Friday, June 27, 2008

Bush is in the doghouse--I mean the outhouse.

According to a newspaper article, San Francisco voters will have the chance this November to leave a lasting monument to President Bush. On the ballot will be a proposal to rename the city's waste treatment facility the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant." Those who are against this proposal say that this type of memorial is unnecessary because "they just want to forget George Bush's presidency" and that it's an insult to name a sewage plant after the president because "sewage plants perform a valuable public service."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Caney Fork Rock Skipping Competition

Sunday Husband and I and one of his friends, J, and J’s girlfriend B, put our canoes in the Caney Fork river at Betty’s Island and floated down to the soccer fields at South Carthage. We had to paddle a little more than we wanted to because the dam didn’t generate after 8:00, but it still wasn’t a bad trip. We made the nine miles in about six hours and had a fun time doing it.

About a third of the way, we passed a group of people camping; as we floated past they waved at us and hollered approvingly of the way that we were transporting our cooler. We like to strap our cooler down onto one of those round floats that people ride on behind a boat, and we let the cooler trail back a few feet behind one of the canoes. People always make comments about our method and think it’s ingenious, as if they couldn’t have thought of it themselves. As we passed by we waved back at the group which consisted of two or three girls who were sunbathing and reading magazines and three or four guys who were standing around drinking from red Solo cups. Because I was in need of finding the ladies’ bush, we decided to go ahead and stop there and take a lunch break. We pulled up a couple of hundred feet from where the group’s campsite was located, and as soon as we got out of our canoes, one of the guys from the camping group, a guy wearing a white tshirt for a head wrap, hollered again and motioned for us to come up to where they were, but we just waved back and broke into our lunch cooler.

After a little while of a eating sandwiches and chips and speculating about how much farther we had to go—and giving our butts a break from sitting—I decided to skip a couple of rocks, and Husband and J joined in. After two good skips, all my rock were duds, so I quit because Husband was tossing some pretty good ones, and J’s rocks were skipping nearly all the way across the river. This commanded the attention of the camping guys who cheered and then began skipping their own rocks, with one of the guys nearly matching J’s attempts. Finally, I guess Tshirt couldn’t stand it any longer because here he came, half walking, half staggering towards us along the narrow bank of river rocks. When Tshirt reached us, he stuck his hand out and introduced himself as Allen. He shook all of our hands and asked each of our names, repeating each name and committing it to memory as best as his alcohol-fogged brain would allow. Despite their state of inebriation, he and his group turned out to be a really nice bunch, and they invited us over to their campsite. We politely declined as we were putting away our food, saying that we had to get moving on down the river, so Allen headed back toward his group.

All the while J and one of the camping guys kept skipping rocks, when suddenly Allen turned back toward us and challenged us to a friendly rock skipping competition. “If you win,” Allen slurred, “you can be on your way down the river, but if we win, you have to come do shots with us.” We laughed and began to repeat that we needed to go, but Allen wouldn’t have it that there wouldn’t be a rock skipping champion crowned that day, so we chose J as our skipper against their guy. J went first, and his rock skipped seven or eight times. Everyone on both teams cheered, and then their guy went; his rock skipped about nine or ten times. J tossed another one that was good for another eight skips, and their guy’s next one went nearly all the way across the river for about twelve skips, everyone cheering all the while, like drunken fraternity guys playing beer pong. At that point, Husband and B and I all looked at J and said that it looked like he was going to have to go do a shot, but the guys from the camping group were drunk enough that they couldn’t remember if twelve was more than eight. That let J off the hook, and we got back to the task of packing our gear to leave. Just as we were about to put back out into the water, Allen and his bunch headed back toward us with a camera, wanting to get a picture of the participants of the great Caney Fork Rock Skipping Championship. After the picture, we shook hands again and said our goodbyes, and after urging the campers to be careful, our group went on its way down the river.

I have a feeling that today, somewhere in cyberspace, if I searched hard enough, I would find that picture.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What I Did For Fun This Morning

In the past few days I have received the same spam email from two different email addresses. Both senders, a Mrs. Morgan and a Mrs. Williams, are posing as widows with money to use for God. I decided to play with the two of them a little. Here's the email from "Mrs. Williams" (the one from "Mrs. Morgan" is word for word the same with only the names changed).

From Mrs Rebecca Williams
N�[38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire


I am the above named person from Kuwait . I am married to Mr Benson Williams, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don抰 have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don抰 want my husband抯 efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don抰 want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don抰 need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband抯 relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan . I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information抯, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Rebecca Williams.

I thought that these widows needed to get to know each other, so I sent them both the same reply:

Dear Mrs. Rebecca Williams,

Wow, I cannot believe what a coincidence this is. Actually, this is so uncanny that I just cannot believe that it is a coincidence--it must be a conspiracy. I received an email, which I have forwarded to you here, from a Mrs. Susan Morgan who also lives in Kuwait and whose husband worked at the Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast and who died after a sudden four-day illness. Amazingly, Mrs. Morgan also is childless and suffers from cancer and stroke, just like you! And just like you, her husband also has left a bank account of 2.5 million dollars.

I suspect that you and Mrs. Morgan are the victims of a terrible crime. It is obvious that your husbands were murdered by someone in the Ivory Coast government, likely because your husbands had found out about an illegal financial agreement between high officials from the Kuwait and Ivory Coast governments. Your husbands must have both been able to confiscate some of the money and hold it for evidence against those corrupt officials, but before they could bring those criminals to justice, both Mr. Williams and Mr. Morgan were poisoned with a chemical that made it look like they had contracted a brief and serious fatal illness. What is even more horrible about this crime is that both you and Mrs. Morgan were also poisoned. However, obviously you both were somewhat stronger than your husbands because instead of dying right away, the two of you instead were inflicted with cancer and stroke.

I am surprised that you and Mrs. Morgan have not already met, as similar as your stories are. However, amazingly, you both got in touch with me this week, and I am pleased to be able to forward your emails to each other so that the two of you can meet. Just imagine how much more the two of you can do together with a combined 5 million dollars! I hope that you and Mrs. Morgan will combine your resources and put
those corrupt government officials behind bars because they and people like them are the ones who make women into widows and children into orphans. And if you and Mrs. Morgan are too sick to do the work yourselves, I'm sure you can hire some good Christian lawyers who can do the work for you.

If you still want me to invest your money, please send me the full amount in cash, preferably in 20 dollar bills.

If the two widows reply, and if I'm feeling creative, maybe I'll play the two against each other. That should be fun.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Out of the abundance of the heart . . .

From a UK Times Online article:

President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

Spare me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forty Bucks I Won't Be Spending

Here's the latest in services offered to the Christian community, specifically those who believe in the Rapture doctrine. From the ABC news website:

A new Web site is offering a first-of-its-kind service: sending e-mails to nonbelieving friends and family who are "left behind" after you are whisked away by God in the rapture.

The site offers users the ability to store e-mails and documents that will be sent to up to 63 e-mail addresses six days after the rapture has occurred. Users get up to 250 megabytes of storage space, 150 megabytes of it encrypted for sensitive information such as bank account numbers or eTrade passwords that can be accessed by those who remain on earth.

The owner of this service says that your email is "one last chance to bring [your loved ones] to Christ and snatch them from the flames."

You may wonder, how will the emails be sent? The guy who owns the site has a system in place so that if the majority of his employees don't log into the system for a duration of six days (presumably because they've been raptured), the system will automatically send the stored messages to the recipients.

And this service isn't free; you'll need to shell out $40 a year to make sure that everyone on your email list who is left behind will get that one last message from you.

Hmmm. Now I personally do not believe in the rapture, but even if I did, I don't think I would be leaving my personal information out there on some stranger's server for some hacker to access. And I don't think, if the rapture is for real, it would be necessary to leave messages to my friends and loved ones explaining to them where I have disappeared to.

Besides, I'd feel really stupid if I got to heaven and saw someone there from my email list.

I'm Not Giving Up Tomatoes!

Yesterday I learned of a salmonella scare involving tomatoes (apparently for now my state is in the clear). But my question is, is the salmonella inside the tomatoes? If so, how did it get there? If not, why can't we just disinfect the skin of the tomato and thus kill the salmonella?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Um, I'm Sorry, But I Have Some, um, Really Good News To Tell You

Last fall when I found out that I was getting a bonus on my paycheck, I couldn’t wait to go home and tell Husband about it. In fact, I didn’t wait until I got home, but I called him on his cell phone instead. And I didn’t worry about how he would take the news; I knew he’d be glad to hear it. However, a few weeks ago when I got a memo from my department head about how the department has to cut its budget, which consists mostly of salaries, I had to figure out a way to tell Husband the news in a way that wouldn’t make him worry about the possibility of losing my job. I think most people deliver good and bad news in much the same way—we can’t wait to tell the good news, but we dread having to tell people something that is negative.

Why is it, then, that Christians seem to have a terrible problem telling others what is supposed to be good news? Christian organizations offer workshops in how to share the gospel (literally “good news”), and the participants practice on each other the most effective methods for delivering this good news. They even learn ways to counter objections to their good news. Objections to good news? Why in the world would people object to hearing good news?

“I have some really good news to tell you! We are all sinners. This includes you. You are a sinner, and God hates sin because sin is rebellion against God’s perfect sinless nature. Because you are a sinner, you are God’s enemy, and God says that the penalty for sin is death. If you die without being saved from your sin, you will have no hope of going to heaven. In fact, you’ll spend eternity in hell, the place of God’s punishment for sin. You can do nothing to save yourself from punishment in hell. But there is a way you can be saved.”

No wonder people have such a hard time “sharing the gospel.” You’ve got to tell people how bad they are before you tell them anything good. And the good part doesn’t really sound that good when you think about it: God’s son Jesus suffered and died a terrible death. He took on all the sins of the world, even though he himself never sinned, because he loved us so much. And God punished him instead of punishing us. What? God punished his innocent son? I grew up hearing all this stuff in church, and thinking about it now, I find it a little disturbing. Just think how it might sound to someone who’s never gone to church. And what about people who grew up being abused by their parents or other authority figures? A parent took out his anger at the sin of the world on his innocent son? Think about how that sounds!

To the uninitiated, this good news doesn’t really sound all that good. And there’s something else. The way Christians tend to present this “good news” tends to elevate the Christian to a superior position to the person he or she is telling it to: “I have accepted Jesus as my savior, so I know that I will go to heaven instead of hell. If you died right now, do you know for certain that you wouldn’t go to hell?” It almost sounds like “I made the right choice. I’m in the club. Don’t you want to be like me?” And if the person just doesn’t want to hear it, Christians lovingly tell the person something like, “Well, you just need to realize that if you die right now, you will spend eternity in hell. But God loves you and he wants to save you. If you don’t want to go to hell, you need to accept the cleansing from sin that Jesus offers.” Boy, if that wouldn’t leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth: You’re dirty and you need to be cleaned.

Ironically, Christians remark about people who think they need to get themselves cleaned up some before they try to get right with God. “God accepts us as we are; all you have to do is believe in Jesus, that he died on the cross and was resurrected.” Do you see the irony here? Two things: One, he accepts us as we are, yet we’re dirty and have to be cleansed of our sin or we’ll go to hell (but didn’t God already punish Jesus for the sins of the world)? Two, to keep from going to hell, we have to believe that Jesus not only died, but came back to life? I have been taught and believed for all of my life that Jesus died and rose again, but there are days when I question how true it is. Yet Christians expect people who’ve never thought about it to just buy into the story without investigating it for themselves.

Yes, it’s no wonder that most Christians dread being the bearer of this “good news” and why church and bible study organizations offer “Sharing the Gospel” seminars. If the gospel really is good news, then no one would have a problem telling others about it. Perhaps the gospel we have been sharing is not the one that we are supposed to be sharing. Perhaps we already share the gospel without even thinking about it.