Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm going camping--no posts this week!

I'm going to beautiful Lake Ozette with my beautiful family.

I'll be back next week.

Meanwhile, try checking out some of the blogs on my blogrolls.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A story for you

Wanted to direct your attention to Arenda's story, which I found beautiful and compelling.

A quote:

The church I’d grown up in was homogenous in its makeup: 99% of its members are caucasian Canadians whose parents or grandparents immigrated from Holland. People didn’t really tell their stories because the stories didn’t vary a whole lot. Or something. I stumbled through the story-telling process and was honest about my mediocre relationship with God and my lack of interest in church. Someone asked me, “Well, why are you bothering to go, then?” That was quite a departure from anything I’d heard before. Even if you didn’t want to go to church, a Canadian Reformer went out of obedience to God (or, quite possibly, out of obedience to one’s parents).

Friday, June 22, 2007

firstborns are smarter!

(sorry Kat!)

A study published today in the journal science found that firstborns have higher intelligence. The study of 240,000 Norwegian men found that firstborns have 2 to 3 points higher IQ's than their younger siblings. Apparently this is related to the way that parents *treat* their firstborns, as men who were second or third born, but whose older siblings died, had IQ's statisticall similar to those of firstborns.

This is really intriguing. It's not genetic. It's environmental. Very kewl (of course is can't be broken down that simply!)

I'm smarter than you are nah nah nah nah nah nah!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

solstice party!

My lovely wife has arranged for a solstice party at our house tonite (thursday). Lots of people are already coming, and you are all invited! if you wanna come and you need details, give me a call.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The poverty draft?

Overall, the Pentagon spends about US$2.5 Billion a year targeting high achieving, low income youth with commercials, video games, personal visits, and slick brochures.

So over the last couple weeks I've been exposed to some Marines recruiting ads on late night television. Usually they are with sound off, so they're slightly less offputting. Here's a little compilation, including one of the ones I've been seeing. I forced myself to watch all 6.5 minutes of this. Can you stomach it?

And here's the reality which our marines and other armed services have brought to Iraq.

So they have to deal with the mental aftermath of *that*, not to mention the *soldies themselves--3500 killed and 26,000 (that's TWENTY SIX THOUSAND) wounded. It's all so glorious, courageous, proud, blah blah blah etc.

God I can't decide whether to be furious, or literally sickened in my gut. I find myself hovering between these two reactions, so generally I turn my eyes away from these recruiting commercials.

Your reaction?

Monday, June 18, 2007

the cosmic censorship hypothesis and naked singularities

I ran across this wiki article today by accident (while looking for the one on technological singularity, which is also fun, which I also ran across by accident some time ago while looking for something else. but here the mad infinite digression stops, because I can't remember the something else any longer). It said this:

In general relativity, the cosmic censorship hypothesis (CCH) is a conjecture about the nature of singularities in spacetime.

Singularities that arise in the solutions of Einstein's equations are typically hidden within event horizons, and therefore cannot be seen from the rest of spacetime. Singularities which are not so hidden are called naked. The weak cosmic censorship hypothesis conjectures that no naked singularities other than the Big Bang singularity exist in the universe.
I have an *extremely* vague idea what this is talking about. How vauge is your idea of what it is talking about? In any case, it strikes me as fun and funny.

Off the Map Live

This year's conference from Off the Map is going to take place November 1 through 3 in Seattle. I highly recommend it. The conference is called Hear Listen Connect,

From CatE:

Hear·Listen·Connect: enter the powerful world of connecting...

  • Our presenters, musicians and artists will teach, provoke and prod us toward
    the spiritual practice of dialog.
  • They’ll move us to protect the sacred relational space even more than
    beliefs or opinions
  • Connect the dots on your spiritual mental maps
  • Connect your private beliefs with your public ones
  • Connect with new ideas and idea makers
  • Hundreds of students from nearby campuses will join us this year
  • Other organizations/ministries are “bolting” their mini conferences onto Off The Map Live so they can share in the excitement
  • You will meet old and new friends AND old and new ideas.
  • Come and travel with us to new places in your spiritual thought life

And Brian Mclaren and Diana Butler Bass are two of the speakers! Very kewl. Click here to learn more and buy tickets.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

OA'ing an evangelist

Jim, April, Helen, and company at Off-the-Map run a website called Ordinary Attempts, in which they tell stories of otherliness. They are thinking "evangelism", but some of us who aren't christians still like the idea of doing free attention giveaways. From their explanation page:

Our culture’s equivalent of a cup of cold water is attention. OAs are free attention giveaways.

God counts, notices and works with our smallest efforts (including praying behind peoples back or even noticing them) to carry people along toward himself.

OA s have been borrowed by others who don’t care about the evangelism but simply want to participate in free attention giveaways and intentional acts of kindness in order to make the world a better place or someone’s day a bit brighter. We welcome this practice as well and don’t see any conflict of interest regardless of what motivates people to OA – it is better than not OAing.
So I got published over there last week with a story of my OA'ing an evangelist. Here it is:

So today I got to OA a fairly strange character named Brother Jed. He was sitting in a chair in red square on the UW campus, or standing near his chair, and in a well projected, well carrying voice he was … preaching, for lack of a better word. Some of the things he was saying sounded kind of nice, like maybe god cared about the smallish groups of students who would stop to listen a while. Other things he was saying were completely off, IMNSHO, like god is gonna send homosexuals and perverts and sinners to hell, and the point of sex within marriage must mainly be procreation, etc. etc.

I sat and listened to students mocking him, or haranguing him, or asking him pointed questions, and him responding in his loudish voice, often with what seemed to me rather outrageous responses. And I wrote him off fairly quickly. “What a quack,” I thought. But after I left, I thought to myself “That must get tiring, and he probably has lots of fascinating stories, and I wonder if he can speak at a normal volume level?” so I went back and sat down to take some notes for a little while with the idea of blogging about it and maybe connecting with him. And then he wrapped up.

So I said “Hey, can I buy you a drink?” and he said “sure”. so I got him a soft drink and we sat down and talked for 20 minutes, at normal volume levels. He preaches like that 5 hours a day on collge and university campuses all over the country all year round, and has been doing thus for 32 years. And he has a wife, and 5 daughters, and one is in the army as a chaplain’s assistant, but not in Iraq. And he used to be a history prof at a university, and then he left to go study under a guru in India, but along the way he got distracted into living in a hippie commune in Morroco.

And one day at the Hippie Commune in Morocco, in the evening, they were watching the sunset and chanting, and he looked behind him and saw the full moon rising as the sun was setting. And he thought “Wow! Someone must have created that”. Which led him to start reading the Bible, become a Christian, give up on India, return to the U.S., and start his 32 year old preaching career.

All that for a simple soft drink and a brief invitation. I was stoked. He seems like a fairly nice guy when he’s not doing the preaching thing.

Another Dave Walker cartoon

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Tell your story" says Barack Obama

This guy is just so freaking kewl. He's managing over time to ... wiggle his way through my wall of cynicism. How the hell does he do that? I mean this is what I think--I want to hear people tell me their story. My cynical side says "No chance in hell this country will have the good sense to elect this guy."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Video

What teachers make.

H/T Helen

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Self Congratulation


Monday, June 11, 2007

No more periods!?!

Apparently the FDA (now there's an organization which is part of a larger organization and both of them have stellar track records, don't they?) has approved a pill which will allow women to terminate having periods altogether. Apparently it only altogehter was a workable deal for about half the women in the studies they did. Apparently it is going to start being for sale next month, in July. Is this good news or bad news? What do you think?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Professional Church Rater?

Today I posted this ad on Craigslist Seattle:

!Pastors!--I will rate (mystery shop) your your church--$50

I am an ex christian with a relatively open mind. I can attend your church
service as an outsider and give you honest, detailed, written feedback on what
it is about your get togethers that is attractive, and what is off putting--kind
of like mystery shoppers write for businesses. If you're interested, email me
and I can send you a couple of reviews which I've done previously, to give you
an idea what you'd be paying for.

It will be interesting to see whether I get any responses.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

half birthdays and my second 16 years

So back on my 32nd birthday (32, by the way is 2 raised to the 5. Which is kind of kewl because most people are never going to reach the next number raised to the fifth, so it's really the only time in your life when you'll be anything to the fifth. but I digress) I posted the negativity avoidant 4 minute version of my first 16 years. So my lovely sister Rachel asked "when do we get the next 16 years?" I'd been planning to do them on my half birthday, may 6, which passed a little over a month ago. Here they are at last.
My second 16 years, the 4 minute version

So when I was 16 years old I was home schooling for high school, and had a pretty mellow schedule. I finished all my high school maths by the end of 10th grade and then had to slog through all the other subjects with no more maths to look forward to. Alas. I was done with 11th grade when I was sixteen, and then I mostly goofed off for a whole year so that I didn't graduate until I was 18. I got lots and lots of boomph from tons of universities all over the nation because of my rather high college placement exam scores, and then I foolishly decided to go off to the $30,000/year Seattle Pacifica University, where I entered the honors program and suddenly found myself surrounded by other people who were as smart as I was, a very unusual experience for me.

So at 19 I was working 40 hours a week at domino's pizza, going to school full time, and commuting 100 round trip miles a day between my parent's house and university (staying on campus would have bumped up the cost to over $40,000/year.). Plus I believed back then that it was a really really bad idea to go into debt for education, so I wouldn't take any loans. All this led to a running out of money, motivation, and energy at about the same time and I dropped out of school.

I worked a series of dead end jobs for a number of years, kind of ... drifting. I was also gradually working my way into rather a lot of trouble, which I didn't realize at the time. I was also increasingly involved in the sect I had been involved in since the age of 12. I helped us transition from hymnals to overhead projection of song lyrics. I had a little voice training from my pastor's wife (who has a music degree) and her daughter (who is quite the vocalist, actually), and I picked up a guitar somewhere and taught myself to play.

I had a terrible awful crush on a girl for the first time, and I never told her--just tried to avoid it somehow. I wrote a few songs. I learned to square dance, and my lovely sister and I used to go to square dances with some other friends. My sister and I became pretty good friends. I became the go-between for my parents and my sister when they couldn't seem to communicate. Everyone thought I was really.... "godly" and maybe even "mature". I got really really good at pretending--two faced--one face for my church friends and family, and one rather lonely and evil face. I both hated myself and thought I was better than other people, all at the same time.

I got involved in political campaigns for right wing republican candidates. I memorized the whole book of proverbs, in the king james translation. I went on fishing trips and hunting trips with guy friends. I learned to speak in public, doing 3 minutes on world missions every Sunday morning at the sect.

I went off on a two year missions trip on MV LOGOS II, and learned to keep watch over big generators and enormous main engines. Every Wednesday morning I cleaned out the sewage filters and Mateus told me that’s what Jesus would do. I visited some 20 countries and met and befriended people from more than 30, and lost my tiny little sectarian worldview without even realizing it, and when I got back I didn’t fit in anymore.

I met and fell in love with a beautiful Australian girl and we wed on a beach in Australia. I got 4 new brothers and 4 new sisters.

I found out that my granddad is a pedophile. I worked as an auto mechanic for 4 years. We had two beautiful daughters. I got into recovery. I got sick of being hurt by churches and stopped going. I integrated my two faces. I became real. I found my no. I started to find my yes. I stopped being a Christian. I went back to university. I came to understand the fundamental theorem of calculus. I started learning how to be otherly. I started blogging. I started listening to people. I started to get over being afraid. I started to move toward being happy.

Names from second 16 years (I could tell stories about all of them). Matt and Karen, and John Z and John Sheunemann, and Peter, and Rachel and Tom and Sam and Seren, and David and Gretta and Meg and Eowyn and Coco and Chad and Shawn and the Thomases and Brandie and James and Stephen and Mike and Tom and Bill and Wendy and Doug and Robin and Dennis and Judy and Danica and Joe and Simon F. and Myles and John Ramey and Simon and Eva and Dirk Jan and Jason and Kathy and Kat and Buddy and Bruce and Ellen and Val and Tiffany and Jake and Andrew and Sammie and Mateus and Andy Juliff and Andy Kiwi and Dileep and Cliff and Tracy Lai and Estafania and Tom and Alex and oh golly I could just go on and on and on but I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by all the story.

Cómo nos enamorábamos (How we fell in love) Iteration 3

So a couple weeks ago I posted my spanish narrative essay about how Megs and I fell in love. Then a bit later I posted the google machine tranlation. Here at last is my own proper translation. I started out trying to just massage google's translation, but that was a bane, and it worked out to be easier to just translate myself. The funny thing is that it still *is* a translation, and it sounds strange to my own ears when I read it in English. I mean it doesn't sound like my writing in English sounds to me. That's a funny feeling, as I've never written in Spanish and then translated before, so I've never realized that this would happen. Kinda kewl actually.

I want to write a story about how we met and how we fell in love--my lovely wife Megan and I. How I was working on board a ship as an engineer, totally (well, more or less totally) happy, without a care in the world. One day, a group of new crew members arrived on the boat, including a certain young lady, tall, blonde, and very pretty. But I didn't notice anything. In fact, as a child I had made a vow that I would never wed, and until that hour, I have never even had a girlfriend. Then one day, I entered the ship's library and encountered two young ladies lounging on the floor reading, including the aforementioned tall blond gorgeous one. I said "Hello. You must be the new ones. My name is Benjamin. And you--what are your names?". That was the beginning of the end of my vow.

At that time, I didn't think anything of import had happened (But see--I still remember it!). I only spoke with them for a couple minutes and then left. I didn't remember the meeting nor think much about it. Much later, we remembered that meeting in the library as our first.

Afterwards (as I remember), the second time we talked was when we and some others were preparing during an afternoon for a party and international celebration--a spectucular do to which some 2000 people came in the evening. We were just talking while we were working--about our families, and our countries, and the government, and so forth. I think that was the time when I started to fall in love with her. But I still didn't understand that that was what was happening.

In fact, I didn't realize, consciously, that I was falling in love until much later--some four months later, more or less. It was in Accra, in Ghana, when I finally started to clue in. During all that time, she knew, I think, ever since that night of the international festival. (I think the fact that she knew, and I didn't, was because guys suffer brain damage in utero, and girls don't, and that's why guys are so emotionally stupid, compared to girls. But that's another story.)

We were in Accra, and a pastor named John Ramey invited us out to a restaurant with some others. He knew that Megan was falling in love with me, because she had confided in him. He also knew, I think, that I was falling in love with her, even though I myself hadn't yet realized that. That night, during dinner, he regaled us with funny and romantic stories, one after the other--all drawn from his many years as a pastor.

Finally after dinner was over, he somehow arranged things so that Megan and I were walking back from the restaurant to the ship (where we lived) more or less alone together. A very strange thing happened. We were walking along and my hand, seemingly of it's own volition, began to inch it's way over as if to take Megan's hand. When I noticed this, I was very surprised. I thought, "My hand, what are you doing? Please keep yourself in your proper place!" This happened two or three times, and finally it began to dawn on me that something very magical was happening--something that I'd not experienced before.

After that night, we were more more or less inseparable. Some months later, we found ourselves head over heels in love during springtime in Italy. A little after that, I asked her to marry me, underneath millions of stars sailing in the Mediterranean, near the Greek isles. Then we were married on a beach in Australia, and now we are living happily ever after (and eating partridges!) =).

Friday, June 08, 2007

stop and hear the music

So a couple months ago I posted about this story, where one of the top violinists in the world played, for a while, some of the greatest music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever played in a busy washington D.C. metro station, incognito, as it were. The question was, would anyone stop and listen? People pay over $100 to hear this guy on this violin in an opera hall or theatre. So I found out recently that the whole thing got videotaped--looks like by a security camera. Here it is. HT to Byron

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

dinner with Barack Obama!

I think this is pretty freaking kewl.

Okay, truth be told, I think Mr. Obama is prett kewl anwyay. But how creative is this? The Barack Obama campaign has put together a really creative fund raising effort. For anyone who goes to their website and donates *any* amount between now and 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday, June 13th, you get put in a drawing to take part in an intimate dinner for five: four contributors and Mr. Obama. "Normal" presidential campaigns would have a *rather* high price for a seat at such an intimate dinner.

Yes, I know odds are against you. Hell, I just finished the two quarter Bachelor of Science in psychology statistics course (with a 4.0, I might add). Now let's face it, more than 100,000 people had donated before April 4th this year, and a lot of those are going to be getting an email about this latest fundraising effort. So if 100,000 people give between now and Wednesday the 13th (which is a worst case scenario, methinks, in terms of odds of going to the dinner), then your odds of getting in on the dinner are 1 in 100,000, or .001%. pretty freaking small. But that's still better than the odds of winning the Mega millions jackpot (.00057% =)

check it out on Mr. Obama's front page.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Plot to overthrow Laotian government

In case you didn't pick this up on the news today. A retired U.S. army officer and a former Laotian general were arrested in California today, along with several others, on charges related to an alleged plot to overthrow the Laotian government by force. The plot involved plans to buy and ship lots and lots of arms to Loas, Thailand, and Vietnam.

U.S. Attorny Scott was quoted as saying

The United States cannot provide a safe harbor to those plotting to overthrow a
government with whom we are at peace

I found this intriguing. What do you know about Laos? Are you aware that the U.S. conducted a secret air war over laos in the 60's and 70's with such an intensity of bombing that Laos became (and remains) the most bombed country in history. We dropped more bombs on Laos than were dropped on all of europe during world war II.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The weekly roundup in Iraq

I really think if you are American, you should oughtta read this (there, I attempted to put an oughty-should on you! Consider yourself notified). Even if you average out to every man,woman, and child, as an American you've spent nearly $1500 to help bring about this state of things in Iraq. And that's more than any single one of the lower 2 billion income earners in the world earns in 2 years.

Again, stolen from Lily Hamourtziadou


At Baghdad’s Yarmouk hospital, a man and his wife, both injured in a bomb attack that killed 15 people in Amil, were lying on stretchers in the emergency room. The man, whose right foot had been amputated, screamed at his wife, who had shrapnel wounds and was unconscious: ‘Fatima! Where are the kids, Fatima?’ (LA Times, 30 May).

Iraqis live in a fear few of us can even imagine, a fear even fewer of us will ever experience. Police and morgue officials giving information on daily casualties, do so in anonymity, fearing they could be targeted by militants. Unclaimed and unidentified bodies fill the morgues every month, their relatives too frightened to identify and claim the bodies. They join thousands of others buried in mass graves.

In May 2,770 civilians were killed in Iraq, an average of 89 a day. The violence is up from April, when there were 2,590 reported civilian deaths, an average of 86 a day; in March the toll was 2,731, an average of 88 a day.

This past week alone, 680 civilian lives were snuffed out in violent attacks.

On Monday 28 May 125 die, 100 of them in Baghdad. The dead include 14 policemen, a college student, a newspaper editor and a translator.

On Tuesday 29 May, the worst day of the week, 150 lose their lives. Two car bombs kill 49 people in Baghdad, a journalist is killed by gunmen, together with 7 members of his family near Falluja, and 78 bodies are found in Baghdad, Suwayra, Baquba, Balad, Toz and Abu Tomar.

On Wednesday 30 May over 80 civilians die. Among the dead, 2 elderly people sleeping on the roof of their homes (common in Iraq during the summer, to escape the intense heat) killed by a US helicopter during an air raid over Sadr City. Militia raids in Amil, Baghdad, kill 21 Sunni men. Iraqi TV, Al-Iraqiya, reports that Sadr City residents call upon officials to intervene to stop the raids and shelling of the city by the Multinational Forces. ‘Citizens in the city affirmed that military operations in their city cause a large number of innocent casualties…The evenings are filled with the sounds of lethal ammunitions and terrifying raids. The residents do not sleep quietly or safely. No single day passes without the Multinational Force raiding and attacking several houses and causing the martyrdom and wounding of dozens of innocent people.’ (Al-Iraqiya 1 June)

Around 90 die on Thursday 31 May. In the worst incident, a suicide bomber kills 30 in a police recruitment centre in Falluja. Gunmen kill a lecturer in Fine Arts in Basra, while an Associated Press reporter is shot dead in Baghdad. The 26-year-old cameraman leaves a wife 8-months pregnant with their first child. 45 bodies are found in 7 cities, and 14 unidentified bodies are buried in Kirkuk.

Around 75 die on Friday 1 June. The dead include 3 children (7, 9 and 11 years of age) killed as a US tank fires on suspected insurgents near Falluja. The insurgents, who were thought to be planting a bomb, escape. Another US raid on Sadr City kills 2, one of them an ambulance driver. Gunmen kill 7 at a fake checkpoint in Khalis, and 33 bodies are found in Baghdad, Baquba and Khalis.

On the quietest day of the week, Saturday 2 June, 57 civilians die. Among them an Imam and a Sheikh, shot dead in Baghdad, and 8 killed by mortars in Fadhil, Baghdad –one of them a child. Police find 40 bodies in 5 cities. More than 2,000 people march the streets of Shula, a Shiite district in Baghdad, to demand improvements in basic services like electricity and water. The demonstrators denounce the United States, Israel and the US-backed Iraqi government.

On Sunday 3 June the dead exceed 100. A car bomb kills 10 in a market in Balad Ruz, gunmen kill 5 at a fake checkpoint near Baquba, US air strikes kill 5 in Sadr City and 2 in Dhilu’iya, while gunmen shoot dead a Catholic priest, 31-year-old Father Ragheed Ganni, and 3 deacons in Mosul. Police find 64 bodies in 6 cities. Another 41 unclaimed bodies are buried in Kirkuk.

Meanwhile, General Raymond Odierno, the number 2 head of US forces in Iraq, has stated that ‘the surge is not yet fully in place, and it will take time and patience before we begin to realise its effects.’ In fact, ‘we could be in Iraq for 50 years’ according to US Defence Secretary Robert Gates. The sad truth is that the US will never leave Iraq. Despite the massive civilian death toll, despite the massive rise of terrorism, despite the rapidly increasing deaths of American soldiers.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has apologised for the deaths of American troops in his country. After a month when 2,770 Iraqi civilians die, the Iraqi President apologises for the deaths of 126 American soldiers. He continues: ‘Everyone in Iraq knows that…the United States saved the Iraqi people…the majority of people are for having the American Army.’ He really speaks for himself, as neither he nor anyone else in the Iraqi government would survive for one day if the US army that backs them withdrew from Iraq.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Faith in a Dress

So this month's edition of Porpoise Diving Life, called "Faith in A Dress", drew so many submissions that it spawned a whole new blog! Totally and totally check it out---there are lots of brilliant writers in there, some of whom I know a little, and some of whom I don't yet know. Kudos to Bill for choosing such excellent and brilliant guest editors for June.

From Faith in Dress:

In June 2007, Pam Hogeweide and Erin Word were given the generous opportunity to guest-edit Bill Dahl's publication Porpoise Diving Life; and we chose to have this issue be written entirely by women.

We received numerous amazing submissions, and desired to create a place where people could interact with the articles, poetry and other submissions we received.

Again, lots of great stuff over there. Totally check it out--you won't regret it.

Did I say you should check out this new blog? =)

(sorry--it's late, and I'm a bit tired I guess)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I was wrong!

so I went through the list of 100 words everyone "should" know, and checked to see whether my sense of the words which I wasn't sure of was really the *right* sense. And I found nine more that I didn't actually know properly. so there were really 14 I didn't know. so there. but I learned a bunch of kewl new words.

Ziggurat was not what I thought it was.

I'm not gonna tell you. go look it up yourself. ('kay, you prolly already know anyway).

The new nine I didn't know were diffident, circumlocution, enervate, lugubrious, oxidize, pecuniary, precipitous, unctuous, yeoman.

On a couple of these I had almost the opposite idea in my head--for instance, on enervate, and on diffident.

Expurgate and bowdlerize are quite similar--sometimes defined as synonymous, depending on how you use them.

"Feckless" is fun because it talks about feck, and implies "feckful", which means "efficient, vigorous, powerful". As in "Oh, darling, you're so feckful!" or something.

Following is my pathetic attempt to use these 14 words which I didn't know in a couple paragraphs. It was kind of fun.

The queen's faithful yeomen decided not to circumlocute. He felt too lugubrious and enervated having learned that all three of his quadruplet brothers had died in Iraq. He sensed his own precipitous death, and felt keenly the quotidian nature of his pecuniary chores. No, he would come out and say it--"I love you. Marry me!" He must be neither diffident nor jejune nor unctuous. He must not use merely a moiety of his feck, he must use all of it!

He must also remove the oxidation from his shoe buckle, which it had developed during his vacation while studying the ziggurats in Mesopotamia during his vacation.

(This wee story has been bowdlerized in case any young 'uns happen to read it)

100 words you "ought to" know =)

BOSTON, MA — The editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know."The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."

Okay, brutal honesty here. I have a *sense* of the meaning of, and can pronounce, and could probably use in a sentence, all of these except for: bowdlerize, jejune, moiety, quotidian, and ziggurat. Although I think I might also have a sense of ziggurat--is it something that has sort of taken on an overwhelming momentum and bowls down everything that would oppose it? Thing is, I'm not sure how to pronounce ziggurat. I shall have to research and post tomorrow on the meaning and pronunciation of these 5 I don't know. How many do you know?

(see what comes of 25 years of insatiable book lust? You end up knowing lots of kewl words. =)

Here's the list


(read more ...)

laissez faire

Friday, June 01, 2007

Pine cones

A quote from my totally awesome sister Kat. It's from her recent post on a totally rocking new blog, where you too are invited to share your three blessings!

I have this wierd facination with cruching pine cones. When I see
them on the ground I love to crunch them under my shoe. It is just the
most satisfying crunching sound and brings back great memories of camping days
of yore. Well today I went out to my car to get something while at work
and I hear a little rustle in the tree right next to my car and turn to see what
it is and there on the ground next to my car is a freshly fallen pinecone all
ready for me to crunch. Its wierd I know but mmmm such a treat.

Unicycling the STP

So every year thousands and thousand of bicyclists get together to cycle the 204 mile journey from Seattle to Portland together over two days.. This year's edition is coming in about a month and a half, and so you hear a little here and there among bicyclists in Seattle who are preparing for it. So I heard the other day about a guy who did it on a unicycle. Yes. This guy. rode. a unicycle. 204 miles. in 2 days.

So I looked up the story, and found it here. He did it in 2005. It's a really fun read, he did a great job writing the story up! Here's some excerpts:

Some of the personal achievements while training included riding thirty miles without getting off, maintaining an overall average speed (including stops) of 10 mph for over seventy miles, and riding up a 16% grade.

However, in 2005 I would be turning 40 just a week before the STP. What better way to celebrate my 40th birthday than by showing myself—and anybody else who cared—that I was still strong, tough, and a little bit crazy

(Read more ...)

Or just read the whole story here

If I could maintain an average riding speed of 10 mph—a respectable speed over long distances—then I would be sitting on my unicycle for over twenty hours. Compared to this a marathon or a triathlon feels like a sprint. With no gears, brakes, or coasting my legs would be working the entire time, so good training was going to be important.

After a year of planning it worked. At around 6:10 PM Sunday I rolled in to Holladay Park in Portland and cracked open a bottle of champagne, having left Seattle at 7:10 AM the previous morning. The vital statistics are:

204 miles

20:40 of saddle time

26:30 of road time

This gives me an average riding speed of a bit less than 10 mph. I’d hoped for more, but it was tough to maintain a good pace the second day. The first 40 miles on Saturday I managed a riding average of 11.4 mph. The first 40 miles on Sunday my riding average had dropped to 9.2 mph.

“The Hill” at the 43 mile mark is a legendary 7% grade that goes for a mile. It’s not really that bad a hill, but you can’t argue with a legend. This was one of the highlights of the ride for me. The really fast cyclists were far ahead, so I was riding with cyclists who were, once you removed most of their gears/coasting/brakes advantage, not as fit as I was. So I toasted them. Nobody passed me on The Hill and I passed sixty or more cyclists, while talking on my cell phone in order to make it seem even more effortless. It was very fun. It’s worth unicycling the STP just for that.

On the downhill side I just kept to the right and let the lazy cyclists coast past me without pedaling. Wimps.

Just a few blocks from the end began the highlight of the ride. My daughters Maria and Sarah were waiting, with their unicycles, ready to ride to the finish line with me. It was an amazingly powerful moment. As we rode through the blocked off streets the crowd was cheering us wildly. They were cheering everybody, but a unicyclist who makes it to the finish line gets an extra loud cheer. A unicyclist with two beautiful and talented daughters as a unicycle honor guard drove the crowd completely wild, and I felt like I was the king of the world as I rode triumphantly, giving high fives to my subjects. It was indescribably powerful, and I still get choked up thinking about it. I was again incredibly grateful to Helen for being there to support me, and thinking of bringing the girls’ unicycles. I was also thankful to her for being there to greet me, and for handing me a bottle of champagne to pop up open and sloppily drink.