Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Case for the Social Butterly

A recent study indicated ways that we can prevent Alzheimer's. Disclaimer: It has been proven that Alzheimer's is possibly a genetic disease, so some of us may be predestined to suffer. This study will help us put off the illness as long as humanly possible.

I've been fascinated by this disease ever since the Gipper (Ronald Reagan) was stricken by its ills. Along with a best-selling novel, now top-selling movie, "The Notebook" -- a Nicholas Sparks story told by a spouse who encountered the loss of their mate to this illness, I've been curious about its causes and preventions. Of all the things I could be debilitated with (and already have been), the loss of my memory would be one of the most devastating to me. My mind is constantly in motion, and requires that activity. I was born to be a multi-tasker.

So, the study was revealing to me. It listed 3 main ways to avoid the onset of Alzheimer's:

1. Eat fish 3 times a week (That "brain food" thing isn't a myth)
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
3. Socialize at least 3 times a week

As a social butterfly at times, I now have a valid reason for going out, attending a party, or hanging out with friends, as opposed to more "constructive" tasks. All you caterpillars out there that are losing your mind, break free and fly around a bit - it's good for the soul.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

You are Here

This weekend I spent another Saturday attending weddings. Yep, you read that right...plural...weddings. One at 10am and one at 6:30pm. The wedding at 10am was in a small town outside of Louisville called Lancaster. It's about an hour and half from here, this side of Lexington. Well, I headed off early Saturday morning (early for a Saturday at 8:15am) with two wonderful men to experience our latest nuptials. Note: It's always more enjoyable to have a man (or men) accompany you to a wedding - eases the difficulty of going.

I had printed off directions from my favorite online mapping site, Rand McNally. I've gotten ribbed about the driving directions from this site because of their elaborate descriptions, "You will see a sign that says...". But for the directionally challenged as myself, that's very helpful. So, my navigator took the directions, my back seat driver was in place, and off we went. Aside from a weird "You will enter the Rotary" directional guide, the instructions were flawless. And, we made it there just in time for the wedding.

At the reception, some of the participants in the wedding party asked how long it took us to get there. We told them about an hour and a half. They were shocked. Their drives the day before were closer to two and a half hours. The reason? They used directions from the wedding party, which brought them the long way around, instead of a direct shot from Louisville. We were pretty proud of our resourcefulness and admitted that even if we had gotten directions, we still would have printed them off of an internet resource.

So, that begged the driving topic - What did we do before online mapping? When I was a kid, Dad would visit the local AAA office and request a "Triptik" for our travels. That flipcharted map outlined our trek with a green marker, noting any construction or detours along the way. I always got excited when we were on the last couple of flip pages because that meant we were close! My how times have changed. I can now go online and print directions to anywhere in the world right from my home computer.

After our jaunt on Saturday, our wedding team decided that we needed to develop this online mapping a bit further and come up with a landmark mapping system that noted all the important landmarks as you drive to your destination - "Turn right on Elm Street (you'll see a McDonald's on your left and the County Bank on your right)" Now that's technology.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Mystery of the Disappearing Gum

Altoids are one of the most fascinating breath freshner inventions we've been priviliged to enjoy. As I perused the aisles of my local Walgreen's, I came upon a new product line from those curiously strong folks - Altoids gum. Featured in the flagship Peppermint flavor, hot cinnamon, and sour tangy flavors, I decided to indulge. Since my Altoid of choice is normally cinnamon flavor (see my earlier love for Hot Tamales), I picked up a couple of packs, or more appropriately, tins of this new discovery.

One of the perks of this product is no wrapper. A quirky pet peeve of mine is chewing gum that has wrappers. Now, up until the last few years, all chewing gum had wrappers. Shoot, I even remember making chewing gum wrapper bracelets and necklaces when I was in elementary school. But, now that I'm an adult and carry gum around in my purse, I don't want to have to dispose of the wrapper when I'm on the move. Silly quirk, I know, but a part of me doesn't like a purse full of wrapper trash or being a litterbug.

But, the interesting thing about this gum is that it disappears. Yep, you read that right. If I chew this gum for more than 2 hours, it disengrates in my mouth and it's a race to spit it out before I digest it. I remember a day when you would have to chew gum for hours on end for that to happen. And some of the bubble gum brands never seem to disappear, just make my jaw hurt.

Maybe that's the plan of Altoids - like the mint, the gum eventually dissolves. Who knows, but I'd love to solve the mystery.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes...Or ICUs

Jason Torres' world was rocked last month when his 26-year-old wife, Susan, was stricken down by brain cancer. After surgery, she remains in an irreversible coma. What makes this story even more interesting is Susan is carrying their second child. And doctors are keeping her alive as long as the cancer doesn't effect the baby, so she can deliver. So far, the cancer has been contained and the baby is alive against all odds.

Most of the news articles I've read allude to Jason's faltering faith in God. He's asked the questions many people would ask...why me? Why are we dealing with all this suffering? In the midst of this, two of Jason's four grandparents have fallen ill, as well as an uncle with cerebal palsy. Add to that the birthday of their first child, Peter, who turned 3 on June 3 and has been constantly asking, "Where's Mommy?"

But, on a recent television interview, Jason made an intriguing comment. He said, "You know, they say there aren't any atheists in foxholes?...well, there aren't any in ICUs either." What is such a tragic event may be a faith-building experience for Jason. And, the newborn baby who waits in its mother's womb to enter the earth is obviously a child with a life plan that God has very carefully crafted. In a day of abortion and unwanted children, a sad story like this has the potential to have a beautiful ending.

From someone who was a miracle baby herself, I pray that this little life will blossom into a vibrant example of God's Sovereignty and His Grace in all things.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

As Long As You Finish Well

There's a saying that goes, "It doesn't matter how you run the race, as long as you finish well." Most of that statement is true, especially the "finishing well" part. This time of year always brings movie blockbusters and great television season endings. As I pondered on those two things, I wondered, what movies and TV series have "finished well?" My list could go on forever, but I've narrowed it down to just a few...

What didn't finish well...

1. "In Good Company" - I saw this movie while traveling in the great state of Alabama to visit friends and it seemed like a good movie choice. But when the movie ended (and I won't give it away), my friend stated loudly, "That's it??!!" It left me wanting more and wanting my money back.
2. "Facts of Life" - As a child of the 80's, this show was by far one of my favorites. But, it 'jumped the shark' when Mrs. Garrett left. Her return on the "Reunion"movie made it worth watching, but Blair buying Eastland at the series ender was a yawner.
3. "Seinfeld" - Many Seinfeld fans may disagree here, but I thought the series ender was underwhelming. I've not been a huge Seinfeld fan, but really dig his take on humor in everyday life. There is something disturbing about watching the friends I've laughed with for seasons end up in jail.
Special Mention - "Will and Grace" - Obviously this show hasn't ended yet, but my dream is that the series will end with Will realizing his sin, turning from his homosexuality, and marrying Grace. Does anyone else think their relationship is oddly marriage-like?

What did finish well...

1. "My Best Friend's Wedding" - Although a lover of chick flicks that end happily ever after, it was nice to see a movie not end as predictable as other chick flicks. And, actually end more realistically.
2. "Newhart" and "St Elsewhere" - These two series ended with the revealing truth that it was all just a dream. Cleverly the "Newhart" ending tied back to the original "Bob Newhart Show" which was sheer genious.
3. "Lord of the Rings-Return of the King" - Even Tolkien purists liked the ending of this trilogy as all the questions were answered and the open-ended issues closed. Sad it finally had come to an end, but happy that I left the theater with a warm feeling in my heart.
Special Mention - "Star Wars III - Return of the Sith" - This movie did a good job at closing the loose ends of the original trilogy, but I hesitate to classify it as ending well, when this really was the beginning.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Top Five Things Michael Jackson is Going to Do Next...

5. Do a tribute album to Diana Ross and go on tour as her.

4. Throw a telephone at somebody - hey, it worked for Russell Crowe

3. Write a book detailing his long and arduous courtroom experience - because surely the world hasn't heard enough of it by now.

2. Become Jesse Jackson's running mate in the 2008 Presidential Election with the campaign slogan, "All Jackson, All the Time."

1. 'Mr. Jackson, you just won your court case, what will you do now.?' 'I'm going to Neverland!'

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Single Viewpoint

My life consists of a lot of amateur counseling. Most of my so-called "patients" are single people. They range from college age on up and I find myself discussing singleness quite often in my sessions. The other day I was talking with a friend and the discussion led to the wearing questions we receive of "Are you seeing anyone?" "When are you going to get married?" For a woman who desires that, we dread those questions.

In talking about it, we discovered an interesting twist. We analyzed where those questions come from, primarily. We narrowed it down to two groups -- our families and our church families. What we realized was that in our secular jobs, nobody every asks us that question. Now, maybe we're just two unique females (of which I'd concur), but I find that trait to be something worth blogging.

The more I study God's Word, the more I desire to marry. I can't help it - it's what I was created to be, the helpmate of the man. Yet, in following the biblical woman's role as God created, I need to wait on the Lord and be patient as He brings a man into my life that is a strong, godly leader and willing to pursue me in the dating realm. To the world, this is crazy, they don't understand the Christian worldview. Yet, they're not the ones asking why I haven't snagged a man yet.

In thinking about this, I realized it's because of the worldview. The world has so upturned the view of marriage that if being single is what I am, it must be my choice, so have a great life. The result? They don't ask the pressing, dreaded questions that remind me I'm a party of one. But, their view on premarital sex, living together before marriage, and homosexuality goes against all I believe is true. Yet, I find the fact they don't think I'm weird for still being single encouraging.

On the other hand, my family and church family want the best for me and can't imagine why I'm not married. I'd like to ask them to step out into my world for a while. Take out the worldviewer men from the previous paragraph who aren't an option for me, and throw in the godly single men who are, and the buffet diminishes on options. The world is a different place these days. And, it's ever so different for a single, never-married woman trying to live godly in a world with no absolutes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Commitment Issues

Last night I took the plunge, upon recommendation of one of my good friends (thanks, Airman!), to join Blockbuster Online. I love movies, but am ironically not a frequenter of the movie theater. The price of admission these days is nuts, and add the traditional popcorn and coke to the tab and you've got yourself a tank of gas. Even more of a paradox is that I'm not a huge renter of DVDs. I'd estimate that I rent 2 -3 DVDs a month at best.

This weekend I watched Hotel Rwanda with some friends of mine, one of which is a Blockbuster Online Member. Now, this movie got rave reviews, was nominated for Best Picture, but when perusing the video store, I could never bring myself to renting it to watch. I like to call myself frugal, not cheap. After experiencing the movie this weekend, I really enjoyed it.

When I found out my friend's alliance with Blockbuster Online, I quizzed him on the ins and outs of the program. How many DVDs can I have at one time? How much does it cost? Are there late fees? (Real late fees, not like the fraudulent Blockbuster Store advertising) What are the limitations? I obviously wanted the full debriefing before committing to my $15/month fee.

Before making the final decision, I calculated if this really would be beneficial to me. Renting two DVDs a month averages around $8. You throw in the gas money to drive to the store and back to return the movie and the hassle of getting it back before the alleged late fees kick in, and I was beginning to see this as a win-win. I also factored in the many movies I wouldn't pay to rent (i.e. Hotel Rwanda), but would opt to rent them on this program. I'd be willing to take a risk on renting since I'm paying a monthly fee anyway.

So, my 20 movies are in the queue and ready for Blockbuster Online to market me to death and send me my movies. I've already been pleased with their cross-promotional format of offering "Other movies you may like" when choosing a movie to add to my list. The classic "Casablanca" made it to the list simply from their marketing efforts and the fact that I've never seen that movie in its entirety. It's amazing what you can get for $15/month.

Monday, June 06, 2005

My Hometown

There are times when being a native of Louisville has its perks. Most people would think it's not that great of a place, but I can certainly find the silver lining of every cloud. Mostly known for our alliance with North and South as a neutral state, and the running of the Kentucky Derby, there's another annual activity here that kicks off the summer -- the Crusade for Children.

The Crusade began in 1954 by Barry Bingham, Sr., owner of The Courier-Journal (our local newspaper), WHAS-TV (one of our local network affiliates), and 84WHAS Radio (a local AM station). The focus of the Crusade was to hold an annual telethon to raise money for special needs children in the area. Volunteers from all of the Bingham companies would stay up for hours on end to run the show, on air, and behind the scenes. Partnering with all the volunteer fire departments in the community, road blocks would be set up and fire engines blazing to collect pennies, nickels, dimes, and huge checks from across the community to help children who couldn't help themselves. Events throughout the year would raise money and anyone who walks the streets of Louisville for long knows that when you say "The Crusade" you aren't talking about the Middle Ages.

Since its inception, the Crusade has helped over 3 million children - astonishing. Many generations have been touched by the Crusade, which causes an automatic endowment as families give in honor of those that were helped. Go to any of our pediatric units in town and you'll find some piece of whiz bang medical machinery with an inscripted plate that reads, "Donated by the Crusade for Children."

I've volunteered for the Crusade for over 10 years. Sometimes selfishly to admire the cute fireman, but I always leave there with a warm feeling in my heart and a pride for my hometown. Last night we ended the Crusade raising 5.3 million dollars, with another million in money from wills to be added to that total before it is over. I was proud to be a Louisvillian and a volunteer for the Crusade as I stood on the stage for the final curtain call singing God Bless America.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Greatest Johnny Cash Fan

Today's entry is in tribute and honor to the Greatest Johnny Cash Fan, Dr. Russell D. Moore. Dr. Moore is Dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville and I'm proud to say a member of my church.

The world needs more Renaissance men, of which Dr. Moore is one. He is a great theologian, a quick wit, an engaging speaker, and a lover of country music. He's also well-versed in today's pop culture and can repackage it smartly within a Christian worldview. Most people view theologians as stuffy and uninteresting - Dr. Russ breaks that mold.

Outside of his public persona, Russ Moore is a husband and father - and an excellent model in those roles. His wife, who is soon to give birth to their third child, is a joy to be around, and a wonderful example of a "gentle and quiet spirit." They are raising two adopted 4-year old boys that have come leaps and bounds since God brought them to America and to this loving family. I would feel blessed to find my own Russ Moore.

This honoring blog entry comes after reading Dr. Moore's blog and coming to appreciate his concise, yet content-filling way of communicating theology mixed with culture. If you ever wondered what a real-life, modern-day theologian is like, peruse Dr. Russ's blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Postman Always Rings Twice....Because he can't get it right the first time

Last week I mailed off one of my monthly payments. There is something refreshing when I pay bills and I'm caught up for another few weeks. Much to my dismay, two days later, one of my payments ended up back in my mailbox. The letter was postmarked, the stamp canceled, and the envelope void of any message conveying the reason for its return. I was perplexed, and miffed that my payment might possibly be late due to this odd occurrance.

The worst part of it all is the resolution to the problem. I didn't want to spend another 37 cents to mail the letter. How in the world the US Postal Service charges that much money when we can now pay online and email anywhere in the world? It's as if they are oblivious to technology marching past them. Secondly, the post office operates during the most unconvenient hours of the day. I can't necessarily get to the post office between the hours of 9am and 4pm, or wish to spend my Saturday morning in line looking at the latest designer stamps. So, what to do.

After calling my Dad to verify the correct address that was used to send this payment, I conveyed the story to him. Being the greatest man this side of heaven, he decided to ask at his next trip to the post office - the beauty of being retired. Their answer will definitely make you laugh. They informed him that if the return address is larger than the sending address, the scanner will pick up the return address as the mailing address. Oddly, unbeknownst to my Dad, my return address label was on the back of the envelope. So, merely scanning my piece of mail backwards caused this faux pas. Dad then asked a brilliant question, "Don't your mail carriers look at what they are putting into the mailboxes to verify it's going to the right place?" And, they gave a resounding, "No." Great. Now our taxpayer dollars and stamp money are going to pay mail carriers who can't read.

The moral of the story? I decided to throw that payment back in the mail as is, into a different mailbox, in a different zip code and hope for the best. The USPS isn't getting another 37 cents more than I have to give them.