Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I do not celebrate Halloween.

I love chocolate. Sometimes my craving for it is enough to make me willing to crawl on my knees up Mount Everest...without oxygen! Okay, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but it is enough for me to concentrate more on home many miniature candy bars I might be able to abscond with from the communal bowl sitting in the middle of the table during a work meeting that the information being shared at the same. For example, if I were to volunteer to help clean up, I could "help" myself to a few more pieces. However, evening knowing my failing with regard to sweets, I do not celebrate Halloween--a prime opportunity for collecting copious amounts of chocolate.

As a Christian, I find it strange to be so alone in the belief that Christians have should have no part in this day. What is good and right and true about a day that was devoted to spirits? What is godly about witches and goblins and vampires? How healthy is it to make light of evil, to minimize the impact of this arm of Satan?

All those cute costumes and adorable I saying they are evil? Not at all. I am just saying that the holiday ought to be an anathema to Christians.

Easter, an arbitrary date, for Christians is a celebration of the most precious gift in this world: the willing self-sacrifice of Christ, His death bringing us eternal life. Christmas, essentially appropriated from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia and also an arbitrary time selected for less than godly reasons, is time when we celebrate the birth of Christ, the arrival of of that gift.

Yet both of these holidays have become so commercialized, achieving world-wide recognition for all the wrong reasons. The idea of presents at Christmas has become a bastardization of what the wise men did in laying down their gift. A time of reflection on Christ's sacrifice has become a time of bunnies and more chocolate.

This makes my heart weep.

Halloween is pranks and laughter and pretend. What is the harm in that? Halloween is also death and darkness and false gods. Why align yourself with that, despite all the pretty trappings around it?

Euphemisms are inherently dangerous in the distance they offer from reality. Over and over history has show man use them to accomplish terrible means. Slavery and the holocaust are but a small part of that.

Halloween is a euphemism Christians should flee.

The following history of this day is excerpted from The History Channel website:

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We have had five people announce their resignation in the past few weeks. Three in my unit. Two of them management. That means that I have been to four farewells and have two to go (one person elected to just disappear, but two others had internal farewells and company-wide farewells).

Then I had a brown bag lunch with the CEO and a two-hour mandatory benefits orientation. The latter came after a four hour mandatory company orientation that included benefits a month ago and a two-hour mandatory benefits orientation that took place just three months ago. Do they not think that I can read a piece of paper explaining my benefits? I sure have been piled down with stacks and stacks of stuff to read.

Frankly, I am benefit-ed and farewell-ed out. I must say that it is very difficult to get my work done these days.

Of course, my current fatigue might be more from working until 3:30 in the morning to produce one stellar press release and some fine editing on a spreadsheet posing as a database rather than the mind-numbing two hour meeting I endured today...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The wicked part of me is reveling in the fact that the Patriots SLAUGHTERED the Redskins today. My old boss gave me such grief over the Cowboys loss to the Patriots a couple of weeks ago.

I had pointed out to her that the Cowboys had held the lead briefly in the fourth quarter and that this was their only loss. I considered it acceptable, since no team is going to be perfect and the whole experience was a good learning one for Tony Romo.

Well, personally a 48-27 loss is FAR more respectably than a 52-7 loss, especially when the Redskins only touchdown came just before the end of the game against the Patriots 3rd-string players.

Yep...I'm feeling pretty good right now! The Cowboys are still atop their division, although the real test comes in the next few weeks when they play division teams. We need to keep the Redskins and the Giants in their proper place: behind us!

Go 'Boys!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Three days of rain brought 2.5" of rain, a nice total against the 14" deficit brought about by the current drought.

However, three days of rain was too much for the ground near the front of the house. I awoke to a flooded basement again. By the time I finished sopping up all the water, I was trembling like an Aspen leaf in the blustery fall wind.

I had some work to do, but I was so discouraged by the mess in the basement I needed to organize a bit to restore my balance. My target was my bedroom closet. I now have ten Target shopping bags of clothing, shoes, and books for Goodwill. While just about anyone else might not see the difference in my tiny closet, I have one clear shelf and visible space elsewhere. I call that a victory.

Speaking of victories, B surprised me with a bit of evening Scrabble. A pure pleasure, eh?

Well, I lost the first two games and was quite grumpy since I have lost something like 8 of the last 10 games and saw my score plummet nearly 100 points. I HATE being in the 500's. The last loss brought my score lower than hers, so I dug deep within the resources of my dwindling brain cells and managed to clobber her in the last game we played.

Right now, I am harnessing the flush of victory over closet and game board into the contract work I have left this weekend. There is this press release I have to write, and I am so far a part from the project that I am hard pressed to deliver and polished product.

Sometimes it is difficult to paint a picture in words for that which you have not seen...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I would like to be writing more than I have been. I know I have made it patently clear that I am pretty much working all the time. I am doing this because I am fairly sure the opportunities will not last long. Strike while the iron is hot, right?

I did take a few precious moments to be slaughtered by B in Scrabble this evening. She has had conquered the wireless quagmire that was weighing her down and is enjoying her laptop, knowing that she could now humiliate me while snuggled comfortably beneath the covers should she so desire.

I think it was the first time she played as I do sometimes. What I mean is that she had a wretched day. It was made all the more so because is managing some Christian women in babysitting services while the moms are in a bible study, women who cannot seem to find it within themselves to keep from complaining. [Seriously, don't you think a 3:1 ratio of child to worker is PLENTY?????]

B had a wretched day and flung herself in to annihilating me via one great word after another, including a humongous point bingo on a triple word score slot. I really had no chance of winning either game since she was in the throes of Scrabble Therapy.

I have called her many a times and begged for a game because of some wretched day of my own. While I did not much like being wiped all over the board, I did enjoy helping her find some peace through victory in one area when she was burdened in another.

Tomorrow, she will awake to find the same difficulty and will seek once more a way to solve her dilemma. But she will be able to do so having had a measure of success beneath her belt.

Rather glad I could oblige!

Monday, October 15, 2007

My very dear B is in the throws of computer hades. She got access to a free laptop, discovered her Verizon-supplied modem was actually wireless, and set out to create a wireless network in her home. [I am not going to go on and on about how much I would have LOVED using a wireless network while I was there since the corded version means being crawling under tight dark spaces to plug in and then being tied down in a rather warm kitchen. Nope. I am not going to say a word about that.]

The wee obstacle she had was that the laptop did not have a power cord. This problem was easily solved via Off to surfing in bed, right?

Wrong. My poor B has been wallowing in the muck, mired down by circular problems connecting the wireless card (external and Linksys) to the modem router (D-Link). She can get all the way to the point of entering the access key (boy, does she have that 10-digit number memorized already!) before the dreaded, and rather egregious, message pops up to say that the card cannot connect to the access point (modem router). Is it a problem with the operating system (unfortunately, she is running Windows ME)? Is it a problem with the wireless card driver (she has downloaded and then transferred the latest driver to the laptop, being fairly sure it was installed)? Could it be that Linksys (wireless card) and D-Link (modem router) simply not work together? Could it be that she (and I via long distance) is simply missing something? Could it be that the stars are not aligned?

Oh, how I wish I were there trouble-shooting for her. It is rather difficult to spend hours on the phone with tech support in India (major language barriers) with two small children. And oh, how I would like for her to be connected because it would be way, way cool for us both to be snuggled under the covers in our pajamas duking it out in on-line Scrabble!

I did gird her as best I can by bugging her to crawl back in those dark spaces to get the model number of the modem router (the model maker took a second trip). She is armed now with all her models and numbers and versions and just about anything else that she might need to brave technical support guys from both Linksys and Verizon to finally make that connection. At least my fingers are crossed that the next call or two or three will solve the problem!

Computing can be great, but the technical stuff rather stinks!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I did not work this weekend. Well, I did five loads of laundry (although I have only folded four of them) and ran the dishwasher (I'm saving the unloading for tomorrow). However, I did not do but the merest amount of contract work this weekend. Instead, I slept half the day on Saturday and watched football all of Sunday. I have been so very tired that I could barely function. I think I needed the break...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I am taking wedding photos tomorrow. Oh, how I wish I were not. They need more than I. They need experience. They need expertise. But sometimes what we need and what we have to work with are not always the same. I am serving because I was asked and because I can. I only hope for more good shots than missed ones...especially on such a happy day. Tomorrow, for just a few hours, I would like to be more than who I am. Not for me, but for another.

Is that possible?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Well, gee...I had to go to a meeting today at one of our staff's home. She did not turn on the A/C. I sat there sweltering, trembling and growing disoriented. And, yes, quite grumpy.

I stuck it out (so as not to appear unsociable) and gratefully walked outside three and a half hours later.

Only, when I got to my car, to the safest spot I could pick on the street, I found the driver side of my car smashed.

Oh, how my life is complicated.

Today, was not, absolutely not my day.

How did B help me through the stress and strain? She beat me at Scrabble. Then I beat her. Such love she shows me!

Monday, October 08, 2007

My web designer friend told me that what I am doing recovering files from my ancient laptop is called a "Sneaker Network"!

Below is one of the poems I recovered. It is one of my favorites from a collection I sold to a youth health publisher:

When I Was Mad
"When I was mad," my dad would say,
"I'd meet the kid outside to settle it. On
the playground, at the park,
or anywhere was fine. Our friends
would form the ring. Our hands
would raise. Our feet would dance.
And between the blows,
it would all be worked out.
What's a few bruises?" he would ask.

"Now," I say, "We still have playgrounds,
parks, and other places
We even have friends.
But we don't raise our fists or
make our feet dance. We raise our guns and
knives and make our feet run.
We work it all out."

He is silent. Life has changed.
But still, I think I'd trade a gun
for a fist, a knife for an insult.
Yet even then, I wonder if both dad's way and
my way is not right for now.
I wonder if there's a new way for now. I
wonder, because I wonder
if I'll be a dad to say,
"When I was mad..."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Both Friday night and last night, I slept fifteen hours. I would venture that working through the weekend last weekend was a bit too much.

Or perhaps my fatigue is because it is still so STINKING HOT outside even though it is now October.

On Wednesday, I walked over to the post office next to my work and barely made it back to my desk. I was trembling and weak from the heat.

We have water restrictions in place around here now because of the drought. I suppose it is good I gave up trying to save my lawn all the way back in June.


I am not sure where I stand on global warming, but I do know that I should be enjoying cool, crisp weather...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I do believe that I should get some sort of award for procrastination.

Because I had some time between my four jobs, I actually got around to start migrating files from my fourteen-year-old laptop. I never got all my stuff off of it, and it has been collecting dust in the basement for the past five years since I had placed it on top of the filing cabinet as a reminder to get the files off of it. I was putting some things away in the filing cabinet when I was smote by the dirt, bugs, and unknown stains covering the top of the PowerBook 520C (ah, it was so top-of-the-line back then, but is such a relic now).

The process is QUITE tedious. I have to open the file on the Mac, save it to a text only file, copy it to a disc, put the disc in my laptop, open the file in notepad, copy the text to Word, and then save the new document. [Reformatting all those files can wait until later...much later.] Now can you see why I have put this off for over a decade?

Today, I managed to migrate 96 of the poems, short stories, and scripts that I sold back then. I had wanted to have a copy of them and now I do. The disheartening part is that all my teaching stuff (when I was a professor) is still on the old Mac laptop, and I am genuinely interested in keeping it.

The miracle: that the PowerBook even turns on!

Friday, October 05, 2007

You know you are loved when your best friend...

  1. Googles information on dog ear infections when you are fretting on the phone with her while you are driving to an emergency vet visit. Then, she emails you the one line you found funny during the scary situation: A perfect breeding ground for bacteria is a dark and damp, poorly ventilated dog's ear.
  2. Sends you a link on your favorite golfer when she cares not a hoot for the sport: an article on Tiger Woods!
  3. Reads your blog about keeling over in the yard while mowing for the 1,000th time and sends you food for thought: When you pass out don't think of it as passing out; think of it as "stray(ing) out of thought and time." It is a line in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
The Lord blesses me greatly through B!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I have worked 10 days in a row. I have two more to go before I can crash on the weekend. Argh!

I have started a third job and am negotiating a fourth. However, I do believe I will stop there.

The way this has been working best is if I take a short nap when I get home from work. Really, I cannot avoid doing so, because I keep falling asleep. Once I awake, I have dinner and plunge into my other jobs. Typically, I finish around 1:00 AM, read for a half-hour, and fall to sleep.

If my fourth contract comes through, I will be in a position to have my debt cut in half by its completion. That would be amazing and quite worth the sacrifice now. Given that I don't have much of a social life as it is and that I am able to do the work on the couch in my pajamas, I believe that it is doable for the short term at least. I tired! Working all weekend outside the house was a mistake. I need to be able to sleep in and rest throughout the day on the weekends to handle the work week. Mostly, I agreed because the woman I am working with has a rather large burden on her plate. How could I turn my back to her now. She needs help and I have the skills to support her.

I do enjoy the progress I can see with the contract work. Accomplishments can bring a certain amount of energy to keep going, knowing that the product you are offering is one done heartily as if for the Lord.

Kashi update: The third round of fluids did the trick. His appetite picked up, and he has perked up quite a bit. He is more interested in playing and had returned to barking at the birds in the evening when he decides they are taking too much of my attention. He has two more days of anti-biotics and nine more days of washing out his ear and applying topical anti-biotics twice daily.

I very much dislike putting the muzzle on him, but if I attempt to clean his ear without it, I would be the one needed an emergency trip to the doctor. However, when I hold out the muzzle to put it on, he does not run away at all. Instead, he takes the passive aggressive route. As soon as I click the muzzle shut, he collapses against me, feigning weakness and helplessness. I have to hold him up with one arm and minister to his ear with the other. Doing so is rather difficult. From time to time, he gives me a kiss or two through the muzzle and leans into me further, nuzzling his head into my chest. He is pitiful enough that it gives me pause, wondering if I should skip the cleaning. However, once I am done and he is free from the muzzle, all his energy returns, and he bounds away from me.

He is such a smart little fellow!