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December 30, 2009

The H Diet

I - have - got - it.

Do you want great abs and killer wellness? Well, do I have the new awesomest revolutionary fad diet for you. It's backed by science and doctors you've not heard of, and and has-been celebrities were even paid to say it works! It comes with a money-back guarantee if you act now.
You see, carbs were bad in the seventies and nineties, so you should have been eating a lot of protein then. Fatty food like bacon and low carb ice cream were fine so long as you missed the carbs. but then, suddently, if you lived during the 80's, eating fat made you fat. So hippopotamus-sized portions of carbs and anything else were fair game so long as there was no fat.
In the early part of this decade, balancing our meals with moderate portions of non-processed this and that was good and pretty doable. But those diets also stopped being trendy and/or we got tired of talking about the South Beach.
And now I give you THE diet of the new decade. It's totally natural and friendly to the earth and animals, except people. You will not get tooth decay or diabetes on this diet, and prep time is minimal.

Where all other fad diets fail when something new comes along, this one is sure to leave you wanting more. It's the hydrogen, people! Haven't you noticed? All that hydrogen is keeping us soft and unhawt and not buying especially overpriced engineered foods and supplements.
Yes - hydrogen, the same chemical element that brings us the hydrogen bomb and hydrogen monoxide is slowly wrecking our bodies.

I mean, do you want to put something that looks this sinister in your body? At the right is a fairly typical amino acid (which makes up protein) called glycine. Look at all those hydrogens! No wonder we can't achieve our goals of scrawny frailty.

Next check the simplest carbohydrate - good old glucose. Remember C6H12O6? Yipes, that's 12 hydrogens.
You'll be on the treadmill at least .2 seconds to burn all those hydrogens.

Simple triglycerides (fat) look like this:

Ooh, tri means three. So sorry, they're will be no eggs or cream cheese jello concoctions. Why bother tabulating mere grams of carbs, fat, or protein when the key to all your happiness lies in counting atoms? Details and dedication, people. Get the H out.
"You mean, hydrogen, like the balloon air for talking like the chipmunks?" -Pamela McBoobs
"I... I'm feeling kind of faint." Rachael Rae
"Terminate the H and your abs will be back." A. Schwarzenegger
"Wait. Doesn't water have hydrogen, er something?" Dr. Mumphry Schykster

September 05, 2009

Not Too Much

What did you do this weekend?

"Not too much" is my default answer for the casual acquaintance at church or a patient at the clinic. I mean, do you really want to know? Can you handle the truth? Because what I did this weekend is really nothing great or exciting by most people's standards.
But I could go on and on. And on. It would be so long that you'd wait for me to take a breath and say something like, "oh how nice."

But those aren't our standards? Who's standards are "they," anyway?
These pictures don't even capture the half of it. Seriously. Some things are WAY too big to capture in a facebook or twitter blurb or blog. You don't see me trying to teach Luke how to spell snake while Ben is "drawing" or pickup hoops or church or the Messiah soccer game. You don't see our Lord of The Rings (plywood) fort or Luke going on and on and on about this dumb bird.

The video at the bottom is my attempt to capture/video more frogs than I have ever seen before in my entire life. I mean cumulative in my entire life...I've never seen as many frogs, total, as I have today. And I've been around the pond, as far as frogs go. They seem like phantom splashed in the video, but they're frogs. Hundreds of thousands of them climb over each other to get into the water for the entire circumference of this pond, location to remain undisclosed.
Hat tip to Max for the great bullfrog find.

September 01, 2009

School, The Second Day

Wow. What an adventure. We're in for...some kind of ride. Many lessons being learned around here, yes.

Luke is relearning s words. He's writing s, z, and the numbers 1 and 2, using sidewalk chalk on our driveway. These aren't any old 2s and z's. They're huge. Apparently, the bigger the better. Which is great, for now.

Owen is learning some of it too, though exactly how much I'm not sure. He knows how to sit at the table and do "work." He waits his turn and proudly offers me his creations to put up at the office.

Ben learns how to climb out of the pack-n-play. Maggie is discovering how to get the knees of her pink and purple little pants every bit as dirty as the brothers. They're learning to play together. Amy breaks out a special little toy to occupy the small ones and everyone else wants in on it.

Near the end of the day, Luke nets a nice little bird with a broken wing. He's with Owen and Lianne, jumping for joy and dreaming of all possibilities. Hambone is knocking the top off the makeshift bird cage.

That's what kind of day the second day of school is around here. Luke is writing and reading and Ben is painting at the table, if you can imagine that type of day. Maggie is suddenly over in the dogs water dish having a blast.

August 30, 2009

We All Scream...

Bret at Brusters has once again used his computer geek skillz to take a good old fashioned product and complexify it with technological interface. In the end, we get to have a little fun and he gets all of our minds on ice cream.

Create your own flavor! Go ahead, get creative. Amy and I went ahead and submitted about 4 or 8 tonight (depending on how good of a friend I think Bret is that he'll put up with sophomorishly dumb jokes at his workers' expense). Amy had a few serious entries that we're crossing our fingers and placing all our hopes and dreams on. Livin on a prayer, ya know.

A few of our flavors, well, the ones that I can remember. I'll let you guess what's in it because I don't want you to steal our recipe and therefore have to share the spoils.

Lemon Marangoo Pie
Fling Poo
Coconut Concoction
Bail Out
Thallium Stress Test

Bail Out has a secret recipe, but is really more of a concept than a particular flavor. Too bad Bret didn't create a data field that allows you to enter ice cream "concepts." Anyway, All Bail Outs should have a hint of red-white&blue sprinkles on top and be served in a little plastic bucket. The idea is that your ice cream is free. Yes FREE! The people in line after you pay for it, whatever your heart desires to order.

Bail Out is only slightly more of a gamble than the old flavor Social Security, where you pay for your own ice cream and someone else's up until the age of 65. After that, you get free ice cream for however many years you've got in you to still eat ice cream, mostly likely at that time leaning towards something with pecans.

Let's go. People get ready!

August 26, 2009

It's The Point

This so-called urban riding IS functional AND purposeful. I'm certain that I could complete a "century" ride if you give me enough Gatorade. I'm not saying it would be fun, but I can ride a bike to get where I need to go if I had to. But can you hop onto a picnic table without a ramp?

I mean, say you're out in Harrisburg on a Thursday night, taking the family to Neato Burrito, when suddenly you hear a sweet little old lady cry out "merciful heavens, my purse!" You see the criminal sprinting down an alley well ahead of you, and so you grab the nearest bike and take off. You're in hot pursuit, gaining on him, when suddenly he turns down a sidewalk under construction. He leaps down into a hole over a segment of the sidewalk and jumps off a big pipe up onto the other side. He slows up and begins thumbing through his earnings. That's when you pull out something like this:

You jump your bike down off the wall, pummeling the unsuspecting criminal from his right. Upon returning her purse amidst flashing police car lights, the little old lady proudly awards you $5.

Or, say you're out in the front yard playing toss with your baby daughter, when a policeman whips into the driveway. You're being falsely accused of a crime you didn't commit. So your grab the closest thing, your bike, to make a quick getaway until justice can prevail.

You fly through the grass past your neighbors cookout in their backyard, nearly plowing over aunt Ellie carrying a plate loaded with sausages and ribs. You make a quick cut into what turns out to be a post wedding, pre-reception photo shoot at the Yellow Breaches, and a few bridesmaids shriek as you graze their gowns. You sneak into a covered bridge to catch your breath, but not for long, as today the bridge is being sprayed with protective sealer. Your sticky and back out in the open when an 18 wheeler collides with a flock of geese immediately in front of you, coating you in goose feathers.

Trying to regain your composure, you hear the police megaphone "please put your kickstand down and step away from the bike." Oh, but you don't have a kickstand, so you clear your vision, laugh out loud, duck your head low and pedal ferociously. You're flying, effortlessly.

But at this point there is backup and they've set a trap. There are two cars in pursuit behind you and one blocking the only route in front of you down just past the new bridge. They've finally got you, so they think. That's when you jump on your pedals and pull hard on your handlebars, leaving the ground with no ramp, Knight Rider style.

The policeman draws his gun then slowly lowers it back. He rifles his hat into the pavement as you ride off through the fields and into the glorious sunset.

Entertainment. Service. Justice.

That's the point.

August 23, 2009

Getting Hung Up On Genesis

No. Not that Genesis. Sure, Phil Collins and the boys rocked the house "waiting for this moment for all my life" before Emminem held a mic. But I'm talking about In The Beginning. Origins. Birth. That Genesis. The book that covers "of old" - pretty much everything that ever happened before Moses.

As a Christian, most of the time you already believe in a great God behind the physical universe, even after watching Judge Judy. It doesn't take a thorough understanding of the Old Testament or quantum physics or David Copperfield for you to buy the idea that everything must come from something. Faith in God as the author of life seems far more reasonable to you than chance soup or ancient alien invasion. Good. Remember we're on the same team.

You can try to learn exactly how God created the world and people, but don't hold your views too tightly. Funnel some of your passion for debating Australopithecus into loving your neighbor as yourself. More often than not, pushing too hard with Genesis unnecessarily causes someone at a different (mental) place to doubt or feel like a duface, unknowing that your view isn't as coherent as you think. And those larger than you may be tempted to give you a first hand demonstration of natural selection. You can have certainty when the heavens pass away with great noise, because that's about the day when they figure out a unified theory of everything.

If you haven't been hung up on Genesis, good for you. But then folks like me probably think that your faith is shallow, an assumption that in itself is far more of a problem than trying to explain where Cain found his wife. If you really don't know what the big deal is, you still should pick a view and go with it, if nothing else to humor those who insist that Jesus reserves no grace for the uninformed. You pretty much have three options (with slight variations) to choose from.

Young Earth Creationists

Is not the name of the next band to headline the Purple Door Festival. As a YEC, you will believe that the universe was created about 6- to 10,000 years ago, 5 days before people arrived, according to (complete?) genealogical records leading back to Adam. You get the satisfaction of defending the literal word of God from the very first verse, because you believe the Bible with pure intentions and you're certain that Genesis was meant to be read scientifically.

You don't have issues with believing in kindly smiling parasites and vegetarian crocodiles that shed no blood before the fall of man brought sin to the world. When you read that Adam heard Gods footsteps in the Garden of Eden, you don't wonder about the size of Gods feet.

There are much worse things than being laughed at.

Progressive Creationists

You also believe the Bible. But even though the creation week in Genesis is recorded in days, you imagine that God really meant hundreds of thousands of years. You feel sorry for the angry marsupial couples that traveled all that way to be "saved" from a flood that really only covered Mesopotamia. You believe in some form of evolution (gasp), but close your eyes and hold your ears when you get to the part about soul-less pre-Adamites.

Under these circumstances, you are supposedly just one archaeological discovery or Dan Brown novel away from atheism. You're trying to fit the Bible into secular imagination when you should instead be putting on Bible glasses before looking into the lens (not that you often seriously use a microscope or telescope yourself). You're attempting to wed theism to naturalism, arbitrarily choosing what parts of the Bible are literal/historical versus metaphorical.

Label yourself a progressive compromiser.


If agnosticism means remaining unsure if there is a God, then Genesosticism could mean remaining unsure of exactly how it went down in the beginning. You're not, in fact, dissing God. Just being careful.

Because as soon as you say that you don't buy into the grand story of unguided evolution, some label you a brainwashed fool. They fail to just go ahead and admit that it takes faith to believe that scaffolding or "facilitated variation" of genes can explain everything between Phil Collins and the complex machinery/circuitry with which you hear him. Your critics will not be able to give a decent explanation of why we have music, much less why even they have been stuck on Su-su-sudio.

On the other hand, if you don't imagine the Hebrew poems in the beginning chapters of Genesis were ever meant to be taken literally, they call you a brainwashed fool. You are sliding even further down the slippery slope of the progressive creationists, right into eternal fire.

But as a Genesostic, you're free to (quietly) think that the slippery slope stops somewhere right before Abraham. The patriarchs were historical and Adam may not have been. You hold to the unique beauty and truths found in Genesis that seem to be more concerned with the "why" than the "how" of creation. You doubt that radiocarbon dating nullifies or affirms the purpose and message of Jesus.

A Genesostic looks down at their dancing hands and envisions ginormabytes of written information inside every cell. They come complete with little machines that read and process and carry out the translation of 2-dimensional language into the infinitely interrelated and complex three dimensional structures breaking it down (in worship) on the back of the pew in front of you. Where did the control networks and tiny "cellular machinery" come from? It all appears designed. It functions like it was designed. And that's enough for you.

Deep time hits your eye riding on the light of an ancient star. The order and fine-tuning of our speck of the universe just about knocks you down (as it recently did my 8-year old cousin Elijah). You think it's ironic that physicists use light to mathematically give a pretty solid proof of old age. You feel humbled and small, and can hardly comprehend the size of the earth much less the universe much less statistical squabbling over concepts like specified complexity.

And if evolution is driving any of it, you can posit God on the front end of that bad boy. Who's really to say exactly what was and is directly miraculous versus the natural fallout of the Prime Mover? You can accept both the scientists description of the physical world and the prescription of timeless moral law as revealed to the ancient Hebrews. You are confident that the Creator of all things knows the hearts of people, and doubt that he labels silly little Christians according to our views on Genesis.

And that's enough for you.

There's an alternative answer for the Christian who disagrees with your opinion on how to read Genesis. Just tell them that this is the world we live in, and these are the hands we're given.

August 19, 2009


"Turns out, not where, but who you're with that really matters." -DMB

@ the "beach."

Tim and company

O protecting his sister.


Amy poked me and told me to be quiet after taking this pic.

August 14, 2009

The Redemption of Lil Jersey

The area between Lisburn Road and Stoner Drive is a peninsula of gravel, jaggers, thistles, and 12-foot sumac trees. It's the kind of place that harbors cracked buckets, unpaired sandals, and 3-tone cars that broke down last week. And of course the mandatory rusty fence. Situated near the intersection of Lisburn and Route 15, there's also lots of traffic and noise.

It's a no-mans land along the way and in the way of just about every destination you'll have around here. Like a slice of New Jersey dropped right into south central PA.

I hardly noticed "Lil Jersey" until a few months ago when Trout started talking about it. He's pestered me ever since he noticed a large yellow swallowtail butterfly perched on a clover, and routinely claims to see more swallowtails and many big black butterflies.

Sure. Okay. Mmhmm.

After months of claims and pleading every time we passed Lil Jersey (pretty much every time in the car), I finally broke down. We took our nets and bug jars, as standard, just to humor Trout. We sat our bikes along side of the big berm. Trout was elated and I imagined stepping foot on Mars, secretly hoping that nobody saw me wandering the badlands.

Then... Say!

Lil Jersey is loaded. Clovers covered in bumblebees and small white and yellow butterflies. And what do you know - a big swallow tail (we didn't catch)! The black butterflies were not a figment of Trout's imagination, but flying grasshoppers. Hundreds of them, and they are absolutely big and fast and black-winged and cool. I imagined that all the crappy conditions and noise serve the residents of Lil Jersey as "natural" protection from predators.

Flying grasshoppers are nearly impossible to catch, with the quickness of a grasshopper jump that transitions into a long flight. But at the Grasshopper Patch, there are so many in so little area, one will end up landing right in front of your eager net.

Trout and Ducks double dipped on a massive specimen for show and tell last week. Trout rarely show and tells anything that doesn't need holes in the lid of a jar. My boys are uber cool among their peers, for Country and Town Church Early Learning Center has never seen the likes of giant flying grasshoppers.

On the way out the door this morning, Ducks noticed the grasshopper and asked to take it for his show and tell. "Sure, you can take it - good idea" turned his complaints about going to school to great eagerness. I thought it was a win-win, until later Amy revealed that Duck's class of 3-year olds doesn't even do show and tell yet. Ducks again walked me right into our second preschool mistake in three weeks.

Does there have to be a lesson? I think open-mindedness is great but also has its limits. You do have to try things and give them the benefit of the doubt. Lil Jersey is a treasure trove for my boys only a mile from home. It's a source of joy and illigitimate preschool coolness because we gave it a chance.

To Trout, it's the Grasshopper Patch. He thanked me for taking him there. Reflecting over his bug jar packed with giant grasshoppers, he said it's his favorite thing ever. Ducks followed with a "me too." Ducks (current) favorite thing ever also came from Lil Jersey.

I said "me three."

I found my favorite thing in Jersey too. My most favorite thing ever.

[Surprising just as well, their mommy comes from the big Grasshopper Patch located between PA and the Atlantic.]

August 09, 2009

Lachelle's Big Small Challenge

The whole gospel is a vision for ushering in God’s kingdom — now, not in some future time; and here, on earth, not in some distant heaven.

-Richard Stearns

What if we suddenly saw the world with God's eyes, and the reality of good and evil suddenly exploded into our consciousness? What if we understood the exponential evil that grows from our sterile apathy? What if it happened during church? Would we become as animals, howling our mourning instead of singing our hymns?

-Gordon Atkinson

It starts with opening yourself up to a couple facts and figures. I know, I know, you're busy. But if you would face the facts for just a moment, maybe you would freeze on the face of cold truth. An ounce of truth would cause you to climb high for perspective and then be crushed under the massive need. You would feel small and intimidated by the multiplied complexity of suffering.

You, Christian, would remember that many people view such suffering and question the very existance of a god, and you could not imagine baring such a burden. You would be ready to begin.
Last Sunday Lachelle presented a small challenge as part of her 6-week series called No Plan B. We're hearing about the Aids epidemic in the 3rd world and brothels dealing children and countless villages with no decent water in sight and the reality of walking by tons of (local) poor people in order to get to poor people.

Does our group of 10 or 20 comprehend and understand such things? No. But we're trying. Maybe we'll even change the way we act. We're itching to do...something. Which would be a lot more than most of us are doing right now.

Discussion. Yes, we can do something. There are great ideas and willing hands, even in our small church. I'm encouraged that there is hope. I'm also disgusted by some of the questions that show our own ignorance, and "answers" that are weak attempts at justification. I'm honestly not surprised that my hope and disgust from the group sounds an awful lot like me as an individual.

Lachelle's challenge from the H20 Project was to forgo drinking anything except water for one week. We could then make an optional donation of the approximate moneys we saved in drinks to The Project.

This was not our full blown effort at fixing the world. It wasn't even prayer and fasting for Lent much less any bologna like being able to identify with Christs and others suffering. Giving up Diet Coke is nothing like crucifixion or having to choose between death from dehydration or Cholera. Not even a little bit.

This is simply awareness; a small reminder of one big thing we take for granted. While the experience of drinking only water for one week is hardly suffering, it is most definitely a way to hit us where it hurts. I would much rather throw a $20 at the H2O project than give up coffee.

And if nothing else, the challenge is one thing that we most certainly do have control over. Or do we?

That's another reason I took the challenge**. Lachelle brought the H2O challenge and I wondered. Obsessed, even.

Does my caffeine intake sometimes get a little ridiculous? Has it become a necessary scaffold for this lifestyle of heavy family responsibility on top of work and training and late night biking and reading and blogging? I watch the background of the No Plan B videos and see Africans strolling so slowly down dirt roads and wonder if my lifestyle is a somewhat opposite unhealthy extreme.

One person cannot possibly care enough, much less give enough. But should your passion for Seinfield reruns come after feeding the children (or at least one of them)? Is it true that nothing owns you? Not even the power of Splenda?

Justify all you want. Hey, don't blame me. There is a way to know.

**Since quitting caffeine, cold turkey, would have made me a headache infested grouch, (which pretty much defeats the purpose of anything Christian or even pseudo Christian), I drank only water all week, tapered coffee, and really only spent three days caffeine free.


July 27, 2009


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