Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why Have You Forsaken Me....or have you?

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ~ Psalm 22:1

This scripture should be at least vaguely familiar to even the occasional church-goer. Many of you will recognize it has part of some of the Gospel accounts of the death of Christ. This text is included in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

Up until a couple years ago, these words always confused me very much. The Crucifixion and, more importantly, the Resurrection, are obviously huge turning points in the New Testament. Christ's statements are incredibly bold. He promises his mother he will "make all things new" - something so important but that no one understood at the moment. He tells a criminal to his side that he would be with Jesus in Paradise. In an act that I may never understand but surely respect, he forgave the very guards that were physically crucifying him. I've heard it claimed that this is the only time in history that humans were forgiven without repentance but I cannot confirm the truth in that. What I do know is that if such an unthinkable act of forgiveness were among that last words that Jesus spoke before his death, than that must mean it is pretty darn important.

But among all these things is still this phrase that is seemingly so negative among the other amazingly positive statements. During all the questioning from various officials, Jesus stood his ground. He never backed down from what he knew was true and what he knew to be his destiny. If he believed in that so much, than why would he think that he had been forsaken by his Father? As I said, this bothered and confused me for years.

Not anymore.

For me, there were two things to understand here. The first of which is that back in those days, Jews prayed heavily through the psalms. Many had them all memorized, which is awesome! Second, and more importantly is to read through the rest of Psalm 22. Yes, it starts out negative and whiny. But it goes on to say wonderful and honoring things about God.

"Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One' you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them." ~ Psalm 22:3-4

"But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declaire your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! ~ Psalm 22:19-23

Pretty powerful words and I'm sure that, had he possessed the strength and had it been his Father's will, he might have finished his prayer through the psalm and it would have made much more sense. As I mentioned before, Jews prayed with these psalms and many probably had all the psalms memorized. So for the people that stood at the foot of Christ's cross, hearing these first words of Psalm 22 made perfect sense. They did not need to hear the rest of it to know what was being referenced and what Jesus' true and complete prayer was.

In most liturgical churches, you won't hear these words in Church on Easter weekend. The reading cycle has us hearing an account this year which excludes this particular text. Regardless, I still think it is important to understand. God bless you as you prepare your heart for the highest holy day of the year!

Keep It Real!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Held Hostage

Last night it got to -9 in Nome, Alaska.

The Hawaiian Islands and Florida are hovering in the upper 70's and low 80's.

After the tease of a few days of warm weather, we're hovering right around freezing, give or take, here in Los Alamos. It's snowing as I type this. Around town, I hear people complaining about this extension of winter and I haven't an ounce of sympathy for them. You chose to live in the mountains! This is what happens! Between the places I have lived and the places I have visited, I've seen snow fall in every month with the exception of July (but I've still seen it on the ground in July!). If it is still snowing in May, I may join in the local griping.

It being chilly yesterday afternoon, I decided it was an excellent opportunity to pay our hot tub the time it deserves. It's on the deck behind the house and the way the fence is, it is quite private from our neighbors on either side. Truth be told, I have only ever worn a swimsuit in the hot tub on the two occasions when we had guests. With those exceptions, hot tubbing at our house is quite a natural experience, if you know what I mean.

I hadn't been in more than 10 or 15 minutes when I heard the noise of an overhead aircraft approaching. This usually doesn't bother me but this particular helicopter flew by so low that I could read what was written on the bottom of it. Turns out, this hovering contraption was owned by the local ABC affiliate! Ahh! As soon as it was gone, it came back again...and again! It hovered back and forth over our neighborhood for about 15 minutes before it stayed away long enough for me to make a mad dash for the house.

We don't live far from a main road and I'd heard some sirens about an hour before so I figured it was getting some footage of an accident or something like that for the evening news. I knew in my head that it wasn't there to capture the happenings of local backyards but my nervously beating heart was also forcing images in my head of the censored blurriness of some crazed mad woman on TV running around in her backyard with the Channel 7 logo in the bottom corner of the screen.

The good news is, I made it to the house and about 40 minutes later, learned on the news that someone had run a van into a Montessori School (after the kiddies were gone - whew!) setting the vehicle and building on fire due to also cutting a gas line. It's amazing and a blessing that no one was injured let alone killed.

So that was the excitement for me for the last couple days. Being held hostage on my own property by a news helicopter while wearing absolutely no clothes. This is the life I lead.

Keep It Real!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Debated Victory

Read the paper. Check out the blogs. Look at everyone's volatile status updates on Facebook if you dare. You'll find no shortage of individuals out there that will give you their opinion regarding the recent passing of the health care reform bill in the House. Regardless of whether or not they share my opinion on it, I'm willing to bet that they (like me....not fooling anyone here) are fairly uninformed and, for that matter, don't even know the name of the bill itself!

For the record, I do know the name. It's the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.

If you aren't up to reading the entire 153 page document in the link above (just some amendments...not even the whole thing - thanks for the correction Chappy), an old friend, Ben, has provided us with an excellent and unbiased summary source.

You are completely capable of clicking either of the above links so I won't regurgitate the facts to you. This won't be an informative post but rather an opinionated one. I don't think anyone is 100% happy with this bill. No one ever is. There are things in it that I wish were not. But on the whole, there are more things in it that I like than visa versa.

People seem to be getting their undies in a bundle over things like cost, mandates, coverage, alleged socialism, etc. When it comes down to it, I do suspect that most people are more upset about the framers of the bill rather than the content itself. It happens all the time. If we were still in the Bush Administration, the dems would be throwing hissy fits right and left. But since this was done on President Obama's watch, there are a lot of conservatives out there who are pissed and don't even know why. Don't get me wrong...I know there are lots of informed people out there who are upset. But sadly, I think they are the minority.

This is all but a done deal. Mr. President will sign this bill into law tomorrow (today by the time you read this!) and in a few years, some major changes will take effect. What's done is done. Knowing that, can we instead turn our focus to the good things? Can't we all just be happy for the millions of uninsured Americans who will now have coverage? Isn't the elimination of coverage denial based on pre-existing conditions or gender wonderful? Caps on premiums sound fantastic to me!

But like I said, there are a lot of high emotion-low information opinions flying around out there. Until you at LEAST know the bill's name, I don't want to hear it.

Keep It Real!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Elementary, my dear Watson

You know how sometimes your dogs bark really loud and you go out and realize it is because there are cops in your neighbors' yard with guns drawn?

Yeah, me neither....until last week.

Our dogs bark a lot but this particular barking was different. It was non-stop and clearly a warning to someone. So I went out to tell them to shut the heck up. Our neighbors are very elderly and I didn't want my dogs to disturb them. When I got out to the deck, I noticed they were looking toward the neighbors' backyard. Expecting to see the neighbors' dog egging them on, I looked up and saw something I hadn't seen before: 2 police officers lurking in the neighbors' yard. Upon closer inspection, guns were unholstered.

Quickly calling the dogs inside, I told Leni about it and sent the following text to several friends:

Should I be concerned that there are cops searching the neighbors' backyard with guns drawn?

Within a few minutes, I received the following responses:

Josh: Wow. Pic?
Nick: Yes
Andy: I might not stand by the window
Laura: Ooh is COPS filming by ur house? Are you gonna be on TV?
Tonia: Nope, better grill something for lunch
Megan: Ha, we haven't had that problem here since Blake left :) Keep me posted ~ (It should be noted that Blake is a former employee at camp who was practicing shooting his handgun when he accidentally shot the neighbors house. Cops soon paid us a visit!)

By the time I was done sending and receiving these texts, the backyard showdown had moved to front yard. Guns were now holstered and there was just some standing around and talking with our elderly neighbors. Soon it turned into the search of a car across the street. Still not wanting to go outside, I was peeking out of windows and through screen doors. The police officers stood around this car for about an hour talking with a young man who looked to be in his early 20's.

Before too long, the young man was placed in the back of a squad car and driven away. I tried to get a picture of this with my cell phone to send to Josh (see his comment above) but the photo through the closed window did not turn out well enough. I tried, Josh!

My expert investigation hunch tells me this was probably drug related. I have no idea how all the pieces fit together. If it was just drugs, were the guns necessary? Why the poking around in the backyard? Were we ever in danger? Even worse, were the dogs in danger and the cops didn't warn us? I may never have the answers to these questions. Perhaps I'll pick up a local paper and see if there is a crime report section.

And I thought we'd moved to such a nice, quiet neighborhood.....

Keep It Real!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Making the Grade

Call me nerdy and pathetic if you want. But this week I took 5 middle school tests.

With the enormous amount of free time I have on my hands at this point and my probable new job not quite started (more on that in another post...stay tuned!), I'm running out of ways to keep myself occupied. So when I saw my brother, a science teacher, last weekend and he sent me home with a copy of his latest exam, I was actually excited to take it. Before I was done with it, he had emailed me a few other exams to try as well.

I know what you are thinking. An almost 29-year-old should be able to ace a test written for a a middle school student with no trouble. I thought this as well at first. But not having reviewed any material that the students saw and not doing my own research, the task proved more difficult than I expected. Relying 100% on my brain from the memory of an primary education had long ago, I got started. As if Nick's 4 science tests weren't enough, my sister-in-law, Claire (an English teacher), sent me one of her exams as well. 3/10 update: Mrs. Courtney Poulsen, teacher in Richardson, TX sent me a recent some History tests! By the time it was all over, I had been tested on the following:
  • Scientific Thinking
  • Weather
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Grammar
  • The Era of Good Feelings
  • The American Revolution
These exams truly did test my mind. The science tests required a lot of writing, most of them being in essay question form. The grammar test had its easy points but also its tough ones (the latter outnumbered the former). I know you are dying to know what my scores were. They are below:
  • Scientific Thinking - 90%
  • Weather - 79%
  • Plate Tectonics - 100%
  • Rocks and Minerals - 94%
  • Grammar - 58% - don't judge. It was frickin' hard. Do you know what a adverb prepositional phrase is? Without looking it up?
  • The Era of Good Feelings - 42% - this used to be a strong subject of mine but I don't remember ever having studied "The Era of Good Feelings"
  • The American Revolution - 70%
If anyone is feeling nerdy enough to at least look at these tests, let me know. I'll email them right to you!

Keep It Real!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Closing Olympic Remarks

Now that the Olympics are finished, before looking ahead to London 2012 (tickets go on sale in 2011!), I'd like to take a moment to think back to Vancouver 2010 and see what was learned. Three things come to mind:

1) Money and education really can get you anything. If you think there isn't a connection between the wealth here in the U.S. and our position on top of the medal count, you've got something coming.

2) Canada's Olympic Planning Committee sucks

3) Curling isn't quite as bad as I thought (see below)

Loyal Snack for Later readers may recall a post written just prior to the start of the Olympics where I stated how, despite some research, I just couldn't get into the sport of curling.

After the loving prodding of some better-educated friends and a couple hours of watching curling during those 16 wonderful days of Olympic competition, I'm ready to change the status of my curling opinion.

The problem I first encountered when trying to understand curling was thinking of it as a sport. When a friend advised me to think of it more as a game than a sport, things started falling into place. It has the strategy of chess or even pool. It may not require the brute strength of football or hockey or the agility of running and jumping, but it does require an intimate understanding of physics, teamwork, communication and a battle plan that is subject to constant attack and change.

My initial online research was obviously not enough. Watching curling on TV and then re-reading my research was immensely helpful. The next step will be watching it with others who know it better so that I can get a few more questions answered. Thank you, Andy, Tonia, and Seth for helping me take curling more seriously. Perhaps we can take in a "game" sometime.

Kudos to Canada on their attempt during the Closing Ceremony to humorously make up for the torch lighting snafu back during the Opening Ceremony. The use of a clown (above) to finally bring up the leg of the torch that had previously failed to rise from the floor was great. I loved that the Canadians used an international stage to laugh at themselves. I now forgive them, for that.

If I had to grade these Olympics, it would be hard. Taking the death of the Georgian luger out of the equation, I give Canada a B. If the loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili gets factored in, it has to be an F. I'm not willing to do that until the Olympic Committee's report comes out in April.

879 days until London 2012 Summer Olympics! - no worries...this countdown will not remain a staple of Snack for Later until we get within a month or so of the Games.

Keep It Real!