Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Tree Assembly: A Primer

 Listen up.  There are three ways to put up a Christmas tree.

Method 1:  Drive down to a dodgy looking parking lot (or quaint-ish Christmas tree farm type place, if you're into that sort of thing).  Pick your picturesque victim.  To keep the ever loving peace, you then walk over and cut down the other terrible looking lopsided tree everybody else decided on without you.  The abominable thing is tied with shoelaces to the roof of your ride, and off you go.  You stick that sucker in a wobbly metal contraption that holds some water and you're all set.   

Total time elapsed:  2 hours, 48 minutes.

Method 2:  Head out to your storage place and drag the massive, 187 lb cardboard box (cardboard with durability similar to 1,900 year-old papyrus) up/down into the living room.  Remove the dead bugs.  Kill all the living ones.  Set the three pieces together on the unsure tripod (no water bowl).  Spend 45 minutes plugging the thing in.  Burn 3 hours, 25 minutes finding which strand is busted.  Spend 15 minutes locating where the fouryearold put the spare bulbs and fuses.  Threaten fouryearold repeatedly.  Give up and swing the unlit part to the back of the room, so that every one of your back yard neighbors can see you're too cheap and inept to stick up a functioning Christmas tree.

Total time elapsed:  6 hours, 27 minutes.

Method 3:  I had not heard of this one before about 15 minutes ago, but hey, it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round.  Okay, find every single thing you own in this world, including a mask and a cape.  Put on the mask and cape.  Locate an out-of-the-way corner in your house.  Pile every gall-darned single piece of stuff up in an imposing pile.  Clothes.  Toys.  Containers.  Baskets.  Old plastic popcorn buckets.  Stuffed animals.  Dirty Underoos.  Whatever you got, man.  It goes in.  Top it off with a fireman hat.  Declare to all, "IT'S A CWRISTMUS TRWEE!"  Pose for picture.   

Total time elapsed:  11 minutes.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Practical Botany for the Modern Parent

I was told about this well after it happened.  And that's really the best way to be told about things like this.

Curlycue is crawling around at alarming speeds now.  She's so fast in fact, that I have to flat-out race her to get the deadbolt unlocked and the door shut after me as I'm leaving for work.  She spots me and just accelerates like a V10, always sporting this maniacal grin.  And shrieking.  She shrieks.  A lot.  Loudly.  She does that when she tires of hissling.  Anyway.

She's also got the annoying habit of waiting until you've got a drink in your hand, and she - this is lightning quick, mind you - shoots out a hand on the lip of your glass and starts shaking it like an earthquake.  She did this with my (hot) coffee one morning.  Didn't turn out well.

And the child's grip strength is staggering.  You can barely peel her off anything she's determined to hold.  Like my neck.  At times I've wondered if she's cutting off the blood flow to my brain.  She'll grab a hunk of my face, I guess just to see if it's attached.  Usually she does this in church, so that the 10 full pews behind us can see exactly how far my bottom lip can stretch.  It's pretty far, man.  Or she yanks a big tangle of my hair (overwhelmingly popular choice, that one).  Or my chest hair.  Dirty little thing just shoves a fist down my front button and digs around in there for whatever she can grab.

My point in all this - and there is one - is that the chick is fast.  Undetectably, unstoppably fast.  We tend to have to work with consequences, rather than on prevention.

Majesty's good friend and her son came over yesterday for lunch, and to work in some generalized playtime type stuff.  It was nice outside so the grownups (and the nefarious and quick Caroline) sit on the patio.  Amazingly, the frost didn't kill all of our sissy plants, and there's a croton nearby, between some chairs.

Unfamiliar with the croton?  No sweat; I've got you covered.  The boildown is they're semi-tropical, can be simultaneously red, green, and yellow, they're all over the Yucatan, for instance, and you probably trampled several of them that time you chased the big iguana outside the hotel room on your honeymoon.

BUT dear friends did you know what they do to sneaky little babies that guess the leaves probably taste like field greens in a nice vinaigrette?

I quote:
It contains an oil with violently purgative and irritating qualities, which is also suspected of being a co-carcinogen. Luckily, it tastes dreadful, so accidental poisonings are rare.

Prevent children from nibbling on the attractive leaves.
So (Former?) Friend gets a solid coating of baby yak when Curlycue spews her lunch like a busted up Coke can.  Among the yakkity rubble?  A tiny, green square of Codiaeum variegatum.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Social Media, Part 2

Continued from Part 1:
"The Internet's not written in pencil, Mark.  It's written in ink."
Just about everyone has heard that line from The Social Network.  And it's true:  Shouted, muttered, whispered, scrawled, or typed, our words can exist long after we're gone, whatever the medium.  Technology didn't start that particular fire, but it might have poured gasoline on it.  Things fly off our iWhatevers faster than we can really evaluate the wisdom - or the ethics - of posting them in the first place.

What you write is important, sure.  But equally important is why you're writing.  The effects will be, believe it or not, long lived.  Be as certain as you can they're good effects.

My caveat here is that I certainly haven't got this all buttoned up yet.  It's something I struggle with.  To my shame, I've been pretty darn good at transforming words into thermonuclear weapons.

These kinds of questions* are ones I'm asking of myself lately:

1.  What's my motive?

Why am I saying this, anyway?  Is my goal to win an argument, improve my own stature, save face, attract attention, to get someone told... or is my goal to show the grace and love of Christ in gracious and loving words that would glorify him?  Big difference.  One is almost exclusively self-serving, the other just... serving.

My preacher pen pal (from last time) was focused on winning an argument.  An argument with someone he knew to be a fellow servant of Christ.  As fellow servants, we're commanded to love and be gentle with each other.  He dunked over me anyway.  The motive mattered.

2.  What would happen if every single person I know read this?

Would including your wife, hubby, preacher, mom, or boss in this communication change what you just said?  How?

Is privacy in this matter important?  Is there a good reason why disclosure should trump privacy in this case?  Why?  Are you sure?  Would it do some unintentional (but predicable) damage?  We all say yep, privacy’s very important... but we mean our privacy is important for us.  The other guy's privacy?  Not a big deal.  Your Facebook account is littered with examples of decent, well-meaning people destroying privacy and goodwill simply because they were thoughtless.

Is this important?  Is it beneficial?  Is it so important and beneficial that 2, or 20, or 2,000,000 people need to see it? 

Does this improve my life, or the lives of others?  Or does it degrade us?

3.  Does this honor and glorify Jesus Christ?

I know, I know, that's a whopper of a question to ask when you're telling 3,153 people how juicy your turkey sandwich is.  (Stop that, by the way.)  But when you're a servant of Jesus, you have to pose the question:  Do my actions reflect well upon (or just plain reflect) Christ Jesus?

I think your answer to that question might cut how much you interact online by half.  Maybe more.  But if your answer is, “That’s profoundly dumb, because what I post has absolutely nothing to do with my faith,” then - and I'll steal this from someone else - you may be splitting your life into secular and spiritual pieces… a concept never, ever endorsed in scripture.

Stay frosty out there, kids.

*Since this blog is Christian (If you didn't know that... Hey, this blog is Christian.) these are necessarily Christian-flavored.  But then, shouldn't they be?  If you’re Christian, but operating without a set of Christian ethics for your online behavior, does that make sense?