Saturday, September 30, 2006

hunting and fishing

i don't have, nor have i ever had, any desire to go hunting -- as in, killing things not because they are a danger to someone or because i might starve if i don't, but killing animals that are just living their lives innocently without trying to hurt me. it's not the animals' fault mankind has this urge to kill things for fun. they're just trying to eat and sleep and procreate.

and you know what? they're pretty darn good at those things, too. which is why hunters spend untold millions of dollars every year trying to outsmart the "dumb" beasts with every manner of add-ons: odor neutralizers, rifle scopes, hidey-tents, camouflage clothing, animal calls, and other expensive, unnecessary and sometimes disgusting miscellanea...each one an attempt to make up for the fact that -- in a masterpiece of divine irony -- God has apparently spared us the outfitting and instinct of the "lower" species.

besides, with all that work and money put into the sport, how is it even any real conquest if you kill the animal? you're pretty much taking away any element of sporting when you tip the scales so far in your direction the fox/rabbit/turkey/mulie has next to zero chance of surviving. i just don't understand how anyone would feel any sense of victory or achievement if they had to buy all this extra junk.

i think real hunting is a gun at most -- along with the intellectual qualities of stealth and skill and observation and patience.

but really, i don't have a moral problem with hunting in general, as long as you do it fairly, legally and with all sportsmanship. i'm not an animal-rights person, and especially if you could use the meat, go and kill something, and don't feel guilty. God gave us all pointy teeth. we're clearly meant to be carnivorous (or omnivorous at least). does anyone really dislike a nice juicy steak? i'm not against the idea of killing...just do it in a fair way, having respect for the other creatures God made.

my stomach always turns, though, at the idea of ME hunting/killing anything breathing. that includes squirrels, rabbits, pheasant, deer, or anything that isn't hurting anyone else.

so by all counts, you'd think i should abhor fishing. it seems far less sportsmanlike than typical hunting. in fishing, you use an invisible string to dangle a deadly razor-sharp hook in the water, which is disguised by a tasty little piece of fish food. this could be likened to putting some nice fresh corn in front of your deer stand at twilight, then shooting the deer when he comes over for a meal. but that's called baiting in the mammal-hunting world. you can't do that, at least that i know of. as in, it's illegal, and as far as i'm concerned, totally unfair and should be anathema to any real sportsman.

so i don't get why it's ok with fish. i guess they are not mammals, which means maybe they're more like shiny bugs, and less like people or pets. anyways, inexplicably, fishing is one of my favorite things to do. i love sitting in a wooden boat in a peaceful lake or river, listening to the water crinkle and the birds flutter and chirp, and having whispered conversations with your fishing buddy/ies.

i know that's inconsistent. but i'd like to point out that even most vegetarians -- ostensibly the most animal-friendly of all of us -- make exceptions to allow fish in their diet. i think i'll be the first to ask...could it be that the vegetarians know something we flesheaters don't? are fish actually large water-bound insects? (if so....gross!)

since i don't have any moral issues with eating animals, i surely don't have them with fish, either. i guess it's the method of capturing them that should bother me. it seems wrong to make a distinction, but it seems completely intuitive at the same time. this is really confusing, so...does anyone have any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

strangers & eyes

i started to touch on this a little in a post a few days back. but i didn't say nearly as much as i wanted to. so here goes.

i like to watch people interact with strangers. and i like to interact with strangers myself. a conversation with a stranger is, i think, one of the best kinds. it's just a tiny tip of a great mystery that is another person's life. you'll likely never see them again, but that's what makes it so fun.

i did this little experiment last year. i looked every single person i saw in the eye. this includes everyone i saw on the street, in class, in the hallways at work, in cars even. :) i didn't stare, i just looked. sometimes i smiled; usually i didn't. i figured that'd be too weird for most people, and it'd probably get me too much unwanted attention.

it was an interesting time. i felt a lot more connected to people in a way.

one of my primary conclusions: to most people, eye contact is a personal invasion, however subtle or minor. upon meeting my eyes, most other eyes would immediately drop to the ground, or look at a slightly different angle (so it would appear possible that they'd never really looked at me). clearly, they believed they were invading my space as well.

a few scattered individuals looked right back at me. and kids, of course, never had a problem with eye contact. babies especially. how is it, anyways, that babies know to look you right in the eyes? if babies and kids do it, it must be something we teach them -- something innocent and automatic that our older, "wiser" influence overrides and overpowers -- as they get older. i don't know how. i'm sure a lot of it is teaching them to be scared of strangers, which is good.

but i think how people interact with strangers says a lot about them. strangers can't do anything for you, they don't have any expectations you feel compelled to meet, you don't know who they are, and they probably feel the same way about you. so how you talk to them, interact with them, or look at them, probably reveals the most basic, fundamental kindness and respect you have (or don't have) for human beings in general. it shows what's left when the fake/habitual veneers of politeness, kindness, and civility are stripped away and you have no other reason to esteem them except for how you treat people for simply being people.

i think eye contact can be difficult for people, especially strangers, because the eyes (of course) are "windows to the soul." and it's so, so true. so much can be given away by a quick gaze or instantaneous aversion. people feel vulnerable when someone's looking into their eyes. that's why they six seconds, or so, that's as long as most people can maintain eye contact before looking away. when the occasional stranger would hold my eye contact for more than an instant, it was a sign of openness. and that's scary to most people.

now, there are rare instances when i don't want to look into someone's eyes for one reason or another. so i might just stare at the ground like most other people do. i don't look strange or different, because everyone does that, but i feel unbelievably self-conscious and powerless. i think the constant eye contact became more of a signal to the people i was looking at: i know my surroundings. i know where you are. i know you're walking towards me. i know you're creepy. i know you're looking at me. i know who you're looking at. etc. so it became stressful for me to NOT look someone in the eye, and it still is.

so that's what i learned during my little experiment in human interaction. i didn't really figure out anything profound or novel. but it was definitely a good habit to get into. i'd recommend it highly.

i don't really know where i'm going with this. these are just garbled thoughts. say it with me now: "i don't have a journal, you know."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

in love with slim 2

it's been my longstanding opinion that jimmy john's is quite possibly the best sandwich place in lincoln. reasons for this opinion:

a) they are fast. so fast you'll freak, technically.
b) their bread is perfect.
c) they give you free Hellman's mayo packets.
d) you pay less for a plain sandwich (i always get it plain anyways. but anywhere else, you pay the same price).
e) they deliver.
f) they have funny signs.
g) some people i know work there.
h) the roast beef is perfect.

and i hate to admit this because i just made a far-reaching statement about the general best-ness of jimmy john's. but i am not a qualified evaluator...because i've only ever had one single item from the menu. it's a Slim 2, meaning plain roast beef, on that unbelievably good bread that i could just eat plain, with mayo on the side. the slim 2 is the first jimmy john's sandwich i ever tried. and it's so good, i can't pass it up when i go. i can't believe anything else could be better. you know...if you're completely satisfied with what you've got, don't waste time trying to improve. and if i did go and get something that wasn't better than my Slim 2 with mayo packets, i'd feel like i wasted that precious opportunity to indulge. not to mention the money.

i always savor those last few morsels of the sandwich...when i am getting full but still wish i had an extra few bites. the bread is extra crispy at the ends, and i always have to smush the mayo packet to get the last few greasy blobs out, and i just want the taste to last forever. i think i get a slim 2 at least once a week. sometimes twice. you'd think i'd get sick of the slim 2, but i don't. i can't imagine not liking it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

that beckoning sky

my sister and i went to the air show this weekend. we saw some F-16s, a Stealth Fighter and Bomber, the Blue Angels, a partial reenactment of Pearl Harbor, Mustang P-31s, the Red Baron Pizza Squad (or something) (i still haven't figured that one out), and many, many other historic airplanes and airplane acrobatics. i had a kink in my neck before long, and i'm pretty sure i looked like something of a cross between a country tourist in a city full of skyscrapers and a giddy teenager in love.
i love airplanes, and i always have. my untold (before now) dream was to be a pilot...although i never really put any thought or effort into that career, being quite positive it would always remain nothing but a dream. because as much as i'm fascinated by airplanes, strangely enough, i never felt drawn to learn much about them. i'm perfectly content to leave them in the Mysteries category (along with cars and tax stuff) and simply be in awe at them. the sky is the beginning of space, and as far as we on this planet are concerned, it might as well be infinite. an expanse of mystery and pure physics. (the poem linked in the title of this post is one of my favorites. it was written by a WW2 pilot, and was made famous when it was quoted by Ronald Reagan.)

in other weekend events, friday night was the Mother of All Steak Nights (that name didn't really catch on for some reason) and we (all thirty of us!) gorged ourselves on steak, chicken, asparagus (perfectly cooked and seasoned, might i add), potatoes, garlic bread, and a plethora -- that's right, a plethora -- of assorted desserts. there was also a good amount of poker playing, guitar playing, computer-stuff-doing, et al.

today (sunday) the ecuador team drove to a small town to give a presentation about our summer trip. :) i was way more nervous than usual, with my hands and voice shaking and for some reason i'd felt compelled to grab a pen before i went to the front. so i had the large handheld mic, the suddenly-unwanted pen, and a crinkled bulletin with a few vague notes scratched on it...all cluttering up my hands and doing their best to jump to the floor. but other than my part, which wasn't horrible but wasn't great either, the others did really well (4 of us spoke). the trip was fun. i had fun. plus there was a potluck afterwards with these awesome potatoes.

that's it for now. i'm unbelievably tired because, like usually happens on the weekends, my sleep schedule is drastically altered and my sleep debt becomes bloated, much like the national debt. so with interest, i owe myself 10.58 hours of sleep each night this week. i'm off to pay some of that now. thanks for reading!

Friday, September 22, 2006

the Office, and other stuff we do

so last night was the season premiere of the Office. after bible study, a bunch of us went to watch it. it. was. awful. not even funny, and definitely beyond the 'appropriate' line of humor that was rarely crossed in previous seasons. i really hope they aren't planning to push the line the rest of the year, because i doubt i'll be watching much of it in that case.

so. moving on to other issues. we all have those awkward/rushed moments when you walk by someone you sort-of know, on the sidewalk or in the hallway. they're going one direction and you, the other. you know them just well enough that you should acknowledge them with more than a polite smile, but not well enough for either of you to actually break your pace and start a conversation. or maybe you don't really want to talk to them, but want to maintain a veneer of civility for whatever reason.

from my own experience, those little exchanges usually end up something like:



-hey, how's your new office?
-it's great, i love it.
-......take care.


-hey, how's it going?
-great, and you? [which is a completely wrong sentence, but you couldn't appropriately correct it while still keeping an acceptable pace]

there are bugs in this meticulously crafted system, however. every now and then, your mind might get mixed up on which prefabricated conversation you're having. like so:

-hey, how are you?
-the office is great.

or you might even jump ahead, assuming your fellow man has spoken their part already. then a conversation might go like this:

-hey, how's it going? great.

that happens to everyone, so don't feel bad if your mind goes frozen. it doesn't matter because their mouth is probably also on autopilot so they probably don't even hear you.

however they turn out, i really don't like having these forced "conversations." sometimes, though, i see no way around them. you can't ignore everyone, but you can't have long conversations with everyone either. even if time weren't an issue, you don't know most people well enough to get by the heys. so i have tried to think of alternatives (which oddly end up being less palatable than the brief interchange itself).

the main tactic i've come up with is called Pretend To Be Absorbed In Something. that Something could be the papers in your hand, your iPod (just pretend you can't hear and see at the same time), an ant, your fingernails, or anything in the sky. but, that approach only works if you see them first, without making eye contact; that way it's plausible that you really didn't notice them, because of course you totally would have said hey if you did. however, the other person -- if they suspect your subtle attempts to avoid eye contact yet still not appear unfriendly -- might even be a bit thankful you took the initiative to avoid an obligatory-yet-loathsome five word conversation. it might even be the start of a beautiful friendship in which, by mutual agreement, neither burdens the other with the responsibility of continuing this awkward experiment in human communication.

there are many, many other options, such as The Too-Busy Basketweaver, The Birdie, and The Twist And Shout. i'm sure you want to know what all these mean, but there just isn't time right now.

this is too long already. but, i suppose *here* is where i should insert some thoughtful social commentary about human relationships and how our culture is horrendously self-focused, etc. i can't really think of anything like that right now, even though the iPod thing drives me nuts (is your music really so much more interesting and important than the humanity all around you?)...i could talk about that forever. BUT this is a post of observation and of sharing vital life experience with all my blog-friends, and not one of ranting about social constructs. that will, most assuredly, come later.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer"

here are these midwestern semi-fall-transition days again. you know....the ones that aren't quite autumn yet and only feel like fall in the evenings. but there are wisps of smoky, spicy fall air blowing around on the wind every so often. and part of you is stuck in what you love about summer, and's just time to move on with life.

to me, summer is so much of, simply, what i love about being alive. driving with my windows down and my sunglasses on is one of the greatest pleasures i have in life, and i don't mean that in a depressing way. no matter how the day is going, pulling out those aviators and cranking up some tunes and flying down Normal Avenue is about the highlight of my day. it embodies what i love about summer...which means "carefree" and warm and different every day and fun and laid-back. people aren't worried about school. you play volleyball and hang out late into the evenings because it's light outside. you worry less about responsibility and more about being alive and free because you only have a few summers of your life to feel like that.

but then those evenings get a little shorter, just to remind you that they're not there forever. then labor day comes, and football starts, and before you know it, school is back, and downtown is crawling with hoodie-clad students. and even if it hasn't gotten real chilly yet, you know the dead icy winter is inevitable. like any good parent, mother nature likes to give us a bit of warning before playtime is totally over.

then the evenings are dark at 7pm and you feel tired even when you have no reason to feel tired except that it's dark. then you leave places early because you have homework. then you realize...fall is here.

fall is melancholy for me. i'm sure part of it is all those fall colors...all the colors that mean emotion in my mind, like deep orange, goldenrod, and crimson. but i think one of the reasons i tend to get so pensive each fall season is because it makes me aware of time. time passing so tediously but so fast i can almost hear it. summer is when time stops and all is light and exciting. but fall means winter, and winter means another new year, which just makes me think about how i am 21 years old already, and why i still feel sixteen, and how i still have to accomplish so much, and how i feel like time is moving around me while i remain standing in the middle of a river, grabbing frantically at experiences and events as they surge by but wondering what i'm missing when my back's turned and knowing most things won't ever come along again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

the post where i preach like...a...preacher....?

i get really bent out of shape when i hear about people that i respect putting crummy stuff in their heads through such events as watching crummy movies, listening to crummy music, et al. (i know people have different definitions of good and bad, and i'm not getting into that now.)

to me, it is a big deal what people like to watch/listen to, and it says a lot about them because it is purely a choice. no one is forcing us to watch/hear much on a regular basis, especially if we also choose to keep copies of it in iTunes.

ok, in no way do i want to sound like a goody-goody or like "i make better choices than ALL of you." but generally i try pretty hard to not put crummy stuff into my head.

i really like Arrested Development, and while not being horrendous, it does have its share of dialogue and situations that i really wish weren't there. so generally, i've decided to mostly watch that on my own because it can get kind of awkward, i think.

i was just talking with a friend about this. (so if YOU are reading, this will all be familiar to you. :)) i think i said something to the effect of, my knee-jerk reaction when i hear about people watching a bad movie or something is to lose a bit of respect for that person. but then, i wonder if people think less of me for my decisions too...? it's sobering but i think something we could all ask ourselves without dying or becoming paralyzed. :)

i definitely don't think AD is the worst show in the world. in fact, it's quite tame compared to a lot of things. i like a lot about makes me laugh almost like none other. but i guess, even if i take away that awkwardness factor and watch it alone, how much do i still, clearly, value that laughing? do i really think it's worth the crap i have to have in my brain after i watch it? long after i'm done laughing and done reciting one-liners with friends, i still remember the parts and the lines i don't want to remember. so why is that so valuable? why is the temporary entertainment better to me than a pure mind? and how come the "dwell on things that are pure, lovely and good" thing never really comes to mind when i'm picking out a movie or watching tv or listening to music? and how come the bad things are the ones that'll stick with you the longest? how come that's what we'll all end up dwelling on after all??

sure, you might say, but you hear all of that, and more, every work, at school, etc. it's true. but i don't have a choice there. it's a matter of what i'm choosing to hear or watch. that's why it's so telling about my character. do i choose to overhear other people saying stuff i don't want to hear? no. but do i choose what i am watching and listening to? yes, in almost every case.

part of it, sure, is the coolness factor. AD is cool and a little indie and all that, whatever. it's always fun to make it a social have fun tv parties and laugh together about the show. and it's also NOT fun to say "let's not watch this" or whatever.

ok, i just reread this and i sound nagging, annoying, judgmental, goody two shoes, holier than thou. (take your pick, i've got more.) and also probably pretty stupid because i picked a fairly tame show as my example of what i should maybe stop watching. so even though i could keep going, i'm going to stop. i really don't want to sound like "i am making all the right choices and you should too." well, i mean, you should, but that is your decision. ok, well, i'm sounding like that again. anyways, please don't get mad because these are just some very initial thoughts skimming over this issue.

the last frontier

Space is cool. i wanted to be an astronomer when i was younger....not too long ago, really. (when i realized it involved math, i immediately decided to pursue a career in the nonmathematical fields of writing and thinking.)

so don't get me wrong. i love space, i loved learning the planets unit in school, and i even know how to tell time by the stars (at least i used to), and i made my little sister memorize Jupiter's moons and the distance to the moon (238,000 miles) and to Proxima Centauri (3.2 lightyears). AND i'm not even joking about any of that.

still, i don't understand why we have to spend mind-boggling amounts of money to learn more about space. isn't it cool enough as it is? aren't there people who could really use the money? this Onion article nicely summarizes my feelings towards this issue.

i think the space program, whatever it's called, should be drastically/dramatically cut from our government's budget. if private citizens and organizations want to fund things, go for it. that's cool. i just don't really like so much tax money going towards billion-dollar "exploration" programs that aren't even exciting...not that being exciting would be worth THAT much anyways. i think that money could be better used elsewhere, such as feeding people, keeping them out of gutters, national security, war, etc.

read about the federal NASA budget here. according to that chart, our government gave NASA over 15 billion dollars in 2005 (if i'm reading it right). and they're projected to get over 16 billion in 2007.

if the government just kept that, and stopped NASA totally, maybe they could give us all complimentary subscriptions to the Russian Space Exploration channel. that way, no one would have to give up their habits of watching CGI images of satellites roaming around, and also a fuzzy blue blob, aka the possible atmosphere of Neptune, 24/7. oh wait, no one cares about that anyways.

but seriously. why are we even really concerned about social security? there'd be a few bugs to work out, but i bet we could just give the space money to the old folks as they retire.

or we could give it to africa. or we could buy an oil-producing country and make our own oil. or we could hire more people and make the borders secure. or we could give it to the war. we could give it to all our cities and counties in the form of economic development grants. OR...we could just keep on collecting Mars rocks and taking boring blurry pictures of white specks until they'll all be sold on ebay for $0.99 each.

just now the news said "Astronauts Complete Third And Final Space Walk." um, so? hey, i'd love to walk in space. it'd be like flying. but it's really not all that exciting to hear about anyone else doing it. i think the vast majority of americans only care about space because deep down, we'd all love to spacewalk, and because of that very reason most of us wanted to be astronauts when we were little. but notwithstanding the pseudo-popularity of space exploration, it's certainly not worth billions of dollars each year, and certainly not at a time when we are in war, and while there are people starving all over the planet. how about this: once everything is perfect on our own planet, we start worrying about the others. k?

so, all that to say, space is really cool, but definitely not worth the money we feed it, and there are plenty of ways that money could go to better use. i hope you agree with me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ooooooh boy!

so, it's just been firmly established that my new roomies and i have some *ahem* differing theological views. a recent conversation went something like this:

A, casually [we'd been talking about a related issue]: so, what do you both think about predestination?

me, proudly: i'm a zero point calvinist. er, one point, sort of, but i believe it for different reasons than calvinists.

L, carefully: i believe in predestination, and that people can't be saved unless God's planned it for them.

A, sheepishly: i'm a five point calvinist. yeah, definitely.

i'm trying not to get too excited here. but, it's been a while since i had a good predestination conversation, probably because i've run out of friends who want to talk with me about it. which is a bad sign. i truly have been rethinking some things...attitude, tactics, motives...because i really enjoy talking about calvinism and all that, but i think it's mostly because i've had a decent amount of practice and can generally anticipate where the discussion is going. but clearly, i've turned the issue of man's will and God's sovereignty into more of a game -- a simple yet complex puzzle that some people don't think is solvable -- rather than a crucial theological study whose consequences reach deep into the way we see our world, ourselves, our salvation, and our God.

still, it's going to be interesting and, dare i say it, should i try to not have as much fun as i do? or is it good that i enjoy thinking about it? because there are a lot of people who, sadly, just don't think about this much, either because it confuses them or because they simply don't think it's that important.

more information can be found in an earlier post on predestination/free will.

Friday, September 08, 2006

a picture post.....[something weather-related]

this will be the last post full of pictures!

after we stayed in wales for two days, we traveled to oxford to visit Katie, and we stayed in her dorm room that night. oh! but before i tell you anything about that, here's a picture i forgot to put up in the Wales section. this photo has accurately captured the guilt i felt after i murdered someone, or at least ate a lot of mulberries from a public tree. a LOT of mulberries! they were some tasty eating!

right, so we were in oxford. so katie gave us a mini tour of the city and we saw a lot of neat buildings...such as this one: the pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to hang out and discuss (among other things) their writings. we went inside and saw the table where they always sat. that was really cool. it's always amazing to be where famous people have been, especially people who are famous for good reasons.

this is a library. there are books on all sides, and also under your feet.

you guys are not going to believe this. there was a Krispy Kreme donut shop inside Oxford castle! it was quite the cultural experience to eat a jelly donut that you bought at a krispy kreme in a castle.

somewhere in Oxford.

this is a grave marker for a group of christian martyrs that were burned there hundreds of years ago. it's just there in the middle of the street, and people can drive and walk over it. kind of eerie, i think.

a street in oxford (compliments of natalie).
again, somewhere in Oxford. i lost the names of all these large buildings and monuments and cathedrals.
that evening, we ate at an Italian restuarant and met some nice people later on. ;) read more about the oxford experience here.

the next day, we made our way to london. you can read about our london escapades at the last link, and also at this one. here is a picture of Westminster Abbey, one of the best places I visited on our whole trip, and which we stumbled upon completely by accident.

now i am inside the palace. here's a contraband picture of Queen Elizabeth's casket (i took it shortly before they grabbed me and told me "No Pictures"). back in the day, they made death masks of important people when they died. so her face on that marble is exactly what she looked like at the time of her death. that is so surreal...i hardly know how to explain it.

another (illicit) photo from inside westminster. those flags are family crests hanging above the Knights' Seats, which have been there for almost a thousand years, and people from those families still sit on the seats for knights' meetings. i guess i don't know what you'd do at a modern day knights' meeting. (play chess maybe? ahaha!!) but the wood on those seats was all worn down and smooth. which was really cool, and then i thought to, a thousand years' worth of butts, right there. :)

here's the view right outside Westminster. that's big ben, and the parliament buildings are close behind it. in front of big ben is an anti-war demonstration that was coagulating when i came out of the building. there was an angry man yelling about how america might as well be hitler, or something. i decided we maybe shouldn't hang around to make friends.

the next day we took the subway all over the city! it was really easy to navigate and it was fun at first. but then you are crammed with 50 people inside a tube car for 20 sweaty, airless minutes, and you realize that last year about this time, some terrorists blew some people to eternity on this very system, and the security is STILL absolutely zero, you start to get a little claustrophobic.

one place we traveled on said subway was to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham palace. it's supposed to be really neat. they have a parade every day. all the guards carry large assault rifles (why, i don't know; it's not like the queen really does anything). so here's the sign on one side of the courtyard...

...and here's the sign on the other side! we were extremely disappointed because we'd picked a "rare exception" to visit the stupid palace, which wasn't even very impressive on its own. oh well. we did get to see the guards, which was *Kip voice* pretty cool, i guess.

this is buckingham palace in all its prudently solemn yet disappoingintly bland mediocrity.

the gates outside the palace were more interesting than the palace.

later that day we saw the tower bridge. this was pretty neat. we went on it and up into the tower, and learned about its history and how they built it, etc. it was probably close to the most fun we had in london.

a view from on the bridge. you can see the Tower of London on the left hand side there. (when i was trying to find it, i kept looking for a tower, and eventually realized it wasn't really a tower. although it probably was when it was built.)

a street in london.

oh, you'll like this. we got to see london bridge, and walk on it even! here it is. wow. WOW! are you impressed yet? we weren't, either. (even wikipedia calls it "a dull edifice.") i don't even know why it's famous, and after seeing it, i hardly care. isn't that awful?

so as i said, no mas! no more pictures of my summer excursions! so if you're one of those people who only reads this for the trip pictures, and don't care about my real life, you don't need to come back. :) i'd really love you to, but i won't be offended if your IP address never appears again on my spying program. and i'm not spiteful, so i probably won't even blog about you behind your back.

thanks for reading once again!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


the kansas concert this weekend was, in a word, amazing.

to begin with, i was more than a little skeptical about the skills of musicians who are probably 60 years old, and the Superbowl image of Mick Jagger's flabby arms and tight black jeans made me hope, wish and pray that Mick was more of a creepy anomaly, and less of a standard "past-his-prime" rock star.

good news: there were no tight black jeans, i didn't see any old-man bellies, and i wasn't quite close enough to be slapped with arm flab. we had pretty good seats because we were in line almost an hour ahead of time. which is SO hardcore, right?

i didn't know many of the songs they played (so maybe i'm not as hardcore as i thought i was). but it was OK because the songs were awesome anyways.

they have a violinist -- an electric violinist -- and you wouldn't think a 60 year old short guy with poofy blond-grey hair and purple striped pants could really play anything, especially an electric violin. but he was absolutely, stunningly good. and it's hard to describe rocking on the violin." but, he did that.

Kansas is one of those bands who don't just pass the standard song know, the two-verses-a-bridge-and-a chorus-you-can-repeat-forever-if-needed formula. but clearly Kansas knows what they are doing. they are masters. that's right, MASTERS. from what i can tell. and you know how i, a relative classic-rock amateur, can tell they're masters? a) because they're old and still touring. younger people haven't been around long enough to become really, truly good. and, b) because they had so much instrumental time. because they can. do you ever hear of Three Doors Down or Fall Out Boy or John Mayer doing instrumental concerts? nope, because they probably couldn't if they wanted to. (well, maybe John Mayer could, but it'd be boring and no one would come.) there's probably not enough talent to fill up 2/3 of a concert without singing. clearly somewhere along the timeline of the evolution of rock, someone said "maybe if our music is extra loud, and we all wear tight t-shirts and some jewelry, that'll compensate for our not being all that good." can you tell i've had enough fake-talent concerts? (ok, you got decades past, kansas did play concerts in their spankies.)

so, this one time before the show started, i tried to go up and say hello to one of my friends in the front area. i started to run...for no reason, really. then these two security guards grabbed me (stopping me rather dramatically) and yelled in my face, "PINK BRACELETS ONLY!" i was really startled and confused, and i probably stammered "ah, uh, can i go talk to my friend--" and they yelled "NO! NO! NO one goes up there unless you have PINK BRACELETS!!!" then i walked away, apologizing profusely and embarassed because everyone in the first three rows was staring at me with wide eyes, surely wondering who was this insane person who tried to break her way through the guards, Red-Rover style, to get to the front without a pink bracelet.

anyways. it was perfect weather (the arena is covered but outdoors) and the encore consisted of probably their two biggest hits ever (dust in the wind and carry on, my wayward son). they left the stage, the lights went out, and those moments when you wonder if they'll come back onstage seem like forever, and the crowd gets louder, and just when you think it couldn't get any louder, a few string-plucks into the acoustic "dust in the wind," it did. much louder.

...and then she smiled.

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