Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Good Latte Is A Thing Of Beauty

In honor of this most auspicious occasion, I purchased a latte. I would also like to make today special by telling you of some of the odd, little things that make me happy. Today is indeed a wonderful day, because on this day I got my chauffeur's license. And on this day, I have been reinstated as a safe and good driver. This past Saturday was my first attempt to get my chauffeur's license. It is a day that will live in infamy. For on that day, I lost my license to Agent Sh**face, the bastard bureaucrat and enemy of all the thinking people. But we will not think of that day; only this day and the joy it has redeemed.

Odd things that make me happy:

Sipping a warm hazelnut latte on a crisp fall morning. Standing with my arms out and letting the warm rain fall down upon me. Hearing a song that I have not heard since I was a kid -- but it's a good song -- played on my favorite radio station. That I can stream my favorite radio station online. Writing a sentence of prose that sounds wonderful when it's read out loud. Hiking in the woods and taking the time to look at the shadows of dappled leaf patterns that cover the ground as the sun shines through the trees. Lying cozy and warm in a sleeping bag (in a cabin hopefully) and listening to the quiet of a peaceful lake where only the loons and the lapping water break the silence. Catching a fish -- but not baiting the hook. Climbing a tree. Mozilla Firefox. Eating fresh cotton candy. Feeling the heat of a warm day wrap me up inside it. Delicious food that looks beautiful. The scent of lilacs wafting through the warm spring air. Bees buzzing on a summer day. Looking out across the fields and knowing that I will always love the country more than the city. That funny smile you get from a stranger who is having just as good a day as you are and wants to share it with you. A stunningly emotional book that changes how I think and feel. The last sentence of a book, when the journey is done and all that is left is this one poignant line. A catchy chorus in a good song. Those moments in life when I see my future laid out before me and it seems so clear what I must do -- they never last, but they leave an impression. A dream, not the kind you have at night. Rather the kind that fills you up with inspiration and makes you walk out the door full of confidence in God's goodness and His purpose in your life. And, last but not least, knowing that I am a good driver and I have a driver's license.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aggravation Thy Name Is Bureaucracy

For my new job -- yes, I did get it -- I require a chauffeur's license. So, I called the DMV, BMV, DOT, SOS, SOB, whatever name you happen to call the state agency in charge of issuing driver's licenses. All I wanted to know was what test I need to take to get the license and if I need to make an appointment. I knew I would have to take the driving test. However, I wanted to make sure I would not have to take a written test or (horror of all horrors) another eye test.

The woman I spoke with first asked me for my driver's license number. I had already stated the purpose of my call when she asked this. When I gave it to her she said it would not come up. When I tried to give the number to her again she got impatient obviously annoyed that I thought she was so incompetent as to enter the number wrong. What was I supposed to do? Either she entered it wrong, or my driver's license is a fluke that will not come up in their system. I'm invisible to my government, as Hillary would say -- and boy, would I like to be invisible to my government. So, next she asked for my name, then she wanted to know why I was calling again. I went through it again. I need to get a non-commercial chauffeur's license and wanted to know what tests I would have to take. She asked me if I was going to be a taxi driver. Well, no. I explained my situation and she got even more annoyed. She asked me if I was going to be driving a huge truck. Ah, why didn't she say that to begin with?

I finally figured out that all I need is a driving test and I have to show up and take it, no appointment necessary. But I ask you, why is it that bureaucrats must come up with every way of beating it around the bush before they can ask you a simple, direct question? Also, why is it that I have to pay to get my driver's license? Don't I pay enough in taxes already? Shouldn't the single, only service that my county government seems to provide be paid for by the fact that they take my hard earned money? Lastly, why do I have to jump through hoops to get this license? I can drive. I have a perfect record, shouldn't that tell these idiots something? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wrong Trousers

Sometimes I wake up like Wallace in Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers feeling like I'm wearing a pair of robotic pants that have taken me down the street in the wrong direction for more years than I can tell. At least, emotionally I feel that way. It's not a depressing feeling, merely a melancholy one and it passes within a few hours. Always. Still, it happens. I know it has nothing to do with my life situation. I only feel better and better about that.

It's more like the feeling you get when you reach the end of a very good book and the author throws out one of those deeply moving lines that kinda gets you right here. And it is coupled with a feeling of wasted time. Sometimes I feel like I've wasted time in waiting to have kids. Then I remember all the things I can still do without having to find a babysitter or daycare. Sometimes I feel like I have wasted time in not finishing and trying to sell my book. Then again, I am still going strong on it. It will finish eventually. Sometimes I feel like I have wasted time not completing all my random projects and scrapbooks. Again, I'm not that broken up over them. Nor do I think that "wrong trousers" moments relate only to stuff I need to do.

No, it's more like the way the character Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) explained the "mean reds" in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. "Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of." Something like that, except that I'm not really that afraid. I'm more worried and spent, like I've used up all my emotional capital making choices that did not in the end complete the task I wanted to complete. In fact, they did not come near completing it. I'm just left wondering if I'll ever get it right or if I'm just so fundamentally flawed that I can't figure out what getting it right even means.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Outdated But True

Finally, someone who does not give J.K. Rowling more credit than is her due! Here is an article about Snape -- written before the 7th book -- by Orson Scott Card. I think he makes a lot of sense. It is especially worth mentioning that he does not think Rowling intentionally inserts a lot of the themes in the Harry Potter books. Of course, he does not think most authors do that and with modern literature I would agree. Back on subject, he also points out where Harry is kind of a jerk in the books. I always wondered why no one seemed to care that whenever Snape accused Harry of lying and breaking the rules Harry was indeed lying and breaking the rules. Yeah, Snape's vindictive, but that does not mean he's entirely wrong to distrust Harry and company.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Internet Exploder Version 6.66

I am aware that the current version of Internet Explorer (aka the Version of the Beast) is displaying my blog improperly. I am attempting to fix this. In the meantime, try Firefox.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

. . . So Uncompromisingly Inferior!

Today I voted in my first Iowa Straw Poll. It was quite an experience. The experience was heightened by the fact that I chose to volunteer at the Straw Poll not for my candidate, but for the Iowa GOP. Let me tell you, if I ever volunteer for them again it will be too soon.

Okay, okay, you want results. Here ya go. Now, stop spoiling my story with your questions.

First, I arrived to learn that the medium size Straw Poll t-shirts did not come in and I was going to have to wear an enormous shirt. Medium would have been huge on me anyway, why can't anyone order smalls? I went to the restroom and came swimming out in my new, giant orange t-shirt. I swam up to the volunteer orientation. Once there I learned in completely uncertain terms how I was supposed to credential and check people in so they could vote. I then proceeded -- swimmingly and confusedly -- down the stairs to wait in a packed horde outside while our leader figured out which direction to take us in.

Fearless vague leader (FVL) took us to our building and requested all the good typists to sit behind the computers. Being a good typist I took my seat. I was soon accompanied by a fine, upstanding young volunteer with all the spirit and drive of a regular Iowan. She was great. FVL told us that we would be taking only student and military IDs. Then another leader came up to us and he shall be called confuzzled leader (CL). CL told us that we would take only driver's licenses. FVL came back and we asked her, she said that we would take driver's licenses, student ids and military ids. Then we learned that people with military ids and student ids had to fill out "voter registration" forms. No one knew if they had to fill the form out before or after they voted. It took us 15 minutes to get that news flash from FVL. Then we noticed we had no ballots. We were told that we would get to vote before all the other people. At 9:30am to be exact. Then they switched that to 9:45am. The ballots did not show up until 5 to 10. CL came back and said we would have to wait until later to vote (thus crushing the whole point of being a volunteer -- to vote first and with no lines) and he let the struggling masses into the building.

The masses were generally pleasant. I got cussed out twice. Once by a state trooper who thought it was ridiculous that I had to use his driver's license for an ID instead of his state trooper license. When we explained that the various campaigns had settled on certain rules the guy called me and the helpful fellow doing the explaining some unspeakable names and produced his driver's license. The second time I got cussed out it was by a fellow who could not fathom the fact that we wanted him to put ink on his finger. He was convinced that we were fingerprinting people because we had some napkins there in case anyone wanted to blot their finger so the ink would not get all over their clothes. This guy had some very choice words and would not listen to my nearly shouted explanation despite the fact that I explained three times. He kept coming back to cuss me out again! You would think he would have noticed the complete lack of fingerprinting equipment other than pink ink on an ink-pad . . . Iow-idiots, gotta love 'em.

So, other than that people were nice and listened. I must say, however, being around so many Iowans at once was daunting. They're great people most of the time. But they do not make logical connections. For example, take the above paragraph. Furthermore, when you tell them which way to go they sometimes go in the opposite direction. We had several people walk out the wrong door carrying their ballots with them. The other thing that got me was our hardworking volunteers. Good people, but they had a tendency to forget simple facts. Like, say, the fact that no one without an Iowa photo ID (driver's license, student id or military id) was allowed to vote. I had the people at the table next to mine send a woman over so I could put her info in when all she had was a piece of paper with her name and address on it. Now I do not disbelieve her and I feel bad that she did not get to vote. But we had to stick to the campaign rules and I hate it when people put me on the spot by saying I can help someone when I cannot.

Sometimes I think there is not enough space in Iowa for me and all these Iowans. Don't get me wrong, I have learned a lot by living in this great state: Number 1) people will always go that extra mile for you if you need help. Number 2) if an Iowan is looking for a fight there is no way to sway that Iowan's opinion. And Number 3) Iow-idiots are out there, everywhere. I can take a few at a time and laugh along my merry way. But 33,000? That I simply cannot take with a smile on my face.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Failing Of Homeschooling

I am walking out on a limb to talk about this one and I know it. It is a limb upon which I will make my stand. Basically, I know a lot of my family and friends read my blog. I ask that you do not take what I am about to say to be anything more than constructive criticism.

In my mind there is one true failing in the area of homeschooling. I was homeschooled all through grade school and highschool. That is how I can identify this failing. I would add that it was less of a failing in my home than it was in those of some of my friends I have talked to. I would also add that it could be considered a general failing of our time when it comes to the parents of my own generation.

This failing concerns a simple enough part of human existence, one that we all must come to terms with eventually. That is sex. The way I understand it many homeschool parents keep their children out of schools so they will not receive the negative messages and poor education that is widespread today. When it comes to sex education I believe the most negative message is the notion that parents are not doing a good enough job telling kids about this so the schools have to step in and do it for them. Unfortunately, this negative message is true in many cases. I have had many friends -- schooled and homeschooled -- whose parents never told them a single thing about sex. Unless of course the kid was female then the parents told them one thing. The parents at some time or other suspected that the child was engaging in intercourse, thus projecting a feeling of insecurity and untrustworthiness upon that child and making the child desire to be rebellious. Come on parents, I think you can all do better than this.

I am lucky in that my parents at least explained the mechanics to me. I am unlucky in that they were not open about it once "the talk" was said and done. If I had questions I had to resort to the dictionary, the biology book or a friend with a dirty mind. But at least I had some direction in the beginning. Granted that direction did not teach me to defend myself against temptation, nor did it teach me to watch for predators. In those areas I have merely been lucky or perhaps God gave me a wisdom beyond my years. The short truth is that I think today's parents -- especially homeschooling parents -- are all too apt to view sexual intercourse in a completely negative light. They respond to this belief by allowing their children to learn sex education from negative institutions and from less innocent kids who are insecure enough to talk about their sexual experiences and non-experiences. The fact is, not telling kids about sex or giving them no positive information to replace or balance all the weird stuff they hear only makes kids angry, rebellious and willing to explore that which they do not understand. It gives them no feelings of reverence whatsoever for what is a very beautiful gift of God.

It is a sad position to be in really. Knowing and hearing all your life that sex is a horrible thing that you are "going to do anyway." Or hearing nothing until you are subjected to immature people talking about it by giving way too much information for your sensitive little ears. All kids want is direction, explanation and openness. But all they get is the negative. Thus, the only way to figure anything out is to do exactly what parents keep telling you not to do. No, I have no confessions to make. I simply want to say that the negative idea of sex is not helping our teens and young adults.

It does not make any sense to me why homeschooling parents allow these negative impressions to affect their children. This comes after the parents specifically decided to teach the children at home so they would avoid the problems in our destructive education system. A little openness and positivity about sex could go a long way to making a kid feel more secure as he or she grows up. Why does sex have to be a big, dirty secret when many of us know otherwise? Many of us know that it is a beautiful thing that only makes our marriages more wonderful. People always say that "sex is not everything." And I agree, but when you refuse to allow anything but the pessimistic views of sex into an adolescent's mind then you are telling them that sex is everything. Everything they are not allowed to understand and thereby the forbidden fruit that they will wonder about all the time. Then you teach them to feel guilty about sex and when they finally get to the age where they are out from under parental constraints you wonder why pregnancy occurred too soon. Wonder no more. Take a stand on the limb which I have walked out on and, like the anti-drug commercials always say, talk to your kids.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Only A Dream?

I have now heard the argument from many people that "Ron Paul cannot win." While I disagree, I would also like to direct said people to this article which contains a letter about why a Ron Paul candidacy will help America even if he does not win. Ron Paul opens a dialog which we have not seen in American politics for many, many years. He inspires people who are not interested in politics to join the process. Believe me, I've met them. Many of his supporters are people who have never been involved in politics before. I have met these people in real life, not on the internet. Ron Paul supporters are real people and we want Americans to start discussing the important things about the role of government in our lives, in foreign policy and in a host of other subjects.

Edit: And for those of you who cannot get my local news station, here is the coverage of our rally of which I am a part. The picture of me is not all that clear, but it's in there.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I have officially started helping with the 2008 election. I do not like any of the "major" candidates. The candidate I chose is one who gets excluded from debates, whose supporters are many and are sometimes called names, but who probably has a bigger grassroots wildfire going than most of the other candidates put together. That would be Ron Paul. Why do I like this guy? Simple, freedom. He speaks for the cause of liberty and getting government out of our lives. All the other candidates want to put more government into our lives. Ron Paul supports the Constitution and he is not interested in changing it. He also agrees with me on American interventionism. It is wrong.

So I joined the Ron Paul Revolution. This past weekend was a busy time for me. On Friday I painted Revolution signs. On Saturday I helped put literature together. On Sunday I got up really early in the morning so that I could be outside the area where the Republican debate in Iowa was held by 5am. Once there I stood in the pouring rain with a Ron Paul sign for 3 hours. The rain stopped maybe 45 minutes before I was done. In the meantime it had come down in buckets and the driving wind was so hard that my face hurt as the raindrops hit me. I was not alone in my endeavor. About 100 other Ron Paul supporters showed up to wave signs and chant. In contrast, the only other candidate with supporters -- 12 or so -- was Romney and they left at least a half hour before I did. When I left Ron Paul people were still there. We had people who came all the way from Texas just to help out with all the things going on in Iowa this week.

For my 15 minutes of fame, I was on the local news. There was a single clip of me holding a sign. That was in between some interviews and quotes by other Ron Paul supporters. Only one network covered our rally, but they gave us excellent coverage at least.

The whole experience was exhilarating. It feels good to care about politics again. I want to make our country a better place. I feel like the system would not be broken if we could vote Ron Paul through the primaries. Because then we would be saying that we do not like the way our government is doing things; that we the people are going to take back our government and send the reminder that we are supposed to be the ones in charge here. Go ahead, Google Ron Paul, you might like what you see.

Edit: I am leaving my link to the Mike Pence '08 site because it is still a beautiful dream and I still wish it could be. I do not know how I would vote if given a choice between these two men. Fortunately, it looks like I will not face that decision in 2008.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Perish The Very Scary Thought

I just found out that about a week ago one of my college friends suffered a massive stroke. The scary part is, it was not my college friend who graduated a year ahead of me at age 60. It was one who is only 23 years old. Wow. Life does throw strange things at young people sometimes. She was going to start grad school this year. So far, her right arm still will not work, but I guess she can walk a little now. At first she could not remember things, but it sounds like she is doing better with that. Also, her family says she can talk some. Anyway, I only wanted to post this to request prayers for her and her family. It's a tough time they are going through and I really feel for them. I cannot believe this could happen to someone so young. Except, in D.C. I did meet a highschooler who had had several strokes and lots of mini-strokes, she had a blood condition. It's so strange when things like this happen to young people. I really hope that C. gets better. She's a very determined person and if anyone could make her way through this at such a young age it would be her.