bringin' on the heartbreak

A couple of you know this already, but I almost returned to ministry.

The other day I mentioned that last week was hard and hope-dashing. Let me explain the hope-dashing part.

The day following the infamous Wild Turkey Attack, a dear friend of mine called me out of the blue and asked me how things were going. I told her about delivering the mail, including the Turkey incident, and dropping all my mail off the dock, and four flat tires (we're up to five now, by the way, but the last one wasn't my doing). We hadn't spoken in almost two years so there was a lot to catch up on.

This friend of mine was one of the most gifted youth leaders I ever worked with. She volunteered as mentor to a cell group of senior high students back in Ohio days. She and her husband moved to Pennsylvania and broke my heart.

While I was sharing all my super-interesting mail stories, she gently asked if she could interrupt. She said something like, "This morning in our worship service they announced that our discipleship director and worship leader is leaving to attend seminary in Oregon. They're looking for someone to fill that position and they were reading the position description as we walked in this morning. As they finished reading it Dave and I turned toward each other and at the same time said, "That sounds like Jim." "

So she thought she should call me and let me know. I was intrigued to say the least, though until that moment going back into ministry was not even on my radar screen.

I sent my resume off to her church thinking I probably wouldn't even get a response. Well, I got a response. Then I got an invitation to interview for the position. During that first interview the pastor said, "When we got your resume it kind of went right to the top of the pile."

Following that first interview I enlisted a few people to pray for me about this, some of them read this blog and one of them is on the blogroll.

A week an a half after that first interview, I was invited to a second interview with a larger group. The pastor and the head of the staff/parish committee repeatedly said things that made me think they were leaning heavily in my direction.

A few days after that second interview, just as I was beginning to think I didn't get the job, I got a call saying "we'd like to talk to you again by phone and ask a few more questions." During that third interview the pastor in particular seemed very enthusiastic about the things I was saying. That was a week and a half ago, last Tuesday.

Then came last Friday. I had a short workday that day and was tired all the way through from a hellish week of work (that only got worse on Saturday). I had just woken up from a nap when the phone rang. I knew it was them and somehow I also knew what they were going to say. I let the machine get it. The head of their staff/parish committee left a message with his phone number.

I called him right back, but got his voicemail. He called back maybe fifteen minutes later.

"We've moved in another direction." Standard church/corporate-speak for "you didn't get the job."

I wasn't really surprised... I've been on a couple of church search committees and, well, you never can tell. Not surprised, but certainly disappointed. You know, I had allowed myself to start hoping. I'm not sure why, I guess I can't help it.

Looks like I'll be a mailman for the foreseeable future.

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now why didn't i think of that!?

Clive Thompson brings us the story of a better wall outlet! (Click on the picture to read his post, from which I borrowed the picture as well).

"It was created by University of Notre Dame student Julia Burke...Technically, Burke invented this for the elderly -- who have trouble bending far enough down to shove a 90-degree plug into the wall. But the ergonomics here are so dementedly superior to normal wall sockets that I want a full set of these for my household. Right. Now."

Me too, Clive. Me too.

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i knew i shoulda...

gotten that MFA!

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

I think that's even my picture up there.

Hey, thanks Beth! Now will you get off my case about posting something?

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hang up and drive: a reminder

I'll just let this article speak for itself.

"Driving while talking on a cell phone is as bad as or maybe worse than driving drunk," said Drews, who said alcohol was involved in 40 percent of the 42,000 annual U.S. traffic fatalities.

Just like many people who have been drinking, the cellphone users did not believe themselves to be affected, the researchers found.

high and dry

This photo, by a man named Ray Beckler, taken not far from my house... in fact, it's very close to one of the routes I deliver, shows how high and fast the water ran last night and into this morning.

My house sits on what was once a small wooded hillside. So we were safe from the flood.

The part of Pottstown known as South Pottstown is still partially submerged. Last night I drove west on route 422 near here, out to Douglassville where the gas is cheaper. On the way I could see the water almost right up to the road. I figured they would close it pretty soon. When I returned that way not 20 minutes later, the westbound side was closed.

People were parking their cars on the overpass bridges, some to keep them out of the water and some to get out and watch the water rise. The Schuylkill in this area crested at about 20 feet, that happened this morning at 8 am. It was five feet less than predicted, which made a huge difference.

For me and most of the town, the great flood of 2006 meant not much more than a major traffic headache. I had to make all sorts of convoluted detours to get to the little baby route I delivered today.

For people close to the river and in South Pottstown however, the news isn't so good. Apparently we get to dry out for the next couple of days. So we got that goin' for us.

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So the post at this link tells us that...

"Torrential rains in the Washington. D.C. area over the weekend caused flooding in the basement of the IRS headquarters at 1111 Constitution Avenue and forced the closure of the building today."

Poor babies.

The post office was open today. And I'll bet you 1111 Constitution Avenue got their mail delivered too. I know all my customers got theirs, despite the three inches of rain that fell on their mailman while he delivered it.

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put yourself (and your links) on the map

Ars Technica discusses how researchers are using sophisticated software to map links in cyberspace. AT points to this Chronicle of Higher Education article article (source of the picture at left, which links to a flash presentation featuring more maps).

While much of the article is wasted words about how political bloggers of both red and blue stripes tend to stick together, and how companies are trying to harness this mapping technology for (surprise!) commercial purposes, it eventually gets around to this...

"Mr. Smith and his colleagues have developed a way to determine what kind of user a person is by looking at data maps of their posting behavior rather than examining the content of their messages. Among the type of users: the "answer person," who is quick to provide advice to strangers; the "flame warrior," who enters discussions hoping to win arguments by trashing other participants; the "discussion person," who is willing to talk on just about any topic; and "the questioner," who seeks advice but is not a frequent participant and is not looking for conversation."

Admittedly, the commercial and marketing implications are easy to come up with and kind of fun to think about (perhaps only if you're a former advertising research geek like me). But what about the psycho-social implications for understanding human behavior and comparing virtual vs. meat space behavior of individual web junkie... I mean, users. That would be something, don't you think?

Meanwhile, in my part of the map it's still pouring down rain. We're talking buckets here, folks.

my prayer for today

God, would you please add a little serotonin to all this rain we're getting.

Thank you. Amen.


what to write when you're ambivalent

I want to post something but part of me does not.

This was a hard, hope-dashing week. Today I'll explain the hard part and then maybe in a few days I'll have the peace I need to talk about the hope-dashing part.

I sought this postal job becuase 1.) It was part time and 2.) It paid well, and 3.) It was part time. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, 4.) I wouldn't have to work six day weeks, like I did for most of my ministry career and also did for the last two weeks.

Last week I was training on a new route, so four of those days were not full days, 5 to 6 hours instead of 9 or 10. Still I had to be in early in the morning all week, and we've already established how hard this job can be. But that was nothing, nothing, compared to this week.

The regular carrier's car died. We're talking need-to-go-out-and-buy-a-new-one dead. On top of that he got sick this week (or so he says). He wound up calling out four of his five work days. He was in on Tuesday, when I was working one of my other routes. Wednesday I got called in early in the morning after he showed up and decided he was too sick to work. Thursday I had agreed to work for him already so he could look for a new car. Friday I cased mail as training for the new route I was learning (a partial day, yippee!). Yesterday, I was supposed to deliver that new route (RD 3). I spent an hour casing mail and things were going pretty well until another carrier showed up and said "You're supposed to be on R5 today, Jim Regular called out!"

He was right. They had changed the schedule but no one contacted me to tell me about it. As this other carrier pointed out, "They told everybody but the guy who had to carry the route." It is the federal government, after all.

So I wound up working my regular route yesterday. And we got four inches of rain in about an hour. Gosh, it was fun.

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RC jumps into the majors

Omigosh. RC has written one of the funniest blog posts ever. All he did was recount a conversation but, wow. Just, wow.

And please, if you're discussing Christianity with someone just go ahead and leave out any references to fish aliens.

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lighten up: slate's snarky review of apple's new campaign

We've all seen the hip new apple ads, like this one for example.

Here's Seth Stevenson's review of the campaign in Slate. I can't find where he calls the ads "mean spirited" in the article, so maybe some editor came up with the article's title.

He ends the review with this remark...

I can see how these ads might be effective with inexperienced computer users. If you're a first-time buyer, the idea that a Mac will make your life immeasurably easier sure does sound appealing. But if you're a PC user, these ads are more likely to irritate you than convert you.

I dunno, I'm a PC user and I think the ads are terrific. Contrary to what Stevenson says in the review, the claims made by the ads are generally true, which is why windows machines have a terrible reputation where things like viruses and user friendliness are concerned. That the ads poke fun at these things without ever saying that PC's are bad is the campaign's main strength. Well, that and their clean look (which Stevenson does say that he likes).

Not that anything I say counts but I give the ads an A.

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the morning mail

Yesterday I had an easy mail day, and I brought along my camera. Fortunately for you, there wasn't a lot of mail or else I wouldn't have had the time to take these pictures.

This is the mail case for route 7, the one I worked yesterday. Most of those slots represent two addresses, though some only contain one. This is how it looked first thing in the morning. You can see stuff sitting in the slots already. Those are Friday afternoon's flats. When we finish our routes in the afternoon and return to the PO, there is almost always a stack of flats waiting for us to throw into the case. Sometimes it's only a foot high, sometimes it's three feet. Yesterday we didn't have any afternoon flats, which probably means I'm going to get pounded on my usual route tomorrow.

Here is a bad non-working flashbulb picture of the case for route 5, my usual route. Those are tubs full of flats sitting on the floor. To the left, if you can make it out, is a stack of coupon circulars called "the Clipper." Those are what we refer to as "box holders," they go to every residential box on the route. Those are still at the case now since Jim Regular took out the newspapers on the right, also a boxholder, called "The Connection." They arrive every Friday. Remember how I said this was a light day? It was. Tomorrow I'll have anywhere from six to eight tubs of flats waiting for me when I arrive, and four (or more) additional will arrive while I'm working. And we haven't even talked about raw letters, pre-sorted letters, second class mail, small parcels (called "pieces"), or parcels yet.

Skipping way ahead, here's my car loaded with the day's mail (I forgot to take a shot of the loaded cart, I'll have to bring my camera again some other time). Anyway, the top shot is from the front seat looking back, the middle shot is from the back and the bottom picture is taken from outside the passenger side rear door. If I had taken a fourth picture from the other side you would have seen a bunch of parcels, but I couldn't open that door without them spilling out on the asphalt. Now, I don't always have huge parcels like the monsters I had today. I usually can see out the back windshield from the front of the car.

Incidentally, the recipients of those two humongous parcels were not home but they did think to leave their gigantic chops-licking dog outside to ensure that I couldn't get out of the car. So I had to drive around all day with those things (each of which weighed about 40 lbs) in my car. Lovely.

Remember I told you about my two worst days as a carrier so far. Both nightmares involved one of these things. This is the infamous nutting cart (with siblings in background). Oy. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

And here I am, car all loaded, ready to rock and roll. Can you tell I've already put in four hours of solid work casing, lifting, and loading a bunch of mail? Notice the tray of mail leaning against the passenger seat at the bottom left of frame. That's tray number one in its delivery position for when I get to the first stop on the route. I had seven trays total yesterday.

Multiply this day by two and you get a typical Monday. If I can swing it, maybe I'll snap a picture or two tomorrow, 'cause I can tell you're having trouble believing me.

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From Silverado (a classic Western even though it was made in the 80s):

Swann: Stealin cattle's a hangin offense in these parts. if we shot you down riht now we'd be within our rights.

Mal: Mister, you ever seen what a Henry rifle can do in the hands of someone knows how to use it?

I thought cattle rustlin' went out with the Frontier, but apparently it's still a common crime.

The [Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers] association, working with state and local officers, recovered or accounted for about 5,200 stolen cattle last year, compared with slightly more than 2,400 in 2004. Restitution was actually higher two years ago — $1.7 million, compared with nearly $634,000 in 2005.

And that's just the ones that were caught, in two states! I had no idea. Here I thought that these days, Texas folk just lassoed words and put them on their blogs.

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spirituality that's messy like jazz, ad nauseum

From Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

A guy I know named Alan went around the country asking ministry leaders questions. He went to successful churches and asked the pastors what they were doing, and why what they were doing was working. It sounded very boring, except for one visit he made to a man named Bill Bright, the president of a big ministry. Alan said he was a big as life, who listened without shifting his eyes. Alan asked a few questions-I don't know what they were, but as a final question, he asked Dr. Bright what Jesus meant to him. Alan said Dr. Bright could not answer the question. He said Dr. Bright just started to cry. He sat there in his big chair, behind his big desk, and wept.

When Alan told that story, I wondered what it was like to love Jesus like that. I wondered quite honestly if that Bill Bright guy was just nuts, or if he really knew Jesus in a personal way, so well that he would cry at the very mention of His name. I knew then that I would like to know Jesus like that; with all my heart, not just my head. I really felt like that would be the key to something.

spirituality that's messy like jazz, continued

I think the body of Christ could learn a lot Donald Miller's reverse confessional story, and not just about seeking forgiveness for some of its foolishness, but about its (the church's) overall approach to people.

Which brings me to Messy Spirituality: Mike Yaconelli was a tremendous man whose untimely death plunged many Christians, but especially those with ties to youth ministry, into a prolonged period of mourning. Good for us that he produced this book before he left. It begins like this: "I am a mess." How many professional christians out there have the stones to admit that? In my experience, limited though it may be, not many. Yaconelli's book is about how he was mostly a failure as a Christian and how his relationship with God was halting and fitful. Almost every chapter in the book reassured me that I was okay (and superior to Mike Yaconelli). But then, my friend and pastor Will brought me up short.

Here's a quote from my unpublished (maybe someday published?) book that describes what happened after I shared a devotional reading from Messy Spirituality with Will:

I told Will how sometimes I can be sitting with my wife on the sofa, inches away from her, and not feel close to her; and how people can live in the same space, sometimes for years, yet be on different planets in an emotional sense. In these kinds of situations, despite whatever sort of distance separates us, we are still influenced by and react to the presence of the other person. I compared this to how, even when we aren’t feeling particularly spiritual or close to God, God is still near and this nearness effects how we live, maybe without our even knowing it. I thought it was a pretty cool insight I had.

Will listened to me patiently and then asked, “Do you feel that sense of nearness to God most of the time?”

I froze. I think my mouth was hanging open. After a beat, my eyes turned involuntarily ceilingward. This always happens. Someone will be in the middle of a heartbreaking personal revelation, sobbing off and on, trying to choke out their story in fits and starts, and I’ll look up at the ceiling. To the other person, it seems as if I’m looking for an escape hatch that may have appeared there in the roof, though I’m actually thinking about what they’re saying.

After about thirty seconds and a couple of false starts, I settled on an answer. “Well. No,” I said. “Most of the time…I feel…like I just missed it.”

I’d been immersed in the Christian ministry culture for a long time and it had spoiled me. I actually thought, up until that moment, that most Christian people walked around feeling at least some connection to God most of the time. According to my insight, during the odd moments when a Christ-follower sensed some distance from God, she could take comfort in the fact that God wasn’t far away even if she couldn’t ‘feel’ God’s presence.

The real story is different, though. I had to admit that most of the time I feel that if life is a series of rooms or places you go, that I’m always arriving in the next space just after God leaves. Once I realize God isn’t there, I hurry on to the next room and find maybe a trace or two of God, but not God himself. Of course I know that God is still there, that I’m not really just missing God, but this is how I feel most of the time.

Will asked his question because he thought maybe I had found some secret to the spiritual life that he had missed. I think he was relieved to see that I was more like him, and most of the people from our church, than I had previously realized.

Not long after that conversation I was sitting at breakfast with a group of people from our congregation when one woman bravely admitted that the just-missing-it feeling was the more common experience for her too. Everyone around the table shook their head in agreement. That’s no scientific survey by any stretch, but the fact that her confession prompted unanimous agreement makes me think that a constant sense of God’s presence may not be normal for most people, even for Christians.

If you’re just missing God much of the time, if a sense of God’s nearness is the exception and not the rule, then it becomes difficult to take comfort from the knowledge that God is present even if hidden. It’s like each new room has a message spray painted on the wall. “God was here,” where “was” is the operative word.

I feel a little ashamed that it took me thirty-nine years of living, twenty of them as a self-proclaimed follower of Christ, to realize this; to admit that a sense of God’s presence is unusual for me and for many of the believers in the world. I wonder how smug it made me seem to all those people who made themselves vulnerable to me, pouring out their sense of missing God while I looked up at the ceiling.

Because of these things, I try to approach people, especially Christians without the wagonload of assumptions I carted around for the past couple of decades. I'm okay with the mess that is my spiruality. You could say I'm jazzed about it.

In part 3 I'll share with you my favorite quote from Blue Like Jazz.

spirituality that's messy like jazz

The other day I posted my answers to The Jennifer Meme. One of the questions Jennifer composed was "Name at least one book you’ve read that’s influenced your philosophy." I answered with two titles: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli. In comments on that post, Gwynne asked how Blue Like Jazz influenced me. In reality, it was the experience of reading those two books back to back that caused me to rethink the way I approach God, Jesus, faith, life.

First off, Blue Like Jazz is beautifully written. In subsequent works, Miller has not even approached the level of intimate, honest prose he offered up in Jazz. Reading it, while at the same time trying to write for publication myself, gave me lots of insight into how hard it is to write something that's truly beautiful. I think the effort in itself, offered up to God, delights God. But there was also the content of the book. A fair number of theologically conservative Christians lambasted Miller for being soft on the gospel, but I just don't see that in the book. Miller chooses to emphasize the love of God and writes in a gentle language. In other words, he doesn't use the buzzwords that theologically conservative people like to see. Which is fine by me.

In one chapter of the book, probably the most often cited by those who loved it, Miller writes about his time as a staff member at Reed College in Oregon when the Christian organization he worked for put up a confessional booth but reversed the confessional process.

I said we should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins." I said this because I knew a lot of people would be sinning, and Christian spirituality begins by confessing our sins and repenting. I also said it as a joke. But Tony thought it was brilliant. He sat there on my couch with his mind in the clouds, and he was scaring the crap out of me because, for a second, then for a minute, I actually believed he wanted to do it.

"Tony," I said very gently.

"What?" he said, with a blank stare at the opposite wall.

"We are not going to do this," I told him. He moved his gaze down the wall and directly into my eyes. A smile came across his face.

"Oh, we are, Don.

They did, but they wound up being the confessees, not the confessors. And as is so often the case with great ideas, this one ministered more to those who concocted it than to those they were seeking to reach. I think the body of Christ could learn a lot from this story, and not just about seeking forgiveness for some of its foolishness, but about its (the church's) overall approach to people...

Part II coming momentarily.

give a dad a fish...

Click here for a great story from NPR about Shoebox Greetings and how they come up with some of their edgy, humorous cards.

The funniest bit is at the end, where one of the card writers shares examples of Fathers' Day card greetings in which "some line of sensibility was crossed..." but are still laugh out loud funny.

Scroll down the page for more examples of "Funny, but no" card ideas.

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will you please be quiet, please*

A Reuters article says:

Spears said she has wept on occasion over allegations that she is a bad mother, and wished only that paparazzi would leave her alone.

"You have to realize that we're people and that we need, we just need privacy and we need our respect," she said. "And those are things that you have to have as a human being."

Yes, for goodness sake. Do us all a favor and leave her alone!

*this post claims no relationship or connection to the collection of Raymond Carver stories by the same name. In fact, you'd be better off reading that instead.



i've got nothin'

i'm just filling space with this post.


i told you i had nothin'

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can you hear me now?

This is hardly new news but I guess everybody waited until now to start talking about it.

A Welsh security company developed the tone to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected. The company called their product the "Mosquito."

But those clever teenagers have usurped the technology and turned it into a ringtone that adults can't hear. Nice.

Still, the adults could level the playing field pretty easily. All I need to do, for example, is create a ringtone from my own voice, my kids won't hear a darn thing.

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true stories of the highway patrol

This is unbelievable. No wait, actually it's totally believable.

The title of the article is "CHP Officer Shoots at Motorcyclist" but check out the circumstances in which the officer fired...

"a CHP officer clocked two motorcycles speeding at 85 mph, according to CHP spokesman Marvin Williford. The CHP officer began pursuing the riders and attempted to pull over both of them. One, however, exited I-80 at Red Top Road and then re-entered I-80 westbound while the second motorcyclist continued east on I-80."

another office mistakenly pulled over an innocent cyclist but spotted the speeder coming his way, so...

The officer stepped off his bike and waved for the fleeing motorcyclist to stop, but the rider instead accelerated toward the officer and the officer opened fire...The motorcycle swerved away from the officer and continued on Columbus Parkway.

I don't own a gun and hope never to have to use one. But I'll tell you this much, if I was the one with that bike bearing down on me, I would have made damn sure not to miss.

H/T to Zoli.

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jennifer's meme: the revenge (or, a little more about me)

Jennifer updated her meme, probably based on input from some of her fellow peeps in the nest.

A couple of the questions have been reworded, but the real story are the questions she added. They are below with my answers following.

21. What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
Mostly, I don't know. But I would like to have at least one major publication credit, either a book or article(s) in a national or international magazine.

22. What is one thing you would like to achieve before you die?
I'd like to teach the world to sing. No, too broad. See number 21.

23. What talents do you have?
Music. Writing. Getting a humongus wad of mail into a box that seems impossibly small.

24. Which one is your favorite and why?
Music. Because I think music is a gift that comes straight from God's heart and I am humbled beyond words that he allowed me to have some skill at it. (You thought I was gonna say the "mail" one didn't you?)

25. What’s one thing you don’t think other people know about you that you would like them to know?
I don't think there is anything since I wear my heart on my sleeve, like, all the time.

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jennifer's meme

Jennifer made up a cool meme and kicked it out of the nest. Here it is. You may tag yourself if you wish.

1. When you meet someone new do you trust them or do they have to earn your trust?
I usually trust people right away, often too much.

2. What do you pay attention to when you meet someone or visit with someone you know?
Their eyes.

3. When you were in high school or college what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no clue.

4. If you could have any career now what would it be?

5. Name a life changing moment that made your life better.
Smiling at a cute girl in the University of Rochester post office. I'm married to her now.

6. Name a life changing moment that changed your life for the worse.
Deciding to get an MBA instead of something else, like an MFA.

7. Are you a homebody or a gypsy?
A gyspy. If I'm at home more than an hour or so I get antsy.

8. What do you collect?
I don't really collect anything. It requires too much disipline.

9. Do you have a recurring dream or nightmare?
No but I had an awful one last night that I was in some sort of classroom and the instructor kept berating and insulting me.

10. Why did your parents give you the name they did?
I am James Vincent Jannotti, Jr... after my dad.

11. What motivates you?

12. What scares you?
Health issues.

13. What three things do you need most day to day?
Free time, spent alone, with a book.

14. What do you think God is like?

15. What do you read?
Anything I can get my hands on.

16. Name at least one book you’ve read that’s influenced your philosophy.
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller & Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli

17. What thrills you?

18. What do you struggle with repeatedly?
Let's not go there.

19. What makes you laugh?
Lots of stuff. I laugh pretty easily.

20. What makes you cry?
There is this song, it's based on a poem from a devotional book titled The Continual Burnt Offering by H. A. Ironsides and Phil Keaggy set it to music. It's called The Maker of the Universe. I've seen Phil Keaggy in concert maybe 30 times and at every show I yell out "Maker of the Universe!" One time he actually honored my request (I'd heard him do the song years before, and this was the only other time I've ever heard him do it live). I cannot hear that song or even think about it without tearing up... in fact, I'm tearing up right now. The lyrics are below, and here is a sample of Phil Keaggy's recording.

The Maker of the universe,
As Man for man was made a curse.
The claims of Law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough,
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The sky that darkened o'er His head,
By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him it's face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His for everlasting years.
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow.

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i'm definitely not a shaving geek

Although I am a geek who shaves. Big difference.

If you are a shaving geek, then this article is a must read. When the pricetag for acquiring a newfound addiction to shaving (I know, it sounds silly to me too) goes above $50, count me out of the game. Badger hair brush? You're kidding me, right?

Seriously, I have no problems shaving, even against the grain (the author of the article throws out some major caution about shaving against the grain). I do always use hot water and keep my face wet, though, just because it makes sense. Honestly, I don't understand what the fuss is all about. The author must have invested heavily in badger hair futures.

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my vote is for dead end

This NPR story asks: Cul-de-Sacs: Suburban Dream or Dead End? I've never been a fan of Cul-de-Sacs. Neither have I bought into the argument that they are somehow safer. That argument now appears mythical, according to research cited in the story. In fact, says NPR,

"cul-de-sac communities turn out to have some of the highest rates of traffic accidents involving young children."

And of course, there's the automobile factor which is the peculiar curse of the modern suburb:

...there's the problem of having to drive your car almost everywhere. Or, in Speck's words, the uneasy feeling that "your car is no longer an instrument of freedom but a prosthetic device."

Driving is the only way to get from a typical cul-de-sac to a restaurant, a store or your office. And on the roads that funnel back to that main trunk, the traffic is usually awful.

But forget all that. I now have a new reason to despise cul-de-sacs: I am a rural mail carrier. On my main route there is one large development containing something like 250 houses. I deliver the entire monstrous thing, which contains no less than 8 of these instruments of torture. If it isn't obvious why a cul-de-sac would be so menacing, imagine trying to drive your car along the curbline to each mailbox in a cul-de-sac. Now imagine that one or two people have parked their cars at the curbline, so you need to get around them. If the problem is not apparent to you yet, find a cul-de-sac near you and try it.

So, I say to those planners in places like Portland who have banned new cul-de-sacs: good on you!


wrong number

The world is abuzz with this overblown hexaphobawhatever. It's much ado about nothing if you ask me. And as Eric has said before, it's the wrong number!

In a comment (the first one) on another of Eric's posts, the estimable Beth wondered whether there will be any mention next of next year's triple digit day: July 7, aka 07/07/07.

Probably not, is my guess. Although if we act now maybe we can start some sort of movement. The biblical significance of the number 777, (other than that it's the number of years Noah's dad Lamech lived, but you knew that) is that Jesus urged his followers to forgive not seven times but 77 or 7 X 77 times, depending on which translation you read.

So here's the plan: let's make next July 7 radical forgiveness day. I have no idea what form it should take, but we have a year and one month to get ready and we'll be living very close to God's very heart if we do this.


floating fur and the smell of decay

As I was enjoying a short story by Evan S. Connell called "The Crossroads" my wife came outside to our back porch carrying her brand new electric dog fur clippers. Despite my recent attempts (and I do mean attempts) to thin the beast, our family mutt Figalwicks had become a walking mat of fur. Being the helpful husband that I am, I joined her in the work -- I brushed and cut knots while she did the actual clearcutting. The whole thing proved to be a lesson in futility. A sizable amount of fur was removed but mostly because the brush attachment to the clipper pulled it out, not because the blades cut it off. A good deal of that fur became airborne and hovered at right about the level of the average human mouth. Fig now looks about as bushy as she did before, and a lot more fed-up with her owners.

After that failure I turned my attention to the gutters. We've had a lot of rain in the last few days and our house is surrounded by maple trees. All those little helicopters fell into the gutters, each of which become something of a terrarium. We were growing our own sugarbush 8 feet above the ground all around the perimeter of our house.

Clearing these was just a bit more disgusting than eating large clumps of dog fur. And now my entire backyard smells like a stagnant canal. My gutters however, are flowing freely and I lived to blog about it.

How was your day?

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not so bad evening

Spent some time this evening vegging out, face in a book, at my favorite Sbux. Because of some things I heard, I avoided all incarnations of Banana Frappucino and stuck with my customary mocha frapp. Breaking with my usual routine, I did not order it affagato style but took it straight up.

On the way home my check engine light came on (the check engine light in my Cabrio is a repeat offender, and a problem which I thought I had eradicated two weeks ago). This put a damper on the evening, as did the torrential downpours that followed me all the way up southeast Pennsylvania's road of death, Route 100.

Still, I actually got to read some tonight so it wasn't a total loss. I'm reading these two books. Started the Connell tonight.

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