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14
Feb
10

A British Super Bowl

As I was drinking my coffee the other morning and reading The Wall Street Journal (we don’t actually have a subscription, but we used to, and it still randomly shows up at our door from time to time), I came across a little blurb about how the BBC carried live coverage of the Super Bowl this year. How odd is that?

I ran a few searches to see if I could find out what watching the Super Bowl would be like in Great Britain. For one thing, since the BBC carried it live, it came on at 11 pm and went until 3 or 4 in the morning. Obviously, only the die-hards would do something crazy like stay up all night and watch American football. Are there enough American expatriates to make it worth the BBC’s while? I wondered. But at least a few native Brits were up. I found a video blog on You Tube made by a young man who was having a Super Bowl party at his house (“nothing much, just 10 or 15 people coming round”).  Apparently he’s a fan of American football, and even though he can’t pronounce the names of some of the teams, at least he tries. Among the party snacks was a substantial amount of Red Bull to keep  everyone awake!

Another interesting aspect of the British Super Bowl was the complete lack of commercials. The Super Bowl without commercials? Who could imagine such a thing? But, as one article from the Times (London) points out, “If there is one thing we know about the BBC, it’s that it takes a dim view of…adverts and has never shown one.” So the poor British announcers who were given the task of covering this strange, foreign event were also given absolutely no breaks: “Every moment that, in the United States, would have been usefully spent hawking cheese-flavoured Doritos, Woodson and Carlson had to fill with animated conversation. This made them the first sports pundits in living memory to be on the screen for slightly longer, in total, than the game they were analysing.”

What an odd experience this must have been for our friends across the pond. I hope, at least, that they enjoyed it!

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07
Feb
10

The Road Not Traveled

Yesterday, as I was walking through Wal-Mart (a detestable madhouse of chaos and confusion, even more than usual), I ran into one of my old high school teachers, whom I haven’t seen since graduation. After introducing herself to E. and cooing over Baby C. for a minute, she asked me if I had graduated college, and upon my reply to the affirmative, asked innocently, “So what are you working on now? Master’s, Ph.D, or are you teaching?”
Of course, I’m not doing any of those three things, but it’s funny to think about the fact that her question was a perfectly reasonable one considering the path I had been on in high school. As a driven student and a lover of all things academic, it seemed inevitable that I would go down that path; I was planning on it myself, in the event that I didn’t find anyone willing to marry me.
But I did find someone willing to marry me, and boy, am I glad. Still, I wonder sometimes what I would have been like if things had turned out differently. Would the Me who followed her academic dreams have been happy? Would she be a better/worse person? I like to think of this hypothetical Me as my Mirror Universe self (see: Star Trek). So much of who we are is determined by our choices and experiences and what we learn from them… so she wouldn’t really be Me at all.
But of course, that’s all completely fruitless speculation. God is sovereign, and he had my course laid in at the beginning of time. This is who I was always going to be at age 24. And, contrary to what some physicists and many sci-fi fans like to think, there isn’t some alternate universe out there where my life is playing out any other way. Thanks be to Jesus.
07
Feb
10

Random Idea #15

I have a coffee mug with all the names of coffee in different languages written all over it (coffee, cafe, kaffe, etc.). But here’s an even better idea: someone should make a mug with the names of all the hot drinks in Star Trek on it. So we’d have things like “Tarkalean Tea,” or “Coffee, black,” or “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”  Nerdy, you say? Well, sure, but I’d buy it.

After all, I must have something with which to drink my raktajino.

24
Jun
08

Calm down…this too shall pass.

This past Sunday, I read a particularly negative article in the newspaper (which, as everyone knows, is always full of negative stories). Not reporting anything useful, it spent its 2 columns groaning over the state of the world: gas prices rising, food prices rising, economy sliding, the never ending conflict against terrorism, etc. The writer of this article seemed to think that the whole world was degenerating into chaos, with no hope of recovery.

I beg to differ.

First of all, as believers we know that God’s sovereignty is the reality that overrides the apparent chaos in this fallen world. He institutes governments, directs leaders, and controls events with exacting care. Just read the book of Isaiah if you want particular proof of this Biblical truth.

Second of all, any student of history (even a non-believer) should be able to see the parallels between the current time and other transitional periods in history. Every generation has its own unique situation, but history tells us that there’s not much new under the sun. As our country struggles to move from an economy fueled by oil to one powered by other sources of energy, economic growing pains are a natural result. As so often in the past, conditions will get worse before they get better. Just look at the Industrial Revolution: the development of industrial technology came long before the safety standards and labor laws that were necessary to protect the many people whose lives were affected by this change. In addition, think of all the craftsmen who suddenly found themselves obsolete and unemployed! Conditions were pretty miserable for a long time, which predictably resulted in social unrest. But eventually society had time to catch up with the changes, and today industrialization is just a normal fact of life, not a cause of misery or unrest (for the most part).

I’m not saying that America is currently experiencing another Industrial Revolution; however, I am saying that the currently tough (and worsening) economic conditions are probably not permanent. It may not be fun to live with skyrocketing gas prices and unpredictable food costs, but necessity is the mother of invention. There are a lot of creative and capable people in this country working on new ways to increase efficiency, explore new avenues, and so on. This period of instability is not going to last forever.

And of course, if the whole world does completely degenerate into chaos and anarchy, we can still trust the God who’s ultimately in control of all human history.

26
May
08

Free Stuff!

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you’re one of those weirdos, then DON’T read this post about StartSampling.com. It’s a fun and safe website that gives you the opportunity to take advantage of manufacturers’ free samples. Granted, you’re not going to be able to stop buying groceries or something, but I’ve had some fun trying out new products (risk-free). So far I’ve tried a new line of Quaker granola bars (enh), a Fiber One Caramel Delight Cereal (gross), and some feminine products (no comment). I think there’s some shampoo and drink mixes coming sometime this week. It’s kind of fun; feel free to check it out.

07
May
08

Book Review: Culture Shift by Al Mohler

It is with great pleasure that I recommend to you Culture Shift by Al Mohler (a.k.a. The Smartest Man Alive). It is a marvelously helpful and insightful analysis of present-day American culture, and it gives practical advice on how thoughtful Christians should approach today’s issues.

In 160 short pages, Mohler discusses such topics as the Christian’s role in politics, the abortion debate, the state of public schools, terrorism, torture, atheistic science, natural disasters, pluralism, today’s “coddled” generation, and the burden of history (Hiroshima).  How Mohler could possibly cover all these topics so thoroughly in so little space is a mystery to me, but then again, maybe it comes with the territory of being the Smartest Man Alive.

(Now, lest you think me indulging in hero-worship bordering on idolatry, let me just say for the record that I’m speaking partly in jest–but Mohler is without doubt a highly intelligent & clear-headed man.  The Church needs more like him.)

I firmly believe that young Christians in particular should all read this book.  The world is constantly bombarding us with pernicious lies and irrational thinking!  Read this book to help clarify and solidify in your mind what a biblical worldview looks like.

26
Apr
08

Operation: Cheap Groceries

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been attempting to improve my thriftiness, particularly with groceries (inspired by my super-savvy mother-in-law). For my latest project, I decided to get some actual data to help me decide which grocery stores had the best prices, and (in the future) to decide whether a sale is actually as great as it looks.

So, I made a list of our favorite staple products and wrote down the prices at 6 different grocery stores in town. Then, with the help of my skilled husband, I made a nifty little spreadsheet.

The result? A combination of Sam’s and Target is the best choice for us. I was surprised to find that Target’s grocery prices are very competitive, even beating Wal-Mart on several of my list items. The same cart of groceries that costs $78.13 at Wal-Mart costs $80.74 at Target. (Both of these totals are significantly lower than United, which is practically the only true grocery store in town.) When you subtract my team member discount (I work at Target, for those of you who didn’t know), I can get it for $72.67! If we get basic things like cheese, butter, sandwich meat, etc., at Sam’s, the total goes down even more. Yay!

Side note: My Target is actually not a SuperTarget, but is just what we call an “extended set.” This means we have an extensive grocery section, but it’s limited to packaged foods. Produce, fresh meat, and deli products are things I’ll have to go to Wal-Mart or Sam’s to get. Ah well.

So there you go. I’m sure I’ll have more projects to come!




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Thought For The Week

I want to clarify that there is no political problem that is not really a heart problem with hearts not connected to Christ. Only one Kingdom is really important, and this isn't it.

But just as it's sad to see poorly coded software, a badly built building, or an ugly city, it's even more sad to see a nation being thrown away. As custodians of this earth, we should do better.

-Mark Ritchie