Brain Flotsam

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Life is busy right now. Several writing projects in the fire. Busy. Busy. Good busy. Got no time to blog anything on theme—or even sensical. I’m looking at the clock and I simply can’t bring myself to do one more thing on my list. Fried.

Met my son’s homeschooling program’s minimum requirement, so if I get hit by a stray meteorite tomorrow, he’ll still pass.

The To-Do list fills. Then I proceed to misplace it. Make a new one. Go shopping for essentials, and despite the list, forget the most important item. I hate that.

Our country house was built before the Information Age crept out to the boonies. Only two phone jacks. Jury-rigged a third one for my office. The Thinker by Auguste RodinA few days ago, right in the middle of several freelancing projects, a mouse chewed through the supposedly vermin-proof phone line I’d run through the wall. Goodbye office phone. Hello to hours of snaking phone line behind an existing wall and through the subflooring of our house. Welcome to country living! (And don’t tell me about cats. Yes, all our neighbors have multiple cats. We’re all deathly allergic to the darned things.)

Pizza wisdom accumulated over years of observing and a summer spent in a pizzeria: Young guys aged 18-22 make the best pizzas. They make a pizza they would want to eat.  Older guys—not quite as good, but still okay. They still have memories of great pizzas from history past consumed with high school and college buddies. Young, unmarried women are close to the old guys. They make a nice-looking pizza, albeit with fewer toppings. Older, married women, usually moms, make lousy pizzas—half the toppings the young guys put on and with clumps of toppings rather than nicely scattered. They’ve spent too much time cooking at home and they’ve lost the will to do it at the pizzeria. They think of customers as their children, with an attitude of “I don’t care what it looks like, you eat it!” But those young guys make great pies.

Christians who love the movies work their tails off to find “spiritual” content in their favorite films as a way to justify the film. Non-Christians never do this. Makes me wonder just how much spiritual content actually exists in a film. I can’t say that I’ve ever met anyone who came to Christ because of the spiritual content of a movie. Makes you wonder…

They don’t make them like they used to (too much info edition): I still have a few pairs of wearable underwear I had in college, but several pairs I bought just three years ago of the exact same brand and style are filled with holes. Can anyone in the garment industry explain this to me?

They don’t make them alike for the sexes, either: I have a couple suits I’ve worn for more than ten years and they still look great. Same for my best dress shoes, which are now almost fifteen years old. My wife, on the other hand, can invest in the best women’s business suits made and they’re worn out in three years. Same goes for her shoes. I have a pair of basketball shoes from twenty years ago I can still wear, but my wife’s sneakers are lucky to last two years.

And still more on women’s fashions: My pet theory for years has been that shoes and clothes for women are designed by men who hate women. And I’m sticking with that theory. Also, I really wish lowrider jeans would go away. Ladies, only 0.0001 percent of the female population looks even passable in lowriders. Burn yours. You’re not in that 0.0001 percent.

Not a single person running for President in 2008 is worthy of the title. Unfortunately, this has been true since Reagan left office in 1988. I’m tired of seeing little boys and girls attempting to fill a man’s shoes. I never thought I’d say this, but the new French president’s a better choice than anything fielded in this country right now.

Gas is going to $4. I won’t be surprised if we see that horrible apparition on gas station signs come Memorial Day weekend.

I like the fact that most of the creeks, rivers and streams I’ve hiked along lately all look cleaner than I remember from twenty years ago. Let’s keep up that good work!

We had to eat out and my son, of course, chose McDonalds. Is it me or does a Big Mac weigh about two grams anymore? As a trick, I used to be able to eat a 70s-80s era Big Mac in one bite. Nowadays, I doubt that would impress anyone.

A Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, long the fast food choice of cheap guys everywhere, now has a patty about 1 mm in thickness. For a while, they bumped them to $1.19 and that was okay because they still had two slices of bacon and a decently thick patty. Now they’re back to $0.99 and you get one slice of bacon and a patty you can see through.  Sadly, the bun is the same size, so if you like the taste of bread with an added hint of beef, this is your sandwich.

Prices on groceries are holding firm on some canned and boxed items. But if you look closely, the cans and boxes continue to shrink in size. We love Barilla Plus pasta; I see it’s now being packaged at 14.5 ounces instead of 16. I don’t know about you, but when I see shenanigans like that, I wonder how stupid the manufacturer thinks I am. Boo! I don’t care what the canned/boxed good is, give me a full pound and none of this 15.1 ounces garbage. I’ll pay a few cents more. Just don’t insult me.

Despite the fact that nearly everything else bottled, canned, and boxed has gotten smaller, soft drinks have gotten larger. Tracks with the rise in diabetes, too.

Conspiracy of the week: The rise in prostate cancer in America tracks evenly with the rise of fluoridated water supplies.

Even though the temp dipped today, this has been a lovely May.

I’ve been driving and birding for coming up on thirty years and I can say that in that time, despite the fact that they seem possessed to swoop in front of cars, I’ve never seen a swallow become roadkill.

Weird thought: I’ve always wondered what percentage of the average church’s budget goes to landscaping.

I think it’s cool that old Legos I owned as a kid still work with my son’s set of Legos.  (Hey, you take the little wins when you can. My old Lincoln Logs don’t work as well with the newer ones.)

Why am I still up?

Bed calls. Have a great weekend.

33 thoughts on “Brain Flotsam

  1. What was The Matrix? It seemed to be everywhere, just as Morpheus said, even when we went to church. Now it is a fading memory. Did I look too deeply for a Christian meaning? No, I thought the entire trilogy’s spiritual premise was bogus. Any hacker with enuff skill could bend a spoon that is not there. There were gaffes in the flick I doubt even the movie’s makers intended. Did you notice in the first one that only soldiers were the ones whose bodies were shown killed? In the end, the homeless man was killed, and either the mother of the child on the street or the old woman throwing the knife was offed by the new Neo. Apparently, though, it is only appropriate to show soldiers being killed.

    There was, though, a parallel in the trilogy that I thought illustrated the clamp the sin nature has on humanity. The rebellion, Zion, the Oracle, blah, blah, blah…it was all an elaborate hoax. The rebels thought they were fighting for their freedom. But it was an infinite loop in the Matrix programming. Man’s tendency to rebel against “the system” was so ingrained, when one rebellion was destroyed, another one would have to begin, because too many people trapped in the Matrix refused to submit. So they were conned into thinking they could be free. It was a perfect parallel to all the rebellions and revolutions and wars that Man cooks up, thinking he and she will be free this time!

    • Michael,

      The Matrix had one very good idea: that perhaps we’re all stuck in an invisible system we’re oblivious to.

      I think that’s a powerful concept. As I get older, I see how often that thinking played out in my own life. I started to see how people were unable to “take the red” pill and how that explained their behavior. If a person can’t understand another plane of thinking, you can’t expect him or her to make the leap to that plane.

      That means much in how we carry on our discipleship. I don’t consider that idea a spiritual one, but a good, philosophical question.

  2. Anna

    Swallows do it for fun and for the bugs just about to hit your windshield. You should see the swarms of them that nest on interstate overpasses here in Oklahoma!

    ~Anna

  3. RE: Spiritual messages in film. I think in just about every story there’s something, some message/belief/thought, that resonates with me and that I can examine through a spiritual lens. Of course that’s not the same thing as a spiritual message, but that’s why there’s a spiritual component to most of my writing about music/movies/books. I used the word spiritual five times in a very short paragraph. Doesn’t that sound nice and spiritual? Dang, six times now. I rawk. 😉

  4. “Makes me wonder just how much spiritual content actually exists in a film. I can’t say that I’ve ever met anyone who came to Christ because of the spiritual content of a movie. Makes you wonder…”

    That does make me wonder. I also wonder about Christian authors who use more movie references than Bible verses to support their points.

    • Elizabeth,

      I guess you’re referring to me there.

      Referring to movies has a valid use if the movie is well-known and you need an illustration that both Christians and non-Christians will understand. I’ve used the “red pill” illustration from The Matrix here many times because it’s commonly understood by a wide swath of people and makes in one simple illustration what it would take considerable time to construct from Biblical references.

      That said, I don’t go recommending The Matrix to people as a source of spiritual nourishment or set it up as some great cloaked Christian morality tale.

  5. Sometimes Brother, you have to let go of anyting that makes any kind of non-sense in form of rambling written word. Get it out, brain fritz not good, take time away, relax, watch more birds and have fun with the little one!

    I don’t think our church has spent any monies on landscaping – for a while. Not to say it isn’t landscaped, we just have a lot of people that donate a lot of plants, mulch, time, etc. However, the weeds grow quite nicely!

    • Travis,

      They don’t fluoridate our water where I live. Chlorinate (not much better) yes, but no fluorine. Fluorine’s such a powerful oxidizer that you stick a piece of wood into a chamber filled with fluorine gas and it instantly bursts into flame! Now imagine that same process in your body.

      As for Ron Paul, I’ve officially reached the point where I believe that most people who have been politicians all their lives are so hopelessly compromised by the system that they’ll prove useless for change. Ron Paul’s just another politico. Even if he were pure as the driven snow, he’d inherit a Congress dead set against everything he stood for. Result? Lame duck presidency from day one.

      We need a valid third party to end the gridlock in Washington. The Republicans and Democrats are the same when you scratch them deeply enough. Neither represents my interests in the least and haven’t for years. For both parties, it’s all about power and money. If that sounds cynical, I’m sorry. They created that cynicism. Now they have to undo it.

  6. This made me laugh! Yeah, I’m spending more on groceries than ever before. Fresh fruit and veggies hike up the bill more than anything else, and growing them myself costs even more.
    Please don’t say that about gas. I’ll never get out of the house again!
    And why is that about women’s clothing? I’m just calling my stuff retro.
    Regarding movies, I don’t think it’s about witnessing, but it’s fun to see aspects of the Great Story reflected in other good stories. Kind of like the Paul in Athens thing.
    Thanks for the laugh!

    • Heather,

      Just two years ago, I could buy green peppers in the off season for as low as $0.39 a pepper. Now they’re $1.29. Now multiply that out by every single good in the grocery. Economists are crowing about a 4 percent increase in salaries in the last five years. Hah! Who are they fooling? 🙁

      Get ready for $4. It’s coming. The world needs to stop speculating on light sweet crude futures. Much of that increase at the pump is there to cover speculative positions. It has nothing to do with real supply and demand changes. It’s rich people getting richer by speculating on the commodity markets.

      It’s that way with women’s clothing because women aren’t willing to stop buying overpriced, poorly-made clothes that don’t last—and the fashion industry knows this. Men, on the other hand, won’t put up with that kind of garbage. Men have a much higher expectation. Go into a high quality men’s clothing store sometime and see how men get treated like kings. My wife’s jaw dragged on the carpet when she saw the incredible service I received when I walked into a decent men’s clothing store in search of a new blazer. Also, she couldn’t believe how much better the suits were constructed when compared with women’s suits that cost even more.

      If it’s not about the spiritual message of the movies, why then do Christians keep gushing about the spiritual messages in this film or that?

  7. Good stream of consciousness stuff, there…Gas just hit 2.99 where I live, and I nearly choked because last week it was 2.81. It’s supply and demand, it’s just that the refiners are controlling supply and profiting from the resulting price increases. It’s not a conspiracy, but it is immoral. But this is the world we’re talking about here; it’s immoral by definition.

    So, if a swallow can do something for fun, does that mean they are self-aware? Hmmm…

    Did you hear the latest re: Prostate cancer? Multivitamins. Yep, studies have shown that men who take multivitamins more than 7 times a week are more likely to have serious prostate cancer.

    Stick around long enough, and you will die of something. I can see the headline now: “Life causes increased risk of fatal illness.”

    • David,

      The supply and demand thing is a lie. Supply and demand don’t fluctuate that rapidly. Speculation is what’s driving the price up. You can track the light sweet crude futures prices online and know exactly what the price at the pump will be the next two days. There’s also the typical weekend gouging that goes on. Whereas it used to be a few pennies here and there, now the gouging’s like 30 cents or more. Meanwhile, Exxon and their ilk are making record amounts of profit.

      I find the whole thing despicable.

  8. I recommend The Apostle as a movie where someone may “[come] to Christ because of the spiritual content of a movie.” I heard secondhand that people did come to Christ while watching the movie in theaters. That certainly was my and my then-girlfriend’s heartfelt assessment of the film after watching it. The cast includes many real-to-life Christians who were not professional actors. They simply acted like themselves on camera, and it worked. The DVD commentary includes a comment about a scene during which a cameraman fell out in the Spirit, and the real-life preachers who were acting on camera ran over to minister to him. Near the end of the film is an emotional sermon with an altar call. To an unchurched unbeliever watching the movie, it may have been the most sustained presentation of the unabashed Gospel by flawed and very human character-preachers ever presented on screen.

    • Michael,

      Yes, The Apostle is a good film. I enjoyed it.

      While I consider myself an emotional person who sometimes does get choked up watching compelling movies (I mean, what guy hasn’t teared up watching Brian’s Song ?), I’ve found very few movies have any sort of spiritual component worth classifying as overtly Christian.

      One movie that does have that sense is The Mission and that’s a movie worth mentioning. Then again, it has overtly Christian content in it rather than veiled references. That said, I don’t think people came to Christ by watching The Mission. Plus, its ultimately an RCC view, though the most compelling spiritual portions of the film transcended the RCC.

      Truthfully, I expected more spiritual fallout from The Passion, but even that was tempered and kind of low. I guess that got me wondering if movies truly are a way to communicate the Gospel in a way that the Holy Spirit uses for conversion. I know the Jesus Film has been used around the world to communicate the Gospel, but that’s about as explicitly Christian as it gets. Even then, I don’t know why so little came of The Passion. Very curious.

      • I consider The Passion of the Christ to be more of a reinforcement of a believer’s beliefs. Some Christians may never have considered the sheer torture Jesus endured to die for us. Other Christians saw rendered on screen what they knew in their heads, but it touched their hearts. For some unbelievers presented the Gospel before and after the movie, The Passion may have been the tipping point for their surrender. But there are so many unbelievers who have not heard the Gospel or have not listened when they heard. To them, The Passion was often just a sadistic film.

  9. Quoting from my blog:
    For years, I was involved with Christian theater. In fact, three of my acquaintances became Christians through evangelistic drama and films. Later, the first became a Marxist. The second became a Rotarian. The third murdered his wife.

  10. Bill

    This was funny post. Plenty whiny in my opinion. Did you have a lousy day or something? I wish I could write whiny stuff and sound as good as you.

    Movies. I love movies. I think there is usually something to talk about from almost any movie. Now I don’t watch just anything and there are types and genres of movies I simply will not view. Who cares about “soul-winning” and movies? Is that how we justify watching movies? Cinema is an art form. Do we avoid art museums because we think viewing the Mona Lisa or viewing an exhibit of art by Surrealists will not bring someone to Christ? How about the blogging? Is blogging “soul-winning” activity? Hmmm.

    I agree. Some movies are just plain dreck. But do you mean to say there are no biblical themes in any movie? Is this what you mean by “spiritual”? I’m not going to belabor the point. I find it hard to believe we can’t look at a good movie and see how a biblical frame of reference provides insight and a basis for conversation about biblical themes and the God of the Bible. We gotta be a little more creative.

  11. Dee

    “And still more on women’s fashions: My pet theory for years has been that shoes and clothes for women are designed by men who hate women.”

    Pantyhose. I swear a misogynist invented them!

  12. Jack Klugman

    Never heard all this complaining about pantyhose in the 50’s through the 90’s. All of a sudden women hate them. Buy the right size and denier and stop complaining. They are comfortable if you buy the right size and denier. I know, I wear them everyday and love them. Men will love you too..

  13. Susan

    Dan, I enjoyed reading your blog. About Legos (and toys), they don’t make them the way they used to anymore. Used to be able to buy big buckets of various pieces and colors, and allow imagination and creativity to take place. Nowadays, Legos and toys come in little boxes (ridiculously priced) and all you’re able to make is a pre-designed robot, car, truck, etc… and the parts aren’t the normal standard pieces anymore but odd pieces with fancye bells and whistles (though still interchangeable with previous generation of Legos)

    My husband played Legos since he was 3 and continued played them throughout high school and college. He had buckets of Legos pieces grouped by colors and miscellaneous parts that he would spend hours playing, building fortresses, designing perfect spheres, etc… It was Legos, the building blocks of his imagination, that inspired him to study organic chemistry, the building blocks of Life. Now he’s in pharma, doing cancer drug research, utilizing the same creativity and building block concepts everyday in his work. It always bring back fond memories when we walk by a Legos section in a store, however disappointed that they don’t serve the same purpose they used to.

    He still has those buckets of Legos in his parents house, and God-willing, when we have our own kids, we’ll encourage them to make something interesting out of the pieces.

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