Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Penultimate Seminary Paper, Music, and More Hymn Boringness

Well, I just finished my second-to-last seminary paper ever. I have to say it's still kind of surreal that things are moving along this quickly.

So, as I've mentioned, I'm re-reading Kathleen Norris' wonderful book The Cloister Walk about her experiences as a Benedictine oblate at St. John's Abbey, and it instilled a desire within me to listen to some Gregorian chant. So, I bought a CD and had it playing in the sanctuary during my tri-annual music sorting extravaganza; it was very peaceful and helped make sorting papers a bit more bearable. Anyway, as it ended, I was surprised by the diversity of the next three songs on my iTunes: Clara Ward and the Clara Ward Singer's "When the Saints Go Marching In," The Clash's "London Calling," and Colm Wilkinson's (the original Jean Valjean in Les Miserables) take on the West Side Story's "Somewhere." Gregorian chant, Dixieland Jazz, Punk, and Show Tunes...sounds about right.

Bed bugs were found in University of Illinois dorm rooms. Gross/school crisis. I think bed bugs/lice are two of my nightmares. Once when Kassi was cutting my hair, she nonchalantly asked me, "What would you do if I told you you had lice?" After making sure she was kidding, I said I would shave my head and burn my house down (something that probably wouldn't please my upstairs neighbors!). Same goes for bed bugs - though shaving my head might be a tad gratuitous...I might just get in the shower and never come out again.

I've finished going through the blue hymnal and noting all the alterations. It turns out the vast majority are indeed updating archaic language and making language for humanity gender inclusive. There were some more interesting theological changes (This is for you, Amy!). For instance, in Wesley's "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," which has what I consider one of the best last stanzas in history ('till we cast our crowns before thee/lost in wonder, love, and praise."), Wesley writes in the hymn:

Breathe, O Breathe thy loving Spirit into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit; let us find that second rest.
Take away our power of sinning; Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning, set our hearts on liberty.

This reflected the Wesleyan holiness tradition that you could rid yourself of sinning and live in pure holiness on earth, that you could "take away" the "power of sinning" and go from the "first rest" of an impure believer to the "second rest" of a sanctified and holy believer who would now live the rest of life sinless on earth. As Karl Olsson remarked, "Covenanters are too introspective to believe they are sinless" (paraphrase). So, as with almost all hymnals today, "let us find thy second rest" is changed to "let us find thy promised rest," and "take away our power of sinning," is changed to "take away our bend toward sinning."

I think the worst part of doing the research was visiting the Oremus or cyberhymnal websites to find original hymn lyrics and being forced to listen to MIDI versions of these hymns. Click here to see what I'm talking about. It's weird, and the bass line sounds like a ghost singing. I realize I could just shut my sound off, but then I couldn't listen to any music. So, most of the research was done in silence.

Anyway, I'm going to play some piano, read, and go to bed. Later.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nursing Students' Purgatory, Cookware, and Hymns

When that day comes when we are all judged before God for what we did or did not do, I firmly believe that North Park nursing majors will have to answer for the number of PowerPoints they print out, usually single-sided with four slides or less per page. If there is a purgatory, many will face decades of planting trees or programming printers to automatically print two-sided. There are consequences to our actions. Years may be added if they hit print seven times because something didn't print automatically, took one copy, and left the other six copies on hand hygiene to print while others wait for time-sensitive material.

4 days until the Twins opener! The Twins will be in Toronto beating up on the Blue Jays on Friday. Start time: 6:07.

One of the disconcerting things about living at a place that also serves as a warming center is never being quite sure which pots and pans are yours and which were left here by someone. One day people will come to claim all their cookware, and I will realize that I have one small sauce pan and a dinged-up cookie sheet. One thing I do know, none of this good pyrex is mine.

I have now waded up to the #600's in my study of hymn alterations. It's interesting to see why and how hymns are changed. Most are changed to update what is thought of as archaic language or to be more gender inclusive for humanity. However, I've been surprised that there are a few changes made to make God-talk more gender inclusive. Most interesting to me is alterations that reflect different/changing theology. For instance, here's an original verse of "Faith of Our Fathers" (written obviously by a Catholic) and how the red hymnal changed it:

Faith of our fathers, Mary's prayers
Shall win our country back to thee.
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.

(red hymnal)
Faith of our fathers, God's great power
shall win all nations unto thee,
and through the truth that comes from God,
Mankind shall then indeed be free.

Then, in the blue hymnal this verse is totally removed. Furthermore, the blue hymnal has two of the verses start with "Faith of our mothers" and "Faith of the martyrs" instead of always "Faith of our fathers," as the red hymnal and the original version begin each verse. It's interesting (and shows a changing missiology perhaps) that the song went from winning England to God, to winning all nations to God, to then getting rid of the language of "winning nations" altogether. Furthermore, the blue hymnal states that if we are going to profess any faith, mothers must be included. I find this all very interesting.

In other news, the Bjorlin family is taking a family vacation for the first time in many, many years. Destination: Dolan Springs, AZ (near the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas). While we will all be flying in separately, I hope there will still be some quality time spent jammed in a mini-van. Hopefully our fights will have matured with age, although I still am as convinced of the superiority of The Beatles to Mariah Carey (a fight my brother and I used to rage over in the mini-van many years ago). Anyway, I need to wrap this up. Later.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Archaic Books, Hunger, Retreats, and Runs

So, today I came home from lunch and saw a bag of telephone books on my front porch. I don't understand how phone books can still be a viable business. To me, they are about as relevant as horses, buggies and phonograph machines. Not to mention, they must waste a lot of paper in the process of printing out phone numbers that you already can find if you have access to a computer (which I realize not everyone does).

Speaking of Sunday lunch, I am convinced that the hungriest I ever get is during the last fifteen minutes of a church service. I don't know what it is, but I am ready to eat a hearty lunch every Sunday as the noon hour approaches. Maybe this is also culturally conditioned by my mom's weekly pot roast Sunday lunches during my formational years.

This weekend I spent up at Covenant Harbor on Lake Geneva with many of the seminarians who will be graduating along with family and faculty. Honestly, it wasn't something I was very excited about as I had much to do, but it was one of those events that became obviously worthwhile and meaningful the minute you got there. The best part was hearing people's testimonies on how God has worked and how they have struggled at the same time during the past few years. I'm always amazed when I think where all these wonderful people will be in a few years and the great things they will be doing.

I also did my longest training run Saturday morning, getting up early and running around Lake Geneva. I don't think I would have done it had I knew how hilly/cold it was going to be, but I'm definitely glad it's over! I listened to Ken Follett's World without End, and I have to say, books on tape make long runs more bearable. I barely could walk for the rest of the day and fell asleep at 7:30 last night, waking up only to transfer myself from the couch to my bed at about 10:45.

The only problem with all that sleep last night is it might interfere with the Sunday nap. However, now that I'm laying on the couch, I just might be able to relax enough to catch a few z's while watching a bit of Two Towers. Let's find out, shall we?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Popeye's Wind, Libya, Retreats, and Nerdiness

There must be a North wind today because all I can smell outside is the grease from Popeye's, and it smells delicious. I'm not even a huge fan of fried chicken (unlike my mom-- she loves the stuff!).

An interesting point made by Jon Stewart on Monday night in reference to our intervention in Libya: "Wars aren't like kids where you don't have to pay attention to the youngest 'cause the older two will take care of it." I don't know what to make of the Libyan debacle. All I know, war and air strikes are never something to celebrate as a good.

This weekend is the senior retreat for graduates at the Seminary. I really can't believe that my time at the Seminary is winding down; it really has gone fast! Yet, as I told friends recently, I think I'm feeling like this transition is happening at just the right time. I'm not burned out or feeling senior-itis, and I'm also not gripping on to the seminary experience and wishing it wouldn't end. I am just ready. In high school, I wasn't ready (although I claimed I was); At CBC I wished my time away; and at North Park, I don't think I truly invested until my senior year. I guess it's good to get it right at some point!

Unfortunately, I forgot about the senior retreat when I bought a ticket to the John McCutcheon show at Old Town. If anyone wants a ticket, let me know (yes, I go to concerts alone).

I realized just how nerdy I was today when I decided/am excited to do my Covenant History paper on the lyrical alterations made in the Blue Hymnal. I want to see how many changes were made to update archaic language, make language gender-inclusive, and reflect theological truths that may be specific to the Covenant or specifically rejected by the Covenant (language of appeased wrath doesn't fly in the Covenant). I'm also going to look at the debates in hymnology over whether to make such changes or not. I think it will be very interesting. Alas, there was not enough information on David Nyvall's view of worship to write a substantive paper. So, today I'm going through the hymnal and listing all of the hymns with "alt." after the author's name denoting alterations made (wait a moment while I use my forefinger to push my sliding glasses up the bridge of my nose).

Okay, time to focus on the hymnal. Later.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The End Draws Near, Lenten Tea, and TV Shows from Childhood

Here's the email I received today:

Dear David: I have reserved a room for you, arriving on May 23 and departing on May 27. If you have any other questions about your stay, please let me know. Blessings!

Father Bob Pierson OSB


St. John's Abbey

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited at that turn of events. Now I just have to decide what an acceptable per night donation is. Here's a nice photo from the outside:

And from the inside:

In more good news, I turned in my fourth chapter, introduction, and conclusion to my thesis! Now, I will have a few more final edits, some bibliographic work, and then the thesis is officially done! It's definitely a good feeling to have completed the writing, but I'm worried that I'll lose some of the impetus required for editing well. The next step is defending it before a faculty panel. In celebration, I took myself out to the Chicago Diner.

So, for the last three years I have given up alcohol during Lent, and one of the things I've noticed is that my Lenten tea consumption goes through the roof. There's just something about getting home after a long day and relaxing with a nice beverage that seems innate to my daily routine. In fact, I'm going to heat up some water right now.

I don't know if this is still necessary or what happens to the plastic rings that holds together a six pack (in this case, a six pack of Trader Joe's pop), but I still compulsively cut them apart before throwing it away. If I don't cut it, it's the same to my conscience as if I found a woodland creature myself and jammed its head into one of the holes until it was stuck. I think I saw an episode of Rescue 911 when I was little where they saved a duck that was slowly being throttled by these plastic rings. Well, I wasn't making it up; here's the episode:

Speaking of childhood TV shows featuring law enforcement, was anyone scarred for life by episodes of Unsolved Mysteries? Just the voice of Robert Stack will make me uneasy. Here's an opening clip if you've forgotten his voice.

The worst were the ones about kidnappings or ghosts/supernatural events. My parents wisely banned my viewing of this show. I mean, they probably wanted to sleep through the night without me crawling into their bedroom and sleeping next to their bed (that happened enough times as it was!). Well, I'm going to try and enjoy a night of relaxation. Later!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Addiction to Reading Bumper Stickers, Thunder, and Solitude Retreats

One of these days I'm going to get in an accident, and when they ask me why I was driving so close to their bumper, all I will be able to say is, "I just really wanted to read your bumper sticker, and the font was so small!" Seriously, I have some innate desire to read all bumper stickers that will lead me to tailgate someone until this thirst is quenched with a clear reading.

Today during the prayers of the people (done this week by Eva Sullivan-Knoff!), Eva opened the prayer be saying something to the effect of, "Your word tells us to 'be still and know that I am God,"" and right as she was finishing this sentence this deep, low roll of thunder shook for about four or five seconds. I couldn't have timed it better had I had a thunder switch on my seat (a long-time dream of mine!).

On my iGoogle homepage thing, I like to keep both Chicago and Duluth's weather right next to each other. Then, whenever I'm complaining about how cold it is, I look and see that it is at least ten degrees colder in Duluth. For instance, the weather for this Wednesday is only going to make it up to 45 in Chicago, but in Duluth, it's not getting above freezing (25 with a low of 9). It's the small things in life.

I'm falling in love all over again with The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. I think I read this book six years ago maybe, but it's really interesting reading them again being almost finished with seminary. Also, it combines three of my favorite things: liturgy, writing/poetry, and Minnesota. I've also been considering taking a solitude retreat after graduation, and I think St. John's Abbey may be just the place to do it. St. John's Abbey is a Benedictine monastery connected to St. John's University in Collegeville, MN (near St. Cloud) that is known for:
1. a great college football team with a coach who has the most wins ever in any division of college football.
2. The St. John's Bible, which is a beautiful handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by the abbey and university. Here's one picture of it:

Amazing, right?

3. Liturgical Press, publishing worship books and materials since 1926.

So, I'm going to see if I can make this dream a reality for the end of May sometime. Well, and by " I'm going to see," I mean I just made reservations!

Now I need to go get ready for the evening Lenten service. Come to ResCov at 7 if you would like to join us!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Misheard Lyrics, Footnotes, and Other Random Thoughts

So, if you've been a faithful reader of this blog back into the days of xanga (davebj912), you know that one of my favorite topics is misheard lyrics. Some of my favorites have been:

1. Paul Simon's "Kodachrome." I always thought that when he sang on the breakdown, "Mama don't take my kodachrome/Mama's don't take my kodachrome/Mama's don't take my kodachrome away," was "Mama's gonna take my coat and throw/Mama's gonna take my coat and throw/Mama's gonna take my coat and throw it away."

2. Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer." This was more a misinterpretation of what the lyrics meant. I heard "Asking only workmen's wages I go looking for a job,/but I get no offers/just a come on from the whores on 7th avenue./I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome,/I took some comfort there." I never made the connection that he took comfort in the whores. I thought he was taking comfort in his own loneliness, which was very existential and interesting when I was younger.

3. Third Eye Blind's "Jumper." Instead of "cut ties from all the lies that you've been living in," I heard "capsized by all the lies that you've been living in." I could just visualize that ship sinking under the weight of all the lies; it looked something like White Squall.

My latest one comes from Carole King's classic, "I Feel the Earth Move." Here's the YouTube video; fast-forward to 1:4o and listen.

What she actually sings in: "I know that my emotions are something I just can't tame./I've just got to have you, baby." What I always heard: "I know that my emotions are something I just can't tame/I've just got to have your baby." I think I figured this one out about a year ago, and it makes much more sense. I have to admit I always thought that it came across a little desperate to sing, "I've just got to have your baby." Not to mention, if the guy has any commitment issues, that line is certainly not going to curb his fears.

Yesterday I spent five hours correcting footnotes and bibliographic material. While this may seem laborious (and many parts of it were), there was something satisfying about this mindless work that could be checked off as I went through the paper. The biggest mistake I made was thinking that if one author quoted another in his/her book, I could footnote it by writing "qtd. in" followed by the info for the book that was quoting the other. Turns out you need to have the original information, which seems like cheating if I got it from a different source, but that's the rules! So, I had to go to all of those footnotes and try to find the original books that these various authors were quoting. It was kind of like a treasure hunt, a really boring and tedious treasure hunt that ends with you having a correct footnote instead of finding a bunch of gold doubloons or jewels. I ended up finishing all the footnotes and bibliographic citations up to the last chapter, so it was a good day's work even if my eyes were starting to cross towards the end. Hopefully I will have a rough draft done by the end of Spring Break!

Whenever I shave, I'm always a bit nervous when my razor crosses over the adam's apple. For some reason, I think if you nick that there's some type of reservoir that will burst.

You know what's ridiculous? These states that are passing or trying to pass anti-sharia laws (Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana). I doubt sharia law is going to take hold in Alabama anytime soon, just sayin'. Not to mention it seems crazy and racist.

In a little over an hour I'll be heading to Paw Paw, Michigan! I'm very excited to be at a cabin on a lake or, as Minnesotans call it, heaven. I need a few days out of the concrete jungle. So, I should probably pack, and by pack I mean watch episodes of Seinfeld until ten minutes before I leave, at which point I will scramble to get ready. Later.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why I Like Apple and Bathroom Cleanliness Scales

So, several months ago (around the beginning of the school year) I bought an iPod nano because I had lost the one before (if you're counting, that's one lost, two stolen, one washed, one broken under my thigh when I dived during a youth group volleyball game). Well, anyway, this was the new iPod nano, and it looked pretty great. It was small and had a built in clip great for running. Here's a looksie:

However, I soon found a couple flaws:
1. It's a touch screen, so when you want to switch to the next song, you have to press a button and then touch the screen at a certain small place where the next arrow is. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to do while you are running or engaged in any physical activity. It becomes almost some type of advanced physical training to be able press the button, find that specific small spot on the iPod, keep running at a similar pace, all while avoiding running into anything in front of you.
2. When you listen to the latest podcast on a list, it stops rather than going to the next one. If you're listening to something shorter like "The Writer's Almanac," you want to listen to a bunch in a row; this design made it difficult.

However, one day I plugged in my iPod and found a manufacturer's update waiting to be downloaded. Upon downloading, I found that they had fixed both of these problems! I try not to get sucked into all the Apple hysteria, but they are pretty great sometimes.

I want to create some type of website, kind of like Angie's List or yelp, where germaphobes can go and rate public bathrooms in stores/restaurants on a cleanliness scale. It would be rated on a five soap bar scale. You would gain points for:
-no-touch faucets, flushers, and hand dryers...bonus points for no touch soap dispenser.
-doorless entry/exit. These are most often seen in airports and make for easy access without having to touch nasty handles. I mean, obvious points are lost if there is no 90 degree hallway turn that hides the bathroom from the general public outside.
-if you must have a door, at least put a garbage by the door so I can use the paper towel to open the door. If you have no-touch hand dryers and a door, you're really hanging people out to dry (you better believe that pun was intended!).
-cleaning schedule posted on the door. It makes one feel good to know this bathroom was cleaned a half-hour ago.

You would lose said points for:
-anything besides tile on the floor.
-overflowing garbage cans.
-those nasty pull-down cloth towels that loop back up into the dispenser. No amount of money can convince me that it doesn't just circle back around to the next guy.
-faucets that must be held to keep the water running. How is one supposed to wash their hands when they are holding on to the faucet at the same time?
-Obviously, many other extraneous circumstances could cause you to lose significant points.

I was going to put a picture of a dirty public restroom on here, but I couldn't look at the pictures on google images without feeling the gag reflex making its presence known.

I'm on my first day of Spring Break and feeling pretty good about getting a good start on my fourth chapter and the bulletin for Sunday. I'm trying to get as much done as I can before I head on a mini-senior retreat with Jen McDonald and Kelly Johnston to Paw Paw, MI, made famous by This American Life's "Road Trip" episode in which a hitchhiker puts her head out of the window and shouts, "Paw Paw for Jesus!" I'm very excited to get out of the city for a few days and relax. We'll see how that goes.

Anway, just living the dream in the meantime: watching Fellowship of the Rings, making tea, blogging, and working on the church bulletin all at the same time. Later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Last Tests, Loose Pants, and Crosswalks

Well, I'm currently sitting at home with my left hand in a bucket of ice water after my LAST SEMINARY TEST in Covenant History and Theology! It was a blue-booker, so I dutifully scribbled as much as I could before the time expired and the jaws of life were brought in to pry my cramping hand off the pen. I mean, this does all hinge on history professor Phil Anderson continuing his long-held and beautiful tradition of granting seniors who are graduating a reprieve from the final. However, as a history teacher who must appreciate tradition, I think he'll keep it up.

So, do you ever find yourself feeling skinny and then realize, "Oh, my pants are loose because I haven't washed them in a couple weeks (for some of you, this could be months)." You instantaneously go from thinking you're skinny to thinking you're dirty...not exactly a great morale booster.

One thing I don't understand (among many): why do they have crossing guards at major intersections that have lights? On the way to school today, there was a crossing guard at Ashland and Montrose directing walkers to walk when the streetlight said, "WALK." Isn't that the point of an automated "walk/don't walk" sign? I don't get why this is necessary. Furthermore, as the crossing guard walked, she put her hands up in front of the cars who were already stopped at the red light to make sure they stopped. First of all, they're at a red light; they're not going anywhere. Second, if they were intent on running a red light and hitting pedestrians, your hand up in the air is not going to stop them.

Also, is it just me, or does it seem that they just cloned one woman (it always seems to be women) who performs all the crossing guard duties on the North Side? If not, there must be the following ad recruiting North Side Chicago crossing guards:
North Side Chicago seeking middle-aged (preferably in the upper regions) women who like layering to the point of near immobility to (wo)man the street crossings near elementary schools across the area. They must be friendly enough to chat amiably with all who come near them, but angry enough to turn into head-spinning, fire-breathing monster should any car not follow their directions--seriously, we want to hear screaming that could peel paint and cause eardrum damage. Also, must be willing to carry an oversized stop sign uselessly at your side (preferably not from the handle) while assisting school children cross the road. Preference given to heavy smokers.

For Lent this year, I decided to give up meat. So, I have successfully made it into my second day of vegetarianism, and I am already trying to figure out what to eat. I talked one of my vegetarian friends, Kelly Johnston, into going shopping with me to get the basics for meals. I'm telling you all of this not so much to say how awesome I am, but in order to add public shame to the list of reasons I need to stay on the herbivore wagon.

I'm going to watch some Seinfeld and maybe take a nap. Spring break has begun!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lord of the Rings, Kate Turabian, and Pretenses

So, I decided to buy a present for myself that I've been meaning to buy for quite a while: The Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD (extended version of course!). I bought them all used for about $25 total, which I felt like was a reasonable price to spend for something I've wanted for the past five years. While I was at it, I also bought Children of Men. I can't get enough of post-apocalyptic/dystopian movies.

I finally had my meeting with the Seminary Librarian, the venerable Norma Sutton, to go over my footnotes on the first three chapters of the thesis. I was a little nervous about this meeting, as it could require quite much more work depending on how bad I screwed up the Turabian citation. However, the meeting went quite smoothly, and I probably will only have a solid hour of work to clean up the footnotes and make them worthy of Kate Turabian.

My political thought for the day: everyone thinks budget cuts are good until you start making them. I think it's going to be an interesting few months for the "fiscal hawks" who now are hearing and seeing the backlash from their abstract-turned-concrete budget cuts.

I hate when gas prices go up, not so much because of the added cost but because every time I turn on the TV or radio I have to hear about it. Who needs to be told that gas prices are going up? Who needs an interview with some random guy on the street complaining about gas prices? It's almost as bad as NPR pledge drives, which coincidentally are also happening right now. It's a perfect storm of airwave nauseation.

I don't like when people say "niche" with a french accent: "neesh." Just say "nitch" like the rest of us. That goes for most French words that have made it into the English vernacular. It just sounds pretentious. It's like that episode of Seinfeld when the lady at the party keeps saying "fianceeee!" really annoyingly, and finally Elaine retorts in an aussie accent...well, watch for yourself (although the editor of this video decided to put in a picture and some sound effects):

I just had an hour talk with a great friend from high school, Joe Idziorek. I haven't talked to him in ages, and it reminded me of the good times we had (especially) senior year on the basketball team and playing copious amounts of X-Box hockey with him and Brady Anderson every free moment we had. He's down in Aimes getting his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering (give me a moment to push my glasses up nerdily).

Okay, I'm going to read through some Cov History notes and call it a night.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dreams I've Had Lately

So, I'm one of those people that dreams a lot at night. Usually it's nothing memorable or particularly out of the ordinary, but the last few nights I've had some real doozies. Here's the one from two nights ago:

So, this dream began in a living room with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Apparently I was having dinner with them, so Hillary was in the kitchen making dinner while Bill and I watched TV (lots wrong with that picture, hey? I don't picture Hillary making a lot of food in the kitchen while Bill sits and watches TV (nor should she)). The thing I remember is Bill asking me to turn from a football game to women's college volleyball. I recall thinking in my dream, "Does he really like the sport of volleyball, or does Bill just want to ogle co-eds in spandex?" I thought in my dream that based on his reputation, it was probably the latter. Although I got some good discussions in about the state of Northern Minnesota politics.

The next thing I recall, I am visualizing myself at the top of a precipice (this part gets confusing; I had to chart it out to explain it to my friends). Slowly, a vine-like substance begins to form and begins growing down into the abyss. It is branching out into ten different root systems, each root system then continues to branch out into more root systems. I follow one of these systems down, and at the very bottom an outdoor storefront with wide wooden planks washed out from sea salty wind has grown out of the bottom vine; it's like the kind you would see on the edge of a boardwalk or beach. Here's kind of an example of what I visualized:

The difference in this store is that it was part of a video game, and it served grilled food. This store was a beach-side restaurant game run by the cast of Super Mario Bros. It was at this point that I reentered the dream and had to become part of this game. The premise was pretty simple: keep the restaurant running. So, I began working the grill, serving food, making sure raw meat was replacing the cooked meat I was serving to the customers. The only problem was, every time I turned around to get raw meat, I would return to the grill and find most of the cooked meat gone. I could not keep up! For instance, I had to make a deal with one guy who wanted a piece of barbecued meat to take a barbacoa taco instead with the promise of a free piece of barbecue next time he came in. He was actually excited by the deal, and I realized sometimes as a successful business owner you have to make the customer happy even at a loss to yourself. Was that the moral of my dream? I don't know, but that's where the dream ended.

Well, Lent is almost upon us. I'm going to continue my tradition of giving up alcohol, and I'm also adding meat to the fast. I don't know how this will work, as I build most meals around what type of meat I eat, but it will be good to have to be more conscientious about where my food comes from and how much I take food for granted.

I know I put this up on facebook yesterday (and how facebook still gets underlined red as a spelling error is beyond me), but it's worth a blog shout-out. Here's Jon Stewart noting how crazy it is that some reporters from mostly the news-network-who-must-not-be-named think teachers are living high of the hog and need to be taken down a notch while a few months earlier crying about the thought of taxing those about $250,000 or putting salary limits for CEOs of those companies that took bailout cash from the taxpayers.

So, that's all. Time to go photocopy some music at the church. WOOO!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Doldrums, My Evolution of Reading, and House Guests

This time in late February-early March is the doldrums of the sports world. Football is over, baseball hasn't started, and basketball/hockey isn't getting exciting for another month or so. You just float aimlessly along in your sports sailboat and hope that the wind picks up and carries you to March Madness and baseball's opening day. April 1st for the Twinkies!

Yesterday I was talking to one of my professors (Michelle) about what her kids were reading these days, and it got me thinking about what I read as a kid. One of my favorite books were the Great Illustrated Classics series that put out all the classics in abridged, simpler versions for kids. They all looked something like this:

I think I read Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth a half-dozen times each. My other favorites included The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, and Oliver Twist. I had them all lined up on a ledge overlooking the staircase in a big, long row. I remember a couple times getting mad at my brother, waiting until he was walking down the stairs, and knocking the books down on top of him. Good times.

Thinking of reading as a child, I also remember very clearly my parents reading to us before bed. You see, our upstairs consisted of two rooms, and you had to walk through one to get to the other. My brother and I shared one, and my two sisters shared the other. So, my parents would sit in the doorway between the two and read from that spot. It was here I heard my favorite childhood book, Where the Red Fern Grows. Oh, Old Dan and Little Anne! Why? I remember my mom crying so hard as she read the last chapter or two that my sister asked if she should take over.
I got to relive these memories when I read WTRFG to the Hermantown KidCare kids (Kindergarten-5th grade) during the summer when I worked there during my undergrad days.

I think I kept up with books like these until I stumbled upon John Grisham in 4th or 5th grade. The Client may have been the first "grown-up" book I read (I wrote "adult book" first, but I didn't want you to get the wrong idea). I quickly moved on to the other Grisham books, and my mom would serve as censor, paperclipping together those pages I wasn't allowed to read (for my own benefit; the beginning of A Time to Kill, for instance, would have assuredly given me nightmares/anxiety for months). I think I alternated between Grisham books and The Hardy Boys series.

In 10th grade, I was told by my English teacher that I needed to read this book about a wizard who goes to a wizarding school in England. That next summer I stumbled upon Tolkien at my friend's cabin, and the rest is history! I really nerded it up that year (and continued to for the rest of my life up to this point)!

Oh, I also have house guests this week. Leah and Wade Gunderson are in town for a couple of different conferences, and I'm privileged to be hosting them! Good times had by all. I should now go home and make sure they haven't torn apart the apartment. Later.