Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Acronym, I Only Write It

With my ever-increasing dependence on technology as a means to communicate, I’ve realized I’ve had to learn a new language – acronym speak. It seems the more I practice this language, the worse I become at my native American tongue. I prefer the old fashioned way of face-to-face conversation and am grateful for video chats, but that’s not always conducive to my surroundings.

For a long time I resisted the abbreviated techno-geek, no punctuation, no grammar way of texting, but I have to admit it saves time and I’m always in a hurry. Actually, I’m not always in a hurry, I just think I am. I’m really just impatient because I get bored easily. I feel the need to be constantly stimulated by cyberspace information. Come on, admit it, I’ll bet you’ve watched tv while surfing the internet on your laptop and texting someone on your cell phone. And I used to think I wasn’t good at multi-tasking.

So, how do I feel about my new bilingualism? FWIW AFAICT SSEWBA. BWDIK DBEYR.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Freak Magnet Theory

There are a lot of freaky people in the world and somehow I have a talent for attracting them. Those of you who are also freak magnets can attest that for whatever reason, when in a crowded place, the freaks will make a beeline towards you. I call this my freak magnetism. It’s not that I’m complaining about it, I just find it unusual that’s all. It’s almost as if there’s some unseen force that’s telling them to go to Diana, ignore everyone else in the room and go directly towards her.

I can’t tell you how may times I’ve been in a check-out line minding my own business, when out of the blue, some strange person approaches me to tell me their whole life story, including some of their most intimate and awkward details. When this first started happening, or I should say, before I became aware of my magnetism, I used to look for hidden cameras, thinking that someone was playing a practical joke on me. I’ve had some rather unusual conversations that made no sense whatsoever which often had me questioning whether I was really having a conversation or still at home dreaming up the conversation in my sleep.

Nowadays, I don’t really think too much about being approached by weirdo's because I’ve accepted the fact that my freak magnetism is a gift. My theory is that freaks are drawn towards people like me because in all honesty, I find them fascinating and I’m sure they don’t feel threatened by me. Think of how boring our world would be if it weren’t for the occasional weirdo that crossed our path to make our day interesting. And who’s to say that the weirdo's aren’t the normal ones and we’re all insane.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Confessions of a Caffeine Addict

Hi, my name is Diana and I’m addicted to caffeine. I’m utterly powerless against the ability to completely refrain from consuming all items that contain caffeine. They say that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Now I’m not denying my addiction, but in all honesty I have been in denial about my ability to stay off the stuff. I suspect that in this Starbucks generation there are a lot of people that are in the same boat as me but just not willing to admit it or do anything about it.

What is it about caffeine that people don’t take you seriously when you tell them you’re an addict? Is it because it’s considered cool to meet friends for a coffee date? Or is it that it’s readily accessible to anyone for consumption because most beverages, not to mention chocolate, contain caffeine?

When I tell people that I’m addicted to caffeine their first question is how much to you drink each day? When I tell them one just one cup of coffee they usually chuckle and then ask me why I think that’s a problem. Well gee, if it were just one beer, cigarette, candy bar, crack pipe or whatever a day, would you think it was a problem? The fact that I have to have it or I’ll go through massive withdrawal headaches because it affects my blood chemistry should be enough reason. I don’t like things that have control over me and I resent having to pop an Excedrin or make a special trip to the store to get a caffeinated beverage to avoid the withdrawal pain.

I’m not really sure when my problem with caffeine began, but I’d venture to guess that it started sometime during the college years when my recreational use of some type of stimulant was a daily occurrence. I’m sure most alcoholics or drug addicts started out as recreational users because it made them feel good. Coffee makes me feel good. I enjoy the aroma, taste and added energy boost it gives me. Besides it’s socially acceptable to drink coffee and I can quit using whenever I want, right?

Well see, that’s the problem. I can quit, but staying off it is the challenge. I have quit countless times only to re-addict myself time and time again. You’d think the withdrawal pain would be enough incentive to keep me off it forever, but it’s not. It would be much easier if there were some social stigma associated with it that would shame me into staying clean.

Personally, I think Starbucks is secretly creating a generation of addicts as a way controlling our consumer behavior and raking in the profits. We mindlessly start each morning with a trip to the drive thru to give us the jump start we think we need each day. They’ve got us all fooled, ha ha. They’re just like the department stores that fooled us into thinking that Christmas is about Santa and Easter about the Easter Bunny. They’ve deceived us into spending our hard earned money on gift buying and entertaining rather than spending quiet time with our loved ones and focusing on what the holiday is really about.

Do you like the way I didn’t take responsibility for my own addiction and blamed it on Starbucks? I obviously haven’t gotten to the step in my recovery process where you take personal responsibility for your actions. I guess that’s probably why I’m still drinking coffee.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Maybe Tamales Aren’t So Bad After All

Today I had the good fortune to travel to New York City to meet with some dear friends from San Diego, AJ and DB, who were visiting their daughter, JB for the holidays. JB took us to one of her favorite Venezuelan restaurants called Caracas and we enjoyed a variety of good food, none of which I could pronounce or remember the name of. Everything we ate was wonderfully delicious and the wait staff was friendly and attentive. I thoroughly enjoyed this culinary experience along with being in the company of great friends.

One of our appetizers (again, I have no idea what the name of it was) consisted of little balls of dough stuffed with hot cheese. The appetizer arrived at our table in a cornhusk lined bowl containing a mound of these tasty treats. JB gave us detailed instructions on how to spread the dough balls open to cool them off , where to squeeze on the mysterious Venezuelan yellow sauce and when to dab them in a tasty white dipping sauce before popping them into our mouths. The appetizer was very tasty indeed and I was thankful for her instructions which allowed me to experience the full flavor of the scrumptious delight.

After we polished off the dough balls, I innocently asked, “Who’s going to eat the cornhusk?” To which AJ replied, “you don’t eat the cornhusk, that would be like eating the cornhusk off a tamale.” My response was “oh, you’re not supposed to eat the corn husk? That would probably explain why I really, really don’t like tamales.” AJ gave me one of those quizzical looks. You know the one that tries to decipher whether or not you’re telling the truth. I assured her that I do in fact eat the cornhusk and do not care for the taste or texture of it and can never understand why anyone would think tamales taste good. AJ immediately erupted into hysterical laughter while her husband DB gave me a brief explanation on how the cornhusk is used to hold the tamales together during the cooking process.

Now, a lot of people have seen me attempt to eat tamales over the years and you would think at least one of them would have had the courtesy to tell me that the corn husk is just a wrapper and not to eat it. So, maybe tamales aren’t so bad after all? You can be sure that the next time I’m in San Diego, I’ll go out for tamales with AJ and DB just to see what they’re really supposed to taste like.

Thank you AJ, DB and JB for a wonderful afternoon in NYC and for educating me. JB, you’re a gracious host and I’m glad I got to spend some time with you along with your folks. Your appetizer instructions were great, where were you when I attempted to eat my first tamale?

Just out of curiosity, am I the only one who it didn't occur to to eat a tamale in any other form other than 'as is'? Generally, mexican food doesn't have to be unwrapped, unless of course, you eat at Taco Bell in which case everything needs to be unwrapped before eating. BTW, if you decide to eat a tamale with the cornhusk still attached, adding lots of salsa will not improve the taste.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


This morning as I was preparing to leave for an appointment I went outside and noticed that my car had turned into a giant carsicle over night. I was prepared to see a little frost on the windshield, but not my entire car covered in ice. My first reaction was “oh my gosh, you’re not in California anymore.”

The smart thing to do would have been to start the car, turn on the front and rear defrosters and go back inside for about 5 minutes. I’m sure my neighbors would have preferred me to do that as well. But, being a novice at cold weather conditions, I’m still in the trial and error stage of my learning process.

As I was eager to use my new ice scraper, I immediately started noisily chipping away at the ice sculpture that was once my windshield. Now in my defense, I did have a little common sense to start the car and turn on the defrosters as I battled the ice. About 5 minutes into the scraping, I decided that this wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. The stubborn ice did not want to free itself from the windshield and gave me quite a workout. Luckily, right about at the time I was either going to cry or cancel my appointment, the defrosters started to heat the windshield melting the ice enough for me to free its grasp on my car. I rejoiced at the sound of ice chunks crashing to the pavement. FYI, it sounds a lot like breaking glass. I’m sure my neighbors didn’t appreciate the noise and I half expected one to come outside and give me a lesson in winter car sense.

So, what did I learn today? Start the car, go back inside, and then scrape. Remember to call about getting a remote starter installed. Leave 15 minutes early for an appointment rather than 5. Remember to bring along your camera for these special, one-of-a-kind Kodak moments.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What is Art?

What constitutes something as being a piece of art rather than just plain silly, or insane or garbage for that matter? I imagine the goal of an artist is to make some sort of profound statement, invoke some strong emotion, or maybe just make the world a more beautiful place. I have to admit that most of the time I don’t have a clue as to what I’m looking at, let alone its meaning.

For example, on a recent cross-country road trip, I stopped off at an infamous landmark called Cadillac Farm along old route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. Now if you’ve ever driven through Amarillo you’d notice that there aren’t many interesting things to look at along the way so when an opportunity to see something unusual, or anything at all for that matter, pops up, you take it.

Cadillac Farm is what you’d expect…Cadillacs growing in a field. In 1974 a group of artists called Ant Farm took 10 Cadillacs and planted them face down in a cornfield. The caddies range from model years 1949 through 1963. What possessed them to do this, I’ll never know. But remember, there was a lot of parting going on in the 70’s so I’m sure it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do at the time.

I remember seeing pictures of this place when I was a kid. The cars still had tires and original paint colors, but over the years the elements and vandals have greatly altered their appearance. Still, it’s an interesting place to visit if you’re in the area and I highly recommend the experience, if just for the absurdity of it all. FYI, if you happen to go on a rainy day as I did, remember to bring along an extra pair of shoes.

Getting back to my original question, what makes this art? Personally, I just think it’s silly and entertaining. It was far more interesting to me before I knew artists created it. In my imagination, I thought it was some eccentric old oil tycoon’s way of disposing of his old caddies. Or maybe it was the Texas version of the scarecrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

First Snowfall

Last Sunday I had the good fortune of witnessing my first snowfall in over 20 years. I’ve been to the mountains in Southern California and skied, but have not actually seen it snow in a very long time. Sunday's snowfall wasn't big by any means, but nonetheless, it was still spectacular.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the first snowfall since my move to New England a couple of months ago, much to the dismay of my fellow New Englanders who’d rather prolong the first snow by several weeks. I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d feel the first time I saw snow, but when I woke in the morning, looked out the bedroom window and saw snow on the ground, I was extremely excited at the prospect of finding out.

As luck would have it, it started to snow shortly after I arrived home from church. I made myself a cup of hot cocoa, sat comfortably on the couch and stared out the window in total silence at the spectacle before me. I was completely mesmerized and awestruck by the beauty of it all. There’s something so peaceful about watching it snow.

Many things were going through my mind that day, but one theme in particular kept ruminating in my spirit. Each snowflake was unique. Not only were their sizes and shapes different from each other, but their journey was unique as well. Some flakes fluttered and traveled quite a distance in the wind, while others took a more direct route to the ground. Some flakes got caught up in trees or rooftops and never even made it to the ground.

It got me to thinking about how unique our own lives are and how each one of us has our own journey in life to follow. Much like the snowflakes, we can get caught up in things that prevent us from reaching our destiny and who's to say those obstacles aren't part of our destiny. Sure there are those who to take the fast direct route to their destination, but I suspect most of us flutter around a bit. We may even find ourselves caught up in the wind and heading in a direction we didn’t expect or can’t control.

Similarly, we don’t know what tomorrow’s weather be and like the snow we can’t assume that we’ll be here tomorrow. The good news is that we have Jesus who gives us eternity in heaven, but our time on earth here is short. So learn to make the best of your journey and enjoy it, for it truly is magnificent.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Workout Woes

Whoever said ‘no pain, no gain’ was obviously a masochist. I recently started attending a local fitness center and have been utilizing a personal trainer. My usual trainer moved on to bigger and better things, forcing me to go on a blind date yesterday morning.

I arrived at our scheduled appointment a few minutes early, introduced myself, and went through the usual small talk about my goals and what I was expecting from this relationship. I expressed to him that I was not experienced in these matters and was looking to take it slow at first. He nodded in agreement and proceeded to get right down to business.

About five minutes into our date I was ready to call it quits. Although he was a pleasant young man and I enjoyed our conversation, I was beginning to feel quite uncomfortable physically and wasn’t sure I’d be able to last the entire length of our agreed upon time together. During our small talk I discovered that he was an ex-marine. Immediately, I thought to myself, “I should have asked more questions about his background before I agreed to this meeting.” He is the third ex-marine I have spent similar such time with. The last of which made me do so many sit ups that for days afterwards, it literally hurt me to breathe.

After our scheduled session was over, I thanked him and politely let him know that I would not be seeing him anymore. I left the fitness center not being able to feel my legs, but grateful that I was not in any pain. The rest of the afternoon, I found myself grasping the railing each time I walked up or down stairs for fear of my legs collapsing out from beneath me. Last night I was unable to attend my church’s mid-week meeting because in my weakened state I didn’t think I would be able to hold the gas pedal down long enough to drive over there, let alone stand for praise and worship. Fortunately, this morning I was stiff and not in too much pain, but I’m afraid the pain is just starting to settle in.

So what have I learned from my blind dating experience? Always ask background questions before you agree to a date. Marines have a different attitude about what constitutes a good date. Be aware that marines will expect more from you. Pray for our marines because if their preparation is only half as challenging as how they trained me, I can only imagine what wartime is like. And pray for me...that I will be able to walk tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

15 Things I’ve Had to Re-Learn While Living in New England – Part 2

1. Water is more plentiful here. You don’t have to travel far to find bodies of water other than the ocean. There are plenty of streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds to swim, fish, kayak and ice skate in. Water also tastes good straight from the tap.

2. Canadian geese honk loudly. They can be seen and heard flying about New England. When I was a kid they used to migrate south for the winter, but it looks like more and more geese are sticking around permanently.

3. There are seagulls 50 miles from shore. At least there is an ocean somewhat nearby. Maybe I should start a proposition to rename them scavenger gulls or something along those lines. Californians would pass it for sure…oh wait, no, I’ll need to make it a bond issue for it to pass.

4. Freeway traffic is slower. The average speed is around 70 mph rather than 80.

5. Police travel in unmarked vehicles. I’ve seen more people pulled over for speeding by police in plain SUVs than police cars. Probably the most likely reason for #4.

6. Parking is not a problem. Shop anywhere anytime and you will be able to find a parking spot.

7. Left freeway exit ramps mess up the fast lane. Actually, there really isn’t a fast lane (see #4).

8. Roads are hazardous to tires. The weather conditions create a lot of potholes and uneven driving surfaces. I completely trashed a brand new tire within the first month of being here. FYI, Costco is a great place to buy tires. They replaced my tire for a $1 disposal fee.

9. GPS navigation is mandatory, not optional. If not for my handy GPS devise, I’d probably be living in Rhode Island or New York because I wouldn't be able to find my way home.

10. There’s a lot more road kill living in the country. I have to admit, my first night here I contributed to the statistic by hitting a kamikaze bunny. What is it with rabbits and my car?

11. NFL games start 3 hours later. The early game starts at 1pm and Sunday/Monday night football doesn’t start until 8:30 pm. I’m resolved to the fact that I’ll most likely fall asleep before the game ends and have find out who won the game by checking the scores the next day on the internet.

12. New England fans are loyal. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics or Bruins are playing, the fans will cheer for them just the same. Unfortunately, there are a few Yankee and Giants fans here too, but I won’t talk about them.

13. There aren’t as many blondes. Or at least there aren’t as many fake blondes here. Now that I think about it, I haven’t noticed as many elective plastic surgery makeovers either.

14. There aren’t as many BMW drivers in New England.

15. It’s strange to see whole forests of trees with no leaves. Come to think of it, it’s strange to see so many trees.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What's in a Name?

The other day I was driving down Main Street and it occurred to me that it was indeed, the main street. It got me to thinking that in the old days people named things more practically. Being new to the area and not all that familiar with the town, I began paying attention to street signs. There is in fact a church on Church Street and School Street appears to have a building that looks like an old one-room schoolhouse. I took a side trip down Great Swamp Road in search of the great swamp and was a little disappointed that I was not able to locate it. However, I’m sure there is a great swamp in the vicinity. It’s probably located in the woods behind some houses or just beyond where the road ends. Otherwise why would they have named the road so?

The street signs led me to thinking about people’s names. Have you ever wondered how your parents arrived at naming you? Were you named after someone specific? Did your parents just give you a name because they liked the sound of it? Maybe they made up a name. Or maybe your name has some significant meaning.

In biblical times people’s names were significant and often gave one their identity. Take Moses for example, his name means ‘arrived by water.’ He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter floating down the Nile River, and the woman named him so. She didn’t name him ‘found near tree’ or 'cave man Bob’. Likewise Samuel means ‘asked of God’ or ‘God listens’. Hannah prayed that God would give her a son and He did. I could go on and on listing names and their meanings, but I won’t bore you.

I once asked my dad why I was given my birth name and not something else. He told me that I was named after the Greek goddess, Diana. Diana is the goddess of the hunt. Lately, I’ve been hunting for a job by day and hunting mice by night. So, kudos to mom and dad for having the foresight to name me appropriately.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Victory is Declared in Weeklong Mouse War

Several breaches in the security perimeter were discovered on Saturday morning. A trip was made to the local Katz Ace Hardware Store to consult with professionals about the possible ways to secure the breach. The professionals recommended some great stuff to block the holes where wires were coming into the building and allowing the enemy access. After a brief demonstration by the professional on how to use the great stuff, I confidently went home and secured the perimeter. I am happy to say there have been no new casualties or indication of the enemy’s presence for the last 2 days. Is the declaration of victory too premature? Only time will tell.

Here’s a brief summary of the war:

7 days

Mice = 5
Humans = 0

Captured & Released:
Mice = 2
Humans = 0

Reusable Trap: 4.99
Clip Trap: 3.97
Decon Trap: 4.99
Great Stuff: 7.99

Total: $21.97

*Costs are exclusive of sales tax

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scarves are not just Accessories

Scarves have not been a part of my primary winter wardrobe since before I moved out west in the early 1980’s. Now, I’m proud to say that after 2 months of cool New England temperatures, my body is slowly acclimating to the weather, however my mind still associates sunshine with warm temperatures. Hence, I don’t think to wear certain items of clothing because my brain does not identify a need for it yet.

Two days ago it was a balmy 45 degrees outside and the sun was shining. For the first time in several days, I did not wear a turtleneck. The lack of neck protection was fine until the sun went down and the temperatures dropped. It just so happened as I was heading out for the evening I noticed a cold chill on my neck. My first reaction was to head inside and put on a turtleneck, but then it occurred to me that I could actually wear a scarf. After all, isn’t that the real purpose of owning a scarf aside from making a fashion statement?

I quickly ran inside and selected a cute scarf that complimented the outfit I was wearing that evening. I proceeded to wrap the scarf around my neck two times and then tie it in a couple of knots. Something didn’t quite feel right about my scarf tying technique, but hey, I looked cute and besides, I was in a hurry.

It wasn’t until I arrived at my destination and attempted to remove the scarf that my problems began. I wasn’t able to untie the knots let alone unwrap my neck. It seemed the harder I tried, the more circulation I was cutting off to my head. I must have looked quite pathetic because a sweet elderly lady named Hannah came to my rescue. She happened to be celebrating her 91st birthday that day and obviously had many more years of experience in these matters. She was only too happy to untangle me from my self-inflicted chokehold. She then graciously proceeded to give me a detailed demonstration on how to properly tie a scarf the “trendy way” and made sure that I was able to replicate her example.

Here are two techniques I learned this week on how to tie a scarf. The first example is the trendy way as demonstrated to me by Hannah and later confirmed by 3 independent sources, as in fact, being the cool way to tie a scarf. The second way is the old school way as shown to me by my friend, Tina. Tina recommends the old school technique for really cold days.

Technique 1 – Trendy

1. Fold scarf in half.

2. Drape folded scarf around neck.

3. Take loose ends and pull through loop on opposite end of scarf.

Technique 2 – Old School

1. Wrap scarf once completely around neck (only once) and leave ends hanging in front.

2. Take both ends and tie a loose knot. You now should have an inner layer and outer layer of scarf wrapped around your neck.

3. If it’s really cold outside, you can pull up the inside portion as a face warmer.

Thank you Tina for modeling the various techniques for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

10 Things God Spoke to Me Through My Pet Bunny, Sammy

1. God’s love is unconditional – no matter how I act, look or feel God loves me just the same. Nothing I do can take away or lessen His love for me. Even if Sammy would misbehave or bite me, I’d still love him just the same. I might not love some of the things he would do, but I always continued to love him. God may be displeased with some of the things I do, but he’s never displeased with me.

2. God disciplines me to keep me from harm - when God tells me not to do something I’ve learned that it’s usually for my own good. I might participate in an activity, eat something, or say something that seems perfectly harmless, but will eventually hurt me. Sammy used to like to chew on electrical cords. It was a perfectly natural instinct for him to do it and he didn’t know it would kill him. I’d have to put him in his cage until he’d forget about the electrical cords. The cage wasn’t to punish him, but protect him. So when God tells me no, it’s usually for my protection, because He sees the harm in my action when I don’t.

3. God is faithful - God is responsible for keeping me safe and providing for me. Just like it was my responsibility to provide food, shelter, love and look after Sammy’s health, God is faithful to do the same for me. He doesn’t forget about me or leave me without taking care of my needs.

4. God calms my fears – God is the one who can make me feel safe. Occasionally one of my roommates would let a dog in the house and it would terrify Sammy. Sammy would run to me for protection. Likewise, I need to run to God when I’m feeling afraid, whether the fear is physical, relational, financial or emotional.

5. God wants to spend time with me – it blows my mind to think that the Creator of the Universe actually desires to spend time with me more than I do with Him. I often wondered what Sammy was doing all day while I was at work. I looked forward to coming home and seeing him. The same way I thought about Sammy, God thinks about me. Only God thinks about me all the time. In fact his thoughts towards me are too numerous to count, like the grains of sand in the sea.

6. God is gentle – I loved sit quietly on the floor with Sammy in my lap and quietly stroke his fur. God likes to spend quiet time with me. He loves it when I sit in His presence and receive His gentle strokes. He never yells at me or tells me bad things about myself. In fact, He does the exact opposite. He encourages me, and believes in me more than I believe in myself.

7. God is patient - I’d often call Sammy and he would ignore me. When he was ready he’d eventually come to me. Likewise, God calls me to Him and sometimes I ignore Him. Thankfully God is patient and waits for me to come to Him. He never forces me to do anything. He gives me the freedom to choose.

8. God has a great sense of humor – when I’d leave town for the weekend and leave Sammy in the care of friends, Sammy would get upset. He always let me know that he was upset by pooping right in front of his cage rather than in his cage. Thankfully, once I was home, he’d use his cage properly. It was hilarious to me that he would do this every time I wasn’t home. There were several times I was complaining to God about something that He asked me to do that I didn’t want to do. Most of the time I’d do it, but with a bad attitude. I’d sulk and complain. God reminded me that my attitude was a lot like Sammy’s pooping when I didn’t get my way. God has a great way of showing us our true selves in a humorous way.

9. God does not condemn me – Sammy’s natural instinct was to run away when I caught him doing something that he wasn’t supposed to do (like chewing the walls). My natural instinct is to run away from God when I know I’ve done something wrong for fear of punishment. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect me to be perfect; in fact He knows I’ll mess up. Since He’s all knowing, He already knows all the mistakes I’ll ever make in my lifetime and He still does not condemn me because the blood of Jesus justifies me. I never held it against Sammy when he’d do something bad. I’d deal with his action and then forget about it as if it never happened. In the same way, God forgets about my mistakes when I ask for His forgiveness. He doesn’t bring up all the stuff I’ve ever done wrong and hold it over me. His mercies are fresh and new every day.

10. God is gracious – I’d love to give Sammy little treats, whether it was a little chew toy or a little piece of fruit. Sammy didn’t do anything to deserve or earn those treats. I just wanted to give them to him because I loved him. In the same way, God longs to bless me. Not because I deserve the blessings, but because of how wonderful God is. He delights in giving me good things.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Developments on the Home Front

I hoped to have no significant news to report aside from a declaration of victory, but after completing my morning inspection routine, I noticed one of the WMDs had come up missing. I immediately conducted a thorough search of the premises. The would-be-thief traveled quite a distance before succumbing to the ill effects of the powerful weapon. In its escape attempt it almost rendered the weapon inoperable, but also may have led me to a possible location of the enemy’s base camp. It still however hasn’t been determined if new recruits are arriving on the battle ground daily or if the rebels are from the original squadron. I may have underestimated the strength and determination of my opponent.

After taking a mental inventory of the casualties to date I am optimistic that the enemy has not recruited youngsters in this mice war. The plan now is to procure additional WMDs and strategically place them near the suspected campsite.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is Victory Near?

Having completely cut off the enemy’s food supply and taken out 3 of its leaders, it appears as though the enemy is starting to weaken. Morale seems low. I’m not hearing any of their all night partying anymore. Likewise, they’re not leaving any indication of having a presence in the kitchen. However, they continue to hold territory in the basement and that is where I’ll concentrate my next attack.

I regret that I will be suspending my reports on the war scene until a more significant event occurs or total victory is declared.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thoughts About My First Kill(s)

(WARNING: This blog contains graphic material that may not be suitable for the faint of heart)

I often wonder what goes through a soldier’s mind after he experiences his first kill. Does he feel remorse? Does it get any easier the more he does it?

I thought about what was going through my mind this morning as I anticipated seeing my first casualties. I have to admit that my very first thought was “Lord, I need a husband to take care of this for me.” Sorry to all you women’s rights activists, but this activity falls in the ‘man’s job’ category. The gross-out factor is not befitting for a lady.

I nervously walked down to the basement to catch a glimpse of my WMDs. A glimpse was all I needed to get an idea of what I was up against. After a quick gander at the WMDs I went back upstairs to mentally prepare myself for the casualty removal task at hand. While preparing myself, I meditated on the fact that I just took the life of a living creature, albeit a rodent, but still, I was the one who contributed to its demise. Honestly, I thought I’d feel bad about it, but instead I felt angry and triumphant. I was angry at the little beasts for pushing me to the point of violence, yet I rejoiced at their calamity. In my anger, I thought for a brief second about hanging the dead mice by their tails as a deterrent to any other mice that might be in the area. You know, like they did in the bible to discourage their opponents. I quickly dismissed the idea because I don’t like smelly, rotten things, and more importantly, I’d have to actually touch the corpse to do it. Now, if I had a husband…he could do it.

So, how do I really feel? ”Die, I’m going to kill every last one of you filthy, little monsters. And, I will not relent until you’re completely gone, ha ha! (evil laugh)" Gosh, did I say that out loud? Isn’t it funny how your enemies can bring the worst out in you? Your friends can too, but I’ll save that discussion for another blog.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to place a call in for reinforcements. I’ll continue to hold down the fort until they arrive. I am armed with reusable WMDs and plenty of Jif. I know I can do it!

I hope the left-wing animal rights activists don’t get a hold of what’s going on in this household because I don’t want any more trouble. Besides, I have God’s permission to rule over “…every creepy thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen 1:26 ESV)

Okay, so maybe I was a little overzealous about my opponent's most unfortunate outcome. A special thanks goes out to Sully, who so brilliantly told me to place the traps along the walls. FYI, that’s how mice like to travel, it makes them feel secure.

There will be Casualties in Time of War

I have a friend named Sully who read about my predicament and called to give me expert advise as she has vast experience in dealing with mice behavior from working in the biomedical research industry. I was told to stop feeding my enemy, as I will only end up recruiting more for the other side. She also informed me that it has been discovered that mice have found their way back ‘home’ after being as far away as 18 km. Now, I’m not about to take my captives for a ride to the next town over in the middle of a cold winter evening, so I’ve decided to change my tactics.

Sometimes in warfare it becomes necessary to use Weapons of Mass Destruction. Generally, I’m opposed to the use of such force but there are certain situations that make the use WMDs appropriate. After all, wasn’t it God who told Moses and Joshua to utterly destroy their enemies? It was only when they failed to annihilate them that they faced problems down the road. I made the mistake of having a merciful heart for my opponent. I’m convinced that mouse #1 recruited more mice in the woods and directed them to my home. Well, I've put on my war paint and am prepared to use any means necessary to defend my territory.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mice Chronicles - Part 4

Not having heard back from my landlord, I had to fend for myself for yet another day. No big deal, this has become ridiculously easy, or so I thought. Much to my dismay, I looked into the trap this morning and to my surprise it contained no peanut butter and no mouse. How the heck did that happen, I wondered. I carefully inspected the trap and noticed that the little monster had eaten through the piece of plastic that held the trap door open, making it able to climb over the trap door and gain its freedom.

Judging by the size of the droppings and the hole, it can only mean one thing – babies!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mice Wars - Day 3

I'm afraid my uninvited houseguest brought along additional poachers. The question is, how many? I can confidently say 2 less. As Yosemite Sam so eloquently put it - rackin' frackin' varmits! Those pesty little mice are difficult to find let alone get rid of. Although they have quite an affinity for peanut butter, I'm afraid they may multiply faster than Jif's ability to attract them. It's time to call in the professional mice warriors before I lose my appetite for peanut butter sandwiches altogether. Not to worry, I am not discouraged by this minor setback. I know I'll be victorious in this mouse war in the end. After all how could their little pea brains possibly out wit me?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

OMG, I Caught a Mouse!

Disturbed by the knowledge of having a rodent residing in my house, I set out on a quest to evict the unwanted tenant. I went to Home Depot to acquire my weapon of choice. Not having waged war against a rodent before, I was overwhelmed by the various methods of extermination. I spent quite a long time analyzing the pros and cons of each enticement system before making my choice. The first method was to leave bits of tasty treats laced with poison throughout the house. This didn’t seem like a good option because I envisioned the little creature eating the poison and crawling back to its nesting place to die. The stench of decaying rodent didn’t appeal to me. Likewise, the second method of destruction was snapping its little head into an old-school mousetrap. The thought of having to clean up mouse guts seemed better than the stench option, but still not desirable. The third method of eradication was to lay down pads of tape for the mouse to adhere itself to. I had a difficult time trying to understand the philosophy behind this method. Is it supposed to be more humane? If so, then what are you supposed to do with the mouse once it’s stuck to the tape pad? Are you supposed to pry it from the tape and let it go? That would mean having to touch a live mouse and risk getting bit. Or are you supposed to wait for the mouse to die and then toss the tape pad, mouse and all? If that’s the case, that seems like a slow, unpleasant way for the mouse to die and who knows how long that could take. Needless to say, I opted for the fourth method which was a small plastic box that traps the mouse inside it.

Shortly after supper I could hear my foe in the kitchen nibbling on something. I determined that the sound was coming from beneath the refrigerator. I nervously got on my hands and knees and shined a flashlight in its direction hoping to spy the little defiant beast, taunting me with its bold gnawing. Since I knew where it was, I took the mousetrap, laced it with peanut butter and placed it in front of the refrigerator, daring my little adversary to enter. I went to the living room and waited for my opponent to fall for the bait. Moments later I could hear the sound of the plastic trap moving across the floor. I quickly ran into the kitchen. I must have caught my rival off guard because for a brief second we both froze and stared at each other. As quickly as my enemy ran back under the refrigerator, I ran back into the living room with my heart pounding in fear. After I calmed my nerves, I had to laugh at myself for being afraid of such a tiny thing. I have to admit, the little guy was quite cute and I was happy that I opted for the box method. Within minutes the mouse had returned to the box and had trapped itself inside. It made quite a clammer trying to free itself.

Now the smart thing to do would have been to go directly to the woods and release it at once. However I didn’t do that because I was not willing to go outside in the freezing temperatures and walk a couple hundred yards into the woods. Who knows what animal could be lurking in the woods in the darkness of night. So I went to bed and left the little mouse in the box all night. I have to admit, I thought the mouse would eventually tire in its efforts to gain freedom, but not so.

Having been deprived of sleep from the mouse’s boisterous attempts at escape all night, I arose before sunrise to shower and dress before readying myself for my trek into the woods. I waited for the sun to rise before I snatched the trap containing the noisy little fur ball and headed outdoors. Now I would be remiss if I didn’t state that my heart was pounding in anticipation of having to slide open the cover and let it escape. I was imagining the horrors that could unfold. What if the little creature freaked out and climbed up my leg? What would I do if it bit me? My hands trembled slightly with fear as I gently slid open the cover and jumped back to watch. A little head with bulging eyes immediately peered out and stared at me. A split second later my peanut butter covered houseguest ran beneath some leaves next to a nearby tree. I scraped out the remaining peanut butter from the box and left it as house-warming gift.

So, who was the ultimate victor in the mouse war? Only time will tell. If the little critter invited friends, I’d have to give the victory to the mouse, as I would eventually have to recruit outside help. As for today, I declare myself to be the Supreme Conqueror and Commander of this house.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Country Living

There’s a mouse in my house. Rats! At least I hope it’s only one mouse and not a family of mice. I’m resolved to terminating the little creature’s existence in my house, but not looking forward to it. When I lived in the west I only had to battle insects – ants, roaches and fleas, never any cute, furry four-legged animals. Somehow it doesn’t seem like murder when you squash an ant or bomb your house with toxic gas, but poisoning or torturing a mouse seems inhumane. I’m sure I’ll get over it, especially if it’s invited friends along. But hey, things could be worse, at least I don’t have to deal with whatever is eating my outdoor pumpkin. Oh the joys of living in the country again :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

15 Things I've Had to Re-Learn While Living in New England

1. Water freezes at 32 degrees. A bottle of water accidentally left in the car overnight will freeze. It also won’t melt if the temperature doesn’t get above freezing during the day.

2. It takes skill to get in and out of a car with an umbrella. It’s a lot harder than it looks to get in the car and fold up an umbrella without getting water dumped all over you. I’m still not quite sure what I’m supposed to do with the wet umbrella once inside the car.

3. The smell of smoke and the presence of strong wind does not mean, “prepare to evacuate”. The winds may blow like Santa Ana’s, but they’re 50 degrees cooler. The aromas of fireplaces are quite enjoyable now that I realize that it doesn't meant that the town is on fire.

4. Chap Stick is a necessity if you like to lick your lips. I don’t need to say anymore.

5. Drivers are more courteous here. When first in line at a stoplight, expect the driver on the opposite side of the road to make a left turn in front of you before you enter the intersection. Don’t freak out when this happens. It’s an unwritten code of politeness.

6. Sunshine and cold is better than no sunshine at all. Don’t assume that the sun will come out today. Also, don’t associate sunshine with warm weather. Even though it make look warm outside, it’s most likely to be cold. Take advantage of the sunshine because you may not see it again for several days.

7. Weather in New England is fickle. The temperature can change quite drastically from day to day or even within the same day. Never leave home without a coat. It’s a lot easier to wear layers of clothing and add and subtract throughout the day rather than become a meteorologist and try to guess what the day will be like. Remember to check the weather report every morning.

8. Leave an extra 5 minutes early to get somewhere. This allows time to warm up the car. Allow more time when having to scrape the window. I’m seriously considering having a remote starter installed.

9. Produce doesn’t last as long here. Since most of the vegetables ship from California, they don’t stay as fresh as they do when living in California, closer to the source.

10. Getting from place to place is more difficult. No one knows the name of streets. Getting directions involves creating a map in your head of landmarks. “Just up the road” is usually a lot farther than I think. People measure distance in miles here rather than time it takes ‘with’ or ‘without’ traffic. It takes a lot longer to get 5 miles on single lane country roads than it would on the freeway (without traffic).

11. Yellow traffic lights turn red after 2 seconds. When the light turns yellow, stop because you won’t have enough time to clear the intersection and will end up running a red light.

12. The ocean is to the East and South. To travel inland head west instead of east.

13. The true color of my skin is pasty white.

14. Driving at night requires high beams. Country roads do not provide ample lighting, if any. High beams make a huge difference in driving in the country. Unfortunately they can be a detriment as well when the opposite driver forgets to dim their lights to oncoming traffic.

15. There are few Asians and Mexicans here. It’s sad to seldom see any Asians or Mexicans. The real tragedy though is the lack of good Mexican food here.


16. Even though I may have an accent, I’m not from the south. I am not a Texan just because I don’t remember how to live here and I don’t talk like a ‘wicked cool’ Yankee anymore.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Milked the First Cow?

I often wonder who the first person was to milk a cow. Maybe it wasn’t a cow; maybe it was a goat or some other animal instead. I’d like to think it was God who showed Adam how to do it because the thought of some man (or woman) approaching a random cow disturbs me. I know it’s not a big deal today, but the first time it happened? You have to admit, that was a strange thing to do. Yes, I’m sure hunger was a good motivator, but still, that had to be awkward…for the cow, I mean.

My grandfather was a dairy farmer so I often thought of this as a kid when I saw him milk cows. I never asked him the question though because he kept trying to convince me that chocolate milk came from brown cows. I knew better because if that were true, then his cows would have given us milk that looked like ‘cookies and cream’.

Hmmm, still I wonder…. who was that brave cow?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Boogie Boarding & God

Boogie boarding and our relationship with God have a lot things in common. Both are fun, invigorating, and worth the effort. A day out boogie boarding can be compared to being on an adventure with God. Here’s what I mean.

Step one - prepare for the adventure. We’ve decided to go boogie boarding, so we set a date, time and place to boogie board. We gather our equipment: bathing suit, wet suit, boogie board and fins. With God we prepare through prayer, counsel and the word of God.

Step two - get into the water. The water is cold and uncomfortable. There’s the initial period when you’re in water up to your knees and debating whether to walk in any deeper. You’re counting the costs. Will boogie boarding be worth the physical discomfort of being cold? Much like when God calls us to do something, we may decide we want to do it, but we approach with caution. We get our feet wet before we decide if we’re going to fully submerge ourselves or turn back. We may or may not be willing to get out of our comfort zone. The cold water has deterred many a person from going boogie boarding just like a little discomfort has deterred many a Christian from moving forward.

Step three - face the resistance. Once we’ve decided to stay in the water, we have to push past the breaking waves to get deep enough to catch waves. Some days the ocean is calmer than others and pushing past the waves doesn’t seem that difficult. Other times, the waves pound and toss us around and it takes great effort and determination to get deeper. The same is true when we take a leap of faith to do the will of God. We face resistance such as doubt, discouragement, financial or relational hardships, etc. Sometimes the resistance knocks us around a bit, but we have to be willing to fight harder to get past it.

Step four - wait patiently. We’ve made it past the breaking waves and now we’re ready to boogie. The water is calmer and by now our bodies are starting to get acclimated to the water temperature. But, now we have to wait. Our patience is tested. Are we going to take first wave that comes along or are we willing to wait for a better one? God’s timing is not our timing. Most likely, we’ll have to wait on God before we can move ahead. Sometimes we get impatient and move to quickly and we end up settling for something less than what God had intended for us.

Step five - catch the wave. Now you may think that this part is easy since we’ve already submerged ourselves in cold water, been pounded by waves and have waited patiently. But, it’s still going to take a lot of effort to catch a wave. You have to be on the lookout for just the right wave. When the wave approaches, your board needs to be in position and you have to know just the right time to paddle and kick like crazy. Despite all our effort, we still might not catch the wave. Likewise, we need to be ready when God calls us to move or we may miss Him as well. This is not a time to slack off, we must remain in a ready state by continuing to pray, fellowship and read His Word.

Step six – ride the wave. The payoff for all the hard effort is riding the wave. Once we catch the wave it doesn’t take much of our own effort to stay on it. The wave is doing all the work and we get to go along for a wonderful ride. This stage is what I call riding the waves of God’s grace. It’s at this point in our journey where we’re walking in the grace of God and very little of our own effort. Oh how truly magnificent His grace is.

Step seven – repeat steps 2-6. That’s right, catch another wave. Go for a ride, again and again. Each ride is different and exciting. Every time we step out in faith with God, we’re in for a new experience.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Sox, Yankees & Politics

The democrats and republicans remind me a lot of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. You’re either a fan of one and hate the other or you’re not really concerned about the game of baseball at all, in which case you could cheer for either team on any given day. I grew up a Red Sox fan and always hated the Yankees. I’d get very angry every time the Sox lost to the Yanks. In 2003, after a particularly frustrating playoff loss to the Yankees, I got extremely angry. I mean, I was really, really angry and wanted to smash something. I was surprised how angry I got from just a baseball game. I asked myself the question, why do I hate the Yankees so much? The answer was simple. I was raised to hate the Yankees. I never really decided for myself whether or not I should hate them. When I thought about it – I mean, really thought about it, I decided it really didn’t need to hate the Yankees in order to love the Red Sox. I had based my opinion on my parents and friend’s feelings. I decided right then and there that I had already wasted a lot of energy hating something that I really didn’t have a good reason to hate. So, I looked for things I could like about the Yankees such as they have a lot of talented players, they have cool uniforms, their fans are loyal, some of their players are cute, etc. Getting rid of the hate has really brought a new level of enjoyment to the game for me. I can actually watch and occasionally cheer for the Yankees now.

So, why did I go off on the baseball tangent? Because, I think elections are a lot like the Red Sox/Yankees game. Most people either love one party and hate the other. For those that don’t I hope they vote their conscience and not popular opinion (like band wagon fans – you know the fans that only cheer for the team that’s supposed to win). For those that vote either straight democrat or straight republican I hope they ask themselves why? Why am I so loyal to one party and am I being ridiculous in not looking at the other, especially if the other team has a better player?

What is it that really shapes our political views? Do we adopt our parent’s views? I would think that would probably depend on how we view our parents. Most likely we’d agree with them politically if we respect them and vote opposite them if we butt heads. Or maybe our college professors influenced us? After all most of us don’t begin to even think about politics until we’re old enough to vote, which often coincides with our entering college and discovering our new found independence. It’s kind of scary to think of a college professor’s influence on us since most professors have only ever lived in the academic world and base most of their opinions on what they read rather than their own real world experience. It’s easy for them to criticize and theorize when they’re basing they’re opinion on data rather than human experience. Maybe our demographics shape our political views. Are we afraid to go against the popular opinion of our friends, co-workers, neighbors rather than cause a riff in our relationship? Probably the biggest influence on our political views is multi-media. You can’t go anywhere without being exposed to some type of political opinion on television, the internet, radio, newspapers, sign posts, junk mail and on and on. The problem with multi-media is that it is almost always biased towards one candidate. Not to mention the candidate with the most money can really flood the media and draw more attention to themselves.

I wonder how many people actually think about the candidates and research their ideas and their character? I’ll bet the vast majority of Americans decide on a candidate based on someone else’s opinion rather than searching their own hearts and finding the candidate whose stance coincides with their own core beliefs. How many people vote straight party line and never question the character of their party’s candidate?

Personally, I don’t look at the party affiliation when I look at a candidate. However, I tend to vote one party over the other because the candidates usually line up with my personal beliefs. I’m not going to limit myself in how I vote just because my pride won’t allow me to choose the candidate from the other party if he/she is better qualified. Just like voting for MLB all-star candidates, I vote for the best player regardless of whether they’re wearing a Red Sox or a Yankee uniform. Vote responsibly.