Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

I saw a Sea Monster today!

And I'm pretty sure it was a Tylosaurus. Which is pretty freaky, since they were thought to go extinct about 65 million years ago.

Yes, that's a full-length shark in the jaws of the Tylosaurus. And I just watched Sea Monsters at the Pacific Science Center. It's amazing! Its been 15 years since I was in an IMAX, and they've dramatically improved on it since then, with sound that reverberates the seats. Its been 4 years since I last saw a 3-D movie, and they've also greatly improved over the dreadful Spy Kids. This was as if you were actually there, swimming with the sharks, and being eaten by the Dolichorhynchops. They made the animals appear as if they were right in front of each of us, merging with the audience. I could sit there forever and just be immersed in this new world of great age, floating about me.

And the producers didn't make it merely entertaining. There was also a great deal of history and archaeological procedure given, but in an engaging manner. It's hard to make that interesting to the general public. But it helped that the people were also in 3-D- in the present and 1900's period portrayals. And the producers pieced together actual fossil finds to create a personal story about the Dolichorhynchops.

The best part was that there was a whole class of 2nd graders there in the audience too. As they walked down into the theatre, I must confess an inward groan. They seemed very rambunctious, and I thought it would be distracting from the experience. I needn't have worried, for the sounds were so intense that you couldn't hear the audience over them. But even more, as in travel, its so much better to watch this kind of movie with a bunch of children! I soon repented of my earlier pediaphobia. For their excitement was incredible, and contagious. They saw everything anew, as new-born babes, grasping out at the grass that brushed by them and the fish that swam towards them, gasping when it seemed that a prehistoric monster was about to spear them. The IMAX experience was incredible, but all the more joyous for the children present.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

عيد ميلاد المسيح

This is basically an excuse to post a plethera of pictures from Christmas. It began with seeing Kentrina on their annivesary. They took a ride around downtown, and then we found a French Cafe in the Pike Place Market. Bonus- the waiter was from Rabat, Morocco! When he found out I wanted mint tea, which the cafe didn't provide, he sent someone downstairs for fresh mint to make the tea for me. Sure, they couldn't find any, but still...

You can see here Kent was glaring at the horse with laser eyes. He really wanted that carrot.

After getting appetizers at the French restaurant, Trina was going to surprise Kent with a dinner reservation. Unfortunately, she couldn't quite remember the name of the restaurant. Fortunately, she looked at the menu and realized that their reservation was for the downstairs Italian portion of the same cafe we were in.

That evening I went to Candycane Lane for my church's Christmas party. Carol Ann's food was of course excellent.

Candycane Lane is a place in Seattle with extensive lights and decorations. Not a whole lot of focus on the real Christmas, but still, pretty lights.

Evidently, Ensign Chekov has many famous thoughts about peace, as you can see in the hovertext below. Who would have known?

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkeling with diamonds. -Checkov  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. -Jesus  Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. -Rev. MLK


I spent Christmas down in Portland with Steve & Julie, and it was great to spend My mother and sister.time with their family, and yet more juicy food. My mom and sister came up for a party the day before Christmas Eve, and we went out with my mom's husband, Larry, to relax and open up gifts.

Well, actually that's a lie. Larry was tired and wasn't able to make it. We went to a restaurant that Steve recommended, and couldn't find it. We kept turning around, trying to find where the place was, and ended up crossing a curb, and in a freak accident, bursting the tire. Seriously- I've never seen a cloud of air come out of a tire before. I love Christmas adventures!
Adam, Kattie, & I.
It actually turned out to be a great evening. Me and my sister went to the local Irish Pub to play darts, which was only two blocks away. Larry and Steve came out to help my mom with the tire, and so were able to be there with us at the pub. And there are few finer places to be on Christmas Eve Eve than an Irish Pub.

The next day I got to see Adam & Kattie for lunch. I don't know why, but last time I saw them they seemed to be too busy to talk. This time we got to spend a good amount of time catching up on gossip at a local German restaurant, in honor of Kattie, who evidently knows how to sew the softest and warmest blankets. I found my time with them greatly encouraging, and it was really neat to hear how God is meeting them.
Christmas Day was fairly simple. Get to the bus station by 8 PM, so I could catch the 9:00 Greyhound to Seattle, arriving at 1 in the morning, to catch a municipal bus to my house, to drive down to Kentrina's, where I'll be house-sitting. But Greyhound decided to start charging different rates than what they have listed on their website, so I had to pay extra for luggage first.
And then it snowed. Yes, it was wonderful, having a White Christmas and all. Except on the roads coming up. So we got in at 130 in the morning. Then I carried three very heavy bags present with books for half a mile, just in time to wait for the bus for half an hour. The driver was kind enough to let me defer payment, as I'd forgotten to get change, and I was able to get home, and move the stuff into my car without brakes, to drive home on the wet streets to my brother's in SeaTac. It amazed me how empty the streets were- much like Ramadan in Morocco when everyone has just rushed home to eat after fasting all day. It was even lighter than during a snowstorm in Seattle. You could almost roller blade on the streets without fear of being hit by a car.
I got to my brother's by 230 this morning, completely exhausted, to greet the Palozoo of three dogs and three cats, and stay up and catch up on blogs.
Merry Christmas, and as Mr. Lombardo says, Happy New Year!

Friday, 21 December 2007

How to Find Parking This Christmas

Yes. I'm one of the over half of all Americans who waited to do their Christmas shopping at the last minute. Evidently it's cause we have this weekend before Christmas this year, and it makes us think we have more time. But I did think about the presents I was getting people before today. And though I didn't begin my shopping until today, being a guy, I also finished my shopping today- 3 1/2 hours later. (Cheap shot, I know, but I couldn't resist.)

Actually, the parking wasn't that bad. I found a spot right away at the Northgate Mall- well, I did, after I first drove up almost to the mall, and realized I'd left my wallet at home, and then had to drive all the way back, lengthening my trip by 40 minutes. Which personally I don't think should count in my shopping time frame. So my shopping began at 10 AM, when parking's not hard to find.

I knew who I wanted to shop for, and was able to go straight to the stores. I even ran into a Palestinian Muslim, selling Christmas wares of Olive Wood, made in Bethlehem by his friend's family who ships everything over here. Once again, building a relationship over Arabic helped, as I was able to get the merchandise at 60% off, and this without even bargaining. And then I had to go to one more store, in a separate mall, as the Barnes & Noble at Northgate didn't have the item I wanted. But it was now 1 PM - and everyone was out shopping.

At the University Village Mall, there was no parking. At all. I drove and drove for 20 minutes, stopping in the middle of the intersection because other cars were suddenly blocking traffic for five minutes while they waited for someone to pull out. I finally found something by following a shopping cart to the edge of the lot, far from the most of the stores.

And that's when it hit me. True, this won't help you park, but it will help someone else park, and, if everyone does it, eventually it might come around to you. When I finished my shopping, I flagged down an elderly couple in the car, and asked if they wanted to drive me to my parking spot. They were overjoyed at the prospect. We drove straight to my spot, I had a ride, and they had a parking spot, without having to search for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

More Muse

There were two very interesting discussions at the Muse today. Adrian was highlighted in his devout support for the movie The Golden Compass. (Listen here.) I personally disagree with him, and think The Compass is an unhelpful movie to see, as it promotes an atheistic and anti-Christian worldview, and is particularly disturbing in it's restructuring of the demonic, ala Buffy. Pullman understandably doesn't seem to take it seriously, and I fear this could lead to children likewise not taking the demonic seriously, but thinking of it as something cute and intimate.

However, I think Adrian raises some very good points, particularly that Pullman's writings don't portray real Christianity as evil, but rather Pullman's own image of religion. As I contemplate it, the religion I hear described in Pullman seems to be less like Christianity and more a technologically-advanced version of the 1st-century Jewish religious hierarchy, existing for its own sake and to force people into a rigid, controlled life. Except even in 1st-century Judaism, there was more of a desire to follow the ways of God, however misguided the religious leaders were in their attempts.

The second broadcast today was focused on the letters of C.S. Lewis, and what we could learn about him through them. (Listen here.)There were a lot of great insights and letters, including the famous one where a mother is concerned that her son is liking Aslan more than Jesus. At Minute 52:36 you can hear my asking the question about Lindskoog's allegations against Harper. (Harper controls the Lewis estate, and Lindskoog has lead the allegations against him that he has engaged in fraud, inserting himself into Lewis' life to an extent that went far beyond Harper's limited experience with Lewis.)

Frankly I found Kim Gilnett's response disappointing, as I don't feel it completely addressed the subject. Yes, Gilnett brought up some good information on the reliability of The Dark Tower. But Lindskoog's attack is so vindictive yet overwhelming in it's evidence, that one would desire more of a response, particularly in regards to the evidence that Hooper wasn't actually in Lewis' life, and that he excludes all researchers from the Lewis estate unless they accept his version of events. Maybe Lindskoog is wrong, but I would love some evidence in rejoinder from the Lewis estate. And Gilnett seemed to respond with a simple rejection of Lindskoog's points, without evidence. Indeed, as I relisten to Gilnett's response to my question, I am struck that he doesn't provide any support for Hooper's presence in Lewis's life except for the last few months (the very point in contention), and that Gilnett has only praise for Hooper, similar to what Lindskoog suggests is necessary to do research on the Lewis estate. This is not to besmirch Gilnett in any way, but rather to point out that his response may be carefully nuanced.

Go to 1:02:11 to see the amazing final chapter to the child who liked Aslan more than Jesus, when Gilnett met him as an adult.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Another Blog Year

A blogyear is an ancient tradition, wherein you contemplate the past year of your blog, and highlight the significant events that have been reported- or at least, the events that can be reported in such a public forum. It begins on the first day of the true first posting of the blog, and continues for one calendar year after that.

This has not been as exciting or as uplifting a year as past years, particularly considering the example of the previous blogyear. I enjoyed my regular volunteering at the aquarium, and then shortly after I began a good friend that I grew up with died in a car accident.

Later I learned the IRS had sent a notice a year earlier to the wrong address, neglected to contact me at the address they had subsequently, lost my paperwork, and had decided that I needed to pay them taxes while working overseas, contrary to the US Tax Code. Unfortunately, as of yet, that particular issue is still unresolved- the IRS is still thinking, and has still not answered any questions as to how all that happened or why they intitially placed me under this designation. I covet your prayers that this $1,700 bill would be justly resolved.

I suppose it's illuminating what we find most significant in our lives, on looking back over a year. Each of us would proabably note different items as more significant, in retrospect. For me, I must also add my first eperience blacking out. (I am hoping it would be my last.)

But not all is down these days. For thirty minutes ago, I discovered this outside my window! True, it's down as well, but in a good way.