Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas at the Terry House
This is a little late, but BobVila.com has tips on Building a Gingerbread House.
Yglesias has a good post on how a terrorist-finding program with a 10% error rate can produce a field of suspects that are 90% innocent.

In other news, Christie's dad told a very funny story over dinner last night about taking the gum from an MRE and tossing it in the candy bowl at work, only to find out later that the gum was designed to have a laxative effect. Alas, my research seems to indicate that the gum isn't really a laxative, though the rumor that it is has a long, long history.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A commercial I heard on the radio this morning:

"There is a place in Columbia where you are welcome to worship and celebrate the holidays, regardless of your race, politics, or sexual orientation. The name of that place, surprisingly enough, is the First Baptist Church."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Everybody Else is Doing It: Year In Review
In a year full of projects and parties and friends and family and big changes seemingly every week, Christmas seems less like Christmas! and more like, well, Sunday. The main difference is that I listen to slightly less punk while I'm working on house projects, and slightly more Bing Crosby.

This time last year, Christie and I were freshly married, and just about to head down to New Orleans to surprise her family. Naturally, the New Orleans airport iced in, and we got stuck in traveller's limbo for a while. This year, we're freshly back from New Orleans, where the weather was pretty cooperative, having shot its wad back in August.

The big difference is the new house, and that's what takes up most of our time and energies these days. Unlike the last one, this one's a pleasure to work on, and I often find myself rifling through my toolbox just for the joy of tinkering.

Other than that, there's not too much to say. Most days, I feel like the luckiest man in the world for Christie having said "I do", and I'm not just saying that because her mother reads my blog. When I'm with her, I'm the best and happiest version of myself that I've ever known. Work is good. Both cars are running, there's nothing functionally wrong with the house, money's not tight, and, yet, we've weathered enough bumps and stress in the last year to give me an idea of how we'd weather a crisis, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm also well aware of how lucky this makes Christie and I, and I'm grateful for it all.

Now if we could just do something about that asshat in the White House.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Moreena's got a great post up:
"After finally getting a shower and lunch, I headed to the hospital lobby for a coffee. Rounding the corner I saw that the hospital had set up Santa Claus, complete with a red throne and elves. He was surrounded by wiggly children, all murmuring, 'Santa!' and eyeing the presents he was handing out to each child. They were all so excited and happy, and (wouldn't you know it?) I started to cry. I can pretend that Christmas will happen in February this year, but the rest of the world is carrying on with the usual calendar.

"As I entered our PICU room again, my emotions back in check, Jörg stood up and announced he was going downstairs to get some hot chocolate from the cafe.
'OK, but there's a Santa down there,' I warned him.
"He looked at me quizzically, clearing not understanding what I meant.
"A little embarrassed, I explained, 'He made me cry.'
"'Santa made you cry?'
"I nodded, beginning to realize that perhaps my warning was a bit unnecessary for someone not awash in PMS hormones.
"Jörg cocked his head and gave me a concerned look, 'Do I need to beat him up?'"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just a quick endorsement of Repairclinic.com. In the old house, when I had a dryer problem, they helped me diagnose it even though they didn't make a dime off of it (the problem was in the outlet, not the dryer). At the new house, the stove has been acting wonky, and their site gave me a definitive answer on the problem and helped me find the part I needed, plus gave the the info I needed to do the repair myself. In the extra special bonus round, the price ended up being less than it would have been from my local appliance stores, and I'll have it sooner, since nobody this side of St. Louis keeps burner switches for 20 year old cooktops in stock.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What with all the to-do over Thanksgiving, I never really got the chance to talk about it being Christie and I's anniversary, or to mention the best thing about marrying her: we finally got to have sex. Yeah, that's right, we waited.

Have I mentioned that Christie's mom reads the blog?
It's an old problem, I suppose, and if
I substitute a few words, like "church" for Internet,
and "crier" for blogroll, I might know what to do and not
feel this phantom tingling where my faith used to be
when you write that the doctors don't know what to do
and your comment thread fills with people saying
"we're praying for you"
and I'm haunted by the people I never prayed for,
the palls I've born, and funeral food I've eaten,
and in the end I sub it out, send an email
to my mother's church, where they know what to do
when they run out of options,
and I go downstairs,
pick up my grandfather's tools,
and try again to build a bench.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that what your light-sleeping uncle really needs this Christmas is a bedside table that doubles as a shield and club. The good news is, the design is here. The bad news is that they are not yet for sale.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sick. Wrong. But very, very funny (except for the last one, which is kind of a let down, and some of the kinda gross ones): Bunny suicides

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Her: Rita was telling me that Eric's car insurance is going to cost more than twice as much as Erin's did, because boys get in so many more wrecks than girls.

Me: That's so unfair to those of us who aren't reckless. There oughta be some way of proving you're not a dumbass.

Her: Get a sex change.

Me: Nah. I couldn't afford the pay cut.

Her: See, so it balances out. You get paid more.

Me: Yeah, but you wouldn't want to fix that. You'd have to start paying for drinks.

Her: You're not exactly proving your point about not being reckless.

Me: I like to live on the edge.

Her: And sleep on the couch.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Actual Bill O'Reilly Quote:

"I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that. ... There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together. There is no reason on the earth that we can't do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me."

Huh.

(via Media Matters)
Woman Hires Hit Man for Cheese

I'm lucky Christie has such a strong moral compass.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Metairie Mall's Christmas Town includes blue tarps on roofs. More pics are here. Naturally, some people were offended, so the mall took it down, but then even more people complained, so it's back up.
Conversations You Wish You Weren't In
In "Care for the Soul", Thomas Moore said something along the lines of "Family is a wonderful gift from God in that it allows us to spend tremendous amounts of time with people we would not otherwise even want to know."

Don't take this the wrong way. I've been extremely lucky both in the family I've chosen and the family I was born with, and I love them all dearly. But there have been occasional glitches in the matrix, which is how I know that some of you will find yourself sipping eggnog and biting your tongue while your aunt/uncle/cousin/grandparent rants about "the gay agenda" or words to that effect.

It might be some other topic. The Liberal War On Christmas. Ten Commandments in Public Buildings. Intelligent Design. The Misguided Heliocentric Model of the Solar System. If any of those come up this season, I'll most likely bite my tongue and pray for a change of subject. But I'm resolving here and now to draw the line at homophobia. I'll draw it gently, and with as much kindness and tolerance as I can, but draw it I will.

Let me tell you a story. I tend to repeat myself, so it may be one I've told before.

Quite a few years ago, my father and I got into an argument. The Boy Scouts had just gone to the Supreme Court arguing for the right to discriminate against homosexuals, and I was more than a little torn up about it. I grew up in the Scouts, and the virtues they taught me are the virtues I still live by today. Those same virtues had me appalled, now, at what they as an organization were doing. My dad, on the other hand, thought they were doing the right thing. He talked about morality, the Bible, and family values.

I could feel my blood pressure rising, but the argument I wanted to make wasn't about anger, it was about love, so I ignored it. "I understand," I said. He was talking from his experience, after all. So I told him I was going to talk from mine.

I told him that when he talked about "gay people" that he was talking about quite a few of my friends.

I talked about teen suicide, and how much higher the rates for attempted suicide were among gay teens. I wondered how the Boy Scouts could call it kindness to tell a teen in the middle of that struggle "You're not good enough for us."

I told him about Matt, who I worked with in high school, and the way our relationship changed after I knew he was gay. Could you imagine, I asked, not being able to talk about Mom with the guys at work?

I told him about the friends I had in college that struggled with their sexuality, and the difference in the state of their soul that it made when they finally realized who they were, and what sex they were meant to be with.

Finally, because this was back when I was a church-going man, I told him about Gary, our music director, who'd been fired from a Southern Baptist church for being gay. He and his partner had been together for 15 years at that point, and would marry if it were legal, but it wasn't. We were lucky to have him, frankly, and his soul blossomed at being in a place that affirmed for him that God loved him, and that his love for his partner was every bit as blessed by God as the love between a man and a woman.

And then I shut up, and never brought it up again.

Just to clear things up, I don't consider myself a Christian. I was raised in a church that taught the whole Bible, but seemed to prefer the Old Testament to the New, and it sort of left a bad taste in my mouth. And then there's the matter of metaphysics. But I do believe in right and wrong, and I definitely think it's wrong to exclude anyone based on things over which they have no choice. It's wrong, whether we're talking about country clubs, housing, employment, recreational groups, or the right to marry. And I believe love is indeed what makes the world go round, but that it can be damned hard to find. Therefore, we should celebrate it wherever we find it, and not worry about the details.

The one thing the religious right and I agree on is that discrimination against homosexuals, whether institutionalized or private, is a moral issue. Also, when I'm trying to persuade people, I find it much more effective when I answer them in the language they're already speaking.

Oh, and because every story deserves a happy ending, I should mention that a few years after the above conversation, my parents changed churches. Their old church's shabby treatment of homosexuals was one of the big issues he brought up in explaining the switch.