August 19, 2007
It's the Springfield me. You can do this, too. Just go here. I've known about it for weeks, but I didn't want to go hunt up a picture and so on and so forth. And then I finally just did. Fun.
August 15, 2007
I have a certain appreciation for Focus on the Family. They've produced a lot of things I've enjoyed (and also some I haven't) over the years, from their publications to their website to their radio dramas, and even some video releases. I think that (most of the time) they are one of the good public faces of evangelical Christianity, which to me means that I am generally not embarrassed to be part of the same religion as them. They are a respectable contrast to the shameful antics of, for instance, our Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells.
However, that aside, I have no respect for how Focus engages with our culture. They approach everything with a tally sheet, ready to mark down the number of swear words, negative attitudes, sex scenes (actual or implied) . . . the list goes on and on. These are potentially useful statistics for certain audiences, I suppose, but for the most part I wonder why anyone who needs to know exactly how many times someone says s*** in a movie ever goes to the movies at all.
To FotF's credit, they actually do watch/read/listen to whatever they're talking about before they discuss it, but I've gotten the feeling on more than one occasion that a review was half-written before they ever walked into the theater. There is no real discernment involved in what they do, and no, mere balance-sheet auditing of "wholesome" vs. "inappropriate" content is not an acceptable substitute for true judgment.
Well, speaking of ironic lapses in perception, a Looking Closer reader noticed something amusing and frustrating. Dr. Dobson recently distanced himself from an error in the Washington Post which stated that he approved of Harry Potter. This couldn't be further from the truth, see, because everything about Harry Potter is a danger and a detriment.
Meanwhile, in another corner of the Focus website, there is an editorial bemoaning the low value placed on "sacrificial heroes" by our "superficial culture." Contrast that with this headline from Christianity Today (a model of Christians engaging in an even-handed dialogue with culture).
And that's really all I have to say about that . . . other than to note, yet again, that anyone who still insists on ragging on Harry Potter is an obstinate twit.
August 14, 2007
This Never Happened to Me
But it would have been funny.
August 11, 2007
10 days and 2 trips to Waco later, we have a house. Rachel's dad came out to help us hunt one down last Wednesday. By Friday we had found one we liked and sealed the deal. We closed and took full possession yesterday. Rachel will be heading back tomorrow to start teacher training on Monday. That's the short version of the story.
The house has three bedrooms and one bathroom, and it's around 1350 square feet. There's living room, kitchen, dining room, and utility room . . . and an extra room that used to be the garage. It'll make a decent study/guest bedroom. The driveway is flanked by two large pecan trees which provide a great deal of shade. The backyard is reasonably large and completely surrounded by large bushes (totally private). The back door opens onto a covered deck and there are two sheds for gardening tools and storage and whatnot.
Oh, and we got most of the furniture that was in the house for a very reasonable sum: washer (almost new) and dryer, a twin bed, a double bed, a king-size bed, a couch, 2 recliners, 4 dressers, a desk, a couple TVs, a dining room table and chairs, and other sundries. This was an estate sale, and the sellers had no use for the things and no real desire to try to get rid of it all piece by piece. We can't use everything they left (so many beds!), but it was convenient to buy it as a package and we may make a little money back in the course of getting rid of whatever we don't need.
The only thing that didn't come with the house was a refrigerator (the oven, also almost new, came with the house). My parents helped us get one, which will be delivered and installed on Monday or Tuesday. Cable, internet and phone will be hooked up on Thursday. The house is located pretty close to the center of Waco. Rachel's school is about an 11-minute drive away, and few places in town will take longer than 15 minutes to get to (so that's cool).
All in all, I'm rather pleased.
And speaking of being pleased, Bank of America sucks. In order to pay for the house at closing, we had to get a certified check rather than the personal check Rachel's dad left. Well, there are no BofAs in Longview, so Rachel went to the one in Tyler on Tuesday to deposit the check her dad left her in her BofA account. But she had to wait and return the next day to get a certified check . . . reasonable enough, we'd just swing by on our way to Waco.
Well, we swung by alright, and then hung there for a good hour while the lady that was waiting on Rachel accomplished exactly nothing. It seems her brain had a small conniption or something and she told the system we wanted cash instead of a check. Well, what in the hell would we do with almost $50,000 in cash?! Honestly. Then, she couldn't reverse it. It turns out that Bank of America in Texas has no actual connection with Bank of America in California. It's like they're two different banks which coincidentally share a name and logo. So she just ditched Rachel and left her standing for a good 45 minutes and more while she tried to figure out how to fix her screw-up . . . all to no avail.
We left, having wasted over an hour, in the hopes of trying again in Waco on Thursday. Well, we had a few things to take care of on Thursday . . . dropping off the trailer of stuff we hauled out there, shopping for a fridge, and so on, and between one thing and another, we didn't get to the Bank until about 3:15. They were closed. They close at 3:00. I mean, I'm lazy, but . . . open at 9 and close at 3? What is that crap? Another day down the drain.
So we go in first thing Friday morning ready to open fire (or set fire, or whatever else might be required) and they tell us they can't give us the check until the bank in California opened (that's right, a 4-hour window during which business can be conducted involving the west coast . . . assuming they don't close the bank for lunch from 12 to 2 or something). Rather than punch them in the collective face, we went to find breakfast and returned at 11.
Another wait in line . . . another long disappearance . . . "I need 4 picture IDs" "Here, take them . . . may you slice open your arteries on them." . . . More waiting . . . more standing . . . Wait, here she comes! "I'm sorry, your signature doesn't match." "What?! But that's my signature!" "Well, it doesn't match, and my supervisor won't clear it." "But this is definitely me! You're holding four pieces of identification in your hand." "Well, I'm sorry, but it just doesn't match." "I opened an account here when I was 9 years old . . . my signature may have changed a little." "My supervisor won't . . ."
"Can we talk to her?" Another line, another wait . . . "Yeah, the signatures don't match." "I was 9." "Well, it's just different and I can't clear it." "Here," Rachel scrawls out her name as written by her 9-year old self and shoves it under the lady's nose. *tone of mild surprise* "Well, look at that! It matches!" May the unholy gods of capitalism rain stabbity-death upon your foul institution, pig-brained witch.
And that wasn't all. The title company also needed to know whether the other check that Rachel's dad wrote had cleared. That's all, nothing more. The check was deposited by them on Monday, and they just wanted to know if it had gone through. BofA refused to comment. They wouldn't tell us. They wouldn't tell the title company. They wouldn't tell the title company's bank. They might have told Rachel's dad, but he is in Mexico and not able to ask just at present. Oh, and the drama goes on. Today Rachel's credit card is suddenly inoperable due to "insufficient funds." Surprise, surprise . . . an internet investigation of the account reveals that the cost of the house was removed from her account, not once, but twice. Ohhh, heads are going to roll (I wish).
I had been thinking of opening an account with Bank of America when we got to Waco because we need a new bank and I know they have many locations, and Rachel has had her own account with them for some time, and so forth. Well, forget that. If they were the last bank on earth, I think I'd choose to do business with the loose brick in the back corner of my fireplace instead.
We discovered Thursday that Waco approved a $4,000 raise in teacher salaries on Wednesday evening (Huzzah!). We also finally found time on Thursday afternoon to go meet Rachel's principal and see the school where she'll be teaching. I thought it looked rather nice. Her classroom is right next-door to the library.
We spent most of Friday (when we weren't closing and arm-wrestling the stupid frigging bank) setting up Rachel's classroom. So. Much. Stuff. About a dozen bookcases, several tables, 26 desks, 5 computers, and more books and supplies than you can shake a stick at all make for a rather chaotic scene.
We spent a good while trying to figure out how it should go, with Rachel diagramming on the white board while I shuffled furniture around, and eventually it started to fall into place. We wasted a lot of time cleaning out some cabinets that were actually screwed into the wall . . . but she needed that stuff out so she could sort through it anyway. Rachel met a few of the other teachers as they came and went. It turns out that most of the teachers in her hallway are first-years.
I got the computers set up so I could look at them. They're all Macs, and seem to be somewhat older. I couldn't tell exactly how old . . . possibly as old as 10 years, but maybe no more than 4. They were all set to dates "earlier than 1973" when I turned them on, which prompted errors. Two of them wouldn't allow me to mess with the date, but the one that would was set to 1/1/1904 before I fixed it.
I couldn't get into Rachel's computer when I booted it up . . . the password hint was "school mascot." Seems kinda dumb to have your password be something every student in school would know. I wandered the hallways for a few minutes trying to figure it out and was only able to ascertain that the mascot is a jackrabbit (or similar animal) of some kind, but not what the wretched creature's name is.
We returned to Longview late on Friday, tired but with much business accomplished. If all proceeds as smoothly (sic) as it has thus far, we will be safely ensconced in our new environs approximately two weeks from today and I can get to work on everything that comes next.
August 07, 2007
Just a few things:
Also, OMG this is the best website evar!!!!1
August 06, 2007
Don't Tell Me That
So, the phone rings and a woman asks me if I can see if we have a certain movie. Well, of course I can. She wants The Bell Jar (1979). As I'm typing it in, she notes that it's also a book by Sylvia Plath (I was aware of this). Sure enough:
"Nope. We have a few copies of the book, but no movie."
"Oh, okay. Yeah, they assigned the book to my kids last Thursday and they have to have it done by Tuesday, so I'm trying to find the movie. It's ridiculous. That book is two inches thick."
Well, gee. If you'd told me that in the first place, I could have told you we didn't have it without even looking it up.
(For the record, "two inches thick" is a ludicrous claim. Our large print copy isn't that thick. The regular paperback is 288 pages long. I estimate it would take me well under 6 hours to polish off. Also, by all accounts, the movie version is a wretched adaptation. Call me vicious, but I hope those kids get caught and/or fail accordingly.)