Merry Christmas to you all. We're celebrating Christmas today with Janelle's family, then heading up to Sacramento tomorrow to celebrate with my side. Belle is as cute as ever...and last night I got her laughing harder than she's ever laughed. It was this belly-laugh that turned her face completely red...it was awesome. I am definitely blessed with a great family. I hope you're all able to enjoy your Christmas and have a great, restful week.
This video holds a very dear place in my heart. I actually still have the VHS, and am so happy to see it has made its way to the internet. It brings a warm feeling inside me and a very powerful nostalgia. Funny what things do that to you.
Other quotes I wanted to use as the title of this post:
"Feeling brave tonight? How brave?"
"The stillness...of DEATH!"
"Wizard, I must tell you I don't like your headgear."
"Are you not familiar with the wizard's transformation? No animal was lost."
"I was transformed into a coyote, to learn the ways of nature."
"You don't need 'the hang' of anything."
"If we split up, we can cover more ground."
"Summon all your life force!"
"Orlo give me the strength!"
"Fight valiantly! I shall return."
"Subjects! Together we have vanquished the death knights!"
"You do not host this banquet! DEATH hosts this banquet!"
"Warriors have a motto: Sharp swords settle scores."
"They are not mutually exclusive options."
"Teraptus shall suffer for his perversion of nature!"
"ROLL THE DIE!"
"Hahahahaha! Now you're working together!"
"Cast a pause video spell on your VCR."
"Now you have all the secret knowledge you need!"
This is very good news. Verizon is going to open up their network so you can use any phone you want that meets some technical requirements. I hope all providers (including mine, Sprint) will do this soon. Right now you can only use the phones that your company sells on their network, but it can only be good for everyone for companies to open that up. We'll see how it all shakes out but along with the Google Android OS thingy I'd say I am pretty happy about where the mobile industry is heading.
Tonight when Janelle gets home from work, the two of us will be heading to Palo Alto to spend the night, without Belle. It will be the first time we're both away from Belle for a night. Janelle's sister Shannon will be at our place with Belle, and then on Sunday she'll take Belle over the Grandma's to play. We know Belle will be fine at Grandma's on Sunday because she's there three days a week and loves it...we're not sure how she'll do tonight without us. I am hoping and praying she's good for Shannon and we don't receive any calls about how she's hysterically crying and won't stop. Belle's at that separation-anxiety stage right now and she's never been without both of us for a night so we'll see how it goes. Janelle and I could really use an evening and morning together without anybody or anything else to worry about...even if we will be staying in the belly of the beast, next to the hated Stanford Cardinal campus.
I've always been one for the tragic hero. Growing up I enjoyed reading stories about the valiant man who bravely died due to this or that. I remember reading the Dragonlance Chronicles novels as a kid (a rite of passage for any true gamer geek) and being of course drawn to Sturm Brightblade. Sturm was a member of the disgraced Knights of Solamnia and clung to his honor. He got himself killed by standing up on the battlements of a castle and challenging a dragon he had no chance of actually killing to allow his friends to defeat an enemy army. Honor was a huge part of who Sturm was, and it was an ideal I looked up to a lot as a child.
My favorite heroes were always the knights who would do anything to preserve honor. I recently read through Red Branch again, which is a great novel about Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster in Irish myth. There's a portion near the end where Cuchulain is obligated by honor to engage in single combat to the death against his best friend. Here's part of it:
There is no way out for either of us, Cuchulain thought bitterly. Sencha the brehon had once taught him, convinced him: Honor is the treasure no one can take from you; honor is the shield no one can penetrate unless you let him. Now, honor had brought the two of them to an incy river on a bitterly cold day to try to kill each other for something neither could touch or taste or hold in his hands. Honor has somehow failed us, Cuchulain thought, wishing he had time to puzzle it through. But there was no time left.
Braveheart is one of my favorite movies, something for which I have often (and perhaps rightly) been mocked. As a teenager when I first saw it I was very taken in by the nobility of William Wallace and his quest for FRREEEEEEDOOOM from tyranny. My friend Jeff was always a bit more skeptical of such displays, as was Adam; if I remember correctly they both saw Wallace's war as a personal quest for revenge over the killing of his wife rather than a battle for the power of the people. Our motives are rarely as pure as we would like to think they are.
Honor is often another name for human pride and ego. We build fortresses around our pet causes, construct monuments to ourselves, and call them honor. True honor is something greater than a knight refusing to be insulted - it is a knight being insulted and refusing to exact revenge. It is too easy for us to use concepts like honor and justice to achieve whatever ends we want and try to increase our standing in the eyes of others. The truly honorable man is the one who is able to move beyond the perception others have of him and his honor, and do what is right. I would be hard pressed to think of a situation where the right thing to do would be "demand satisfaction" (read that with a southern accent, please) from someone who has wounded my pride or made me look foolish in front of others. Real honor is seldom as glorious as we imagine, and real human heroes are never free from stain, but both are worth having.
Miro is a free, open-source video management program meant to help you get a grasp on all the video available out there, from YouTube (it makes it very easy to save YouTube videos) to video blogs to whatever else. You can also use it to manage videos already on your computer. I've just been using it a little but it seems incredibly useful, and I like its philosophy - Miro wants to help you get what you want from where you want rather than insisting you get stuff from the people that they want you to get it from. It's a pretty small download, and right after you install it they play you a short intro video that gives you a good idea of what you can do before you start playing around. If stuff like this continues to get better, and some of the networks wise up so I can legitimately watch the shows I want, I may be able to get rid of Comcast. Fat chance, but who knows.
There's been a lot of anticipation over Google developing something called a gPhone or Google Phone or whatever and entering the mobile market. Today Google announced Android, an open OS for mobile devices. The idea is rather than releasing a phone, they are, along with the Open Handset Alliance, working on something that can be used on all kinds of mobile devices.
This is exciting to me because while I love my Treo, I have longed for the ability to more seamlessly integrate and use things like Google Calendar with my mobile. As it stands I have to jump through various hurdles to sync my Palm with a useful online Calendar service and if I'm able to use something like this it has a lot of potential. I'm eager to see what this leads to. From where I stand it can only be good.
I'm going to start doing something new here and because I'm a paragon of creative energy I'm going to call it "check this out." I think I'm a little (or a lot) geekier than most of you reading this, so I run across things you may not but still might like. One theoretically useful thing I'll do here is pass along stuff I think you may appreciate or find useful. Here's the first thing.
RSS Feeds. There's a lot of info out there on the intarweb and it can be tough to keep up with it. You've probably run across a site you liked before, bookmarked it, kept up with it for a few days, weeks, or maybe even months, and then forgot about it. RSS brings that to an end. Most sites (worth reading, and many not worth reading) publish RSS feeds. What's that?
It takes the info they're posting on their site and feeds it to you without you having to visit the site. The best way to take advantage of RSS feeds is, in my experience, an online site like Google Reader. There are other competitors but I've found Google Reader to be easy to use and it has useful features like the ability to search your feeds, so if you just remember a phrase from some post you read a while ago that you wish you still had, you can type that in and it will search your feeds. You should also see on the right sidebar of my site here there's a box labeled "Stuff I Liked Reading." I have Google Reader setup so I can click something when I see a post I like and it appears over there for all of you to check out.
With RSS you can log on to one site and read things from all the different sites you've subscribed to, from News to Sports to Tech stuff to whatever. Now you can know when a site is updated without having to take a little tour of the web every time you want to keep up with stuff. I'd keep explaining it but that's basically the point, and someone put together a totally awesome YouTube video (what is this, some kinda tube?) that explains each step of getting RSS up and running for you. Check it out here:
If you're anything like me, you like to write and sometimes feel inspired to do so on the computer, but have difficulty focusing. I've found it's often the little things that help. So check out Q10, this awesome little piece of freeware. It's nothing fancy but it might help you get to writing. It's full-screen, gives you live stats like word count, has a customizable look, portable, has a timer/alarm, and more. By default it makes little typewriter-click noises when you type. You could turn that feature off, but why would you? Every press of the button is so rewarding. Anyway, check it out.
This may also help those of you participating in Nanowrimo, which starts today!
One of the books I'm reading right now is Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, a book I have previously praised. It's a collection of short thoughts that distill the truths from GTD. I'm enjoying it so far and it's helping encourage me to do stuff.
Today while the oil in my car was getting changed I came across a couple quotes I thought were awesome and I figured I'd share them with you.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison
"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." - Susan Ertz
Also known as Nanowrimo for those in the know. There's probably a fair amount of the population that would like to consider themselves writers but never get around to writing much of anything. I would also probably be included in said group...the lack of regular posting around here seems to pretty obviously indicate that. It's basically a fake deadline thing to encourage you to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That would be almost 2,000 words a day. And November has Thanksgiving in it. I'm thinking of using the month to crank out some sort of creative writing endeavor. Maybe you could too.
Cal went into yesterday's game against unranked Oregon State ranked number 2 in the nation. LSU, the first place team, lost their game. This meant that if Cal could beat their opponent they'd be number 1 in the nation, something that hasn't happened for a very long time. Apparently once the news of LSU's loss was announced to the fans in Berkeley during the 3rd Quarter of Cal's game they cheered and began to chant "We're Number One!" Clearly these fans in Berkeley have no idea what they're doing. Cal lost of course.
Now they're #10, a few spots behind Oregon, who they beat last week. As a Cal fan I had a sneaking suspicion they didn't deserve the #2 rank but they should be ahead of Oregon. They beat Oregon at Oregon's stadium, and though they lost this week they had their backup QB in due to a Longshore injury.
Dreams of a National Championship bid were probably foolish anyway, but I had them ever so briefly. It seems like yesterday Cal's only win of the season came against a then-crappy Rutgers. It's great to just see them competing, though once I see my teams competing I want to see them actually win. An outright terrible team isn't as frustrating as a team not living up to its potential. If Cal wins out they can still make the Rose Bowl, so there's always hope for that.
A few weeks ago at the Crossing we talked about Jonah. I was encouraged to see so many kids there, and while it was difficult to get them to quiet down at times it was a good night overall. We talked about how we split ourselves up into groups and some of the good and bad things about it. In order to talk about this I decided to take the kids on a quick tour of Jonah and his story.
As a kid I remember being told the story of Jonah and the whale as an encouragement to have no fear and follow God whatever he would want me to do because He would make sure things went the way they should. Those are good lessons to be sure, but they have little to do with the story of Jonah.
Jonah's reason for trying to run away from and disobey God's order to warn the Ninevites of their impending doom wasn't motivated by fear of failure or a sense of personal inadequacy. Instead it was motivated by his hatred of the Ninevites. He knew that God would forgive them if they repented and fled because he wanted them to die, not because he himself didn't want to die. I think too often we (including me) don't actually try to see what a particular passage or story is about and instead put our own meaning on top of them. How much of what God has said in Scripture is glossed over and misinterpreted because of our laziness? And how many people do we prop up as heroes that don't belong there?
Jonah was a bitter, angry, hateful, racist man. While some would say such adjectives accurately describe people who currently claim to follow God, paying attention to the story will show it's about God's mercy and forgiveness. Even this so-called vengeful smite-happy Old Testament God was extending grace and mercy. A careful reading of the Old and New Testaments will also show the assumed dichotomy between OT Vengeful/NT Loving doesn't exist.
Today is Belle's first birthday. Part of me thinks time has flown by, but there were also some nights that would never end and very long days in the past year. A year ago at this very moment I was driving back to the hospital to see Janelle and Belle because I wasn't allowed to stay with them after Belle was born since Janelle had to share a room with another new mother.
Well I was going to type some sort of reflective post but it seems Belle has decided it is time to wake up so it's time to go. Instead I will leave you with this incredibly cute picture of Belle with her cousin at the park, and suggest you head over to the flickr page to look at the latest batch I uploaded. There are some pretty great ones in there.
I liked Milton Bradley as an Oakland Athletic. He showed no real signs of the hot temper that has hurt him throughout his career. He was a little injury prone but played well when he was on the field, and he gave us some memorable moments. Once he was traded to the Padres, however, he let fly with lots of criticisms about the A's and my Milton love decreased. Apparently yesterday he hurt himself arguing with the umpire. This is funny because of Bradley's proclivity to get injured but also because he made this comment, after having to be repeatedly restrained from trying to attack the umpire (note the italicized portions):
"It's terrible. And now, because of him, my knee's hurt," said Bradley, a second-half catalyst for the Padres who was in his third game back from an injury that sidelined him for nearly two weeks. "If this costs me my season because of that, he needs to be reprimanded. I'm taking some action. I'm not going to stand pat and accept this because I didn't do nothing wrong."
Are you kidding me? What's even stupider is that the Padres seem to be backing him up on this, blaming the umpires for goading him into blowing up. Good to see personal responsibility is alive and well.
So Cal won their season opener last night, 45-31 against Tennessee. Last year they were punked by the Vols in their opener but this year they got some retribution. A win at home (this year) isn't as impressive as a win in Knoxville would've been, but it'll do. I wasn't able to watch the game live but I listened to it on the radio and today I watched most of it on my DVR. Cal sure was exciting to watch. I think Tedford called too many little plays like screens and draws but overall they played really well and are exciting to watch. DeSean Jackson was incredible as always, Justin Forsett looks to be quite able to fill in the hole left by Marshawn Lynch, the offensive line was usually dominant, Longshore led well, and the receiving corps is pretty strong. If anything I'd say the defense was a bit sketchy and the Bears almost let the game slip away after being up by 17 in the 3rd Quarter...but it was a good win and I hope it's a sign of things to come.
Paul's mother passed away this week unexpectedly, so I've been asked to preach this weekend. This is one of the two passages I'm working from. I don't have anything especially profound to say, except I greatly appreciate this Psalm.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.
Desmond Bishop was one of my favorite Cal players the last few years. He was a big-time leader on their defense, a linebacker that seemed to be involved in a lot of plays; this April he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers (who seem to have an attraction to Cal players) I know he'll be missed by the Golden Bears this year. I came across this picture, today. Apparently last night he did this to Reggie Williams (Jags WR) on two separate occasions. I hope Bishop plays in the NFL for a long time.
This past weekend while we were camping there was this sort of verbal riddle/puzzle thing going around the campfire. Janelle only stayed for about five minutes before retiring to the tent with Belle to go to sleep. I stayed for another hour and a half or so, and after hearing that none of those who actually knew the answer to the verbal code/riddle/puzzle were able to figure it out without being told the answer my pride demanded I not be told, and figure it out. After some time and some hints I was able to figure it out without being told. When I went back to our tent to brag to her how smart her husband is, she cut me off as I began to talk and proceeded to tell me the solution that she had figured out after only a few minutes and no hints. My ego is still recovering.
This past Friday a friend of mine, Harold Rosas, very unexpecctedly passed away. I'm not sure how long I've known him...I'd say at least six years. One of my fondest memories with him was a trip down to L.A. with Harold, Glen, John Pack, Mikey G, Smooth Al Reyes, and Big Black. We stayed at the "Holy Tabernacle Church of God" in Inglewood, the ghetto of the ghetto. Harold was suitably freaked out by it. But it was a fun trip - and we had a good time singing Tom Petty together in the car.
When someone passes away various trite things come to mind to say so I'll avoid them. I'll just say that although I didn't see Harold all the time - the last time I saw him was a couple months ago when he was making Mexican hot chocolate at my house - I will miss him. He was a great guy to have around and have in your life. I will definitely say I learned a lot of things from him. Not so much informational things but more things on living life and how to go about things.
What sticks out most to me is the fact that upon Harold's passing I know a lot of different people were affected. Lots of different kinds of people, too. Harold reached out to people that I would feel uncomfortable around and was bold and confident in ways I hope to be one day. He had a pretty dark sense of humor in many ways but more than once I was surprised by his sensitivity and tender heart for other people, especially wounded people. Anyway there's lots to say about him so I won't bother trying to capture it all. I hesitated writing a post for a few days because I figured I should write something suitably poetic or whatever, but I don't suppose I could write something that would be adequate so I figured I'd write something rather than nothing.
I came across a good quote this morning:
"One of the new challenges for our generation is the impact of technology on our spirituality. This warrants serious consideration. If we are not careful, technology has a way of compromising our ability to be present to ourselves, to God and to each other- all of which are fundamental elements of the spiritual life. I don't know about you, but I am sad when I have set aside time to be with friends and, because a cell phone is left on, we are at the mercy of all manner of intrusion. We think nothing of taking phone calls in the middle of meetings, restaurants and family gatherings. I am disturbed by my own compulsion to check email late at night and first thing in the morning. When left unchecked, this lack of discipline imperceptibly robs me of rest in the evening and silent presence to God in the morning. I can become exhausted by the intrusion of the media and technology into every corner of my life, resulting in constant overstimulation of body, mind and emotions. All of this convenience wears me out!
Exhaustion sets in when we are accessible too much of the time. A soul-numbing sadness comes when we realize that a certain quality of life and quality of presence is slipping away as a result of too much "convenience." Breaks in the day that used to be small windows of replenishment for body and soul- like driving in a car, going for a walk, having lunch with a friend- are now filled with noise, interruption and multi-tasking. What feels like being available and accessible is really a boundaryless existence that offers no protection for those things that are most precious to us.
...No wonder we feel disconnected from God: we are rarely able to give Him our full attention in solitude and silence. Thoughtful reflection is constantly sabotaged by the intrusion of cell phones, pagers and e-mail messages. No wonder our human relationships are so unsatisfying as they get reduced to snippets of interrupted, disembodied phone conversation. What feels like convenience is actually robbing us of those things we value most. We are left with bits and pieces of everything rather than experiencing the full substance of anything."
- Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
There's a lot of talk right now, as Barry Bonds approaches the home run record, as to whether or not his record should be asterisked. Bud Selig, the much maligned commissioner of baseball, has expressed uncertainty as to whether or not he'll be present for Barry breaking Hank Aaron's record. In a situation where people might generally be celebrating Barry's offensive awesomeness pretty much everybody except Giants fans are bemoaning Barry's march to 755. I just wanted to go on record with my opinion in the matter, because I know you have all been wondering where the incredibly important Jackson Perdue weighs in here.
It seems pretty clear (no pun intended) to me that Barry used some performance enhancing substances that any sane person would consider cheating. It also seems pretty clear to me that he is by no means the only player to have done so, and I have no doubt there were countless players using steroids over the last 10+ years. But because Barry is the most successful he's the one absorbing the hatred of the baseball community, despite never having tested positive. If Barry didn't have the talent no amount of steroids would have taken him to this point. I'm sure they played a role in his game, but in a steroid-filled era we're stuck with what we're stuck with. Pretending he's the only steroid user and crucifying him over this, despite the fact that he is a reputed jerk, is dumb. He's going to break the record, and he cheated. He hasn't cheated more than bunches of other less successful players.
So I think he should be celebrated for what he's done once he breaks the record, but we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking he did it au natural. Sure he used steroids to do it, but so did some large percentage of players and they aren't even sniffing his numbers. So stop playing the moral outrage game - baseball isn't some pure sport and it hasn't been for a long time. A-Rod is going to be breaking Barry's record in a few years anyway.
Man, the A's are really sucking lately. Today makes seven losses in a row. They're totally wasting an awesome year of great starting pitching with a worse than anemic offense. I expect to see Beane trading for some young bats before the deadline. I'm just about ready to write this year off. There's no way we're catching the Angels and I'm not terribly hopeful about the Wild Card. It's too bad, really. If you're leading the Major Leagues in team ERA you should have something to show for it.
Janelle and I took Belle to get some pictures a couple days ago. She's 9 months old now and doing well. Just got over her first fever and sickness, has started crawling and pulling herself up to standing on things. These pictures are of Belle wearing a dress that Janelle and all here sisters had baby pictures taken in, so Belle is continuing the Cornelio girl tradition there. Enjoy these pictures:
Just a quick update here from Utah. We're here at some timeshare resort thing about 90 minutes from Salt Lake City. The weather has been pretty good - and hot. This is my first time meeting many of the people on Janelle's mom's side of the family, and I'm "re-meeting" a number of them who I only barely remember from the wedding (almost three years ago!). The first couple nights Belle was still really sick, she stayed up crying. Her appetite hasn't been great, but last night was the best so far and it seems her fever is just about gone. The first couple days weren't too relaxing...but it's nice to be away regardless.
I have to preach this weekend so I sort of have that hanging over my head, but I'm doing my best to not think about it. I have the rough draft written and I'll just go over it and practice once Saturday. It's on the shorter side so at least if it's not that great Saturday it'll be shorter, and I'll be able to tweak it for Sunday morning.
A few of the men in the family are currently on a bit of a Go kick. I haven't really played it since Schlichter got into it however many years ago. It's pretty fun, as I remember, but I'm not as good as I used to be. Not that I was that great...but I got my butt severely kicked yesterday worse than I ever lost to Kevin.
I was also introduced to a site that does a good job of introducing you to the basics of Go, it takes you through a lot of the ideas and gives you great practice, etc. If you want to learn Go, check this site out - The Interactive Way To Go. In fact I encourage you to go check it out and then play Go with me.
You probably don't know who Ron Paul is, but he's a Republican from Texas running for President. I've been observing the race so far and it took me a while to decide who I wanted to support during the Primaries. As seems to be my fate (I liked McCain in 2000) I have found I am most impressed by an underdog. Ron Paul is, in my opinion, the man. Since I know you won't read a long essay about him (and also since I don't want to write a long essay about him) here are some of the reasons I like the cut of Ron Paul's jib:
- He speaks like a normal human - he sounds genuine and not rehearsed. It appears he speaks from his heart and gut. Too many people running for President come off like stuffed shirts.
- Ron was the only Republican who said it would be wrong for the U.S. to pre-emptively nuke another country.
- He wants to reduce the size of the Federal Government. Yes, we've heard that before but I'm pretty sure he means it. He wants to do away with the IRS, Dept of Education, etc. Ron think the Government has way overstepped its bounds and become too controlling.
- He wants to get rid of the income tax. Ron thinks the Government can have enough money to do what it needs to do without an income tax.
- He puts his money where his mouth is - Ron Paul does not participate in Congress' pension program and has never voted to raise congressional pay.
- He's concerned about Personal Privacy and voted against the Patriot Act.
- He votes against regulating (and taxing) the Internet.
- He wants to end the War on Drugs.
- He is Pro-Life.
- He is pretty non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy.
- He wants the U.S. to not get involved with or start wars unless it's absolutely necessary. Of course "necessary" is up for debate, but still.
- He wants to spread Democracy around the world but realizes that cannot be done through guns. It can be done by us being a thriving Democracy that people once again admire around the world.
- As best I can tell, he has never strapped his dog to the roof of his car and driven around.
In some of the above cases I know there is no way in the world his goals can be achieved (eliminate the IRS?). And as with anybody I don't fully agree with every one of his positions. But I want a President who thinks this way. He doesn't just tow the party line. He also has about a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Republican nomination since he's currently polling somewhere in the vicinity of 3%. I have also lost much faith in our Government and think it's more about appeasing lobbyists and the friends of politicians than it is doing what's best for the people. I also am currently powerless to do anything to help him in the California Primary because I'm a registered Independent. I usually look at politicians and roll my eyes. Guys like Ron Paul give me hope that maybe something can change.
I think that while Paul will not win President in 2008, the increasing popularity of candidates like him - gives me hope that at some point in my life we'll see some sort of positive change.
Check out Ron Paul's website. I recommend looking at the videos, where you can see him interviewed on various shows and clips of him at the debates. Also take a look at the "Issues" section. So until I can support him no more, I support Ron Paul for President.
You may have heard of Kobayashi, the inhuman eating machine from Japan. He's dominated the World Hot Dog Eating Championship for years now but it looks like his reign of terror may be at an end:
Takeru "Tsunami'' Kobayashi said he can only open his mouth to make a gap the size of a fingertip after being diagnosed with jaw arthritis.
In an entry on his blog entitled "Occupational hazard,'' Kobayashi said: "My jaw refused to fight any more.''
It is truly a sad day. This man's titanic struggle against insolent hot dogs is no more. It's a lesson to all of us: don't take your talents for granted. Live it up while you have a chance, because the day may come when your mouth will only open to the size of a fingertip. Your jaw may refuse to fight.
Something terrible happened last night as Janelle and I prepared for bed. I could hear Janelle squeak with fear in the bedroom and I knew she'd spotted a spider. I went in to check it out and there was in fact a quite large, healthy-looking spider directly above our bed, sitting there in the corner of the ceiling. Our bed's headboard is up against the wall, and the spider was right above it, centered quite nicely between our pillows.
Because this was a particularly large spider I went and got two paper towels to kill it. With my fear level on the rise I knew I had to act fast or I'd end up staring at the spider and getting all worked up. So as I approached the bedroom I picked up speed, stepped straight up onto the bed and went right for the spider with the paper towels. Then the unthinkable happened.
As if anticipating my strike, the spider detached himself from the ceiling and dropped down onto our bed. After the requisite jumping away and shrieking we set about trying to find out just where this very large spider ended up. After about ten minutes of shaking out our bedding and looking all around we realized that we were not going to find the spider. So we had to go to bed, knowing there was a big spider somewhere very close. Man that sucked.
Today I get to go to the dentist to have one of my root canals redone. The tooth has remained sensitive and whatnot; the guy looked at it to see what was wrong but couldn't determine exactly why I could still feel pain in the tooth. So today I'm going in and he's going to redo the root canal. And I get to pay a couple hundred more bucks for the pleasure. I hope he figures out what da prollum is, because while sitting in a reclining chair is cool, doing so with a rubber dam shoved in your mouth while someone scrapes the inside of your teeth kinda blows.
Paris Hilton got a DUI a while ago and was placed on 36 months of probation and had her license suspended. After being pulled over twice while driving with a suspended license she was sentenced to 43 days in jail. After spending 3 days in jail she had a doctor come and say she has a condition that prevents her from being in jail, so the Sheriff sent her home to serve the rest of her sentence under house arrest. Today she was sent back to jail, crying and screaming about how it isn't fair.
It appears to me that the psychological condition she may or may not have was brought on more by a privileged upbringing than anything else. Her life has been incredibly different than the lives of 99.9% of the rest of us. It's not her fault she was born into it and it's quite likely she's been surrounded by people pampering her and telling her that the rules don't apply to her. It's no surprise that she'd then react this way when she's shown that the rules do apply to her. I also think of Lindsey Lohan. After her latest problems her mother appears to be trying to make money from the whole thing and her dad is passing her messages through the press. It's popular to hate on these privileged people who come off as completely self-absorbed, narcissistic, ignorant and entitled - but the more I see this stuff the more I kind of feel sorry for them. They are a testament to the emptiness of money and fame and beauty if they aren't accompanied by a real point to being alive. And I hate to blame the parents...but I blame the parents. And society, and the press, and the system. I really wish I could see what will be written about this time period in history books 100 years from now.
Sunday night Janelle and I went out for dinner and a date. As we were driving away, leaving Belle in my Dad's capable hands, I realized it was only the second time since Belle had been born that we had some time in the evening with just the two of us. It was nice. We went to the Salang Pass restaurant, an Afghan place in Little Kabul (Centerville area on Fremont Blvd, for those of you not in the know). There's nothing to distinguish it from its surroundings - in fact, even looking for it we drove past it one time. It was a great dining experience, though.
Most of you who know me know that I am a somewhat finicky eater. I enjoy some non-standard things but in most cases I have a pretty particular white-boy palate. I generally don't like weird stuff. I'd been to an Afghan restaurant once and was a little put off by it but heard lots of good things about Salang Pass so I decided to give it a whirl. Any of you looking for a place to go eat that isn't like the usual chain stuff, check out Salang Pass. We ordered Bolani (thin bread with potatoes and leeks and some good spices inside), Borani (pumpkin with spices, really really good) and Mantoo (sounds like a Star Wars planet but is actually some kind of ground beef and pasta dish - I was less fond of this because of the yogurt sauce). I'm looking forward to heading back there to try out some of the other stuff like the Tandoori chicken and some of the curries.
They have a cool seating area where you sit low to the ground, on pillows and stuff - that's where we sat and it was a neat little change. Anyway, check it out. We are in Fremont, we have a lot of internationals and legitimate ethnic cuisine; may as well take advantage.
The other day I finished reading The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture by N.T. Wright. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's fairly short, coming in around 120 pages, but Wright is able to communicate a lot in that time. He goes through a quick history of how "authority of scripture" has been used and understood. There are chapters on "Scripture and Jesus," "the 'Word of God' in the Apostolic Church," The Enlightenment, and so on.
There's a lot of argument about how we are to understand and figure out what the Bible has to say, and what we're to do about it (in the Christian and non-Christian communities). In my experience many of the criticisms of the Bible, and many of the seemingly stupid opinions Christians have, are largely attributable to a misunderstanding of what the Bible is in the first place. We misunderstand what it is and then we misunderstand how to get information from it or what it's trying to say - then we make it say things it doesn't say and criticize it for things it doesn't say because we think it says those things. (Got that?)
Several worthwhile quotes present themselves in the book, but I'll just put one or two down here that I found helpful and that characterize some of his points in the book.
Here we have the roots of a fully Christian theology of scriptural authority: planted firmly in the soil of the missionary community, confronting the powers of the world with the news of the Kingdom of God, refreshed and invigorated by the Spirit, growing particularly through the preaching and teaching of the apostles, and bearing fruit in the transformation of human lives as the start of God's project to put the whole cosmos to rights. (p. 50)
The above quote comes from Wright discussing the use of scripture in the Early Church. The Bible is more than just an encyclopedia of religious factoids - it's one of the ways God has decided to work in the world and through people.
Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion. It is no longer "authoritative" in any strict sense; that is, it may be cited as though in "proof" of some point or other, but it is not leading the way, energizing the church with the fresh breath of God himself. The question must always be asked, whether scripture is being used to serve and existing theology or vice versa. (p. 70)
Here Wright discusses how it's important for us to try to find the message within the Bible instead of putting our own meaning onto it. If God has used the Bible to speak, then what's important is hearing the message, not inventing it. There is a definite message in there to be found. Our method of discerning the message is what often leads to conflict. I like Wright's suggestions in this area. Historically Christians have put the sources of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience at odds. We say "my tradition values scripture, while this other tradition values reason." It's a way of considering what our final authority will be - is our authority scripture or is it reason? I think Wright has good stuff to say about how to move past that often unhelpful model:
To change the picture, scripture, tradition, and reason are not like three different bookshelves, each of which can be ransacked for answers to key questions. Rather, scripture is the bookshelf; tradition is the memory of what people in the house have read and understood (or perhaps misunderstood) from that shelf; and reason is the set of spectacles that people wear in order to make sense of what they read - though, worryingly, the spectacles have varied over time, and there are signs that some readers, using the "reason" available to them, have severely distorted the texts they were reading. 'Experience' is something different again, referring to the effect on readers of what they read, and/or the worldview, the life experience, the political circumstances, and so on, within which that reading takes place. (p. 101-102)
This post has already gone on too long. Suffice it to say if you want to consider some more mature ways of looking at what the Bible has to say or if you're at all interested in the current discourse on Biblical interpretation, I suggest you take a look at this book. Whether you think the Bible is the Word of God or you think it's a book of fairy tales, this is a way to seriously interact with some of the more thoughtful ways Christians are looking at the Bible. I think it's useful for either group.
Sometimes I post on here out of desperation or frustration to complain about how Belle isn't sleeping or something like that. But for the past five or so days with very little exception she's been in a great mood. She's so awesome. Inquisitive, nosy, happy, smiley, playful, squirmy, drooly...adorable as adorable can be. Sometimes it's difficult on Thursdays or Saturdays when I watch her during the day and Janelle is at work - but not today. Belle is being an absolute pleasure. She's even taken two long naps...one for three hours and the other for two. I want her to wake up so I can play with her instead of wanting her to go to sleep so I can get a break from her. Good stuff.
I mentioned in my last post that there were some things I wanted to get done this summer. Ricky asked in the comments section what those things were, and instead of putting it in the comments section I figured I'd do another quick post about it. What are some things I want to do or get done this summer?
- I want to get back into a regular routine of exercise and eating well. It's been difficult with Belle but I think I've realized it won't get any easier but I will continue to get fatter. Belle continues to not sleep at night but I have to find the ways to incorporate the healthy stuff into my life.
- I want to get into the habit of having a regular date night with Janelle. It's been increasingly difficult for us to spend meaningful time together and the exhausting "baby that won't sleep during the night but will actually kick her feet and cry for two hours so you can't sleep either" makes it difficult to have a good time when we are together. Being as Belle is almost 8 months old (holy crap) we will begin to get over our paranoia and let my Dad and possibly some others babysit Belle so we can go on date nights.
- I want to get on the wagon with my organizational situation. It's hard for me to keep track of the various moving parts of my life and sometimes I feel like I don't know where to start. Recently I've picked up ZuluPad (a personal wiki) and have been more active about making sure I'm doing the GTD thing. At the end of the summer I want to look back knowing I "got things done" and did it well. I want to have a few consecutive months of great time and energy management under my belt.
Of course there's more to be done but I think focusing on the above three should be good. They are all three significant changes to my routine and the usual way I go about doing things, and if I can see those things change over the next few months that would be great.
Today I am subbing at Irvington High, Janelle's alma mater. Last week you may remember me complaining about having to show Michael Moore's manipulative propaganda. Right now I'm sitting in a science class watching The Day After Tomorrow. At least some of the kids are playing PSP instead of watching.
Today I'm subbing at Mission San Jose High School and my job today is to show videos to my classes. Two classes will watch Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and the rest will watch Bowling for Columbine. These "documentaries" are little more than lame propaganda. The students are watching them and taking it all in. They say the teacher is having them watch it to learn about good documentaries.
Before starting the DVD I told the kids they need to think for themselves and not just believe whatever they see or hear or read. It made me feel a little better but I'm not really sure they're going to take it to heart. It's much more likely they'll hear Michael Moore's idiocy and take that to heart. We need to train our kids how to think, not just tell them what to think. That's not happening here.
This is your life. What are you doing with it?
All of a sudden this obnoxious little brother who runs into his sophomore big sister's room to turn off her stereo is the uncle of a high school sophomore trying to convince her boys are evil.
All of a sudden this kid learning how to dance form his mom because he got invited to his first boy/girl party in 5th grade is warning his 5th grade nephew to beware of girls.
All of a sudden this dorky Jr. High kid who brought his video game manuals to school and lived for his Super Nintendo is encouraging Jr. High kids to love Jesus and do the right thing.
All of a sudden this child who can't stand it when his Dad wants to stop at historical landmarks can't wait to expose his own kids to the joys of a vacation based on stopping at historical landmarks.
All of a sudden this incredibly depressed and lonely High School Freshman is struggling to think of ways to console a sobbing High School Freshman who was just dumped by his girlfriend.
All of a sudden this kid who wanted to be a published author before he left high school is approaching 30 struggling to figure out what he should write.
All of a sudden this Sophomore convinced of his genius and wearing shirts quoting Shakespeare plays he's never read is wishing Sophomores would get a grip on themselves.
All of a sudden this Junior scared to drive his Dad's stick shift truck in the deserted parts of town is buckling his daughter into her carseat in his station wagon.
All of a sudden this High School Senior wondering if he was raised believing in a fairy tale is talking to High School seniors about making sure they don't wake up one day believing in a fairy tale.
All of a sudden this college guy surveying every room he enters for his future wife while wondering if any woman could ever love him is married to a woman better than he ever could have imagined.
All of a sudden this overweight college sophomore eager to lose weight before his metabolism slows down is an overweight graduate student wondering if it's too late.
All of a sudden a newly learned instrument becomes a neglected hobby.
All of a sudden a reconnection with a friend becomes just another lost connection with a friend.
All of a sudden an exciting new restaurant becomes just another on a long list of places you'd rather not eat at again.
All of a sudden potential becomes wasted opportunity.
All of a sudden strangers become friends you don't hang out with enough anymore.
All of a sudden a wasted hour becomes a wasted day.
All of a sudden "one of these days I'm gonna" becomes "why did I never do that?"
All of a sudden "I don't want to call my Dad today" will become "I wish I could call my Dad today."
All of a sudden, stuff happens.
All of a sudden a blog post you think should be brilliant becomes a bloated, meandering mess.
These are our lives. What are we doing with them?
Last week I got a letter in the mail from the school district informing me that due to my lack of subbing I would be terminated. Being someone who greatly enjoys making money for very little actual work, this spurred me into action. It's tough in the mornings with Belle - subbing basically means more pressure is put on Janelle to get Belle ready and to the babysitter (grandma) before she has to get to work. But now that Belle is 7 months old we're a little more in the swing of things and so I figured I'd do some subbing before the end of the school year and hope it's enough to keep me on the rolls for the future.
So right now I'm sitting in a Spanish class at Washington High. That's the glory of subbing - you can know next to nothing about the subject and do just about nothing and still make money. Some days you do earn that money and are just about ready to jump out of a window by the end...but I've found that most of the time it's no sweat.
In fact just now, observing me, a student said to her peers: "Man, being a sub is like the easiest job in the world. It's like babysitting."
Word. Here's to a college education.
Belle has been sick a bit recently. Nothing major, just sniffly and cough sort of stuff. It makes it more difficult for her (and by extension us) to sleep. For a while she was doing pretty well with the whole "sleeping in her crib in her own room" thing but when she got sick it sort of went out the window. She'd wake up coughing like she was going to hack up a lung, then she'd start crying because she felt miserable. Because of that we started to get lax with her sleeping habits.
Even with naps we would hold Belle until she fell asleep, and sometimes rock her to sleep. When it came time for her to go down I would put her into her crib and hope she didn't wake up. If she did, she'd realize what was going on (I would no longer be holding her) and she'd start crying. Not wanting that to happen, I'd pick her back up (which would bring an immediate halt to the crying) until she fell asleep and try again. Sometimes she'd stay asleep a while, other times not so much. At night it became a regular occurrence for us to bring her into our bed. That was cool in some ways (she is very cute) but other times it would make sleeping harder.
Belle would sleep between Janelle and I. If she woke up that meant she had two readily accessible toys - our faces. She has a particular affinity for grabbing my beard and pulling on it as hard as possible (which is quite hard...seven month old babies are stronger than you think). She'd also grab our necks or cheeks or lips and squeeze. This was disruptive to our sleeping patterns to say the least. But at least we didn't have to get up and put her binky in in the middle of the night. We didn't realize it but Belle had assumed control of the sleeping patterns in our house. This past Saturday was my breaking point, after weeks of zombie-ness.
Due to her lack of regular naps and irregular night sleep schedule Belle had been fussy all day (for a few days). She wouldn't sleep but the time she was awake she'd be irritable and impossible to please. And I checked, that' s not just because she's a girl. I was watching Belle alone and after one of those put-you-down-and-hope-you-don't-wake-but-oh-crap-you-did-and-now-we-start-again sessions I decided that she just needed to sleep. So when she started crying I left the room and let her cry. She cried for about a half-hour before falling asleep. It was tough but I knew she needed rest and wasn't getting it. She slept for about 30 minutes and woke up in the best mood she'd been in all day.
Saturday night I convinced Janelle it was time to lay the law down with Belle, who had somehow become 7 months old. I figured we needed to get in the routine now of Belle being able to put herself to sleep so as she got older we wouldn't have to do all these weird things to get her to sleep, and also so she wouldn't be sleeping in our bed. The last couple days have been a little tough due to hearing her cry, but she's crying less and less each time, and getting more and more rest. The result is a more pleasant baby and also more pleasant parents.
My experience as a parent so far has been that just when we think we're got something down, or just when we think we're in a rhythm, something happens to screw it up. So we'll see. Belle should be teething more soon...we'll see how that impacts the sleeping. Anyway.
I will no longer watch more than one period of a Sharks game. It seems that when I do, they blow it. So until they have at least moved past the Red Wings I'm going to refrain from cursing them any further. Seriously...a goal in the last minute of both the second and third periods? What the heck.
Continuing my short tour of websites I like - I hereby suggest Yelp to you. It's a site where people review local businesses of all kinds. If you want to find some places you may not have heard of to go for dinner or a place to find a good crepe, go no further than Yelp. If you like a place and it hasn't been reviewed there, you can add it and review it yourself. Just hop over and check it out and you'll see why it's useful. Add me as a friend while you're there, if you want.
Pinger is a website/service that I was recently made aware of. Basically it's a service you sign up for that lets you send people voicemails. You call the number they give you and say who you want to leave a message for. Then you record a message and your recipient gets a text message letting them know they have a pinger message. They are then able to call and check the message.
I like this because sometimes there are times I want to call somebody to let them know something, but I don't really want to or have the time to have a conversation. I haven't yet decided if this Pinger thing is a good idea. It's more personal than a text message but possibly less convenient and definitely less personal than an actual phone call where I "risk" having to talk to the person. So if you get some text saying you have a Pinger message, you know what it is.
First - yes, the A's had a crap game yesterday. I blame Bobby Crosby. He needs to deliver this season or the fans will definitely be calling for his head. I imagine if he has a subpar season, by the All-Star break we may be hearing some rumblings.
Curt Schilling had a crappy game yesterday too - I think he was somewhere around 70 pitches before the second inning ended. He blogged about his outing here. If you're a baseball fan you may enjoy reading Curt's blog. During Spring Training he put up a lot of posts answering different questions, etc. He writes pretty well and it's pretty cool to be able to read the opinions/thoughts of a baseball pro (a great one no less) from the inside.
Today is the day every baseball fan thinks their team has a chance. Today the sun shines a little brighter, the birds sing a little clearer, and the sky looks a little...bluer. I love baseball season and I'm so glad it's back. The A's begin their defense of the AL West crown today against a team they completely dominated (17-2) last year. Let's hope the Mariners don't make up for lost time this season.
Today Danny Haren faces "the King" Felix Hernandez. I'm up at school today but you can rest assured that on my break I will find my way into some Mill Valley sports venue (should such a place exist) to watch my beloved green and gold take the field.
This season I am hoping to see Travis Buck deliver on the hype, watch Harden stay healthy all season, and see Nick Swisher turn into a bonafide supahstar.
Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities is a readable theology book by Roger Olson meant to set the record straight on Arminianism. It is not so much a defense of Arminianism meant to persuade people to become Arminians. His intention is to clarify what Arminianism actually is, on issues like the sinfulnes of man, predestination, God's grace, soteriology, and so forth. If those words mean nothing to you, you will find this book pretty boring. Anyway - if you're interested in the whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism thing, or want to learn more about it, I highly suggest you read this book. It is quite popular for people on both sides to caricature the other, and this book will give you a clear presentation of what Arminianism is.
I was surprised to read much of what I did, given the fact that much of what I had learned about Arminianism up to this point was from people quite hostile to it. For example, before reading this book I assumed that all Arminians belived it was possible to lose your salvation if you didn't continue to do good works. Many people, especially on the internet, like to equate Arminianism to heresy or Pelagianism. This book does much to clear up such mischaracterizations of Arminianism and display its legitimate evangelical and even Reformed roots. I hope more and more people on both sides are able to read it and become better educated on what Arminianism is. Even if you disagree with it, it is important to read a declaration of Arminian Theology from an unapologetic, well-educated, well-informed, and irenic Arminian. That way you can be sure you are actually disagreeing with Arminianism rather than condemning people for believing something you don't understand.
Still, some people see fit to criticize 300 because of its lack of historical accuracy or deep dialogue. One review, which I have forgotten the location of, actually suggested there was some racist overtones in the fact that the Greeks are white and the Persians (badguys) are brown and black. Please, people. Can we just enjoy a mindless/dramatic action movie for what it is and not be pompous and demand complete historical accuracy from our entertainment? Seriously, some critics need to get a grip on themselves. If a movie doesn't claim to be historically accurate then we can't criticize it for not being so. If people are dumb enough to accept it as history it's not the fault of the story, it's the fault of the people. And calling the movie racist? Critics are some of the most self-righteous, self-important, snobby people. So often I read reviews that rather are laments about how the movie wasn't good enough for the magnificent critic. And I'm a history buff, I love history, I was a history major. I can still appreciate a movie like this for what it is.
Anyway, for what it is, I think 300 was pretty sweet.
The weather in the Bay Area has been pretty great the last few days. The sky is blue, the sun is out, and the hills are green. The hills around Fremont are gorgeous during the last bit of winter and most of spring. The rain keeps them a verdant green. I've never been to Ireland, but a friend of mine who has says that Niles Canyon in the spring is as beautiful as anything he saw on the Emerald Isle.
Belle is still too young to really know what's going on around her or even what she's seeing. She's five months old as of yesterday and has just recently started to become very aware of her world. She tracks objects really well, cranes around (in often hilarious ways) to see things she's curious about, and wants to touch everything (subsequently placing it in her mouth for further inspection). The last week or so she's had some sort of cold and the last couple of days she's been quite grumpy and had an especially hard time sleeping, which is out of character for her. So far the thing that's worked the best to mollify her when she's upset is taking her outside. Her little eyes get incredibly wide as she is taken into the outside world; she begins to coo and giggle at everything, even the wasteland we call a front yard.
This is one of the best things about being a father so far. Belle finds wonder in the most mundane things. Her eyes light up when she sees the juniper bushes in front of our house. I'm not a big fan of those bushes. To me they are a haven for spiders and other such undesirable things. Belle looks at the world around her and marvels at trees and dirt and bushes and lawns and cars and bricks on the sidewalk. It brings me a particular sort of joy to see the way she reacts when Belle looks around at these things for the first time.
She doesn't see a tree as a plant sucking up water from the soil, processing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. To her it is something entirely different, something mysterious, wonderful, and impossibly huge. To her a dandelion isn't a weed - it's a bright attractive yellow splash on an otherwise uniform ground. Seeing the wonder and joy in her eyes as she observers her world is amazing. It makes me want to show her so much, to take her so many places, just so she can see and experience new things. It's a partially selfish desire - because my heart warms up every time she lets out a squeal of delight upon seeing something I'd consider mundane.
Being a dad is pretty great. I've said it before, but it is both the most difficult and most joyful thing I've ever been a part of. Even with the lack of sleep, added stress and complication to my life and marriage - I'd rather be Belle's father than have a simpler life. I can't imagine myself as not being Belle's dad. It makes life harder, but it makes life better. I am a special kind of blessed to be the father of a beautiful little girl and the husband of an incomparably fantastic woman.
Here are a couple things you might want to read on this topic, which I think will get some buzz in the coming months:
The Discovery Channel Site
The Internet Monk's post on this - he keeps updating it and adding resources. Go there.
A Jerusalem Post story with the following quote:
But Bar-Ilan University Prof. Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem District archeologist who officially oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980 and has published detailed findings on its contents, on Saturday night dismissed the claims. “It makes a great story for a TV film,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But it’s impossible. It’s nonsense.”An NT Wright page on evidence for the resurrection. He doesn't claim it's enough to convince every skeptic that the resurrection must have occurred. But he does make a good, effective, historical case for the essential portions of the resurrection account. Worth looking at.
Kloner, who said he was interviewed for the new film but has not seen it, said the names found on the ossuaries were common, and the fact that such apparently resonant names had been found together was of no significance. He added that “Jesus son of Joseph” inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries over the years.
“There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb,” Kloner said. “They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE.”
HT: imonk, BHT
Pardon my whining.
I read today that a 17 year-old student who collapsed in his P.E. class and was on life support for four days all of a sudden had his heart start beating again. It hadn't been beating for four days and it started up out of nowhere. One of the doctors at the hospital called it a "miracle."
This is, of course, a pretty amazing happening. There is no particular reason the boy's heart should have started up again. It was stopped and he was being kept alive via life support. The doctor's didn't do anything to get it going again - it just started beating. To some, this is a miracle and some sort of divine intervention. To others, it's a random occurrence and it's stupid to declare it an act of God.
Sometimes I am asked why God doesn't do stuff like He did in the Old Testament (or even the New Testament). There we see things like miraculous healings, pillars of fire, gigantic plagues, and so forth. All sorts of incredible things going on. Some skeptics even go so far as to say if God were to show Himself to them, they'd believe. But because they have no good reason to believe there's a God they don't.
My response to the question generally has two parts. One, assuming that Old Testament times were some sort of miracle-wonderland is a mistake. If you consider the scope of history, the events recorded in the Bible span a very short period of time. Not only that, it is generally considered a record of God's involvement with the world. Naturally it would have a lot of acts of God in its pages. But it doesn't necessarily bother having pages and pages of "nothing that special happened today." So of course the Bible is replete with acts of God - that's the point of it. That doesn't mean that in bible times the Middle East was a land of magic and dragons.
Second, I think God tends to act in ways that will say something to the people at hand. The aftermath of this boy's heart "reboot" is a perfect example. This is a pretty incredible thing. It's not supposed to happen and there's no good explanation for why it did. To some this is proof of God and to others it isn't. I tend to think any sort of "miracle" God did to prove Himself to a particular kind of person would always meet with skepticism. If you're committed to a naturalistic worldview then everything will happen via natural means. Even "unexplainable" events cannot be considered evidence of the supernatural - the naturalist is more comfortable saying "things just happen sometimes" or "I'm sure there's an explanation for this."
As an aside, I do think it's just as silly for a theist to say "we can't explain it, so it must be God!" And I tend to be on the skeptical side when people say God did things.
My whole point here is this - and it's nothing particularly new or profound - but to some, no evidence could ever be enough to suggest there is such a thing as God. Now, some people don't require any evidence at all (which I believe is a foolish way to go about things). But to demand God perform miracles or expect them is, in my view, a bit of a copout when it comes to reasons to be an atheist. You'll probably find another way to explain it anyway. Also, I do think God still does miracles. But I think He saves them for the people with whom they will actually have an impact. And I think we are probably surrounded by miraculous occurrences every day that we have no idea about. I just don't feel comfortable identifying them.
I'm not sure if you've heard, but some relatively big stuff went down in Boston the last couple of days. Basically a PR firm hired some people to put together a viral marketing campaign in some major US cities, Boston among them. The campaign was for a cartoon called Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and the guys went around hanging lite-brite version of the mooninites (pictured here) around the city. Some city officials mistook these things for potential bombs and the city of Boston was practically shut down for a day as city officials sought out and actually detonated many of these devices. Two guys were arrested for this and it's a big part of the cable news networks right now, talking about these guys. I have a couple quick thoughts on this.
First, it's very funny seeing stuffy news anchors say "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Watching some of the news coverage is almost surreal. It's like a clash of two cultures. At the news conference, the "suspects" only talked about 70's hairstyles. The press doesn't know what to do with them, and is calling them "goofballs" and "stoners." Both of those things may be true, but how can they not see the real story here is the overreaction of the Boston officials and the completely different climate we're living in today?
Second, the city of Boston is completely overreacting. They are prosecuting these guys and saying they intended to cause fear. It's ridiculous that these guys would be brought up on charges. Who can't recognize a freakin' lite-brite? Yes, a lot of city resources were wasted, but the city has nobody to blame other than themselves.
Third, the "terrists" have won. To think people would be prosecuted about something like this happening - it's a sign of the stupidly litigious nature of our culture and the "we don't want it to be our fault" atmosphere. I know we need to operate a little differently in this post 9/11 world, but this is out of control. If stoner geeks can't hang lite-brites of cartoon characters in major cities without causing a ruckus and being prosecuted, what has this nation come to?
I remember a guy I go to Seminary with telling me that you consider your newborn adorable but then when some time passes and you see the pictures, they sort of resemble lizards. Now, I think Belle was a particularly adorable newborn, but there is some semblance of truth to what this man told me.
Check out this article. Basically it's about a kid who screwed up in high school, and as a 17 year-old senior engaged in some sexual activity with a 15 year-old sophomore. Because of that he has been sentenced to ten years in prison. I am not saying anything about how good this kid is - he obviously made several mistakes, of which this is just one. Apparently he was a promising athlete being recruited by numerous football programs. He had (has?) a chance to become a contributing member of society. Of course we all know that there are plenty of football players out there who exemplify stupidity and poor decision-making - but how in the world is it right that this kid is locked up for ten years? Man.