Friday, June 30, 2006

En route to Miami

So sorry I haven't been around the blogosphere this week . . . I've actually had too many better things to do, I guess. :)

Right now I'm sitting in the Orlando airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Miami. It's been a long day; I left our house before five this morning.

On my plane rides I've been reading Mere Christianity, one of those books that (embarrassingly) I've picked up many times and have never finished. What makes it particularly annoying to me is that I like to quote the book, and I have actually recommended it to several people. But what do those recommendations really mean when you follow them with "but I've only read the first few chapters"? Besides, how can you think of yourself as an intellectual Christian when you haven't read it?

It's a wonderful book--jam-packed with wisdom and insight. And maybe that's why I haven't read the whole thing yet: it needs to be enjoyed and digested in small portions. I wonder if Lewis' moral approach to Christianity would be understood and received well if it were being broadcast and published for the first time in 2006. I doubt it. We no longer talk about universal truths and common morality. And although I'd rather be living in a postmodern world than any of its precursors, this concept of universal truth--that there are just certain things that we all have in common, that we all suspect or know to be true--is one of those things that's gotten lost in the transition.

The laptop battery is on its way out . . . so I should finish. Maybe I'll find time to write in Miami; maybe not.

¡Hasta luego!

Monday, June 26, 2006

God said to Noah . . .

No, we haven't quite started work on the arky arky yet . . . but mostly that's because we have no idea what gopher barky is. The continous gurgle of the sump pump and the spongy sound the ground makes when you so much as tiptoe over the lawn are fine arguments for the commencement of some serious shipbuilding.

Also, I'll have to buy some potable water at the grocery store today, since the water is murky murky.

But I'm not complaining . . . really I'm not. I know we need the rain; I just wonder how much more we can take.

It was a good weekend. We went to New Jersey on Saturday--there and back again--with puppy in the backseat, for a family birthday party. It was peaceful enough, but we wonder what we're really accomplishing by making that long, expensive turnpike trek so often . . . eventually we'll work up the courage to deviate from tradition, but for now, I guess we're headed there again next month.

Sunday was a fun day full of madness--it was our debut as church ushers, and to properly initiate us into our new role, there were not one but two offerings, plus we had to serve communion--and then there was John. I'd say he deserves an entire blog entry, so the suspense builds.

Have to get to work now . . . more later.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

So she wasn't serious

Because I'm evil, I suppose I had hoped that Connie Chung was actually serious about that little routine she did last weekend. But apparently, it's all a bit of light entertainment. Dang.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Thanks for the memories

Well, I don't really have many memories of Connie Chung, but this I will never forget. (It's a video, and you really won't want to miss it.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Plans for the weekend

Every Friday, around 2 p.m., I start to get antsy--and strangely quiet. Everyone starts popping their head in the door and asking the big question:

"Any big plans for the weekend?"

No, of course not. I'm a boring person at work; just imagine how much more boring I am at home!

But I will say that, although my plans may not be big, I like my weekends, and for the most part, I wouldn't have them any other way.

So maybe, instead of avoiding the question or answering shyly, I should just grin and say, "No way. Weekends were not made to be planned; they were made to be enjoyed."

That said, I do have some plans (or hopes, at least) for the coming weekend:
  1. Spend time with Mr. Incredible, talking, cooking, and working together.
  2. Celebrate Father's Day.
  3. Talk to God, and read at least some portion of the Bible.
  4. Exercise the dog until he collapses into a hot, furry, exhausted heap.
  5. Tear apart the walls of our bathroom.
  6. Watch our plants grow.
  7. Load and unload the dishwasher at least once. Heh heh.
  8. Finish reading Eldest.
  9. Sleep.
  10. Ahhhhh.

Lamo excuse

We've all seen rather unique uses of the Bible as a support for some pretty interesting behavior--but this is just weird.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The trouble with men

Ahh, caught your attention with that line, didn't I? I love it that you're sitting here, reading "the trouble with men" and asking yourself in shock, "what overgeneralized, politically-incorrect thing is she about to say about men?" Well, I'll try not to overgeneralize, but since I don't care so much about being politically correct, maybe you'll find at least a hint of shock value in this post after all.

I've been concerned for quite a few years about men. Why is it that they're not going to college? Taking so long to grow up (or not growing up at all)? Moving back in with their parents? Drowning in alcohol? Not taking ownership of their jobs, homes, families, or churches? And maybe most alarmingly, why don't young men have bigger dreams and ambitions--and why aren't they striving toward them?

I consider myself one of the lucky few 20-something women who have found a good Generation Y man. In fact, I even laugh when I think about calling the majority of Generation Y males "men"; they're not yet deserving of that mature term. Instead, they're stuck in guyhood, and it doesn't look like they'll emerge anytime soon.

Some people say they know the reasons. Maybe they do. Boundless is currently running an interesting article by Dr. Albert Mohler, who's discussing the implications modern masculinity is having on television and vice-versa.

His article begins:
In the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's violent novel, Fight Club, character Tyler Durden points to his generation of young men as the "middle children of history." Played by actor Brad Pitt, Durden represents the absolute collapse of masculinity into raw violence. This character joins his friends in seeking personal release and ecstasy through violent fights that send the participants regularly to the emergency room. In a haunting comment, Durden remarks: "We are a generation of men raised by women." Is this our future?
His article goes on to make some interesting (but overly simplistic) observations about and explanations for the antisocial, morally ambiguous characters that young males prefer to watch on TV these days (although of course, I think I probably prefer these characters, too, so what does that say about me?).

But what really strikes me is the phrase "a generation of men raised by women." If there is a problem with modern masculinity, could it be that men have not benefited from role models of the same gender--men who could teach them how to be men?

The world is increasingly run by women. It seems that we have a particularly strong drive to prove ourselves, go above and beyond, and to put ourselves in places of power to effect change where we see injustices and unfinished work. The thing is, as women have begun to enter the professional and church realms as leaders--which is wonderful--men don't seem to see the need to compete. Furthermore, businesses are increasingly valuing stereotypically feminine characteristics, like emotional sensitivity and non-confrontational personalities, rather than the aggressive, assertive qualities they were looking for 40 years ago. Is there anything inherently wrong with that?

No, not really.

But the thing is that if our society undervalues men, and men are not receiving mentoring and training from fathers and older men, young men will increasingly find themselves detached and lonely, wondering where they fit--or if they fit at all. Because, after all, even if they were raised by women, they still can't be women. They weren't meant to be, and society shouldn't expect them to be.

With all these odds stacked against them, it's really no wonder that they have no dreams or goals, and that their heroes are flawed and aimless; what, really, does the women's world have to offer them?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Stories like this one get me all excited.

Yes, we were made on (and for) Earth. That much seems pretty clear. But for those of you who believe strongly that we will soon have to evacuate the mother planet, it would appear that there's hope: we humans have the ability to adapt to extraterrestrial environments.

And to all those who would say, "If God meant us to fly, He would have given us wings," I just want to say this: maybe He did (in a way). Who knows? On another planet, in another atmosphere, we may have the ability to run faster, sleep less, fly, hold our breaths for inordinate periods of time . . . maybe even walk on water. We won't know until we've gone where no man has gone before.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Where have I been recently? Lost . . . in a book. Well, two, actually: Eragon and Eldest, written by a young homeschooler who's made quite a name for himself in the fantasy/young adult realm. And for good reason: he's definitely managed to bring some fresh ideas to the fantasy scene, something that's really quite difficult to do, when you think about the rigidity of that genre.

Way to go, homeschoolers!

Ahem. Sorry. Back to my post . . .

But like most groundbreaking books, the first two books of Paolini's trilogy not only test their genre's limits; they also remind us all what the genre was supposed to be about in the first place. It may be because Paolini is such a clear thinker and writer, or perhaps it's simply because he's so young, but his themes and basic concepts are so easy to see that it gets people like me thinking about the fundamentals of sci-fi/fantasy literature, archetypes, and more . . . Mr. Incredible says I should write my doctoral dissertation on the kinds of things I've been thinking about regarding the sociological drives behind sci-fi/fantasy literature--and he's probably right.

If you share my taste in books--and it occurs to me at the moment that most of my readers probably do not--be sure to check out the Inheritance series and lose yourself in Alagaësia.

*sorry, the ideas are half-baked right now; will reveal later

Friday, June 09, 2006

The truth

Sorry I haven't made much of an appearance this week . . . my achy breaky back has been giving me grief all week, and most things (like laundry, vacuuming, blogging, and working outside) have fallen by the wayside. But I'm determined to get better soon--preferably before I run out of clean laundry and things start growing in the carpet.

But enough about me . . . let's talk about the Internet. :)

I guess it was all too good to be true--the unbounded freedom of speech with the power to reach the masses. At some point, somebody would try--really, really hard--to lock down and censor the Internet. I've known for a while that the Internet the Chinese people see is not the same as the one delivered to my browser each day, and there are certain websites they'll never be able to see.

But somehow, this was the last straw for me. I think it's because I don't know how I would live or think without Google--it always delivers just what I need to know (and of course, lots that I don't need to know) just when I need it. You have to sort through it, but the truth is out there, and Google makes it easy to do that.

I know everybody's mad at Google for giving in to to their wallets and turning a blind eye to intense Chinese censorship, and I guess it makes me mad to a certain extent, but maybe I don't expect companies to live so much on values--last time I checked, companies' actions were mostly dictated by supply and demand. And boy, is there demand for a censored Internet.

And it's this demand that infuriates me. Injustice covers our planet like kudzu in the Southeast, choking out life and forming thick screens so that as far as you can see, injustice is just about the only thing in sight. And I know many people blame greed and prejudice--and certainly, they are fuel for war and inequality.

But I think the worst kind of injustice comes from being deceived about the truth. When Chinese people don't have access to information about Tiananmen Square, that's wrong--and they may never know the truth.

I don't know who to blame for this (The media? My upbringing? I don't know.) but there was a time when I was completely unaware of the fact that Saddam Hussein had massacred thousands of his people. Growing up during the Gulf War, you'd think I would have known, but it wasn't talked about, because everyone had decided the war was about oil and profit, and who knows what else. And maybe it was. But when everyone was debating the war then (and later, the war in Iraq) I never heard anyone mention the tyranny of the Iraqi people. And believe what you may about Saddam and the wars, don't you think it's helpful to know whether or not he was a mass murderer? You can still choose not to go to war against him, but you still need to tell the truth about him.

The Chinese government knows that if its people knew the complete truth, they would revolt. So they lie, censor, and cover things up. I know that, as humans, we have rights to certain standards of treatment. And I'm wondering why truth isn't one of our rights. Don't we have the right to know the truth? Deception and censorship can truly be just as inhumane as torture and abuse; they allow powerful people to use those below them as misinformed pawns in their mighty games of control. Even if I were living under a tyrannical government structure, and had absolutely no power to escape or overthrow it, I would expect to know the truth.

Because ultimately, the truth will set you free.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


It's been a good weekend. The dog is under the dining room table, alternately licking his paws and chewing gently on his bone. It's amazing how much dogs reflect their owners' states of mind--and how I feel my own contentment so much more deeply when he is content, too. I wonder if this is also true of parents with children.

Friday night we hosted a family birthday party for Mr. Incredible here at Willow Cottage. Between the grilled mustard-crusted pork chops, the roasted vegetables, and the potato salad, it really tasted like summer. We had fun with the fam--more fun than usual--but then it's been awhile since we've all been together.

Just between the five of us, we polished off nearly three dozen of my dessert specialties: peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. It's been a long time since I baked them, but it seems that I definitely still have the touch.

My brother-in-law stayed late to watch the new Steelers DVDs we picked up in Pittsburgh and to play Xbox. It felt good to stay up late to celebrate, knowing that we could sleep in the next morning (which we did).

Saturday was filled with cleaning, planning, resting, weeding, lawn maintenance, and an evening shopping trip, and today we have had a gloriously relaxed day consisting of church, grocery shopping, and a three-hour nap! Mmmmm. We had a long-distance phone conversation with a good friend, then grilled swordfish for dinner.

I think I'm finally learning how to relax. And it feels good.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A fern haven


Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece. It's damp, inside and out. But despite the crowds and humidity, you can't help feeling like you're the only human who's ever been privileged to dwell--if only for an hour or so--in the mysterious and otherworldly realm of a river.

Den of vipers?

Some observations and new information regarding snake-charming:

1. Snakes just like to follow pretty things with their eyes. They're really that dumb. And sometimes, as far as anyone can tell, they get hypnotized by moving objects.

2. I shouldn't have felt bad at all yesterday; snake-charming isn't demonic (according to the denomination's resident expert on India).

3. It really is no surprise to me that it was this Jack Nicholson character who alerted me to the spiritual dangers of snake-charming. If someone with that voice charmed snakes, it probably would be demonic.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don't you know that's demonic?

I got a phone call a little while ago.

"Hi, this is Dulci," I answered brightly.

"Hi, Dulci. How are you doing?" answered the unfamiliar voice that sounded creepily like Jack Nicholson.

"Good," I said with a pause, hoping he would correct the egregious error of not introducing himself. Ugh.

"Well, I was looking at page two of the most recent issue of your magazine," he explained. "And are you aware that the pastor in that photo, who is 'trying his hand at snake charming' . . . are you aware that that's demonic? That charming snakes is allowing the devil entry into our lives? I don't know what that pastor's views are--and I don't know his heart--but he definitely needs to repent! I just don't know where the church is going these days. I don't."

Oh, crap. No, I didn't say that out loud. For once in my life, I don't even have to play dumb, because no! I didn't know snake charming was demonic. I know for a fact that this photo, which is really quite charming (couldn't help it) is really just a touristy kind of thing, and that this upstanding pastor from a prominent congregation is not frolicking with the devil.

So I feel bad. I guess I should have thought harder about it before publishing it. It's just that the photo did not strike me as something that was of the devil. But then, anyone who sounds like Jack Nicholson has got to be more in touch with the demonic world than I am.

Blue Nile cuisine

Mr. Incredible and I are crazy about food. And before you jump to the conclusion that we must be 400-pound couch potatoes who don't even stop chewing long enough to breathe, let me explain.

We both grew up eating healthy but somewhat boring food. Yes, there were the occasional interesting meals out with the family. But in general, eating was not for enjoyment. Rather, it was simply a way to fuel up. And the cheaper and faster, the better.

But over the past few years, we've made it our mission to taste and cook as many dishes as possible, and cooking has become our favorite pastime. We pump up the music, turn on the kitchen fan (hey, I said we were good cooks, not cooks who never burn anything), and we embark on a culinary journey that sends us bumping into each other in our small kitchen, taste-testing like mad, and breathing in the spicy aromas of the food we're about to eat.

But when we can't cook, and anytime we're traveling, we're on a mission to taste something we've never had before. So when we were in Pittsburgh last weekend, we tried Ethiopian food for the first time at this great little restaurant in East Liberty.

And wow! Between the injera (thin pancake-like fermented flatbread made from a unique African grain called teff) and the spicy dishes we dipped it in, we were in food heaven. As soon as I can find a local store that stocks ingredients like teff flour, we'll be cooking Ethiopian, you can bet on that. I found a great site that has basic information and recipes on Ethiopian food, as well as an extensive listing of Ethiopian restaurants. I'm eating it up.

And I know you're still waiting for photos of Pittsburgh--sorry about that; they are coming! Perhaps tomorrow . . . if not, then I should at least get them up on Saturday.