Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie Rec

Go see Iron Man. But if you have kids younger than 10 or so, leave them home. It is a pretty violent movie (which made me angry with the parents who brought their four year olds. Yes, there was more than one).

Robert Downey, Jr. was amazing. And hot, in both a geek way and a really hot guy way. I almost didn't recognize Gwenyth Paltrow (I had to wait for the credits to be 100% sure it was her).

The story was good, if not terribly profound. The CGI was amazing. In short, it was a great summer movie for when you just want to be entertained.

In other news, I did something to my right shoulder. I have no idea what, but I can't lift my arm above my head or shrug.


Getting old sucks.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Mr. Lemieux, et. al.

Never mind.

Good luck in Detroit. If NBC carries any games, I'll be watching.

This ad aired here right before the 8 p.m. hour. I was disturbed by the choice to run it then. I don't think I object to the content - though I wouldn't choose it - but I don't think it should have aired when little kids were watching. Don't watch with kids under 13 or so around.

Dear Mr. Lemeiux (and any other members of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization)

Hello there. I am a loyal, if long distance fan. I grew up in Pittsburgh, fell in love with hockey in 1984 (like 3/4 of your fans), and have been following you ever since. I got to go to a few games when I was in high school and college, but then ticket prices got to be too much after the two Stanley Cups, so I just followed from afar.

Now I'm really following from afar. I live in Louisiana now, which is not exactly a hockey hotbed. While there are a large group of Pittsburghers down here, the sports bar where we usually meet for Steelers games doesn't even carry the network that has been carrying the playoffs. Thank goodness for the internet.

So here is the thing. If Dallas pulls off the unthinkable and beats Detroit, I would dearly love to go to a playoff game in Dallas. I will wear my black and gold, and scream until I am hoarse (which wouldn't take much since my thyroid surgery last year - my voice still isn't right).

The problem with this plan, however, is that even in Dallas, tickets are really expensive. The cheapest I found were $200. When you factor in the cost of gas, a hotel, and all that jazz...well, going to a game becomes just a fantasy.

So here is where you come in. If Dallas beats Detroit, it would be super peachy keen if you would supply me with a ticket to the first game in Dallas. I'd drive myself there and pay for my own hotel and other expenses. I just need help with the actual ticket.

The way I see it, this is a win-win situation. I get to see an actual championship game (none of the schools I ever attended were ever good enough to get very far in the playoffs) featuring my second favorite sports team (sorry, but the Pirates will always have my heart first - I'm just not holding my breath for them to ever make the post season again), and you get good PR . I still have lots of friends in the Pittsburgh area, and I would sing your praises loudly to all of them, and to the folks here in the deep south. Hockey will never surpass college football as the favorite pastime around here, but those of us who are fans do our best. Wouldn't it be awesome if you could claim a whole contingent of fans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana?

Think about it, Mr. Lemeiux, et. al. I'll be patiently waiting by my computer for your response.

Sincerely yours,


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Birthday...

...has been pretty good. The boss took our group out to lunch today on the company dime partially for my birthday (and the birthday of someone who was out of town for hers), and partially because we have a new kid and he wanted us to do some bonding. We went to my favorite restaurant. Then, later in the afternoon, we got surprised with a cake. Totally surprised me. It was a strawberry cake from Cake Palace. It wasn't nearly as good as Ambrosia's strawberry cake, but I'm guessing it was a lot less expensive.

I had planned to make fish for dinner tonight, but it was still frozen when I got home from work. The package said that it would only take 8-10 hours to thaw in the fridge. The package lied.

So I had chanterelle mushroom ravioli instead. Whole Foods had it on sale a couple weeks ago. It wasn't bad, but I like sausage ravioli better.

So, that's been my 37th birthday. Not a whole lot different from being 36 and 364 days.

Your Daily Dose of Cute... this video.

I am 37 now.

Just wanted to wake up in the middle of the night and announce that.

Actually, I'm awake because I have a nasty case of reflux caused by eating whippped cream.

Sigh. I hate that I can't handle any dairy anymore, except for yogurt.

Stupid aging.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I've written before about how important Mother's Day was in my immediate family. It was a great, big [Insert Groovy Last Name Here] celebration for the three of us.

This year marks 15 years since my dad died (April 15 - guess I'll never forget that date) and 13 years since my mom died (June 28). I will be 37 years old on Tuesday. They have been gone for almost half my life, which seems crazy to me, since I was just in college last Tuesday (well, it feels that way, anyhow).

I'm not going to write anything deep and profound about how I miss my mom most acutely on this day, but how it's the little things in every day life that make me miss my dad. I'm not going to write about how I am about to be older than my mom was when she had me (she was 36). I'm not going to write anything.

To the mothers out there, happy day. Enjoy your kids, no matter what age they are, because time passes to quickly.

To the kids, appreciate your mother while you can. You'll be glad you did when she is gone.

That is all.

Today is Pentecost...

...which may be my favorite Feast Day.

No, not because it is the founding of the Church, or the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, or any of those other good, theological reasons.

I love Pentecost because my church gets out the Bat Signal paraments.

We have several large banners that feature a circle with a cutout of a descending dove on a red background. I know one of the dear church ladies probably saw didn't want to waste perfectly good felt and thought that it would look nice. But when you first look at it, if you aren't thinking dove, it looks just like the Bat Signal.

It makes me laugh every year.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh, and to make matters worse, right after I got picked for the thing I can't talk about on Tuesday, I got my period. And I've had cramps for the past two and a half days.

Sigh. I hate months when it is heavy and crampy.

Sorry, male readers. Here is something to soften the above.

Yes, it's Lemieux and not a current player, but it is hockey. And with the Pens/Flyers series coming up. I had to post it. Here's hoping the Penguins crush the Flyers into oblivion over the next few games.

For those of you who are new, I'm normally a mild-mannered pacifist. However, I love me some hockey.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hello, folks.

You may recall that I have jury duty this week. That is all I can say about that, under order of the court. Perhaps you can guess what happened to me today.

Instead, enjoy this serious debate about the merits of the Democratic candidates for President.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Church Chat

Well, I went to my first ever congregational meeting today. I avoided them up to this point partially because I still feel like an interloper and partially because I hate the politics that go along with being church.

But I've been praying hard since my pastor announced that he was leaving, and I really feel a call to end my exile from organized ministry and to actively help my congregation through this transition. Part of me worries that it isn't a true calling, that it is ego and vanity, but I think the fact that I can ask that question means that it isn't.

Anyway, this is the first church meeting I have ever been in that is run by Robert's Rules of Order. That in and of itself was very weird.

But apparently, there has been some kind of tension and division within the congregation that I had no idea existed. When we got the official letter informing us of the pastor's last day, it mentioned something in there about allowing time to heal. I thought that just refered to the kind of healing any organization has to do when it goes through a transition period. but apparently I was wrong.

I have no idea what the issues are, or where they came from, and I'm not sure I want to unless I wind up in a role where I need to have that information. But when the time came for council nominations, I sensed that there was definitely a "faction" at work. I also got the sense that at least one of the nominees that faction put forward didn't know anything about it (I was sitting next to him, and he mentioned during lunch that he was going off council and that he was ready to go off).

Let me backtrack for those of you who don't know how things work at my congregation (as I didn't until this week). The nominating committee spends time prayerfully considering the places where there are openings on council. They come up with names for those positions, and ask people if they would be willing to serve. Those names are then put forward to the congregation, and if there are no nominations from the floor, they are appointed.

Back to the story, today there were three nominations from the floor, all of whom have served on council for many, many, many years. Apparently this has never, ever happened in the history of this congregation. The pastor was really upset by that, and he let it be known that he was upset. This sparked all kinds of discussion.

Now, an interesting thing to note is that two of the members of the nominating committee joined our congregation from New Orleans following Katrina (they became members the same day I did). I'm wondering if there is some kind of tension because of that? One of those people was also on the ballot.

I ended up voting for the people the committee put forward because...well, because. And I did that despite the fact that one of them (the one who chaired the nominating committee and joined after Katrina) makes me really nervous - more on that in a moment.

As I considered everything I observed this afternoon while I drove to work, I think the big issue is a fear of doing anything new, and a fear of being challenged. That is fairly normal, I think, but it is frustrating, too. It's the reason why, despite the fact that I have been attending church there for nearly three years, I still feel like an outsider. That makes me sad.

I'm really hoping and praying that the call process we are about to undertake and everything that goes along with that will provide some kind of revitalization in the congregation, where the people doing everything won't be "the usual suspects." But that is going to take a willingness to change and grow that I'm not sure is there yet. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit works thoughout all of this, and that we come out of it more aware of God's Grace than we seem to be right now.

Oh, and why that woman I wrote of before makes me nervous - she has a really...Southern Baptist theology working. She uses buzzwords that they and other fundamentalists use all the time, things like "making a decision to accept Christ," "personal relationship with Jesus," "gave testimony" and things like that. She was also the one who I wrote about in my last post, who led a devotional that had a very fundamentalist overtone in the spiritual gifts assessment thing that we did last Monday. Now, I looked up the church she came from in New Orleans, and from what I saw on their website, that's pretty much where they are. They don't celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, decsion-theology and the prosperity gospel creep into their pastor's sermons pretty much weekly. And she gave the members of the nominating committee this book, which is written from the Southern Baptist perspective.

Now, if she were being tapped to lead the business committee, that wouldn't concern me. But she is being asked to lead the Faith Formation committee, and that does worry me. I have no problem in saying that we, as a mainline denomination that believes that faith and reason can live side-by-side, should be using anything published by a denomination that believes in complete Biblical literalism and that outright condemns people who disagree with them. The theology just isn't compatible.

Now, I have a feeling, based on that gifts assessment, that I'm going to be asked to serve on the Faith Formation committee. And if I am, I'm truly torn about whether or not to accept. On the one hand, I'm reluctant to accept because I'm afraid that butting heads with this woman over themes, materials, curricula, etc. will cause more divisiveness, and that is the last thing we need. On the other hand, perhaps I could use my background in theology (granted, most of it is Roman Catholic, but it is similar enough, plus I have been doing a heck of a lot of reading lately) to kind of temper any...unusual materials, etc. she suggests.

Sigh. I don't know why we can't let go of this human need of ours to conform our church (and our Church) to our vision instead of living the way Christ has taught us. We impose so many rules and hierarchies, and other crap on church, that we forget that the real reason church (and Church) exists is to come together as a community to worship the Living God and to share the Good News with the world.