought I had written some time ago about the project we had started in our master bath, but I guess not.  Alas, apparently it’s another post I wrote only in my head!
     Anyway, I’ll try to spare you too many details . . . some weeks ago (I don’t want to remember how many), we decided to paint our bathroom.  As we painted, and a few drips hit the carpet, we discussed how we had long wanted to tear out the carpet and lay tile.  By the end of the day, the carpet was gone.  (Yes, I know, it would have been much easier just to put down tarps, but we really wanted that tile!)  What we thought would be a relatively quick job, however, has taken the aforementioned “some weeks.”
     We both thought it would look nice to lay the tile on the angle/diagonal. It looks great now, but it sure complicated all my cuts!  And the scoring tool the tile store rented us was useless for diagonal cuts.  So I took it back and bought a cheap reconditioned contractor’s wet-saw.  It did the job, but it took forever.  I cut an X in the middle of the old shower curtain and used it as a poncho to keep dry from all the water the saw threw up.  
     Part of what complicated the latter part of the project was that I decided it would be easier to install the cement board and lay the tile if I removed the toilet.  That was true – it was much easier for the tile job, but I’ve spent three evenings this week working on various aspects of getting the toilet back in.  (It was much easier coming out than going back in!)  
     Two or three trips to Home Depot later, and after too many hours with my face right next to the toilet bowl, the toilet is sitting pretty with no leaks (at least none yet discovered).  Talk about an awkward position; our toilet sits in its own neat little stall-like space.  Neat, that is, until you try to work in that area.  Indeed, I felt like I was nearly standing on my head half the time, trying to figure out which way was “on” and “off” from upside-down and backwards.  I think I have it down.  Or maybe not.
     1) I would make this tip last, since I didn’t really use it, but wanted to make sure you saw it (and who knows, you might not read all six!):  After flushing the toilet and sponging out the water in the tank, “Important: Be sure to take out any bricks, bottles, small water craft, or fish that may remain in the tank”  Never would have thought of it.  Glad the natural handyman did!
     2) Triple (at least) the amount of time you expect it to take.  Plan on one project leading to another (see also If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)!
     3) For laying tile, rent a real, powerful tile saw if you have to make many cuts – especially if you’re cutting tile on the diagonal.
     4) Do pull the toilet when laying tile, but be prepared for some extra work!
     5) Do buy all-new connectors when reinstalling the toilet – from the water line to the tank, from the tank to the bowl, and bolts from soil-pipe to bowl.  This just makes it easier and helps eliminate leaks.  Do take the old parts to the hardware store with you, so you don’t have to guess which size to purchase.
     6) Hire a professional if you don’t want to tell interesting stories on your blog (and if you’re in a big hurry to get it done!).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Pondering a Response to This...

In the May 6, 2006 issue of Time magazine, on page 8, Hank Davis asks the following question (in response to previous cover article, “Is America Flunking Science?”): “If Americans are truly concerned about falling behind, why do they waste precious time teaching religion in science classes?”  
     In a paragraph (i.e., a normal comment-length paragraph :), how would you respond to Mr. Davis?  
     Though I’m more interested in that first question (argument), you might also include an aside on (The Rev.) Jimmy Shelbourn’s comment (same page), which likely comes from a similar camp, but with a different twist:
Why are Americans losing ground to countries like China, South Korea and India in science and technology [Feb. 13]?  Duh!  We have a scientifically illiterate President, megachurches that insist that creation is 6,000 years old and an anti-intellectual climate that casts anyone of intelligence as a suspected terrorist.  Falling behind in science?  We are falling behind in intelligence!
     Lest you think I’m too lazy to come up with my own answer, I’m working on it, and will post my response :)  
     (By the way, if you pick up the above May 6 issue, check out the ad directly across from the letters page, the one with the library check-out card.  It’s one of the most effective, eye-grabbing ads I’ve seen for a long time.  I’m sure it was expensive, but oh, so worth it, it seems to me.)

Home Sweet Home

     Yes, we’re home after a thoroughly enjoyable trip to south Texas for four and a half days with Alaina’s grandparents.  I anticipate that several entries will be written on that subject in the days to come, so won’t reflect further on that here, other than to note that as much as we enjoyed our time there, it is nice to be home, play with Pippi, and sleep in our own bed.  Actually, I know that it is great to be home and play with Pippi; I haven’t slept yet, but am looking forward to it.  
     And yes, I know it’s not a Tuesday (not quite) or a Thursday, but I didn’t want to wait until after midnight to post just to be consistent with the last several posts ;)