Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas in Africa

Too good not to post. Hat tip to Ryan.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Can't wait!

The trailer for Prince Caspian is out! Coming in May.

In case you forgot...


Chris Sligh is still good. I just wanted to remind you. He's working on a recording project and it looks like he's really exploring the more explicitly Christian music side. I really like the first song on the link's demo, Empty Me. Wow. I could listen to this all day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Rediscoveries!

The house was getting a little too quiet for me this evening, so I reached into my record shelf and mindlessly grabbed something I haven't played in a while and put it on. Much to my delight, it was Elgar's Enigma Variations! I forgot I had that gem. My house is filled with glorious sounds. :-)

BTW, the NDSymphony Orchestra will be playing this wonderful piece next semester! Stay tuned. But if you can't wait to hear it live (which I do every week during rehearsal--yay!), just drop by for a cup of tea and I'll let you listen to my record. Benjamin Britton is on the flip side!

Some numbers and stuff

This is really interesting: SharperIron posted a survey of young fundamentalists to try to gauge the direction of the movement (at least, I think that's why). I don't think it was exceptionally well defined, but maybe that's because I don't fully understand what it is trying to discover. Some of the more surprising things to me come from what choices were given or not given in questions. For example, Number 26, Which statement best describes your view of sanctification? the responses are
  • Once a believer is saved, he is not sanctified until he totally surrenders at which time he can then achieve a state of Christian perfectionism with the perfect love toward God and man.
  • Once a believer is saved, he lives a defeated life until he lets go and lets God. This consecration leads to the victorious life of inward rest and outward victory.
  • Once a believer is saved, his process of sanctification is a gradual growth in holiness through spiritual disciplines. There is no second decision.
  • Once a believer is saved, he is carnal until he accepts Christ as Lord. He then becomes a spiritual man and begins to slowly grow to become more like Christ.
  • I don't know.
Ok, I recognize Weslyanism, Keswick theology, Evangelicalism (maybe?), and I don't know what the penultimate one is. But what about "Once a believer is saved the Holy Spirit sanctifies him and produces fruit." Or something like that? I mean, that's a common view, isn't it? Isn't it?

Also of note:
  • Over 100 respondents (about 10%) believe in gap theory of creation. Really? I didn't realize that one was still around.
  • On Question 31: Which view most closely resembles your belief about the millennium? Amillennialism is not an option. At all. Neither was "none of the above." Nevermind that it is the predominant belief in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed churches, among others. I mean, I expected it to be in the minority, given the survey selection, but I figured it would at least be given as an option. It didn't occur to them that at least one of the 1000+ respondents might pick it?
  • Over 72% believe the Lord will return during their lifetime.
  • 133 respondents agreed with the statement "Women are equal with men but cannot be in leadership over men in the church, home, or society." Society? Really? Well, there goes Hillary... I guess that one's not that surprising, now that I think about it.
  • 14% strongly disagreed with the statement "The preaching of most fundamental evangelists is healthy for believers."
  • More respondents were members of the Green Party than the Democratic Party.
  • More respondents believe smoking marijuana is always morally wrong than extramarital sex. Smoking is close.
The survey is fascinating and, I confess, a little depressing.

Corrections:
Upon looking more closely at the survey, I see now that I mistook some of the items.
  1. There WAS a choice for amillennialism. It garnered 8% of the vote. I had overlooked it.
  2. I reread the choices for views on Creation. Over 10% chose day-age theory, not gap theory. There's a difference. I guess. But still.

It's like Christmas around here!

We got a tree for the apartment. Puck is ecstatic.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Brilliant!

I am totally going to open up one of these one day. What could be better than a cup of something warm and a fuzzy kitty to snuggle (or snorgle, if you're an ICHC lurker)? I'm thinking this would go well in a college town where there are a lot of 18-24 year old women living in apartments that don't allow pets.

Here's Calico's website. It's in Japanese, but if you click the second link down on the sidebar on the left you get pictures of all their cats.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More on Fundamentalism

In the course of the ongoing discussion about Fundamentalism that rages on the interwebs, a recent part of which cropped up over at Lincoln's place (and at Camille's), Joanna sent me a link to a 2005 address by Dr. Bauder to the American Association of Christian Colleges and Seminaries. In it he acknowledges that Fundamentalism is in crises, and makes a case for salvaging it rather than rejecting and replacing it.

I wish I had time right now to form a fuller response to it, because it's really interesting. For now, I'll cite the first three paragraphs, which I think are really crucial to the argument:
At this meeting we are asking how we can retain the next generation of leaders for fundamentalism. The question assumes that the younger generation may decide to leave fundamentalism. If we were to lose the next generation of leaders, we would lose fundamentalism as we know it. In effect, the question that we are considering is, “How shall we save fundamentalism?”

This question puts the cart before the horse. If our efforts to attract future leaders are to be anything more than salesmanship, then we must offer the kind of fundamentalism that is worth living in and living for. Rather than asking how to save fundamentalism, we would do well to ask why fundamentalism should be saved, or, more specifically, what kind of fundamentalism is worth saving.

In answering this question, I first distinguish fundamentalism as an idea from fundamentalism as a movement. As I have said on other occasions, fundamentalism is a great idea. As an idea, fundamentalism is essentially a doctrinal and ecclesiastical reaction against unbelief masquerading as Christianity. Ideal fundamentalists affirm that all doctrine is important, but they recognize that some doctrines are more important than others. They assert that some doctrines are so important as to be essential to the gospel itself. These essential or fundamental doctrines are held to be indispensably bound to the very definition of Christianity. While ideal fundamentalists certainly do not believe that Christianity can be reduced to a doctrinal statement, they affirm that Christianity rests upon an inviolable doctrinal foundation. To add to or subtract from that foundation is to deny Christianity itself. Moreover—and this is the crux of the matter—fundamentalists insist that no Christian fellowship can exist or should be pretended with people who deny the gospel.

What strikes me immediately about the description of "ideal Fundamentalism" is the impression that Fundamentalism at its inception is trying to reinvent the wheel. What's wrong with the Nicene Creed? The Apostle's Creed? For centuries before anyone called himself a Fundamentalist these were tests of orthodoxy. Didn't Fundamentalism essentially do what Dr. Bauder argues against: reject an ill-used system and start over?

Update: It's spread. Also at Andrew's place.

The joy of forums

Forums are great. They are interesting, engrossing, a great platform for influencing people and finding information, and a massive time warp. I just found and joined a new one, and boy is it fun! Read all about what people in South Bend are saying about South Bend at Southbendforum.com!

Every city should have an online water cooler. Seriously!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving "Break"

Happy day after Thanksgiving!
Look! It snowed yesterday. Lake effect at its finest. This will all be gone by the end of tomorrow, if not today, but it sure is pretty while it lasts. This snow is perfect. It came down thick and fast, in huge, sticky flakes. I cannot confirm or deny whether it makes excellent snowballs with which to hit my friends.
Folding laundry seems to be an invitation to flop down on whatever I'm trying to fold. It works every time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday herbs

Winter is setting in. We've already dipped into freezing range a couple of times at night, but my herbs are hanging in there. Actually, everything looks pretty good except the basil. The catnip and the mint are flourishing.

But tonight it's supposed to snow, and tomorrow is projected to be in the mid-twenties, so I figured it was about time to bring the pot in and see if I can save it for the winter. I put it up in my room on a plastic plate.

When I came into my room to go to bed, I found Puck sitting by the catnip side of the planter licking his chops. I tried to push him away from it, and he attacked my hand, missed, and fell over. Crazy stoner cat.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cheap good music!


The Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra is playing this Thursday at 8:00 in DPAC. Tickets are $6 ($3 for students). We're playing The Nutcracker, An Invitation to the Dance (Weber), and Copeland's Rodeo. It's really a fun program. Oh, and the DPAC page for the concert (linked above) has a picture of the horns on it from the Dave Brubeck concert a few weeks ago! You can see me three people in. Heh.

Okay, okay, I'll post the picture. It's at the top of the post.

The Islamabad Bar Association objects.

It looks like Pakistan is struggling a little with the whole "rule of law" thing right now. The lawyers have taken to the streets in protest over the declaration of emergency rule. The forced judges who took oaths under emergency rule out of the courtroom by threatening to throw eggs at them.

I can't say I've ever wanted to throw eggs at a judge (a witness or two maybe), but I would like to keep the option open. "You're honor, I emphatically object!"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

We know how it feels.

Q: Dave, Miami held the Pats scoreless in the third quarter. Does that portend great things for your 'phins?
In the Heart of Texas, Temple, TX 10/22/07

A: The Dolphins' strategy this year, originally developed by Muhammad Ali, is to let the other team wear itself out scoring 40 or 50 points early. Then, when the other team is tired, and in fact has actually showered and left the stadium, the Dolphins sneak back out onto the field and run some offensive plays. Unfortunately, even then they can't score.
Dave Barry 10/24/07

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More shameless pleas for input

Ok, informal survey. My entrepreneurship group has hit a wall. Our super-brilliant airport terminal fitness center came out with a thumbs-down at the feasibility analysis stage, so we need to proceed with something different. Since we have a good deal of research on the airport concessionaire industry, we want to make use of it and keep the business plan within an airport terminal. But what do airport terminals need that they don't already have? More to the point, what will airport travelers pay for that isn't already available?

Following are some ideas we brainstormed. Which of them do you think you would be most likely to actually spend a buck or two on? If one strikes you as interesting (i.e. you would actually stop and walk into the store), how could we improve it? What would make the sell?

Thanks for any thoughts you have.

  • Virtual Golf Arcade--Grab a club, and step onto the astroturf. You can work on that swing before you get to your destination. Or if you're more talk than game, pick up a golf mag and gloves and brag about the last course you played over a beer.
  • Urban Nomad Video Gaming Center--Looking for a diversion? Here you can test drive the latest and greatest in gaming innovation, whether it's XBOX, Nintendo, or computer games. Challenge your travel buddies to a Dance Dance Revolution competition, try out the Wii, or ally with complete strangers in a World of Warcraft battle on a 40" flat screen. Oh, and if you can't tear yourself away from the awesomeness, we do sell the games too.
  • Urban Nomad Backpacker's Guide Shop--American travel more than any other nationality. And with rising gas prices and compressed schedules, the e-boarding pass is quickly replacing the RV. Just like the US highway system, the airport terrain has its own character and challengers. The Urban Nomad is here to help. Here you can pick up travel books for where you're going, "trail guides" to individual airports (complete with advice on the local wildlife), nifty travel essentials for the backpack-and-jeans road warrior, and even licensed shirts and pins for each airport to advertise how well-traveled you are.
  • Airportchat.com--Ever run into people in the airport you already know? Why make those encounters chance? With Airportchat.com you can log in and see who is in the same airport you're in, message them, and arrange to meet up for a drink. You can even meet someone new--hey, you've got an hour anyway! If you're thinking ahead, you can log in when you book the trip and see if anyone you know will be in the airports on your itinerary at the same time. Or if you're looking to meet someone with particular characteristics (say, a venture capitalist), you could even arrange to sit next to such a person on one of your flights (provided that person is also registered on our site).
  • Sleep Station--The "coffin hotels" in Tokyo aren't just cool in Japan. Ever see people waiting for flights crashed out on those awful vinyl chairs or the floor (gross!) in the terminal? Ever been one of those people? Wouldn't you rather have a private capsule, complete with pillow, blanket, and luggage compartment? I/O psychologists have been telling us for years that cat naps during the day make us more productive. I'm a fan. Rents by the half-hour.
  • 7-11 style mini mart-The idea here is normal, non-airport prices and high volume. Basic toiletries, medicines, bottled drinks, and such at the prices you're used to seeing outside security. Why doesn't this already happen? We have no idea.
  • Health food/Juice Bar--Good all-natural foods and smoothies. Not really feeling a greasy burger and soda? Starbucks have too many calories? Vegan diet cutting down on your options? Clear your mind and reach for the protein powder and soy. For dining-in or packaged to-go for a easy unmessy meal on the plane.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For fun, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle over Bob Jones III's public endorsement of a presidential candidate yesterday. No one I know can remember a time when the university ever explicitly endorsed a candidate (though who are we kidding), and they aren't claiming to now. They came out with a statement not long after Dr. Bob's disclaiming that he spoke for the university. I'm not sure that anyone heard or believes the "personal opinion" line, but they tried, I guess.

So now alumni are mad, either because he endorsed a candidate, or because he endorsed Mitt Romney. The media are having a heyday. And who knows what this will do to Mitt in the polls (if anything).

I myself am a bit chagrined that Dr. Bob publicly endorsed a candidate, but I can't say it really changes much for me. If people want to attribute my alma mater's "media issues" to me, a Romney endorsement is really the least of my worries. I have to say I am a little surprised at Dr. Bob's choice of candidates. I wouldn't really have expected him to choose a Mormon who rides the center over Huckabee out of blatant pragmatism (just gotta have someone who can beat Hillary? Really?). I haven't decided yet whom I favor for the election, but I doubt this endorsement will have much effect on my decision.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Continuing obsession

Did you know they make bike saddlebags that have cup holders!? Now I can have my morning workout AND my morning coffee. Can life get better? I submit that it canNOT!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Going green

A few weeks ago, I got this weird little itch to get a bike. Well, the itch didn't go away, and I did in fact procure a bike. It's a mountain/street bike hybrid Schwinn I got for about $180 at Target. I'm happy to report that I LOVE it. I've ridden it to school, to work downtown, and I'm about to take it over to the mall (which is a much shorter bike ride than it is a car drive, due to weird road layout and traffic lights). At school the student parking lot is a 10-minute walk from the law school. Downtown, I have to park at least 3 blocks away from the building where I work. And I've discovered that a lot of stores around here, like my school and work, have bike racks right next to the entrance. I had never noticed them before.

I'm not ready to pitch the car just yet--the bike isn't always a feasible mode of transportation. Church is still a little far away, and I like to dress up a little more for church. Also, this town (like many) is not well-designed for biking, once you get more than a block away from Notre Dame. The road I live on is narrow, and has no shoulders and no sidewalks and quite a lot of traffic, so I don't like to ride on it at night. And then there are school days when I need to carry more books than fit in my bag, or a French horn for rehearsal--a little awkward to balance on the handlebars.

But overall, great investment. I get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, less frustration with parking, less gas expense, and am developing some impressive muscle tone in my legs. Oh, and I love the smug feeling I get when I jet past a long line of cars at a stoplight. I plan to keep it up until it snows.
And since I'm outside with my camera, here's my herb garden. The tall stuff is sweet basil (GREAT on chicken), and there's some mint, sage, and catnip. The basil got a little nipped by frost night before last, but no serious damage. I'll probably have to bring it in soon.
And this is my kitty, who is a bit miffed that he is not allowed outside and thinks I should bring him a catnip leaf as consolation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Help a Grad Student Day!

For entrepreneurship I am working in a team that is developing a business plan to open small health clubs inside airport terminals. We want the clubs to be inside security and open to the public. They would have locker rooms and showers, some cardio-type equipment, and bottled health drinks and prepackaged food. We originally envisioned a full juice bar, but space constraints may make that very difficult, and it’s a completely different kind of business that we aren’t sure we want to tackle in one semester. We’ll sit on that idea for later.

You ask, “How can I help?” I’m SO glad you asked! You can go to our short and simple online survey and take it. Market research is essential to our success, both in having a good business plan, and in convincing our professor that we have a good business plan. So go take it! Tell all your friends to take it! (Just don’t take it more than once. That will skew our results.)

Thank you, and have a good day.

UPDATE: I got reports that there were problems with the survey. It's fixed now. Thanks for the reports. You can go back and take the survey now.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Moralistic comic of the day

Sometimes I think this is kinda like a lot of welfare legislation. We invite them to partake in the nation's wealth and criticize them for not taking up the offer, all the while not recognizing that they don't have the tools to even get to the party. A tad cynical, perhaps.

Here's a link to the original, if this is too small to read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Don't forget--tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day! So... talk like a pirate tomorrow.

The coolest stairway in the Midwest

And here is our ultra-cool stairwell.Mirrors by Ikea, concept by Ryan, and execution by Kyle......and his assistant Puck, who thinks that ladders are AWESOME...
...even though they go up better than down.

In the jungle

As promised, here are a few pictures of the green walls. Keep in mind that we are two law students who just moved and are still trying to get a handle on classes and the job search. Yes, there is lots of clutter in our house. This is the dining room. We chose the green to match that silk hanging. This is the kitchen. It was an afterthought that for a while I was afraid was going to be a disaster. The paint is eggshell finish and really shouldn't go in a kitchen since it can't be cleaned as easily as other finishes. It also didn't stick very well to the high-gloss paint that was already there. Kids, don't try this at home.
This is the living room. We're still figuring out what to do with all the books, but we rather like this bookcase on this wall.

On the greener side

Every now and then people get some little obsession. Mine are often random and vary in duration from an afternoon to months.

My latest kick: I want a bike. I haven't really had a workable bike in years. When we lived in Nagoya, we didn't have a car; we rode bikes and used public transit. Yesterday I borrowed a bike to head a couple blocks off campus. Fun! And efficient. It took less time to get there than it takes me to walk from the student parking lot to the law school. I have several profs who bike to work, some at quite a distance. Some in other cities are discovering that it can be done, even though American communities are usually designed with the automobile in mind. Of course, that article is set in southern California. Indiana has winter.

HT to Ryan on the article, and on the use of his bike.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hodgepodge of catching up

  • I am a loser for not posting for so long. Sorry. I have actually had things to post, especially since school is back in session, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Late is better than never, right?
  • A classmate had MarryOurDaughter.org linked on his facebook page, and Carissa showed it to me. We both laughed until we cried. At first I thought it might be for real, but the testimonials page confirms that this must be a joke. Parents, don’t get any ideas.
  • Carissa and I moved into a new townhouse three weeks ago, and we finally feel like we are settling in. I got the walls downstairs painted this weekend. The dining and living rooms now each have a vivid green wall. Even though the walls are fairly small, without furniture against them they made one think a bit of a rain forest. But once we got the furniture and wall d├ęcor back up, I have to say it looks pretty sharp. I’ll try to post some pictures soon.
  • Speaking of cool things we did with the new place, I picked up these nifty mirrors at Ikea that I didn’t have specific plans for but thought were cool. Ryan had the idea to put them over the stairwell on a painted wall. Last week Kyle came over and made it happen, and I think I can certify that we now have the coolest stairwell in Indiana, possibly in the Midwest. I’ll try to get pictures of that up soon too.
  • I really like my classes this semester. The lineup includes:
    • Trusts & Estates
    • Accounting for Lawyers
    • Professional Responsibility
    • Urban Property
    • Entrepreneurship (MBA class)
    • I’m also working for the South Bend City Attorney’s office part time, participating in the McCloskey business plan competition, and still playing in the ND Symphony.
  • Speaking of the business plan competition, if you or anyone you know is skilled in software design, intellectual property, and/or business, and on fire to start a new venture, email me. We wouldn’t mind having a few more team members.
  • Speaking of the ND Symphony, many of you have asked me about our concerts this semester. Our first concert is Friday, October 19. We’ll be performing works by and with Dave Brubeck. It’s already sold out, but I might be able to get comp tickets.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What I Learned This Summer

Rule One:

Don't care more about a case than your client does. If the client doesn't care about his life as much as you do your job, somebody's perspective is messed up. Only one of you knows what the case is worth, and my money's on the best cost avoider--and that's not you.

Thank you and good night.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kids these days

This morning Notre Dame students received an email from student government alerting us to an ordinance up for discussion at the city council meeting August 13. Excerpt from the email:
Here is a quick summary of the ordinance as it is currently written:

Who does it affect? Students who reside in “boarding houses” (houses with more than 2 non-relative residents)

What does it require? Individuals holding special events (ie. parties) where alcohol is served with 25 or more non-resident guests must file an application with the Board of Public Works 10 business days in advance at a fee of $15. This application is then distributed to the SBPD and the area neighborhood association, among others.

What will it cost you?
Violations by individuals who file applications:
1st violation - $50
2nd violation - $100
3rd violation - $200
Chronic violations (more than 3) - $2500; loss of right to hold special events

Failure to file:
1st violation - $500
2nd violation - $1000

I guess I understand what the ordinance's backers are trying to do--loud parties sure are annoying. But 10 days in advance? Does anyone plan that far in advance? What is the purpose of the 10 day requirement? And why does the notice have to be distributed to neighborhood associations? What purpose does that serve--let them know which landlord/homeowner to ostracize at the next meeting? And what exactly is a "violation" by an individual who files an application? Is the filer liable for the actions of ANY guest at the "special event"? Who has to file the application? A tenant? The homeowner? Why does this only apply to "boarding houses"? Are those parties more annoying than those thrown at houses owned by students?

Can't they just enforce the nuisance ordinances they already have instead of making up arbitrary conditions that make it obvious that they are targeting students? Sure, loud parties are annoying to neighbors, but they are just as annoying whether there are 10 or 30 people, landlord or tenant, planned two weeks ahead or last night. In fact, they are just as annoying if they are a group of 40-year-old professional homeowners gathering for a football bash or a group of 22-year-old renting students celebrating the end of the semester.

If parties are such a problem, they should just up the fines for disturbing the peace, add an escalating scale for repeat offenders, and leave it at that. No need for the ordinance to draw cross hairs on students. If students are the only offenders, it will catch them anyway, and if they aren't, the others shouldn't get a pass. But renting students aren't registered to vote here, so I doubt they're going to have much say in this.

A brilliant idea

Dear anyone who designs courthouses:

Please include in your designs a drive-thru with a window to the clerk of the court's office and those cool vacuum chutes that they have at banks. I know you can't control where courthouses are built, but they are pretty much always located downtown where you're lucky to find a parallel parking spot to squeeze into. I am tired of driving around for ten minutes to find a parking spot three blocks away, clomp to the courthouse in my heels and polyester suit in 90-degree heat and humidity to hand a piece of paper to the clerk for filing, and clomp back three blocks to my car. If I can bank from my driver's seat, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to file a paper with the court the same way.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A prophecy to think on during communion

Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father's sons shall bow down before you.

Judah is a lion's cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.

Genesis 49:8-12

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Redneck Fishing Tournament

I was listening to Weekend America on NPR this afternoon and they had a story about this fishing tournament. They, um, don't allow fishing poles. Check out the video to see why that's not a problem.

I'm totally signing up for this next year.

Friday, August 03, 2007

What single people do on the weekends

I would like all of you to know I that I am thoroughly enjoying the cat vs. fly battle that is raging in my dining and living rooms. Whoever said cats were boring never had Puck. Go, Puck, go!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A bear market

It saddens me to see my alma mater lose some of the best profs it has, especially when the school... well, let's just say the school didn't fight particularly hard to keep its most valuable assets. It makes me concerned about the direction of the school, or at least some of its present leadership. This isn't an isolated incident; other top professors have left, either under pressure or for undisclosed reasons (with strong suspicions that differences of opinion with the school played a heavy role). Aside from the atmosphere of distrust thought police herald, one has to wonder what affect this can have on accreditation. The school is already struggling to make quota of profs with doctorates from schools other than itself. This makes three less this summer, if my count is right.

I understand jealously guarding orthodoxy in a Christian school, but the "image" the administration insists its "insiders" conform to has nothing to do with orthodoxy; it's just that--an image. Judge for yourself what is prohibited these days. Now tell me, does this create an environment in which one can spiritually grow and flourish?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Compassion and what passes for it

Sorry it's been so long. I would love to blog about all of the very interesting and painfully real-life stories of my clients this summer at Notre Dame Legal Aid, but client information is, of course, confidential, and that would be an ethics violation of the most basic type ("So, Rebecca, about this blogging about your clients' personal lives..."). Suffice it to say that the most ordinary of towns hides hurting people with stories that rival the great tragedies of literature. Most people don't show up at a legal aid clinic until they are at the end of their rope. I guess it's not unlike being a pastor, or an ER medic.

For something completely different, check out this story on Slate: Fifteen Dollars' Worth of Smug. Apparently some NYC firms are letting summer associates opt to trade the $60 lunch with a partner down to a $15 lunch at a less posh eatery, and the firm will donate the difference to legal aid. I think Slate pretty much says it all.

I thought about titling this post "A Summer Worth of Smug." But I kinda hope it's more like "A Lifetime Worth of Smug."

Friday, July 06, 2007

Local Plant Life

There is an eggplant on my table. Taking suggestions for what to do with it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Neofeminist rant

Sitting in an airport you hear all kinds of interesting things. For example, I sat for a while beside a woman who was talking on her cell phone, and I inadvertently (or advertently, as it may be) overheard her half of the conversation.

She was explaining to someone (presumably a girlfriend) why she went on a shorter vacation with her significant other than she had originally wanted because he did not want to go on an overnight trip on which they would have to share quarters. It seems he objected to them sleeping together. She expressed exasperation with people “passing moral judgment” and thought the whole thing was stupid. She’s forty-five, she explained, and he’s forty-nine. Of course that moral stuff is fine for someone who’s 18 or 20 or something, but they’re too old for that stuff, and why can’t people just leave them alone when they’re that age [“grown up”?].

Part of me really hopes he (whoever he is) dumps her very quickly and doesn’t let her bully him out of the very courageous and admirable personal stand he has taken. Part of me wants to lecture her: Don’t you ever dare start a “kids these days” complaint if that’s the example you knowingly set. If sex is a recreational right, and “grown ups” can’t be bothered with “kiddie stuff” like morality, you lose any right to throw your hands up in bewilderment when teen pregnancy and STD rates go through the roof and cohabitation becomes more common than marriage. It is not our generation that has caused a crisis of family; it is yours that set the example and we who are reaping the consequences. Believe it or not, we watch you to see what you really think is important, and you can’t expect us to take you seriously if you tell us something is for our own good but it doesn’t apply to you. Grrrr.

And then part of me is really sad for her. She’s bought the same bag of goods being pushed at women and girls from every Cosmo mag, soap, and billboard (not to mention most chic flics): If he doesn’t want something from you, there’s either something wrong with him, or with you. Permanence is something to fear. Feminism means taking what you want when you want it, because that is the only way we will be equal with men. Take the relationship for what it’s worth now, because it will probably be gone tomorrow anyway. And my favorite: It’s not a real, serious, grown-up relationship unless you’re sleeping together.

Come on, girls. We can do better than that. And yes, that is a moral judgment. Someone’s got to make them. Our elders certainly aren’t.

Consumer Rant

Since I have a public forum available, I’d like to indulge in the time-honored tradition of the consumer rant after a bad experience with a product or service. If those annoy you, please skip this post.

This particular rant is about air travel. Now, I realize airlines are popular targets of consumer rants, and I usually give them a break because (1) most people who travel by air do so because they have An Agenda and are already stressed out and feisty, (2) airlines are frequently at the mercy of elements beyond their control, such as weather or air traffic control, and (3) when you travel by air you have to expect a certain number of delays and mishaps a certain percentage of the time just as a matter of statistical probability.

However, I think the number of mishaps I’ve had with Northwest is starting to stretch my patience with statistics and make me suspect that Northwest might be a proper target for an accusation of incompetence. So here’s a sum of the last month of Northwest travel for me:

South Bend to Chicago: fine

Chicago to Dallas/Ft. Worth: 1 hour delay

Dallas/Ft. Worth to Chicago: slight delay

Chicago to South Bend: fine

South Bend to Detroit: 2 hour delay

Detroit to Harrisburg: delayed four times, finally cancelled due to lack of pilot, co-pilot, and half a flight crew. The pilot was stranded on the west coast due to storms, so no vouchers were given (Northwest does not take responsibility for “weather-related” mishaps). No more flights went out of Detroit that night. All hotels were full since we were the last flight cancelled. Since I has delayed out of South Bend I had booked an alternative itinerary for the next morning through United Airways. I called the hotline and was told that I “definitely had a confirmed seat” to Harrisburg via Dulles the next morning at 6, so I settled down in a chair to try to sleep for a few hours before setting out for the other terminal at 4:30 the next morning. When I got up to the United ticket counter I was told that the flight was overbooked and my “booking” was standby, along with 15 other people, and frankly, since I was not a United customer I was not a high priority for them. I took the bus back to the Northwest terminal, waited in the line again, and got myself booked on a 10:30 flight to Baltimore. Once I got through security I found a half-full 6:45 flight to Baltimore and the agent let me on. I never got to Harrisburg; Ryan picked me up in Baltimore.

Harrisburg to Detroit: fine

Detroit to South Bend: fine

South Bend to Detroit: slight delay

Detroit to Minneapolis: fine

Minneapolis to Rapid City: 1 hour delay

Rapid City to Minneapolis: cancelled for lack of a crew, next two flights oversold. They put me on the second oversold flight (last one of the day) and then we sat on the runway for an hour and a half while they tried to buy enough people off the flight to make it light enough to fly. We were told this happens all the time. I spent the night in Minneapolis, this time in a hotel on a voucher.

Minneapolis to Detroit: changed planes at the last minute and had to reassign seats before boarding, so we boarded late, then sat on the runway for 2 hours for maintenance problems. Meanwhile, we all missed our connections. My connection left while I was still on the runway in Minneapolis.

Detroit to South Bend: next flight was oversold and I was told I would have to pay to get on the standby list; waited until 7:18 pm for a flight with a confirmed seat.

So where does that leave me? In the last three weeks I have flown 14 separate Northwest flights. Of those, 4 have been significantly delayed, 2 have been in place of cancelled flights. I tried to get on earlier flights 7 separate times only to be told they were overbooked, so I was frequently stuck in an airport for three to six hours waiting for a flight with a seat. So my significant delay rate was 2 in 7; cancellation rate was 1 in 7; and overbooking was 1 in 2 (though that number is statistically sketchy because I was sometimes trying for flights through other cities to try to get at least close to where I was going). Is that normal? Granted, the sample is not large enough to be considered representative, but conversations with other Northwest passengers (and employees) confirm that my experience is not unique or even unusual. What I found especially exacerbating is airline employees’ complete lack of help, particularly in Detroit. If I could manage to find a ticket agent (which was nearly impossible) I was usually told more or less to go away; my cancelled flight was not their problem. When I did manage to get someone to even look at my printed itinerary, I was often told there was no room for me on the plane, I would have to pay to get on a stand-by list, or I should go somewhere else or call a number. Only in Minneapolis was I ever offered any vouchers for meals or lodging. It was clear that once you were bumped from a flight and your schedule was thrown off, they would just get you there whenever they had a convenient empty seat; you were not a priority.

Classic example: when I went to the counter on the 5:30 flight to South Bend to ask if they could put me on the stand-by list, I was told I would have to pay. I objected and said I was there as a result of a delayed flight. The agent frowned and tapped on her computer for a bit and finally said, “Well, your flight from Cincinnati to South Bend left on time.” I tried to patiently explain that that was wonderful for the people lucky enough to be in Cincinnati, but I had never made it there because my flight had been cancelled, oversold, and then delayed in Rapid City and I had to spend the night in Minneapolis. Had she looked more carefully at the itinerary I had handed her, she would have noticed that was why I was in Detroit in the first place. Finally she sighed and told me there were already six people on the stand-by list and there was no way I was getting on the flight either way (at least four of these people got on the list through the other agent while I was talking to her). I hung around to see what would happen, and went back up to the desk when they were finishing up. The man who got on the stand-by list right after I was turned away was the last one on the flight.

I wish I could say that I’ll never fly Northwest again, but frankly, I’ve not heard much better news about other airlines, and right now I can’t really afford to be picky. So like the rest of flying America, I will just sit here in the airport and vent my consumer rants on my blog.



UPDATE: Hat tip to The Bard for this news article. Apparently it's not just me; the statistics really do point to the conclusion that Northwest is terribly mismanaged. According to the article, 12% of Northwest flights were cancelled yesterday, compared to 1.2% on other major airlines. That's not the weather, folks.

UPDATE UPDATE: Hat tip to Lincoln for
these articles from USAToday. Yesterday was the fourth day in a row Northwest has canceled over 10% of its flights.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekend Snapshot

Jersey shore, waiting for the water taxi to take us to New York, resume in hand and hopes high.

A Wild Idea

Last Monday I finally made it to NYC to visit the Bronx Defenders office I had heard about in February. It was a six-hour trip from Harrisburg, involving a car, a boat, three subways, and a commuter train, and I doubt I'd have made it if Ryan had not taken the day off work to be my navigator.

When we got there the executive director Robin Steinberg (whom I had met at the Norman Amaker Public Interest Retreat in February) met us and showed us around the office. It is larger than I expected, especially given its unassuming store-front appearance from the outside. The design is open, with few walls, and low cubicle dividers. There are brightly-painted accent walls, artsy posters, and high ceilings. The waiting area has toys and books, and the receptionist frequently occupies children while their parents consult within. The cubicles are arranged in "teams." Each team has a few defense attorneys, a family law attorney, a case worker, etc. Clients are assigned to teams rather than individuals, so that their particular situation can be addressed holistically. Most people do not have a criminal defense problem; they have all kinds of interwoven problems.

Robin is energetic, and has the passion and sense of mission of an evangelist. She is proud of the fact that Bronx Defenders does not follow the usual model of legal aid, but she'd change it in an instant if she thought another model would benefit the community more. She takes her clients personally. I cannot imagine the emotional energy she must have to still be outraged each time one of her clients gets the short end of the stick.

So here's my crazy plan:
1. Work in legal aid, perhaps at the Bronx, for a while to get my hands dirty and learn where the unexpected difficulties are (not to mention how to handle the expected difficulties).
2. Start my own model somewhere else. I will need:
  • Funding. While I was in PA, Ryan took me to the Hershey factory museum (cool place, btw). As we drove around Hershey, he pointed out all the evidences of non-profit money from the Hershey foundation being slung around the community. Federal non-profit law requires that foundations spend at least 5% of their money every year to keep their tax-exempt status. For Hershey, this is a LOT of money, and they hardly know what to do with it. They are almost driven to tearing things down just so they can spend money rebuilding them in the most expensive way possible. I wonder if I couldn't write a proposal inviting them to spend some of that money in a more constructive manner.
  • Location. If I used Hershey money, it would need to stay in PA, preferably connected to the Hershey community or mission to make the project attractive to the funders. Hershey and the surrounding communities, however, are relatively well-off and may not really need legal aid. Probably I would need to go to Philly to find my clients. Robin confirmed that Philly would be a fantastic place for a legal aid clinic. There is currently a very traditional public defenders office, but little is being done in other areas of law, and the need there is great. How to pitch it to the good folks at Hershey? Hershey founded a boarding school for underprivileged, inner-city kids from Philly. The school is located in Hershey, but the kids' families are still in Philly. I can serve their families.
  • People. I can't run a clinic by myself. I need lawyers, social workers, folks with heads for business and people. A clinic like this would need talent, vision, and dedication. And organization like crazy. So if you like adventure, helping people, and low pay, keep the idea in your mind and make sure your phone number stays in my files. One day I may call you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A cat's world

Puck let a moth in last night and was clearly distraught about the situation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'm it.

I got tagged by Beth, so here goes: I'm supposed to list some random habits or facts about me and then tag others who then have to do the same. I'd like the record to show that this isn't really fair; Beth is pregnant, so she is likely to have more weird habits due to hormonal oddness.
  • I dislike the smells of honey and artificial watermelon flavor.
  • I always request pumpkin pie at my birthday (even though it's in May).
  • Every night before I go to bed I wash my face, take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and take a multi-vitamin, in that order. I can't sleep well otherwise.
  • I usually watch intense or scary parts of movies with my eyes closed. This also applied to parts in TV shows that have foreboding music.
  • I baby-talk to my cat, but never to babies.
There. Happy? I tag Monica, Joanna, and DeLaura.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Please welcome....

...on the blogroll to the right, the new link to Restored Glory, Kyle's new blog documenting what he hopes will be the transformation of an old, run-down house with potential into a charming, very livable (and marketable) home. Right now he's still developing a plan to present to the loan officer before he can make a bid on the place. It looks to be an interesting project, and he very helpfully hyperlinks terms in his entries so the average non-construction-savvy reader can learn a little about the details of renovation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Memoriam Elva Ann Whiting

The family is gathering to pay tribute to my grandmother, Elva Ann Whiting. I am enjoying looking at pictures and listening to and sharing stories. Hearing of her hard work, generosity, and sense of humor makes me proud to be part of this great lady's legacy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This is my 201st post!

Okay, that's all you get for now. One more exam and then maybe I'll post more. Wish me luck on Business Associations on Saturday (I'll be needing it). In the meantime, pay visits to my friends' blogs on the right. They still post.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Improving hand-eye coordination in the body of Christ?

For the few of you who haven't heard yet, Francis Beckwith, philosopher, writer, and (now former) president of the Evangelical Theological Society, has converted to Catholicism (or, as one dear Catholic friend gleefully told me, "returned to the true Church" *grin*). Dr. Beckwith holds a great deal of influence and respect and the move has left a lot of evangelicals a bit shell-shocked.

I can understand that. My first thought when I came to Notre Dame and started learning more about Catholicism was "Hey--these guys aren't the crazy cult I've been told they are! We actually have a lot in common and are probably brothers and sisters in Christ!" But there is a lot of bad history, bad historical theology, misunderstanding, and distrust on both sides of the fence. Vatican II has done a lot to reconcile the two sides, but language still confuses the issue. Sometimes I will hear a Catholic definition of grace or forgiveness and the heresy alarms start going off in my head, but when I ask someone to describe what they mean, often they are just using different words to mean something very similar or identical to what I believe. A lot of Protestants will dismiss Dr. Beckwith as having "gone off the tracks." He already has received snarky comments from people urging him to read the Bible or think through this (What, you think he hasn't already!?), but I wonder if some other, more thoughtful Protestants will take a closer look at Catholicism and see if there's more (or less) to it than they thought. I'm not saying I hope there's wholesale conversion to Catholicism (to all you hopeful Catholics out there, no, I'm NOT converting *grin*), but I do think there is a lot both persuasions could gain from friendly dialog with fellow members of the (little c) catholic Church.

HT: Derek, inter alia

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ave Maria Law School: "Failed Experiement?"

It looks like the rumors of crisis at Ave Maria have substance. No wonder their students are transferring out. And you thought ND had rumblings about administration... Well, I wish them the best. Calling them a "failed experiment" is pretty harsh, and I hope it's not true. It sounds like it's all coming to a head, what with the ABA involved. It sounds like faculty/admin relations can't get much worse, so something has to give.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Studying?

I am nerdier than 78% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Warning: This is geared to computer/math nerds, not so much nerds of another brand. Stephen, you will rank high. Law friends, you may or may not, but rest assured, you will always be king nerds in my heart.

HT: Camille Lewis

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Catholic political theory in a nutshell

Here it is, from the (then future) Pope himself (p. 129 of Without Roots:
The Catholic will not and should not, thought the making of laws, impose a hierarchy of values that can only be recognized and enacted within the faith. He or she can only reclaim that which belongs to the human foundations accessible to reason and the therefore essential to the construction of a sound legal order.
Don't know yet if I fully agree with it (though I'm inclined to at least in result if not in foundational assumptions about epistemology), but it is pretty coherent, eh?

Answering Nietzsche

From Cardinal Ratzinger's response letter to Prof. Pera (found on pp. 125-26 of Without Roots:
Here what we are actually addressing, in my opinion, is the decisive reason for the abandonment of Christianity: its model for life is apparently unconvincing. It seems to place too many restraints on humankind that stifle its joie de vivre, that limit its precious freedom, and that do not lead it to open pastures--in the language of the Psalms--but rather into want, into deprivation. Something similar happened in antiquity, when the representatives of the powerful Roman state appealed to Christians by saying: Return to our religion, our religion is joyous, we have feasts, drunken revels, and entertainments, while you believe in One who was crucified.

The Christians were able to demonstrate persuasively how empty and base were the entertainments of paganism, and how sublime the gift of faith in the God who suffers with us and leads us to the road of true greatness. ... The Christian model of life must be manifested as a life in all its fullness and freedom, a life that does not experience the bonds of love as dependence and limitation but rather as an opening to the greatness of life.
Encouragement and indictment all in one passage. Isn't that always how it runs?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Quotation to munch on

From a letter from Professor Marcello Pera to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), printed in Without Roots, p. 100:
“Secularists must beware–and often they are not wary enough, because technological devices are so readily available–of rushing to transform their whims into desires, and their desires into rights. Believers must also beware–and they, too, are often not wary enough, since it is so easy to find a proper or ad hoc passage from the Scriptures–of transforming their interpretations of the Scriptures into dogma.
The first sentence is profound. I'm still thinking about the second one. At first reading it seems like a non sequitur. But the context helps: Pera is laying out what each side will need to do to participate in strengthening a common culture of values (roughly--I'm grossly oversimplifying for time and space purposes. Just read the book.).

Note: [sic] on the en-dashes throughout. I know they should be em-dashes, but (1) they were en-dashes in the text, and (2) I'm not sure if simple text on blogger does em-dashes anyway.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kennedy wobbles to the right this week.

Buzz around the law school is that the Supreme Court has upheld Bush's partial birth abortion ban in a 5-4 decision. Kennedy wrote the opinion. Excellent. More later after I actually read said opinion. Which may end up being after finals. Over and out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thoughts on a breezy afternoon

On South Quad at Notre Dame an environmental awareness group has set up hundreds of little plastic pinwheels to promote awareness of the environmental advantages of windmills as a source of energy. The pinwheels are cute, but I have to wonder: Are they biodegradable?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hug your cat.

A righteous man regards the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of
the wicked are cruel.
Proverbs 12:10

Animal cruelty has been linked statistically to child abuse. Says a lot about a person.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good music alert

Late-semester culture needed? Mark your calender now for the ND Symphony's Spring concert. It's Friday, April 27, at 8:00. The program features Holst's The Planets, and some other stuff (Really, do you need more than "Jupiter" to make it worth the $3 student ticket?).

An exercise in futility

My sweaters had cat hair on them so I decided to wash them. Unfortunately, they are "lay flat to dry."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He is risen indeed!

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
I Corinthians 15:55

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Product Alert

I just got Half Past Forever's new album Take a Chance on Something Beautiful this week. I have to say, I like it a lot. Rarely do I warm up to something new so quickly, but I like the easy indyrock style, the obvious musicianship of the band members, Chris's voice, and his heart in the the lyrics. The band disclaims trying to fit into the "Christian music" niche, but all the members are live-out-loud followers of Christ, and the music that comes from their deeply Christian worldview makes no effort to hide that. It may not be your taste, but if it is, give Amazon a visit.

If you haven't heard their style or aren't sure if you might like it, check out their myspace page for samples from the CD.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What lurks under the sink...




Mphhhh.
*yaaaaawn*



What?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Slow posting day

And it will only be decades later, after the code has become overlain with a thick encrustation of case law, that the old measure of legal certainty (or uncertainty) will be restored.
I just thought this was a pretty sentence. I found it in my Comparative Legal Traditions text.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Law and Economics

I think I might have discovered why the ND 1L class gender ratio is so skewed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scribbling in the Sand

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?"

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more."

John 8:3-11

This is a passage that has been preached, written, and sung about quite a lot, and it's funny how many different meanings are attributed to it. But I find the OT law referred to interesting, and wonder if it sheds any light on the incident:
On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Deuteronomy 17:6-7

I'm not sure I ever realized the law required an eye-witness whose testimony condemned the accused to throw the first stone. To me this seems like a control on the death penalty, requiring witnesses to weigh the seriousness of their testimony before going forward; it's easy to lie, but when you have to throw the first stone yourself you want to think about it twice.

I think it's pretty clear that the witnesses in the gospel weren't lying, so Jesus isn't accusing them of perjury. But what is he saying about their role as witnesses/executioners?

Weird. My iTunes shuffle just went to "Scribbling in the Sand" by Michael Card.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Irony at its finest

Dating StrengthsDating Weaknesses
1. Spirituality - 92.3%
2. Intelligence - 85.7%
3. Generosity - 60%
4. Adventurousness - 58.3%
5. Independence - 57.1%
No significant weaknesses


Dating Strengths Explained
Spirituality - Your spiritual side brings you peace and balance, and keeps you grounded. This is attractive, as you can help reinforce this quality in other people.
Intelligence - Your sharp intellect is a valuable asset. Use your intelligence wisely; avoid condescension. Quiet, confident intelligence is very attractive.
Generosity - You are a giving person by nature. Others will see this quality in you and recognize your kind nature. Take care not to let others take advantage of you.
Adventurousness - You are willing to try new things and be spontaneous. You want to get out there and really live, and you will attract people with a similar love of life.
Independence - Your strong sense of independence comes in handy while dating. You are not held back or tied down; you are free to pursue your interests.

Dating Weaknesses Explained

Take This Dating Quiz

Bwahahaha! These things crack me up. I feel like such a fantastic person now that my self-esteem has been reinforced by a 3-minutes computer-generated quiz. Can we add "cynical" to the "weaknesses" side?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Theonomy at its finest

Came across this yesterday in my reading:
You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.

You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.

If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you,

then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

--Deuteronomy 14:22-26 (NASB)

Ok, so the contingency plan for tithing was to party down? Can we revive this practice? If that was the contingency plan, what was normal tithing like? It sounds more like having a feast than paying a tax. Hm. I suppose there wasn't much else for it to go toward, though. The next verse goes on to remind Isrealites to take care of the Levites (the "clergy"), and I suppose there wasn't much of a utility bill for the churches...

Monday, March 05, 2007

States I Have Visited



Wow. That's a lot of red. Of course, I'm not sure if driving through a corner of a state really should count as "visiting" it. A lot of highway looks the same. Did I miss any? I want to turn the Alaska one red.

create your own visited states map

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Puck finds a relative?




I'm no expert on tracing ancestry and such and Puck pretty much came to me from a single mom with no record of paternity, but I'm finding the resemblance a bit suspicious...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Music Appreciation for the Visually Inclined

I know, it's kind of simple, but for some reason it's mesmerizing. I can't imagine trying to illustrate Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor more elegantly.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CD release... finally

Half Past Forever's new CD Take a Chance on Something Beautiful is available for download here, or you can preorder the CD on amazon.com. Oh, and vote for Chris Sligh.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Good music for cheap

If you're looking for great music for a ridiculously affordable price in the Notre Dame area, check out the ND Symphony Orchestra's concert at 8:00 this Friday in the DeBartelo PAC. We're playing a cello concerto by Herbert, a piano concerto by Prokofiev, and Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Tickets range from $3-6. Told you it was ridiculously cheap. Be one of the first three to email me and I'll give you one of my comp tickets for free!

Update: Now only two comp tickets left.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Good Idea

At the retreat last weekend the keynote speaker was Robin Steinberg from the Bronx Defenders. They run a full-service, one-stop legal aid clinic complete with a web of referral services designed to address the complexity of poverty one person at a time, rather than one legal proceding at a time.

Think about it: You get arrested for drug possession, so you need a defense lawyer. You pay $200 bail so you won't get fired from your job, so you don't have money for rent this month and you get evicted. Now you need someone in the landlord/tenant department. In the meantime the state has sheltered your kids due to the drug charges (which don't have to be proven to issue a shelter order), so now you need a family lawyer. Then your 20-year-old car you can't afford to maintain breaks down and you go to the local check-cashing cornershop to get the $200 to fix it, knowing that they'll charge you like 200% interest, but also knowing that if you don't fix your car you can't get to work and you'll lose your job. Of course, by now you've miss so much work for your court hearings that you get fired anyway and you can't pay back the loan. You need an employment lawyer and a consumer lawyer to get the creditors off your back. This scenario assumes, of course, that you and your kids are healthy and never have any accidents, because naturally you don't have health insurance.

Now why, you ask, can't one lawyer just handle all that? Ok, really--would you ask a podiatrist to perform your lobotomy? Well, lawyers are just as specialized as doctors, and one department just can't handle the variety of issues a person living close to the financial edge presents.

So add to this one-stop model of legal help referrals to (or in-house) counseling services, drug rehab programs, employment skills training, and mentorship programs, and you just be able to do some good. So... wanna build one of these somewhere else?

Standing in the Gap

This weekend I was in the Bloomington area for a public interest retreat and one night encountered the following in my reading:

The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice.

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

Ezekiel 22:29-30 (NASB)


Naturally, being at a public interest retreat will heighten sensitivity to mentions of shafting poor people and oppressing immigrants, so I guess it's no surprise these verses leaped off the page at me. You often hear verse 30 as a slogan at youth events, but usually it's tied to a challenge to witness or preach or just generally be a good person. I'm certainly in favor of all those things, but seeing the verse in context makes me think justice ought to be a part of that challenge too.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'll snob YOUR culture!

Rather than hunt down links for last night's AI development, I'll just refer you to Chris Sligh fan site, which covers it pretty comprehensively.

Thoughts of my own:

1. Chris is an amazingly talented singer.

2. Simon needs to get over himself and only offer criticism he can back up with a concrete reason other than what essentially amounts to "You sound like the front man for an indy-rock band." When he said, "You don't have the best voice here..." I was waiting for him to follow up with some actual artistic criticism, like, "You're a little off key," or "You're a little nasal and your voice is thin," or "You're not passionate enough," or "Bad song for your range or timbre." But no. It amounted to, "You're a culture snob and I don't like your genre." Come on, Simon. You're the one who said it's all about the musical ability.

3. Not everyone is going to get Chris's dry sense of humor and he needs to watch that he doesn't come across as too cocky. Also, his retort to Simon, while clever (and deserved), came off as a little defensive. Stay cool, man. WE know you're good, Simon knows you're good, and you know you're good. Don't let him get to you.

4. The judges are behaving like little kids bickering in the back seat of a car on a too-long road trip. Conflict is interesting. Immaturity is just stupid and annoying.

Heh.

This pretty much sums up the roles of classes in law school.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Accidental Exegesis

A professor mentioned in class the other day Col. 1:24 in passing during a lecture, and, since the implication he drew from it struck me as odd, I looked it up. In New American Standard, the verse reads:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.
What is "lacking in Christ's afflictions"? I looked at how the verse is translated in different versions, and KJV renders it "behind of the afflictions of Christ," which is not terribly helpful, and NKJV goes with the "lacking" language. Greek parsing of the verse doesn't help much, either, especially given my rudimentary understanding of Greek. A Strong's search confirms in my mind the idea of lacking being the most consistant translation, but still leaves me wondering what the verse means. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Update on the AI front

And this, folks, is why Chris Sligh is in the top 24. Convinced yet?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More reality TV

If you have Chris Sligh fever, check out this sample of some of his worship music. This is him singing a communion song on WorshipIdeas.

I really love the use of traditional liturgy in it, particularly the Kyrie. I feel like it does a pretty good job of capturing the centrality and significance of Christ's sacrifice often found in liturgical services.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Puck says hi.

Are you done with that chicken yet?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Did I mention he went to BJU?

Meet Chris Sligh, the next American Idol (a show I have never watched before but am about to start following thanks to His Curliness), and the lead singer of my new favorite band, Half Past Forever. When and Where do CDs come out?

Chris Sligh-HalfPastForever 'Know' leak

I like it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scenes from Africa: Giraffes


On Wednesday we went giraffe-hunting. Not to shoot them, mind you--that would be illegal. And sad. There is reportedly only one herd left in that part of the Sahel, about 500 giraffes hanging around the edge of Niamey. There are giraffe guides who keep track of where they are and will take you to them for the right price. You hire one of these guys to ride on top of your car and when he wants you to turn (which may, but probably won't, be onto an actual dirt path), he hits your windshield with a stick to indicate which way to go. 4Wheel drive vehicles only need apply. Becca, Matt, Chad, and I felt that the guide had a visual advantage, and Dave saw no reason to interfere.

When we got to where the guide knew the giraffes to be, we piled out of the vehicles as quietly as we could and walked the rest of the way to the giraffes. They seemed gentle, but would walk away if they sensed you were getting too close.

Scenes from Africa: Dust

It is dusty. I know they said it would be dusty, but I was not prepared for this. I guess you do get used to it. The sand is not granular like beach sand; it is powdery, like vaccuum cleaner dust. It hangs in the air like the humidity that isn't. When we got off the plane I first thought it must be smoke hanging the the air. But it's dust, and it never goes away. It settles on everything, inside and out, coats your floor, your furniture, your eyeglasses, the clothes drying on the line (people here don't have electric dryers). Today the desert breeses are blowing, raising the dust even worse than usual. The sky appears cloudy, but there is no rain in the forecast until at least June. I expected a blue sky, what with no humidity and all, but the sky is as dull at white as the Michiana "permacloud."

The Untimely Death of Sir Hubert

Dear friends and family of Sir Hubert the Stuffed Doggie,

We regret to inform you that the Honorable Sir Hubert has met his demise in an unfortunate case of disembowelment. Authorities are investigating to see if any of his due process rights were violated in the events leading up to his death. Please specify where you would like his remains to be sent as they are identified and gathered.

Sincerely,
Becca and Carissa

P.S. We think the cat may have found his tail under the refrigerator.