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Belief and behavior (3) Fri, Jul 30, 2010
I once heard someone say, "We communicate our values."  Another person put it this way:  "We act out our beliefs."  Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv, told this story in one of his sermons
What you believe determines how you behave ... For example, one time, when my oldest son Sam came running in, throwing up into his hands ... *blechghchgh* and he said, "Daddy, Bookie is eating his poop!"  So I ran past Sam who was throwing up in his hands and ran into the room where there was little Bookie, my second son, with dark stuff all over him.  And I threw up, not in my hands.  It was like, violent, vomiting.  It went well beyond my hands.  It went everywhere.  So Sam's in throw-up, I'm in throw-up, and so we did the only thing we could do, which was call for Mom ... She came busting in, by all the throw-up, and there was Bookie with the dark stuff.  And she just went up to him and wiped off the smudged Oreo cookie which was on his face.  Wasn't poop; it was Oreo cookie.  But we believed it was poop, and so it affected us as if it were poop.
That's probably the best sermon I've ever heard.  And he makes an excellent point. #psychology

One wrong word (4) Fri, Jul 30, 2010
I've noticed that most people have a tendency to regularly pronounce at least one word completely wrong.  And not because they have an accent or a speech impediment or a lack of education, but simply because something went wrong in their speech development to cause them to fumble over just that one simple word.  For example, I have a friend who pronounces the word "awkward" as "ock-ward," except with a huge emphasis on the "ock" part.  One might say he pronounces it "awkwardly."  The pastor of my church, besides using the annoying yet dictionary-approved pronunciation of "mature" as "ma-tyoor" (I say "ma-choor," and what I say is always right), pronounces the word "ordinary" as "awww-dinary," which comes out in sentences like, "The love of man is awww-dinary, while the love of God is extra-awww-dinary."  One might say his unusual pronunciation is a little out of the "ordinary."  I knew a girl in high school who pronounced "frustrated" without the first R, making it "fustrated."  One might say it was a little "frustrating" to hear.  Finally, my aunt says "goff" instead of "golf," which is something I absolutely can't figure out how to include in a pun. #language

TX & NM Thu, Jul 29, 2010
This past weekend+ was spent visiting my sister in southwest Texas and sightseeing in New Mexico.  El Paso is close enough to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to pay a visit.  The cave part was pretty cool, but the other attraction -- the 400,000 bats that emerge each night -- didn't happen because of the rain.  The next day we drove up to Albuquerque and stopped at White Sands National Monument and Three Rivers Petroglyph Site on the way.  After spending a day in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, we flew home.  Short, but good, trip. 

Pictures: more »

Judging local weather Wed, Jul 28, 2010
When I travel to a new locale, I tend to forever judge it by the weather I experience while there.  I visited my sister in San Francisco one summer, and it was cold and rainy.  Since then I've always assumed the myths about the wonderful weather of northern California to be completely false.  Another summer I visited a different sister in Seattle, and it happened to be during a week of warm, dry, perfect weather.  As much as I know I'm wrong, I assume the Pacific northwest to be sunny and dry in the summer.  I just got back from a trip to west Texas and New Mexico, where it was cool and rainy.  Apparently, deserts aren't that dry, and now I'm doomed to think that forever, or until I visit again, which won't be soon because if I wanted cold rain, I wouldn't leave New Jersey. #science

Casual wedding guests Thu, Jul 22, 2010
I feel like every wedding I go to (which is three per year for the past four years), there's at least one guy who doesn't wear a tie.  And I applaud this guy.  Weddings are widely recognized as formal occasions (except my own wedding, which was casual -- my uncle wore shorts; I'm still happy about that), and the International Code of Attire for Formal Occasions dictates that guys must wear a collared shirt, a tie, dress pants, and non-sneakers.  A jacket is recommended but not required.  But there's always that one guy, usually a second cousin or a friend of a friend of a friend, who has some tattoos and facial hair, and doesn't even own a tie, let alone have a clue as to how to tie it.  This guy probably won't be the next politician or lawyer, but hey he could work for Apple. #lifestyle

Hotel power outlets Thu, Jul 22, 2010
I stayed in a Hampton Inn the other night that seemed to be hell bent on preventing me from using the electricity I was paying for.  I had to charge my phone, so I looked for an outlet near the desk.  No deal.  I looked for an outlet near the TV.  No deal.  I looked for an outlet near the bedside table.  No deal.  There was a clock radio on the bedside table, and this device was powered by electricity that came from the wall.  I followed the plug to the wall, moving the mattress in the process, only to discover that the plug was wedged between the wall and the metal bed frame.  It was 7 am, so I wasn't sufficiently warmed up to be doing any heavy lifting.  I finally settled on the outlet in the bathroom, despite the fact that water and electronics don't typically play nice.  This hotel stay was such a contrast to the Marriott Courtyard I stayed in last weekend, which had outlets everywhere I looked, and even light switches that didn't require me to bend over and fumble around underneath a lampshade.  Two conclusions:  (1) I'm picky; (2) some hotels are built to provide maximum aggravation and minimum creature comforts. #travel

Congs Tue, Jul 20, 2010
I live in Hopatcong, which is next to a town called Netcong (a friend calls them "The Congs," except she has a Jersey accent so it's more like "The Cawngs").  About an hour away is a town called Pohatcong, which is near a town called Lopatcong.  They're all named after Native American words for things, so apparently "cong" was something important, like "chicken" or "beer." #travel

Wedding week Mon, Jul 19, 2010
I just attended three weddings in seven days.  One was on Sunday in Pennsylvania, one was on Friday in New Jersey, and one was on Saturday in Virginia.  All three weddings took place outdoors, and all three outdoor weddings enjoyed beautiful (albeit stiflingly hot) weather.  All three weddings had M&Ms as favors.  Two weddings took place on upscale farms.  Two weddings were officiated by female pastors.  Two weddings had both sets of parents still married.  Only one of the weddings had good wedding cake. #lifestyle

Maple syrup urine disease Mon, Jul 19, 2010
Maple syrup urine disease sounds like something good, but it's really not.  It's a condition mostly affecting infants where the body fails to break down certain types of food chemicals, causing the byproducts to be released through the urine, which tends to have a sweet odor, similar to maple syrup.  Weird.  Recommended treatment:  Asparagus.  Kidding! #health

Mauch Chunk Mon, Jul 19, 2010
Mauch Chunk is the former name of a town in Pennsylvania derived from the Native American term for "bear mountain."  The town bought the remains of famous Native American Jim Thorpe and renamed their town after him to attract attention and tourism, even though Jim Thorpe the person never set foot in the town.  The reason I bring this up is because I drove through the town recently and noticed that "Mauch Chunk" is probably the most unappealing name for anything I've ever heard in my entire life.  It sounds like a bodily secretion or a chemical additive.  No wonder they changed their name. #travel

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