24 August 2005

Summer update

    Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
    Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
    Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
    and I say it's all right
      The Beatles

What a difference a couple days make. Summer is back home. She looks much better, and she's adapting to the one leg. She still gets tired very quickly, but she keeps making progress. We went on a walk and she made it two houses up the street.

Acquitted, but still imprisoned

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
      Emma Lazarus

Today the Washington Post reported that fifteen Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, remain imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay even though the pentagon says they should be released. A lawyer for two of the prisoners noted that one of his clients was schackled to the floor in a windowless box.

Information about how they ended up in Guantanamo is limited, but at least some of them were in Afghanistan and Pakistan after fleeing persecution in China. Ironically, they looked to the United States as a beacon of hope. So much for that.

Particularly disturbing is that we let Chinese officials to interrogate them. One of the detainees claimed that Guantanamo personal helped the interrogator photograph him, despite his attempts to resist.

22 August 2005

Wishing for Summer

    oh these little earthquakes here we go again these little earthquakes
      Tori Amos

I'm not in much of a mood to post anything. If you've read Sharon's post, you've heard about Summer. She's our wonderful greyhound who just lost her leg, probably has cancer, and is back in the veterinary hospital because of complications from the amputation. She's is a wonderful pet, and it breaks my heart to see her like this. If you have a retired racing greyhound, keep an eye out for this. If they seem extra sensitive, it may be a sign.

I wish she was home now, but she's in really good hands. She was home for a day, and she was already hopping up steps going on walks. She wants to be home and we miss her.

10 August 2005

Doug Forrester - a doomed campaign strategy?

    Always with the negative waves Moriarty, always with the negative waves.
      Sgt. Oddball
      Kelly's Heroes

On Blanton's and Ashton's - Article. II. Section. 4., G. D. Frogsdong posted this comparison of lead stories from the campaign sites of Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester. I went to each site so see for myself. Here's what I found:

Click on each for a larger version.

Basically, Corzine's page is focusing on what he plan's to do while Forrester's page is focusing on what's wrong with Corzine. The lead-off story is particularly nasty, as Frogsdong points out. If you go to the Corzine "reading room" section and compare it to the Forrester "newsroom" you'll find a similar trend.

I remember the post election analysis of the 2000 Senate race where Hillary Clinton handily beat Rick Lazio in what was supposed to be a close race. Pundits pointed to Lazio's focus on attacking Clinton, while saying little about what he himself would do if elected. Their point was that you can't win an election simply by saying that you're not the other guy. Many have argued that this was one of the problems with Kerry's failed 2004 Presidential bid.

It looks like Forrester is getting desperate here, but the "Corzine Sucks, Vote Forrester" campaign strategy is sure to fail.

07 August 2005

It's Carnival time

    Check it out! Check it out! Check it out!

The Center of NJ Life has the Carnival this week. Check it out!

06 August 2005

What's so funny?

    I know, everybody funny, now you funny too
      George Thorogood

I just took this 3-D humor test. Check it out, it's fun. (Thanks to Jeri for the link). Here is my result:

(73% dark, 17% spontaneous, 33% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

Losing My Religion - Part II: Teach Your Children

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble.
      Benjamin Franklin

This is part of a series that begins here. The post before this one is here.

When it's just you, it's a lot easier to leave certain questions and doubts unaddressed. Sharon often asked me what I believe, in part because she wanted to understand how important church was to me. My answers were always wandering and noncommittal. It turns out, that's the way my beliefs are too. My approach to religion echoed Franklin's sentiments. I had no issues with what my religion said about how people should act. But God, Jesus his divine son, the Resurection, the Holy Spirt? Well, let's just say I had my doubts.

Surprisingly, this was not a big deal when it was just me. I could go to church and interpret what I heard and what was taught. I would listen with an intellectual ear to the analysis of a Bible passage. I discussed the intent of the author and the audience they were writing too. I would filter doctrine through my own interpretations. In short, as an adult, it was okay if I didn't buy into everything. It got harder with children.

I went to an all male Catholic high school. One thing I will always remember from religion class is the way we were taught that everything in the Bible is true. It was explained that parts of the Bible are not historically accurate, yet they always contains spiritual truth. I tried this concept on my kids, but it didn't really fly. For someone their age, it's either real or not, fact or fiction, true or false. At church, each week, my kids were being taught a version of reality that wasn't mine.

That was probably the turning point for me. It's interesting, looking back on it now. I never confronted my own doubts until my religion was being taught to my children. If I was going to be honest with them, I had to decide where I stood. However, once I did, I realized I couldn't stay where I was. With much difficulty, we decided to leave our church. The question was, how? And, what next?

This will be continued in Part III.

05 August 2005

Losing My Religion - Part I: Growing Up Episcopal

    I am an Anglican, I am P.E.
    Neither High Church, nor Low Church,
    I am Protestant and Catholic and free.
    Not a Presby, nor a Lutheran,
    Nor a Baptist, white with foam!
    I am an Anglican, just one step from Rome;
    I am an Anglican! Via Media! My Home!
      Sung to the tune of God Bless America

This is part of a series that begins here.

For those who don't know, I was born an raised Episcopalian. My family was very active in the church. We attended regularly. I went to church school each week. I was an acolyte, I was in the youth group, I even gave the sermon on Youth Sunday. While in college, I attended a small Lutheran Sunday worship group. I really liked intimate atmosphere of it, and the service is very similar to the Episcopal one. After college, I went back to my family's church, and when Sharon and I were married, it was there.

Our attendancence lapsed somewhat, until the children were born. I had always expected them to be baptized, so they were and we started attending as a family. The girls started going to church school like I did. I went back to serving as an acolyte. Being an acolyte had become very comfortable and familiar to me. The church was, as I'd been going there for for nearly twenty years.

Then I was asked and agreed to run for vestry, the governing body of the parish. Actually I was agreeing to serve on vestry as the elections are rarely contested. It was kind of surprise to be asked, and a little flattering at the time. I'd later learn that they had a lot of trouble finding people who said yes. It's a three year commitment, and managing resources and budget, difficult in any organization, is very challenging in a church.

Yet overall, I was finding it a rewarding experience. I remember when my parents were on vestry. I'd tell them about what was happenning and they'd tell me about what it was like for them. It was sort of like a coming of age for me.

I was a very active adult member of the church I grew up in. But there were issues I would need to face soon.

This is continued in Part II.

Losing My Religion - Introduction

    Another turning point
    A fork stuck in the road
    Time grabs you by the wrist
    Directs you where to go
    So make the best of this test
    And don't ask why
    It's not a question
    But a lesson learned in time
    It's something unpredictable
    But in the end is right
    I hope you had the time of your life
      Good Riddance
      by Green Day

Awhile back in a post about God in government, I alluded to some conclusions I'd come to with respect to religion. In a comment, Rob asked about this, and I promised to post about it later. It's been on my mind a lot. I began a post on this last night, but I'm realizing there is a lot I want to write. Instead of one huge post, I decided present it as a series. It is a very personal topic, so forgive me if it seems a little self indulgent.

Anyway, I've now posted Part I.

Oh yeah, time for a beer!

    Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
      Dave Barry

Looking for good beer in NJ and NYC? Have no fear, The Crooked Beat is on the case. Now I've been warned not to add this link to my blog, but I'm throwing caution to the wind. Check it out!

04 August 2005

One day on the River Line...

    I am no better and neither are you
    We are the same whatever we do
    You love me, you hate me, you loathe me, and then
    You can't figure out what bag I'm in
      Everyday People
      written by Sly Stone

Today I took the day off and the whole family went to the The Adventure Aquarium in Camden. To get there, parked in Bordentown and took the River Line. It's a nice ride, cheap, and convenient to the aquarium. We had a great day. They've added a lot to the aquarium (from what I understand - this was my first time). We like the sharks best. Then we headed back to Bordentown. The return trip back was much more interesting.

When we boarded, a nice gentlemen who also got on asked if we liked the aquarium. This was clearly his regular train home, and he told us the crowd gets on at Walter Rand station. Before we got there, he was joined by another man who got on at the next station. They talked a bit and you could see they ride together frequently. I picked up from their conversation that the second guy is a prosecutor, probably for Camden County. Then we got to Walter Rand and the man was right. Everyone got on.

It got interesting when a group of guys took the seats across the aisle from the prosecutor, and in front of us. They were having a long conversation about prison. Specifically, they were comparing and contrasting. I learned that Camden county is the worst, in their opinion. You don't want to be there. Mercer and Burlington are nicer. They'd been around. Apparently the only thing everyone talks about is women. There was also some doubt expressed as the true nature of their fellow inmates' convictions. (Their language was far more colorful.)

The good part was when they moved on from prisons and began critiquing county prosecutors. Again, Camden came out low on their list. Some things are universal, I guess. I could see the prosecutor across from them sitting Thinker-style while he worked on his laptop. He had his hand half-in front of his mouth, and I swear he was stifling a laugh. There was an interesting story of one guy's plea bargain session where he kept asking for a trial until he talked them down to "3, out in 1." In general, they had a low opinion of the prosecutors they faced.

Judges, however, faired better. In fact, they felt that, despite being a hard ass, one particular judge was fair. They were all in agreement on this. Judges, you see, are like gods. They have the power. The governor, too. Oh, and the mayor. Well, Doug Palmer, anyway.

There were other discussion topics. It was interesting to hear their take on the manslaughter conviction of wealthy CEO Jonathan Nyce for the killing of his wife. It was depressing to hear about they guy's girlfriend and kid, and the job he lost due to his felony conviction. There was also the story about shooting a neighbor's pit bull. It turns out that one bullet wasn't enough. After being shot in the chest, it kept coming because, "those dogs are tough."

So there you have it. A convicted felon telling a story about shooting a neighbor's dog while sitting next to a county prosecutor.

    And different strokes for different folks
    And so on and so on and scooby-dooby-dooby....

01 August 2005

What I did on my vacation Pt. 2

    Swimming, swimming, in a swimming hole,
    When days are hot and days are cold,
    In a swimming hole.
    Side stroke, back stroke, fancy diving too.
    Wouldn't it be great if there were nothing else to do
      Camp Song
Okay, I've realized that I never posted part two. I figured I'd add something here before I'm off on another vacation. We did do a lot of swimming. The lake was a wonderful temperature, and very inviting in the hot weather. The kids were in every day for hours.

The day we left, before heading home, we stopped at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. We figured it was a small nature park, maybe a few small animal, etc., so the admission (Adults $12, Kids $9) seemed a little steep. It turned out to be more than worth the price. The center is home to all sorts of animals indigenous to the region. For one reason or another they cannot be released back into the wild. Many were injured (especially the birds). Several were kept as illegal pets. They all live now in large naturally furnished enclosures. At each enclosure, there is lots of information about the animals, how they live, and how to protect them and their habitat. It was all very well done, well maintained, and highly recommended. The kids had a great time.

After the center, we ate lunch at a great restraint in Holderness, seated at a window overlooking the lake.

There's probably more, but I can't think of it. I really wanted to mention the nature center. It was great. If you're up there, you should go.