Saturday, June 25, 2005

Quality vs Cheap

Well, it happened yet again. I returned from my vacation in Oklahoma late Thursday evening. When I left, I was worried about the ceiling in my bathroom as I have developed yet another leak from the ceiling. It was getting so bad that I was about to start putting an umbrella in the bathroom again when I would be caught in a position (or place) where I couldn't get out of the way when the water began to cascade from the various cracks in my ceiling.

I returned to find that the cracks had gotten bigger and the cascading water was more like a waterfall than a continuous drip. So it wasn't that much of a surprise when about 3 hours ago, I heard this loud "CRR-AAA-CCCKKK!!" and then "KKAA-PLOSHH!" The ceiling collapsed. And boy what a mess it made.

As I was cleaning up the mess and later stapling garbage bags to what little of the ceiling remained to cover the huge-ass hole, I began to ponder, "I knew that there was a reason I was only paying $950 for a 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan." Everyone I know (except for two church members who have both cheap rent AND a nice apartment) pays a lot morerent than I do- and they have pretty nice apartments, and their bathrooms look nice (I seem to always want to check out their bathrooms, and I promise, I never look in someone's medical cabinet).

My point is that I am caught in a pattern. I seldom buy the best quality of anything, whether or not I am renting an apartment, buying a new computer, or purchasing new clothes. I usually buy what's on sale and/or what I think I can afford at the moment. I know that quality should always be my first concern. And, to make matters more difficult, since I usually buy crap- when the crap unexpectedly goes "Kaput!" I don't have enough time to save for a better replacement. It's a vicious circle.

Of course, one's amount of income plays a factor, but you know, that's really not a good excuse. What I need is more patience. Patience to not buy that fancy gadget that I think I'll need and instead put more in savings and just let it sit there for when such a time arises that something cheap I've bought quits working and I then go out and buy something of greater quality to replace it.

Rent of course is a different matter. Since rent here is so frickin' crazy, I need to come up with a better plan altogether. Unfortunately until I do, I'll have to put up with falling bathroom ceilings, rats as big as cats, and merenge music turned up so loud that you can hear the bass skreetch from my neighbor's speakers two floors away at 1:00am in the morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Woo-hoo! I shot a 95!

Presently I am on vacation in Oklahoma. I haven't had a vacation in nearly 6 months and am having the time of my life. I have slept in late every day, took afternoon naps, gone dancing in fabulous dancing establishments, and have spent quality time with my family and friends.

But there is one thing that I haven't had much time to do, and that is actually what I came home to do (besides seeing my family, of course). And that is play an insane amount of golf. When I arrived last week, it rained the first 3 days I was home. On Saturday, it was crazy humid outside but I did manage to get to the driving range to hit a couple baskets of balls. It wasn't until last night, however, that I got out and played a round of golf.

Golfing yesterday was sweet. I played alone most of the way and was able to get 18 holes in under 2 and a half hours. The last 3 holes however, I caught up to a two-some playing and finished my round with them. But on the whole, I played a great game of golf (seeing how I haven't played in almost a year) and lost only one ball! Shooting in the 90s is good for those of us who don't play golf very often and, who can live for months on the joy of such a score (without having to actually play another round of golf).

That said though: I am going to try and get another round of golf in this evening (it's cheaper after 6pm) and see if I can shoot another great score!

The "Plugged In" Syndrome

The eNewsletter called, WinXP News has a tongue-in-cheek article this week about those people who continuously wear earbuds from their mp3 players, those who stay connected to their Palm Computers, and those who are always connected to their cell phones. In the article, the author explains this as a "serious" medical condition. Finally, after the joke has worn off, the authors asks for the reader's opinion on whether we've become electronic zombies or escapists from the real world.

I found this article very interesting because living in New York City, practically everyone has an mp3 player while on the subway or walking down the street. And, if a person isn't listening to music, they have one of those Bluetooth headsets that allows them to talk non-stop while they go about their lives outside their offices.

Actually, I am writing these thoughts while I am on vacation in Oklahoma City where very few people have their iPods connected (or at least, I haven't noticed anyone wearing one). Reading the article and pondering the difference between living in New York City and Oklahoma has me thinking about escapism and that old Paul Simon tune, "I am a rock, I am an iiiiiiiiis--land."

New York City is a city of 8 million officially (and 10 million unofficially) where one would think that there are too many people there for anyone to feel isolated or actually "be" isolated. In truth though, most folks have their own ways of isolating themselves (either to keep their sanity or as a result of their insanity, depending on how you look at it). I can see how listening to music and blocking out the sounds of the city can be very peaceful.

But then, I remember going to church camp (both as a student and leader) and having a clear policy against portable music players and personal headphones because they do exactly what they intend: isolate the listener. There is a point when isolation from the outside world becomes an addictive reason to escape from it and not interact with it. And, as we all know, there are a plethora of other ways we escape from our realities: drugs, video games, and even reading books. I think escapism has its necessary times- but when those times become the norm, then we need to take off our earbuds and close our books if we want to experience the joy of participating in this life.

How often do we escape from our realities? And, what are the ways in which we do it? Do we do it too often? Do I do it too often? Do I spend more time daydreaming (my biggest escapist technique) than I do interacting with my friends and my community? These are important questions that I think are working thinking about because there is a great disadvantage to living our lives as "a rock or an iiiiiiiis-land."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Online Post Office

Did you know that you can go to and have your mail held while you're away on vacation? The site will take your personal information and the dates you'll be away and then will contact your local post office branch to hold your mail. Isn't that cool?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Reason to Celebrate

Finance ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations agreed Saturday to a historic deal canceling at least $40 billion worth of debt owed by the world's poorest nations.

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

United Church News Blog

The United Church of Christ's United Church News now has its own blog. Joining the blogging world, I am guessing they are wanting to allow the world to see how opinionate we congregationalists tend to get. If you're interested, check out the new blog at I will add the site to my regular links on the side panel of this blog.

Call Me Malcolm

A couple of days ago I went to see a movie at NYC's FilmFest, which is a Canne's like film festival for showcases Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender films. The FilmFest is lasting all week at about 5 different movie houses here in the city.

The movie I went to see is called, Call me Malcolm. It is about a transgender person's (who transitioned from female to male) pursuit of ordination into the United Church of Christ. The movie is outstanding! I think one of the reasons for such is because Malcolm is easy on the eyes and VERY articulate, which for some folks is actually an issue. His story is profound in his search to living life as he feels he should. It is also a great movie about the United Church of Christ too.

After the movie, Malcolm was there to talk about the film in a smaller setting. I had a chance to talk with Malcolm and see first-hand the truly inspiring man who I believe will help many transgender folk hear the gospel of God's grace.

And get this, there was something else really cool that happened. The exective producer of the movie is none other than the William "Bill" Johnson, the first openly gay man ever ordained into a Christian denomination (notice I used the word, 'openly'). You can watch a documentary of his ordination experience by pointing your browser here:
That happened back in 1972 and he was and is a pioneer in our denomination. Today he is pressing for greater understanding and acceptance of bisexuals and transgender persons.

Anyways, I know lots of people who know him but for whatever reason, I never met him. Well, I had a chance to talk with him and get to know him better. It was a great experience for me.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Fun Personality Test

Go here:

A friend of mine sent me this over a week ago and its one of those fun personality tests that, like astrology, it seems to really work but no one knows exactly why.

Okay, so astrology doesn't necessarily "work" but still.. you'll be amazed.

The file is a powerpoint file that can be opened using your internet browser, if you don't have a powerpoint or powerpoint-like program. Drop me a note if you can't view it and I'll email it to you.

And, let me know how you scored on it by posting a comment. I scored at 45.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Funny link... turn up your speakers

The song is pretty funny but if you live west of the Mississippi, you might want to be alone when you view it. ;)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

When Unexpected Memories Happen

See, I did have another mental post brewing:

You know, I was thinking about why I had that "mystical experience" on Saturday night and it occured to met that Memorial Day is much like Veteran's Day, the day my dad died. Both days celebrate our fallen military heroes. While my dad didn't die in any war, he was involved in it.

You see, my dad was a veteran of the Korean War and I am a veteran of both the Gulf War and the Bosnian Conflict- surely there was this thinking going on that, for some reason, I didn't realize or think about until today.

Again, it can be strange when one thinks about such relationships and their memories come to us when we least think they would. Coming on unexpectedly, they can completely throw you off. An image, a smell (grin), a song.. things happen that bring back both good, bad, and sometimes mighty strange memories. And with me especially, those unusual ways can come across mighty strange indeed. ;)

Honoring the Dishonorable

Okay, so.. this might be my last post of the evening- but then, I can't actually promise that. Anyways, I was flipping through the channels a few minutes ago and watched a brief clip on some "championship" wrestling show and suddenly I was just as angry as when I was 20 years ago when I made the conscience decision to ban championship wrestling from my visual entertainment.

Once again, the wrestlers were "cheating", hitting each other with chairs when the referee wasn't looking and as a result, won the match. This same theme... which for some reason is still the same theme.. angered me. Sure, I know kids aren't nearly as impressionable as many censor folks think they are and surely they don't take the show for real. But still. Still, its recognizing that you can get away with whatever unsportsmanship-like bahavior you want to, as long as you don't get caught and the referee isn't looking.

What a horrible life lesson- what a horrible thing to parody!

Okay, so you might say, "Dude, lighten up, it's just entertainment." And yeah, I do need to lighten up, or just not watch wrestling. It still continues to rub me the wrong way. And, having this blog helps me to vent- which actually helps.. somewhat. Thank you for "listening".

A Fun New Treasure Book

This morning I watched some morning news program (Good Morning, America?) about a new book that hit the shelves this month. The book is entitled, A Treasure's Trove by Michael Stadther. The book is a children's book/fairy tale about magical animals, faeries, and adventure.

The book has another side to it. It is also a treasure map for the abled bodied. The author, a self-made millionaire hid several small treasures throughout the United States. The book is a map filled with riddles and clues to finding these treasures. The author explains that the treasures are hidden somewhere in the continental United States. And, the treasure you're looking for is actually a token, that when redeemed, will give you the miniture jeweled treasures.

The first token was found and the lucky recipients, a two-year old and her eager dad, claimed their prize from the author. The treasure was a jeweled dragonfly. We have until December 31, 2007 to find the rest of the treasures. After that, if any still remain, the author will reveal the locations of all the treasures. Pretty cool, eh?

When the lightbulb comes on

Okay, so the lightbulb of an idea came on this afternoon about my sermon for Sunday. The lectionary readings center around Paul's interpretation of Abraham's call from God to be the father of many nations (Romans 4:13-25). The other lectionary texts are Genesis 12:1-9 (Abraham's call) and Matthew 9 (both Matthew's call and Jesus healing a little girl).

As I worked up a liturgy for Sunday, I wondered aloud how Paul went about interpreting Abraham's call. It got me to thinking how sometimes Matthew would interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament (e.g., finding proof-texts for the coming Messiah in places where the original authors weren't writing about it when they wrote it). As this conversation was going over in my head, I remembered something I heard from a friend: "It is the responsibility of every Christian in each generation to re-interpret what it means to be a Christian in their time and place."

So, I am thinking I'll examine how it is we go about re-interpreting Scripture, what it means to do it, what dangers/benefits occurs when we do it, and to suggest other texts we might consider reinterpreting. I know it sounds like a lot but I think I am on to something. I'll let you know how it turns out.

What was that you called me again?

Over the years, I've been called many things to include "unique", "cluttered", and of course, "you're such a slob". But in all those years I have never been called "anal retentive" until yesterday.

I was relating to a friend at work that my laundry lady charges less money (see an earlier post) to wash and fold my clothes than it does for me to do it myself at the laundromat. My only complaint, I told my friend, is that the lady folds my underwear and socks in a manner I don't like. So, I always have to refold my underwear and socks. To which another friend who overheard the discussion replied, "That has got to be the most anal retentive thing I've ever heard!" My friend is like, retired, so when he uses words like "anal retentive" I usually have to snicker too.

And you know what? I got home last night and looked around my apartment. My living room was orderly and clean. My kitchen had no dishes in the sink. My bed was made. And my bathroom was clean, wiped up, and the sink had no toothpaste stains on it. And then it dawned on me: "Daaaaaaaaang, I AM anal retentive." Or, in the very least, cleaner and tidier than I've ever been in my life. Now if only I could transfer that orderliness and tidiness to my office- it still looks like my room used to look when I was a kid. I've got papers, books, adult education materials, church promotional items, and hymnbooks strewn about.


That was what I thought when on Tuesday, my interim pastor said, "Just to remind you, I won't be in church on Sunday, I am going away for 10 days." No, I didn't remember and no, I didn't know I was preaching on Sunday. Mind you, I like preaching but I tend to prepare just a wee bit long enough in advance that I am not being too frantic the week I actually write the thing.

So, today is Thursday and I am still racking my brain. I don't know what to preach about on Sunday. It's communion Sunday and the lectionary texts for Romans is about Abraham being saved by faith and not by any observance to the Law and the Matthew text is about Matthew being chosen as Jesus' disciple. You'd think all these ideas would pop in my head but as of 10:38am on Thursday morning, my mind is blank.

Maybe I oughta drink some more coffee. ;)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Been Away for a Bit

A lot has happened this last week- so much so that I've let this dang thing slip. Sorry about that.

For starters, May 20-22 I was up in Buffalo for my denomination's annual state conference. I had a great time, ate really good food and saw Niagra Falls. Then, on Tuesday, May 24th, I went up to Albany (the state capitol) to participate in the annual Pride in the Pulpit legislative meeting of LGBT friendly legislators. It was a nice time and I met some great new friends. And then on Friday, I had an all day denomination meeting regarding candidates in the Ordination process.

So, by the time the weekend came, I wasn't as prepared for my preaching assignments as I normally am. On Sunday morning, I preached for a friend out on Long Island and then returned that evening for my church's service. And then that night, I went out "shakin' my groove thang" because a few of my friends were a bit miffed that I've been working so much and not spending time with them. One must've forget one's friends- so I went out Sunday night until 4am.

By the time I got in, I was soooooooooooooooooo tired.

Anyways, that's been my long week. I have had some interesting things happen, and will write about them shortly. I just don't know which "one thing" to write about just yet- perhaps I'll write about a whole bunch of things. I don't know just yet.