I am wiped out and wasted. I'm tired and tired of being tired. Now it is the holiday season and I am back in the blahs of self pity and depression. It is so unlike me to be sucked into this mess. I prefer flat and stoic. I don't want these feelings. I know in my head that life is not always happy and that bad things happen, but I am tired of feeling chemicals that stroke the sad and bitter. Bleh.
Each year at Passover the Lord gives me a special meditation, beginning with the first year our family celebrated Passover in 2001. I hadn't really thought about it much this year, as we won't be hosting our usual huge, rowdy group now that we live in Memphis.
This morning I noticed how dirty the floor behind our breakfast nook was. I pulled the table and benches out and grabbed a broom. It is spring and the time of year when my dog sheds an entire other dog on every surface in our home. There was a good puppy-sized pile of dog hair back there as well as some dead flies and crumbs (TMI - its clean now if you are inclined to visit).
I remembered how Jewish families, particularly moms, clean their homes at Passover to remove all of the food items containing leaven, in preparation for the feast of unleavened bread. Every crumb must be swept out. Leaven is symbolic of sin. As I swept my kitchen floor, I realized how difficult, even impossible, it is to sweep the floor clean. The dust and crumbs want to hide in the corners or get trapped under the baseboards. I can mop and scrub, but my dog will sit down and scratch himself - giving rise to the need to do it all over again.
This ritual cleaning is a reminder to us that we cannot, despite our best effort (and mine was only half-hearted) fully clean our home. Nor can we fully purge ourselves of sin. We can make resolutions to do better. We can try very hard to live right and treat others with respect. But, we will fail. We go back to our bad habits and patterns. We become tired or frustrated or depressed and give in to temptation. We are only sweeping crumbs under the rug.
God alone has the ability to clean us and he did when he sent his son, Jesus. He became our sin and experienced the penalty for our sin by his death on the cross. He overcame sin when he rose from the dead. Don't go back to trying to live a good life. Don't go back to trying to clean things up on your own. Face it - it can't be done alone. Passover is a good reminder that we don't have to.
My atoms commingle with
The newly greened forest
My skin and bones
Freed from gravity and thought
Existing in new forms
I look back
At the point of ignition
And I see that
I, too had a beginning,
But now is
from under a rock
not go there)
I awaken and emerge
not stop moving on its axis
the while I wore their clothes
was no check list
notice of deportation
out from under
stretch on tip toe
Maybe I'm a monster
But it feels like
It took me awhile to consent to the smart-phone. First of all, I hadn't really even wanted a darn cell phone in the first place. I rarely needed it, I have a phone-phobia so I never call people (except my husband) on it. It was a convenience at best and a nuisance to keep track of. Having a phone with a texting and data plan seemed ridiculously overpriced and completely unnecessary. I already had a cell phone, a Garmin, and an MP3 player, plus a laptop for travel.
I got my first Android phone with "Unlimited Everything" from Sprint in August of 2010. Truthfully it was (and still is) an expensive toy. Yes, they are cool and convenient, but a toy nonetheless. I loved my phone. In December 2011, I was eligible for an upgrade and there was a newer, presumably faster, Android phone that would be free, so my husband talked me into going to the Sprint store to get it. As I was looking around the store at some newer phones I saw it - the newly available iPhone 4s - in all its glory. Recalling the voice of my petulant son, who delights in telling me how cheap I am and how my phone stinks, I began to consider purchasing the iPhone. My husband said, "go for it," so I bit.
I am not a Mac. I have never been a Mac. I am not sure I am ever going to be a Mac. I have worked on, supported and owned PCs. I have supported Mac's when I worked as a consultant, but was never a fan. My Android phone was very like a PC in that it was slow, had annoying resource constraints, and I would regularly have to force-close apps on it. I would have to remove apps to make room for others. My external SD card was full. Sprint also add all kinds of crap that can't be removed from the phone.
My new phone, the iPhone 4S, is FAST. I have added dozens of apps, Kindle books, and music. I've taken oodles of photos and videos. It isn't even beginning to tap the 16 GB capacity. My favorite thing about it is - it just works. It just works! It turns on. I tap a button and the app just opens. No freezing. No hanging. No forced closure. The phone just works. Its like an electronic miracle. The stupid phone does what it is supposed to do.
Why do I miss my Android phone then, you may wonder? First of all, I hate iTunes. I have always hated iTunes. Three years ago I bought 4 Microsoft Zune 8 GB MP3 players for my family for Christmas. Before Christmas, I installed the Zune software, bought Zune points, so the kids could buy music and/or video to put on them. I added our entire CD library to my computer hard-drive and put music on each of the devices. That same Christmas I also bought an iPod Nano for my MIL. I installed iTunes on her computer and put her entire CD library on her computer as well. After working with both products and their respective interfaces, I concluded that the Zune, and its software, was (and still is) vastly superior. I discovered quickly that iTunes was just as frustrating as I remembered it. I quickly realized that I would no longer be able to make ring-tones from my music library with iTunes - something that can be done easily on my Android phone itself. I sent a message to Apple support and this was quickly confirmed. the current release of iTunes had taken away that ability. Ok - that sucks, but fine. I found one of the two ring-tones I wanted and spent the 99 cents. The next day, it could no longer be found on my phone and created an error when I tried syncing back to my phone. I will say this, Apple customer support allowed it to download from iTunes again and it was restored with no problem. OK, so no custom ring-tones, but that's cool (I guess).
iPhone has a native map and GPS navigation system - powered by Google - just like the Android phone. Great. No wait. Not great. It doesn't have voice navigation. IT DOESN"T HAVE VOICE NAVIGATION! WHAT! What? No more Clair, our name for all GPS navigation voices, to gently tell us to ,"take the next exit" or kindly say, "recalculating" when we've missed the exit. WTQ Siri?? Where is she now??? Ok, fine. I downloaded MapQuest from the iTunes Store. It sucks though because iPhone never asked me if I want addresses to open into MapQuest. Android would have asked. Now when I click on an address link in an email or on the web it opens into the crappy "Maps" app and I have to copy and paste it into MapQuest. Plus, at Christmas, MapQuest incorrectly guided me into a very exclusive Southlake, TX neighborhood and I got pulled over by a motorcycle cop and almost got a ticket for having an Obama bumper sticker and a cracked windshield. Stupid app.
The iPhone Angry Birds demo has fewer levels.
There are a few other things that you can do with Android that you can't do, or do as easily, with iPhone. I still hate iTunes. But....I guess I may be an iPhone, even if I'll never be a Mac. The sole reason: the iPhone just works. It just works. Thank you iPhone.
I have and will continue to investigate the clear and present conspiracy to perpetrate perversion in the form of subversive light fixture designs.
This is the instruction manual for a new fixture we installed to replaced the now infamous wagon wheel (see http://refinedlikesilver.blogspot.com/2008/09/freudian-chandeliers-and-light-fixtures.html )
It is a lovely design that is neither breasted nor candelaBRA. However you may notice something else:
COME ON!!!!! REALLY!?!? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!!
Look what I found on our next trip to Home Despot.
What does it all mean? Does the world revolve around women's breasts? It is too ponderous. These plumbing items were beside others with "male" and "female" connectors. They are also in the electrical aisle, male and female plugs. Where will it all end? Is this what sells home improvement products? *Sigh*
I must say, I love taking the newspaper. Birmingham is extremely lucky to have a daily newspaper of the quality of the Birmingham News. Most of the time I transfer the folded paper from my driveway to my recycling basket without taking it out of its plastic sleeve, simply because I rarely have the luxury of sitting down long enough to enjoy it - particularly during the summer. However I am never disappointed by what I find in its pages when I do take time out to actually read the thing. For example, I learned in the religion section last year, that Kirk Franklin was scheduled to play a concert in Birmingham. I was so excited, I sprang for tickets for the whole family. I was a little disappointed when the concert got rescheduled, but hey - it happens, no problem. I was a little less thrilled when the show was cancelled without an explanation - but at least I got a full refund. Ok, maybe I would have been better off had I not opened the paper that day, but it was exciting news for awhile.
Tuesday July 20, 2010. The front page story was entitled, "See you later, Alligator," and included a picture of a nine foot alligator being removed from the yard of a Jefferson County resident. It was a little bit unusual I suppose, but we live in the south and maybe it was just a slow news day. Then I discovered the very best part of the story, buried all the way back on page5A.
(Read the following out loud, using your best southern accent:)
"It didn't take long for a crowd to gather, most taking snapshots and videos with their cell phones. Laurence Breeland, who lives nearby, showed up to see if it was the same gator that used to live in his pond and was hand-fed fish and chicken. He hasn't seen that gator in 12 years. "His name was Izod," Breeland said. "You could holler his name or whistle and he'd come out of the water."
I am so glad I read the paper on Tuesday. Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I don't know where to even begin deconstructing that particular item. I will say this - the next time you see a gator - make sure there is a fence between you before you even try to utter the name, "Izod".
Just reporting the news.....
Let's talk about the human spirit while I speak in broad generalities.
Certain folks from the continent of Africa got a raw deal. Their own countrymen sold them into slavery. Slave traders removed them from their homes and sold them all over the world as though they weren't human. When we hear stories from our own history about slavery we are shocked and can hardly imagine what that era must have been like or how people could be so self-deceived that they justified such things. The heroes in this story are the brave men and women who fled the nightmare of slavery and those who helped them along the way, people like those who created the underground railway.
Similarly, children who are born into the abject poverty of America's urban inner cities. The cycles of poverty, lack of educational attainment, and the influence of drugs and gangs create a situation that seems hopeless and without solution. Yet when a person manages to escape and become successful, we say, "See, America is the land of opportunity." and admire the courage and strength of someone who pulls themselves up "by their own bootstraps". Powerful stuff, right?
Let's talk about Mexico, or more specifically, about Mexican immigrants who are in this country illegally because that is really who is the target of Arizona's new immigration law. That is who we blame for taking American jobs away. It is the growing number of brown faces in our communities that we associate with the "immigration" problem. Think about it though, what have they done after all? By and large, their most prominent crime - the thing that we use to put us on the moral high ground - is that they have broken the law. Yes - Yes - for the last time - I admit it - they have broken the law.
Would we tell anyone trapped in slavery that they should just obey the law? Of course not. Our nation fought over the issue of slavery (tangentially, anyway) and eventually abolished it.
Do we let drug dealers run urban neighborhoods and not provide assistance for people trying to escape?
Maybe it would help to think about illegal immigrants from Mexico in a different way. Let's call them what they are: refugees. Refugees from a broken political and economic system. Refugees from unimaginable, soul-crushing poverty and anarchy created by drug lords run amok. * Who would choose to raise a family in the midst of that if there was a viable alternative? Not me. I admire the courage and human spirit of those who make that very dangerous and controversial decision.
Yes. they broke the law. We get it but, here are three things to ponder:
1. Can I really cast stones?
2. Am I better, simply by virtue of being born in the US and by proxy, is someone less of a person by the misfortune of being born into slavery or poverty or Mexico?
3. Is there a better way to approach this issue besides tougher enforcement?
For me the answers are simple: No, No, Yes.
* See http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4755.html
The internet buzzed this week with more political ads from Alabama. Dale Peterson -- a candidate for commissioner of agriculture and industries, as it turns out -- created what some called the best political ad ever!
I don't know about that, but it was memorable. Sort of like David Allan Coe's "perfect country & western song," though it didn't say anything at all about Mama, or trucks, or trains, or prison, or gettin' drunk.
It did have a hat and a horse, a rifle, and a rant by "Pistol" Peterson (see video below) that took on thugs, criminals, illegal immigrants, and the rat finks who stole his political signs.
"We're Republicans," Peterson warns, pulling a rifle from nowhere. "We should be better than that."
He concludes by shouldering the gun.
"I'm Dale Peterson. I'll name names and take no prisoners."
It's awesome. And terrifying, for sign-stealing thugs.
But does it work?
You tell me. Before this week, had you heard of Dale Peterson?
Which is why Alabama's politicos have tried to out-gun each other for years.
A gun-toting Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom ran a beauty in 2006 to beat Mountain Brook's Luther Strange.
"I have two great kids, three dogs and four shotguns," Folsom said, presumably in order of importance. "I never have played tennis at the Mountain Brook club. I'd rather be hunting."
Would-be governor Bradley Byrne fired the first salvo this campaign when he armed himself and his sons for a pleasant stroll through the woods. The kids (blam!) asked regular father/son stuff. You know: What's it like, dad, to fight corruption in (blam!) Montgomery?
The gun is so ubiquitous in Alabama politics it should be listed in the minimum qualifications. To be ag commissioner, for instance, you must be 25, a resident for five years, and a gun owner for seven.
Which makes you feel for John McMillan. He's running for that office, but doesn't have cash for TV ads to prove his gun mettle. He relies on a website photo of himself in camo, carrying a shotgun with a scope. Somehow, he still misses.
And remember Matt Chancey? He ran for Public Service Commission in 2008. In one ad, he showed a kid how to shoot as he warned that environmentalists prefer owls and tree frogs to people.
I don't know if he was shooting owls or environmentalists.
Who cares, I guess. Just lock and load.
So you have to hand it to James Anderson, seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general. His ad shows him brainstorming with ad execs as they try to sell him the perfect spot. It lampoons all the old tricks -- and puts him in front of a NASCAR car with shotgun in hand. It's the down home double whammy.
"But guys," he protests. "I'm a real attorney."
Like that matters.
This is Alabama, after all, where you can keep your snooty qualifications, as long as you're packing heat.
Yeah. You can take the guns from our political ads. But only when you pry them from our cold, dead campaign committees.