Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Disney Report 1

I'm guessing it will take me a few days to report on the week, but we'll see.

Despite all the drama getting my flights to Florida arranged (what, you missed this post?), everything went fine at the airport. I was on the flights I thought I was on, got my boarding passes and checked my luggage with no problem. My flights were on time. And I slept pretty well on the longer first one. Heck, I even got a good nap on the second. And my room was ready when I got there since I got there later then originally planned. Which meant I could leave stuff in there and head out to the park.

As planned, I headed to Magic Kingdom first thing. I was supposed to connect with Angelique, but that didn't happen since her cell phone wasn't working and she was so tired she went back to her room to nap. But I did spend the day hanging out with Lori and her sister. It was their first time in any Disney park, so we had lots of fun. And I discovered just how disorienting things could be. Yes, it is the Magic Kingdom, but it is layed out very differently. Even the attractions with the same names are slightly different. The Fantasyland dark rides are longer and tell the story better. Haunted Mansion puts you on the ride sooner and adds a library filled with books by ghost writers. We hung out in the park until about 10 but then decided to go back to the hotel and get dinner. I met up with a whole bunch of my friends, and we hung out near the pool until close to twelve.

Monday morning was up and going early again. Animal Kingdom opened an hour early for resort guests (and there were plenty of us), so Lori, her sister, Angelique, and I headed there first. We started with Kilimenjaro Safari, a ride through an African preserve with real animals. I've heard that you see more animals in the morning. We certainly saw plenty. We skipped the raft ride because we didn't want to get wet. But we did ride Expedition Everst, which I loved. At that point, we split up, with Angelique and I finishing out the park by ourselves.

From there, we headed over to Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). We managed to hit most of the rides here as well. It did help that the park was open late for resort guests that night. That's why I did Toy Story Midway Mania with only a 30 minute wait. (I love that ride.) We met up wtih the rest of the group for dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. It's a restaurant set up to look like drive in. You even eat in cars and they play cartoons and previews for old 50's sci-fi movies. It makes it hard to talk, but it is lots of fun.

The one thing that was pretty bad about Monday was the weather. It started off party cloudy and humid, but it quickly clouded over. It started to rain about 2:30 and never really stopped. It was a warm rain, but I was concerned about my camera and cell phone getting wet. If it weren't for those things, I would have enjoyed the rain. Not that I let it stop me. I just covered my backpack with one of my coats and kept right on trecking.

See, I told you it would take me several entries to cover the entire trip. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yes, I Am Back

Well, I was going to start posting about my trip today, but I spent too much time trying to catch up on TV. (And, yes, I am completely hooked on Heroes again already.)

But it's been a week since anything was posted, and I did want to pop in and let you know I was still alive. I had a great time in Florida at DisneyWorld. And I plan to post more about it later. I walked so much! Part of me is looking forward to returning to work so I can relax. Of course, the huge pile of work I will have waiting for me won't let that happen.

More details to follow soon. Right now, I need to start watching/blogging Dancing with the Stars. I'm ready for bed, and I've got two hours of that to go.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gays and Christians

This week, I found out about a Christian singer who has come out of the closet. He's divorsed his wife and is now attending a gay friendly church and a living that lifestyle. This is a classic Christian artist who has probably faded from the minds of most Christians. And no, I am not going to name names because it is irrelevant for this discussion.

The article I read it on allowed comments. And the comments were fairly typical. There were those who promised to pray for the man. There were those who quote the scriptures that condeem the gay lifestyle. Then there were those who attacked the Bible thumpers for being hypocrites and compassionless. There were even those who praised the man in question for being true to himself.

And you know what. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

Let's make it abundantly clear I believe God condems the gay lifestyle. I am not going to go over them again because everyone on both sides is familiar with the verses that talk about this.

But what is the first Christian response when we learn someone is gay. To shun them. Take a step back, sometimes almost literally. To condeem them to hell. To throw up our hands and walk away because they have turned their back on God. And by all means, don't get too close because we might catch it. Whatever it is.

Now the pro-gay side is quick to point out that Jesus never said one word on the subject. And they are right. (Frankly, that's a red herring.) They are also quick to point out that Jesus showed compassion and love to those his society considered sinners. And they are absolutely correct. Remember, the Pharisees condeemed him for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes.

And remember his response. "It isn't the well that need a doctor but the sick."

On the flip side, we need to remember Jesus's words to the woman caught in adultry. Yes, he said "Neither do I condem you." But look at his next words. "Go and sin no more."

Yes, Jesus was kind and compassionate to sinners. (Praise God He was.) But He also called them on their sin and called them to repent. Remember Zacheaus. Jesus spent time with him, and as a result he repented. Would Jesus have continued to hang out with him if he rejected the call to repent? Maybe, maybe not.

Of course, Jesus did have an advantage because he knew the heart. The best we can do is love and call to repent. We will never know if someone's heart is beyond repentence or not.

But I want to look at the charge of hypocracy leveled at the people condeeming the sin of homosexuality. There is a certain point where it is true.

Let's look at the Christian music scandels of last decade. Sandi Patty admitted to an affair, got divorced, then married her lover. Amy Grant also divorced and remarried. And Michael English got someone other than his wife pregnant. In two of those cases, there was clear violation of the commands of scripture. In Amy's case, it really is hard to know all the facts to judge if there was sin on either side.

And how were they treated? Amy was hardly hurt. Sandi Patty disappeared for a year then came back. Only Michael English truely was hurt by his affair.

And I'll admit I was right there. While I haven't bought any more of Michael's music, I certainly continued to buy Amy and Sandi's music.

And there is a point where I can't judge. I am only getting part of the facts.

But when someone is living in sin, it is my job to call them on it, especially if that person is a believer.

Now, is the sin of homosexuality the unforgivable sin? Let's remember what Paul said in I Corinthians. "And such were some of you." And, while God dispises it, remember that list from the preceeding verse. "Neither Homosexals nor adulterers nor forecaters nor liars nor thieves will enter the kingdom of Heaven."  Fornecaters.  You know, anyone who has sex outside of marriage.  If that doesn't get you, there's always thieves.  And if that doesn't get you, there's liars.  Basically, this verse points out that no unforgiven sinner can enter the kingdom of Heaven.  So we can't sit here and judge someone else as worse than us.  In God's eyes we are just as deserving of hell as the homosexual.

So I can't sit here with impure thoughts and judge this person as worse than I am.

I can't sit here with anger against someone in my heart and judge this person as worse than I am.

And that's just from the last few days.

The truth is we are all sinners saved by grace. And we all will struggle with sin until the day we go home.

But there is another angle to all this. I just acknowledged my sin (rather publically). When I repent, I am forgiven. But this man isn't struggling with sin. He isn't trying to repent. He is living in it. In fact, he has embraced it. That is not something to celebrate. That is something to grieve over. And that is certainly something to pray over.

So yes, I will be praying for this man. But I will also continue to examine my heart. Because I am no better than he is without God's grace forgiving me daily of my sins.

This has been a rather series topic for Watercooler Wednesday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008 List

As you are reading this, I am enjoying Disney World in Florida. This is the first time I have scheduled something early, but it's a cool feature that Blogger has.

Anyway, since today is the first day of Fall, it's time for the Fall Into Reading Challenge hosted by Callapidder Days. Here's the list of books I will be trying to read this fall. Nope, it's not much longer than I can realistically get through. Why do you ask? :)

Stamped Out by Terri Thayer (This book should be "in progress" since I plan to start it on the plane tonight.

Next are the books I still haven't gotten to from my Spring List:
Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far by Amy Grant
Relentless by Robin Parrish
Murder in Grub Street by Bruce Alexander
Stalking the Puzzle Lady by Parnell Hall
Three Bags Full by Leoine Swann

Upcoming Books by Authors I Like:
Ninth Witness by Brock and Bodie Thoene
Murder Most Maine by Karen MacInerney
Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews
The Clockwork Teddy by John J. Lamb
Mr. Monk is Miserable by Lee Goldberg
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

That's twleve books, which is probably a realistic goal. But I'm not stopping there. Here are other books I already have I'd love to get around to reading this fall.

A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind
A Vicky Hill Exclusive! by Hannah Dennison
Slay it with Flowers by Kate Collins
Whatever Tomorrow Brings by Lori Wick

Since I am in a hurry, thinking about packing and Disney World, and tired after last night (read Saturday's post to find out why), I reserve the right to edit this list as the fall progresses with things I may have forgotten.

Edit: And here are books I am adding to the list.

Dark Pursuite by Brandilyn Collins (only because I didn't know I was getting an ARC until it arrived in the mail.)
The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quick Update with Long Story About the Last 12 Hours

I know I haven't posted about my life in the last week. Frankly, I haven't had much going on. Work's been fine. Had a nice meeting with the CFO yesterday where we talked about how work is going for me. Just informal, nothing bad at all.

I've been busy as can be writing reviews these last few days. I've posted 13 at Amazon in the last week. That's what happens when the entertainment companies decide to release three movies you saw in the theater and your two favorite shows from last year on DVD all on the same Tuesday.

Plus I've been trying to get everything reviewed I wanted to review before I leave on vacation. That's right, I'm going out of town again for the long in the works Disney World Trip with one of my Trixie Belden message boards. I am so excited (again) that I can't wait. I'm going to be there for an entire week. I'm not sure that will be long enough to truly see and do everything, but I'm going to give it my all.

But this does bring me to the story about the last 12 hours. Last night before I went to bed, I foolishly decided to check e-mail. I had one from United, who I am flying to Orlando, reminding me about my flight and offering me a chance to check in early. (I have never figured out why they let you "check in" from your computer. But that's another post.) I looked at the flight and discovered that I wasn't heading to Orlando but Washington DC. Um....

I quickly found and called their 800 number. The guy I got told me that my flight had been changed back in July because they discontinued the original flight. They tried to call me, but the phone number was disconnected. That's true, since I got rid of my house phone when I got my cell phone. But they never did e-mail me. And it looked like they were stranding me in a new location. Finding all this out the night before I was supposed to leave didn't make me happy. I eventually got them to change me to a flight leaving Sunday morning and getting in around dinner time. Not happy, I figured I'd take it.

But I started poking around on their site and discovered that they did indeed offer connecting overnight flights. So I called back to try to get on one of those. The guy I talked to this time wasn't helpful in the slightest. He'd change me, but only if I paid a fee plus the difference in the fare. Yeah, right! After half an hour, I hung up.

About this time, I looked back at the original e-mail that started it all and discovered that I there was a small link I had missed to view the entire itenorary. Um, oops. I clicked on it and found out that sure enough, I originally had a connection flight to Orlando. I now felt very stupid. I mean, really, would they strand a customer somewhere. Of course not. But I wasn't thinking clearly when I got that first e-mail. By this time it was after midnight. I was going to call back and explain the situation in the morning, but that lasted for less then five minutes. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I called back. Got a woman this time who spent half an hour with me on hold trying to get permission to change me back. She did, and I went to bed happy.

But then I got up this morning and checked my e-mail. For some reason, they sent me a second confirmation. That's when I realized that I was on a flight Sunday night, not Saturday night. Once again, I called back. This time, it took about five minutes. I explained the situation, and the woman was willing to change me back to tonight with not questions, no hold time, and no extra fee.

So, after four phone calls, I am back on the flights they switched me to in July. I am leaving about half an hour later than originally planned. Thanks to the connection, I get in 5 hours later. I'm bummed about that, but at least I will get in before noon on Sunday.

And you'd better believe me when I say I have checked the newest e-mail confirmation multiple times to make sure the dates are right. They haven't changed on me yet!

Of course, the moral of the story is to read e-mails carefully and don't loose your temper too quickly. I wonder if I would have gotten the info I needed with those first calls if I had been calmer.

I am going to work on my Fall into Reading post today and have it go live on Monday, so look for that. But that will be all from me until after I get back on the 28th. See you late this month.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Ahoy Maties!

This be your reminder that today be Talk Like a Pirate Day.

(And I'm listening to "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" at the moment, too.)

And here's a fun quiz I found to celebrate the day.

My pirate name is:
Mad Jack Flint
Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday Threesome for September 18th

Yep, that time of the week. (Finally.) Brought to us this week by Network problems (like Blogger seems to be having right now) and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Loss-- of appetite? Have you ever been invited to an event where the food just was too terrible to even pretend to like? What was your solution? ...I mean, besides holding out for a burger on the way home !
Never a formal meal where people would notice I wasn't eating. It's always been places were I could get away without eating without offending anyone.

Twosome: of-- the last three days, we've lost Net access in Central CaliLand most of the time. I'm thinking it has to do with the lack of a State budget out here. Do you have long periods of disconnect where you are?
We've had them at work, but they were always local issues. Never city wide.

Threesome: Connectivity:--, addiction or necessity? Is the Net essential to your daily activities (yes, work counts!)? ...or would you even notice if someone cut the wire?
Take my internet away, and I'll kill you! Okay, it's not that bad, but I do get on it quite a bit during the day and I miss it after a few days off. Next week will be interesting since I won't even be taking my computer on my vacation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Favorite Season

Over at Watercooler Wednesday, Randy asks about favorite seasons.

My favorite season is easy. Summer. There is nothing like it.

For one thing, I don't mind the heat. Granted, I am in air conditioning most of the time. But I prefer being hot to being cold. (And why do I think those words will come back to haunt me next week?)

Plus summer is when I play ultimate Frisbee the most. And I truly do love that game.

As much as I love my TV shows (and I am counting the minutes until fall premiers start), I also enjoy the break I get during the summer. It allows me more time for things like TV on DVD sets and reading.

And I absolutely love swimming. While I've been known to jump in a heated pool year round, summer was made for swimming. (And I didn't do nearly enough of it this year.)

A close second is Christmas. I love the lights and decorations and especially the music. And I live for rain in December. But as soon as we hit New Years, I'm ready for winter to be over and summer weather to come back.

With as much as I love warm weather, is it any wonder I live in Southern California?

Friday, September 12, 2008

And the Camping Trip

As I mentioned earlier this week (and late last week, I think), I spent last weekend with my parents. But this wasn't a normal weekend trip home. We went camping in a redwood grove. Okay, so it's a state park we've been camping at as a family since it opened 50 years ago. (Note the family part. That's not me but my mom.) That means I've been going there as long as I can remember.

And it was wonderful.

Frankly, I think one reason we like to camp there is there isn't too much to do. Oh, we did hike the trails (about 3 miles total between the two) and walked around the campground many times. But the rest of the time, we played games and read. I got almost an entire 400 page novel read, in fact. And it was wonderful to just relax. Being a state park, there are fewer distractions. I wasn't getting good cell phone reception, but Mom and Dad did. But we had no other hook ups, so no electronics. And it was a nice change of pace. Not that I'm ready to give up TV and computer permenently. Just occasionally.

And the air is so wonderful there! The various trees smell so great.

Being there brings back so many happy memories.

And we sure lucked out with the weather. It was hot when we got there Saturday. Like over 100 degrees. And remember, we didn't have air conditioning. But it cooled off that night and was in the 80's the next two days. Translation? Pretty much perfect. The day after we left, the fog never burned off at my parent's which probably means the same for the campground. Which would have been a little on the cold side.

And my cough was better. Yes, I still coughed (which always freaks Mom out), but I was having spells where I coughed for a couple minutes at a time with these spells lasting for an hour or more. Translations: we all got plenty of sleep.

Believe me, it took a lot of effort to actually leave come Monday. I sure didn't want to.

Of course, Monday night I got to see my uncle and aunt and her mom. We had a great visit.

And on the way up and back I got to visit with Donald and Heather. I left early enough Friday to go to Half Price Books and play games. Donald pulled out a win in Skip Bo (and I'm still not sure how he did it). Then he and I played the Stock Market Game. I creamed him! He had a very bad start, and I got lucky early. That luck continued through the rest of the game as I avoided the squares that would have made me sell everything. Usually, our games are close with Donald pulling ahead at the end. Not so this time. So you can understand why I will not be playing the game with him ever again. :)

Since I've been back, I've jumped back into fitness. I wound up with two weeks off thanks to that cold and the trip. And boy do I feel it! I am pushing things about as hard as I was when I left, but my body ackes. I'm moving slowly again. I have a feeling just about the time I get back into it, it will be time to head to Disney World. Oh well. I guess I'll manage.

Especially if I have the stamina I did at Disneyland. Even with my cold, I wasn't that tired at the end of the day. Normally, my legs are barely moving. I felt like I could have kept walking for a long time. If that holds true for a week in Florida, I'll be very happy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Threesome for September 11th

Welcome to a very special edition of the Thursday Threesome found, as always, on The Back Porch.

Onesome: Memories from-- a few years back: what were you doing on 9-11?
I had just gotten back from the second Trixie Convention two days before. I was trying to find a place to live (I did that day.) I was actually getting ready for work when my soon to be roommate called and told me to turn on the TV. I had to come into work that day, but I had news sites up all day.

Twosome: the-- thought occurs: Should this be a holiday? ...or perhaps a day of remembrance with a moment of silence nationwide?
I don't know if I think it should be a holiday. For one thing, making it a holiday would make it completely irrelevant. I mean, do any of us really spend Memorial Day remembering? But it does seem like some kind of national moment of silence or something would be appropriate. Of course, I was going to fly my flag today and completely forgot.

Threesome: Past-- 'days that will live in infamy': do you recall any other days of tragedy that have a placeholder on your mental calendar?
While I can't tell you the day, I definitely do remember watching the coverage of the Challenger explosition. Fortunately, that's about the only other one from my life time.

Bonus: Who's quote did I paraphrase in the question above?
FDR referring to Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), of course.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nate the Great

Yes, I am back from my weekend trip. Yes, I need to blog about it. But you'll have to wait for that. Today, I am particpating in Children's Classics and Water Cooler Wednesday. (I love combing these things.)

This month's topic is picture books. And I'm going to bring up a little known gem. At least in my mind it is a gem.

Nate the Great.

Now this may be a bit long for the traditional picture book. It clocks in around 62 pages. But every two page spread includes pictures. And the print is big. And I love it.

As you might have figured out if you spend any time on my blog (or will figure out soon), I love a good mystery. And that's just what this book is. Nate is the neighborhood detective. In this book, Annie asks Nate to find the picture of her dog she painted the day before. It's suddenly gone missing. Where can it be?

The thing is, this isn't a cheap mystery at all. Nate uses logic to eleminate one suspect. And while he goes follow one poor trail of throught, he ultimately solves the mystery with logic again. And the solution is something that kids will understand. They might even figure it out for themselves if they are smart. I didn't, but then again, I never solve mysteries before the protagonist does.

This was the first in a long running series, most of which are tagged as easy readers. My family always loved this book the best. But the others are enjoyable.

And the best part? You can get them at your local library.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thursday Threesome for September 4th

Yep, I'm getting to this later than I had planned. But I don't mind. Why not? Because I got to leave work early. See, my boss was giving me a ride to pick up my car after an oil change, and he wanted to leave. So I left. And I'm now on vacation until Wednesday! Yes, life is good.

But you came here to read the Thursday Threesome for the week, brought to us by recyclers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Greenwaste-- containers: we're using full sized 'toters' (those cans the trunks can automatically dump); are you using anything special in your city? Does anyplace in the US still let you burn leaves in the Autumn?
Promise not to shoot me? We don't even having recycling here in my condo complex. We're supposed to be getting it soon. And when we do, I think it will be just dump everything into a dumpster like we collect the garbage in type of thing. But I guess we'll find out.

Twosome: Disposal-- systems for electronics: out here in CaliLand you just can't 'dump' the old computer or stereo with the trash; they need to go to an 'electronics recycling center'. Do have anything like that where you are?
Seeing as how I am in California, that must be true here. But I'm not sure where I'd take it if I had something to get rid of. (I'm just not coming across as very ecological am I? I'm not this bad. Really!)

Threesome: Facility--, facilitate, faculty, faculties... Do you ever get any of those a little mixed up? Just curious...
Not in the least. And I'm prove it to you.
Facility - To help something along
Facilitate - People who teach, usually at a college or university
Faculty - Mental powers
Faculties - A building or location


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Disneyland While Sick

So Friday I mentioned the cold I was fighting off. The bad news? It didn't go away quietly. Saturday night, it settled into my chest. Normally, that would lead to a few days (maybe up to a week) of coughing, especially while lying down at night. But because I was doing so much more, it led to more.

Sunday and Monday I spent at Disneyland with Angelique, Debbie, and various members of Debbie's family. It was great to see Debbie again. It's been over a year since she moved out of state. :(

And the park was crowded, but not quite as crowded as I expected it to be. It didn't help that they were doing the half marathon on Sunday, which added to the crowds. But I think we still go everything in over the two days. Well, I was the only one who did the Toy Story Midway Mania. And I enjoyed it again.

But Sunday late afternoon, I started to notice my voice going. Not that I let that stop me from trying to talk over the rides with my commentary or comments. Stuff like "Watch out!" Fun stuff.

But as the evening wore on, I started getting worse and worse. By the time I left Sunday night, I could barely talk. But I figured I'd be fine I've had colds give me rough voices before, but only for a few hours. I made a point of not talking from when I left to when I got there on Monday.

That only helped slightly. My voice came and went all day. Sometimes I was only talking in a whisper. But I learned just how much you can communicate with a look or motions. The worst part was that everyone was looking to me to guide them. That required more talking, or at least giving them options.

Monday night, Josh and Bonnie and their kids came down, too. It was great to see them. I just wish I could have talked.

The good news is that I am getting my voice back already. I came into work yesterday and today. I figured if I could go to Disneyland that sick, I could come into work, too. I talked as little as possible yesterday, and my voice was sounding better by last night. It's stronger today, although it still cracks occastionally.

The only thing that still worries me is this weekend. I'm supposed to go camping with my parents. One person having coughing fits that last for several minutes at a time off and on all night isn't going to be fun in a small trailer.