Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jenn’s Latest Movie Review(s)

I don’t feel like writing today. I really don’t. Call it three parts pollen, one part I still need to finish reading that book this week, and two parts I probably ought to hold my tongue.

Non-controversial topics … the movies. My sis and I finally got to a couple we’d been wanting to see. We really need to start our own YouTube channel for movie reviews. The new Siskell and Ebert except far more attractive. Because you want to know what we think. You know you do.

Gifted I highly recommend.  Captain America, Papa/God from The Shack, a cute kid, and math. Captain America is raising his gifted niece. Antics ensue. Stupid people act stupid. Best line …

“Beware of small minded people with a little bit of power.”

Possible need for tissues. Go see it.

The Case for Christ. I liked this one, but I’m not as all-in on it as Gifted. This is the latest offering from Pure Flix and based on the book by Lee Strobel. I could not remember if I’d read the book, but my sister swears I passed it along to her, telling her she haaaaad to read it. Okay. That would have been several or maybe quite a few years ago. I do not recall.

I have mixed feelings on Pure Flix. I have enjoyed some of their films, but I feel they’re geared mostly toward believers. Which is fine. Let’s just be up front about that and admit that the “cheesy factor” is probably not going to convert anyone. Believers who need a little boost, a good reminder, a safe family film … all good. Maaaaaybe as a conversation starter … case in point, God’s Not Dead. “Hey that was kind of cheesy and not too in depth, but what does your faith mean to you? Why do you believe?”

I liked The Case for Christ up to the … well … I called it the gratuitous deus ex machina “I believe” scene. The investigative part of the movie – which was most of the movie – was pretty good. There was a noticeable lack of cheese. Well done. But I suppose in the interest of keeping the film at about two hours long, there just wasn’t enough time for a more believable (no pun intended) treatment of the emotional and spiritual goings-on inside Lee Strobel’s heart, mind, and soul. What takes someone from atheist to believer? Sunday School answer, everyone? Jeeeeesus. Yes, true. Just don’t drag your atheist or agnostic friend to this movie thinking, “This is gonna be it.” It might behoove you to continue the conversation … or skip the movie and hand them the book, followed by continuing the conversations … or pray for them, and continue the conversation …

You think the barriers are for secrecy, but apparently they’re just for your protection. And to hide my construction lifts. Hey, they have my initials on them.

Tacos and schtuff in the shape of a cross! Jesus wants me to eat these carbs.
For now ... my social calendar is full, so off I go ... first to the pub ... then to a church.

Keep looking up.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Whilst scrolling through the friend book the other day, whilst finding nothing original or remotely interesting, all I could think of was …

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

My newsfeed was dead.

Oh there was plenty in it. Articles and articles and articles friends had liked or shared. Articles and articles and articles by people and about people I don’t know. It’s dead, Jim! Sigh.

Speaking of original content. You may recall from a number of weeks ago I was contemplating alternate uses for a giant economy package of Angel Soft.

Performance art involving flaming tp? Never did get on that, but it was still under consideration. Being a creative type who likes to craft and play with paint on occasion, I wondered about tp as an art medium. I was envisioning a paper mache type of thing. Maybe just adding texture to a painting or a wooden box or something. I googled to see if there were any techniques people had already played with out there. All I got were 7,342 ways to use toilet paper cardboard rolls to make art.

Perhaps I had an original idea.

I bought a bottle of Modge Podge and a couple canvases.

And the very next day I wound up at the original intended location of the tp. So I left it there. Without flames. Without Modge Podge.

But now I have Modge Podge and a couple canvases. Partay.

It may be 81 degrees here today, but there were still remnants of snow around these parts not that long ago.

As I continue spinning my wheels through life – someone said the other day I’m always so busy … yeah, maybe, but I rarely feel like I’m accomplishing anything. But maybe that doesn’t matter.


I suppose God knows what he’s doing.

A couple months ago I was flying low down the back roads in a lame attempt to make it to church on time. Technically, on time equals in time to catch communion before the sermon. It does. I went to fast forward the music to the next song … I was playing a CD … and I don’t know of any single button I could have hit to make this happen … but my sound system became possessed by the Holy Spirit and started playing a song via Bluetooth from my phone. From Canticle of the Plains to Hal Ketchum’s Past the Point of Rescue. Everyone sing the guitar riff with me … do-do-do, do-do-do, do-do-do, do-do-do …

And I wonder if I'm past the point of rescue
Is no word from you at all the best that you can do

A message from above perhaps. Who is past the point of rescue? Me? You? All of us?

And who’s waiting on word from who? How many times in life are we waiting on word about something? And wondering why, why, whyyyyyyy haven’t I heard? Whyyyy? I hate this. Whyyyyyyy? Should I throw up my hands and move on? Whyyyyyy? When????? Should I focus on something else? What? Ugh.

So go listen to Hal Ketchum while reading Lamentations? I don’t know. At least it’s good driving music.

I’d rather have no word at all than this message.

What’s up, pup?

A couple days ago I was attempting to focus on some reading. A chapter on the subject of focus, no lie. I had been served a meat-laden dish when I ordered vegetarian, and my server was being scarce, so why not stick my nose in this book until she surfaces. Two older ladies at the next booth were chattering away. Sometimes the people with the most piercing voices are the least self-aware of it.


So while Jenn was trying to focus on focus, the one woman in particular was deeply concerned about a dog in a car outside. Apparently a lady across the restaurant had left her pet in the car while she dined, but possibly with the engine (and therefore air conditioning) running. Difficult to tell from inside the restaurant. The concerned woman wanted the staff to intervene. Her server explained she couldn’t do that. Based on past experience, it wasn’t really her place. While this lengthy conversation continued about the welfare of a dog that was just fine as long as the situation didn’t go on forever, concerned woman number two took a cell phone call from who must have been her adult daughter. I learned all about her grandson’s soccer game and just about every other topic under the sun. For a while, both the soccer and dog conversations were going on at the same time. It felt really good when it all stopped.


Focus schmocus. 

Keep looking up.

Riding down the road in a convoy with Grandma Moses
Half the speed limit
Go straight go straight go straight
Thank you

Gma Moses number two
What is it
With today
Or in the air
Or with these people

But ultimately all works together for good
For the solitude to read
And translate
And silently ask for prayer
And keep a Mona Lisa smile
We're all on the same page
I think
I’m pretty sure
But maybe you can't tell
Because we don't sound like it

Do any of our hollow words matter
If it sounds like we’re spewing vitriol

The salmon sky blue gray creaminess
Somehow makes it all better
Oh hi Moses number three
I'm going whichever way you aren't
With a higher creed on repeat
Making me long for true home

True home
Where doubt and weirdness just go away
Where we don't have to hide
Behind masks of spiritual perfection
Perfection in imperfection
But not too much
Just enough to be really real

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Canary in the Coal Mine

A friend posted today about only recently becoming familiar with the phrase “canary in the coal mine”. Having lived in West Virginia for an extended period of time, and having roots in Appalachia, I’ve been familiar for as long as I can remember. 

It's funny sometimes how commonplace certain phrases and customs and foods can be in our little worlds, without us realizing how regionalized our culture might be. Shredded chicken, I'm told for example, is kind of a central Ohio delicacy. I'm making some for a potluck in a couple weeks. But I digress.

I often refer to myself as the canary in the coal mine when it comes to spring allergies. I am a human pollen detector. The official counts usually serve only to validate my symptoms. Meds, shots, and avoidance of that to which I’m allergic are the treatments. Avoidance. As in keep the doors and windows shut, and run the air conditioner. As in avoid the outdoors to the extent you can. As in shower off the pollen when you come in from being outside.

I recently had to cancel my gym membership because the staff was so drunk on fresh spring air I’d regularly find the doors wide open upon my arrival. No, no, no, no, no, no. You’ve turned this into an outdoor facility and that’s a huge no-no for me. Against doctor’s orders. Unhealthy. Decreased lung capacity.

I asked nicely for the issue to be addressed. It wasn’t. It was clear it wouldn’t be. Bye, drunk-on-fresh-spring-air Felicia.

Am I seriously the only allergy sufferer who tries to take care of herself?


By the way, the oak pollen this week is outrageous. And I knew it before the official report confirmed it.



So much going on here. And no, that's not an oak.

When last we spoke I had just finished up a wild goose chase. A rainy, icky, wet wild goose chase. Moist even.

When you're on your phone for a minute and no one notices, so they just close the door on you. :-)

You’re welcome.

Fast forward to the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours and …

Well. In the land of the twilight zone it takes a village. And often another villager steps in to assist. Not this time though. We were missing the Holy Grail. I finally (finally!) eventually got the detail on what happened to the Holy Grail. I thought maybe it broke. Maybe we were trying to do something newfangled. Are we trying to connect the leg bone to the hip bone or something??? I’m an engineer! I need to know why!

But no. None of that. In true Kirk Cameron fashion, the Holy Grail was …

Left Behind.

Okay fine.

In the land of the twilight zone we often speak in a foreign language. It’s a combination of song lyrics, Christianese, morbid Pollyannaism, brutal honesty, brain fog, and Broadway musicals.

So it often takes some time to drill down to just the facts, ma’am.

What we thought would be the most efficient option – a fake grail from the local Wally World – was a great idea until … it didn’t work! Ack! After some time drilling down to more facts and checking some boxes … my mission became clear. My crusade, if you will.

I put on my Indiana Jones hat and set out on a journey to find the Holy Grail.

And I found it.

And I ate some okra.

And I returned with the spoils.

And all was right in the land of electrons.


And I headed out to attend a musical.

This artistic awesomeness is much more sparkly and impressive in person.

My canary friend today viewed the coal mine phrase with a unique perspective. Some people are more sensitive than others to the poison in a situation … emotional poison, spiritual poison, relational poison. And sensitivity often is viewed negatively … even by the sensitive ones themselves. But maybe we need those canaries in our lives to metaphorically keel over while there’s still time to take action. To nip things in the bud.

Hopefully the metaphorical keeling is mild and temporary.

I often find myself being the observant one. The one picking up the angsty vibe. The one picking up that things aren’t quite right. Or not as expected. I don’t always have it all figured out. I’ve not always arrived at the why and wherefore. I may not have a solution yet.

Not sure if I’m the canary or the one holding the canary.

But the dude’s got the vapors.

A bird in the hand is worth …

The Incredible Hulk says keep looking up.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Persona Non Grata

I waver between feeling invisible and not so invisible.

It’s been said I never met a stage I didn’t like. So being on one doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. It’s a place I hang out sometimes. I did have a cameo the other day in this gem. Well my forehead did mostly.
I don’t know, I guess I’m bored and confused lately. Which is similar to dazed and confused, but totally a different thing I’m sure.

I went to an event the other night. Accomplished my goal of sharing the latest thing I’m promoting, caught up with some friends, and … hmmm … saw some pretty chandeliers … and …

I guess I’m feeling some angst. I have this calmness and peace about some things. Calmness and peace and purpose.

And I’m realizing I have such a different set of priorities than the average person on the street. I suppose go read The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken and then let’s converse. I was warned.  

Yes, I was warned.

But slow and steady wins the race.

Speaking of which. I recently had a decision to make. A difficult decision. Largely based on this persona non grata vibe I seem to have going. I finally just left it in God’s hands as they say (ugh, Christianese) … and I was going to remain in place unless a clear sign came my way. Which it did. Hmmm. There were really only a couple of ways that sign could have arrived. And it was one of those. Hmmm.

I realize when we think or even just suspect others think of us negatively … more often than not they’re not thinking of us at all … because they’re too wrapped up in their own stuff. But is ceasing to exist in their world any better than existing negatively? An engineer’s answer is always, “It depends,” but perhaps Buddhist monks would have fun meditating on that one.


Persona non grata is being called into service for some engineering and SoMe tasks, sooooo … cutting this short today. Keep contemplating. Keep meditating.

P.S. Dear Lord, thank you for granting me the time and gasoline for today's wild goose chase. The next time I contemplate such an adventure, please remind me of the title of this post. Ooooohhhhhhmmmmm ....

Keep looking up.

All the right friends in all the right places
So yeah we're going down
(All the right moves in all the right places)
So yeah we're going down

Paint a picture of the perfect place
They've got it better than when anyone's told ya,
I'll be the King of Hearts, you're the Queen of Spades
And we'll fight for you like we were soldiers

I know we've got it good
But they've got it made
And the grass is getting greener each day
I know things are looking up
But soon they'll take us down
Before anybody's knowing our name

They've got all the right friends in all the right places
So yeah, we're going down
They've got all the right moves in all the right faces
So yeah, we're going down

Everybody knows, everybody knows where we're going
Yeah, we're going down
I said, everybody knows, everybody knows where we're going
Yeah, we're going down

Do you think I'm special, do you think I'm nice
Am I bright enough to shine in your spaces
Between the noise you hear and the sound you like
Are we just sinking in the ocean of faces

It can't be possible that rain can fall,
Only when it's over our heads
The sun is shining everyday, but it's far away
Over the world it's said, they've got, they've got

All the right friends, in all the right places
So yeah we're going down
We got all the right moves in all the right places
So yeah we're going down

Everybody knows, everybody knows where we're going
Yeah, we're going down
Everybody knows, everybody knows where we're going
Yeah, we're going down (going down, going down, going down, going down)

It don't matter what you see
I know I could never be
Someone that'll look like you
It don't matter what you say
I know I could never face
Someone that could sound like you

~ OneRepublic’s “All the Right Moves”