Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Llama Song

Ok, so my little sister turned me onto a website with some truly random songs, videos, etc. Maybe I'm getting old, because I had never visited albinoblacksheep.com , but this song about Llamas is just too funny.

More thoughts

This is actually a response to a comment on my “No More Christmas Carols” entry, but thought it deserved some space here.

“oh, and be careful what you wish for or your kids will learn that much of the history and customs of Christianity are just borrowed or co-opted from other cultures and religions.”

Not really sure what I did to warrant this comment, but to be completely honest, I’m a little hurt. Why? Well …

I’d like to think that I truly do try to examine issues from all sides (even the ones I don’t like). I do wish that my children will have a chance to examine my faith and what has been done for/by/in the name of it … all of it. There is not denying that the Christmas holiday is largely a conglomeration of customs, rituals and habits from other cultures. In fact, most historians believe Christ was probably born in March or April in the year 4 AD, not December 25, 0. The wise men didn’t arrive for at least two years after he was born. Further, the first several centuries of Christians conscripted many of the rituals of pagan or other faiths in the rituals of worship. Many of the trappings of the Catholic faith, in particular, are relics of other first and second century faiths.

The real question is, does this make any of my faith and the way I practice it less valid? Should I indeed fear that my children learn about the history and customs of the Christian church? I’ll be the first one to admit that for many people, Christmas is not about Christ. I just don’t think that all the trappings of the faith should be forcibly removed from the celebration of the holiday. Whether or not people currently celebrate the birth of Christ as part of their celebration, historically the two are intertwined. Not only do we lose some of the most beautiful, moving music and ritual by banning all Christian-themed carols, we also lose the freedom to celebrate as we choose by forcing the holiday to be a secular one.

So, I really am aware of what I’m wishing for. I resent the implication that I only want the free exchance of ideas and knowledge if it supports my own belief structure. I’m not offended by people who celebrate a non-Christian Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or any other variation of the winter holiday. I have no problem going to holiday concerts and watching kids sing about those various celebrations. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the coolest things about this nation. I just feel like it’s just as bad to force a secular holiday as to force any particular religious one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Stupid Coddled Athletes

Chad Pennington of the New York Jets told reporters yesterday that it was a “privilege” for them to be reporting on him and his fellow athletes. Please … without reporters these precious athletes would be no more than glorified high school heros. I don’t think he understands just how quickly the tide of public sentiment can turn. Just look at hockey: something like 60% of people polled recently didn’t even know that hockey was not being played this winter.

Crank in the Basement

Jason’s blog about democracy and blogging reminds me of my favorite illustration from teaching. Yes, the internet opens up the political process to many who may not have been able to fully participate before. It also opens up what I like to call Crank in the Basement. While many bloggers will fact-check and print mistakes when they are pointed out, many also will not. Young people, who are often using the internet as their only source of new information may very well be taken in by the Crank in the Basement, who uses the internet as his own personal bully pulpit for conspiracy theories, propaganda or whatever Cranks in the Basement want to write about.

Patriot Act Under Review

In 2005 parts of the Patriot Act will be up for renewal. Among them is a provision that allows the government to detain foreign citizens without due process for consorting, even unknowingly, with terrorists. Also up for renewal is the provision that allows the government to look into your library check out habits, bank accounts and other personal records to see if you’ve been up to no good.

I’ve heard the argument that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide … but that’s just not a good excuse. I have a fundamental problem with snooping without cause, because many actions or habits could be construed as suspicious. I also have a deep-seated problem with allowing people to rot in jail until the time the government sees fit to release them.

I don’t disagree with the entire Act, but certainly parts of it need to be critically reviewed now that we’re not emotionally overcharged by the 9/11 tragedy.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Adopt A Family

My company adopts about 20 families each Christmas. There is a hosted dinner and each family gets big bags of gifts from "Santa" to take home for Christmas day. Ryan and I volunteered at the dinner last night and it was a truly amazing and humbling experience. The family that we hosted all night had two little girls, 7 and 2, who were the most well mannered, sweetest kids. The family was obviously trying so hard and still not quite making it. I just wish there was more we could have done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Life in a cubicle farm:

At times hilarious, at times deeply, deeply disturbing. For the most part, I would have to say that my demotion to a cublicle has been a good thing. I enjoy the social atmosphere of our little office now that we have no walls. Since it is just the 4 people in the training room, we can play music, yell to each other and hold impromtu conversations. Of course there are the obvious downsides to life in a cubicle, like trying to hear your phone conversation over someone elses and a complete lack of privacy for the occasional personal phone call. All of that is understandable, and in my view, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

... except for your exceptionally weird cubicle neighbor. Yes, this is the man who says "Ahhhh" after each sip of water, listens only to show tunes and Frank Sinatra, and makes the kind of organic smacking noise that our beloved Maggie made when her mouth was dry. This is the man who objects to Diana Krall because she just can't sing the old music like Frank, sings loudly and off key to Christmas music, baby talks to his wife and revels in the fact that he "has always been a loner." Yes he drives me crazy.

Today I realized however, that in addition to driving me crazy he injects my day with little moments of shared silent laughter with the rest of my office mates. I have to admit, he's beginning to grow on me. While he may never be a man I choose to have an adult beverage with, it's his very quirkiness that endears him. I have to admit that I'm beginning to enjoy my strange cubible neighbor ... well at least most of the time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

No more Christmas carols

Several school districts in New Jersey have decided that Christmas carols can no longer be sung at holiday concerts. No Christmas Carols, Hanukah Songs, Kwanza songs ... but especcially no Christmas Carols. Instead, just songs about Santa and Snowmen and that special "Holiday" feeling. Why? They don't want to offend anyone. Um ... yeah. Winter breaks are because of relgious holidays. I understand not singing songs about only Christmas or only Hanukah but seriously, people need to get over themselves and stop being so freaking over sensitive. Is it going to change my life? No, not really. Does it kind of piss me off? Yep.

Holidays are hard

This whole Christmas thing is hard. Between keeping a Christmas tree drinking and trying to shop in the few awake hours we have after work I've decided that I need a vacation. Oh wait, I guess we just did that. I've had a really good time buying toys for all the little people on Ryan's side of the family (kids, not leprecauns). Insight: when Ryan and I have children I will have to monitor the time he spends playing with the kids' toys. Quote of the week ... Jenn: "You know you'll have to let the kids play with their toys." Ryan: "Not if we buy two of everything!" Yeesh.

The cold that won't go away

Is finally finally getting better. I don't remember being sick with a stupid cold for two stupid weeks when I was younger. Is it really possible that at 25 I'm already less cold-resistant? Well, at least no more hacking cough to keep me (and Ryan) awake every night.

Friday, December 03, 2004

... and I'm back

Yeah ... sorry for the long time, no write. I got out of the habit because of Hawaii and Thanksgiving. I promise to do better!

On Hawaii: Gorgeous, beautiful, wish you were there. In all seriousness, it was the most fun. We rented a 4 wheel drive vehicle that provided us too much stupid fun. The weather was beautiful, the landscape more so and the escape from reality the best. I kept trying to convince Ryan that we needed to move there. No luck, so we're back in New Jersey. Sigh.

On Thanksgiving: I miss having family around. We had a really nice Thanksgiving by committee (thanks to those who helped the clueless). Favorite quote of the weekend? "Oooh, there's a Dunkin Donuts. Can we stop?"

On Illini Basketball: Watching the ass whomping the Illini gave Wake Forest was sweet sweet relief after a season of heart wrenching football. Weber can stay.

On being sick: Ew. I'm tired of having a cold (which is another reason I haven't gotten around to writing). Ryan is also tired of my having a cold.

On life in general: Still good. Can't believe that we're coming up on our 1 year anniversary. If this is the toughest year of our marriage, we're doing just fine!!!

"Oooh, there's a Dunkin Donuts, can we stop?"
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