Original Radioactive Jam

Just a dollop, on a donut with SPAM® Spread* ==>==>==> We've moved!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dear Gary Brolsma / An Open Letter

at least this guy's not dead
You're my new hero. Seriously. No sarcasm, no joke: I like your style, and I was sorry to learn you'd been made uncomfortable by your "numa numa" notoriety.

When I first saw your clip I thought, wow. He's got guts. Then I realized it's not about courage; the clip simply shows your creativity, personality and style.

You seem to enjoy the creative process and its results. I don't blame you, but I can't emulate you. Like many people, I'm way too inhibited. That's why I say you're my hero, because you can do things beyond the abilities of mere mortals like me. Not literally, but that's what I "feel."

I hope you choose to keep using your powers, your creative skills. We need heroes to make us smile, to illuminate us, to rescue us from our sometimes mundane, predictable lives. Maybe one day we'll find a creative, numa numa-like spark within ourselves; maybe then we'll do something to make *you* smile.

In the meantime thanks, and keep up the good work.


Friday, May 27, 2005

60 Minutes

I feel your pain
Fifty miles in sixty minutes: welcome to my daily commute. Here's some items that make me think spending this much time getting to work is having a negative impact on my mental state.
  • Noticing a reduction in the red light duration at my off-ramp (90 seconds down to 30), and feeling Happy because of it.
  • Having this happiness squelched when I contemplate the fact that these things even register in my brain.
  • Reading a companion message mounted under a Speed Limit 45 sign: "Enforced by radar" and finding myself giving serious thought to a literal interpretation (e.g. violators and/or their vehicles getting toasted by a hidden roadside microwave source).
"Could be worse. Could be raining." -- Young Frankenstein

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stay In Touch

must resist chicken and crossroads pun
Some people insist the internet's raison d'être is to spread porn; others say the internet exists for email, chatting, shopping, etc.

If the internet's raisins were ever in doubt, we need worry no more. Our good friend Ananova relays this gem, attributed to Wired News. You really should read the article, so we'll just pique your interest with a few key words: human-poultry interaction.

Imagine how much fun we'll have if this gear becomes as ubiquitous as say, a keyboard or mouse. Goodbye email? Probably not, but it might change other aspects of how we interact with the world around us.

Hmm. Any way this concept could get twisted and/or abused? Nah. What could happen?

We were going to visit Wired ourselves to see its version of the story...but we chickened out.

In closing, perhaps someone can guess how we might take the name of a world-famous award, and use it to describe an "unexpected" instance of the aforementioned interaction.

Darth Side Part Deux.1

subliminal message leave him a tip do it now
The author of The Darth Side - Memoirs Of A Monster weblog has put together some compilations. Get yours.

Do it now. You won't be sorry I promise.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dear Non-Firefox Users


Perhaps you've noticed a certain lack of decent formatting in recent posts, specifically those with pictures. Paragraphs meant to appear below piled alongside an image, pictures stair-stepped instead of stacked, that kind of thing.

Completely my fault, and I apologize for not noticing sooner. Some time ago I made a few template changes*; everything looks fine in Firefox (my fave), but not in Internet Explorer. Since I'm still in a wish-I-had-a-Mac state, I don't know about Safari; I'd appreciate page-look feedback from any Safari-riding readers.

I think it's all better now; if not please let me know. Thanks!
* Surprisingly tricky to do away with most of the default "Profile" bits for a simple, uncluttered page top. At least I found it so, mostly because I wanted to keep the pictorial profile "link." I'm no expert but I learned a few things; if you're interested in any details let me know.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


and I quote, "a cockroach-controlled mobile robot system"
Slashdot makes us aware of a unique (hope! hope!) project involving giant hissing cockroaches and robotic hardware. Fascinating, yet revolting; I like it!

Still, I wonder if the researcher has thought this through. These cockroaches might seem relatively stupid, with brain / reasoning / thinking capacity somewhere between humans and overachiever rocks - and there's a lot of overlap across these three, if you know what I mean and I think you do - but do we really want to give them this level of enabling technology?

Doesn't this guy read books or watch movies? I'm kidding of course; truth is I'm amazed and impressed by the concept, design and implementation. Though I gotta say my favorite part is the closing line from the Slashdot article:

Debugging the project is inherently impossible.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Long Time Ago etc.

'he was unarmed' - you can say that again
Capsule review: Star Wars Episode III is a great movie.

I think it’d seem a great film to anyone. Anyone that is, who hasn’t seen Episodes IV, V, and VI. Yeah. Not me.

III is a good movie, with much to like: lightsaber duels – I don’t recall seeing such well-defined ‘saber tips, is that a new effect? – space- and land-based battles, a planet full of enormous, hairy bipedal canine-like creatures wearing bandoliers, and only a couple brief shots of a certain tall, stupid-looking, pink floppy-eared CG lamer.

For me, all these likable elements didn’t carry the film as a whole. III’s story consists of and depends on several threads of conflict; yet all their conclusions were revealed as back-story in IV, V and VI.

In essence we saw the end of the movie first, then went back to see what led up to it. Unless a movie relies on a crucial, unexpected end-twist (think Sixth Sense), a known outcome isn’t a big problem. If a movie tells an engaging story with appropriate detail, I’ll enjoy the whole thing even knowing how it ends. An example is Jackson’s LOTR trilogy.

If I’d seen say, the last Rings film first, I’d know the end. Or at least the parts of the end Jackson chose to include. But that’s another rant and – predictably – I digress. With LOTR, watching (or reading) The Return of the King takes almost nothing away from The Fellowship of the Ring. The stories are so big, so involved and well written, each one amazes and entertains irrespective of the others.

Maybe it’s an issue of scope; maybe Star Wars was too small for Mr. Lucas to pull off the end-first trick. Or maybe I saw this film with a kind of tunnel vision, only interested in a too-small part of the story. Maybe I should try to think of some other word to use besides ‘maybe.’

Maybe not.

Seriously though, as I write this I realize all I cared about was Darth Vader’s story. I wanted III to tell me how he went from edgy Jedi to The Man In Black. III does a good job at telling how ol’ yellow eyes – the Emperor – got what he wanted. Then there’s the Jedi thread – remember how there was a well-stocked Jedi Council in I and II, but pretty much just Obi-Wan (and Yoda) in IV? Spoiler alert (not): something Bad happens to the Jedi somewhere between II and IV. III tells me, “They were blindsided!” Okay…that’s the “what” part. Why? How? IMO cheeseburgerbrown does a better job explaining this than Episode III. Ouch.

I think the movie tries to tell the story of Anakin’s metamorphosis. I won’t go into spoiler-type details here; if you’re interested in my perception of its attempt, let me know. To me, the film portrayed Anakin as a shallow, almost stupid character. Watching III I wanted, needed strong feelings for him one way or the other, but found none.

Item of note: Moviegoers cheered and applauded when the Star Wars graphic first appeared, and again at the movie's end. One round was strong, the other tepid. Matching the events and responses is left as an exercise to the reader. If you're not sure which goes where, re-read this post; I'd say I wasn't the only one un-wowed.

At my core I’m an optimist. Either that or an optometrist, I forget which. Where was I? Right – optimism. So despite my current disappointment with Episode III I’ll be okay, ‘cause for an optimist there’s always (you're an optometrist so you saw this coming, right?) a new hope.

Dubious Distinction Pt. One

wokka wokka wokka ad nauseum
Namco's PacMan arcade game turns 25 this year. PacMan was my only true arcade game love. Here the word "love" means of course "addiction".

I've tried other games; usually they had too many knobs and buttons for my eye coordination challenged hands, the notable exceptions being Whac-A-Mole and one other game with a mallet and sliding croc or gator heads that said stuff like "Ow", "Now I'm angry" - midgame taunt - and "You're pretty good" at game's end, unless you sucked. Can't remember what it said in that case, but - as usual - I digress.

PacMan was simple, yet tricky: one control, no buttons, and something like nine different levels or mazes. Game's challenge came from faster ghosts with shorter regen times, and (I think) less navigable mazes as one moved through the levels.

I got pretty good. Posted respectable scores of a hundred thousand plus points, but I couldn't get much farther than - well, I've forgotten the details; basically I hit a wall. Then one day I saw a newspaper article about a guy in Pennsylvania who'd figured out how to get through the hardest levels. He claimed scores exceeding 2,000,000 points. I was in a word, impressed.

So I wrote to him and asked if he'd share his secrets. Here the word "wrote" means "wrote," as in pen, paper, envelope and stamp. Yes indeedy boys and girls, this was pre-email. In fact it was pre-internet, pre-Windows, pre-PC...but again, I digress.

He wrote back. Woohoo! Hand-drawn mazes and tips for getting past my wall. Thus came the day when I set my personal best PacMan score, a million two hundred thousand-something. I could have kept going but it took 45 minutes to pass the million mark, and I decided I had enough for one game, so I walked away.

And never went back. End of addiction, end of obsession. Weird, eh?

That's me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


needs more syllables
Did something Right at work today. I had a demo-ready version of our current software project done in time for a weekly visit from our customer. The program manager was glad to be able to demonstrate our progress on a target system, and the group of customers seemed pleased as well.

Later I learned one of the customer-side managers offered our PM a suggestion to improve productivity: maybe everyone should start wearing two different-colored shoes to work.

Steppin' outside the box.

Ready To Move On?

honey have you seen my lightsaber anywhere
Haven't yet seen Star Wars III. Soon; probably this weekend my wife and I will try to help poor Mr. Lucas get right-side up on all those loans he must have accumulated. In the meantime I find myself thinking I'm already Over It, even if it's a great movie.

Saturation leads to desensitization. Desensitization leads to indifference. Indifference leads to...never mind. Yoda's riff - fear, anger, hate, all that - better, his was.

All that plus according to an item on Slashdot, one so inclined can already find 'Sith' online. The tiny part of me not wholly turned to the dark side of disillusionment is surprised it took so long.

What's that, you say? Cynical? Moi?

But of course. I find cynicism acts like a mental flu shot, and protects me from disillusionment and similar communicable ailments. YMMV.

Trouble In Paradise?

three if by email
The internet - whatever that is - has always seemed like a fluid, fast-paced thing. Place. Whatever. Sites come and go; previously working links "die." Aside: were dead links once alive? Never mind.

Years ago I learned of a micronation located within Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1979 some kid decided to secede from the US, and started his own country. I poked around the site for a while, amused by this person's creativity. Imaginative, detailed and cool, I thought; I bookmarked it and moved on. Have I mentioned I'm a geek at heart?

Some time after I first visited Talossa, the kingdom expanded; people could and did join as citizens. All kinds of elaborate Stuff came into existence. I still felt disinclined to apply, but kept the 'mark.

So this morning I checked to see if the kingdom still existed. The short answer is yes, though a rift seems to have developed. Would that be a revolutionary or civil war? Guess I need to create another bookmark, then try and sort out what happened there.

Maybe Demosthenes could help them resolve their differences.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dear Dead Friends / An Open Letter

late again
How many years since you left the land of the living? At least five for Rockie, could be ten or twelve for Bill. Much has happened during this time, but some things haven't changed. There's still no cure for AIDS, and little understanding for people afflicted with it (or at risk).

In so many ways, I was an idiot. Insensitive? Maybe just clueless. We were friends; I cared about you...but found it too easy to stay out of contact. No doubt you felt little if any sense of loss, not hearing from me. Despite the distance between us - some emotional, most physical - I was still taken by surprise.

Bill, you were already dead when I finally called to say hello; I didn't even know you were leaving. Nothing I could have done either way, I guess. While I wished I had called a year or two earlier, I grieved for those close to you. I was just an out-of-touch friend from long ago.

Rockie - I still don't know anyone quite like you, and I really miss talking with you. Recently I listened to an entire opera on CD, Massenet's Thais, first time for me. You'd have made some wisecrack - here I'm thinking, "About time, buddy" or "I suppose you want an award," - and then you'd tell me things I needed to hear.

Hoping you get a chance to do so, someday. Until then I'll do my best, try to not be an idiot, take care of what's been entrusted to me.

And sometimes, deeply miss the two of you.

God knows...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Darth Side Part Deux

Can't decide if sites like this one are a kind of tribute, or more like remoras...

"Not that there's anything wrong with that." Some of my best friends are virtual remoras. And most of them would say I'm one, too.

Truly, I mean no disrespect. I'm leaning more toward the "tribute" answer.

Yes. Having now actually read several of the items, I'd say tribute. Nicely done, too.

The end.

Someone with talent - how unusual

Stumbled across this Journal Of Darth Vader; actual title is The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster. Far and away some of the most entertaining writing I've seen in a long time. Author's entries are great, "dialogs" within reader comments are funny, too.

My current favorite quote comes from Haste Makes Waste, where Vader shares this thought following a ponderous monologue from his master the Emperor:
"Man, that guy loves the sound of his own voice! Luckily no one can see me roll my eyes behind this masque."

For more from the Darth Side author, start here. Thanks for the nice work, mon.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Thin Air

Working a couple weeks in Utah for a certain unnamed former employer (they're like, shy, okay? Leave 'em alone), I decided to do a little weekend mountain climbing. I had two criteria: day trip, and high altitude. One of the tallest in the area proved to be Wheeler Peak in eastern Nevada - 13,063 feet.

I know we're not talking Everest, or even half-Everest. But I've lived in Florida for decades, where anything taller than the local Mt. Trashmore qualifies as impressive. The guidebook said the Wheeler Peak summit trail was rated "difficult." The trail started at 10,000 feet, covered five miles, took six to eight hours to complete. The last stretch before the summit was "brutal." So of course the Idiot inside my head said "Yeah! That's the one we want!"

At 13,000 ft. I wouldn't need oxygen, but I'd likely notice a difference from say, Florida - roughly 20 ft below sea level - or even central Utah at ~4500 ft. Anyway - bla bla-bla bla bla - here's a view from the top.

@13,063 feet. I'm looking north, so you're looking south. I think. I might have been a little light-headed, in addition to the self-inflicted absence of hair.

Profile Photo, Take 1

Red & purple go with almost anything.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Evangelism Through Graffiti?

I don't think so, even if the writer/artist has permission. But say we accept using graffiti to "reach" people. Somehow I don't think scrawling religious catch-phrases in public restroom toilet stalls gets the job done, no pun intended.

Maybe the writer meant it more as a testimony, a kind of Here's What I Believe.


Sorry, answer's still no.

WWJD, indeed.


Not exactly a surprise, but -

Quick-checking Yahoo's "In The News" shortlist of headlines this morning, two items caught my (admittedly shortlived) attention. Since these articles get relocated, I'm not "linking" them; if you're interested in their content you can of course look 'em up.

Where was I? Oh yeah, article titles. These two:
New nuclear battery lasts 12 years
Esquire slowly revealing 'sexiest woman alive'

Which of these two do you suppose would be more interesting to a "typical" heterosexual male? The second one seems the obvious choice. But what happens if said male is also an engineer, whose browser history is dominated by sites like slashdot.org and thinkgeek.com?

Yeah. The battery, with almost no mental debate. And I don't have an overloud car-stereo to blame, either. Curses!

Believe it or not, my wife might feel somewhat ambivalent when I tell her about this...

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Near-reality, anyway. Mine is similar to this one, only
  • Uglier, and
  • Older
Here the word 'older' means more than seventeen years since the dealer shook somebody's hand. I had to "park" the off-road tires for a set more appropriate for commuting. Still - I can't complain.

Obviously that's not true. But I could complain more (I know can you believe it?) and have more problems. So, I'd rather fly but this will do in the meantime.

Return to the Gallery

What I Need

Oh to be "green" and freed from dependence on fossil fuels. This is an example of biodiesel. Though I'm predictably excited about the prospect of ladling old french-fries grease into some kind of clarifier on a regular basis, I'm still maintaining a guarded Wait And See attitude. As in Wait until you-know-where freezes over, and See how mainstream these people look Not.

Seriously though, if I could afford the entry fee I'd not hesitate to make the switch. I like french fries, don't you? And so far no activist groups have surfaced to defend the much-maligned french fry, so there's still time to jump on the old bandwagon. Just be careful you don't slip on the grease.

Return to the Gallery

Snakebit / The Edge Of Madness

This thing really does exist; it's called a Tomahawk. A quote from the official website: "Tomahawk is enough to make a stuntman want his mommy."

My mind translates this warning into "oh momma how I want one of these."

Here's the math:
X engineers + 1 engine (say, from a Dodge Viper) + special "motorcycle" frame = Y.

Perhaps you're thinking it should be "Why?!" rather than Y (if you're an engineer, I bet not).

0-60 mph: 2.5 seconds
Top Speed: 300+ mph

That would be the "why." I saw an article in an engineering design mag for this "project" several years ago. As I remember it, the story quoted a designer offering a theoretical top speed along the lines of >500 mph, though no one was suggesting that would happen.

I would ride one of these in a heartbeat. Coincidentally, that's probably about how long I'd last trying to keep this beast under control. Still - imagine the envious, approving stares while you're stopped at that red light. The light turns green, you wrench the throttle and watch your torso (and the bike of course) blast off for the next intersection. Then your newly separated head hits the pavement.

Maybe we'll wait for the production version.

Return to the Gallery

The One I Want

Yep. If I had the $50,000 to cover the price of admission, I'd be on this ride every single day, and without question I would truly enjoy the daily commute. Forget high-speed rail and carpooling (and social responsibility I suppose). Say these words out loud: "I am cleared for takeoff." So long, ground-bound!

Return to the Gallery

Way-Loud Car Tunes, Impotence Linked

Grad student research uncovers all kinds of interesting stuff. Case in point: an apparent link between frequent exposure to bone-rattling, high volume car stereos and impotence in young and middle-aged males. Yet another cause for impotence, just what we need.

You: What is "sarcasm?" Alex: Correct.

What does this mean? Simply put, that guy down the street with the ultra-expensive, megawatt system jammed into the trunk of his Honda? One day - long before he's old and decrepit - he's going to start experiencing "sexual dysfunction." As in, Can't Get It Up. And the research isn't encouraging about things getting better, either. Not good, dude!

I wasn't able to get much detail; it's currently unpublished. Something about certain energetic frequencies, resonance and gradual, possibly irreversible deterioration of male sex glands.

So you might want to turn that down some, dude, before your gonads do a slow fade and leave you hanging...limp.

Good luck with that, eh.

Light Joke

Q: How many attention-deficit people does it take to change a light bulb?
(answer in 1st comment)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I'll Wait for the eBay Knock-offs

According to an AP story seen on Yahoo! Bonhams auction house in London plans to sell some abstract paintings created by Congo, a contemporary of Pablo Picasso. Per the article, "Three tempera on paper works - brightly colored compositions of bold brushstrokes - will be featured" in a sale of "Modern and Contemporary Art" scheduled for June 20th.

I've seen this Congo's stuff; she created something like 400 paintings in the late 1950s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, critics - we know how they are - were unimpressed. While she's no Picasso, Congo is without question an artist.

She's also a chimpanzee. And for all anyone knows, she might still be alive. Or not. When asked if Congo was still alive, a Bonhams spokeswoman said it was not immediately known. Whatever that means.

Not sure how Yahoo files its photos, but you might find a sample of Congo's work here. Hmm, wonder why Congo paintings are "untitled?" Probably just some miscommunication. Either that, or no one at Bonhams wants to admit all the paintings were titled "Hoo-hoo-hoo! Ahh! Ahh!" by the artist herself.

If you can't find a copy to view, don't despair. No doubt someone will buy the three paintings at auction ("I got 'em for chimp - I mean chump - change!"). You'll find hundreds of the same three - all original of course - available on eBay shortly thereafter, if not before. And don't feel bad about paying good money for something like this; Picasso himself supposedly owned a Congo. Painting. At least that's what some say.


If you read the AP story (on Yahoo) you'll notice it has Congo as a male; not so, according to backspace.org. But I digress.

One more thing. If you're skeptical about Congo's status as a bona-fide artist, consider these words from the AP story:
"Congo quickly learned how to handle a brush and pencils, instead of knocking them over or trying to eat them. He painted within the boundaries of the sheet of paper and never allowed the paint to spill over the edge. He also appeared to know when he had finished a painting: He refused to pick up his brush or pencil over the work."

Like me, you probably know at least two or three so-called artists who can't make these claims, especially the part about not eating pencils. And brushes. So laugh if you want; I've got other plans. I have to find the name of an attorney-friend. I see a clear case of artist exploitation in the making here. Anybody have a chimp that (1) looks around 50 years old, and (2) generally avoids eating paint brushes? I'll consider human stand-ins, if the arms look long enough...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Ones With Chocolate, Mostly

Famous hero Superman and I have much in common. For example, we have similar vulnerabilities and strengths. Superman's main weakness is of course Kryptonite; mine - I admit it - is Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Burst Of Old News

This just in, from space.com: BREAKING NEWS: Creation of Black Hole Detected Today
Astronomers have photographed an amazing cosmic event -- the birth of a black hole. Wowie! Two neutron stars come together, and the result is a burst of gamma rays followed by a brief Pop! in the visible.

Uh, and a black hole. Can't forget that. Can't see it, of course, but that's another story.

We might expect this newborn black hole to be given some kind of stately cosmic name, or maybe something cute; I was thinking "Goober." Seems I have little or no imagination for these things, in light of the actual name chosen by our ever-clever scientific community:


Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Heh-heh. Those crazy, fun-loving scientists!

G00ber, definitely.

Before you go hunting for that intergalactic congratulations card and gift set, hang on. The article also says the "merger" (can we start drawing industry parallels now?) actually happened some time back. How long, you say? Try "2.2 billion years."

So I guess lil' G00ber is like, a black hole teenager by now. Wonder if it hangs with that Goth crowd, two galaxies over...

Holter and I, or Holter and me?

Leaving a local Subway Shop this afternoon wearing my newly attached pulse monitor, I notice two high school girls arriving for off-campus lunch. Just before we pass, the right-side one lets fly a guy-class belch. Not bad, I think, especially when she offered no apology to me or her friend, not even an "oops" or a sideways glance.

Reassures me that I am indeed invisible.

I gave her points for the public setting, volume and clarity. Points left unawarded for her too-cool demeanor: she could have at least offered a self-satisfied smile.

3.9 out of 5.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


From the mind-boggling numbers dept.
You might have some idea how long a tankful of gas typicallys lasts in your vehicle, and/or how many gallons your tank holds. And you might know how many gallons of gas come from the infamous "barrel" of oil; it's just under 20.

Given this knowledge, how long do you think a billion barrels of oil would fuel the US? According to one estimate ... about 45 days.

me want to pull over, shut off the car and think for a while.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Leave Mine Stupid, Thanks

Computerized grocery carts? Something smells fishy, and it's not the halibut.

From IBM comes the "shopping buddy," a touch screen thingie for shopping carts. I liked OS/2, but this gives me bad vibes, not so unusual with the shopping carts around this area.

According to an AP article, IBM exec Ken Lawler says, "It helps save you time, and it helps save you money. It's all about making it easy for you." These babies have something like a mini gps for in-store navigation and locating stuff down aisle Whatever.

Well, then? Sign me up!

Wait a minute...I liked OS/2, but some people think IBM totally botched its development, marketing and release. Here's another description of the smart cart concept from the same AP article: "The whole model is driven by advertisers' need to get in front of consumers."

I'm thinking, get thee behind me.

Dibs On The Crow's Nest

An AP article I noticed on May 3 - might still be here - says we might see working solar sails within ten years. Of course the shortsighted, overly cautious planners expect the first missions to be payload-only, bound for inner planets.

If they change their minds and send something decent in the other direction, count me in.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


First time I took the Nerd Test I scored an 81, which qualified me as High-Nerd. I was okay with that. Being bored, I retook the test and found the same set of questions. When I provided slightly more honest answers to a few of them* my score went up to the currently-posted 90.

Being a basically honest person and less disappointed with the higher score (how sad is that, eh), I updated the post. The end.

*Examples: Friday night changed from A good book to Bed by 10PM, Sit in class from middle to front (true for college), number of good friends reduced from fantasy to reality. That kind of stuff.


This past weekend I saw and heard an older couple - 50s? 60s? - in a parking lot, "discussing" the woman's apparently missing hat. He goes, "I don't keep track of your f***in' hat. You go look for it." I was like, fifty feet away from them and heard him loud and clear.

This is just wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. The most obvious - he shows inexcusable disrespect and verbally abuses her, in public no less.

Do people naturally behave like this, at a level far below savage? Or is it a learned behavior? Right - coming soon to an educational outlet near you: advanced degrees for sociopaths.

I remember seeing ads for Barbizon. For some reason their one-liner, "Be a model...or, just look like one!" stuck in my brain, and finds its way to the surface every now and then.

So here's one for foul-mouthed old-man wannabes:
Be an abusive jerk...or, just sound like one!

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Remember the story of - or at least the name - Doubting Thomas? One of The Twelve, a disciple who followed Christ some years ago.

Thomas happened to be elsewhere when Christ first appeared to a group of disciples after his (Christ's) resurrection. When Thomas returned, he found his previously downcast friends full of joy and excitement: Christ lives, they said. He was here, in this very room!

The bible reports Thomas' response, something along the lines of "I'll believe it when I see it with my own eyes." For this Thomas earned a name change, thereafter known as "Big D" Thomas. And it's not Dallas, or Divorced, or even disciple, is it.

I wonder though if he shouldn't be remembered not as Doubting, but as Devastated Thomas. His immediate reaction - his disbelief at the word of Christ's appearance - was an expression of doubt, a lack of faith, no question. But why? What caused his doubt? Was Thomas like, a precursor to the modern-day stereotypical Missourian (state motto: Show Me)? I wonder.

During their years together all the disciples developed incredibly deep spiritual and emotional bonds with Jesus; Thomas was no exception. Just a few days before this miraculous Appearance, their leader - their Messiah - went from popular to arrested to dead in a matter of hours. All those plans, dreams, goals? Gone. Crushed, dead, buried. And now the other disciples say He's back?

Think "emotional rollercoaster," for starters. Think of seeing your dearest friend killed, having your life's one true hope destroyed with his death. Now spend a few days in shock, while you try to avoid beign spotted by ever-present civil authorities intent on finding you. That grieving process? It'll have to wait, sorry, you're kind of busy right now trying to literally stay alive.

So you finally make it back to the safe house; you lost the zealots hunting you, but it wasn't easy. In you go, up the stairs, open the door, and - well. You thought you were in shock before this point.

What are you feeling as you opened the door? Doubt? Not likely. You feel empty: recently terrified, drained, exhausted. "Devastated" seems like a reasonable summary of your All-Negative Feelings Ensemble. Okay, so you enter the room and notice your friends don't look like you feel. They explain why, and - well. That was nothing; this is shock.

Seems like one of two things will hold sway in a believer's mind at this point: faith, or feelings. For Thomas, apparently it wasn't faith. Instead of accepting these eyewitness accounts, he stayed in self-protect mode. He said No! I will not "believe." This hurts too much. I cannot deny this pain inside; this pain is real. He was here, in this room? And I missed him. Why did he not stay? You don't know. When will he return? You don't know when, or even if. Fine. If he does come back and I see him, then I'll believe. Until then - no. He died, he's dead, it's over.

Did the others protest, try to convince Thomas? Unknown. I imagine Thomas mentally hunkering down, choosing his present, familiar pain over having his hopes renewed and (most likely) crushed again. Eight days later, Jesus returns. Thomas sees and believes, and endures a rebuke for not accepting the testimony of the other disciples (in a word, "doubting").

Does devastation "excuse" one's lack of faith? Answering this question is left as an exercise to the reader. But wait, there's more:

Was Thomas the first to need resurrection-faith? In other words, was he the first person asked to accept the resurrection without having seen Jesus with his own eyes? That's what's expected of us, you know. Bonus question(s): if it wasn't Thomas, who was the first? If it was Thomas, who was next?

In light of the relationship between redemption and faith, can anyone from Missouri (spiritually speaking) be saved?

In light of Christ's words to Thomas (John 20:29), can anyone from Missouri (again, spiritually speaking) be blessed?

Disclaimer: despite appearances to the contrary, the author means no disrespect to Missouri and/or Missourians, living or dead (don't say it) .