Saturday, September 29, 2007

When our Democracy Runs Amuck

If Texas does this, is it any wonder many states do it too? The amount of dishonesty here is so painful to watch. Is one way, it is as if everyone is doing it, so why bother saying anything.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ex-Gay Report

There has been the release of an official sounding 'ex-gay report' meant to tout the success of particular ex-gay therapies. The report that was paid for and issued by the ex-gay folks is problematic on so many levels. Go here to read a story about the report. Go here to reserve your copy of the study at your local bookstore. Go here to read yet another example of an ex-gay leader arrested for seducing his students. Go here for one person's commentaries against ex-gay therapies.

Even though the report looks kind of pathetic given the low 'success rate', many who are citing the report are gleeful because if only one person can change, then they surmise anyone can. What they are NOT touting is that the only hope for many who go through the program have is a life of celibacy coupled with continued same-sex desire or unique definitions of heterosex AND homosex desire within any one person that boggles the mind. This is a far cry from a complete change from homosex to heterosex desire that many who seek the services are desiring in the first place. And, according to this study, some folks even had an increased desire for homosex AFTER completing the course. What is up with that?! (Say, how's that for an additional category for this blog?)

adding cool categories

As some of you know, I now run two blogs: this one and the one at church. The church one consists of religious, spiritual, and church happening posts. There you'll find my devotional thoughts and what not and those thoughts are directed to the church, church visitors, and others involved in religious dialog. This blog is reserved for my political and religious rants as well as trivial posts about new programs, ideas, or fun stuff I find on the web. Unfortunately, because I have separated the religious devotional element from this blog, I am finding it's not as structured or organized as I would like.

So, I have decided to create some categories (as I have seen on other blogs) to give this blog some more shape. I also want to make it more organized so that it has a specific purpose rather than just a hodgepodge of sometimes interesting and sometimes not interesting posts. And, when I throw a personal post in (like I did last night), it can seem so out of place that the blog appears 'uncomfortable' and perhaps a bit creepy.

Okay, so I am on a personal mission to 'de-creep' and organize this blog so that I can still post personal posts as well as informative ones. When I have more of a structure determined, I'll post more about it.

Do you have a recommendation for particular categories? Here are some I've been thinking of:
Who Knew?!
Tech and Gadgets
Boring but Important
Watch Out!
Political B.S.
What Is Up With That?!* (Added after a recent post)

I will also prolly be redesigning the blog itself. I'll see what Blogspot has to offer or I may find a template from another source to put here.

Change is good, right?
And, it'll get a lot easier beginning next week when I'll have my desktop computer back from the shop. It's actually ready now but I'll need to reinstall all of my fun and productive software. In truth, typing on my laptop is more of a pain when it comes to writing sermons or posts for blogs.

The Next Day

I am feeling much better today, thank you. My nerves are fine and I just had my morning 'treatment'. I am going to the doctor later today for my first blood test to determine how much the Coumadin pills and Lovenox injections are working and how their dosage may need to change. I also have a lot of questions for the blood workers and for my doctor.

A lot has happened in these few days- and I am more level-headed and prepared to ask the right questions.

You know, asking the 'right questions' is what being sick and getting well is all about. The temptation is to just trust the doctors and go with the flow. Unfortunately, that isn't how it's supposed to work, when being treated. A doctor's prescription is based partly on how we answer their questions--but it's also about us asking the doctor's our questions too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Journaling. First Entry.

Fear. Today is day number 4 of knowing that I have a blood clot in my leg. The clot is located in my calf and is causing me a world of hurt. It is affecting my right foot and ankle too. All around it is swollen and tender. It hurts to walk, sit, or just stand still. It even hurts if I am sitting down with my leg propped up. The only time it doesn't hurt is when my leg is resting on a pillow and I am completely lying down.

So I have been still a whole lot these past four days. I have walked outside only to walk the dog—but mostly, she's been going to 'do her doo' in the backyard. Tonight, however, I took her on our regular long walk for her to get some exercise and for me to walk on my foot for awhile. I noticed that when I was walking for a short while and even when I returned, if only briefly, my foot and calf stopped hurting. Unfortunately that was only for about 10 minutes. The sharp pains returned.

And something else happened too. I got scared. I think I started to get scared at the exact moment the pains returned. My heart started beating faster than usual, my breathing got a bit shallow, and I started to perspire. My face felt flush. And then, I got suddenly very afraid. So afraid in fact that I began packing a sack for the emergency room. I threw in a pair of pajama bottoms, my medications, a couple of books and my cell phone charger. Heading for the door the phone rang. It was my mom. I told her what was happening and she told me to stop, sit down, and start breathing deeply. I breathed in for a count of four, held it, and blew out for a count of four. I did this for about 2 minutes and I found myself calming down significantly. Over the next couple of hours, I debated going to the emergency room and finally decided, that since the panic (is that what it was?) had abated, I would stay home.

At 10:00 PM, I injected the new medicine into my stomach, as instructed by my doctors. And then I took two tablets of Coumadin with water. And I sat down. Just then, the phone rang. It was a couple of friends calling to check on me to see if I was okay. After I hung up, another friend called. And then, another and another.

The kind of fear I am feeling is a new feeling. It is one of mortality. It is the thought that a piece of the blood clot in my leg might break off and go directly to my lungs or heart and cause me great harm. The doctors have told me its a 1% chance that this'll happen and for me not to worry. And yet, I do worry. It scares me that I'll pass out and living alone, who'll find me? And the more I think about it, the more my heart beats and the hotter I get. I tell myself not to worry, to not psyche myself up—to just relax. And when I purposely do it...I relax. And then, in the quiet moments—when it's just me and my thoughts, the fear returns.

I am a man of faith. I pastor a congregation of progressive Christians 10 minutes west of New York City. I used to serve a parish in the heart of New York City. There, I have stood in the cold blistery winter snow and sleet feeding sandwiches to the crack-addicted and alcoholic homeless men and women of the city. I have watched their bodies, skin taut against their faces clutch a sandwich as if it were their last meal. And yet they survive. They come back the next day. They are hungry again, and again they are fed. Meal to meal, day to day—old, young, thin, wasting. Today I serve a suburban congregation of young and old. Men and women. Families. Widows and the widowed. Diabetes. Cancer. Heart attacks. Stroke. Different diseases, the same fate. We all die. The same fear.

They come to me looking for faith. I tell them about God. I read to them the Scriptures. I share with them my testimony. I am not afraid. I hold their hand in the hospital rooms. I pray with them. I am not too confident—I don't tell them everything will be okay.

Today they came to me. They called me. They told me that they were thinking and praying for me. I was not alone. I was afraid. I was not alone. I am afraid. I am not alone. I am scared—but not the heart-racing scared of a few hours ago. It is a calm fear.

Faith and fear. I prayed to God to help me. I asked God to help me. I named and claimed my illness away. I ran my hands over my legs and asked God to heal me. I claimed myself as a child of God. My leg stopped hurting. My calf stopped hurting. My fear abated. For ten minutes. My leg throbs again and my foot hurts. But I am not as afraid as I was. I am cautious. So I called a friend.

James. He is coming over to stay up with me. He'll sleep in my guest bed if he stays over. He wants to stay over. He is worried about me.

Maggie. My faithful canine companion. She hasn't left my side all night. She saw my fear. She sat quietly staring at me. She looked afraid too. She isn't afraid now but she isn't leaving my side either.

Fear ... nervous ... anticipation ... the blood clot in my leg, a piece breaking off and making it's way to my lungs or my heart. I think about it but it doesn't paralyze me. It doesn't worry me. I am not afraid right now.

Tomorrow is my first blood test. I will tell them about tonight and call my doctor and get his insight. I won't tell him about the fear—well, I'll allude to it. He doesn't read my blog. Tomorrow will be another day with more Coumadin and two more shots in my stomach. And the clot will be there. And my fear will be there too.

Who Knew?!

Did you know that a 6-volt lantern battery has 32 AA batteries inside it's casing? 32!! And with these lantern batteries costing just $5, that's a lot of savings for the 4 AA batteries that generally cost $5 for a package of 4.

Just pry off the top and you'll find the jackpot inside. Go here to watch the video and see how it's done.

You can also find 8 watch batteries from one 12-volt battery and 6 AAA batteries from one 9-volt battery.

Crazy, if you ask me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three Things

There is the Trinity, of course: Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. Then there were the three wise men and the Three Amigos. Oh and speaking of which, there were the Three Stooges and Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady. In the last month, my car got sick, then my computer got sick, and now I have gotten sick.

Actually it's more than just sick. I went to the emergency room Sunday after church because my ankle was hurting me so-- and the new pain the shot up my calf. The nurses were concerned about that particular pain in my calf and took some blood tests and a sonar thingy and found that I have a blood clot in my leg. Yuck. They immediately admitted me to the hospital where I had a plethora of tests to conclude the seriousness of the situation.

They released me today and for the next 6 months, I will be on Coumadin, an anti-coagulant. And, this is the really icky part.. until my blood gets thin enough, I have to give myself Coumadin-like shots in my stomach twice a day for about 2 weeks. Ouch! If I thought I was a wuss before, that doesn't even compare to me sticking myself with these dang needles.

I still can't get over the 'needles in the stomach' part.

You know, I was thinking a couple of days ago: First was my truck, and then my computer. What is going to be the THIRD thing that disrupts my life? Now, I am not really superstitious but those first two things were bad enough. It had me thinking both, 'What on earth could possible happen that'd be any worse?' and 'Don't horrible things like these run in threes?'

Well, now I have my answer. And, it happened just days before my 42nd birthday.

Now I have something to think about: my mortality.

But here is the good news, in spite of it all. My truck is fixed, thanks to the generosity of my family. My computer is fixed, thanks to the wisdom of the computer tech who saved it for far less than a new computer would be (far, far less). And my doctors have assured me that blood clots in legs (caused by flying for those who easily get cramped up in those dang seats) is fairly common and is nothing to worry about. So I have nothing to worry about except for some minor life-modifications: no alcohol for 6 months (I don't drink much so this isn't a big deal), no more veggies in my diet (who likes them anyway), and no longer shaving with a razor (I had to buy an electric one). That last one is to prevent unnecessary bleeding in the event I cut myself shaving and causing my blood to leak everywhere since I am thinning out my blood with the Coumadin.

And, I get to relate better to the elderly members of my congregation who are practically all on the stuff or have been on it at one time or another. I'd've picked an easier way to relate to them--but hey, what can I do.

So there you have it: The Trinity and the Three Wise Men. Except for the Three Stooges (and perhaps the Three Amigos), I guess I am in pretty good company, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Honestly, I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Seriously, go read it here. It is a piece about homophobia, sissies, and our problem (not theirs) with guys who we think act too girl-ly.

Thanks for QueerSighted for this post.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Bible Tells Me So

Here is a new movie trailer for a documentary scheduled to open at the first of October in New York City. It's getting plenty of awards and should be a flick- hopefully it'll offer us viable solutions as well as explaining the situation.

Hat-tip to Towleroad

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Two Nifty Tips

If you're running Firefox and have noticed that it's running a bit slow, you might be surprised to learn that your extensions may be causing the problems. Go here to find the extensions that are causing your system the most trouble and remove them.

If you're used to using OpenOffice (like me) and hate the long wait in loading any of its fine programs, go here to tweak the Options under Tools tab in the Writer program. The instructions are for Ubuntu but are easily tweaked for any OS you're operating.

Hat tip to Lifehacker for these recommendations.

Cool Computer Programs for Students

With school starting up again, we are reminded again how wonderful it must be for students who are living in the computer age as it exists today. There is a great post over at Lifehacker, which I should point out is a wonderful blog about innovative programs, internet sites, and office productivity, about certain and essential computer programs for your kids as they enter school.

I am particularly impressed with the online Cliff Notes and bibliography makers. There is also this cool program that makes pages for your notebook via a .pdf creator form that you customize and then make copies of. Have a look and see if you're not too old to download the free open source software for your computer.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back to NJ

Well, I am finally back in New Jersey. I arrived late Thursday night and have been puttering around the house getting it in order, tending to a present crisis, and am presently working on my sermon for in the morning. So much to do -- and yet, as the ol' lament goes, "If it weren't for the last minute, I'd never get anything done."

My vacation to Oklahoma was amazingly restful. I didn't do much of anything except spend time with family, sleep, eat abundantly, and visit with friends. From time to time, I managed to go dancing and enjoyed some fine cuisine with my eldest brother.

One great thing about my vacation was getting caught up with an old friend: Tim and his wife Lori. Tim and I along with another friend Russel, attended a megachurch in Oklahoma City called LifeChurch. Afterwards, I visited Tim at his church where we were joined by his wife Lori and their 8 kids at Heritage Presbyterian while Russel went to his home church. I had the opportunity to get extreme examples of evangelicalism and conservative theology on my Sunday church services. I will write more about that later--the contrast was noticeable to me and I want to hammer it out on here.

Besides church, Tim and Lori invited me home with them for Sunday dinner where we ate until we were full. That Lori has always been an outstanding cook and she proved yet again that the cook only gets better as she gets older.

Upon returning to NJ, I took the train to the town near my mechanic where I picked up my truck (I had to replace to engine in it) and drove home. I arrived to find Maggie all excited to see me and we got reacquainted nicely.

Upon getting home and unpacking, I discovered that my home computer has died. I replaced the power supply, thinking that was it, only to find that it may have been it but it's also something else. I am thinking it must've been a power surge of some kind and my surge protector wasn't doing it's job. I am presently typing on my laptop (proving yet again that I am soooooooooooooo glad I have it) as I will also be needing it tonight as I prepare my morning sermon.

All in all, I've had a good time away. I am a bit stressed about the computer thing but alas, I'll find a remedy to fix it.

So that's it. I'll type more later as well as getting to the church blog to update it. Now that I am home, I need to hit the ground running. September is almost here and I have so much to get ready for. Woo-hoo!