Monday, October 30, 2006

The Wonderful World of Nasal Photography

Subtitle: Dave, the Amazing Aluminum Eater

I'm a fidgeter. I tend to tap my feet, twirl a pen, or in other ways move about pretty constantly. Last night, at the dinner we share at Coram Deo before beginning the church service, I was toying with the pull-tab on my can of Hansen's Fruit Juice when it broke off and fell into the can. "No worries," thought I. "It's metal, and will sink. I will be careful not to chug the whole can." I continued eating and conversing, and took a drink without thinking.

"That's strange. Soda isn't supposed to have lumps," I thought after I swallowed. I looked in the can. No more pull tab. It felt lodged in my throat, not blocking any airway, or even preventing eating. I ate some bread, hoping to cushion the metal's passage through my system.

The feeling never went away of the metal being stuck in my throat, and I slept little last night. Still feeling it in the morning, I called a Nurse Hotline with a local hospital to see if removing this would be an Urgent Care or Emergency Room procedure.

ER it is. I called my sister, off work from teaching this week, and asked for a ride. Two and a half hours and 4 x-rays later, the word came back: no tab was visible in my chest/throat, but an appointment was made for a specialist to take a look at my throat and make sure there was no serious damage and verify the x-ray.

"I'm Stacey Hudson (possibly Huston, I already forget). I know when you heard Stacey you were expecting a girl," the doctor said as he entered. He was very congenial, and explained what was going on as he did it. First came the nose spray, that didn't quite numb the nose and throat enough to prevent feeling the camera. Second came the revelation that I have a broken nose - an explanation of nosebleeds in a single nostril, the sinus infection I did not know I had, and the snoring that I didn;t always have. Third came the confirmation - no more metal in the throat, it must be happily winding it's way through my guts (or having already wound its way through).

So home I went, wondering when I could have busted my sniffer, surprised to learn I was sick, and with a prescription to make it better. I'd reccomend the doctor if anyone has ear, nose or throat issues. He explained everything as it went, made the process of having what seemed like a mile-long probe inserted through my nose as pleasant as such things can be, and left me feeling confident that I was to heal just fine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More Confirmation of my Prowess

What's today's front page story in the local paper? "Some politicos think fuel prices are going down to help get certain candidates elected."

I can hardly believe this is even a story. But it is the result of a single line of thought I had when I first made my prediction: "Now that gas prices are coming down, how can people possibly think oil companies are setting the price and gouging customers? Are they suddenly less greedy? Well, I suppose one could argue that they started bringing gas prices down to help Republicans in the midterm elections."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In This Temple

DC1006 (184)
Originally uploaded by renowiggum.

In this temple
As in the hearts of the people
For whom he saved the Union
The spirit of Abraham Lincoln
Is enshrined forever

-Inscription, Lincoln Memorial

People want to worship something bigger than themselves. This is the most popular monument in Washington DC. It is, by its own admission a temple - a place of worship and reverence.

People talk to Honest Abe here. They ask advice. They search for answers and meaning. They also stop just to visit, to see the sights.

I was sad. Here, at the heart of our nation, an idol. Not all idols are sex godesses and sun gods, after all. How many believers put God and Country on the same page? How many put the latter above the former, in custom if not in name?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Equal Justice Under The Law

DC1006 (228)
Originally uploaded by renowiggum.

I stood there, contemplating the promise that in America, any person can have their day in court, can demand to know why they are held, can expect to be tried by a jury of their peers.

It is an ideal, perhaps an unattainable one. All Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others. The system is not perfect, as the rich can afford the fancy teams of lawyers, to file endless appeals, to try and stave off justice.

I thought about recent legislation barring prisoners from using habaeus corpus appeals in the federal appealate courts, and wondered if that was wise.

I thought about the tourists jaywalking across so many streets in DC, and the demands of the Law. Guilty, every one, even if only of a minor offense.

Because Equal Justice Under The Law still puts you under the Law. And the law brings the knowledge of sin, and death. We all respect and cherish the Law, but rely on grace.

I was proud of my country, for the idea that everyone is entitled to their day in court. But I was beyond grateful for a Savior that provided for me what I could never accomplish for myself through the Law. That I was delivered from being under the Law, to being under the boundless grace of God.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lincoln at Sunset

DC1006 (170)
Originally uploaded by renowiggum.

It had better be a good picture. It was our only sunny evening, and I was determined not to miss the chance, despite a couple small blisters from walking in dress shoes earlier in the day.

Those became large blisters, and the various forms of limping tweaked (in order) my right ankle, my back, and my right hamstring.

But it was worth it. Very pretty. Good setting for contemplation. And a source of more blog posts when my brain is back to working like that.

I just flew in from DC, and boy are my arms tired.

Actually, I flew in last night. But I AM very tired. I woke up at 6:45 feeling as though it had been a full night. I suppose it was, but I need to get back on Reno time now.

I took lots of pictures, and they now completely dominate my Flickr page. I'm going to have to get a pro account to have any old pictures available on there. Decisions, decisions. I'll tease you with one of my favorites.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Life Veers

Not Veers like the General who led the Imperial assaul on Hoth, but with the "suddenly twists and changes" denotation.

It's safe to say that the past year has been different from what I expected it to be. I'm not happy with the way everything's gone, but through it all I see myself growing and maybe even catching a glimpse of what might be called patience.

I left a church I had been at since I was a little, little boy - not because of any disagreements I had with the people or leadership there, but because I had felt for a while like it just wasn't the place for me to be and because upon attaining resolution (though not the sort I had hoped for) of my affections for a girl, that vague sense catalyzed into a certainty that the time had come for me to move on.

I cast my lot with a church that was/is just forming, led by a guy I had no real personal connection to, attended by people that are mostly strangers to me. There isn't a regularly-attending single girl in the group within a decade of my own age, but I am strangely at peace with that.

In fact, while I still have profound regrets about the way things have gone with a couple girls in particular over the last couple years - I don't find myself feeling almost desperate to hook up with someone. I threw all my eggs in a basket with no bottom, and at the very least have accepted a time to settle down, get refocused on what matters, and go from there.

I have gotten some advice from a friend about matters involving the fairer sex, and I appreciate them and hope he doesn't think I disregard it simply because I am slow to respond. I'm just in no great hurry (which is unusual beyond my ability to describe it). I don't know that I'd say I'm content just the way I am, but I am more at peace with being alone than I have been since I can remember. (The agreeable distraction of collegiate athletics may have something to do with this, too...)

I haven't any good idea why I have been on the path I have. The trials I am still coming through served to rip me apart and lay me out before God - naked, alone, without pretense. I was taken to the point of dumping my faith, but did not. Perhaps the rebuilding of me since then will be more firm than I was before. Perhaps one day I will be able to stand behind someone feeling utterly alone, and sympathize with them in the core of my being. Perhaps it was simply the experience of deeply-held falsehoods being torn out.

I know better the things that matter to me. Staying up late on Saturday night to watch SNL with my roommate when he gets off work matters to me. I don't want to let the routine of church push out my real life connection with men who know nothing of God but what they see in me. I don't want to allow speculation and hope for relationships become important enough that the fear of losing it prevents action in life. I don't want to say I'm great when I'm not.

I've got a serious decision to make. I want to be honest with myself in making it. I'd appreciate your prayers as I consider it. Because I also don't want "I'll pray about it" to be a phrase I use to say "I'll tell you later," but rather "I want to consult with Almighty God and see if this jives with his plan for me."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Deal, or no Deal?

Have you seen this show? I never watched it, but it is on before NBC's new show "Heroes," which I like. It's a pretty simple take on expected return - multiplying the probability of a variety of outcomes by the payoff of each outcome. In this case, there's a fixed distribution of numbers, each with an identical probability. There's flashy lights and absurd drama to stretch it out, but it would be boring TV if not for that.

What I find interesting is that they have a commercial for a "play at home" game, with six cases. If you call or text message in, you get to pick a case. There is a random drawing of people who choose the correct case for $10,000 every night. What you would expect in a random world is that each number gets a roughly equal number of votes. But that's not the case. Tonight, two seperate numbers each had almost 40% of the votes.

I can't help but wonder why, and I have no answers.


I'm a spoiled Nevada boy. I imagine it is pretty much always sunny everywhere, all the time. Evidently, it is not. The forecast for my trip to DC next week calls for a 20-40% chance of showers Monday through Wednesday - the other days are currently off the radar.

On top of that, my plans to spend one more night on the Black Rock playa before it becomes a lake again may be foiled by intermittent rain this week. Rain turns the playa into a nasty alkali paste that eats cars. Hopefully, it will still be dry Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Predictive Powers Confirmed

Oil prices are going down to try and manipulate the results of the November elections. This is the theory I expected somebody to put forward as the elections approached. Granted, most people that espose this theory are marginalized, but a story about it has finally popped up in a mainstream news story.

I'm so good, I scare myself.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Amish School Shoorting

A quote regarding the attitude of the community where this happened:
“The hurt is very great,” Huntington said. “But they don’t balance the hurt with hate.”

Good advice.

Science and The Mummy

You may recall, shortly before Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz release the cursed mummy in Egypt, some workers stumble onto an old Egyptian trap - tryg to pry open a box, they are sprayed with a liquid that causes their faces to melt.

"Salt Acid," the grizzled tomb raider says knowingly.

Sorry, but that's just plain ridiculous. I know the movie invokes the power of Ra and has an undead monster sucking the fluids and plucking organs from some unfortunate Brits, but for some reason, it's the "salt acid" that bugs me. It's inherently contradictory.

An acid is the combination of a Hydrogen ion, H+ with a negative ion, like Cl- or SO4- in water. A base is the combination of a hydroxyl group, OH- with a positive ion, like Na+ or K+ in water.

When you combine an acid and a base, they cancel each other out (as we learn from MacGyver). They do this by combining the H+ and OH- into a good old H2O. What about the other parts? They mix together, too, to form a salt. (such as NaCl - good old table salt - from mixing sodium hydroxide with hydrochloric acid).

Thus, a salt is not, ever, a type of acid. It's just stupid.

For those of you outside the loop

The church I've joined will begin "official" meetings a week from Sunday. There have been difficulties in the path, and interruptions to the schedule. But there are also encouraging signs that it ought to go forward.

If you so desire, pray for us. Pray specifically for Dawson and Miriam (pastor & wife), encouragement for him in the nitty gritty details that go with starting a church, healing for her as she is recovering from an emergency surgery, and strength for both of them for the next 6 weeks or so as she recouperates.

Pray for the group, as there isn't a person among us that's actually gone through this process, described by those who have done so as being full of blood, sweat, and tears. Pray that we would keep focused on Christ, and our desire to serve not just in abstract ways, but with clothes for the naked, food for the hungry, and water for the thirsty.

Pray that we would not get worked up when there are obstacles in the road, especially when they may be there to guide us to the path we ought to be on. Pray for the grace to keep us on our path, and that we would run this race well.

And pray that if and when the church grows, that it is not because people from other churches have decided this is a "cool" place to go to church, but because people who were formerly enemies of Christ are being brought into His family.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Prayer Request From a Stranger

There's a brother I've never met who is ill and in need of prayer. I'll pray for him. Will you?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


A couple weekends ago, I took a Friday off to enjoy a late Thursday night with my friends, and then sleep in but be able to make it to te Nevada campus early for that afternoon's football game. Relishing the chance to eat in Reno for once, I decided to go to the Nugget in downtown Reno and there to partake in the Awful-Awful, a gloriously indulgent burger at a cheap (but increasing) price. I invited a couple friends, but one had to leave town for a family emergency.

I parked at the north end of downtown in a free parking garage, several levels up because Street Vibrations, a motorcycle love-fest for Harleys with big exhaust pipes, was in town. I walked to the restaurant, and promptly got in line, where I inched forward over the course of ten minutes or so. I kept an alert eye for my other friend, but not seeing him took a seat at the counter near the register once I placed my order.

I sat next to a man, whose name I think was Mike. He seemed like a friendly fellow, and the Nugget attracts all sorts of people with it's beef-and-fried potato siren's song. He showed off a ring he had that he claimed someone had given him the night before just for watching her things while she had to step away for a moment. He was almost fascinated that it rotated around his finger when he twisted it. He let just about everyone at the register know that the Awful-Awful was so large, no one could finish it. And he had the hands and particular sour smell of a man living on the streets.

We talked a bit, as he ate his food and I ate mine. I silently prayed when I got a quiet moment, asking God to let me know how I could "be Christ" to this man. He never said that he lived on the streets, though he alluded it it a couple of times. And when he suddenly shook my hand and said "I need to be serious with you, as a friend," I knew where the conversation was going to head. He said he needed it for his wife, who was diabetic and couldn't eat the same food that we were having in the diner, so she was just waiting outside. He promised he could double whatever I gave him, and be back with it in an hour. I had brought some extra for food inside the stadium once I was at the game, but was quite full from the Awful-Awful and fries (which I never did finish).

So I parted ways with twin images of President Lincoln, assuring him that I did not want him to come back with more - indeed, that I would not be here to accept it even if he came back. He offered me his ring, $75 he said. "No - just take it." He stepped out for a minute, purportedly to give it to his wife. I watched his jacket, which he left on the seat. He returned, and we resumed talking about how twenty or so potatoes must go into the fries for a single burger.

Shortly, he left. I finished as many fries as I could, and so did I.