Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wait, I thought yodeling was supposed to be, like, Austrian or something...

via Infidels Are Cool.

Infidels Are Cool quotes the entire (very short) news article, so I have no qualms about doing the same here. Just click on the link if you don't believe me:

Austrian Times: Yodelling offends praying Muslims, say judges
An Austrian has been fined for yodelling while mowing his lawn, according to a report.

The Kronen Zeitung newspaper claims Helmut G. was told by a court in Graz, Styria, that his yodelling offended his next-door Muslim neighbours.

The men reportedly accused the 63-year-old of having tried to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin. The daily paper writes the Austrian was fined 800 Euros after judges ruled he could have tried to offend them and ridicule their belief. The Muslims, whose nationalities were not revealed by the report, were right in the middle of a prayer when the Austrian started to yodel.

"It was not my intention to imitate or insult them. I simply started to yodel a few tunes because I was in such a good mood" the man told the newspaper today (Mon).

Interesting. I mean, my mom got fined once when I was a kid for mowing the lawn in a red thong bikini. But hey, I sing while I'm vacuuming, or blow drying my hair, or driving on the interstate (although I have to make sure the cruise control is on in case I get too excited)—any place where it's loud already. Why not while mowing the lawn?

I can think of only one time when the cops were called on us (Christians) for religious singing out in public. But I think if someone came up and started singing some random song (has happened, twice), we wouldn't be that offended. We'd probably welcome them in. Would we call the cops on that guy? Uhm, no, I mean, unless they were guilty of public intoxication or stripping or making a scene. Actually, there was this one time we actually made some guy's made-up song a part of our worship service. Did you hear that? If some random dude interrupted our religious thingy by yodeling and dancing, we would probably start yodeling and dancing too. Mostly, we're worried of it being the other way around, although thankfully, people generally leave us alone.

Personally, I think if my neighbor was yodeling, I might think they were making fun of someone or something. Yodeling just sounds funny. Get over it. But then, I'm not from Austria. The only time I've ever heard yodeling was here:

But remember: Muslims aren't judgmental. They're just "overly sensitive."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Good Job, FBI

Thwarting a Christmas tree bomb attack with a cell phone. Nice. Thought to be the detonator, the cell phone actually called the FBI, who arrested 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud on Friday, November 26th for attempting to blow up a Christmas tree lighting event in Portland, Oregon.
According to the affidavit, Mohamud responded that he was looking for a “huge mass that will ... be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.”
Further discussing the attack, Mohamud allegedly stated, “…it’s in Oregon; and Oregon like you know, nobody ever thinks about it.”

Read: TheHill.com Story: Somali-born citizen charged with trying to bomb Christmas event

Undercover agents apparently met with Mohamud over the course of a year. He thought they were the ones building and providing his bomb.

He allegedly mailed bomb components to the undercover FBI operatives, who he believed were assembling the device. He also mailed them passport photos, as part of a plan to help him sneak out of the country after the attack. In addition, Mohamud provided the undercover FBI operatives with a thumb drive that contained detailed directions to the bomb location and operational instructions for the attack.

On Nov. 4, 2010, Mohamud and the undercover FBI operatives traveled to a remote location in Lincoln County, Ore., where they detonated a bomb concealed in a backpack as a trial run for the upcoming attack, according to the affidavit.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Part 4

I would like to dedicate this fourth thankful blog post completely to God, and what about him I am thankful for.

One. His personality of mercy. God is not critical or harsh. Instead, he is often unexpectedly gentle where we would expect him to be the harshest. Odd, then, that it's humans who judge in the areas where God is wiser and tells us to calm down.

Two. His passion. Jesus was so willing to save us that he was willing to die a cruel death. God is not passionless. (The scenes that play out in Mark 11:12-25 offer more proof of this!)

Three. His promise of guidance. I don't ever have to feel like I lack guidance, because the Holy Spirit is always with me and God is always willing to hear my prayers.

John 16:12-16
 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Four. His parental love. This makes him much more personal than any other "god" (including—but not limited to—Allah, who is extremely impersonal), and it's really huge for me because it creates a foundational base for me. Additionally, God talks about setting the lonely in families: he gives us the church as our family.

Psalm 68:5-6:
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
   is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,

   he leads out the prisoners with singing;
   but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Isaiah 49:15-16:
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
   and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
   I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
   your walls are ever before me.
Five.  The fact that he trusts us enough to be him to this world, doing his work. We're not that great at it...(as people are ALWAYS telling us)... But it's a great feeling to know that, to God, you're worth something in his kingdom. To him, you are valuable.

John 15:16
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Six.  Rescue. Rescue from eternal judgment, rescue from things I have done, and rescue from the things I could have done. To me, this includes all of the events leading up to my baptism that fit together like perfect pieces of a puzzle: my move to Florida, all my disappointment from my earthly father's rejection, and my feelings of hopelessness as a result. What good could come of Florida, I wonder? ;) These events were how I knew that God was interjecting himself into my life, holding out his hand, when I needed it the most. He rescued me. And the rest, clearly, is history. God...you rock.

Seven. The fact that he actually wants us in heaven. This is true love, not some religious idea. Until we come to the minutest understanding of this, I don't think we really know what Christianity is about (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Hebrews 12:2
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Eight. His gentleness. I know I've already said that, but I'm not exactly the gentlest person in the world. Jesus has way more tact than me. I tend to be blunt because I don't understand what others are feeling (unless I'm with only one person, in person, in a room with no doors and no windows, and then I'm fine), so I'm generally clueless when I make some kind of ginormous faux pas. My husband has to tell me. But Jesus? He always knows exactly what to say and when to say it, and why it'll help. He is the master of empathy.

Hebrews 4:15
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
I look up to Jesus for a lot when it comes to my interactions with people. I'm glad my husband understands too, since he's been there. Perhaps that's just part of being ages 19-21. But gentleness in spiritual matters is key. Would you have come to Christ if he wasn't gentle with you? I wouldn't have. God doesn't shove his love on us all at once—we can't accept it. Nor does he expect us to grow to maturity in 7 days. He is gentle with us and understanding of our weaknesses. Thank God for that.

(NOTE: If the wording seems different, it is. According to BibleGateway.com, the NIV just came out with a revision, © 2010. Who knew?)

Nine. The way he hides knowledge from us when we have bad motives but then allows us to discover him when our motives are good.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21
 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
   “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
   the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
A good example of this is singing. A good voice teacher will tell you that singing sounds the best when you smile, and open your mouth really, really wide. Hum. Well, if that doesn't sound like worship, I don't know what does. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that God created singing for the sole purpose of glorifying him. Plus, singing has all these benefits for your health and your brain...it boosts your level of optimism, which helps you not get sick; it does wonders for your verbal memory and—from a cognitive perspective—makes you smarter; it helps you be more energetic and even exercise better because it teaches you how to breathe properly...I mean, it's like the cure-all. I wonder why.

Ten. Inclusiveness. Christianity, by the book, is the single most inclusive religion that exists. God accepts every race, every background—every person he created. This is a major reason that the new covenant trumps the old.

Isaiah 49:6
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
   to restore the tribes of Jacob
   and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
   that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
When people say that Christians are exclusive, and even racist, I have to laugh. Yes, I do know Christians who are exclusive (we call them cliques, but they don't do it because they believe in the gospel), but the "racist" thing is absurd. Christianity began in Israel, in the Middle East. And me, I'm white. For all intents and purposes, I'm not Jewish (it depends on who you ask...to an Orthodox Jew, I'm a Gentile). I started out poor, from a questionable family. And I wasn't raised in the faith (most Christians aren't, since Christianity is also one of the only religions that you can't be born into). I praise God that he has accepted me. He has accepted you too.

God is inclusive:

Isaiah 56:3-8
 3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say,
   “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
   “I am only a dry tree.”

 4 For this is what the LORD says:
   “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
   who choose what pleases me
   and hold fast to my covenant—
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
   a memorial and a name
   better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
   that will endure forever.
6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
   to minister to him,
to love the name of the LORD,
   and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
   and who hold fast to my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
   and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
   will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
   a house of prayer for all nations.”
8 The Sovereign LORD declares—
   he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
   besides those already gathered.”
God is so surprising. We humans fight about everything. Oh, how loving God is, and how wrong we are!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea Attacks South Korea

We all knew it was coming... About 50 shells were fired onto a South Korean island today, beginning at 2:34 pm GMT.

According to Yahoo News,
The firing came after North Korea's disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme -- a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb -- which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.
Fox News has a more comprehensive report about the political implications of the attack:
South Korea said it returned fire and scrambled fighter jets in response, and said the "inhumane" attack on civilian areas violated the 1953 armistice halting the Korean War. The two sides technically remain at war because a peace treaty was never negotiated.
Oh, nice. We've re-begun the Korean War. (To be honest, I don't even know about that war. I really need to read up on it.)

The article continues:
The United Nations Security Council could hold an emergency meeting in the next day or two over the attack, saying "It's in the works for either today or tomorrow. We are for it and planning is ongoing," Reuters reports.
The United States, which has tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea, condemned the attack and called on North Korea to "halt its belligerent action," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in Washington. He said the United States is "firmly committed" to South Korea's defense, and to the "maintenance of regional peace and stability."
Read more: "South Korea Vows 'Enormous Retaliation'After North’s Deadly Island Bombardment"

Sam Wolanyk's 2008 False Arrest in CA

Sam Wolanyk, the same dude who protested TSA's search policies by stripping down to his underwear, was apparently falsely arrested in California in 2008 for carrying an open, unloaded gun.

California laws state that one can carry non-concealed weapon without a concealed weapons permit as long as it is not loaded, not being carried in a school zone and the carrier has not been convicted of a felony.

A strong proponent for Constitutional rights and member of the Responsible Citizens of California, Wolanyk is a member of a local open-carry group that meets for lunch occasionally. The story of his false arrest in November of 2008 can be found on the Responsible Citizens of California site. Here is a portion:
I made an appointment to meet my friend Dennis at the Coaster Saloon in Mission Beach for breakfast. They have terrific steak and eggs. We’d agreed to meet at 9:15. I arrived and parked in the Belmont Park lot at 9:07 right across the street from the Coaster. Then I got out of the truck, and slipped on my glock 17 on my right hip and my magazine holster with 2 loaded magazines on my left hip. Then I strolled out to the boardwalk to check out the waves since I hadn’t surfed that day. The water was nice and glassy and there were some fun-looking small waves coming in. The lifeguard was getting set up further down the beach. I leaned against the sea wall and called another friend of mine and got caught up with him while I wandered around waiting for Dennis.

Then Dennis appeared in his Mercedes, parked, and greeted me and just as we were about to cross the street to the Coaster, up pulled two patrol cars. I figured they’d probably contact me and do a 12031 weapons check. I strolled nonchalantly towards the street and suddenly heard, “You in the kilt! Freeze! Don’t move! Get your hands up! Keep them where I can see them! On your knees!”

As I heard this I turned and saw two officers, one partially hidden behind a palm tree, with guns drawn and pointed right at me coming at me from two different angles. I had my hands up of course, and turned away from them as ordered and got on my knees. They were yelling from my buddy Dennis to get back away from me. There was a lot of yelling and super-testosterone charge in the air. “Hands on your head! Lace your fingers!” I was calm as could be. Next thing I knew my hands were tightly cuffed, first my left then my right, left inside of wrist to right back of wrist.

Both officers were behind me so I couldn’t see what they were doing, but next officer Knisley was on my right side tugging at my Glock. He was having trouble pulling it out of the holster. “How does this comes out?”

“Just pull straight up. It’s not loaded. I assume you’re doing a 12031 loaded weapon check?”

He pulled it out and drew the slide. “Do you have identification?”

“Yes but I’m not required to provide it unless I’ve committed a crime. Unloaded open carry is legal.”

“Do you have a permit for this?”

“There is no permit required. I am not carrying concealed.”

“Where is your identification?”

“In my wallet in my back pocket but again I am not required to provide it because I haven’t committed any crime.”

Then I felt the officer fishing around in my pocket for my wallet. He took it out and at this point they hauled me to my feet.

“Why do you have a gun? What’s the idea?”

“I’m a citizen and a human being and I’m carrying a gun for protection. As long as it’s not concealed and not loaded and I’m not a minor or a felon and not knowingly carrying within 1000 feet of a k-12 school, it’s perfectly legal. Open carry is legal in California.”

Much grumbling from the police.

“Do you have any warrants for your arrest? Do you have any felony convictions?”

“No, I don’t. But you can’t do a check on me unless I’m being accused of a crime. Am I under arrest?”

“No, you’re being detained while we determine if you’ve broken the law.”

“Well, yeah but detainment is just a term of art. If I were just being detained, I wouldn’t be in handcuffs."

Read the rest here.

According to 10News.com, Wolanyk sued the city of San Diego for false arrest and won $35,000.

The incident on November 19th of this year was technically his first real arrest.

That's one cool, Constitutional dude. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hard Stuff: TSA Horror Stories

Not for the faint of heart. But this information does need to get out there. It is perhaps all that is needed to illustrate how truly rampant and out-of-control our "American" government has become. If you think that statement is too strong, read.

A young blonde woman is slammed to the floor saying "get off of me." Another woman was told to take off her shirt and remove her nipple rings with pliers. A 16-year-old girl is told to take her pants off to show her prosthetic leg. And a 71-year-old man with an artificial knee gets his his pants pulled down by TSA agents in public view. All from the same news report.

A 61-year-old man is left "humiliated, crying and covered in his own urine" when TSA officials removed his urostomy bag, ignoring his attempt to inform them of his medical condition (he was a bladder cancer survivor). According to the MSNBC article, he was also left with his pants around his ankles:
Sawyer wears pants two sizes too large in order to accommodate the medical equipment he wears. He’d taken off his belt to go through the scanner and once in the office with security personnel, his pants fell down around his ankles. “I had to ask twice if it was OK to pull up my shorts,” said Sawyer, “And every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn’t need to know about that.”
A little boy is textbook molested (video and whole story here). He was said to be "too shy" to receive the full (groin-inclusive) pat-down, but you can see in the video where the TSA guy clearly touches the scared kid's crotch in the end instead of letting him go.

A woman says that a TSA agent actually felt inside her underwear.
"The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," said ABC News producer Carolyn Durand. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist."
(Unnecessary commentary: Little bit dumb to do that to a news reporter, don't ya think?)

Two men have also reported that TSA agents felt inside their pants.

A flight attendant and breast cancer survivor is told to remove her prosthetic breast after TSA's feel-ups discover it.

A pilot vomits at the thought of going back to work, and pilots and flights attendants are speaking out. Part of the official statement (included in the above link) states the obvious, which is, clearly, that a pilot doesn't need a bomb to blow up an aircraft:
As we all know, it makes no difference what a pilot has on his or her person or in their luggage, because they have control of the aircraft throughout the entire flight. The eyewash being dribbled by the TSA in this instance is embarrassingly devoid of common sense, and we will not stand for it.
Melissa Clouthier shares her own story and observes:
"When average Americans have more to fear from their government than from some radical Muslim terrorist jerk, the balance has been tipped."
The balance is tipped, indeed. At least in California, you can get arrested for video recording the screening process on your phone. The San Diego underwear protester was arrested on two misdemeanors:
“failing to complete the security process; violation code 7.01 and illegally recording the San Diego Airport Authority (they confiscated his iPhone); violation number 7.14 (a).”
According to the Examiner.com article that I am referencing here about the man who, instead of undergoing a pat-down, opted to simply strip down instead, another woman was also arrested for videotaping the airport screening process.

And I'm sorry if this is, like, way too much. When I first heard about the scanners I didn't think they were serious. I actually left out a lot...there are simply way too many stories to blog about all in one place. I've never been into scare tactics, but here's one: The Almighty Government wants to touch your crotch. Comforting, right? Perhaps the people in charge should study a bit of psychology: people will generally choose a chance of a huge loss compared to a sure smaller loss. It's the very reason people gamble. I'm anti-terrorism, but I would rather risk the small chance of something terrible happening to my plane than endure sure molestation at the airport. Take note, Napolitano. This isn't helping. But it's not meant to, is it? Is this some kind of sick joke, or progressive push toward a more sexualized culture where it's normal and ok to be seen or touched without consent?

Our government has gone WAY too far. Guessing game: What's next?

(P.S. Thanx to Florida legislators! Florida is awesome...it's just that with airplanes, you have to fly elsewhere too.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Touch My Junk Either, TSA

I must begin this by saying that I am a Christian woman. My beliefs are that the only person I will ever allow to see or touch my personal areas is my husband. No boyfriends, no random men, no one else (like an airport employee) who attempts to try. I also dress modestly for that reason. I believe that my body is special and should not be shared with anyone else; to me, doing so would take away the specialness of it. Oddly enough, I have always been in support of a strong national security that can thwart terrorist attacks. Airport security has been the one issue that my libertarian husband and I disagreed on. Until my line was crossed.

When we traveled to Santa Fe, NM for our honeymoon in early August of this year, I admit I did not know much about these new screening policies that were put in place as a response to the Christmas Day underwear bomber (2009). Flying out of Florida, we did not face anything beyond the usual metal detector and shoe removal. However, flying out of Albuquerque, I was in for a shock.

We slowly began weaving our way through the crowded security line. Focused more on carrying my heavy carry-ons than anything, I rolled my eyes when DH made his jokes about "security theater" and saying the word "bomb." He had me read a little article on his iPhone about something, and I don't quite remember what it was. A snark-eyed woman pretended that my driver's license didn't actually look like me. Our line was inching forward at a snail's pace, as I kept setting the bags down and then having to pick them up again. When we got close enough, DH went silent. "Oh, no. No. I am not going through one of those things," I heard him say. "Are those the scanners I read about?" I asked. "I don't want anyone to see me naked, even if it's a girl."

"I don't want anyone seeing you naked either," he told me. We continued to creep forward. "You have the option to opt out. I am opting out, and I suggest you do the same."

I asked him how assertive I would have to be. He told me he would take care of it and tell the guy that we would both like to opt out. Going in front of me, he did so, and a woman obtained my opt-out consent for the adjacent line. There was a small pow-wow. "Opt-out! We've got two opt-outs over here!" I heard another woman bellow. At this point, I was glad DH was doing all the dirty work, sternly defending his rights to the TSA guy. I was just following along. (As a meek and small girl, I am easy to intimidate—I especially get frustrated because it seems almost physically impossible for me to raise my voice!)

So, I put my shoes and everything onto the conveyor and walked up to the area where I was supposed to stand. It was a young woman in her 20s who, frankly, looked to me like she easily could have...erm...had a night job. (And I don't mean to sound judgmental here, just psychological, as my abusive mother was actually a stripper.) She was wearing pounds of eyeliner and clearly had breast implants. I was already uncomfortable, but then she used the word "slowly" when she described what she was going to do and how. I was thinking, adjectives? Really? Let's not turn this into a romance novel, lady. (To even further complicate things, I'll admit I was molested at 14 by my stepfather and as a result, I struggled with a bit of homosexuality in high school...and, of course, I had just gotten married. Niiice, I thought.)

I admit, sadly, that I did not realize beforehand how much a "pat-down" would entail. It was more of a rub-down. And yeah, it was "slowly." And with the palm of her hand, with pressure, just about everywhere you could imagine. Later, I heard that they do it to intimidate people into the less personally humiliating option: the scanner. Well, I guess it worked. Bravo. I, a young female, was officially humiliated in a sexual way. And read: I had just come from my honeymoon. That woman touched me in a way that I would not even let my fiancé, the closest person to me in the world, touch me a week prior.

Walking away, the only thing in my mind was that I had just gotten completely felt up by a girl. Eeww. I tried to ignore it as DH and I tried to find a restaurant. Finally, once we had eaten (I may have only eaten about half of my food and didn't want to eat anymore; I don't remember), I admitted that I could not ignore it any longer. I felt violated. I felt like I no longer had control over anyone invading my own personal bubble. I actually did cry a bit. Call me a wimp if you like, it's how I felt. I actually felt a little sick to my stomach, and like I had zero control over what just happened. I hate to speak in these terms, too, because this is a political issue, not an emotional one. But did anyone ever expect—outside of living in a Middle Eastern country (read: the terrorists have won)—that we would have to worry about our sexual boundaries being violated by the government? How did it even get this far?

The next is a must for this discussion.

Bill of Rights, Amendment IV:
Right of Search and Seizure Regulated.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Mandating these invasive searches to everybody is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the context of the Amendment is to protect citizens during wartime, so one cannot even use the excuse that the threat of what is technically guerrilla warfare (terrorism) makes these measures excusable. If anyone were to suggest we up and change the Bill of Rights (some progressives argue that the Constitution is becoming obsolete), I suggest that in all propriety here we at least wait until peacetime.

Definition of a "search" (via Wikipedia:)
In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that a search occurs only when 1) a person expects privacy in the thing searched (sexual places, private areas...check) and 2) society believes that expectation is reasonable (I would think so).
Thankfully, the ACLU is also pitching a fit, as is Penn (the Christian's friend, again) Jillette, who called the cops on the TSA for sexual assault and was treated like a celebrity. Additionally, read John Tyner's now famous "Don't Touch My Junk" blog post.

As a woman, given the choice to either be seen or touched (or pay a hefty fine, apparently), I would choose neither. Both are against my religious beliefs. And if anything else (since religious beliefs apparently mean nothing now, I find my personal bubble important and also protected by the Fourth Amendment.

TSA, don't ever touch my junk again.

Ok. Let's end on a happy note. Check out this photo via BoingBoing:

Would go great with the living room decor...

(Seriously, who went through the time to make that thing?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Part 3

It's that time again!

I'm already so excited for Thanksgiving I can almost taste the food. It's about 80 degrees here today (ok, a FEW degrees less than that...77), so I can also feel the cool night air perhaps kissed with the smell of nutmeg and pumpkin...am I being a little over dramatic? Come on, Florida, quit playing games with my heart!

Here are the promised ten things I am thankful for, Part 3.

One. I was just reading a blog today that argued that fathers are not optional, but rather they are the most important thing for a young woman's emotional development. She, lacking a father herself, shared how disappointed her husband was when he had no one to formally ask for her hand in marriage—a conversation that he had been rehearsing for years. My friends know that I had a very similar experience, and I walked myself down the aisle. But I appreciated DH's sweet traditionalism, because he had to ask SOMEone. I suspect that because of this, he would make a good father for a boy or girl, and I am thankful for that.

Two. Does anyone else like garlic? It's the best spice EVAR. I love garlic. I pity the person who first discovered it, though. Especially if they bit into it.

Three. Female mentors. I don't know where I would be without the mentorship of the people who invest in young adults like me. Without having a mom to talk to, I have to talk to someone, and preferably someone older who can give good advice about what it means to be a Christian girl—and now, a wife. Having never been up close and personal to a good marriage, I admit I don't have much to go off of. I have the Bible and I have advice from these women, and I have prayer. I've been meeting with an elder's wife every other Wednesday, and it's been a lot of fun.

Four. DH's family. I mentioned Thanksgiving above, which I will be spending at their house for the second year in a row. Same for Christmas. It's nice to have somewhere to go, first of all, but as I expressed above, the traditionalism is awesome compared to what I know. I'm glad I married into a family that actually loves each other and stays together. And they're Christians, too! I'm glad to be able to provide this for my own children, since I knew it wouldn't come from my side.

Five. With the exception of the college classes that are dedicated to bashing my race and religion, I don't have to walk around in fear. We can meet for Bible study out in the open or advertise for an event on campus (it still takes six months to a year to get approval for an event, and I wonder if that's everybody). In China, however, Christians are required to register the homes that they meet in as official church buildings so that the government can keep a close eye on their doings. House churches are not allowed for "security reasons," and the government is constantly trying to use any excuse to eliminate them. I'm glad that's not us—at least, not yet.

Six. Libraries. They make information available free of charge and are a great asset to society.

Seven. This one is going to seem a little silly, but school supplies have gotten CUTER over the past couple of years. I can't express to you how giddy I was to buy cute, perfect spiral notebooks and binders this year. They make schoolwork fun.

Eight. Speaking of libraries, actually, there are thousands of classical music scores available in the university library, free to copy (well, 11¢ a copy, but you know what I mean). It makes it very easy to access music for the violin, whereas you have to pay for it off of the Internet usually.

Nine. Humor. And by humor, I mean how nobody else gets my jokes except for my husband, and I'm pretty much the only one who understands his. So people will look at us very weird, but we have a great time laughing together.

Ten. Jesus. I love you! (Actually, I was trying to save him for a whammo, shblammo ending, but I still have another Thursday to go. So I've decided I'll make the entire next Thursday's Ten dedicated to God—a combination of what he has done for me and why I am thankful he is who he is. Stay tuned!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chuck Norris is a conservative? Sweet!

(via Sage Naumann.)

I admit that I'm a bit young. I've never seen him in any movies. I've just heard all the ridiculous jokes. But apparently he writes for Townhall.com. Here is one article, entitled Taxed Enough Already!
wherein he writes about fiscal responsibility, hypertaxation, and how the waste of tax money is contributing to further national debt. He is an advocate for tax reform.

Here is a small excerpt:
Should we feel any more confident that Washington bureaucrats are handling our tax monies when The Wall Street Journal recently reported that as of the end of last year, federal workers nationwide owed $1 billion in overdue taxes -- with Capitol Hill employees owing $9.3 million, an average of $15,498 among those working in the House and $12,787 among those working in the Senate. They're like tax junkies on steroids!

And one fact I did not know:
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs alone constitute 56 percent of federal expenditures.

The article is well worth the read! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mudslinging Now vs Mudslinging in 1800

I got this video via Misfired Neurons. Wow. For any who think that the "battlefield" of politics, negative campaigning, and ad hominem attacks is worse now than ever, take a quick look at the disputed election of 1800. (Taken verbatim from essays.)

In general, it was WAY worse back then than it is now.

It's possible that people were just more creatively verbose back then. But I would probably have no interest in politics if this was still the way things were lol.

Thankful Thursday: Part 2

One. The main thing that has been on my mind lately is people who see Christians as different than they actually are. Well, I'm a person, aren't I? And I can interact with people, can't I? Then I can do whatever I can to let people know that Christians aren't really the the terrible people they think they are. I feel the hurt, and I am thankful that Christ has given me the power and love through the Holy Spirit to be him to the people around me. But, Jesus would always have me do more of this, no matter how much I'm doing it already.

Two. Education. My country isn't one that censors "blasphemous" material, like one Pakistan. Through freedom of speech, the Internet, books, and sometimes even school, one can find out everything one needs. Gone are the days when one had to be rich in order to buy books and pay for secondary schooling; everything is readily available for those who seek it. Even money for secondary schooling.

Three. Time for hobbies. I know I complain about school and the drive, but I have much more time on my hands now than I did during my senior year of high school, when I worked full-time, went to high school, and took AP classes, and walked everywhere but to church, which was in a different city. Everything I did was geared toward conserving energy, as I feared not having enough for the day for lack of enough food. In the end, I only collapsed once. I think. I don't really remember.

Here is a quite shoddy crochet job I did this week. I am quite proud of it!

Turquoise and light green are my favorite colors...obviously. ;)

Four. I appreciate my husband's considerate nature. He is my guide for social obligations, since most of the time I haven't a clue what to do. And it works out well for me, too!

Five. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to eat lunch at a little Jamaican jerk restaurant near campus. I really, really like having money now. Have I said that enough yet??

Six. Political activists and cool new Twitter friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not making me feel like I'm just some lone, rabid extremist who should just shut up, and thank you, fellow conservatives, for winning back Congress! It's nice to know there are others out there who share the same earthly values as me. P.S. people referenced in One: I'm not a mean person...I'm just a little passionate, and that's ok. You can be passionate too, provided it doesn't come between you and God. :)

Seven. Self-esteem. I know I talk about it enough. But it does serve as a refreshing cushion for life, and it is attainable, even if you've had a crappy childhood. Here are the sources of my self-esteem: God (vague, huh? But specifically that I am loved by him, thought to be a valuable addition to his kingdom on earth, and that he created me beautiful), sexual purity, and discipline—in that order. Sexual purity doesn't need to be explained. It IS the source of a woman's self-esteem. But as far as discipline, this is certainly tertiary. It's nice to know that I'm good at things and that I am capable of things, and I wouldn't be capable of things without some self-discipline. Discipline is good for the soul. I highly recommend it!

Eight. Marriage. Sexual purity didn't have to be the pits for long.

Nine. Cute kittens!!!!

What? Youse leaving?

I periodically look for an excuse to use the second one. On a related note, somebody at school today was carrying the cutest puppy ("Morkie": Maltese + Yorkie) I have ever seen!! I held it. It slept on me. I was in [surprisingly, allergy-free] heaven.

Ten. Freedom. This sounded like such a sickening cliche to me until I found out what it was like both not to have freedom and to have it for the first time. I don't think you can ever appreciate anything until you don't have it, and the truth is, most Americans have not not had it. I still wouldn't consider myself a patriot or anything. I don't believe in "putting the flag above the cross," so they say, or that we are entitled to freedom (besides the freedom to choose between Christ and the world), but it's definitely awesome to have a protector like the Constitution against tyranny. And believe me, I had abusive parents. I know what tyranny is. Nancy Pelosi was scaring me. But I got to see first hand what votes could do, and I am thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

President Obama Thanks the Democrats

President Obama's "Thank You" after the 2010 Midterm Elections.

Firstly, he refers to the current Democratic party platform as a "movement."
"From the beginning, our work was never just putting a president in the White House. It was building a movement for change that endures."
Now, here is my paraphrase/commentary (watch before reading):

You guys worked SO HARD to get people to vote for Democrats. You knocked on doors. You made phone calls. You believed in me. "You reached out to more than 80 million American voters. All of this was possible because you devoted your most precious resource: your time, and your energy." Sorry it didn't work, guys. You can still believe in me.
"I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. Because we've got a lot of work to do."
Republicans, on the other hand, didn't need all that. They didn't need hugely funded projects. They didn't need to "convince" people to vote for Republicans like the Democrats had to do. It just happened, and it happened huge, bigger than anyone could have anticipated, thanks to a whole lot of individual voters out there who were thinking for themselves and just so happened to be in agreement. You know, the way voting should be.

Thank you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Piracy. ARR.

Funny picture I found. Kinda reminds me of Angry Birds.

Also, cool blog post from cool new blog I found, and this news story.

For the record, I have zero opinion on this issue. The music I like is all in the public domain. I can check out classical CDs from the university library whenever I want. Today, I checked out the complete scores of the Brahms Symphonies (I'm sorry if somebody needed that).

You wish that was you. =D

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't Give Them A Plan

Let me be honest for a second.

 Every once in a while, someone will come up to me and ask me, "Hey, I really want to overcome the effects of abuse in my life. How do you suggest I go about doing that?" And as the prideful person I am when it comes to my own "acquired" mental health (whoop dee do), I proceed to help them out by giving them a—forgive the pun—twelve-step plan based on my own successes.

I know what you're thinking right now. I'm terrible. Because I'm ignoring the very first step of the actual 12-step plan, which is:
"We admitted we were powerless over [whatever]—that our lives had become unmanageable."
Here are the next few steps:
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (as we understood him).
(The as we understood him is a caveat of the—beneficial, actually—anti-controversy facet of AA.)

So, my current reaction whenever asked this? Don't give them a plan. All you will see next is frustration, and maybe even a feeling of judgment. The abused person (like me) generally puts a lot of pressure on him- or herself to "get healed as quickly as possible," and one must quickly recognize when someone is doing it because they don't feel like they are loved right where they are. (One must also not be made to feel guilty for not accepting themselves or God's love.) So my message now: God loves you exactly the way you are.

He created you—every piece of your personality.

He has big plans for you if you continue to be faithful. He will reward you. If you're a girl, he made your body beautiful, and thought carefully about every part.  

You can be an invaluable worker for the kingdom of Christ.

Somebody did this for me a few years ago. I was working hard on myself, trying to get over a breakup, live on my own, overcome abuse, and learn about God and have normal social interactions all at the same time. Because I had been living in such a controlling environment up until then, I had to learn who I was for the first time in my life. I didn't even know what kinds of foods I liked. I discovered food allergies I've always had but never addressed. (Turns out, my asthma isn't as "bad" as I thought.) I had no idea who I was or what God could use me for. And I was in really, really bad shape. But one Sunday, our two campus ministers took me into a room. I was scared, having always felt Lynn's annoyance as a result of my asking for help, especially since I was so emotional. I had always heard about minister-initiated counseling sessions, as if they were a form of punishment. Geez, what is it now? I thought.

But this wasn't a normal counseling session. I don't remember them ever really asking me to speak. Lynn and Aurelio encouraged me. They told me how well I was doing. They told me how proud they were of me. Then, Aurelio told me that he could see me being a very powerful worker in Christ's kingdom.

It changed my life.

Seriously, I actually cried.

And I am making a commitment now to remember that whenever I interact with people who are frustrated with where they are, whether they've been abused or not. I've always had the very bad tendency to systematize relationships and turn the spiritual process into some, I dunno, flow chart. But the reality of life—and the foundation of Christian psychology—is that we're all simply just starving for love and value.

Enter, God.

Maybe it's time for me to get out of the way and let him speak?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Part 1

I can't believe it's November already!

November has always been my favorite month of the year. I'm biased, of course. My birthday is in November. So is Greg's birthday, a mere four days before mine. And there's Thanksgiving, when I get to learn more about home cooking than any other time in the year. I've also gone camping every November that I can remember.

Even though I'm not a fan of "cold" weather, it's nice when it begins, because it means that once a year, I feel something in common with the rest of America. November is the month when Floridians everywhere get to pull out the plastic tub of winter clothes and wonder how the heck to organize them, because we still can't put away the summer clothes yet. The season of "non-summer" has officially begun.

Most importantly, November is a month to reflect on the things we are thankful for. Here are just ten of mine. In addition, I plan to do ten for each Thursday this November, so stay tuned!
One. To start with, on Sunday, Greg and I will have been married for three months. Time flies!
Two. The house we're living in now is AWESOME! I love it. It's spacious, open, and quiet, and beautiful. We have a key lime tree in the backyard. I'm sure we have nice neighbors; we just haven't met them yet. (Like I said, I've only been living here a few months.) I love the Pergo floors, the ease in decorating, and the ease in keeping it clean and smelling good. It's by far the nicest house I've ever lived in, and to know that it's our first home makes me feel extremely lucky. Here is a picture of our dining room:

Three. Food. I get to cook a lot nowadays, which I enjoy. When I go grocery shopping, I don't have to worry about scrimping; just saving money wherever possible. That means that I can cook a wide variety of different things, which means that I can eat a wide variety of different things. And I even get a pat on the back for it from Greg, so it's a win-win.
Four. As silly as it sounds, I am thankful for my coffee maker. Being able to have coffee whenever I want will make me that much better of a coffee addict.
Five. The area we live in is right on the beach, and the entire culture is centered around it. It's like living in a vacation spot. Plus, there are a lot of neat little restaurants and shops and things to do and enjoy, so I don't think either of us will ever get bored here. This is where we went with Carl and Lindsey today:

Six. I can't leave out my college scholarship! Big props to this guy:

I ♡ Publix!
On that same note, every USF football game I've ever been to has been here:

Having never sat in the student section, I'm more spoiled than I know. And not to brag even further, but last time, here's what I had at half time:

S'more Cake!

I've always said: If being in a skybox is awesome, then being in the Publix skybox is awesome squared!

Seven. My church family. The sound teaching, the aura of life, real love, and understanding, and the people who helped me through my darkest days. Thanks, guys, for not being afraid to be Christ to people like me.
Eight. The opportunity to do that for other people. Serving Christ in this way gives me more joy and excitement than any of the things mentioned above.
Nine. The fact that I grew up with nothing (and I mean nothing in almost every sense of the word) so that I can enjoy these things and not be owned by them.

My husband, Greg. Love him!

A Picture of Christian Persecution in Indonesia