Monday, January 29, 2007

God is a Hermaphrodite

My 6-year-old daughter asked my wife and I about God the other day. She wanted to know if God was a boy or a girl. An interesting and intellectual question considering that almost all references of God are in the male form: God the Father, He, Father-Son-and-Holy Ghost, etc.

This proved a problematic question for my wife and I as we don’t see God in those terms exactly. In my early days, I would have held strong to my Baptist roots and scoffed at anyone who tried to turn God into some kind of liberal transsexual. Don’t tranny my God thank you very much. Life has a funny way of opening life and allowing different perspectives into one’s world view.

Such is the way with me. I have come to see God beyond the labels of our existence. That is to say that I no longer see God as a man. My thoughts and my understanding of God allow me to view the Almighty in a frame of mind that is without the constraints of sexuality. I tend to understand God as portraying both male and female characteristics.

That is not a hard concept for me to grasp. I don’t not struggle with that understanding nor does it shake the foundations of my faith. I do not see that perspective as liberal, but as an educated understanding of God. It doesn’t change anything. The issue comes in how to explain this male-female business in a meaningful way to a 6-year-old, without confusing or boring her to the point of never asking me questions again – which is something that grown-ups tend to do to children, either to avoid the question or just to quiet them. I am not content with pushing her questions aside and I am not willing to redirect her because of some prideful incompetence.

Rather than try to explain that God is not male or female, I told her that I think God is both. That seems easier for a child to grasp and still remain true to the higher truth as I see it. To follow that up, we told her we would ask our preacher. That Sunday we approached him and we explained that she had a question. She was too shy to ask on her own, so we asked for her. He told her that God is both. She seemed happy with the answer and hasn’t asked any follow-up questions since. For now, we are content with it and we are more prepared to answer the question later if it comes up again.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wonder-Working Power

There is power, power
Wonder-working Power
In the Home (in the home)
Of Fat Jack (of Fat Jack).

There is power, power
Wondering-working power
In the precious home
Of Fat Jack.

(Props to anyone that gets the musical reference.)

The call came in at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, January 25 (13 days after the first ice storm). My neighbor rang me on the cell at the in-laws home to tell me that my porch light was blinding him and would I please turn it off already. Him thinks he's funny.

We will continue to spend Thursday night at the in-laws. If all goes well, and why wouldn't it, then we will be back home tomorrow. Fortunately, I don't have class on Fridays so I will be moving the family back home tomorrow. I'll be up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for the day. And I will do all of this while simulateously studying. It will be worth it.

Good thing too. The daughter started crying tonight. She just couldn't stand it anymore. She loves her grandparents of course, but the storm damage has finally taken its toll. She was in tears.

"I want to go home," she said. I miss my bed."

I know just how she feels. One day shy of two weeks (so close that I will just call it two weeks) is too long to be away from home when not on vacation. And this was no vacation, as most of you can attest. She misses her toys and our daily routine. She misses cuddling in bed with Daddy as part of her night time routine. Not every night, but many of them. So we snuggled on the in-laws' couch tonight until she went to sleep, with kitty in the pocket where he belongs. It was nice, but it's just not the same.

There is a gloomy side to this silver lining. I've heard tell that the Farmer's Almanac (which is considered nothing more than pulp fiction by at least one local meteorological tv star and blogger) fortold this event and has also predicted another such storm for the month of February. I can't confirm that as I don't have a copy of the book, but I find it interesting.

Day 13 and Still No Power

My friend, Heavy P, called me on the cell phone to brag that he had power. I wished him a hill of painful ill. He apologized for calling, but he just had to say something (to someone who didn't have power I'm sure.)

The house is dark, the rooms are cold and things are still in a state of disarray. The airmattress is getting harder by the hour. My patience is thin, but what else is one to do but wait and wait and wait some more.

The announcement this morning was that power should be restored by Friday. We will see. Considering there were no workers to be found on my street today (so reported my neighbors) that I am not yet convinced. We shall see.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bent, But Not Broken

This is a tree in my backyard. I am hoping I
don't lose it like I probably will some others.

Sunday and Still Out of Power

I am still out of power, still staying with the in-laws, still living out of boxes and laundry hampers, and still sleeping on an air mattress. Of course I know where my loved ones are and I have not had to go to a shelter or a superdome. So how much can I really complain? Still yet, it’s frustrating, inconvenient, and maybe a bit greasy feeling. It may sound funny, but I am excited to have somewhere to go tomorrow. It will be nice to get back to college and stretch my legs. I look forward to the walk despite the cold.

We have decided that my daughter’s little vomit session a few nights ago was related to storm stress and not viral. Limbs crashing down around us can be scary to little minds and I think it came out in the liquid, chunky form. We’ve talked with her about how safe we are and reassured her that things are okay and will continue to be okay. It would be nice to be able to go home so she could get back to her normal routine. Going back to school on Tuesday will be a good thing.

Days ago (and my insurance company and electrician verified this) CU stated that they would not hook anyone up to electricity unless the household weatherhead was in good working order. They told us to get an electrician, on our own, and fix it, on our own. I did what I was supposed to, what any good community member should do and got it fixed. I’ve not received the bill but it is substantial, especially to a family with only one income.

Today on the news, CU announced that they will be repairing weatherheads and hooking people up to electricity at the same time. I’ve fixed mine, so there I am stuck with a bill courtesy of city utility. What will CU do? Will they reimburse me for the money? I seriously doubt it. They will let me eat it or stick it to my insurance company, which will inevitably raise my insurance rates. It would have been nice to have known that days ago.

I wonder if John Twitty, Decider of CU, has his electricity restored and when exactly that happened?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's Better To Look Good Than To Feel Good, Darling

It’s Monday morning and our city has been devastated by a great ice storm just three days ago. We have been without power since Friday evening and have been staying in a hotel. Springfield is a mess as is many of the surrounding counties. Cable, telephone and utility crews are being dispatched from other states to help. The Governor has announced the area as a disaster area and the President will do the same within a couple of days.

I’ve been calling electricians and tree removal services to work on my home, and have reported outages and downed lines to the cable and telephone companies. What does my wife want to do? She insists on keeping her two, previously schedule hair and photography appointments. She and my daughter get to their hair appointments. I am work on the house, change into my dress clothes, pick up the girls from their hairstylist, and take them to the photography for our yearly photo. We typically do this by Christmas, but we got busy and didn’t have time.

I clean up and wear my Sunday best, including a bow tie, and we traipse through the mall. Fortunately there aren’t many folks at the mall so we get there quickly and get our pictures taken. The girls really do look nice. My daughter wants her hair colored just like Mommy, except she wants her hair to be rainbow colored. Incidentally, the photographer did a nice job. The photos looked great. We hang out for the photos, and then head back home.

The worst ice storm in recent history and we head to the hairdresser and photographer. Crazy days, kids. The whole thing reminds me of my sixth grade year. There was a girl, named Melissa Gentry. She was wearing something that was uncomfortable == shoes, or a dress or something. I don’t really remember. What I do remember is her making a comment that it was uncomfortable. Sounded nuts to me to wear something that one hates. She says to me: “It’s better to look good than to feel good darling (in her best European accent). I knew then that girls were crazy as Hell, and at the same time I got hit with a small crush on her. That’s even crazier.

The Great Ice Storm of 07 Continues

As of Friday:
The daughter started throwing up last night. So we didn’t go to the funeral just in case it was a virus. Last thing we want is to infect the grandmothers and aunts. Just as well as we have had several workers come to my house or Aunt Bessie’s house to give estimates or begin work. Netflix delivered movies, so we caught An Inconvenient Truth. What a great documentary.

I am starting to get pretty stir crazy. The in-laws have been great and we get along pretty well, but you can only spend so much time cooped up with one another. The Twit announced that it would be another week before electricity is restored to everyone in the city. That is, they are restoring power on 2,000 households a day on average. They have 18,000 households to go. Now I am just a silly college student, but my math skills tell me something is up. Let’s write a word problem, shall we?

CU has 18,000 households to restore to power. If CU restores 2,000 households a day, how many days will it take to restore power to everyone? If we express that in mathematical terms that would look something like this: 18,000 ÷ 2,000 = 9. So Twit may have over-estimated his ability to restore power to the remaining 18,000 customers. I suspect it will take one week to 10 days. Not that I am complaining about CU’s ability to restore power. I think they have done a good job so far and I am being patient and calm. I’m just not thrilled about that little pinheaded Twit.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Great Ice Storm of 2007

I’ve been unable to get online long enough to post updates and pictures of our experience during The Great Ice Storm of 2007. So I’ve been keeping a record of what’s been happening on the laptop to post when internet services were available. Today is Friday and I have high speed internet services at the in-laws available. So here is my story so far.

As of Friday night at 10 p.m.:
The power went out and I spent the night listening to the crashes and gun-shot sounds exploding outside my bedroom window. It was a crazy night. I heard one particular tree falling and looked outside to find the mirror of my neighbor’s new Honda Odyssey van torn to bits.

As of Saturday morning:
I got up and the inspection of the house revealed some damage to the house. My neighbors around me had many more limbs down than I. I was very thankful that we had the dying tree in the backyard cut down last year. We built my kid’s tree house on the stump. No limbs to destroy my home or those around us.

The in-laws are quick thinkers and begin searching for a hotel room with power. Done and done. We packed the bags quickly, fed the cat a hearty potion of food (enough for three days) and loaded the laundry baskets with games, cards, books, and non-perishable foods (peanut butter, fruit, juice, and fig newtons among other things). Our cat is very anxious and would prefer being by himself in his own home than anywhere else. By this time the in-laws had found a different hotel with a heated, indoor pool, complimentary continental breakfast and cable. We headed to the Best Western -- Deerfield Inn at the intersection of Battlefield and Highway 65. Good thing too because the original hotel ended up losing power.

We were nestled between a Country Kitchen and a Steak-and-Shake with a McDonalds and gas station across the street. You would think that every restaurant in town was out of power considering the lines that were at both restaurants. Not that we would normally choose those particular restaurants. But hot food is hot food anyway you get it.

We made the best of it and considering the experiences that so many people in Springfield are going through, I will not complain. We were lucky to find the rooms, and have the money to pay for them. So many were not so lucky, spending the night in one of several shelters set up by the city.

As of Sunday at noon:
After taking my daughter for a morning swim and lunch, I headed to the house to check things out and make sure our kitty is doing okay. I drove up to a great surprise. My yard was full of huge limbs and piles of ice. My car was lucky. Limbs had fallen in front and behind it, barely missing it by inches both directions. Lucky for me that I pulled up closer to the garage door than I usually do.

The backyard is a bigger disaster. In my neighborhood all the utilities are located at the back of the lots. The tree limbs had fallen and ripped down the electrical wires connecting to the house. The weatherhead, (the aluminum pipe on the roof, where the utilities enter the home) is seriously damaged. Two sections of guttering is torn up. It’s quite a site. I will be sure to report how quickly the damaged is repaired and utilities restored.

I dread the storm tonight, as the forecast calls for another inch of ice. I’m not sure our poor community can withstand that, especially with the predicted wind speeds.

My Aunt Bessie has been staying in our room at the hotel. She is 87 and is stubborn. She has been talking about going home and she and I cutting up the trees in her yard. She doesn’t know her own limitations. I am not so fond of electrocution (she has five electrical lines in her yard) and I am afraid that she will fall and break a hip. She is insisting that she go home and mentions this every 10 minutes or so. She is nothing if not persistent. I am quickly tiring of rehashing the same argument. The last thing we need is to have her fall and break something. I have finally taken all I can stand. I called my dad and had him come up and take her back to Branson with him. She can drive them crazy for a while. She is some kind of angry at me.

As of Monday:
We are still in the hotel, only now we have an indoor cold pool and a green hot tub. So swimming has ended and the kiddos are none to happy about it. They would prefer to swim in an ice bath, but I have other ideas.

I called an electrician and got on the list for repairs and they hope to get to it this week. Meanwhile I went the house to get the crock pot. I made chili right before this storm hit and we put it in a plastic container and just set it in the garage, where it has nearly frozen. It’s made my room, and the hallway, smell like chili, but it fed the family and didn’t cost us a dime. We are spending enough on the hotel room.

Aunt Bessie is home calling my next door neighbor, her neighbor and anyone else she can think of to track me down. She’s mad that I sent her down there and has now decided that I don’t care about her or love her. She’s telling the family that I don’t care what happens to her and that I am lazy for not cutting up that wood in her yard. The disaster just keeps on.

As a good boy, I have checked on her house everyday and called to give her an update everyday. I hear tell that my mother refused to put up with that and pointed her finger at Aunt Bessie. You can tell when Mom is serious when she points the finger at you. She’s counted to three and said her piece and hushed Aunt Bessie up. She needed that. At her age, when Aunt Bessie gets upset, she becomes irrational and says things and believes things that are not true. No one really needs that during a disaster. My poor parents. I feel bad for them, but not bad enough to bring her back up here.

My grandmother Jewel (Juju) has a sister who passed away this evening. That has further upset the balance. Aunt Bessie is staying with Juju in Branson. They are two old ladies who get along pretty well.

As of Tuesday:
Power is on at the in-laws home, so we are packing up and leaving the hotel for cheaper accommodations and a stove. We got the air mattress from the house and some clean clothes. Buddy, our cat, was very glad to see us. He’s been snuggled up in a nest that my wife made him to help him keep warm. It’s 37 degrees in the house during the day and that is awful cold. I know he is very lonely without us too. The in-laws graciously offered, sincerely offered, to host the kitty as well. Now Buddy is a great cat, but he has some Autistic tendencies, one of which is change. He does not like change at all. It freaks him out. So we were concerned about taking him to their house, but it is just getting colder. We put him in the cat carrier and listened to him scream all the way to their house. We let him out and he sprung to the desk, lodging himself behind the filing cabinet.

The electrician came today and fixed the weatherhead. Mine was in an easy location and quick to fix. So now I am waiting on city utilities to get the juice flowing. As far as damage, I think the worst is done for now. So far it appears that the damage is not too bad. Although we won’t know until we can have it properly assessed. This is the list of damage as of today:

  • Sections of guttering torn down
  • Roof damage
  • Weatherhead destroyed
  • Electrical, telephone and cable lines torn down
  • Limbs in the yard, like everyone else
  • Shrubs destroyed
  • Food in fridge and freezer destroyed

Since we are stuck home and the in-laws are both working, we are the caretakers of the home. We have done dishes, laundry, mopped the floor, run the vacuum, and cooked three squares a day.

Grandma Juju was up all night thinking about her sister. Aunt Bessie stayed up with her, which was very nice. At their age, they both understand loss and pain and I think the company helped Grandma Juju deal with the sorrow. Aunt Bessie being in Branson ended up being a real blessing.

As of Wednesday:
I spent the day running errands and cooking meals. I also talked to electricians about Aunt Bessie’s house and where she was on the list. I talked with her next door neighbor to see how they are doing. No heat, but they are okay. We were able to watch a movie, My Super Ex-Girlfriend. It was a fun, but pretty campy.

As of Thursday:
Limbs continue to fall onto my roof, shrubs and yard. It is amazing how much keeps falling. I can't wait for the tree service to be able to get to it.

The funeral for Aunt Vera (Juju’s sister) is tomorrow in Mountain Grove. They are having graveside services only. I suspect it will be a short service considering the weather conditions. We are supposed to have 3-6 inches of snow coming tomorrow night, so I hope to be back in time for that. Aunt Bessie is going too and she’s convinced my dad to let her go by the house to pick up some items. We caught another movie during the afternoon today. Scary Movie 4 was really funny. We laughed the whole time. I was skeptical as the last movie of this type was Date Movie and it was horrible.

My friend, Gabe, just left the Army after two tours of duty in Iraq. He dropped by the in-laws’ house today while his car was getting repaired. He helped me run my errands and watched the movie with us.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Dark Tower Cometh Again: "The Gunslinger Born"

Marvel comics has teamed up with Stephen King to develop a comic title to go along with King’s Dark Tower series of novels. Written by Robin Furth and Peter David, with art by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, this is an original comic book that will delve into the origins of the iconic Gunslinger, Roland. The novels were a mixture of genres: science-fiction, western, fantasy and horror. Readers of the novels will remember that we experience a glimpse into Roland’s young teen years and his journey to become a Gunslinger at a young age. The Gunslinger Born will portray the young Roland and the circumstances that lead to his destiny. This will be a 7-part comic book limited series, with the first issue coming out this February.

Marvel has the lowdown:
“ ‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’ With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King’s Roland—an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland’s past is revealed! Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert Robin Furth (author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance) and scripted by New York Times Best-seller Peter David, this series delves deep into Roland’s origins—the perfect introduction to this incredibly realized world, while long-time fans will thrill to adventures merely hinted at in the novels. Be there for the very beginning of a modern classic of fantasy literature”

This was the second series that I read all the way through, the first being The Lord of the Rings. I was enamored with the Gunslinger universe. It was such an interesting mix of genres. Finally, after all these years, King finished the series. I won’t tell you how it ends. If this is anywhere as interesting as the novels, it should prove to be a wonderful read. There are several comic books stores in town. Any of which would be happy to subscribe The Gunslinger Born.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Apple iPhone: It's Finally Here!

Once again Apple makes developments in the technology field that is years beyond other companies. At the annual Macworld Conference and Expo several things were announced including the companies revolutionary new contraption. iPhone combines many of today’s functions in one smooth, clean and efficient Mac and PC device:

  • iPod
  • Cell Phone
  • Daily Calendar
  • Fully Functioning html Web Browser (Safari)
  • Email
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • 2.0 Megapixel Digital Camera
  • and much more.

This is a must see device. You simply have to check it out for yourself.

See the iPhone on Mac’s website.
Read the Macworld article.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bowling Is Not My Game

Our little family went bowling yesterday as part of our family vacation. Let me start out by saying that I am at all athletic and I am a pitiful bowler. I proved that with a hearty 66 and an improved 91. My 6-year-old daughter played five games and beat me in four of them. Good for her, but so much for me. The people next to us got a real kick out of watching our youngin’ beat the pants off us. They were some kind of family of bowlers and they could not seem to contain their excitement to utilize us as their source of entertainment. I’m not really sure which one of us needed the bumpers more, me or my daughter. My wife didn’t do any better, but I won’t describe her bowling scores. She can do that for herself if she wants. I will say that I am now convinced that bowling is not my game. She was very kind, in that she kept reminding me that I didn’t have to throw the game just for them. Oh if that were only so.