Monday, June 25, 2007

How normal am I?

According to this thing, I'm pretty bizarre.

You Are 30% Normal

You sure do march to your own beat...
But you're so weird, people wonder if it's a beat at all
You think on a totally different wavelength
And it's often a chore to get people to understand you

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's the end of the 2004

I woke up this morning because I had to, not because I was feeling rested. I was somewhat dazed. I checked the news fast like I always do and for some reason thought that the year was 2004. I had read an article about Mayor Bloomberg of New York leaving the Republican party that he switched to in 2001 to win the mayoral election and how he was now leaving the GOP to be an independent. I thought, "Huh, after only three years, weird. To run for president, he didn't even have to announce that until 2007" I went about my morning still half asleep. In the shower I thought to myself, "Wow, 2007 seems so far away. The elections will be gearing up." That's when I stopped myself and tried to figure out what year it really was. Yes, as you all know, it is 2007 right now. I'm groggy, but I'm usually not that groggy.

"It's the end of the world." That's what Kathy says when you leave the country. So it's my end of world time now. I'm leaving the country. My flight out of SLC is at 7:15 in the A.M. No, I am not happy about this. But once I'm in Portugal, I don't think I'll really care.
So farewell my friends and family. Wish me well at this, the end of my world. Next time I blog, I'll most likely be somewhere around here. Check out my Europe blog. You never know, I might be able to convince Clark to let me go to an internet café every once in a while to post.

Shouldn't I be doing something else? Plus incriminating photos!!

Well, yes, I've got tons to do, and am I doing any of it? Nope. Shouldn't I be packing? Yes. Shouldn't I be preparing a Portuguese lesson? Of course. Shouldn't I be sleeping? Most assuredly. So what am I doing? I'm listening to This American Life and reading blogs. Shouldn't I be organizing my random effects for my trip? Oh, yeah. Shouldn't I be finding our hotels on maps? Yep.
So what is this blog about? It's about how I love to leave, but I hate getting to that point. I'm going to have tons of fun in Europe. But I wish right now that I could wave a wand and be magically ready...

Today G, K & I went to visit our old roommate Heathi. She and her husband Ephi are moving to Georgia for some more of his army training. So we went north and ate some salsa with her (salsa that was sliced by Victor). We love Heathi. She's the bomb (much like Snickers are--I'd write the "real" word, Heathi, but I'm afraid I would get into too much trouble.) Here's to hoping that she and her mom have fun traveling across the country with cute Max.

Gretchen was not "amused" by the Victor post. I was happy that she didn't pull him on me. MO-I'm glad you cheered for him. Frau Magister-Gretchen didn't respond to the Wengi dealio. I don't know if she was just playing with me. Cassidy-I agree: I love those pictures of Gretch. And I've got more... Will-If Gretchie's looking at you like that, you should keep an eye on where her right hand is. If it's in her pocket, take a step back b/c her fingers might be wrapped around a blade. Brandon-I'm definitely on the "hate" side of her blade. But I don't know if she's decided to use Victor in your favor or not. Pray for good, prepare for bad. It's safer. Myra-I'm glad you love Victor. Gretchen likes you, so I'm sure you're safe. Lydia-With Victor on your side you will always come off conqueror. Bepa-Your love holds no bounds. And yes, Victor cuts so delicately that it's scary.
P.S. I must add that Gretchen would never really use Victor against me mortally, as it were. She's told me many times that he's too sharp and smooth. She would choose something less "kind" like a fork.

As a side note, I've been thinking about cosmetic fixes lately. Not really the surgery type of fixes, but a metaphorical prettying up. I don't know how well I'm going to be able to describe this, but I'm gonna give it a go. When we see a problem, often I've noticed that we try to fix its outward appearance to cover up the deeper difficulty. Fixing the outward vision of something can often be easier, but it makes the situation worse.
Reason #1: When we make a problem pretty, it's almost as if we're making it à la mode, fashionable, acceptable, easier on the eyes.
Reason #2: We don't fix the root of the problem.
Reason #3: It becomes easier to not fix the problem, because we're lulled into this fake sense that everything's okay.
Reason #4: We're making "evil" look "pious." **I use the quotes because I'm not always talking about eternal rights and wrongs.
Reason #5: Because it's often easier to do a "quick-fix," we become lazy and complacent, unskilled in dealing with the real issues of problems.
I'm sure there are other reasons. If you can think of any, I'd love to hear them.
Maybe this entry's been a little esoteric. Sorry about that. What I mean by cosmetic fixes, for example, is like when someone is told to make sure that all of the displays are properly set up for Relief Society, all of the announcements are on the board, etc. When this is the sole focus to see if a Relief Society is running smoothly, that's a problem. There must be a focus on the Spirit and its presence in the room. We have to try our best to make sure that we are trying to grow spiritually during the meeting. But when the measuring stick of a functioning Relief Society is displays, pictures, announcements and the like, we are focusing only on the outward appearance of RS. Am I making sense? We must constantly strive for the Spirit, but we can easily have the false look of a "good" RS with a pretty display. But if we desire the Spirit to be with us, we'll be as prepared as possible as a natural consequence. But a display doesn't invite the Spirit.
That's just one arbitrary example. Do you have any?

There. I'm done rambling on about this for the night. It is most definitely past my bedtime. I'd love, love, love to hear any of your ideas or examples on the topic. In fact, I'd love, love, love it HARD CORE.

Also, I don't think Kathy's getting her just desserts in the area of incriminating pictures. i.e. she always sticks out her tongue. So here are a few photos to delight the senses:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Threats and more threats

Gretchen is nice. Don't we all know this? I mean she looks nice and all.
But here's the thing. She has a sinister side. This side is involves a friend named Victor. Victor goes against me all the time. In fact, Gretchen whips him at, and even threatens me with him.
Victor is her pocket knife. He's a 4-inch blade from Switzerland. Sometimes to annoy Gretch, I call him Vicky. It's not the smartest idea. But he's very handy. He's been used for lots of things. But it seems that most often he's being used to get me to do things. Often this knife wielding involves words like, "Don't make Victor mad, Venom." Or, "Venom, Victor isn't happy with you right now." Or even the more straightforward, "Venom, I carry a 4-inch blade." Here's a picture of Victor:

Yes, I cower. Okay, so sometimes I put up a tough front. But the truth is, I always acquiesce. I mean wouldn't you? What if she were looking at you like this?

Or this?

Wouldn't you do what she says. I think I'm living on the wild side when I just say no to her. It's my new-found braggadocio.
But don't get me wrong, Gretchen has also used this knife in my favor. She makes salsa with it. She's threatened Elder's Quorum Presidents before to make sure that we got to keep our same home teacher.
But I like Victor. Gretchen tells me that I have to.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Europe Blog

Here's the link to my blog for Europe.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Garden update and anniversaries

The garden's growing nicely. Here are some photos for you to enjoy.

I entered the MTC 7 years ago today. Yep this time 7 years ago I was done "meeting" my branch president (my friend's dad) and was headed back to my room for my first night in the MTC. That's when I met Sister Pierce and Sister Kikumori. That was a great day. I blubbered like crazy when I said goodbye to my family. Yes. I am a crier. Shocking, I know.

And at this very moment next Thursday I'll be flying over the Atlantic on my way to Portugal. In fact I'm one week and five hours from Lisbon right now. :D

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

25 loves and hates

As per Cassidy's post today, I decided to follow her admonition and am posting my 25 loves and hates.

25 Loves
1-Learning new languages
3-Baseball and Softball (You ever smelled a mitt while standing in the field waiting for the pitcher to get ready? It's like a slice of Heaven)
5-Making movies
6-News Podcasts
8-Our nightly scripture ritual as roommates
9-Teaching Portuguese
10-Talking with friends for hours on end about serious things or laughing myself sick in the process
11-The West Wing
12-Harry Potter, especially in random languages
14-Wearing a watch
15-Learning something new and then sitting around and thinking about it
17-Eating beans and rice
18-Playing the guitar, or any instrument for that matter
19-Blogging and journaling
20-Reading, especially Chaim Potok
21-Road Trips
22-Corn Nuts and pumpkin seeds on road trips (I took some with me to Brazil so that 8 weeks later I would have some while driving around the country)
23-Staying up late at night with Scottie watching documentaries and eating Otter Pops
24-Babysitting Nora
25-Having excessive amounts of gum surrounding me

25 Hates
1-Badly parked cars
4-A lack of civic dialogue
5-People who are mean and don't care that they are
6-The end of a softball game :'(
8-Reality TV
9-Snobby, pretentious democrats
10-Self-righteous republicans
11-Boys without courage to ask the right girl out
12-Girls who turn down boys b/c of their earning potential
13-Sports dynasties
14-Toby Keith's music
16-Black shirt, navy pants, white shoes--at the same time.
17-Italy's national soccer team
19-Peanut butter and chocolate together. This is nefarious, gross and wrong.
20-I second Cassidy's #12: Nancy Grace
21-The glorification of gratuitous sex, brutal violence and life-destroying drug doing in rap. (But not the genre as a whole)
22-The fact that my shaving my head would be very socially unacceptable. Don't you ever have days when you want to?
23-Not having the courage to do what I need to do, or at least the trust in myself to do it.
24-All of the bad movies that Hollywood makes: stupid, gross, vulgar, dumbed-down, thoughtless, mean, etc. movies
25-Not having a car that works

What about you guys? Cassidy's already posted, so now it's your turn. What did I forget about. Can you prove me wrong on any of these.

A great day for friends

A wonderful person is back in town. Yes, everyone, Rebekka Matheson is back in Utah. There are many reasons to like Rebekka. Anyone who's talked to her knows that her adjectives are one of her best attributes. But maybe her best attribute is her ability to tell a story. You're captivated as she's drawn you in by her astute points and funny anecdotes. Rebekka's the bomb.
I also stayed up until way too late talking the whole gamut of topics with my friend Beth that I met thru the Spanish Golden Age Theater (Chinese Golden Theater to Kathy and Gretchen). Today's been a great day for conversation, and not to great on the thesis production. Oops.
I bought three books today. All three are by Chaim Potok, probably my favorite author. I had to buy another copy of My Name is Asher Lev, as a friend of mine commandeered it. You should all own this book. I also bought The Chosen, which is so powerful it's hard to describe its beauty. Another book for you to own. In fact, I love the movie so much that I've contemplated buying it, and that's saying something from a movie snob like myself. The third book that I bought is Old Men at Midnight. I haven't read this one, but I've heard wonderful things about it. You should also read The Promise, which is the sequel to The Chosen. The Gift of Asher Lev is the sequel to Name. It is amazing, one of the few books that have ever brought tears to my eyes. Potok also wrote The Book of Lights, I am the Clay, Davita's Harp and Wanderings.
Out of all of those books you must read The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev. I committed the nice check-out girl at the bookstore to read these books like they were the Book of Mormon. And some nerds are trying to sell their free copy on Amazon.

Here's some music to check out:
My brother Scottie on purevolume.
Mason Jennings on purevolume.
More Mason songs on myspace.
Owen on purevolume.
Owen on myspace.
La Ley on purevolume for those of you who like great Spanish music.
Andy Scisco on myspace.
Andy Scisco on YouTube.
José González on myspace. He's a Swede whose parents are expatriots from Argentina who had to flee the Argentine gov't. He sings in English. Go figure. Here's his website. Check out the AU/VI link on the right side of the page. Cassidy: There's a video of him on Conan.

Monday, June 11, 2007

There are Klingons in the White House

Now who said that C-Span wasn't a barrel of laughs? I post this because I let me inner geek out today in church when I explained to Adriana that "Praxis" is the Klingon moon that exploded in the 6th movie and that Qo'noS (also known as "Kronos") is the Klingon home world.

Don't you want him for your House Rep?

And you WON'T BELIEVE THIS. Yes, that link is to the Klingon Book of Mormon. Some Mormon nerd has translated selections. Oh. My.

I'm happy because I eat Lard

Are you happy because you eat lard?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Thesis, Thesis, Thesis and the poem

My thesis has overrun my life. I didn't even know what day was today, which led me to totally dog my friend. I'm a total jerk. Did everyone else know that it was Friday. Man. I bite.
Speaking of my thesis, what else have I done today? Well, I put the West Wing on near the end of the day to keep me company. Oh, and this. And especially this, too.

The girl writing the letter is still in high school. She wrote this poem after a dance or something. I'm typing everything up just the way we got it. I'll put in the paragraph attached to the beginning of the poem:
On the back of this paper I am putting the poem that I wrote. It is so true if you think about it! I just couldn't think about anything but him that day so I put feelings onto paper. Then I gave it to him!

The Boy
He walks onto the floor,
Calls his partner down once more.
She clasps his outsretched hand.
She has always been his greatest fan.

He smiles through perfectly straight teeth,
And begins to move his feet.
He dances his graceful dance.
She tries to follow, but is stuck in a trance.

His eyes light up with each new turn
She looks up and her stomach begins to churn
The music slows and time seems to end,
He has become her best friend.

Then she ends it with:
Tell me what you think! Being able to write poems runs in the family, and I think I got a little of that talent.

So, there you go. Wow. We used to do dramatic interpretations at work. The were very moving.
Have a great day!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

As Libby's life with me draws to a close...

I've taken the time to reflect on the good times that I've had with my car.
Libby was a good car while our time together lasted...
Libby and I have traveled to Washington (state) for Anah's wedding (GASP!!!!) and a visit with the nieces and nephew, with Scottie to Sacramento, CA for Thanksgiving with Dad, Las Vegas for wild fun with Bepa, Myra and Amy and for a friend's wedding, and Laramie, Wyoming 3 times for a 5K. We've had some really good times.
I think one of the best times, and perhaps most enlightening, was when Bepa learned to drive a stick in my car.
I've decided to put a post about the things that I learned from teaching Bepa how to drive a manual transmission.

1-"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30) With proper study, things aren't as difficult to go thru. Bepa learned the principle, or theory, behind driving a stick shift and put it into practice and did well, all along trusting the things she'd learned.
2-This is related to the first lesson learned. Bepa didn't kill the car for a long time after getting behind the wheel. She was prepared and was able to face even the most difficult situations, like hills.
3-Sometimes we think everything's correct but we keep sliding back. We should reassess to see if something's wrong. Bepa was on a hill and every time she'd try to accelerate to go forward the car would slide backwards and she'd slam on the brakes. After three or four tries she stopped and reassessed, realizing that she needed to put the car into first gear to go forward. She thought that she'd done it already, but obviously hadn't. Hence the reassessment saved my tire treads in the end.
4-At times we perceive things as difficult, like I-15, even though people reassure us that it will be easy. Sometimes we make things more difficult than they are just because of our nerves or fear. I-15 is easy because you don't have to shift very much, it's mostly smooth sailing, just like being on the strait and narrow. Bepa realized this after about a minute of agony of driving on the freeway. It was only when she relaxed that she realized this was the easiest part of her driving that afternoon.
5-Sometime's we're afraid to fail in front of others, but really, no one's paying attention. Tom and I decided to take Bepa to a spot in south Provo that has good hills, straight roads and one circular road in a goofy neighborhood spot. It was perfect, save for one thing: it was her home stake. But she bit the bullet and drove there anyway. Then she realized that it didn't matter even if people saw the stake president's daughter screeching some tires. In fact it didn't even matter that Tom and I were in the car with her because we were only there to help.
6-Support from others is important. Tom and I were in the car with her to help and encourage her. But she was the one driving, we only answered questions and gave hints when she needed them. Later we called her parents who went out and stood on their front porch and watched Bepa drive by, handling the stick shift just fine. They waved as we drove by, very impressed that she was already capable of handling Libby so well.
7-But even with all of the preparation and explaining that Tom and I gave Bepa, eventually she just had to go and do, getting behind the wheel with 3 pedals under her feet and a stick at her right. It's like the armor of God in D&C 27 and Ephesians 6. What good is all of this knowledge and protection against the Adversary going to do for us if we don't try and go forward with our lives? Damnation is a stoppage of progression. Are we stopping ourselves because of fear even if we're prepared to go forward?
8-There are correct moments to change gears, but sometimes we want to change @ different times, when we feel it's right. But sometimes this means that the car has to work harder. Bepa got so good at changing gears that we'd be in 3rd at 20mph and 4th by 30mph. This meant that poor Libby was trying to get going at a really low RPM and wasn't going to well. Other times Bepa would forget to shift and we'd be in 2nd gear at 35mph or 3rd at 45mph, way too many RPMs for my car. She readjusted and shifted gears more appropriately. Libby was much happier with the situation as was I.
9-Life is fun. Learning new things can be daunting, but it's so much easier to handle while having fun.
10-Laugh. A lot. Laugh while you're having fun. Especially, look for reasons to laugh while you're having a hard time.
11-Be excited. Bepa revved the engine like you can't believe when she got behind the wheel.

Well, my friends, there you go. Teaching Bepa to drive a stick shift was a lot of fun and very educational to boot.

As a side note, Anah's wedding cake went thru a transformation the day of. She had wanted some things, but really they were terrible once produced. But in the end, Gretchen sorta changed things on the fly and the cake turned out very beautiful. Anah and Terry were obviously very happy with it. Not too sure about Kathy, however.

Oh, we lost our softball game tonight, meaning we're out of the tournament. But we had a lot of fun playing. I didn't get hurt, but I'm thinking about feigning an injury just to make G&K mad at me. They tell me now before every game, "Now, our dear Vanessa, you just play safe and don't go get yourself hurt. No diving. No sliding. No getting hurt. Just safe."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The best Dear John letter ever, bar none

I worked at the MTC Copy Center for, I don't know, 5 or so years. We saw many great Dear Johns come our way. Whole districts would come in to get them copied after an elder in their district would get a DJ. I've decided to share the best one with the whole world (or those that read this blog). I typed out the letter and have stayed true to the spelling, punctuation, iffy syntax and spotty grammar.
Here you all go. Get ready, it's AMAZING:

August 3, 2000

Dear Matt,
You seem to be doing great :) Of course who would expect anything else when you’re on the Lord’s errand?
School is going, not great, but it soon will be over and aa new semester will begin. My parents will be out here this weekend. I also had the chance to watch Tyler and Kailey last week. They are awesome!!
Matt, things are going really well for me as they are, I’m sure for you also. I cherish the memories we’ve shared. I’m grateful for the growth we did. You were in my life at a time when I needed you, thanks for your friendship and patience. I told you before that I know what I’ve wanted and, well, I’m engaged to be married in November. I decided to tell you now and spare you from the invitation saga. He’s from New Hampshire and served his mission in Argentina. I’m very happy and he treats me like his queen, I never question my importance in his life, he gives me no reason too. You will always have a special part in my heart. The Lord loves us and blesses us with what we need at various times in our lives. This will offer relief to you in knowing I won’t be waiting to date you in 2 years, you probably wouldn’t have wanted too anyway. In fact I might even have a child by the time you’re back :) Goodluck Matt. You are a wonderful person, but there was not enough space in your life for me, and there won’t ever be. Somewhere out there is an awesome girl who is being prepared for you, treat her well. Take care and do your best sharing the gospel. I’m very happy. Perhaps now you’ll understand why I was so distant before you left. Perhaps someday we (you, I and our spouses) can have a bar-b-cue or something. If you don’t mind please return my patriarchal blessing. Thank you. God bless
(We’ve never been able to decifer the name. The closest we’ve come is Treo)

"I'm grateful for the growth we did." ?????? Do you do growth?
Many, I wanna be at that BBQ!
And don't you think she's really so thoughtful for sparing the poor kid from the "invitation saga?" So altruistic.
Anyway, I have more thoughts, as we used to hash and rehash over the letter at the copy center as we laughed ourselves sick.
What are your thoughts? Any good Dear John letters you know about?

Oh, as a mere anecdote, one time an elder got a letter from a friend of his. Her name was, I kid you not, Lucy Furr.

Oh, so many stories to tell

If you haven't taken the poll yet, give it a go. Thanks! :D

My friends, Libby is dead. Yes, my dear Libby has a cracked radiator, needs a new water pump, the clutch is gone and she needs new brake pads. All told, we're looking at at least $1800. Ouch. I paid $2200 for her. I don't know if it's worth the $1800. (insert crying and blubbering) I love Libby, she's been a good car. I don't know what to do...I mean this is the car that Bepa learned to drive stick in--which was quite the spiritual lesson. Maybe I should post what I learned. I'll do that later this week. I'm getting all sentimental and sappy over my car. I heart Libby.

I had loads of fun last Friday night cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen. Really, I probably shouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did. But I put the Diane Rehm Show podcast on the iPod, and scrubbed away. The stupid thing is Steve grouted our shower without bleaching the walls, so there's mold under the grout that I can't get to. So frustrating. But it looks better.
Saturday morning I went and saw the third installment of Pirates, which was okay. I hate the first movie, liked the second, and liked the third until the laboriously long and tedious ending. Fight, fight, fight, nothing important happening, fight, fight, fight, tie up loose ends, create more loose ends, open door to obvious 4th movie. Meh, whatever.
But then on Saturday night I went to the Mason Jennings concert with MO, Lydia and her mission friend Bri. It was AWESOME. If you don't know Mason Jennings, click on the link. I love his music. You can stream some excerpts of his latest album on his website. The player's at the top. It was an hour and thirty-five minutes of bliss, I tell you what. I also got this snazzy shirt. I love his music because he's a story teller. He takes snippets of life and encapsulates them into his music, portraying the situation for what it is, without anything flowery. He's also great at orchestrating his lyrics; the music's always perfect. Props to Dan for introing me to Mason Jennings last summer on study abroad. I've now got like 174 songs. Ahhh, Mason Jennings, how I love your minstrel musings!
We made bank in honey pot notes on Sunday night. We've been writing many scandalous ones feigning that we're other people, or just faux hitting on guys on the ward with excessively sappy notes. We've gotten some doozies in return. Maybe I'll post a few later on for you to read and enjoy. I wish that I had the ones that we've sent out. They're racy ;)

AND I got to play softball tonight, AND we won so we get to keep playing in tournament. So here we go, game on Thursday. WAHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Thesis is coming along I guess. But if anyone knows the best way to transcribe a prepalatal affricate to show that there is only minimal fricative representation, I would really appreciate it. I'm having a rough go.

Oh! And Kyla (our neighbor and friend for the last 15 years since she was in high school) just had her 7th kid last week. Her name is Averi, and she's adorable.
And here she is with her sister, Hannah.

Monday, June 4, 2007

A poll

This question was brought up today by a friend of ours while we were having a party at P6. I'm just curious as to your opinions.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I was talking with my friend

And she told me about a checklist that her friend had discovered while working in DT. It was a sorta goal sheet for one of the guys. Goal number one was "Kiss Loretta." This was followed by a smiley face and a check. Goal number two was "Take Loretta on a date." This was not followed by a smiley face and a check.
Oh, those BYU students at DT. Such players...

Friday, June 1, 2007

A 5-minute photo-op leads to musing

I was going to be in bed by now, as it's 2am, but whatever. I started watching more news clips. Sometimes I think I'm addicted to news and political banter like a mid-western housewife needs her afternoon soap operas. I need my "stories" to survive, or something.

I have some questions in this entry that I'd like your help with. I know that the length is a little bit on the long side, but I'd like to know your ideas.

Anyway, I was watching the clip of President Bush today in one of those photo-op, 5- minute on-camera discussions. He was sitting next to the President of Iraq who's been visiting. (He's actually on a 3-week, lose-weight-quick trip. No. I'm serious.) Pres. Bush said something that really fascinated me more non-politically than anything, so don't worry this isn't gonna be a political rant. Hang on, I'm gonna transcribe what he said:
"Now, Mr. President, it is important that you succeed. Failure in Iraq would endanger the American citizens, because failure in Iraq would embolden the enemies of a free Iraq." Then the President continued, "We must not allow Al Qaeda to have a safe haven in Iraq. We must not retreat in the face of the unspeakable violence that they perpetuate on your citizens."

The thing that struck me when I hear our President talking was the line "Failure in Iraq would endanger the American citizens." The reason that I mused on this line for a while was because it reminded me of service. I started to think about something that Bishop Ogden once told me about his first date with Sister Ogden, which was BYU's Preference. He said that he didn't know her very well, but what he did made him respect her. He then told me that he wanted to make sure that everything he did on their date would ensure that she had a good time; he was thinking of her joy and happiness.
Then I thought of a story that G&K's dad told a couple of weekends ago about the time that he took to two oldest kids, Peter and Karl, to so-and-so widow's house "to do a random act of kindness and clean up her lawn a little." While they were out working, she came out with a broom--"I didn't know what she thought she could do with it"--and asked what the three of them thought they were doing. He replied, "Don't worry, we're just cleaning up your yard a little bit here." Well, she put down her broom and said, "Oh, okay. Thanks."
Why was I reminded of these two stories? Because they're stories of people doing things for others for the reason of doing things for others. The widow's first instinct was to suspect foul play, and was surprised when it wasn't--and that's 25 years ago in podunk Laramie, Wyoming.
We're all about the "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude. We've forgotten a lot of the helping others for the sake of their life being a little easier, or happier in the case of Bishop Ogden. Dating around here is all about "what can I get out of it" and not much anything else. We even talk about doing service so that we get that warm, fuzzy feeling.

So going back to President Bush's statement, maybe this is part of the problem in Iraq. We're telling the Iraqis and their highest official, "Look, failure is bad for us Americans. Get a move on and help us." Well, it's true, Al Qaeda having footholds all over the place is really bad for us here.
But instead we should be saying to the Iraqis, "Look, your lives will be markedly better if you push out the leaders of this sectarian violence and the perpetrators. You will be able to live in peace." These people are told to sacrifice for us, and not necessarily for them. Hmmmm. Maybe then they would begin to understand how vitally important all of this is to their own survival and joy, to say nothing of their own peace.

All of these things have me thinking tonight, "Venom, do you help people for the right reasons? Are you only looking out for Number 1? Are you even just looking to yourself first before you look to others to help them because they need help or some happiness in their lives? Maybe even just a brief respite from the difficulties of this mortal probation? Why do you serve? Do you serve? Are you a selfish nitwit?"

These are all my questions tonight. Now I'm going to try to be better. Hopefully I'll recognize people needing help and will want to help them so their life's a little easier and not whether or not it's very convenient for me.