Thursday, June 30, 2005

War of the Worlds

Very good movie. Sure, there were some silly parts - like a camcorder and a digital camera working when every other electronic device had been knocked out my an electromagnetic pulse - but overall, it was an enjoyable movie. What I liked about it, I think, was that it was a redemption story. Tom Cruise's character Ray is not a good dad. They hammer us over the head with this at the beginning of the movie. I mean, he doesn't even know his ten-year-old daughter Rachel is allergic to peanut butter. (That one strained credibility for me since peanut allergies in children can lead to death. Even an inattentive father would know about that!) Still, we got the point. Bad dad. When the war starts, we watch Ray slowly figure out how to protect his kids and do the right thing. He falters, he breaks down at one point, and he doesn't always make the best decision. He's not superhero, but he is a hero. The climax of the movie is not when he manages to take out one of the tripods, but instead in a chilling scene in the basement of a house where we discover there is nothing Ray won't do to protect his daughter. The action happens off screen and instead of seeing what Ray does, we are shown the reason behind his action. The director chose to focus on Rachel as she sings a lullaby with her hands over her ears and a blindfold over her eyes to prevent her from experiencing the horror Ray must face.

Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning are both excellent in this film. The son character is somewhat extraneous and I wish that part had been eliminated.

I admit it was disconcerting to hear Tom Cruise screaming "Rachel!" over and over again. (Casual readers: my oldest daughter's name is Rachel.)

Between this movie and Batman Begins, I don't see how the movie industry can be hurting. But apparently it is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Big Brother 6

They are going to suck me in again. The twist for this year's Big Brother (premiere July 7) is really clever. Here's a quote from the Variety article:

As part of their annual effort to reinvent the game of "Big Brother," producers have come up with a scheme in which every cast member of "Big Brother 6" will walk into the house with a ready-made alliance -- a best friend, co-worker or significant other.

However, each pair of players will be told they're the only two participants coming into the house with a partner -- even though there will actually be seven teams of two playing the game. Teams also will be told to keep their alliances secret -- at least if they want to win the big money.

"The incentive is (for partners) to get to the end of the game sitting side by side," said Grodner. "If they do, the winner will get $1 million and the second-place person will get $250,000. It's in their best interests to keep it a secret."

The contestants have been revealed on the CBS website and naturally everyone is trying to figure out what the pairs are.

Early guesses:

Eric and Maggie

They look alike and even though they're from different parts of the country, they both list New England teams as favorites. Probably brother and sister.

Michael and Kaysar

Both of these gentlemen live in Irvine, CA. And their professions are similar.

Beau and Ashlea

These two live near each other.

Janelle and Ivette

Not only do these two ladies live in the same town, but they're both waitresses.

Howie and Sarah

Both live in Chicago, Illinois. Which, of course, means I'll be rooting for them.

Jennifer and April

Both live in Texas.

Rachel and James

Process of elimination put these two together.

We won't know the identity of the pairs until the third episode. I wonder how long it will take for everyone to realize that everyone else in the house also has a partner. I bet it won't be too long.

More training

Sami and I hiked again today. I called it the Linder Point Trail, but actually what I was walking was the Woodpecker Nature Trail and the Squire Point Trail. Here's a map of the trails:

Sami didn't enjoy it very much at first. She grumped a little bit and then I guess settled in okay. Shadow had fun again, although he was really tired after today's hike. Moreso than Monday's hike, I think. I felt better after today's hike than I did on Monday. Both hikes were about the same - 4 miles or so. I tried attaching an eight pound weight to the backpack to better simulate how much weight I'll be carrying on the Appalachian Trail (AT), but it kept banging into the backpack as I walked. So I just carried the 20 pounds of Sami.

In the news

Canada decided to give marriage rights to gays nationwide. It was somewhat symbolic as gays have the right to marry in 8 of 10 provinces anyway. Still, it was a good decision says me. If only we could be so forward thinking in this country. Incidentally, Belgium and the Netherlands are the only two other countries who have done this.

Before passage, members agreed to an amendment that would protect the charitable status of any religious institution that refuses to perform same-sex marriages.

So religious groups can refuse to perform marriage ceremonies without having to worry about losing their charitable statue. That's good. People in religious organizations should be allowed to believe whatever they want without it affecting the status of the organization.

I don't understand why there is a huge issue about gay marriage. Well, that's not true. I do understand it. I just don't get the idea that we're somehow lessening the institution of marriage if we allows gays to marry. My marriage isn't any less valid because John and Harry next door got married.

Here's a quote from Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper:

"Most Canadians believe that the traditional definition of marriage should be recognized," Mr. Harper told the gathering. "If we refuse to speak about this issue, who will stand up and protect your faith and your religion?"

It's not a government's job to protect people's religion if it interferes with the rights of others. Religious freedom extends up to the point where you start affecting other people's rights. Kind of like how I have the freedom to swing my fist around unless it's going to hit you in the nose.


In other news, the nations of the world are coming together in an attempt to create a better energy source, namely fusion. The USA is only contributing 10% to the project with the Europen Union throwing in 40%. France throws in an extra 10%, but they're also the ones whose economy will be helped as the plant will be located in Cadarache, near Marseille. Russia, China, Japan, and Korea will also each throw in ten percent. Total price tag is $13 billion. Of course, we won't see even the prototype until around 2030. But still, this seems to me to be a step in the right direction. I wish the USA were more of a leader in this sort of thing, but at least we're part of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who should be the Greatest American?

The Greatest American. What a title. When you hear those words, what names come to mind?

...George Washington...
...Abraham Lincoln...
...Martin Luther King, Jr...
...Neil Armstrong...

Tell me something, would you immediately think of Bill Clinton? Or George W. Bush? Or even Ronald Reagan?

I sure as hell wouldn't. But apparently the majority of Americans who watch the Discovery Channel would.

They voted Ronald Reagan the Greatest American. George W. was number six and Clinton was seven. You want to know what this tells me? People don't know enough about history. We're locked into our modern lives and can't see beyond the years in which we've lived.

Thomas Edison and Thomas Jefferson were both ranked lower than Bush and Clinton. Poor John Adams, one of the most influential of our Founding Fathers isn't even in the top 100. But don't worry, Tom Cruise made it. So did Ellen Degeneres.

Read your American History, people. This is embarrassing. The Discovery Channel ought to be ashamed for holding this farce of a contest.

Others are commenting on this too: Tusk and Talon and John Deeth

For Kate's sake

It's always tough to read about a kid going through a terrible disease, but I encourage you to check this out. I cannot imagine how these parents get through each day. First they watch their older child regress from an active three year old to the mental equivalent of a baby. And now they see the same thing happening to their younger child. If you are financially able to do so, please consider donating to the cause. Kate needs a bone marrow transplant to avoid the most severe effects of this the disease.

Stuck in the musical past

I was tagged ages ago for this meme, but completely forgot about it.

Post six of your current favourite songs, then tag six people to do it.

Current favorites (in no particular order and these will probably change tomorrow):

1) The Impossible Dream from Man of la Mancha
2) Defying Gravity from Wicked
3) For Good from Wicked
(I'm in a bit of a musical phase right now)
4) She's Got a Way by Billy Joel
5) American Pie by Don McLean
6) Hotel California by the Eagles
(Also in a bit of a classics phase)

I am not going to tag anyone specifically, but if you want to play, consider yourself tagged.

You know, I don't listen to music that much anymore. I can't remember the last time I actually just listened to music and did nothing else. The car is the place that I most often find time to listen. I am not at all up on the latest music although I listen to current music sometimes on the radio. It doesn't stick with me enough to remember the artist or the name of the song. I'll often learn the song itself and sing along, but as for who sings it? Enh. I don't care that much anymore. I suppose this is what happened to my parents who are stuck in the musical era of their youth. I always thought I'd stay current, keep listening to good music, and it's not that I think the current stuff is all bad and nobody makes good music anymore, but I just don't have the time and energy to devote to paying close attention.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Appalachian Training

Today I finally started training for my Appalachian Trail hike. For the past three years, I take a week out of the summer and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail with my brother. Last year, my other brother and sister came along so there were four of us. This year, there will be three as sis didn't want to go back. It's not easy hiking. In fact, every year something has happened to cut short our hike. The first year, my knee gave out. I was hobbling out of there. In year two, we got caught in a terrible rainstorm. We got off the trail for a day thinking we might get back on, but once off, a crazy idea involving a drive to New York took hold. In the end, I drove to the Big Apple and my brother hiked a portion of the trail much further north from where we started. Last year, my sister was having a hard time and wanted out. I volunteered to go off the trail with her since it would involve hitchhiking and we didn't want her to do that alone. The plan was I'd meet my brothers the next day and we three would continue hiking while sis went to a spa or something. Well, there was a lot of heavy rain and we got a frantic call late that night indicating our brothers needed saving. I drove through winding mountain roads in pitch black with pounding rain and furious winds all around. We found the brothers and got them out there, although they weren't as bad off as we had been lead to believe. However, they didn't want to hike anymore, so I didn't get to return to the Trail. That was really disappointing as I was feeling good and really wanted another crack at it.

Today, I put Sami in the backpack, got a bottle of water for me and one for her, grabbed Shadow's leash and the three of us headed to Linder Point.

It's a great little hiking trail because unlike much of the midwest there are some ascents and descents. Nothing like what you get on the Trail, but it's as good you'll find out here where the tall corn grows. Sami screamed when I put her in the backpack but once we got moving, she calmed down and seemed really interested in the area. And then she fell asleep; that was good since she hadn't had a nap today. Shadow loves it out there. He chased a couple of squirrels, sniffed a lot, and made sure he was always leading the way. He refuses to follow. Even when he's obviously very tired, he'll still push himself so he's staying ahead of me. We walked a little over 4 miles today. Not a bad first day, especially considering the fact that is 90 degrees today. Next time I need to add some weight to the backpack as Sami only weighs 20 pounts and I'll be carrying closer to 30 when we get out there.

Just for fun, here's a shot of me atop Albert Mountain in North Carolina from 2003.

Church, you go to that corner. State, over there.

I think this was a good decision. I know some argue that the moral system upon which our legal system rests is based on the Ten Commandments, so not allowing them in courtrooms is foolish, but I disagree with that because of those pesky first three commandments (liberally paraphrased):

1) Only one God
2) Don't take the Lord's name in vain
3) Go to Church

Those are not univeral beliefs that everyone shares and it's wrong for a state which represents us all to suggest support for those ideas. If they wanted to put these commandments up, I'd have no problem with it:

4) Honor Mom and Dad
5) Don't kill anyone
6) Honor your marraige vows
7) Don't steal stuff
8) Don't lie to or about other people.

But then we get to the last two:

9) Don't desire your neighbor's wife
10) Don't desire your neighbor's stuff

How does one turn off desires? I agree that one shouldn't act on those negative desires, but it's impossible to stop yourself from having them in the first place.

Anyway, my point is, I firmly believe in the separation of church and state and am glad to see the Supreme Court is upholding that important tenet, especially these days since our President is a religious zealot.

Taking over...

So I am trying to remember a quote from a book. I Google, figuring if I enter "Watchmen quotes nostalgia", it'll pop up. No luck on the first few sites, although I did find this interesting description of the book. And then I realize that sitting behind me on the bookshelves is the book in question. I pick it up and flip to the quote quickly.

Here it is:

"What's that you smell of?"

(I was looking for the quote because I was feeling nostalgic reading old posts at a message board that I belong to.)

Anyway, the whole point of this post?

Googling something has become second nature to me. It's the first thing I do when I want an answer to something. That speaks to how completely the internet has changed my life in the past ten years. Can you relate?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Y and Sondheim

I saw Christina Pippa's show Y last night. Directed by William Barbour. Excellent show. Check it out today and tonight. Go here for more information.

Also, a very cool fundraiser for Dreamwell is happening at the Siren this evening. Sondheim at the Siren. Don't miss that!

Wish I could write more but I gotta run!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Great idea for Arrested Development

I found this idea at TrueDorkTimes' blog. TDT is known in the Survivor world as a master spoiler. He also has a blog which gives us his incisive wit and commentary about a great many subjects.


Arrested Development makes the FOX cut for another season

Yay. Guess we won’t have to teach FOX a lesson now (although George Sr. teaches us that doing so is a bad idea, anyway).

Although we’re still waiting for Rick Schroeder to make a guest appearance as a childhood friend of Michael’s, one who was always jealous of his privileged lifestyle. Why are the writers ignoring such an obvious source for comedy? As Gob would say, “Come on!”

In case you don't get the reference, here's a picture to jog your memory:

Go here for information about this and other classic TV shows. Great website!

By the way, if you missed Arrested Development last season, you have to check it out. One of the best comedies on TV. Like Seinfeld, it breaks new ground with it's faux documentary format. And since we're on the subject, one cast member who is perpetually overlooked on this perpetually overlooked show is Michael Crea.

The kid is great. He conveys more with a look than most people could with pages of dialogue. You know exactly what he's thinking. His delivery is also award winning and he milks the most comedy possible out of every line. Yes, the whole cast is stellar, but it'd be great to see him get the Emmy nod. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Best of Area

The Press Citizen is having its annual Best of the Area contest. One of the categories is Best Theater Group. Last year Dreamwell was runner up. Want to help us win it this time? You can vote once per day...

Concise thoughts

Back in October, I was inspired to start a blog called Concise Thoughts after discovering One Million Footnotes. I didn't last long in the Footnotes world with only nine entries. However, I think I'll try again. I enjoy the simplicity of it. And I really recommend you check out Footnotes. It's a unique blog.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Feel good story of the day

Ethiopian lions saved a kidnapped twelve year old girl and protected her until she was rescued by police and family. Then they quietly slipped away into the forest.

Family members were heard to ask, "Who was that masked lion?"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Father's Day

I had a nice Father's Day. It began with breakfast in bed at 9 am. I would have been allowed to sleep in later but I had a Dreamwell meeting at 10:30. After the meeting, I went home for lunch and then headed off to the Coralville Pool for the first time this year. Coralville has such a great pool.

That picture doesn't really do it justice. There are two huge water slides, one of which is a space bowl body slide which circles you round 2-4 times before dropping you into an 8 foot pool of water. That one is a lot of fun. There is also little kid stuff like this slide:

Rachel loves that slide.

Oooh, I found a picture of the two big water slides:

Anyway, we had a great time at the pool. When we got home, Sami and I took a nap. That was much needed. For dinner, Sharon made my favorite - sausage meatballs in cranberry sauce. Rachel and I played soccer after dinner. She's really getting good at dribbling the ball and scoring goals. I can't wait for her soccer league to start in a few weeks. Then it was bedtime, complete with a great story by Dr. Seuss. Once the kids were asleep Sharon and I got to spend some time alone together. With my working nights on the Pearson scoring project and then the theater opening, we've hadn't had much time to spend together. So it was good to reconnect. All in all, a perfect Father's Day.

Childhood Meme

Kris from Random Mentality tagged me for a blog-meme.

Five Things I Miss From My Childhood

1. Exploring the neighborhood at 2 in the morning. We climbed on top of our elementary school, the local strip mall, and the junior high school. All that when we should have been in bed sleeping. Never got caught by the cops. Well, once my friend did, but I escaped without my parents ever figuring it out. I wonder if they ever read this....

2. Comic books. I know a lot of adults who still read them, but I don't have the time or money to indulge in that habit. I have no idea how I found the money when I was a kid. I guess comics were cheaper back then.

3. Going to Michigan a few times each summer. My parents have a house on a lake up there and when I was a kid, we'd enjoy swimming and water skiing and lots of other fun stuff. I usually brought one of my friends with me. Nowadays if I get there once a year, it's amazing. I doubt we'll make up there this year.

4. Writing without worry. When I was a kid, say 8th grade through high school, I just wrote without ever secondguessing myself. I never cared if it was good or bad - I just followed the story. These days, I get stuck all the time because I can't stop asking myself if that last sentence was really good enough. It's frustrating.

5. My childhood friends. When I was a kid, I didn't have a lot of friends, but I had really good friends. I am fortunate enough to have kept those friends from when I was a kid. But I don't see them nearly enough. I miss the days when I could call Payjeck or Mark on the phone and we'd ride our bikes through the forest preserve or go to the park or play frisbee. (Man, I love frisbee and I hardly ever get to play that anymore.)

The rules:

Remove the #1 item from the following list, bump everyone up one place and add your blog's name in the #5 spot. You need to actually link to each of the blogs for the linky-love aspect of this fiendish meme to kick in.

Eat The Lettuce
Prochein Amy
Gradual Dazzle
Random Mentality
Thoughts from the Oasis

Next, select four unsuspecting victims, list and link to them:

The Yin Blog
On the Stage

and in an attempt to get her posting again...

Glorious Nonsense

Tag, you're it! No tag-backs!

Friday, June 17, 2005

When dogs appear to attack

So I've had this picture up all week and I figure I better explain it.

The big dog belongs to my parents. His name is Wizard. My dog Shadow inspired them to get Wizard. When I was growing up, we had a beagle named Sugar. That was not a good experience, but Shadow made them realize that some dogs are good pets. So far, this has worked out for them as Wizard is a really good dog. I have become a big fan of adopting adult dogs because if you find one that is well trained, you don't have to go through all the puppy insanity. I know we would not be able to adequately care for and train a puppy because I have my hands full with the two girls, but Shadow is no trouble at all. Anyway, the smaller dog in the picture is Sunni and she belongs to my sister. Apparently, Sunni, who is just a puppy, likes to play with Wizard, who is not so interested in playing. He is a mature, serious dog who needs no playful romping. Bark.

Wizard stayed at Sunni's house for a few days while my parents were out of town. Apparently, Wizard got a little fed up with his... niece? (Did I get that strange family connection right?) So they both went for each other and someone snapped this impressive action shot. Neither Wizard nor Sunni were hurt. Sunni was just playing and Wizard was attempting to let Sunni know that he wasn't interested in foolish puppy games. I don't think the message sunk in, however. When we visited, all three dogs got to run around together in my parents' huge backyard. That was fun to see and both older dogs actually forgot they weren't puppies for a while. Not that it takes much for Shadow to forget. He's got a lot of puppy in him. Here's a picture of him snoozing with friend after a lot of playful romping:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Four stars

That was worth a midnight showing.

Batman Begins is a great movie. Probably the best one I've seen this year. One doesn't need to be a Batman fan to like this movie. The story is excellent, the acting superb, and shots beautiful. There's a great twist at the end that I should have seen coming, but did not. I walked out of theater realizing that I had just seen the summer blockbuster. This movie will be huge.

I am going to talk about the specifics of the movie so if you want to be completely unspoiled, you should stop reading. I won't be giving any major spoilers, however.

So how do pull off a serious movie about a man who dresses up as a bat to fight crime? By taking it absolutely seriously. (Matt S., if Adam West's Batman is your favorite, this movie is probably not for you...!) We see just how bad Gotham has gotten. It's a cesspool of villiany. We get that it's going to take a superhero to fix this city. We understand how traumatized Bruce Wayne was as a child and not just by the murder of his parents. Bats are a huge part of the trauma; Bruce has a terrible fear of the winged creatures and his fear indirectly leads to his parents' murder. That fear is used perfectly in the story as a vehicle to show Bruce maturing. He overcomes the fear, adopts the bat as his symbol, and becomes Batman. He talks about the importance of the symbol. He must be more than a man fighting crime - he realizes the need to be a symbol to inspire others to fight back against the crime. Bruce Wayne is a fully realized and interesting character. That's why this movie works.

Excellent performances by everyone. Michael Caine is damn funny as Alfred. Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow is almost scarier when he doesn't have his mask on. Scratch that - he is scarier without the mask. Those eyes! Why I have never heard of that actor before now? I did get a bit of a Qui-Gon feeling from Liam Neeson as he's tutoring Bruce in the beginning of the movie, but it still worked well. Morgan Freeman is fun as the inventor of Batman's gadgets. How Bruce gets the gadgets make a lot of sense, too. Loved the batmobile, which was never called that, by the way. Of course, Christian Bale is perfect as the tormented Bruce Wayne.

I might even see this movie a second time, something I don't really do much anymore at all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The bat flies

In a desperate attempt to recapture my youth, I am going to a midnight showing of Batman Begins.


I am tired just thinking about it.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I have always used Crest. Rachel has been using a kids version:

(Sharon uses Colgate for some reason. Neither of us would change to the other's toothpaste when we moved in together, so we've always just bought both kinds.)

I tried Rachel's kid version. It's great! I don't know why anyone would choose one of the other kinds. The flavor is fantastic. I wonder if there's anything about the kid version that makes it less effective on grownup teeth. If not, I am sticking with it. And that way, we won't be buying three different types of toothpaste. Oh wait, yes we will. I forgot that Sami has her own kind too.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Old MacDonald...

Rachel asked me to sing her Old MacDonald tonight at bedtime. I started singing. She shushed me and said she wanted to pick the animal. I waited while she thought about it. Finally, she exclaimed, "How about a dragon!"

Is she my kid or what?

Old MacDonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm he had a dragon. E-I-E-I-O
With a roar, roar here. And a roar, roar there.
Here a roar, there a roar. Everywhere a roar, roar.
Old MacDonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O

100 Things About Me

1) I have brown hair that gets curly in a unruly sort of way when I let it grow long.
2) I am deaf in my left ear due to Meniere's Disease.
3) Eight years ago, I started a theater company with three friends and it still exists today.
4) I've written the lyrics for a number of songs, but none of them have lived up to my expectations.
5) I once wrote an epic poem that absolutely satisfied me.
6) I have two little girls who bring me more happiness than I ever imagined.
7) I took a semester of Russian in a college. That was a mistake.
8) My high school's creative writing course had a number of final project options. I was the first in the history of the program to write a novella. I got an A+.
9) When I was a kid, I used to explore my neighborhood at ridiculous hours of the night with two friends.
10) I have every U.S. Billy Joel album and a few of exports as well.
11) I have always been extremely skinny.
12) My wedding day was one of the happiest, most perfect days of my life.
13) I am very knowledgable about pens.
14) I have analyzed Survivor, the reality TV show, to death.
15) ...

(to be continued)

I'll update this as time goes on and when I have 100, I'll repost it.


Today is my one year blog-iversary. I have really enjoyed this forum and don't plan on slowing down. My first post was pretty, well, unremarkable, and it took me four days to make a second post, but eventually things started moving along.

I enjoyed blogging about the election even if the end result was extremely disappointing. I've enjoyed telling the stories about my kids. I've enjoyed the crazy internet quizzes. I've really enjoyed reading other people's blogs. The Iowa (mostly) blogiverse is a friendly cyber community and one that has so far been completely drama free, which is a welcome change. My Survivor blog was a lot of fun until the season got so spoiled, there was little left to say.

So what's in the future?

Well, I'll still be talking about current events if I find I have things to say. I may talk about my family a little more than I have. Lots more TV talk, I think. Lost, 24, Battlestar Galactica, American Idol... all of that will find its way to this little corner of the internet. And I'll definitely be writing about the theater, too. I am sure other subjects will come up, too. I might start talking more about what I've been reading lately. I enjoy fantasy novels, particulary George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I also read a lot of plays so some thoughts about those might make their way onto this page. And I recently read a new translation of Gilgamesh, which was fantastic.

I think to start off Year Two with a bang, I'll follow Melissa's lead and do a 100 Things About Me list. I will start that in my next post.

Friday, June 10, 2005

David's Redhaired Death

So there's this show tonight. And tomorrow and next weekend. Don't miss it.

$1 billion dollars

The Catholic Church has paid over one billion dollars for abuse case settlements and there's still more to come. So here is what I am wondering.... how much money does the Catholic Church has? Any chance this will bankrupt them? They deserve it. From the article:

"Patrick Schiltz, an attorney who has defended many dioceses in abuse cases, agreed bishops have a moral obligation to pay victims but said the size of the settlements is "getting out of hand.""

Whatever, Patrick. This isn't getting out of hand, it's not going far enough.

I realize that it's hard to turn your back on your religion, especially if you've followed the same one since you were too young to even understand what religion is, but I admit to not understanding how Catholics can have any faith in their church anymore. And mind you, I was raised Catholic and almost my entire family is still Catholic. So this one strikes close to home. I just don't get it. Is there anything more despicable than taking advantage of a child in the way these priests did? Especially when you consider their place in their community as a moral compass and spiritual leader. And this isn't a couple of bad apples, it's an epidemic that has run rampant through the entire church. The only reason it got to where it is today is because the church officials looked the other way - transferred priests to different parishes and pretended that nothing was happening. Those actions are almost more despicable than the molestation itself. Then you have to take into account the immediate reaction of the Vatican to the public airing of this epidemic. They wanted to deal with it internally and not have their priests face criminal charges. A cross does not make you immune to the law.

Now I'd lost faith in the church long before this scandal broke, but any glimmer of doubt I might have harbored concerning my decision is gone.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Head in the clouds

Yeah, that's not bad, although my idealism has been waning this week.

Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are rare, making up between 20 and 25 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

You can take the test here.

Monday, June 06, 2005

"My middle name is CrimeFighter...."

Penn Gillette is a funny guy. But this was kind of stupid.

Moxie CrimeFighter?

Notice the capital F. Dude, your whole life shouldn't be part of your act.

Medical Marijuana

The Supreme Court has ruled about the use of medical marijuana. Here's a news story about it. Let me state upfront that I am for the legalization of marijuana. If alcohol and cigarettes are legal, so should marijuana. I don't smoke cigarettes and I rarely drink. If pot were legal, I wouldn't smoke it. Still, I think it should be legal. I know that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

What's interesting about this case is that it appears to kill the private growing of medicinal marijuana. The justices have not ruled marijuana illegal (which they don't have to, I suppose) so much as saying you can't grow your own. Now that effectively ends any chance of sick people getting it as there isn't a legal marijuana supply company out there. What I am wondering is can a drug company create marijuana in the states where medicinal marijuana is legal and distribute it?

I really think that even if they don't legalize marijuana, they ought to allow it just like any other prescription drug.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Modern Day Slavery

I sort of knew that there are women and children (and probably some men too) who are taken against their will and used in the international sex industry or in sweatshops. I figured that happened in other parts of the world and I never thought that the numbers of people who were violated in this way could be that high. Then I read this news story.

The State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders against their will each year. Many victims are forced into prostitution, sweatshops, domestic labor, farm work or child armies. About 80 percent of trafficking victims are women and girls, with a large majority forced into the sex industry. About 50 percent are minors, the report found.... The State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

That's a lot of people suffering in slavery. I just never realized what a huge problem this is. I've always thought of slavery as something from the past but that's a naive thought apparently. Of course, the article's main point is that some of our allies in the Iraq War are the worst offenders. That's not good, but still the main point in my mind is the simple fact that this is happening at all.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Brief Rachel interlude...

The other day, we were walking through Coral Ridge Mall and Rachel saw a Buddha statue outside a manicure place. She asked me what it was. I told her it was a statue of Buddha. She asked who he was so I said he was a man who lived a long time ago and had a lot of good ideas. Rachel paused for a minute and then asked:

"Is Buddha Jesus' dad?"

The Presidents of my lifetime

My last post made me think about the Presidents in my lifetime. I was born in 1971, which was during Nixon's presidency. Of course I don't remember any of his presidency but history says he wasn't a great president. After Nixon was Ford, who didn't leave much of a mark on the world. Jimmy Carter followed Ford and he was the first President I remember. I remember my dad speaking unfavorably of him. He was derisively called "that peanut farmer". He failed in his attempts to rescue the hostages held by Iran. The economy was bad. Relations with the USSR became worse. So far, in my short life of 9 years, we had three pretty bad presidents.

Then came Ronald Reagan. An actor for president? Why not? During this time, my family became much more wealthy. My friends thought of me as rich, although I never felt rich. We didn't belong to a country club or have the latest fashions. We did have a summer house on a lake in Michigan with a speed boat. I got whatever I wanted within reason. (No trips to Hawaii or anything like that, but I got the toys I wanted.) I never had the sense that my parents were worried about money, although they probably were. Still I never had to choose between two activities because we could only afford one. Economically, the 80s were good for my family. So economically from my personal perspective, I guess Reagan did okay. (I believe that trickle down economics doesn't really work. However, in my case, we didn't need the trickle - we were the ones who were supposed to be trickling.)

In foreign policy, his work with Gorbachev ended the Cold War. That accomplishment alone puts him high on the list of best presidents. He was certainly better than any who came before him during my lifetime. Still, even Reagan had his one big scandal - Iran Contra. American traded arms to Iran to try to release hostages (didn't work) and then gave the proceeds to Nicaraguan rebels. Reagan came out of that one looking like a man who didn't know what was going on in his own adminstration. He became the befuddled president and when it was revealed after he was out of office that he suffered from Alzheimer's, everyone wondered how long he had been affected. This was my main view of President Reagan as I was old enough during Iran Contra to actually follow what was going on. So I didn't think that highly of him either.

Then came Bush who sent us to war with Iraq the first time. I wasn't against that war, but felt we should have finished the job then when we had reason to do so. I never cared for Bush, he certainly didn't inspire me, but I didn't like Dukakis either. Bush is remembered for his "Read my lips. No new taxes." comment. Whoops. We got taxes, the economy went downhill, and Bush was kicked out after four years.

Then came Clinton, with whom I agreed on most value issues (with one glaring exception). Looking at his accomplishments as President, he did a good job overall. Economically, the country did well. Still, his presidency is tarnished because he decided to have sex with an intern. A lot of Democrats feel this was not an important issue, that it was used to try to bring down a great president. "His personal life doesn't impact his ability to lead as president." I think that's nonsense. We're talking about the president of the United States, we have to expect better of him (or her). At the time, I felt Clinton was a sneaky weasel who used his power to get sex. That doesn't spell P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T-I-A-L to me. And the impact of his actions have lead us to two terms of George W. Bush, who appropriated the values that Clinton threw aside and suddenly, miraculously the Republicans became the people who have values and morals. What the Dems needed to do was denounce Clinton's actions. Their failure to do so had a terrible impact on our country.

And now we have George W. Bush. He has taken away our freedoms. He has reverted to the antiquated theory of pre-emptive war. He has pushed his religious agenda on the country. For my family, the economy sucks. He is by far the worst president in my lifetime.

But the point of this post is that we haven't had a great President in my 33 years of life. A decent one here and there, but not one that I consider great. Are my standards too high? I want a leader, someone I can look up to, someone we would consider an American Hero. Why can't we elect that person?

Maybe it's the media's fault. That'll be the next post.

My Survivor blog has the latest news and speculation as well as some spoiling about the show.
About Me

Name: Matt
Location: Coralville, IA
I am a Dad and a Husband. An Actor. An Administrator. A Hiker. A Writer. Probably a bunch of other things too. Read my blog and you'll find out more.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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