I don’t want to know

As I was changing the battery on my son’s calculator, I saw the “MATH” key – and of course, I thought, isn’t the whole calculator designed to do math? Maybe it’s some hyperdrive key that will solve all the problems that you can’t solve any other way.

But seriously, I very briefly thought of asking Ben what that key is for – if he even knows. But then I thought, naaah – if he explained it, I would probably forget the explanation, if I even could understand it.

So this is simply a comment about life today: too many choices and too much information.


No bag please

Most of the time when you go shopping in the USA, the person behind the counter automatically puts your purchased items in a plastic bag. That’s a bad default. Instead, they should provide a bag only if you ask. I’d go so far as to say they should charge you for that bag. Then many would begin bringing their own bags.

In 2007, San Francisco was the first American city to ban the use of plastic bags. 775,000 gallons of oil were used to make the plastic bags San Francisco used the year before. (Info from SFGate.com.) Think of what a positive impact their legislation has had!

In many parts of Europe, that has been law for an even longer time. And in some European stores, you cannot get anything to put your shopping in. (That can catch an outsider by surprise.)

The only good thing to be said for plastic bags is that they keep plastic bag manufacturers in business. And provide jobs. However, that’s the same logic as saying it’s good to keep making high-alcohol sugary pop drinks that appeal to teenagers – because those companies employ many people.

Occasionally I do get a bag, when I forget to bring one with me. I’m not trying to be legalistic – but I am hoping that if you buy and use reusable bags, you will enjoy the positive impact you’ll be making.

I give my brother credit for the idea for this post. Thanks Bill!



This is a guest post from Chris Thomas. She shares whatever happens to find its way out of her addled brain over at Light Green. Inspired by friends, family, faith and public transportation, you never know what little nugget of wisdom you might step in.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until my mid-20’s. I lived in the city. I just didn’t have the need, or the means, to own a car and all the responsibility that came along with it. So when I did decide to get one, I had to sign up for behind-the-wheel lessons at Sears Driving School, or some such place. This was at a time when my life looked pretty close to a season of “Cops”. My instructor was a guy named Curt, who was probably 10 years older than me. He picked me up everyday for a couple of weeks to go driving. We ended up having lots of interesting conversations, and occasionally ended our sessions having a Coke and fries from the McDonald’s drive-thru. I’m sure it was obvious to him that I was some kind of mess.

Part of my lesson was learning the IPDE system of defensive driving – Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. It was very funny to us for some reason, I suppose because he was obligated to teach it with some faux authority. After I had successfully passed the driving test, he dropped me off for the last time. Sitting outside my house, he said, “You know, I think the IPDE system might be valuable for you to keep in mind, even when you’re OUT of the car.” And then he added, a little hesitantly, “And, uh, I think you might like to know Jesus at some point, too…you know, just in case.” I laughed uncomfortably, feeling pretty creeped out that my cool new friend had all of a sudden turned on me, and that was that.

Since then, I’ve had many, many adventures on the open road. IPDE pops into my mind quite often and still makes me laugh, now with the knowledge that Jesus has been there all along. It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? How our lives weave together, even briefly, for the glory of God.

Photo courtesy of TurboPhoto.


Limited plays

Unfortunately I have this flaw whereby I can only listen to any recording a limited number of times. Some songs – or even albums – are spent and can never be enjoyed again. The pain comes when my kids start liking those tunes. Then I am forced to listen again.

Certain songs, of course, lend themselves to more listens than others. And I can enjoy some songs again after a really long break.



A way to speed up your Mac

Firewire 800 portThis post is only for Mac users. Sorry, rest of the world.

If you have a Mac with a Firewire 800 port (see pic), you can save some of that frustrating “spin-up” time when your external hard drive awakens.

This applies if you are using Time Machine. (If you are not, please start right away! It may save your day – as it has for me, many times.)

Anyhow, do not use a USB 2.0 external drive for your Time Machine disk. Instead, buy a Firewire 800 drive, like the Iomega* I recently bought. It will save you maybe 2 minutes a day of waiting on your hard drive. That’s 8 hours a year.

If your Time Machine backup drive is not plugged in all the time, this post won’t apply to you. But the benefits of having access to lost data makes always-on Time Machine worth it for me. Particularly with a FW 800 drive.

* Not an affiliate link.


Copyright laws

Copyright laws are a bit looser in other parts of the world than America.

Lexus Crackers? I didn’t try them, but I’m guessing they had a smooth, relaxed flavor.

If the “munchy’s” company tried selling them in the States, the product would be quickly taken off the market.

(I saw them on the shelf of a supermarket in Malaysia.)


He does not mind

Floof cat relaxing with a greeting card over his faceWe have the most amazing cat. He doesn’t mind if we do things like cover up his face (as long as he is asleep). He will lie asleep while we have all manner of fun with him.

When he is awake? He’s wild.

Floof’s the name, and entertaining us is his game.


Something useful from Skymall!

Yes, I actually found something that is useful from Skymall. (As faithful readers will know, I enjoy glancing through Skymall catalogs when I fly somewhere: post one and post two.)

I was amazed to find a good idea during the most recent trip. How cool would it be to just pop down a little hatch to reveal your Christmas lights! (Alas, the setup cost a fair amount of money – but for those who hire someone to put up and take down their lights each year, it might be worth the investment.)


On making a difference

Steve with his wife and childOn Monday, I guest posted over at Letters from a Small State. If you’d like to read what I wrote, head over there. It’s a post that deals with a little more of my personal journey with Heather than I normally write about.

Thank you Elizabeth!


Being Inside the Box

Inside the boxThis is a guest post by Elizabeth Howard. Read more about her at the end.

Everyone always says: “think outside the box.”


When small hands slowly pull the cardboard lid over themselves, inside the box is where I’d like to be.

Inside the box, arms and legs tangle– and what belongs to whom doesn’t matter anymore.

Inside the box, a torrent of laughter twists with begging for turns. This is where Negotiation and Joy make love.

Inside the box, we draw shades of darkness willingly, forgetting our unhappy freckles, our crooked teeth, our tortured skin tones. Darkness makes us same.

Inside the box, we push against boundaries together, exploring the limits of strain nearest breaking point.

Inside the box, physical closeness becomes intimacy: familiarity unmentioned but worn like skin.

Inside the box, the roaring dragon flees across an unchained mind.

So that…

Even when seams break, sides collapse, and bodies explode out, the inside prevails.

The spirit of the box keeps itself on call, for the next bottomless adventure.

At Letters from a Small State and The Least Weird Person I Know, writer Elizabeth Howard examines how we survive and occasionally thrive in America, through the lens of our smallest details. A writer and poet living in Connecticut with her new family, she works daily in her own slivers of creative space and time.