purple fish guts

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Praying for our southern brothers and sisters

When I left for work this morning it sounded like the levys in New Orleans had held and the damage, although bad, was managable. Tonight it looks horrific. 80% of the city underwater with people waiting to be rescued on rooftops. Thousands in the Superdome with little food and stinky overflowing toilets. Looters taking over downtown. Floating coffins. Mississippi and Alabama look awful too. Our prayers are with you.

Posts on my mind...

There are several posts out in the blogosphere that have been rattling around in my mind lately, and I thought I would share them with you.

Maria at intueri has a great post about empathy. It is easy when working with patients to become detached and not see them as people with feelings. This is a great reminder to put ourselves in other's shoes before laughing at someone.

On the other hand, it can be very difficult when you do see a patient as a peer. D Bunny at the Drunken Lagomorph has a post about responding to a call as a paramedic of a police officer that had been shot. I made the mistake of reading it at work during breaktime. (I recently added her to my list of websites I download onto my palm every morning.) Unfortunately it did not have a warning "THIS IS LIKELY TO MAKE YOU CRY!" Don't say I didn't warn you.

It reminded me of a night when I was working graveyard shift in a small hospital laboratory. The lab had been very quiet all night, so I was helping the OB nurses by answering call lights. I had just given a patient socks to warm her feet when I got called to the emergency department STAT. I arrived to draw blood and saw the staff trying to save the life of a local nurse whose husband had cut her and her son's throats. Her son was pronounced dead at the scene, but she ended up surviving to see her husband put behind bars. D Bunny's post reminded me of the horror being multiplied with the thought "She is one of us."

On a lighter note, Sheila at The Sheila Variations has a post with an ode to the movie The Breakfast Club. I love that movie. I was a teenager when it came out, and it spoke to me in so many ways. I have a tape of it, and can still quote the script. Sheila pays tribute much more eloquently than I can, so I will just say ditto. Be sure to read the comments. One thing I love about Sheila's blog is the comments. They read like a chat room, and it makes you feel like you are hanging out in a cool crowd, even if you don't comment yourself.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Rules of the Classroom

These are the rules for Z's kindergarten class. The students and the teacher came up with them together.

1. Be a good listener and follow directions.
2. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
3. Only say nice things.
4. Take turns and share.
5. Always do your BEST!
6. Have FUN!

I'm thinking about suggesting these rules at work.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Game Night

Last night I went to "Men's Game Night" at Church. The promo said there would be video games, board games, and food. Sounds good.

I went with somewhat low expectations. You know..... like one TV with 4 guys playing football or something and everyone else standing around watching.

Well..... when I got there they had 6 Xbox's running through projectors and they were networked so we could all play together. Halo 2 was the game of the night. There were about 12-15 of us playing at a time.

Hunting down fellow Church members with a Plasma Rifle. Now that's what I call fun! Pastor's sermon a little long last week? No problem. Just toss a grenade at him.

My Church is cool!

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Well..... kid Z started kindergarten today. Here she is in her first-day-of-school dress with her Hello Kitty backpack and a big cheesy grin.

Everything went well. No tears or anything. Little sister was a bit upset..... because she thought she was going to go to kindergarten as well..... but she got over it when she realized she had all the Barbie stuff to herself.

We all went to pick her up after school. The place was crazy...... too many moms in SUV's. We almost got hit a couple times. We finally made it out alive and asked her what she did at school today.

"Well....... we DIDN'T play with any of the toys."

After some more questions, we learned all about the special no peanut tables.... and that recess was her favorite part of the day..... and that she made a puzzle..... and that the ice in her thermos had melted...... and.... and.....

Oh yeah..... and there was something about her and another girl climbing on top of each other.

She came home pretty tired.... but I think she had a good time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just for the record......

I have spent WAY too much time trying to squeeze Barbies into clothes that are TOO small.


For the past several days I've been immersed in SoulFire music.

You see..... Amy (the bass player) is out of the country through October. And since I'm friends with Kris..... and they need a bass player..... I got the gig.

So anyway..... I've been spending most of my free time learning the music. Some of it I already know..... just not the "SoulFire way".... and some of it is completely new to me. It's a lot of fun..... but man..... I feel like I'm in school again. Ewwww..... homework.


Saturday afternoon I played bass with Mozayik at a fund-raiser for a local church. They have purchased land and are now starting to raise money to build something on it. We were one of five groups playing throughout the afternoon and evening.

The first group was described as a gospel quartet. But now that I think about it, there were only 3 singers. Hmmmm...... It was painfully slow for my tastes. I entertained myself by watching the junior sound tech guy nod off occasionally and by watching the piano player to see if he was alive. He sorta had a "waxy" complexion and didn't really move anything except his fingers. He reminded me of one of those automated piano players at a shooting gallery. Pay a quarter, shoot the little target, and it plays for a few seconds.

Second was a self-proclaimed "jazz guitarist." He got up and played his Les Paul over some back-up music he'd recorded at home. He was pretty good at what he did. I had to get up and leave during the first song, though. His back-up recordings were pretty muddy sounding..... and with my head kinda fuzzy from almost falling asleep during the first group..... it was more than I could take. I went out of the auditorium and down the hall. It sounded much better from a distance.

Third was us.

Fourth was the band from the Church who was sponsoring the thing. I guess they play somewhere every couple of months. We were talking to them a bit and it sounds like we might hook up and open for some of their shows. Sounds fun.

And last was a band called Thirty Pieces of Silver. I didn't hang around to listen to them. They weren't starting until about 8:45 or so and I thought I should head home to help get the kids to bed.

I'm not sure how well the fund-raising went. It didn't really seem like there were enough people there to cover the costs of everything going on. Maybe a whole bunch of people showed up for the last band. Who knows....

Wednesday Already???

Wow..... I've been in a hole or something. Seems like it should still be last week. --shrug--

I guess I better post some stuff..... to get all caught up and all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Huge Loss

Someone I care about died tonight and is in heaven now. I'm a mess. I'm not sure you can really call us friends, because he only knew me as red fish who commented occasionally on his blog. We never exchanged an email, and I have no idea if he ever visited this blog. It doesn't matter.

His blog, Popping Culture, has been one of my five "must reads". He was a pastor who loved ministering to people. He always posted photos of animals doing goofy things. He loved Shakespeare, poetry and art. He was hoping to live to see Spiderman 3. He loved his wife, his dog and his cat. (He had lost a cat, and God had just sent him another.) He made me laugh much more than he made me cry, but he did plenty of both. He fought cancer as long as he could, and never let it define him.

I'll miss you, Dan. Thank you for sharing your life online. I look forward to getting to know you better in heaven some day. Enjoy your new healthy body.

Please pray for his wife Stephanie. She has lost a special guy.

This is a poem he posted July 23, 2005:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The dilemma

Okay.... so the kids and I were at the Burger King playland this afternoon. There were two future football player types running wildly through the place. Climbing UP the slide. Karate kicking the mesh walls. You know.... normal boy stuff.

Now Z and A are pretty wussy..... even by girl standards. So they kept coming and hunkering down my me saying the boys were chasing them and not letting them go down the slide and stuff. I tried to explain that they were probably just playing their own game and that I didn't think they were really chasing them. I'd encourage them to go try again and if the boys were bugging them to ask them to please leave them alone.

That didn't work. And after hearing a few "Gotcha's" from the boys I realized that they actually were chasing my kids.

About this time the mom realized what was going on and had a talk with the boys. I told the girls that I didn't think they'd bug them anymore and that if they did I'd talk to them.

Well.... the mom-talk did nothing..... and the mom realized it. She called the kids down to leave. I sent Z and A back in.

The boys started begging to go back in. The mom said yes. --groan--

Thirty seconds later..... Z and A are shrieking at the top of their lungs. Not just play shrieking..... really shrieking. I get up to see what's going on and find the girls at the top of the stairs (shrieking) and a boy who is writhing like a demon-possessed pit-bull roaring at them from the other end of a tube.

So..... here's where the dilemma sets in. What do you do in a situation like this?

Do you tell your kids to stop yelling and come down?

"I'm sorry girls..... we're going to have to go home now. This playland has obviously fallen into the hands of thugs.... and well..... you know..... thugs always get their way. Not to mention, we wouldn't want to cause any trouble or anything, would we?"

Do you leave your kids to fend for themselves?

"Sorry girls. Not really much I can do. Yeah.... I know I said I'd talk to them and all. But it's probably best if you work it out yourself. I'm not always going to be around to watch out for you, you know."

Do you leave the girls screaming and the boy roaring and quietly walk over to the mom?

"Ummm..... excuse me...... I realize that they don't actually listen to you and all...... but would you mind asking your demon-possessed pit-bull sons to please stop scaring the crap out of my kids.... just one more time? Thanks."

Or..... do you do what I did.... and go with the "daddy instinct."

"Hey! Guys! Leave my kids alone! Leave them alone or I'm gonna come up there!"

This didn't make mom happy. She started going off on me about how I had no right to correct her kids and that if I had a problem I should talk to her.

I apologized for yelling and explained that I'd heard her talking to her kids.... BUT that it was still inappropriate for them to be scaring the crap out of my kids.

She continued..... saying her kids weren't even near my kids and my kids were lying about it. And then she started saying something about being in the "wrong neighborhood" and that Ankeny is too ritzy for people like her to be welcome. Not sure what that was all about.

They left (angrily) and the girls (my 2 and 1 other) got back to playing (peacefully).

Now you've got to understand..... I'm a pretty easy-going guy. It takes a good bit to upset me, and when I do get upset, I feel bad about it for quite a while. So here I am, trying to figure out what I should have done.

To be honest.... I really don't know. Yeah..... I may have broken the my-kid's-my-kid - your-kid's-your-kid parenting rule..... AND made half the people in Burger King think I'm a total butt-head.

But hey...... DON'T mess with my kids!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I have been thinking a lot lately about being judgmental. My friend Mel has been condemned for empathizing with Lance Armstrong's children. (She grew up in a divorced home, too.) She has also been criticized and taken off blogrolls for *gasp* having a lesbian on her blogroll. I have been contemplating my prejudice against immaculate housekeepers. This morning I was talking to one of my new students about society's condemnation of smokers and drug addicts. (He and his wife smoke, and she is a case worker helping drug addicts.) My thoughts so far are that it is easy to judge when you don't have a face to put with the situation. God has blessed me with lots of different people touching my life to protect me from (and sometimes smash) prejudices. I want to take time to thank God for:

My sister who is an excellent housekeeper,
Her boyfriend who is black, in prison and is on the sex offender registry,
Another friend whose husband is also in prison,
My niece who is black,
My high school friend who had had several abortions and struggled with heroin addiction,
Another friend from high school who is a radical liberal and strict vegetarian,
My many co-workers (and sister!) who are Democrats,
My husband's cousin's husband, who was gay,
My cousin who is gay,
The two girls in high school who shared the good news about Jesus with me -- both of whom were overweight, one very much so,
Two Christian friends who divorced their husbands,
Many hispanics in New Mexico who I got to know and grew to love,
A college roommate who had gone to my high school and had been in the "in" crowd,
Another college roommate who is bipolar,
My assorted redneck relatives,
And I wouldn't be surprised if God sent a Muslim man my way to smash that one, too.

My point is not that I'm cool for knowing such a diverse group of people. I'm sure I'm on somebody's list, too. (Yeah, man, I have a friend who actually voted for Bush! She's one of those people who read the Bible and take it literally. Oh, yeah, and she even listens to country music! I know man, but besides that, she's not all bad!) I just think that if Jesus were walking on Earth, He would hang out at the gay bars, crack houses and on the streets with the homeless. I would be invited to join Him, but would be put in my place if I hinted that I thought I was any better than anyone else. That's how He lived when He was here, I'm sure it would be the same today.

My favorite book lately is Philip Yancey's What Is So Amazing About Grace? He talks a lot about how God loves us despite our sins, but also about how we need to love others despite their sins. After all, we all are sinners. It's easy to maximize other's sins and minimize our own, but Jesus loves us all the same. Immensely. Enough to suffer torture and death for us. All of us.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

These things are cool!

    FogScreen is a break-through technology, literally! FogScreen allows projection of high quality images in the air. It is the only currently available walk-through projection screen, based on our proprietary technology.

    With our new interactive add-on you can also use the air as your user interface. Operate computers by touching only the air with your bare hand. Write and draw in the air - this is science fiction, available today.

I don't really know what I'd do with one of these things.... and I'm sure I can't afford one....

But it sure would be fun to play with one for a while.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Not so perfect...

Some people are prejudiced against different races, some against overweight people. I struggle with mistrusting people who have a picked-up and clean house if I happen to drop over unexpectedly. Lots of us clean and pick up when we are expecting company, but I don't relate to people whose houses are always perfect. For some reason I don't trust them.

I have two friends who are also lax housekeepers, and we don't pick up for each other. To me that is a sign of a really good friend. If I ever come to your house, please don't feel like you have to pick up for me. I prefer to be surrounded by your family's papers, toys, etc. It makes me feel that I can be less than perfect and still be accepted.

It's tragic how many of us walk around feeling like we need to project perfection to be accepted, when that so often is what turns people away. I struggle with both sides. I have a hard time communicating weaknesses for fear of rejection, yet I don't trust others until I perceive their weaknesses, or at least their acceptance of mine. I know that is crazy, but I suspect I'm not alone.

Are you geek enough...

...for one of these?

Go get 'em

Dateline tracks down a porn spammer

    “If you can find the real person without an army of lawyers, without millions of dollars of research staff and investigators, if you could find the individual who actually clicked that mouse and sent that message — it would be a sight to see,” says Everett Church.

    Could we could find them? Unmask them? Drag them out from the anonymity of cyberspace, and find them wherever they are, in any corner of the world? Could we actually get one of these people to take responsibility for sending this stuff?

    This sounds like a mission for a Dateline Hidden Camera Investigation. Undercover and going with our gut, we’ll follow the trail until we literally return to sender.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Buddy Guy

We just got back from the Buddy Guy concert. It was at the amphitheater by the river in downtown Des Moines. I can't think of a better place for a concert like this. The weather was perfect and the music was GREAT!

At first I was debating whether I wanted to go. I mean $35 for a ticket.... ouch! I'm sure some of you have paid a lot more than that to see bands play. Not me. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the most I've ever spent on a concert ticket.

But.... I have to say it was worth it.

The opening band was Del Castillo. They play latin music...... and are really good at it. It's amazing to watch the two guitarists. They play the fast intertwining spanish guitar melodies and I was amazed at how well they kept time with each other. Often times they would be playing the exact same thing and it literally sounded like one guitar. It was really cool to listen to them. They're playing People's in Ames tomorrow night.... if you still want to catch a show.

And Buddy Guy? Well..... let's just say...... there's a reason he's a legend.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Crunchy Pecan Clusters

I got this cookie recipe from Nestle, and it is yummy. The girls love to help me make it. (And you can't go wrong with only 4 ingredients, 3 of which I always have on hand!)

3 packages of ramen noodles (3 oz. each) -- any flavor
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter
12 oz. bag Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels

Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

Put noodles in large ziplock bag and break them up with a rolling pin into pieces 1/2 inch or smaller. You can also break them up in a bowl with a wooden spoon. (Discard flavor packet or save for another use.)

Add pecans to noodles and mix.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add noodle mix. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for about five minutes or until noodles and pecans just begin to brown. Remove mixture from skillet to large bowl; cool slightly.

Melt morsels in medium uncovered bowl in microwave on medium-high heat (70%) until they begin to melt. Stir. Morsels may retain some of their shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Pour melted morsels over noodle mixture and toss until noodle mixture is completely coated. Drop by rounded teaspoons into mounds onto prepared baking sheets. (The mixture will appear loose, but will hold together when set.) Let stand 45-60 minutes or until set.

Welcome to all who visit from the Carnival of the Recipes, and thanks to SarahK for a great Carnival!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brace yourself Kris!!!

I mean it. Sit down before you click here.

Chicago was awesome!

Although we weren't able to see the Toulouse Lautrec exhibit, the Art Institute was amazing. Kris has great pictures here. Although I am artistically impaired, I have a great appreciation for the work of those who aren't. Prints are great when you can't see the real thing, but there is nothing like seeing the colors as they were intended, the true size of the work, the three dimensions of the brushstrokes. I could spend days there.

Like Kris, I was inspired, too. Unlike Kris, I am not an artist, and I couldn't design my way out of a preschool fingerpainting class. I do love to knit and weave, though. Being amidst the art made me want to create too, especially after seeing this Diego Rivera painting. I learned to weave when we lived in Santa Fe, and Blue made me a backstrap loom much like the one in the painting, and a large walking loom. I haven't woven much since A was born 2-and-a-half years ago, but I think I might start it up again.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Kris and I got to Chicago around 8:00 last night. I was worried that it was getting pretty late since we didn't have a reservation. It turned out to be perfect timing. We were one of the first there for the show and got a table up front. We had time to eat and chat before the band started shortly after nine. I had a blue plate special which had a cup of jumbalaya, a cup of red beans, a cup of gumbo, and a cup of etoufee. They were all very, very good -- especially the eutoufee.

The band was awesome. Carlos Johnson was playing. The music was great, and Carlos has a sense of humor that reminds me of Buddy Guy. I like when artists don't take themselves too seriously, and he definitely didn't. The rest of the band was great too. The bassist (who was very good and had a beautiful bass guitar) reminded me of Bill Cosby (only younger and cuter.) He constantly had these exaggerated, comical facial expressions that cracked me up. The keyboard player was also amazing. He was grinning the whole time, and it was obvious that he loved every minute of the show. The drummer was also great. I have an appreciation of good drumming, because I have tried it and I don't have the coordination to work two hands and two feet at the same time with different rhythms. I dabble at playing the congas, but only playing with two hands is much more manageable, and I am not very good.

Today we will be going to the Art Institute. I read that there is a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. It should be very cool.