Tuesday, December 27, 2005

From Out Of The Silence

Sorry to all those of you who kept checking in to read something new and enlightening on my blog for the past several days. It's amazing how, when you are at home all day, it is difficult to find time to blog.

But that's not to say I haven't been writing. In fact, I'm on target to finish editing my first-ever novel by January first (for those of you who weren't aware I was writing one). Which means, I'll be starting the process of querying agents come January. Mindburst looks to be coming in around 51,000 words, which is within the range typical of a young-adult book. This is my fourth draft. I wish I could say final draft, but I know too much about the business to make such a claim. The final draft won't be until it is send to the printer and ready to hit the bookstore shelves.

It is rather odd to think I'm almost done, though. At least with this stage. I've been struggling to figure out what to do next. I could start on the sequel (as I'm planning this to be a four-book series at the moment), or I could start on one of my other totally unrelated ideas. Maybe I could start polishing up some of my short stories and send those out. Or maybe start working on my website. Who knows? But one thing for sure...I promise not to abandom my faithful blog-readers. Or, eh-hem, reader. (I can always count on my wife to read what I write. I think.)

Anyhow, I'm coming out of the silence of my holiday break to keep you all updated. I'll try to blog about something more intriguing next time in a few days. On Thursday, for example, I'm taking my two oldest boys to help work at a homeless shelter, so I might have a story or two to tell about that. We'll see what happens.


Thursday, December 22, 2005


We are three days away from the biggest holiday event of the year: Opening Christmas gifts.

In our family, however, it was really turning into "what Christmas is all about", which we weren't happy with. There is a reason we celebrate, and it isn't to sing songs about the most wonderful time of the year, nor a time of "family", nor a time for presents, although those all become a part of the season. No, we celebrate because of a little baby who was born to offer salvation to the world.

So, my wife and I decided to mix things up a bit a few years ago, and move the gift-exchange thing to Thanksgiving day. I blogged about that already in November. Christmas morning, for us, is not filled with the expectation of gifts. It is about Jesus' birthday. Although, this year, we have the added bonus of having Christmas Day fall on Sunday, meaning we can celebrate the holiday at church. Later, we'll throw a birthday party.

Some folks might find the shift of gift-giving a bit odd. And, I suppose it is. But we don't do the Santa thing, so that's no big deal. Instead, we have a family tradition on Christmas Eve night which my wife and I started before we even had kids. We have our stockings. But it is more than just a few gifts. It is a whole game.

Prior to Christmas Eve night, my wife and I set a price limit. Originally it was $10, and then we upped that to $15 (due to inflation). We then go to separate stores and buy as many meaningful gifts without going over that price. It is quite a challenge, but well worth it. For example, my wife will often buy me Chapstick because of my incessantly dry lips. I, one year, bought my wife this de-icer for the windshield that you spray on because she is too short to reach. It is fun, especially when you do something like wrap up six white sox individually in order to have more to open.

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but I'm quite family-oriented. And as such, having unique activities and traditions that enrich the family are important to me. Spending a fortune on each of our kids may make the retailers happy, and it may even, for a short while, make my kids happy. But I'm not in it for their short-term happiness. We're a family for the long haul. So, well...we just don't spend that kind of money. We can't spend that kind of money. At least not without heaping more debt upon our heads. So, we found creative ways to make memories to last a lifetime without having to buy that iPod, or whatever.

In case I don't get a chance to write again before the 25th, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May the Lord bless you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Miracles Do Happen

The human body never ceases to amaze me. Or, in this case, completely flabberghast me. In a follow up from my blog entry from earlier, I am back from my appointment with my endo.

I come to you bearing both good news and bad news (and interesting news plus another tidbit).

First, the good news. By some miracle, my A1c was not only lower than I expected, it was lower than it has ever been. Yes, folks, I managed a 6.4! Which is perplexing, to say the least, since I've been having so many highs. And not just highs...but really high highs. (Maybe they messed up my readings with someone else.)

Second, the bad news. My cholesterol is elevated. Specifically, both my HDL and LDL. That's good for my HDL, but bad for the LDL. I'm not entirely surprised by this, however. In the past year, I've kind of given in to the temptation of eating high-cholesterol foods far more often than ever. My doctor wants to put me on a statin, which I'll get to in a minute...but I told him let's hold off. I'm going to spend the next three months revamping my diet back to the healthy way I used to eat and see if I can bring it down that way.

Third, the interesting news. As I mentioned, my doctor wanted me to go on a statin. Not because my LDL is horribly high. But he informed me that recent research has shown that the A1c has not been proven to be an indicator of heart disease in Type 1 diabetics. In fact, according to him, there isn't much proof of correlation at all. Instead, he said that having an LDL above 100 (which is considered otherwise somewhat normal) indicates a huge increase in the probabiliy of heart disease for type 1s. Apparently, they are recommending that every Type 1 diabetic with LDL at 100 or higher go on a cholesterol-lowering statin.

Finally, a tidbit. My pump (the Minimed Paradigm 511) is now 3 1/2 years old. Often, people replace their pump at the four year mark. I asked my doctor about this, and he told me I might just consider holding off attempting to upgrade if my pump hasn't had problems. The reason is, apparently the trials on the Minimed combined Continuous Glucose Monitoring System and Insulin Pump are nearing completion. He said the estimates are about twelve months or so, and it will be available, so it might be best to hold off. I had assumed a few more years...but I guess it is closer than I realized. The new CGMS he said is a significantly smaller system than what Minimed sells today as a standalone unit, but will communicate wirelessly to the pump.

There you have it folks. And now, I must head off to bed.

Bless Their Little Hearts

I don't know about your endo, but my doctor has one of those A1c machines right in the office. So, by the end of the visit, you know the good...or bad...news. Frankly, the A1c result is all I really care about in the entire visit. Sure, he schedules blood work for me, makes sure I can still feel my toes and all...but none that really matters to me as much as that A1c number. Place your bets, place your bets. Will I make it below that magic number seven this time? Find out after a word from our sponsors (err, doctors).

Today is that day for me. My three-month check up. Time to find out if I've been naughty or nice. And, I'm afraid, I'm expecting more naughty than nice. Something has happened in the past several months, and I think it is time for an overhaul on my basal rates. I've been putting off the work of doing that, however, until after this A1c. My highs have been higher, and my lows lower lately.

I'm guessing a 7.3 this time around. We'll see if I'm right. But if I am, I'll hang my head in shame. I haven't been above a 7.1 in years.

So, anyhow, you know the routine (or perhaps you don't, if you're not diabetic). Offer up that blood sample and wait. And wait. And wait some more. When the doctor comes into the room, you try to read some indication from his body language where you stand. But doctors are master poker players, I think. No hint of what cards are in his hand.

And actually, what I hate worse than waiting for the number is what advice comes after the number is revealed...especially when the number is higher than before. Because, as a diabetic with twenty-three years under my belt, I pretty much manage everything myself. My doctor will try to send in the interns, looking through my BGLs they printed out from my meter to figure how what the problem is that led to the elevated A1c. Perhaps if I raise my basal here, and cut it back here. I smile and nod, whole-heartily agreeing. Then, I leave the office and ignore it all.

That's probably not very good to admit, but it's true. Because, frankly, their advice is never really too helpful. They aren't there to see what I ate that caused those morning highs, for example. The meter doesn't show that. The trick isn't to add more insulin...the trick might just be to eliminate that donut, or bolus more accurately. But bless their little hearts for wanting to sound so involved. And, since I'm paying them big money for their advice, there is no point in shattering their egos by telling them I'm about to ignore everything they are telling me.

My A1c. Today. Then, it is time to buckle down and do the hard work of re-calculating everything. It is tedious. Probably takes a good month of hard work and skipping various meals to get the basals correct. But it will be worth it in the end, because then I can go back three months from now expecting a 6.8 instead of a 7.3 (or 7.5 or 7.8).

Maybe Santa will bring me a lower A1c than I expected, but I have my doubts. So, good luck to you all on your A1cs, whenever they are due.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Losing My Man Card

I'd like to think that what I'm about to tell you would garner not only your respect, but also demonstrate my security in my masculinity. Yet, I fear that for some of you...the men in particular...you'll just laugh and write me off as something not very politically correct to say in a public forum such as this. But, here goes...

One of my all time favorite movies (or set of movies, I suppose) is Anne of Green Gables and its sequel, Anne of Avonlea. Okay, okay. I'll wait for the laughter to die down.

*Foot tapping*

*More foot tapping*

Now then, I realize that this is not on the top of many men's list of films. You'd expect the likes of X-Men or Spiderman or even Star Wars. And while I do like those movies, there is just something about the Anne-girl that makes me happy.

My boys are already hooked on action. The Incredibles, Star Wars, Monster's Inc. If there is a chase scene, they'll like it. This, despite the fact that we really are very careful about what we let them watch.

Anyhow, a couple of days ago, I decided it was high-time I broadened their horizons. There is so much more to learn than the latest light-saber techniques. Right? So, I put in Anne of Green Gables. I think my six-year-old was a bit hesitant. I mean, who wants to watch a movie about a girl, right? But I insisted, and so we all sat down.

Two hours later (and only halfway through the first movie), they were totally enthralled. I stopped the movie, saying it was time for bed, but they didn't want to stop. They wanted to know what would happen next! I mean, Anne's relationship with Diana's mother was finally restored after saving Diana's little sister's life! How can you stop the movie now?

So, last night, we picked things up and finished out the first movie. After it was over, my eldest said, "So now what happens?"

Time to buy the second movie. (For the record, we used to own it, but we then bought the first on DVD, fully intending to buy the second shortly thereafter. So, we gave our VHS copies to a friend, but have yet to buy the second.)

It is refreshing to know that my children can appreciate quality family movies, where tension is defined by more than just whether or not Mr. Incredible will escape the clutches of the Omnidroid with his life.

And while I'm sure someone will insist I lose my "man card" over all this, I will tell you that wild horses couldn't drag it from my hands. Because there is much to learn from Anne (with an e).

I'm thankful for such family movies...movies that go behind entertainment, and truly attempt to teach children something meaningful...something important. Because no matter how many times I analyze the significance of a piece of dialog spoken by Anakin Skywalker, in the end it is rather pointless. Whether Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley every reconcile their differences...now that is important stuff. Not only if they do, but how...and why.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Entry I Had to Write

My wife has this really good friend. She's really quite needy, always asking for a "blanket of love", not only from her friendship with my wife...but also with me.

Case in point, she has been hounding me day in and day out about just when I'm going to blog about her. Well, not so much day in and day out as in a couple comments made to me on two separate days in passing. But still, it's not so much about how much she's asked me, and more about the way she asks.

So, I thought the time has come that I acknowledge her. Yes, world of bloggers, I personally know Tasha Tywlak. No, not "Tasha" that rhymes with "Sascha", but "Tasha" that rhymes with "Tay-shuh". (Sorry...but I never realized that there really aren't any real words that rhyme with her name. Well, "fascia"...but some people pronounce that particular word so that it sounds like "fashion" withiout the n, and well, I don't think she'd forgive me for that.) Her last name? Well, the "w" is silent. Who knows why? It just is. Sounds like "Tie-lack".

Yes. Being famous is hard. I mean, all my fans (all twenty of them) wish I would blog about them. And, hopefully, now that I mentioned Tasha here means that, by association, she too will become famous and perhaps even become that super model she's always dreamed of becoming. Good luck on that Tasha. I'm sure an agent will be calling you soon.

Ahhh. I already feel cleansed in doing this. This was, you know, the "entry I had to write", but just never felt "led". She's asked me why once, and I told her that I just write what comes to mind on any given day. Today is your day, my dear Tasha. Do you feel the blanket of love now?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In the Land of Narnia

Last night, I had the privilege of going to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with my wife and two oldest boys. My wife had previewed the trailer to my boys several days ago, and they were beyond excited. And, my six-year-old was certain to declare to us hourly how he won't be scared. (He seems to believe that we forbid them to see movies that we might consider "too scary" for his age...which, come to think of it, is true.)

I will say, I was quite impressed. The movie far exceeded my expectations. I had seen made-for-television productions before that were laughable. But this was simply gorgeous, and very true to the intent of the books...although, there were some necessary liberties taken, as is the case with all book-to-movie translations.

The casting was perfect, cinematography beautiful, and the special effects impressive. As I had read in several reviews, the director did a great job of leaving intact the symbolism that abounds in the books, yet at the same time leaving that same symbolism as subtle as found in the books.

If this movie had a flaw, it was in attempting to be a bit too much like the recent Lord of the Rings epic. The movie was big in that same epic sense. The world of Narnia was created as more than just a few sets on a soundstage. That is good, actually. But there were times I couldn't help but think they were trying to carbon-copy the feel of the Tolkien-based films. The battle scene, in particular. I wouldn't be surprised if they used the same special-effects house that Peter Jackson used. Yet, if you can separate yourself from that aspect, it was a terrific movie in every regard.

I will admit up front that I was surprised at the intensity of a few of the scenes. Despite being rated PG, I felt this movie bordered into the PG-13 rating in a few places. The battle scene, for example. I was unsure how my six-year-old might react to this, although after the fact, he claimed he wasn't scared one little bit. I think he is just ensuring we won't leave him out on any potential future movie extravaganzas. I think he was scared...just a little. I know I was.

It had been years since I read the books, so my lack of recent familiarity with the original C. S. Lewis telling probably made me able to enjoy the movies even more. There were a few key moments of suspense that I think I wouldn't have felt tension in had I actually remembered what happened before it happened.

This is a movie I highly recommend to everyone, though if your child is under seven, I would be a bit careful and gauge your own child's ability for a few intense scenes with violence. There was a girl, maybe eight or nine, sitting behind us who, during the battle scene, said out loud, "Whoa...that was violent!" So this isn't just the opinion of an overly-protective father.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green

Have you ever considered why in the world we (as in all of humanity) feel the need to ponder and place utmost importance on the answers to subjective questions such as, "What's your favorite color?"

It seems a silly question...although, I'll admit I've put a great amount of effort in formulating my answer. Because just what does it matter? Is one color inherantly better than another? And so what if it is? Or what if the world existed without that color? Life would likely go on...and I would simply have a different answer to that question.

Yet, when deciding the compatibility of a future mate, it seems to be one of the first questions asked. Because clearly, if my spouse doesn't agree that green (or blue or red or whatever) is her favorite color at all, then all bets are off in our relationship. We might as well start drawing up the divorce papers now.

Interestingly, my answer to that question has changed over time, which makes the question even more perplexing. As a child, my answer was always blue. Why? Because I was a boy. And blue is a boy's color. Girls pick pink, and boys pick blue. The thought of picking any other color would be a blow to my masculinity (as much as it was at the age of six).

As I aged, growing in maturity and wisdom by age ten, I realized that I didn't want blue to be my favorite color. I mean, I didn't want to just be a lemming (not that I knew what a lemming was at the time) and pick blue because it was the in-thing. No. I wanted to be different. Set my own pace in life. So, I changed my favorite color. To red. Red was still masculine...particularly the darker variety. Plus, every game in existance had red game pieces, right? So, red it was!

But then I waxed philosophical. (I've never used that phrase in my life, but I've always wanted to.) I became an adult. There had to be more thought and meaning behind my answer than just wanting to have a game-piece that matched my favorite color. More than just being my own person. I decided to ponder what color in the world would I most miss if suddenly it were taken away? Because that, my friends, would define my favorite color.

So, I sat and stared at the world. The answer was clear. Green. Definitely green. Imagine the world without the green grass on my lawn, the green leaves of the forests, the green mold in my bathtub. Yes. Without green, the world would be a boring place indeed. Less (and this is for my friends at Backspace) verdant.

Today, if anyone asks me what's my favorite color, my answer is green. But, frankly, what does it matter? I suppose the really important questions of life today...the questions that define each of us a person with unique thoughts and feelings...are the questions that are most likely to cause tension. Are you liberal or conservative? What's your favorite religion? Do you like blondes or brunettes or red heads? Pepsi or Coca-Cola?

Yes, asking one's favorite color is safe, and avoids all the controversy of life. Go ahead and ask, then, and keep the peace.

Me? I'm thankful for green, and red, and blue, and yellow, and every other color of the rainbow. What a beautiful world God has created for us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Future Of Diabetes

Twenty-three years ago, the cure to diabetes was just around the corner. My mother subscribed to Diabetes Forecast so that we could keep tabs on developments in treatment and research. I remember feeling excited each time I read about some new step closer to that cure.

Today, I'm a bit more realistic about things. Perhaps even cynical. But I honestly do not believe there will be a cure to diabetes in my lifetime. And, since I plan to live to the ripe old age of at least eighty, we're talking close to fifty years. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. We'll see.

In twenty-three years, however, there have been amazing advancements in the treatment of diabetes, and I only see that continuing...eventually the point where the need for a "cure" won't be so significant. And, I think we'll soon see the vaccination against Type 1 diabetes, which will mean future generations will never have to face the disease.

So, what's in store for us? And what do I see as obstacles?

First is the next generation of blood glucose monitoring. We have already seen a couple of methods for continuously monitoring BGLs. I think this technology will continue to advance to the point where we have a continuous and real-time update on our BGLs. This will, of course, lead to interactions with insulin pumps that auto-regulate your BGLs. This is not far-fetched, as there are a few companies already developing this and I believe at least one already undergoing FDA trials.

But I don't see this technology as perfect. I don't think we'll just be able to eat without counting carbs, and have the closed-loop system (as they call it) function without interaction. The trouble is insulin technology, and inherant delays in BG monitoring. Insulins, currently, take ten to fifteen minutes before getting into the bloodstream enough to do anything. Add in the delay that it takes for the food you eat to enter your system, and you will end up with a lag in insulin delivery. Furthermore, you have a delay in the actual BGL compared to what is monitored in a continuous fashion.

Still, even if we still need to bolus for food, a closed-loop system will be able to immediately compensate for error plus otherwise unknown causes in highs and lows...even, potentially, preventing them altogether.

There is, of course, the possibility of avoiding these delays by having an implantable system. Yet, I'd be leery of such a solution, with a greater risk of infection, not to mention the ongoing problem of the body "clogging up" the delivery and sensors for monitoring. Despite the pain and annoyance in having to insert a new infusion set every few days, I think it is a safer solution all around.

Second, as I already mentioned, there is the vaccination, which is already undergoing trials (although, I don't recall if they are animal trials or human trials at this point). I know those with diabetes (or parents of those with diabetes) are wishing for a cure...I honestly think the vaccination is a far better solution. Prevent anyone else from developing diabetes, and in a couple generations, the need for a cure is rather moot. With improving treatments, I'd personally rather see research monies put towards preventing diabetes and treating diabetes.

But, third, there is the future of a cure. As I said...not something I expect in my lifetime, but certainly a possibility. Of course, the most promising at this point is the use of adult stem cells. And I do qualify stem cells with "adult" because I don't see embryonic stem cells as a viable source of a cure. Not just due to the ethical/moral implications. But for scientific reasons. To date, embryonic stell cells have proven to be pretty much worthless in the treatment of anything. There is a lot of "hope" in them, but thus far, nothing more than that.

Adult stem cells, however, have been successfully used in a variety of treatments of various ailments, and there has been success even in the area of diabetes. Money needs to be directed there rather than the unproven "technology" of embryonic stem cells because we already know it has potential and can work.

And there is another reason: Rejection. There is a huge issue with rejection when you deal with any source of tissue that are not from the person they came from. Much as with organ transplants, stem cells taken from another source other than the person to be cured will require anti-rejection medications, which have health risks of their own. But adult stem cells don't face this hurdle. Stem cells can be taken from a person's own body, cultured into new beta cells, and used by the body without fear of rejection.

But if we're so close to that, where is the problem? Well, the fact is, we still have the problem of what caused the killing of the beta cells to begin with. They body of the diabetic killed off his or her own beta cells already. Even if the new cells are implanted, there is a great risk that the body will react to the new cells the same way they reacted to the original beta cells. The question becomes, can any form of beta cell implantation work successfully for those who are already diabetic? We've already seen cases of transplants where this has been an issue. For the first year or so, the body appears to produce insulin again...but that soon fails. That might be due to rejection, but it might be due to the body's autoimmune response.

We have a long way to go. But there is a future for diabetics. I've lived twenty-three years with the disease, and have a wonderfully prosperous life. I expect to continue living a prosperous life with the disease for another fifty. And I look forward to what the future holds.

Today, I'm thankful for the treatments available. For insulin pumps, analog insulins, BG meters that are almost instantaneous. I'm thankful for the medical companies that develop this. A grand example of capitalism at work. Competition among medical companies has benefited the lives...and will continue to benefit the lives...of diabetics everywhere.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride

A few days ago, I shared the wonderful insight I gained by my youngest son's proclamation that the snow was melting. Well, it turns out everything I learned was completely wrong. Because, you see, today for an hour we decided to enjoy the six inches of snow we now have. I took the kids sledding.

But, before you go all gushy on my and say, "Aw, how cute!", let me break that hour up for you:

10:50-11:15 (25 minutes)
Look for and put on all snow suits, mittens, and boots.

11:15-11:17 (2 minutes)
Escort my daughter down the steps.

11:17-11:19 (2 minutes)
Convince my daughter that it was okay to sit down on the sled

11:19-11:22 (3 minutes)
Drag the sled with my daughter up the hill.

11:22-11:22 (Less than one minute)
My daughter slides down hill

11:22-11:25 (3 minutes)
Convince my daughter that she has to get off the sled so that I can go back up the hill.

11:25-11:27 (2 minutes)
Walk up the hill while my daughter is in tear. My youngest son joins us at the top.

11:27-11:28 (1 minute)
Get them both arranged and seated together on the sled, because my daughter refuses to allow anyone on the sled unless she is on it as well.

11:28-11:28 (Less than one minute)
Slide down hill.

11:28-11:35 (Seven minutes)
Repeat above steps, but include extra minute to put their mittens back because they were crying that their hands were cold.

11:35-11:50 (Fifteen minutes)
My daughter cried the rest of the time, refusing to walk in the snow. I would ask her if she wanted to go inside. "No!" I'd ask her if she wanted to play in the snow. "No!"

So, at this point, I declared it was lunch time and headed inside.

Am I a bad father if, during this whole expedition, I just laughed at my daughter? Because I thought the whole image of her insisting she stay outside in the very cold that is making her miserable rather hillarious.

So, for what took an hour, there was a grand total of about 1 minute of enjoyment. Oh what fun it is to ride on a sled down our tiny hill. Because after we were all cozy and warm inside again, I asked them if they wanted to go outside again. The answer? A resounding, "I wanna outside!"

I'm sure there must be some secret message God is teaching me through all this. But whatever it is, I'm too busy being amused to think about it. Mostly, I just think my kids are mentally insane!

And just what am I thankful for today? I'm thankful that children are cute, even in the most trying of times. It is what gets parents through yet another day without killing our children, and sometimes, like today, even laugh about it all!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Meaning of the Curse

You know about the curse, don't you? No...not some horror movie. And not a woman's time of the month. I'm talking about the curse thrust upon the world because Adam and Eve decided to eat a piece of forbidden fruit.

If you aren't familiar with it, the gist of it is this:

"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Of course, it goes on to curse the men as well. But I wanted to stop here. For thousands of years, theologians have debated the meaning of this. And, while I have had my own theories throughout the years, I finally have come to an astounding conclusion. I think that this is a fill-in-the-blank. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a little line drawn immediately after the word "husband"...but the Bible translators didn't know what that meant, so left it out.

But before I reveal the meaning of the curse to you, let me back up.

My wife is hot. And in this case, I'm referring to her body temperature. We never agree on the thermostat setting in our house, nor the heater setting in the car. It'll be fifteen degrees outside, and my fingers are bordering on becoming popcicles, but my wife will roll down the car window while driving seventy on the freeway because she is so hot. As it turns out, this seems to be common among most married couples I've met: Disagreement with body temperatures.

Well, in the past few months, something has changed. Suddenly, my wife is freezing all the time. Of course, this also happened to be when I installed a handy digital thermostat that allows me to reduce energy bills by automatically lowering the temperature in the house at night to 62 degrees, while keeping it at 68 during the day. Regardless, if I can sleep in nothing but my underwear at night, something is seriously wrong if I wake up in the morning to find my wife sleeping with her coat and mittens on.

So, it didn't take long for me to realize the significance of this. It is the curse incarnate. (That doesn't really make any sense, but it sounds cool.) You see...let's fill in the blank:

Your desire will be for your husband to turn up the heat, and he will rule over you by insisting we need to save money.

Now, in your household, you might find the need to fill in those blanks with other things. But clearly, this is the answer to one of the Bibles most controversial points. And, since it is supposed to be a curse against women (and if you don't believe me, go look it up yourself in Genesis 3:16), clearly, it is my duty to rule over my wife and get my way on the matter.

Now, now, don't start quoting me further scripture about how men are to love their wives as themselves. I just don't wanna hear it! Because then it means I can't get my way. After all, it isn't my fault my wife decided to choose this year to alter her own body temperature, is it?

I think I'm going to be buying my wife some warm pajamas soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Marching Band, Revisited

I always wanted to play the trombone. In the sixth grade, when my parents were enrolling me in band, I was already a talented pianist, and enjoyed singing. But I thought long and hard, and the image of playing that slide trombone was for me.

So, I ended up playing trumpet. Two of my older brothers played trumpet, so I was to play trumpet as well. Imagine the possibilities! The Bruner Boys playing Trumpet Trios in Church. It happened, too. Once.

But, in hindsight, I wasn't sorry for the switch. I was good at trumpet and enjoyed it immensely. It was also work. Marching band, in particular. People don't seem to appreciate the arduous work behind preparing for high school marching band competitions. Two-hour after-school rehearsals three days a week, often in freezing temperatures marching uphill both ways on the field. Okay, not that last part. But it was hard. And fun. A lot of fun, at times.

So, why am I telling you about this now? Fifteen years since I marched in my last band competition? Well, because last night I had an epiphany. I put in the CD for the soundtrack to Back to the Future, Part III and, once again, realized how great a marching band program this would make. Nothing new there. But then, at one particularly dramatic moment in the music, I could see the field. See the formations. See the color guard. And then I could see how to make the entire band completely disappear, sending them back to the future!

But that's where I'm stuck. Because this grand idea is completely worthless without a band. So, if you happen to know of any band directors wanting to put together a really awesome marching band show, put them in touch with me. It irritates me that a perfectly genius idea (if I do say so myself) will go to waste.

Before I leave it at that, however, I'll fess up now. I was a high school band drop out. I was in marching band for three years. I was at the top of my game. First chair trumpet. Section leader. But I lost my passion. It was no longer fun. I just didn't want to do it anymore. So, I quit band, and attempted to shift into choir instead. Didn't work. Choir wouldn't fit my class schedule. So, I focused on piano and singing. Still, the thrill of the marching band has never really left me...and now, at least for one program, I wish I could become a band director.

So, what am I thankful for today? Music. Not only for my own abilities within music, but for the abilities of so many talented musicians that enrich our lives. I don't think a day goes by in my life where music doesn't play a role, either through listening or singing. It can help set the mood, or it can match my mood. I can appreciate the incredible power of the music from Les Miserables, or have a grand time listening to Mel Torme, or lift my own voice in worship to God, or a thousand other styles of music.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Snow Is Melting

Yesterday, my three-year-old was distraught. He stared out a window to the hill behind our house and said, "Oh, no! The snow is melting!"

And I, being one who appreciates accuracy, said, "Actually, it's evaporating."

"It's mappabating? Why is it mappabating?"

Oops. I guess three years is a bit young to give the scientific explanations for the world. "Well, it's kind of like melting."

"Why is it melting?"

The reason he was so upset was that, after our last snowfall, he went sledding. But this snowfall, he never got the opportunity to sled. And now, the snow was disappearing from the hill, having had no opportunity to enjoy it. To a preschooler, that was reason to be distraught.

"Don't worry. It'll snow more. This is just the beginning of winter."

"It do?"

"Yes. It do."

It is sobering when a childlike perspective is pointed out. Frankly, I'm rather happy the snow is mappabating. But my son kind of pointed out the whole "look for the silver lining" concept. In our daily annoyances...and even in major life-altering events...there is some lesson to learn, something positive to hold onto.

Are you familiar with the song The Christmas Shoes? In short, a man sees a boy in the store buying a pair of shoes. The man feels annoyed at the long lines...but then he finds out that this boy is in a true hurry, wanting to buy the shoes for his dying mother. The boy tells the man, "I want her to look beautiful if Momma meets Jesus tonight!"

I'll admit, I cry like a baby everytime I listen to that song. But this man experiences a lesson in life. A lesson in patience. A lesson in appreciating what he has. He then laid the money down to buy the shoes for the boy. I doubt the boy had any idea that his own pain in losing his mother would have such an impact on another life. So much so that a song was written about him, and has been heard by millions.

We are natural complainers, I think. So self-focused we fail to see the world beyond how it affects us. And, truth be told, my son was in the same boat. He didn't want the snow to melt away until he got a chance to sled on it. Still, what a lesson to learn. Even in the troublesome times, how do we find what is good, or beneficial not just to ourselves, but others? Not an easy task, and one I must be reminded to do every day.

So what am I thankful about today? I'm thankful for the snow. For the snow that my children love so much. And not just my children. The fact is, there was a time I loved playing in the snow. Sledding down our neighbors hill. The wind stinging my cheeks. The impact of barreling into the picnic table at the bottom. The fifteen stitches that resulted. The scar on my forehead that still remains. It is all a reminder as to how even in pain, there is joy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

About Last Night

A few days ago, my wife informed me that she was kicking me out of the house on Thursday night (last night) at 7:00, and I wasn't allowed back until after 10:00. Perfect opportunity to do some writing, I thought. And, in fact, I was really into my writing last night. I had solidified two scenes in my head that I wanted to finish. For those of you who are writers, you know those times when you just are "in the flow"? Well, that's where I was last night.

Forty minutes later, my laptop informed me that the battery was almost dead, and proceeded to shut down for me. As it turns out, I had forgotten to plug in the laptop overnight. So, there I was, ideas spewing and no way to capture them. And I couldn't go home, by order of the Queen. I drove around, visiting four stores (but buying nothing) and at one point tempted to go see Harry Potter at the theatre a second time, but by myself.

I then made a trip out to Barnes and Noble. You see, it turns out one of my writer friends from Backspace had her book published already, and I hadn't realized it until yesterday. So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to go buy it. Unfortunately, they didn't have it in the store. But, no problem. I can still order it on-line. (And so can you, by the way. Key to Aten by Lynn Sinclair.)

So, by the time I got home, it was a fairly unproductive night...except for those forty minutes. Still, I managed to get another thirty minutes or so in at home, which is good. Then, rather than going to bed...I ended up staying up until 12:30 because the most important television event in ten years happened last night. Oprah Winfrey was a guest on David Letterman! I couldn't miss that, as I'm sure you couldn't either. Quite possibly more significant than when they televised the landing on the moon.

Anyhow, that's my night in a nutshell. And if you are still reading this far...you apparently have less of a life than I do!

And now...onto my thankful moment. I'm thankful for Microsoft Word's autosave feature, for it prevented the loss of some particularly good writing last night (if I do say so myself...just don't ask me what I think when I re-read it in a few days).