Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Monday, June 27, 2005

You’re foaming at the shoe…

I drove to work this morning in hopes of arriving in the parking lot in between spurts of downpour. I had no such luck. So, my options were to either stay in the car listening to Areosmith and wait it out, or just get it over with and make a run for the building. Since down pours in Minnesota can last a while, and it *could* really have been worse, I made a run for it.

I got into the building looking like a wet dog. I put my bag on the X-Ray machine belt, handed the security agent my keys and ID, and go through the X-Ray scanner. The agent noticed, “You’re foaming at the shoe!” Now, this is not the usual greeting one expects to receive. But, sure enough, there was a bubbly substance coming out of my shoe.

I got to the office and put everything up so it could dry, and I examined my socks. Apparently, the washing machine didn’t get all of the soap out of my socks. And so wet was I, and so great the agitation I created getting to the building, that I created enough disturbance to start another wash cycle. I have my socks hanging from my cubical. Thank God for casual dress codes.

The Lake Superior Agate Standard

My Uncle John took the woman who would become Aunt Joy Lake Superior Agate hunting on their first date. He explained to her that it was important to find as many agates as possible because the Federal Reserve would tire of having fait money and would adopt the Lake Superior Agate Standard. She either believed him or was nice enough to humor his tale.

Great was the competition between my dad, his brothers, and my grandpa to see who could accumulate quantity, quality, and “the big one.” One would think that we lived in 1849 San Francisco, so ardent was the desire of our families to accumulate such wealth. Dad, my uncles, and Grandpa would resort to swiping agates from each other. Uncle John would even occasionally go so far as to have us turn out our pockets after visiting him.

We had a lot of fun agate hunting. Agate hunting with Dad was always a treat. And afterwards, we’d go to Bridgman’s to celebrate our find over chocolate malts. Then we’d clean them off with an old tooth brush. When they were clean, we’d to go to Uncle John’s to brag. It was a pretty nifty way to spend a Saturday afternoon with Dad.

So, what brought on the agate standard? As I mentioned before, Josh and I moved to a new apartment. So, yesterday I unpacked a box of my treasures. I found a variety of little crafts that I made Granny and Grandpa over the years. They had been returned to me and different points through college and when I lived in my first apartment. One happened to be a little box I made for them. So I opened the box, and I found… And I hid them… They’re mine I tell you… Mine…

Sunday, June 26, 2005

On character...

We often forgive people of sins who agree with ourselves either politically or theologically; and especially those who are "important" in our eyes. A blatent example is Democrats forgiving Ted Kennedy for killing a young woman, with whom he was allegedly having an affair, while drunk driving. The only repercussion he has suffered is that he won't ever be president. Conservatives do the exact same thing, Chuck Colson, Richard Nixon, etc.

Josh and I, as those who associate with Christians of very diverse backgrounds, are often asked to support the ministries of our friends, acquaintences, and out right strangers. So, we need to make the determination on who we should support. We have a couple of requirements, namely that they preach the gospel and have a fruitful ministry. And we also ask that the people we support be people of character. Note that we didn't say that we have to agree with 100% theologically. It is more important to us that the people we support be people of character.

How do we determine this, especially of strangers or people we don't know well? We have a couple of tests that we do. First, how are we treated? Second, how do they treat their family? Third, how do they treat those who serve them in their ministry? Forth, how do they treat their converts?

Josh and I don't like to be treated like a bank. Now, I don't expect to be close friends with all of my missionaries, but I do expect a level of humanity. I have an acquaintence from college who only writes to me when she needs money for a mission. I don't particularly have a problem with that, in and of itself, but a "Hi, Liz, how are things going with you?" no matter how insincere, is nice and appreciated. Josh and I have some new friends, who we met through other missionaries we support, that we invited to our home and made dinner for. They were so nice and appreciative. And they asked about us. So, when the time came to make a financial committment, or lack of, we decided to support them. If I don't hear from them often, that's OK, because I know that they have a level of courtesy towards people.

Occasionally, we come across a ministry through church or elsewhere when we have no opportunity to interact on a personal level with the missionaries. In one instance, a missionary said, "Even if you can't give financially, there is a blank spot on the back of the envelope. Please write a note to my wife who is suffering from Huntington's disease. She likes notes of encouragement." Someone who is that interested in his wife's welfare is a good guy. So, Josh and I support that ministry when extra money comes along.

My mom was in the position to act in service to several missions and organizations that sold books as part of their income. And I distinctly remember one man, in particular, who treated my mom and her co-workers very poorly. Josh and I have found ourselves confronted with opportunites who give financial support to this man's ministry. And we won't. Sure, after about 15 years, he probably learned to treat people better, but I don't know that.

I have other stories of people who Josh and I either choose to or choose not to assist. We assist in the spreading of the gospel out of obedience to God. We choose ministries based on the obedience of others. To me, it is not enough that one proclaim the good news, one must behave like a Christian as well.

In politics and theology, do we ignore jerks who are our jerks, or do we ask that jerks reform? We have lost the ability to treat others with a touch of kindness and civility. We have no expectation of it of our leaders, how will our children learn?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Update on Grandma...

Grandma made it out of surgery. She's in ICU through tomorrow. They had to remove more of her stomach and intestine then they thought, but she's alive and tired.

Praise God for her life.

Random about sin taxes

I certainly am not the tax expert. I took a class on Public Finance in college and have learned to apply a few things to my discussions on taxes. For example, people with a lot of kids have a lot of utility for education and people with no kids have very little utility for education. And so, eventually there comes a compromise where there is some education paid for by all. Perhaps not as much as the fruitful couple want, and more then the childless need, but a compromise is reached.

Here in Minnesota there is a problem with the state budget and taxes. There are a lot of problems and things to fund and people to tax. But, there is also a bit of a tax payers revolt. So, the problem is those who have a high need for public services are in conflict with those who either don't need as much or don't want to pay for as much.

Our governor has a "brilliant" solution to the stalemate, a state run casino. We already have other state sponsered gambling. And we have the usual sin taxes, as well. And besides, the Native Americans have casinos? Why can't the state get theirs? Um... right...

I don't really want to argue about the pros and cons about a state run casino, and I am against it, but I would like to highlight an irony that I saw on the History Channel this morning. The History Channel had a documentary on gambling. One of the commentators made a good point: "We don't encourage people to consume more alcohol so we can bring in more tax revenue to fund schools." The same can be applied to smoking.

The problem with government run sins is just that, they're sins. And that can be debatable, but there is a reason we call "sin tax" a tax on sins. We have "sin tax" as a form of behavior modification, to fund programs to clean up after the "sinners," and other general budget needs. To generate more gaming revenue, you need a bright new gimmic every so often. And you need to advertise it on TV and radio. Sure, we see alcohol ads on TV like we see Minnesota State Lottery ads. But the point of the alcohol ads is to promote brand patronage for a specific company, not to generate state income. A state sponsered agency does not fund TV ads to say "Drink more beer to bring in tax revenue."

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with gaming, drinking, or smoking, all in moderation. And I don't think we should depend on any of the three to generate revenue. It's not that I don't have a problem on sin taxes, but we shouldn't depend on sin taxes.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yet another cup of tea…

I do tea. It’s not just that I prefer tea to coffee. And I’m not just talking about iced tea, which I also enjoy. And I’m not just talking about bagged tea. No, I do tea. Real tea. Leaf tea. Loose tea that requires effort to make.

During the summer, I am a one or two cups a day kind of girl and I drink iced tea after that. And, yes, I do use bags when I make iced tea. I’m not so snobby that I don’t ever use a bag. But, there is nothing like going to the effort of making tea. It requires effort. It’s more elaborate then cracking open a can of pop or making a pot of coffee.

My husband bought me a tea pot with matching cups and saucers (Noritake; the bamboo pattern with gold trim). And I have a good tea pot (it has a strainer built in the spout). There’s something else about watching the leaves unfurl and float. It’s elegant to pour tea into a cup and saucer, then re-filling. And I can, and will, drink an entire pot alone.

Boys who play Nintendo continue to play computer games. Boys who play with cars grow up and play with cars. But girls don’t often continue their childhood rituals that can carry on to adulthood. Girls who play tea party don’t grow up to host tea.

I was talking with a couple of my friends and suggested that we have a tea party. Shar looked at me like I was nuts because her little girls are tea party age. I explained that I meant that we get together and have a proper tea.

And we will, in the fall.

So, what are my summer recommends? Well, I don’t know that much about tea. And I don’t claim any expertise on the subject. I can tell you what I like, though. This summer, I am drinking tea from Harney and Sons. My morning tea is their Lemony Gunpowder tea. A good evening tea is Jane's Garden Tea (by the way, they donate $5.50 to breast cancer research for each tin sold). And, for a general infusion to iced or hot tea, I recommend their Peach or Strawberry-Kiwi “tea.” (They’re not real tea, technically, they’re infusions, but in America, we aren’t as particular as they are other places.) The peach and strawberry-kiwi are also good additions to green teas, as well as alone; though I do add them occasionally to my Lipton iced tea. For green teas, I personally enjoy bancha and lung ching, with and without the fruit infusions. And Dragon Pearl Jasmine is always a great tea.

Never done tea? Lady Elegant is a great place to partake in a tea service. I took my sister for their “Parlor Tea” the day before her wedding. It was very impressive and worth the time and money.

So, why did your parents give you your name?

When I got married, I realized that parents have different naming philosophies. It’s interesting to see how your friends’ names fit in with the rest of their families names. Josh’s side has a couple of sets of kids where the first letters are all the same. My side there’s the “Biblical named” philosophy, the “I don’t want my kids to have weird nick names” philosophy, the “name after someone” philosophy, and the “random” name philosophy. My dad’s mom is the only one close enough to the “old country” to be considered “ethnic,” and she doesn’t even have a Swedish name, though she is the child of Swedish immigrants.

For those of interest, Josh was named after the book of the Bible where his parents’ favorite verse was in. I, on the other hand, was named after my grandmothers. My parents actually had more of a random philosophy. All of the first names they picked out were names they liked, and middle names were picked after someone they liked. My dad really wanted to name me “Beth,” because he liked Little Women, but my mom put her foot down. No child of hers would have the initials “B.S.” (My mom has first hand experience growing up with such initials.) And so, I was named after both my grandmothers, for one of them was named Elizabeth.

I think parents who name children after people, either for religious reasons or for family reasons, do so in hopes that their children will emulate certain qualities in the person the child is named for. As a child, I loved my grandparents because they loved me and were neat people to be around. As a young adult, I have been fortunate to know both the good and the bad points of my grandparents, and have loved them as whole people. I have been fortunate to have memories of all of my grandparents, and I realize how fortunate I really am. And I am fortunate to have been touched by their lives.

In particular today, my thoughts and prayers are with my Grandma Betty as she is having major surgery on her stomach to remove an infectious polyp. She’s truly a remarkable woman. She nursed my grandfather for the last five years of his life, and has, in turn, nursed those of her adult children who have been sick. She is a prayer. All Christians are supposed to pray, but she didn’t just do it, she knew how to pray well. Furthermore, she has donated a good portion of her widowhood to leading and participating in Bible studies. And she always has to be active and doing something. She makes quilts, afghans, some of her own cloths, and she is always cooking for someone. She is not an idle person.

It is my hope that I may not be an idle person; that I may learn to pray as often as she does; and that I may learn to be such a student of the Bible. And in the mean time, when my thoughts get anxious about her, I say a little prayer for her. And I pet Aria, my comforting kitty. Yes, I brought a kitty to work with me today.

And speaking of names…

I think I have a pretty straight forward name, and a fairly common one. My married name is German, but there’s nothing foreign to the American tongue, and there isn’t any tricky vowel groupings or that rouge “j” that you occasionally see. And as a northern mid-westerner I have a pretty standard American accent. Yeah, I have the long O thing going, but people who grow up in the Twin Cities don’t have it as bad as an Iron Ranger.

My last name has a “Z” in it, but my maiden name has that hissing S to it, so I hope that I have learned to enunciate properly. Granted, when I read out loud from a book, I make some pretty bad bloopers, but I’m dyslexic, so that’s understandable.

As part of my job, I talk on the phone a lot. Usually, I speak to fellow mid-westerners. So, we generally speak the same. There is something about answering machines that does not like my voice. To aid in my enunciation, I offer my formal name, “Elizabeth,” to give an extra syllable between the hard Zs. When I speak to someone from a larger company with a sophisticated answering service, my name comes out clearly. However, when I am talking to a business that is family operated and I leave a message on the home machine, people return calls to anything but Elizabeth. I have been Edith Kowolski, Evie Kozer, and a variety of other names.

I guess its more Fox in Sox for me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My alter egos

I have, throughout my life, found use for alter egos. Alter egos are really another name for imaginary friends. And they are a useful way of expressing unpopular or wacky opinions to the amusement of others. More recently, I have adopted several alter egos through my kitties. No, I don’t have a real pet. Josh is allergic to them, as am I. Because I am decidedly a cat person, I have Beanie Baby kitties to play with. Eventually, many have developed unique personalities, and are a constructive way for me to let certain sides of me shine.

Often, I have re-named my kitties according to their personalities. I have Jumpy, Pouncy, and Puss, as the main kitties. Occasionally the main kitties have interactions and stories with the lesser kitties, a lamb, named Lamby, and a Koala.

This post isn’t necessarily to tell a story about them, rather to explain away some of my more quirky personality traits. Some people may find it strange that I play with Beanie Babies. And I am willing to concede that perhaps it isn’t normal behavior for an adult. But, a lot of people have fantasies that are considered normal. For example, my husband has a fantasy baseball team. People play role playing games like the various Sims games. Also, there are a variety of other interactive games that allow one to be “in control” of a universe.

I would argue that none of these activities, from playing with stuffed animals to having a pretend Star Wars Universe, are, in and of themselves, unhealthy. It is the extent that you take your little fantasy. If I start really believing my kitties are real and start taking them to a vet for their shots, I need help. But, sitting down and playing with my kitties is just as legitimate a game as computer games or fantasy baseball or whatever. So, when I mention my kitties, or tell stories about them, please understand that they are not real, and I’m not to be considered crazy, unless you never read fiction, always watch TV documentaries, and don’t play computer games.

It’s time for me to start blogging again…

Well, I’m back. Since I last posted, the hubby and I have been busy, and I have decided that I really don’t have anything productive or unique to add to the political discussion of the day. Nor do I really have anything unique to add to the religious discussion of the day. So, along with the new décor, I have a new format.

I have decided that my blog will be a good place to waste your time. Yes, this is going to be a time waster. I was inspired by one of my elementary teachers, Mrs. K., who I ran into a couple of years ago. She asked if I was still writing, and I said that though I do some statistical writing, I really don’t write creatively anymore. And I found that I want a place where I can let my juices flow.

So, I will be posting amusing stories, neat quizzes to take, and on a variety of general interest topics of mine. As politics and religion are of interest to me, when there is something big going on, I will always offer my commentary, but I am not a political blog anymore. I will probably limit myself to one post a day, usually in the evening, though if I am inspired, I will maybe post during lunch, as I have today.