Search Terms

Some lucky souls recently found my blog by entering "buffalo" and "carpocration" into their search engines.

In other news, I have received several very good responses to our religious questionnaire. I hope to post the first of them very soon, possibly tomorrow.

While you are waiting, you can put your pin on the guest map - it's over on the right and down just a bit...

Sunday Sermon
Questions of Faith

Today we begin a new project here at the Ministry. In our continuing quest to explore the kaleidoscope of world religion, I have asked several members of the Flock to answer 12 questions about their faith. Their responses will be posted here, as a sort of "guest blogger" program. We will hear from practiioners of Druidic and Shamanic traditions, as well as Buddhism, Baha'i, and several branches of Christianity. It should be interesting.

My hope is that we can all use this as an opportunity to ask questions and learn about different spiritual paths. To help you prepare for the coming posts, you might want to answer the 12 questions yourself...

1) What faith do you espouse?
2) Who was the founder of your faith? When did he/she live?
3) What are the sacred texts of your faith?
4) What is the central teaching of your faith?
5) How does your faith define sin? What are the major sins, and how is
one absolved?
6) Roughly how many adherents does your faith have?
7) What does your faith teach about the afterlife? Is there heaven, and
how do you get there?
8) What are the practices of your faith? (Daily, weekly, etc.)
9) How is your faith organized? Are there priests and bishops and
archbishops (oh my!)?
10) Are there regular services available to you locally? If so, where?
11) How did you come to be a believer?
12) What do you wish others knew about your faith?

Go in Peace.

(If you'd like to tell us about your faith, please Email me. I'd love to have more voices - Hindu, Islam, Jain, Zoroastrian, Satanism, etc.)


The real reason I've gathered you all here...

The blogger must seek his own motivation. There is no editor pushing us to make a deadline, no professor holding our grades over our heads. We each come to the keys for our own reasons, and in our own time. It seems a noble form of writing; writing purely for the sake of communicating.

I have taken the last few days off after a 14-day string of daily posting. Those days off were busy ones, but the real reason was that I had reached a point where I didn't have anything much to say (and you could certainly argue that I never had much to start with). I simply had no reason to post. I have a few posts brewing as drafts, but nothing with sufficient legs to be posted yet. Again, that concept of nobility popped up, and I smugly congratulated myself for not contributing to the pollution of the blogisphere by just posting any old piece of crap. I decided I could go another day without posting.

I was fine with that resolution until I checked my Email, and got a cryptic message from a fellow blogger. It read, "Go check Sloth's links..."

I felt a very ignoble flush of pleasure as I guessed what I would find there. Upon arriving in Slothville, I found that the Furry One had indeed added me to the huge list of Smart Peeps. It instantly became clear to me - my motivation is not the noble, unselfish pursuit of pure writing. I am ashamed to admit that I am motivated by readership, and the larger the audience, the larger the rush. That link on Sloth's blog expands my potential audience a great deal, and I'll just come right out and say it: I coveted it. My prestense of nobility is no more real than the blood in pro wrestling. I'm a full-blown "link 'ho" and you've all been warned.

Captions

Post your best caption for the following photos. Those deemed funniest will receive fabulous prizes, including a "Get Out of Beatdown Free Card."

Some of my favorite entries so far are shown below...


#1 "What happens in the river...stays in the river." [Sloth]


#2 "And the world record for group masturbation was broken today..." [Sloth]


#3 "New from Barbie: The Countries America has Defeated in Battle Series. In this new line that your little Daughters of the Revolution are sure to enjoy, Barbie goes undercover as a British Redcoat, a Confederate Belle, a German Madame (pictured), a Nazi entertainer, a Vietnamese prostitute, and an Iraqi woman (burka included)." [NerdyGirl]


#4 "Look you dumb bitch, throw it this way, so we can paint hand prints on your tits..." [MJ]


#5 "I wonder when Snoop Dog is going to ask if we want to be on "Girls gone wild"?" [Drew]


#6 "I think I should have gotten the 'super absorbant'" [MJ]


Extra Credit ""God I am bored. Maybe we can get on the next Paris Hilton tape." [Drew]

Infiltration

I loved the game Myst. The feeling that you were exploring a lost world was compelling, and the stories that the places and artifacts told was addictive. I played the entire game in a weekend, and then the sequel, Riven, in about a week. I nearly lost my job...

This site brought back fond memories of those explorations... but with the added element of danger. The sites these folks explore have that same creepy "time in a bottle" kind of feel, and the risk of falling, being crushed, drowned, electrocuted, or just arrested is quite real. Consider this advice from the article on the Buffalo Central Terminal:
"The basement is usually flooded, and can only be explored during the coldest part of the year, when one can crawl around on top of six-foot-thick (you hope) ice."
Or this, from the write-up of the Canada Malting Plant:
"The whole place is like the wreck of the Titanic — early 1900s industrial technology encrusted with rust. Plan to spend several hours there, and play safe — maybe get a Tetanus shot beforehand."

In addition to pictures from these and other explored sites, Infiltration.org has section on the ethics of urban exploration, links and resource pages, and a brief history of urban exploration, which begins with this:
"Philibert Aspairt, considered by some the first cataphile, becomes lost while exploring the Parisian catacombs by candlelight. His body is found 11 years later."

The timeline is worth perusing. It features interesting info on famous people who liked to crawl around in abandoned sites, like Walt Whitman, Andre Breton, and even our own beloved Sloth. Apparently, Sloth has been holding out on us - says here that she and two others named named Doug and Woody formed the Cave Clan, a club dedicated to urban exploration, in Melbourne, Australia back in January of '86...

I don't want to live in a huge city with derelict buildings on every block, but these guys do make Toronto, Buffalo, or New York sound like a good vacation idea.

Sunday Sermon

Rather than beat around the bush, I think I'll just come out and say what I'm thinking today. No clever homily, no quotes from Zen masters, and no veiled references.

I was feeling kind of sorry for myself this weekend. Since Friday, I've been trying to deal with a comment that Clay made here. I felt kind of trampled; for the last several weeks I've been trying to involve Clay in more of our activities, and encourage others to do the same. I think his merits outweigh his flaws, and I've told others as much. Despite our very different backgrounds and beliefs I genuinely like him. I still like him, even though I think he was out of line.

I was questioning myself about the incident, and generally griping. How should I have handled it? I have a right to make the rules on my own blog, right? Should I have just deleted the comment? Should I have really ripped him a new one? Should I have maintained a noble silence? WWBD? And, more importantly, should I let my blog take up this much of my brain power? Oh yeah - and my knee hurts too.

So I was moping a bit, mixed with seething. Ok, more than a bit. I was pretty much pouting, albeit quietly. Then I opened my Email. In it, was this:

Benjamin Meadows

That is my second cousin, Ben. His face made everything I was grouching about seem fairly trivial. It's not just that he is a damn cute relative of mine - although I do think his parents need to move to California and get him an agent - it is the clear enjoyment of the moment in his face that spoke to me. For him, there is nothing but making faces for his dad's camera. Just NOW. All my moping was about yesterday, or two days ago, or maybe longer, and it was all a fucking waste of time.

So I'm going to stop now. I'm going to soak my achey knee in a hot bath, and just be there with that. I'm going to let Clay be Clay, and be with that too.

Thanks Ben.

Go in Peace.


It's your birthday? Really?

Today we celebrate the birth of the Empress, the High Priestess of the Rainbowlific Church of the Flaming Plains... also known as Big Gay Jim. Go to his blog and wish him a Happy Birthday!.

Blind Luck

The new blogger toolbar at the top of my blog was bugging me. I didn't ask for it. It just appeared one day, and then I read about it after the fact. I didn't like it, but I also hadn't sat down and figured out how to get rid of it yet.

Because I went to bed at about 19:30 Friday night, I found myself sitting in front of the screen at 04:00, wide awake. After checking my online games and catching up on comments, I finally gave up and clicked on the toolbar button labelled "Next Blog."

And I got a Spanish blog. I clicked again, and I got a blog that was almost in English (a young girl from Singapore, working on her English). On the charmed third click, I hit this...
Acquiring Acuity
Ahh, the random joys of the internet...

My friends are weird.
This string of IMs is indicative of the sort of conversations I have everyday. No wonder I'm odd.

On Sex with Predators...(continued from comments here)

Where is your sense of adventure?

Adventure does NOT include possibly loosing bits and pieces of one's sex

Not for you, but for someone, I'm sure that's very appealing

3 words: "Female genital mutilation" 'nuff said.

Ahhh. I think you are seriously over-estimating the sharpness of the mandibles.

They still look pretty wicked/pieces-removing-capable regardless of the fact that they're not ultra-pointy

You're just being xenophobic. Alien hater!

And do they even have tongues?

Don't be silly - of course they have tongues. They have a spoken language.

...razor sharp mandibles...

Human teeth are sharp

Not razor sharp, and they're not presented before the lips thus they can be avoided entirely. I'm thinking the mandibles can't be. And they's got beadly little eyes...creepy.

Obviously they manage to make love, and probably orally as well. You are prejudiced. Alien hater.

I'm not an alien hater. They can make love. Just not with my soft, weak flesh.

Whimp. Xenophobe.

You're going to tell me you would let the female of that species go down on you?

If her intent was clear, yes. Just for the novelty of it all.

She could sneeze and accidently disembowel you.

Weak.

How does one recover from that? "Sorry dear, I'm not able to finish you off, since you're lower intestine is currently looped around your dick. Maybe tomorrow night?"

You would miss out on sex with a huge, powerful, 7 and a half foot tall guy who probably has a huge, wonderful wang - all because of irrational tusk fears. Would you be willing if he wore plastic tips on them?

DISEMBOWELMENT. Not my idea of a good time. I'm still not convinced they even have tongues.

You are SERIOUSLY under-estimating the amount of force required to open the human gut.

Sneezes are uncontrollable and quite powerful. You ever had a girl sneeze with your dick in her mouth? The possiblity for amputation exists.

Right - but I have sneezed while going down, and I didn't bite her clit off

That's because the human mouth is more contained than the Yautja's. Those mandibles extend pretty far.

But don't you think they know that a sneeze is coming?

What is the line from Star Trek? "I find human partners to be too...frail." I'm thinking this would be a simliar situation.

it's "...too fragile" actually.

Close enough.

And you notice that Worf fucked several human females anyway. And they loved him. He got more play than Riker towards the end of the series!

I wasn't aware of that, no.

[sigh] Your lack of Star Trek knowledge is appalling. Think of the possibilities - a Pred is bigger than Worf by nearly a foot.

Thus making my case for me...

Weak. I thought you liked them big - Hellboy kind of big.

Hellboy has no fangs, and is half-human.

His right hand is made of FUCKING STONE.

Plus any children that would result would only be 1/4 demon instead of 1/2 Predator. Can you imagine what childbirth would be like?

Weak. Use condoms.

Not weak. Sensible. And do you seriously think they make condoms big enough for Preds?

"Sensible." Oh boy, we are having fun now. That's what I'm looking for - Sensible sex.[yawn]

I'm looking for not-killing-your-dumb-ass kind of sex. Look, if you're wanting danger in your sex life date Laurena Bobbitt. Or fuck a Pred female. Both could end the same...

Oh hell, falling asleep with any woman nearby is dangerous. Besides, female preds don't normally leave the homeworld. The males go out hunting in the first place because the females will only put out for a male who has proven himself... how am I gonna' get any play competing against that?

This is all Rachel's fault (actually it's Rachel's friend Lin's fault, but I digress). I hate doing copycat posts, but this one seems worthwhile.

50 Things I Want to Do

1) Earn a Doctorate, thus giving my mother the chance to say, “I’m Doctor Callahan, and this is my son, Doctor Callahan.”
2) Get married to a very patient woman who wants to
3) Have children – preferably in a litter, like dogs
4) Write a few well-received articles in my field
5) Get a novel published
6) Spend more time in Ireland, so I can
7) Become proficient in Gaelic and
8) Live out of a backpack, as I
9) Walk the ancestral lands of my clan
10) Get back in fighting shape so I can
11) Start doing Kendo again and
12) Start doing Iaido again and
13) Start doing SCA heavy weapons combat again, so I can
14) Be King, and
15) Get knighted
16) Own a cell phone that actually works world wide (I can dream, right?)
17) Travel in Japan so I can
18) Eat Fugu and
19) Spend time in a Zen monastery and
20) Be still and
21) Learn to live simply
22) Improve my equestrian skills so that I can
23) Tilt (that’s ‘jousting’ for you folks who don’t read Chr├ętien de Troyes for fun)
24) Find a place to call home (near the ocean)
25) Go on pilgrimage to Dharmasala and Tibet so I can
26) Meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama (maybe over tea) and then
27) Write a book on Buddhism
28) Be the first man in my family to avoid diabetes and heart attack
29) Meet more of the blogiverse in person (the Pup and T show was a good start…)
30) Finally master swimming, so it will be safer when I
31) Start surfing again
32) Sail on a square rigged ship (I mean as a crew member)
33) Own a sailboat
34) Learn to kite surf
35) Own a home with enough land around it that I can have a big, loud parrot
36) Have another great terrier like Maevis in my life – probably a Jack Russell
37) Own a lot more kilts, including a formal rig for #2
38) Finally have the guts (and the physique) to wear a sarong in public
39) Have all the hair waxed off my body (just once, to see what it’s like…)
40) Take my mother on a great vacation (it’s only fair after all the money she dropped in Ireland this summer…)
41) Own another motorcycle
42) Make a pilgrimage to the grave of Douglas Adams
43) Travel to Africa before the wildness is all fenced in
44) Learn to fly something besides kites (Hang glider, private plane, ultra light, whatever)
45) Be abducted by aliens (hold the anal probe)
46) Inspire my students
47) Give up my cherished fears
48) Read everything by James Joyce so I can
49) Fully understand Finnegans Wake
50) If Clay manages to get that time travel thing down, I’d like to go back and interview the major religious leaders of history. Maybe even get them all at a table together. Imagine the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham, Confucius, Krishna, and Baha'u'llah, all chilling together. Setting the record straight about their teachings, cracking jokes, maybe ordering pizza on that cell phone of mine…

Be still my geeky heart...

This is not an actor from one of the Predator films - this is a fan who was willing to invest a lot of money...

I have always loved the Predator movies, and the release of Alien vs Predator has rekindled my nerdy obsession with the Yautja (that's what the Predators call themselves in their language). Like most sci-fi/fantasy nerds, I have entertained fantasies of dressing up like my favorite characters (my short list of wanted costumes includes Klingon Warrior, Rebel Alliance Pilot, and Gimli the dwarf). Even though I loved (and identified with) the Yautja, I never even considered the Predator Young Blood (that's what they call those on their first serious hunt) because it just looked too difficult. Over the years, I tried to satisfy myself with reading a few Predator comic books and watching the movies repeatedly.

Well, no more.

At last, there are several houses that build and sell Predator costumes. Prices vary widely - the complete costume shown above would run about $72,000 - but most fans build reasonable costumes for a couple hundred. Despite being a starving student, I am seriously considering purchasing a few pieces and starting on a basic costume. I am such a dork.

This place has some very nice costume parts - masks, hands, helmets, etc.

These guys sell a resin cast of the smart disc weapon...

And then there is this shop, for the discriminating (and well funded) costume nerd who wants the very best (this is the place that made the full rig at the top of the post). The helmet has an operational laser sight, the shoulder mounted gun is pyrotechnic capable, and the wrist blade is powered by a pneumatic cylinder. The ultimate in sci-fi con apparel. If I ever win the lottery...

So, who's hosting the Halloween party this year?


Hello ladies...

Darth Furious, take two
(here is take one for those who missed it)

Sorry about yesterday's lameass post - that whimpy do-gooder Linus was at the helm. This morning I regained control of MY body, and I'm now getting my plans for galactic dominance back on track.

That pussy little Shepherd model cybernetic body they designed for me isn't nearly large or powerful enough. I was thinking of something more like this...

The Imperial Galactic Throne of the GodPope

Check out the scale. Why, yes - that IS Jupiter in my right hand. Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! I'd mostly use this body for time/space warping, planet crushing, and the ocassional Genesis event, but it's also comfortable just hanging around the cosmos - you know, drinkin' 40s with my homies from the crab nebula, yo.

For planetary visits, parades in my honor, or incidents of Deus Ex Machina, I'd switch into this little number.

Code name: "Divine Intervention"

On this model, I think even the eyebrows have rocket launchers - or blades. Maybe both. Whatever. That ought to keep them in line out in the sticks...

Now, on to other business...

The Beatdown list, maintained by Sister Sloth is a fine idea as far as it goes, but what do you do when a beatdown isn't sufficient? Well, if you're the Black Pope, you EXCOMMUNICATE. Make sure to check out the art section; some disturbing stuff in there.

Now get back to work, all of you. Do you think that throne is gonna' build itself?

100th Post

I realize that much of this blog is silliness.

For every genuine spiritual post here there are two or three about talking M&Ms, giant robots, black pudding, or some other such nonsense. There are perhaps 10 or 12 posts in the entire hundred that actually "minister" to the reader.

Despite this, my regular readers know that I actually take the spiritual pursuits pretty seriously. The community that reads this blog embraces many diverse beliefs - off the top of my head I can think of 8 different paths that are practiced by members of the Flock. I believe that diversity to be a much more sure indicator of the robust health of this community than the number of posts.

Thanks are in order for all of you; through your comments here and posts on your own blogs you each help to keep the dialogue open, and bring this virtual tribe/sangha/parish/communion/circle/coven closer together. Bless you all.

Now - pray that the next 100 posts are better than these. I mean, do you really need to hear about nude cooking, the castration of my room mate's cat, or my lack of underwear again?

Go in Peace.

"Motivation is very important, and thus my simple religion is love, respect for others, honesty: teachings that cover not only religion but also the fields of politics, economics, business, science, law, medicine-everywhere. With proper motivation these can help humanity."
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

R&D Update

The Reverend offers an equal opportunity ministry which does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Just to set the record straight (or not), Legal tells me that we need to make sure the Flock is aware of the other Aesthete models available.


Preproduction sketches of the Aesthete MkI "Spartan Boy" model.

The Spartan will come equipped with "Top/Bottom Mode"(patent pending) and slots for optional "Queer Eye Fab Five Personality Upgrades." All 5 personalities will be available, but IT tells me that loading all five into one Spartan may make it unstable...


In other news, it turns out that the Aesthete "BCP" (Bisexual Cyber-Priestess) model can be retrofitted for military use. Although no official designator has been decided upon, the guys in the lab are calling her "GI Jane" for now.



Our regularly scheduled Sunday Sermon will not be posted today, in order to bring you this important message from the Ministry's Research and Development Department.

Death Sucks

I don't know about you guys, but I think death sucks. Rather than just accept that death is inevitable, I'm taking steps to see to it that the good people of the Flock never have to face the horrible boredom and loneliness of a world without the Reverend.

These photos just came in from the Ministry's R&D department, where they are working on the "Cybernetic Afterlife Vessel" in which my soul will be installed when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

The Shepherd MkIII

This prototype, codenamed "Shepherd" will be ready for transplantation in early 2012. It is wireless ready and Bluetooth capable, so I'll be able to post important sermons and other updates to the Ministry's webpages remotely. The integrated sound system housed in the torso allows me to preach in public venues with no additional amplification, and on-board software can instantly translate the message into 41 languages.

Weighing in at just under 10,000 pounds, the 24 foot tall Shepherd will act as a serious deterrent to heretics and unbelievers.
Shepherd MkIII, "Redemptor"

The photo above shows the "Redemptor" version of the basic Shepherd, complete with knuckle-mounted "Brimstone" rockets for those moments when blasphemers and other generally naughty folk need realtime smiting.

Of course, the Ministry is not made through my efforts alone. All members of the Flock are eligible for transplantation as well. Shown below is the basic parishioner model, codenamed "Lost Sheep."

The Parish MkII, "Lost Sheep"

The LS has a powerful lifting chassis and a titanium exoskeleton, turning the transplanted worshipper into a 7 foot tall juggernaut of faith.

For the truly committed who'd like to take their witnessing to the next level, we offer this six-limbed heavy weapons model, codenamed "Blacksheep."
Parish MkV, "Black Sheep"

The swivel-mounted gattling gun handles the light work, while full radiation shielding and low-yield nuclear devices in each shoulder allow the Zealot to take the message to the streets in a way that will make the guys at the Watchtower green with envy.


The new Face of Faith (note the single, staring, red eye...)

For the devout with a less utilitarian bent, we are just starting work on the "Aesthete" series. While not loaded with strength or weapons, this line shows real promise in other areas. I must admit, when the boys down in R&D first pitched this project, your ol' Black Pope was skeptical - I mean, are hundreds of "bisexual cyber-priestesses" really what the Ministry needs? - but Marketing assures me this will be a very popular item, especially once we iron the bugs out of the new libido chip.

Two Aesthete MkI Prototypes testing their sensor arrays.

In closing, I'd just like to remind you that it is your tithes that keep our R&D department in business, so give early and give often.

Go in Peace.

The Offical Cool Dad award goes to this guy! (Make sure you check out the image labeled "Pilot")

The Hopeless Romantic's post "Did the ridiculous question ever truly exist?" required a bit more of an answer than a comment would allow...

Mahayana (Zen) Buddhists have never made a big deal about the historical existence of the Buddha. Robert Aitken Roshi summed it up when he said, "Even if it could be proven today beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Buddha never existed, his story would still be our guide."

Some Christians have always run into trouble because of their insistence on the bible as a literal, historically accurate document. With very little effort one can point to numerous inaccuracies and logic flaws in both testaments, but the same can be said of most books of scripture. It is only because Christians insist that the bible (and ONLY the bible) is true and infallible, that they have always invited critique. If only they would take the sane route Clay has suggested, and view the bible as a hagiography and not a biography, none of this angst would be necessary.

In answer to the question posed by your title, however, there IS room for doubt that Yeshua ben Pantera existed, and the debate has raged for centuries. Most scholars today accept his existence as valid, based on the the few references we have from that era. In addition to Christian and Rabbinic sources, a few secular documents from the period following his death (64-100AD) make mention of him, most notably writings by Tacitus and Flavius Josephus. There is also a letter from Justin Martyr to Emperor Antonius Pius, written in 150AD, that mentions a now lost text called "The Acts of Pilate." Supposedly, the Acts were an offical Roman document that detailed the activities of Pontius Pilate, and thus would contain anything of note - like the squelching of the rebellious preaching of Jesus. There is a text that bears the same title, but it is an acknowledged forgery dating from the 4th century - evidence that there has been a controversy over the existence of Jesus for at least that long.

I'm sure this film will catch all sorts of crap from the Christian community, and make millions because of it... it is to be expected, after the success of Mel Gibson's revolting little snub film about the crucifixion. But like "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Godspell", "The Last Temptation of Christ", and "Life of Brian" before it, this too shall pass. For people who believe so firmly in the eternal nature of the teachings of Jesus, some Christians sure do get worked up about the ephemeral.

I don't know if I would go as far as Clay in saying that "Religion, ethics and morals are always good...". One can certainly point to numerous historical examples of religions being REALLY bad for the folks who didn't go along with them. In the OT there are several passages where God incites the Jews to war on other peoples; the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, and the Jihad we are currently facing in the Middle East also spring to mind. I think it might be more accurate to say that the ideas behind these religions are good, but as he pointed out, the people are often not.

(By the way, according to the South Park website, the episode for this week is "All about Mormons." Saturday, 10PM/9C, on Comedy Central.)

Rules for Life
Part 3, being a continuation of the rules found here and here.

10) Always remember - if it's hot going in, it will be hotter coming out. When the waiter at a Tai or Indian restaurant asks you how hot you want your entree, don't flippantly say, "Why, I'd like it authentically hot of course! Just like your mum makes back home, Gunga Din." (I have it on good authority that the famous Tai dish, "Angry Pork" stays angry. The friend who told me this tale still winces at the merest mention of pad thai.)

11) Don't be too specific when calling out body parts during the Hokie-Pokie. (I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I thought it should be here for the sake of completion. I'm trying to make the job easier for future scholars as they reconstruct my life and teachings. Hey - it could happen.)
11.1) Carefully consider your audience before initiating the Hokie-Pokie at a veteran's hospital. (Nothing's worse than being chased by angry amputees. Some of those new wheelchairs can really move.)

12) Never, under any circumstances, microwave a Starburst. They are not like pastries and doughnuts; after 20 seconds in the microwave they are still stale. Well, actually they become a bubbling puddle of brightly colored molten sugar slag, but the point is, it doesn't increase their edibility. (In retrospect, I should have put them on a paper plate - they were inseperably fused to the glass plate I used, so I had to throw it away. Tomorrow I'm gonna try it with Skittles...)

Here endeth the lesson. Go in Peace.

Summer Blog Blockbusters

If your blog were a movie, what would it be?

Mandyland
"Escape from Mandyland"
Kurt Russell revives Snake Plissken for one last mission. He must slip into Mandyland and rescue the bloggers trapped amidst all the glittery pink and purple, before the bomb inside his body goes off...

Big Gay Jim's Big Gay Blog
"Priscilla, Queen of Laramie"
This camp remake of the drag queen classic features gorgeous costumes and a lavish production budget, despite being a one-man show. BGJ is fabulous as Mitzi, Felicia, and Bernadette, but less convincing as Bob...

Mount Olympus
"The Gods Must be Gay"
Zeus himself stars in this fairy tale that features a lot of fairy tail. "Nuff said.

NerdyGirl and Sloth team up to bring us
"The Truth about Cats and Sloths"
The girls swap identities to woo a potential suitor - wackiness ensues. (You two can argue about who gets to be the Janeane Garofalo character...)

And the Reverend's favorite;
The Hopeless Romantic
"Taxi Driver"
Clay is brilliant in this Salt Lake City remake with an LDS twist.
"Are you witnessing to me? Are you witnessing to me? I don't see anybody else here, so you must be witnessing to me."

The Tour

How did this come to be? Why does this Ministry exist? And what of its Black Pope, Linus Furious? Are he and the Dark Overlord of Freeballing, Darth Furious, truly one and the same?

For these answers and more, we penetrated deep into the outback of the Reverend's mind. The results were startling. Hop in the jeep with Nigel, and he'll show you some of the highlights...


Our fearless guide, Nigel.

...we are now leaving the tamer portions of the mind behind. Please keep your head and arms inside the vehicle at all times. The indigenous wildlife can be unpredictable in these parts... We have had word from the natives that some of the wilder mental constructs have been seen hunting in this vicinity. If we are very quiet, we may catch a glimpse - Look there, muttering amid the brackets - I believe it's... YES - it is the Internal Monologue!

"I'm sorry [not] about this blog entry. I had hoped [you have no hope] to write something pithy and inspirational for today [what is pith, anyway?], but nothing really came to mind [heh heh, he said "came"]. Because of Sloth's post [mmmm, Sloth in a Catholic school uniform] I thought about trying to explain [bore everyone with] the Buddhist perspective on abortion [yeah, ask the little bald celibate guys in robes for guidance on reproductive issues - great idea], but decided it might be a bit too heavy. I hope [what, with the hope again?] that this light-hearted tour of my mental ecosystem will educate [is this gonna' be on the test?] and entertain in its place [I got your "entertainment" right here]."

Isn't he a beauty folks? It's a rare treat to see one in its natural habitat. He seems to have spotted the females in our group, so we'll hear nothing more from him today. We'd best move along.

...we are in luck! Just atop the trees to our right - it's the Ego. [*snarl*] I'm sorry, I meant, Mr. Ego [*ROAR*] Oh, pardon me - what I meant to say was, Dread Thegn and Warrior, Winner of Wars, Singer of Songs, and Breaker of Hearts, a real life le chevalier fait malade, The Black Pope, the most flawed tragic hero since Lancelot himself, the one, the only, the Rite Reverend... Claudius... Linus... Fuuuuuurrrrrious!!

"Thank you, thank you. No - thank YOU. It's really great to be here; I mean that. Bob, could you bring up the house lights? What a great looking crowd. For my first number tonight I'd like to take you back to a simpler time. A time when the men were men, the women were almost men, and the sheep ran scared. Now this happened back in the summer of 'aught two..."

We'll just move along, as the Ego can be a bit long winded. He can go on for hours like this. He's so self-absorbed that he won't even notice we're gone...

...our scouts tell us that several of the Emotions have been spotted in this next clearing. These particular specimens are a bit flattened, as they have all been crushed so many times. Most keep to their burrows now, with the exception of Anger. He can often be found in this vicinity raging about nothing in particular. He was last seen yelling at a rock for being lazy. I believe I hear him now...


"Well, you can kiss my fucking ass, pal! You are really pissing me off, just sitting there all goddamn day, EVERY goddamn day! If you don't like it, why don't you just leave!? Huh? Why? I'll tell you why - cuz you can't - cuz you're a fucking rock, that's why! You've got no limbs! Two words for ya' - no fucking limbs! How do you like that?!"

Perhaps we can lure him a bit closer to the jeep with conversation... "I say, lovely weather we are having in this part of the mind."

"Well, who the fuck are you?"

Oh this is smashing! He's coming closer... "We are a tour group; I am their guide."

"So you think you're some kind of college educated expert on this mind or something?"

"Well, I suppose -"

"Well la-dee-fuckin'-da! An Expert! Well, Mister EXPERT, what would you do if I jump up on your rickety fuckin' little jeep here and kick your expert ass all the way back to the Inner Child? Huh? What're you gonna' do about it? I'll tell you what you're gonna do - NOTHING! 'Cuz you're a pansy-ass, college punk, mama's boy with a limey accent and a fucking pith helmet!! And what is pith anyway? Get away from me before I get really pissed off and rip your goddamn eyes out and piss on your fucking brain!! Hey!! Where are you going? I'm talking to you!!!

He seems to feel threatened, so we'll just move along...

... ooh, look there under that fallen log. I believe it is the Self-Esteem! It was feared that this and a related species known as the Self-Respect were extinct, but here is one in full plumage! This is a wonderful find - let's see if we can draw it from its lair... "Good Day old chap! How is it with you?"

"I can't move."

"Oh dear! Are you wounded?"

"Well, my spine was broken years ago... but I get by. Actually I was hit by lightning and slipped on the mud here, and then this tree fell on me and caught fire..."

Ordinarily, I try to leave the wildlife untouched, but this one time I could make an exception... "Sit tight my good man - we'll break out the rope and have you out in a jiff."

"Why?"

"Well, don't you want to run free with the other Emotions?"

"Not really. They all stopped listening to me decades ago. Happiness and Pride decided they'd rather be friends with Disillusionment and Bitterness. They formed a garage band called, "I Was Robbed." I think they cut a record a while back. The three brothers Lust, Envy, and Loathing kick my ass everytime I see them, and Self-Pity just goes around telling everyone what they want to hear. It sucks."

"My word! What about Love?"

"He just sits in front of his cave drinking Absinthe and humming Beatles tunes. He's been in a drunken stupor for at least a decade now."

Perhaps we should move along and leave this to a therapist, or at the very least, a tree surgeon..."Well, cheers - we're off."

"Stop by any time. I'm not going anywhere."

We're out of time for today, but tune in next week as Nigel leads us on a daring expedition into the lair of the Sub-Concious, and one of the Emotions gets voted off the island...

WD40 for your brain

With the new semester looming on the horizon, I'm sure many of us are dreading the return to cognitive endeavors. Getting the gears turning again prior to that first day of class would probably be a good idea. Naturally, your Reverend has a suggestion for shaking off a summer's worth of brain rust...


Tantrix Discovery set

Tantrix is a nifty little game/puzzle that wakes up your problem solving skills. In the puzzle version shown above, each hexagonal tile has three colored stripes on it, and the goal is to make loops out of one color at a time. You begin with three tiles and it takes just a few seconds to solve the puzzle, but once you get up to 6 or 7 tiles it becomes a serious challenge. There are 10 tiles in the starter set, and you can add sets together to make it more challenging.


The competitive version of the game uses a full set of 56 tiles. Each player choose one of the four colors and play alternates, with each player placing tiles from his hand of 6, and replacing them with tiles drawn from the bag. The goal is to build the longest possible line or loop of your color while blocking your opponent's attempts to do the same. The strategy can be as complex as you wish, but the small element of luck (the replacement draw) keeps the game interesting.


A game in progress - yellow is winning with a score of 12.

Another member of the Tantrix family is the three dimensional puzzle known as The Rock.

It is a truncated octahedron, with 8 hexagonal faces and 6 square faces. There are hexagonal and square tantrix tiles which attach to these faces, and the aim is of course to place all these tiles so that all the colored lines match up. Instead of taking the tiles off completely and trying to solve it, it is also possible to just rotate the tiles in place which makes for an easier puzzle.

Tantrix has a rabid following in other countries. If you'd like to try before you buy, there is an online Tantrix community where you can meet (and be beaten senseless by) players from all over the world. Get online and defend America's honor! (that's probably not the most compelling pitch for my regular readers...) I have played and spectated a bit there, and these guys are good. There is a ranking system similar to chess, and a pretty good chat interface that allows the pros to easily tell you what you are doing wrong.

Two person games are the most common. Four person games are mind-bending affairs in which I am usually so far behind that I am left for dead by the time the bag is half empty. Did I mention that these guys are good?

So, give Tantrix a try. The ten-tile Discovery set is currently selling at game stores and Barnes and Noble for about $5. Anybody in the general vicinity of the International Headquarters of the Ministry who would like to try out the puzzle version is welcome to borrow my set.


Travels easily - play anywhere.

Sunday Sermon
Monkey Mind

"More snap."
"Higher release."
"More layover."
"More off the wind."
"Too low."
"More wrist."
"Use this wind - throw NOW."
"Too flat - pulled a Kitty."
"Needs more spin."

Insert a 15-40 yard chase in between each sentence above, and you have a beginners day at the boomerang field. There is so much to remember, and so much to correct. It can be fun if improvement is visible, but when progress is nothing more than going home a bit less sore than the last practice, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves. Sometimes during that walk downrange, we shake our heads and chide ourselves for making the same mistakes over and over again.

While meditating, we often fail every few breaths. Our concentration breaks, and we must realize that we have left the path, and usher ourselves back to it. One meditation tradition calls this "monkey mind," because we snatch at any shiney thought that comes by.

It can be hard to be kind to the monkey mind. We often feel that we should be better, smarter, stronger, or whatever "-er" word you want to put there. Sometimes we criticize and harass ourselves until meditation, or throwing boomerangs, or whatever you are trying to learn becomes absolute torture. It is at these times that we must be our most compassionate.

Now, don't get crazy - I'm not recommending that we let ourselves continue to screw up - certainly, we need to correct our mistakes, but we must do so with gentleness. Zen masters of the past have often shown a gentle but self-deprecating humor when speaking of themselves or their students. The Haiku master Basho wrote,

"At our moon viewing party,
There is no one,
With a beautiful face."


Robert Aitken Roshi jokingly paraphrased it like, "what a bunch of homely bastards we are, staring at the moon." Their was no lack of love in either Basho or Aitken - rather a humourous acceptance of themselves and their immediate company, warts, pimples, and all.

This sort of acceptance gives us the opportunity to admit our errors, while supporting us in our struggle to get ourselves back on the path. We can laugh at our mistakes, or even at our propensity to make the same mistake, but still be firm in our resolve to correct them.

So this week, show yourself some compassion. Don't flog yourself over every little error. Tame the monkey (or the boomerang) with gentleness. Recognize your mistakes, joke with yourself about them, and gently put yourself right.

Go in Peace.



Quick Update

Due to conflicts for some throwers, we will throw Boomerangs on Sunday, not Saturday as mentioned earlier. 08:00 at the soccer fields (or the new field across the street). See you there!

The Big Boom




The Kilimanjaro is the baddest 'rang in my bag. It is much larger than the others, and it has two lead weights in each tip to give it extra range. The guy down in Gunnison who makes them rates it for 60+ yards, so that's about double most of my other 'rangs.

It's not the longest range stick around - the world record is something ridiculous like 238 meters - but for us mere mortals, 60 yards is pretty huge. It's amazing to throw something away from yourself just about as hard as you can and then watch it circle around and return to you.

Well, sort of 'to you'... OK, I admit, there is a bit of chasing that goes on with this 'rang. The longer the throw, the more room for error, right?

Even if you are in the right place when it comes down, you really have to think twice about trying to catch it. That the tips are double weighted with lead sounds like a fine idea as you are throwing it, but as it comes spinning back at you, sticking your hand in there starts to sound crazy. If you don't use good form, it will bite you like no other 'rang.

To be honest, it's not really the chasing or the catching I mind - it's the way my arm feels now. I got a little carried away this morning. After warming up with lighter 'rangs for 30 minuites or so, I went to the "Kill-a-mans-arm-o" and threw it for the rest of the session.

I know better. The last time we went to the field, I didn't even get it out. Scared of it. The day I bought it last year I took it out and threw it like 40 times; crippled me for nearly a week. Today for some reason, I felt super-human.

My first throw with it was a beauty; down the right side of the soccer field, around the goal, then back to a catch within 6 paces of the pin. That's how it tricks you... the first few throws are beautiful, but then as your arm gets tired you get tense and sloppy, and you have to work harder and harder to get it to come all the way back. You know that a perfect flight is possible - you just had one a few minutes before - but each throw seems to get less accurate, so you keep throwing. "Just one more," you say to yourself, "and then I'll quit." "One more good one, and I can call it a day." Right. You can handle it. You can quit any time you want...

My right arm feels like something dead hanging from my shoulder. I nearly cried when I tried to put on a clean shirt. I can't brush my hair or my teeth with that arm, and right now even moving the mouse is too much. I'm typing with one hand (this would have been posted hours ago if not for that). My fingers are tingling and my elbow is swollen. It's hard to describe, but my armpit feels like it's asleep... and you thought cold deodorant in the morning was unpleasant.

Despite all this, I plan to throw tomorrow. Well, I plan to throw leettle bitty baby 'rangs anyway. Who wants to join me? We can even wait until a more civilized time of day. Would making it 8:00 A.M. get the sleepyheaded out to join us? (We may have to go to another field though... damn soccer players.)

Shrubbery

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful - and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people - and neither do we."

-George W. Bush

Don't look at me - I voted for Cthulhu. Why settle for the lesser evil?

Despite our best efforts, Darth Furious gets loose once in a while. The last time it happened, it was:

4:48 P.M. on a Thursday

bored now.
me too.
I'm going to drop out of society and wear small animals as hats I'm so bored.
I'm gonna' learn to swallow swords and then travel with the Olympic fencing team as a human scabbard I'm so bored.
It's called "enui," actually.
Small animals as hats? How would you get them to stay on?
staples and duct tape
ouch.
maybe epoxy - whatever it takes. I'm hardcore.
I smell candy.
I have JellyBellys.
nope - smells like those cheap little hearts with the lameass sayings on them...
"Be mine"
"Forever"
Wow. It's not even February.
"Blow Me"
I've never seen one that says "Blow Me."
Well, they should. We should market some with real sayings, that real people would say on Valentine's day.
"Be my love-monkey"
Real people don't say that.
"Touch yourself while I watch"
That one's too long.
True - but you get the idea
"Let's get it on"
"Horny? Me too."
"Do me"
"Bring handcuffs..."
"Come to momma"
Eeewww
"Take the dirt road"
Now that's just crude
"Do you bite?"
"Drain me"
"Got Dick?"
"Spank dat ass"
"Say please"
"Sign this waiver"
"Sign this waiver"?!
Hey, it takes all kinds...
dude, you should blog this.

An excellent morning...

We arrived at the boomerang field at 07:00. The grass was wet with dew, and the sun was still casting long, low shadows. Zeus, NerdyGirl, and I were all a bit stiff, but we warmed up quickly (well, Zeus and I warmed up quickly - NerdyGirl sat and stared for a bit... she's not a morning person). The first 30 minutes or so were filled with a lot of bad throwing.


The Flock enjoys boomerangs at 7:00 A.M.

A bad throw doesn't come back to you, entailing a bit of fetching. Some go past you, landing 25 or 30 yards back from the pin (the pin is the wind indicator in the middle of the field). Some don't go all the way around, and land 20 or 30 yards short of the pin. Some just leave your hand with not enough spin, and thus don't turn at all. My favorite is the throw that is released too low; it hits the ground and skips like a rabbit in a sraight line away from you - usually about 40 yards or so.


Here, the Reverend explains the finer points of boomerang aerodynamics.

After a bunch of throws like this, we all started to get dialed in. Zeus has two new 'rangs, both of which he caught in the bull's eye. His last solo throw was a beautiful floater that he caught about 3 steps from the pin.


Zeus with his new 'rangs.

I finally got some accuracy going as well, and made three one-finger catches with my tri-blader (It has a hole in the middle. As it hovers down you can catch it by sticking your index finger in the hole, but if you miss the hole by a lot, you have effectively stuck you finger in a whirling fan blade - ouch.)

Most improved player goes to NerdyGirl, who finally got her 'rang to make a full return! She was able to make consistent throws that came around in an elliptical pattern - now we have to start working on her catching. Today she was able to make numerous near-catches, and actually had a beautiful catch interrupted by slipping on the grass. Maybe she needs cleats...

We finished up with a hilarious suicide round (everyone throws at once and you count the catches), in which we all had good time aloft, and no one made the catch.

Yes, it's early in the morning. Yes, it can be chilly at first. Yes, it involves sweating a bit. But it's a great way to start the day. Ask Zeus and NerdyGirl - they wouldn't get up this early unless there were benefits.

See you guys Friday at 07:00?

Nap Hangover

Nap.

Dream.

Awake, disappointed that I am not, in fact, a mighty Celtic chieftain with chariot.

Dress, disappointed that my kilts are not yet dry, and swords are not yet accepted for daily wear.

Check fridge, disappointed by absence of diet Coke.

Eat, disappointed that tuna is still on the menu.

Listen to NPR, disappointed that G.W. is still president.

Check Email, disappointed by the absence of a message for which I was hoping.

Blog, disappointed that not all of my favorites have updated.

Work, disappointed by the lack of scenery in the lab.

I should have kept dreaming.

Sunday Sermon
When was the last time you...


Had an in-depth conversation with a small child?

Saw the sunrise?
Stayed up talking all night?
Told your parents, for no reason, that you love them?
Slept outside?
Baked bread from scratch?
Climbed a tree?
Read a novel for pleasure?
Went roller skating?
Played on a swingset?
Held hands with someone?
Went swimming in a natural body of water?
Played Monopoly?
Prayed for peace in the world?
Told someone that you're glad you know them?
Walked in the rain?
Had cold pizza for breakfast?
Had a squirtgun fight?

Go in Peace.