Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cute Animal Forwards

I just emailed my little sister about this, so she already knows what I'm about to write.

In order to really understand this post, it's important for you to comprehend just how passionately I abhor cute animal forwards. I get them from time to time, and it sends me into a burning rage that usually culminates in my kicking something soft and cuddly. I've actually been thinking of trying to find a clip of Ozzy Ozbourne biting the head off a bat so that I can watch it as a sort of remedy for when I accidentally see one of those cute animal forwards.

My little sister Katie sends me forwards from time to time. Not often, but every now and then. Today, I got a typical Katie forward with the following pictures and many more. They're respective captions are listed below the image.


This is what intimacy looks like

This is what cool looks like

Those three images there are pretty much enough to send me into a tailspin of rancor and seething paroxysms of maniacal conniptions and murderous fury. (Yes I'm using a thesaurus to try to fully convey my anger.)

So, you can imagine my surprise when I open the email from Katie, I see something like this:


And I say, "Awww."

I MEAN SERIOUSLY! I should be FURIOUS! But for whatever reason, I'm all warm and fuzzy and giggly inside. That little kitty just looks so darn cute, and the way his belly puffs before he blows on his cold little mittens... I mean who can't love th--- wait! What am I saying?! I hate that crap! What THE Hffghghgngingdkdadlsk! ERGH!

But there's just something about a forward full of cute fuzzy animals when it comes from my little sister. If anyone else had sent me (or sends me... don't even think about it...) this forward, I probably would have thrown heavy glass mixing bowls out of our fifth story window onto people walking their dogs. But, when it came from Katie, I smiled. I don't understand it, but there it is.

So, thanks for the forward Katie. I have absolutely no idea why, but *gulp* I liked it.

Now, I have to send it to fourteen people or my liver will explode and some poor armless baby in China won't recieve his prosthyetic robotic ninja arm surgery.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP Gimmick

McCain just proved just how badly he doesn't get it. He thought Hillary had a large base of support simply because she was a woman, so he picked a woman for VP. He could have picked any one, he had at least a dozen other women that would have made a better VP pick if he was set on choosing a woman. But out of pure and simple bigotry, he thought he would win Hillary's supporters by choosing a woman. Any woman at all. Enter Governor Palin. And America said together, "Who!?"

So, John McCain picked someone with zero national experience, zero foreign policy or military experience, who governs a state "with more reindeer than people" to elevate the second most important role in America. Not only did he fail to grasp why Hillary got support, he boldly insulted the intelligence of those supporters, and effictively trashed the only weapon he has against Obama, experience.

I'm very glad to say that I think today will go down in history as the day McCain lost the election.

Obama/Biden '08.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

John Kerry's Speech - DNC 2008

If John Kerry had been like this 4 years ago, we wouldn't have Bush in the White House right now. I watched Kerry's speech and have been sad to see that it has not received the attention it deserves by the main stream media. It was a very powerful speech and I think John McCain has a lot of explaining to do. Help me get the issues Kerry raised out into the mainstream. Go here for CBS's page where you can view the speech in full screen, share it, embed it, email it, watch it, whatever. McCain has some explaining to do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So, this is the second spiritual lesson I've learned from preparation for school. This one is new, and hasn't really sunk in too much, but because it has such an easy (and I think neat) visual representation, I chose to tell you about it first. The second lesson is rather complicated and I don't think I've sorted it all out just yet. More on that one later.

I'm studying the Hebrew language right now. Class starts in one week, but I've been very excited to get into it, so I have been working on the first two chapters pretty much non-stop since I got my books in the mail. (Ok, not non-stop. I actually didn't look at it last week.) But now, I'm trying to memorize my first vocab cards, and something struck me and I wanted to blog about it. Don't worry you don't need to know Hebrew to get what I'm talking about here. (It's not terribly important for this post, but in case you did not know, Hebrew is read from right-to-left, not left-to-right like English.) Here, take a look:

עָוַד: (Pronounced ah-VAHD): This word is a verb and means, to serve. It also means to till or work, which interests me. Biblical Hebrew used the same word for tilling the earth, and for serving. More interesting than that even, is that this is also the word for worship. So, in Biblical Hebrew: work, tilling the earth, serving, and worship were all the exact same word. Might this imply that service is a form of worship? More intersting to me is the possible implication that work, every-day mundane work, can also be regarded as a form of worship. Interesting, but it gets better.

עֶוֶד: (Pronounced: EH-ved): This is a noun, and it means servant or slave. (On a side note: I'm currently reading Romans, and this sheds some light on what Paul meant when he said we were slaves to God's righteousness.) I have to think more about what this means, but I found it interesting. I'll write the words one after the other, just so you can see how similar they are.

עָוַד - to serve/work/till/worship

עֶוֶד - servant/slave

But it gets even better:
You may have noticed that the only difference between the two words are the little dots under the letters. Those little dots and dashes are called Diacritics (or Nikud), and are not part of the Hebrew alphabet. They represent the vowel sound you should make after saying the consonant. The Hebrew alphabet does not have any vowels, so Rabbis decided to make up this system of dots and dashes to help people who were not fluent in Hebrew to read and understand the Bible. Which means that if you leave out the diacritics, (and the earliest Bibles most certainly did) then the words for service, work, tilling the earth, worship, servant and slave were all the exact same:


Does this mean that to be God's servant means to be his slave, and that as his servants we are to work, and serve others as our acts of worship? How many lessons are wrapped up one three letter word. I can't wait to get deeper into this rich language.


תוֹו (Tov)

That, right there, took me about nine hours to figure out. I think I finally found a way to display Hebrew font (יִשרָאֵל) That's Hebrew for Israel I think, at the same time as I write English. I still need some practice at figuring it all out, but I have a start at least. But right now, it's one o'clock in the morning, and I've been doing this almost all day long. So, now, I'm hitting the sack. Till then...


(That's for you mom... that's how you'd write Mizpah in Hebrew, I think. Keep in mind, my first class isn't until Monday so, I definitely could be wrong.)

Bye now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Awww! Spinach Biscuits!

If you care about politics, and you won't get mad at me for supporting Barack Obama, feel free to read the next three posts. If you don't care about politics at all (and I'm sure that's most of you) check this out:

That's me, NOT eating a spinach biscuit. Because, well, you pretty much couldn't pay me to eat one of these things. (Unless of course, you actually paid me, in which case I would gladly eat the whole bag for a dollar each.) It's a product of my own creation, so I have no one else to blame. But man are these green little bricks disgusting.

This is what happened: Gerber makes these things called "Biter Biscuits." They're supposed to be good for babies who are teething, and so I went to get a box. When I read the ingredients, I found that they are basically just sugar and flour. Now, I'm not crazy or anything but we decided a while back that we don't want Norah to have refined sugar for the first year. Then, I remembered that Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a cookbook with recipes that used vegetables. I thought, I have some spinach in the fridge. I know how to make biscuits. "Biter Biscuits" have the word "Biscuit" in them and they are good for teething babies. So I combined all of these thoughts into a nasty, hard. green brick of nasty that I call a Spinach-Oat-Yuck. Basically, I ground up a bunch of oatmeal, pureed some spinach, added a little bit of flour and an egg, and rolled out a dough. Then I baked them and when I finally put one in my mouth, I instantly remembered being a kid, sitting on the floor under the dining room table eating a box of Milk Bone Dog Treats.

Man these things are gross.

Imagine my surprise then, when I decided to see what Norah would do with one. That's right folks. She friggin' loves em. I gave her one right before her bottle thinking she'd just spit it out. Then, when she was chomping on it still fifteen minutes later, Rach took it away to give Norah her bottle. Norah started screaming as if we'd ripped her fingers off. (Until she got her bottle that is.) Much to our mutual surprise, the little bugger can't get enough Spinach-Oat Yuck. So, in the end, I have a bag of these nasty, disgusting, hard, dry, never-going-to-eat-em-myself, spinach-oat-yuck biscuits that Norah can't seem to get enough of. She's eating one now for lunch. And who knows, she might get another one for desert. :)

McCain Thinks Americans are Stupid

John McCain has continued to run advertisements in which Obama is portrayed as empty hype. In these ads he consistently portrays Obama's supporters as fans and not as intelligent people hoping for change. Instead of succeeding in communicating that Obama is empty hype, he has instead resorted to attacking the intelligence and character of the Americans that support Obama. He has claimed that anyone who supports Obama is similar the the people who are concerned with the life of Britney Spears. Instead of discussing the issues, McCain sought to attack the intelligence of over half of the American Population. Then, when McCain was confronted with this, he said he was proud of it.

Obama is popular, yes. He has charisma, yes. McCain is less popular, has less charisma. Instead of accepting that he is less popular and less charismatic and trying to win an election based on the issues, McCain decided to beat up the American people. McCain should find something concrete to attack Obama on. Don't attack his supporters, don't attack his wife, don't attack his old pastors and people who talk at his old church when he's not there, attack his ideas. Talk about Obama's ideas. That's what I would like to do.

In my effort to prove that Obama is not all hype, that his supporters are not merely drawn to a celebrity, I want to offer my opinion on two things. I would do more, but frankly, I don't have time, and no one wants to read this stuff any way. The next two posts you'll see are concerning off shore drilling, and the economy. I just want to say that I agree with most of Obama's policies, and what follows are two policies and why I support Obama's position on them. Senator McCain, please stop telling me I'm stupid, and discuss the issues.

1: The Economy

1: The Economy

What do I think?
I think Barack Obama will strengthen the US Economy. John McCain will hurt it.

Why do I think that?
Did you know that for the past 8 years, 2/3 of foreign companies doing business in America have paid zero dollars in federal income tax? In spite of making over 2.5 trillion dollars, they have paid nothing in federal income taxes. Lump the foreign businesses in with the domestic businesses that pay nothing, and 25% of big businesses in America have paid zero federal income tax for over 8 years.

McCain's campaign wants to decrease the corporate income tax. (This would benefit the five largest oil companies with 3.2 billion dollars extra income, let alone every other big business in America.) A reduction in the corporate tax would be very advantageous for the big companies, but have little impact on the average american or the US Economy. Consider the Bush aministration's policies. This past administration has favored continued corporate tax cuts to the point where now, 25% of big business in America pays absolutely zero federal income tax. And as a result, our economy was briefly on the brink of catastrophe. McCain supports this tax plan, and wants to further reduce the tax on big business. In spite of the fact that 25% of the big companies in America paid no income tax, he wants to further cut income tax obligations for big business.

The Bush administration has consistently failed to reign in the business ethics of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Without going into details, let me just say that if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went under, it would mean pretty much utter catastrophe for the US economy. As a result, the US government cannot permit the insolvency of these private coprorations. Even though the two companies were bleeding financially over the past few years, it's CEOs were raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses. Then, when it became clear that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might go under, the US had to promise to cover their losses in order to stabilize the market. If the two companies went under, and they almost did, it would cost the US taxpayers 12 trillion dollars. To put it simply, the US taxpayers had to assume all the risk if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went under, while the CEOs were getting all the profits. As a result a few people reaped all the profits, while the risk behind those profits was sloughed off on the American tax payer. Privatized profits with socialized risks are a part of corrupt communist economies, not robust capitalist economies. John McCain supports these decisions by George Bush and promises to continue supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. McCain's economic policies are structured with such strong reliance on big business that will continue to result in privatized profits and socialized risks. (Big business makes all the money, and the tax payers cover the cost if something goes wrong.)

McCain advertisements routinely attack Obama's campaign claiming that Obama wants to increase taxes on the middle class. This is patently untrue. In one advertisement McCain claims that Obama wanted to increase taxes on people making $42,000 a year. That's true. He wanted single people making $42,000 a year to pay $15 more per year. However, even a single mother would have to make over $62,000 before she faced that increase. A family of four would have to make over $90,000 before facing the increase. In a spanish ad, McCain said that Obama's tax plan would increase taxes on families making more than $42,000. According to, that was simply a lie. Obama's tax plan is patenly and deliberately misprepresented in McCain's advertisements. Obama's plan will reduce taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year, and will increase taxes on those making more than that. It will also increase taxes on many of the companies that paid no income taxes last year.

If Obama succeeds in bringing that money into the Federal Budget, he can help to subsidize some of the programs he hopes to subsidize. If he succeeds in this, it will mean more money in the pockets of the average American. If the average american has more money, more money will go into the economy. More money in the economy means a stronger dollar. A stronger dollar means lower gas prices. Lower gas prices mean more money in the american pockets. The circle goes on. The problem is that the average american does not see these connections, and McCain is not only failing to discuss them, it is down right lying about the Obama tax plan.

In the end, Senator McCain's proposed tax policies are good for business. Obama's tax policies are good for the American people. McCain's economic policies are bad for the country.

2: Off Shore Drilling

2: Off Shore Drilling

What do I think?
Off shore drilling will do nothing to affect the price of gasoline at the pump. The only thing that off shore drilling will do is to increase the profits of big oil. John McCain only supports off shore drilling because his campaign is lobbied by big oil.

Why do I think this?
Did you know that the price of oil is closely connected to the price of the dollar?

The price of oil is determined by the Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). These are countries in who recognize they have a monopoly on oil, and use that monopoly to control the price of oil. Other countries that export oil do not export enough oil to compete with this monopoly. Even if the US were to produce more oil than Saudi Arabia, we would still not compete with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, UAE, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Venzuela and Ecuador put together. People will point out that a large portion of the oil in US markets is not from the middle east, which is correct. However, much of that oil is from Venezuela and Ecuador. As a result, a huge majority of the oil consumed in the US is from OPEC. And OPEC decides the price of oil.

OPEC member countries buy US Debt. Just under 6% of the US debt (154 billion dollars) is purchased by Oil Exporting Countries. As a result, the price we pay for oil is somewhat tied to the strength of the US dollar. If the dollar weakens, oil becomes more expensive because OPEC needs to cover its potential loss on US debt. If the dollar strengthens, oil becomes cheaper so that the US can produce more, and OPEC can continue to buy US debt. Because of this, the price of oil is somewhat tied to the value of the US dollar. So, if we want to control the price of oil, we have to control the value of the US Dollar. The only way to control the value of the US dollar is to strengthen the economy.

If Big Oil were permitted to begin off shore drilling, the amount of oil brought in would not be enough to compete with the production output of the 12 OPEC nations. As a result, Big Oil would sell that oil for the same price decided upon by OPEC. It would also refine some of that oil to sell at it's own pumps. As a result, Big Oil would make more profit from gasoline sold at it's pumps, and would make money from selling oil to other companies. The price of oil however would not likely decline.

The risks of off shore drilling are enormous. If something went wrong at an off shore drilling pump, it would wreak havoc on the environment the likes of which we have not yet seen. (Imagine the Valdez, only instead of one boat, it's a pump that fills hundreds of boats, and it's not just a limited amount of oil being spilled, it's a tenfold volume of oil being pumped directly into the ocean itself.) the US government would be held responsible for the clean up efforts. Big Oil would likely be responsible for fixing it's own equipment, and the US Department of Agriculture and the EPA and FEMA would have to clean it out of the ocean. In other words, Big Oil would get all the profits, and the US citizens would assume all the risk. Privatize the profits, socialize the risk. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all over again.

John McCain has been against off shore drilling for most of his political career. Now, he favors it. John McCain's campaign has also been given 1.3 million dollars by Big Oil.

I believe off shore drilling will not help the average American and is only supported by John McCain because he is partially funded by Big Oil.

Barack Obama on the other hand is opposed to off shore drilling, and wants to increase our renewable resource infrastructure. The energy plans of Obama will mean more jobs to create this infrastructure, more jobs to run this infrastructure, and a dramatically reduced dependence on foreign oil. McCain's plan will mean more money for big oil, and renewable clean energy will remain a thing for tomorrow. I am with Obama here, and it's not because he's a celebrity and I'm stupid. It's because he's right and McCain is dangerously wrong.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

One of the Reasons I Love NPR.

This little gem is just one of the many reasons I love NPR.

(And that is officially my shortest post of all time.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New Job

Well, it's official. I'm working for an hourly wage again. Yesterday was my first day behind the Deli counter at a neighborhood grocery store called Hyde Park Produce. It's not glamorous, but there's something I enjoy about working in the Deli Department. I did it one summer while I worked through college and enjoyed it. It appears as though much of it comes right back to you. I spent most of the day shouting to Karen and Carlina asking the numbers for the various meat products, but for the most part, I think I did okay. They want me back at least. I work again tonight.

I actually enjoy the hourly grunt work stuff. It's simple, it's pretty brainless, and you get to interact with people. All the while, you know you're getting paid for what you're doing. Not a lot, sure, but you're getting paid.

I have an interview on Friday at Starbucks to see if I want to work there instead. Unless they offer me a lot more money though, I think I'll stay behind the Deli counter for a while.

"Can I get you something else?"

Friday, August 01, 2008

You ain't NEVER had this much fun.

In order to make good use of the literary device of "Foreshadowing" I'm going to tease you with this picture. Later in this post, you'll see why I think this device is the world's greatest joy dispenser. That's your teaser...

On to the official update:

Rachel started her job about a month ago now, and she's been doing the 9-5 grind for that time. She was gone for training for two weeks, and I stayed home with Norah to try my hand at full-time daddying. The fall-out probably won't be clear until Norah is in her teens. Unfortunately, we didn't really understand how much it would cost to live in Chicago, so we do have a gap in our finances right now. I have applied to several places in the neighborhood looking for part-time employment as a result. You may be interested to learn that Starbucks has the easiest application, grocery stores the longest, and CVS and Borders require a 125 question personality questionnaire just to apply. I had no idea. As of today, we have not landed any part time jobs, but there's another Starbucks not far off, and a subway just down the corner. I'll keep looking.

In other news, I figured it was about time to let the world in on my new little development. I recently read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and researched a little bit into the contemporary meat industry. As a result, every time I think about eating meat, I get a little queasy and sick to my stomach. (That's redundant I know, but that's how it feels.) So, for about a month or so now, I have not eaten any meat. The change has been strangely good for me. I really enjoy the vegetarian diet, and do not miss eating meat at all. I'm still at the point where I think about eating it, and feel a little nauzeous. Now before you start thinking that I want everyone to be a vegetarian and I'm going to try to beat you up with my veggie life, don't worry. I know, it's not for everyone. At least for now, I'm a vegetarian, and so far I have enjoyed the change. That's about it. I'm not saying I'll never eat meat again, I'm just saying that right now, I've adopted a vegetarian diet. I don't know if it will stay for the rest of my life or not. We'll see. At any rate, for those of you who might be feeling badly for me because I don't eat steak any more, I've photographed some of our recent meals.

Here is cereal I recently made. Basically, I roasted oats and almonds with honey, butter and vanilla and added raisins at the end. I like to toss in Cheerios with it. This stuff is amazing. I don't know if I'm ever going to eat cereal out of the box again.

This was dinner tonight. Rach isn't vegetarian, so her side has chicken on it. The whole pizza is mozzarella, spinach, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil with salt and pepper. I made the dough from scratch too. I found I really enjoy making bread.

Roasted potatoes garnished with dill, sauteed spinach and onions and fried tofu with basmati rice. As I write that, I realize that this meal may not sound appealing, but man it was good.

Curried red lentils with carrots and beans garnished with basil and red pepper accompanied by homemade bread cakes. I wasn't crazy about this bread, but Rach liked it so... hey.

The nice thing about eating vegetarian is that it is much, much cheaper than eating meat. I've found that I can go to the grocery store, spend five bucks, and make a meal for Rach and I and have left-overs for lunch the next day. As I think you can see, I'm really enjoying the opportunity to do more cooking.

On the Norah front, she's been doing great. I'm still playing stay at home dad which means a lot of washing bottles and practicing the Hebrew alphabet while Norah naps. (Ok, and watching LOST online, because well, it's free and I'm hooked.) If you could be a fly on the wall in my apartment during the day, you'd hear a lot of "Ma Shmo." "Me Shmo" "Baba" "Beebee" and "What is that? Where are you going? The others are coming! RUUUUUN!"

As I'm sure some of you are dying to see pictures, here are a few recent images of Norah:

Here's Norah helping with the laundry. She stood in here all the way from the laundry room back to our apartment!

Here Rach, Branden, Norah and I all enjoyed a little picnic at the train station waiting for the train. (Yes, those are deviled eggs. YUM!)

Norah hanging out at the bean, trying to catch that little baby above her.

I loved these pictures, I couldn't pick which one to post so I posted both of them.

Here we are hanging out with Uncle B at the Bean in Chicago.

Ok, now on to that forshadowing I teased you with earlier. Here comes. You ain't never, and I mean NEVER, had this much fun.

The picture up top is a photo of Norah's ring game, and in case you don't believe that a ring game is easily the most exciting and fun toy a human being could ever interact with, watch this video. You've never seen me get that excited about beating a video game before... That ring thing sure has something the X-Box doesn't.