July 2008 - Posts
With two days in the bed last week and two days of vacation time behind me, I find myself ever so slightly bored. I have tons to type, but there is the age-old problem of tactfulness in relationships.
What I mean is that I could type and expound on a plethora of subjects, but because family and friends read this blog some certainly would be offended. And their friendship is more valuable than being able to share my opinions. So, after we skim the cream off of the top, what's left is a boring blog about nothing. I hate that. It's like Carrot Top without his props. It's like Ernie without his duck. In a way, it's like I'm wearing one of those silly funnel things around my neck like a dog that has been recently neutered. Shameful, really.
There was a time when being Joe Napalm was fun. I'd jump into the phone booth, change clothes, take off the glasses, the little curl of hair would drop down onto my forehead and then I'd fly off to aid the distressed -- to save the people from their ignorance and stupidity. But now it's ... well, it's boring. Who wants this middle-aged chubby man in tights running off at his mouth? Everyone wants a dashing and chiseled hero. And lately I don't feel like a hero.
I mean, for goodness sakes, the other day I yelled at my boss and threw his doorknob across the room. And then just recently my wife and I had to make the tough decision to send the boys to public school after six years of wonderful education at a private academy. Food prices are up, gas prices are crazy, blah, blah, blah.
It's not all bad, mind you. It's just ... maybe it's just that I feel mortal. Or, maybe, just maybe someone will say, "Go ahead, Joe. Put the cape back on and run your mouth. We've put up with you for thirty-mumble-mumble years and need the moral, theological and political correction anyway. You're our rudder, buddy!"
With Joe bedridden, I once again bring you I-Friday.
1. To Joy or An die Freude, or better known as Ode to Joy, was written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller. It is best known for its musical setting by Ludwig van Beethoven in the fourth and final movement of his Ninth Symphony (completed in 1824), a choral symphony for four solo voices, chorus, and orchestra. With these facts, sit back and enjoy: [link]
2. Detective time! Who can name the title of Joe Napalm’s very first blog post? Follow up question: what was the date of this post? And I want the answer as a Caesar cipher (just kidding).
3. I start my first fulltime job at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on August 4. My title is Research and Development Staff.
4. In light of bullet 3, enjoy this engineering moment of Zen. [link]
5. Also in light of bullet 3, I enter into a new tax bracket (which isn’t that surprising after leaving a graduate research salary). Anyone else want to join me in throwing ipods into the Boston Harbor?
6. My proposition from bullet 5 is more serious after reading this [link]. There goes my money down the Congressional toilet.
7. This week I started looking for a house. The housing market is rough, especially in light of the downward spiral of Tammy Faye and Bernie Mac ... or is it Fannie Flagg and Freddie Mercury ... who knows?
8. Get well, Joe. The following song is in honor of you: [link]
Have a great weekend!
-Wesley Son of Cornelius
Look, if a "man of the cloth" -- as Newsweek magazine describes Jesse Jackson -- can be crude and vulgar, then byjeebies so can I. This comes to you direct from none other than Wesley hisself:
"The Scotsman Song" lyrics: [link]. Audio: [link].
From collecting cow flatulence to totally awesome trees, it's here.
- Collecting cow farts: [link]. Why did I post about it? Because my mother has a mini-stroke every time I write "fart."
- This week, I ran across two interesting postal service stories. First, there was the bank that was sent through the post office [link]. Second, I stumbled upon a Smithsonian photo of a child in a postman's mailbag and the story associated with it [link].
- This one's for my wife: [link].
- This one is for my boys: [link].
- Here's one for my daughter: [link].
- Relaxation through scanimation: [link].
- How in the blue blazes did I miss Trinity Day [link]? That's like a the US missing out on carpet bombing Muslims during Ramadan. That's like Fleur missing out on a Talk Like a Pirate Day. That's like BJ passing on a bowl of peppermint ice cream. That's like ... well, you get it. It was Trinity Day! And I missed it!
- This weekend, BJ, the guys and I will be at Big Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains. So, in honor of that, I give you ten magnificent trees: [link].
- Love you. Really. Get outside. Wash the car. Swim. Bicycle. Whatever. Just get outside.
I have two dreams in this life. First, I'd like to sit on a stool in a spotlight in a crowded, smoke-filled pub and play Lynyrd Skynyd's "Tuesday's Gone" on an acoustic guitar. And, second, I'd like to hear that someone came to faith in Jesus because of something that I wrote. I'm not learning to play guitar and hate cigarette smoke, so the chances of the first happening is next to zip. But, I do write about God and Jesus, so the second is possible -- although just slightly possible because my rambling and arrogant personality gets in the way.
The other day, I read an insightful article by Bill Maxwell [link], an editorial writer with the St. Petersburg Times. In the article he describes how disappointment is "a valuable tool for recognizing and accepting life's realities." He says that Sen. Barak Obama's supporters are set up for a huge disappointment as the election cycle continues because they are "distancing themselves from everything deemed negative" by believing the mantra of hope and change being advertised by the campaign. Thought-provoking stuff, really.
On top of that, I am reading Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide, and have been reminded of the incompetence of Hitler's command. The military commanders and planners closest to him (Himmler, Göring, etc.) shielded him from bad news either out of fear or out of arrogance. Although the Führer had the most brilliant military tacticians of the era (Rommel, Kesselring, von Rundstedt), the false information along with Hitler's failure to understand completely what was happening on the front lines led him to a huge disappointments -- loss of his empire and, ultimately, the loss of his life.
So, along those same thoughts and with inspiration from a Dr. Erwin Lutzer sermon series, I began yesterday to contemplate life without a Savior and the subject of disappointment.
If you're honest, you have to admit that life is rough. From the beginning and until the end, there is pain, sorrow and struggle. We cry in pain just out of the womb. We weep at the loss of loved ones and friends all life long. Things around us are always tearing up or breaking down. Hurricanes happen. Floods happen. We're not treated with justice and fairness even by the ones closest to us. It's tough, and then, at the end, you die -- the biggest disappointment. Everything you've been able to gain -- memories, wealth, family, friends -- all of it gone. No permanence at all.
And, if you're honest, you have to admit that we do much to shield ourselves from disappointment. We collect friends, wealth, stuff and try hard to convince ourselves that we will be remembered after we die. And, possibly, after we die, there is something grand -- or there's nothing at all -- because, doggone it, we're good people. So, despite all of the trials and tribulations going on around us daily, we ignore the disappointments trying hard to convince you, me and everyone that everything is rosy. After all of this, and the honest truth is that, if we ignore them and move on to our death without acknowledging the disappointments and our need for salvation, there is nothing for us but eternal disappointment: Hell.
Now, I know I jumped right to Hell without much background, but I don't have that much time to type and you don't really want to read a thesis. Just follow along. You agree on the "life is disappointing" line of thinking, so assume that the Disappointment (capital "D") is true, too. (By the way, if you need a lesson in end-of-life contemplation, visit a nursing home. It's full of people trying hard to ignore the final Disappointment.) I can expound if necessary.
I digress. With the disappointment of life's trials and the Disappointment of Death in mind, contemplate what is being offered on the other end. And by "other end," I mean the exact opposite. On the one hand, there is eternal suffering, burning and eternal regret that you failed to acknowledge Jesus in this life (Remember, every knee will bow -- see Isa. 45:23). On the other hand, there is eternal joy and life and light. So, there is suffering at the hand of an jealous God (laugh if you want, but at least consider it), or there is glory, sitting at the right hand of the eternal God of mercy and grace and having joint inheritance with the One who spoke the world into existence.
Maybe this is a tad too deep for this late in the week. But ... maybe you've stuck with me and read this far. If so, the next time you are disappointed -- didn't get the job, kids lied to you, parent died unexpectedly, etc. -- don't explain it away, don't try to sugar coat it, don't rationalize it. Do like Mr. Maxwell recommends and use it as a learning tool for accepting life's realities. There is a huge disappointment looming after death if you don't do something now.
I was all set to reveal my "art" post to the world, but then ran across this today: [link]. It has so peed me off that I am going to throw a temper tantrum and tell you all to find some other form of mental stimulation today. That's right, I'm mad at the Internet. Specifically, I'm mad because an "anti-abortion, anti-evolution, pro-censorship, pro-surveillance, anti-gay incumbent" has been labeled as "puritan." Actually, Kansas has been labeled as a "puritanical backwater," but it's just implied that the incumbent is puritanical because of his beliefs. And that just plain ticks me off.
I mean, how can those people paint with such broad strokes? Are they stereotyping Puritans? That's like saying that Puerto Ricans are lazy. Are they all lazy? (Well, maybe, but that's a different discussion.)
And to which type of Puritan are you and your Internet buddies referring? Are we talking about 16th-Century Puritans or 17th-Century Puritans? Separating Puritans or non-Separating Puritans? Independent Puritans or Presbyterian Puritans? Arminian Puritans or Calvinistic Puritans? Experimental Predestinarian Puritans or Credal Predestinarian Puritans? Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans or Rhode Island Puritans? I mean, maybe a 17th-Century Experimental Predestinarian Presbyterian Rhode Island Puritan would take exception to the slur. And, maybe, a 17th-Century Credal Presbyterian Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritan would have to honestly admit that he is socially and politically similar to the people of Kansas.
But until you people can get it straight, find some other place to slur "Puritans." You, you, you LIBERALS!
Lately, I've noticed that people are just plain scared. There, lurking in emails, advertisements and verbal communication is the scary little bugger called "me." No, people aren't afraid of me. I'm a lovable chunk of twisted steel and sex appeal. People instead are afraid of "me" -- the word.
I heard it again today.
"Fred and myself will sit down and ...." "Please email Fred and myself..." No! Not "myself," but "me." "Fred and me ...!" It's OK to say it. Let's say it together. Me. Good. Wasn't that easy?
There are two ways to overcome a Joe Peeve: (1) Punch the offender in the face until it stops, or (2) educate. So, because I'm a gracious blog host, I'll educate. Class is in.
Let me introduce you to reflexive pronouns and intensive pronouns. You'll recognize them because they end in "self" or "selves." There's myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves. Reflexive pronouns serve as the direct object of a verb or as the objects of prepositional phrases when the subject of the clause is the same person is the object of the verb or preposition (Remember grade school?). Intensive pronouns have the same form as the reflexive but are used to intensify a noun or pronoun. Let me give you some examples.
- She asked herself if it was really a good idea to oppose The Joe. (Reflexive pronoun as a direct object)
- She did the research by herself and concluded that it wasn't wise. (Reflexive pronoun as a object of a preposition)
- I myself am glad she chose not to because my fist hurts. (Intensive pronoun)
Now, here is where my pet peeve begins. People misuse the words either because they're trying to "put on airs" or they just use the wrong words. As a matter of fact, I can handle the illiterate misuse any day (hisself, theirselves, themself, etc.). It's just the snottiness of trying to sound elegant that drives me batty. I'll give you examples, but keep in mind that this is like biting your fork at the dinner table -- it hurts my head.
- John and myself were invited to play tennis this evening. (Wrong!)
- I'm doing great -- and yourself? (Wrong again!)
- This pet peeve is only a matter that concerns you and myself. (Ack!)
At this point, I'm reminded of the "Murder by Death" exchange between Sydney Wang and Lionel Twain:
Sydney Wang: Yes, is confusing
Lionel Twain: IT! IT is confusing. Say your *** pronouns!
Today, I say, "Use your dang reflexive and intensive pronouns correctly, or I'll start punching!"
Update: I screwed this one up so bad. Obviously I didn't get enough sleep or the pronoun thingie bothers me much more than I had thought.
While I whittle away at this next post, talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a subject: Brilliant generals on the losing side of the war ... Men like Alcibiades, Hannibal, Wallenstein, Napoleon, Lee, Jan Smuts (in a sense), Ludendorff, von Hindenburg and the Desert Fox, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
This is in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France, and over the past few days I've been kicking myself for walking right past it without paying it any attention. More on that and "art" later.
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
"Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
Need some insight on what a Napalm nightmare looks like? Here's a start: [link]. Agggghhhhh! And if that wasn't scary enough, here's another: [link]. Double-Agggghhhhh!
Get it? Blink and you'll miss it? Nevermind.
Today, our neighbors to the North, the Canadians, eh, are celebrating a national holiday [link]. What the day is about, I don't care. What I do know is that it seems they are like the neighbor who lives in the flat upstairs that is insanely jealous about your raucous and popular partay each weekend and tries to throw their own. But their party turns out to be nothing more than a gathering of doughnut-eating, flannel shirt-wearing, beer-swilling hockey pukes who smell like caribou. Get a real holiday! Like the Fourth of God-Bless-America July!
But, because, I do pity the people from the frozen north, I will take just a moment to learn about their history: [link, ch2, ch3, ch4]. (One word of warning: The ads are a crapshoot of naughtiness and there are some swear words. Get permission first.)
Last night, I helped Wesley list my aunt and uncle's Volkswagen Eurovan on eBay Motors [link]. And I misspelled "excellent." There! Are you happy?! Gah.
By the way, if you're interested in a great van, give me a shout. My aunt and uncle (my whole family for that matter) are borderline OCD, so there is nary a problem with it. It looks just like it did when it was driven off of the lot, despite our urges to stick '70s decals on it, put a big, brown Great Dane in the back and call it the "Mystery Machine." Zoinks.
Update: This "excelent" [sic, very sic] Eurovan is sold. It appears my orthography misstep didn't affect the appeal of the sin bin.