January 30, 2007


You Are 64% Gentleman

You are definitely a gentleman. You're very considerate and you have excellent manners.
Occasionally, you slip and do something foolish... but usually no one notices!

January 22, 2007


Obviously we made it home in (at least) one piece, given that I'm writing to you now. I have so many stories from the trip home. I'll try not to bore you.

The day started off at Sarah and Jono's place, where neither Liz nor I had slept a wink. Whether this had something to do with anticipation or perhaps just sleeping in a new place, I'm not sure, but we started the day quite tired. After multiple panick attacks about our luggage weight (nearly every bag was over the limit by at least a kilo, and three bags were over by 7 kilos each), I finally got around to printing our visa again (which I later discovered I didn't need to print), finalizing our packing, and turning off my laptop (which, for some reason, had decided that now was the best time to install its updates, taking a decent fifteen minutes to install stuff before it would allow me to turn it off).

Liz had to call Telstra to cancel our mobile phone accounts while we were still in the country. She'd called several weeks ago to be sure of what to do to get it taken care of efficiently and with as little hassle as possible. It's a good thing she did that, because the answer they gave us upon calling today was completely different. Yes, we can cancel now. No, we can't send your bill overseas. Oh, you're moving to America? That's nice. You can call us if you want to pay your bill by credit card. Will your Melbourne address still be working?

I've never seen Liz get so pissed off at a customer service rep before. Don't mess with the pregnant lady, I guess. Eventually we worked it out, both of us exceedingly frazzled by this point. After our final checks, Gavin took us to the airport in Sarah's 4x4, into which our luggage barely fit. Here are the numbers:

6 suitcases, three over 30 kilos each
1 tenor saxaphone
1 guitar
2 backpacks
1 didgeridoo
1 SLR Camera in Hard case
2 panicked and over-tired americans
1 preoccupied aussie driving two panicked and over-tired americans

On the way to the airport, Gavin and I got into a discussion about the muslim religion. It seems that our discussion got a little too involved, because all of a sudden, we were driving into a traffic circle that was under construction. We looked around, a bit unsure as to why the road had just ended, as a construction foreman ran over waving his arms in our direction. He noted the four separate signs at regular intervals all mentioning the lack of road (and presence of road work) ahead, and the marked detour back a few hundred meters, if we'd just turn around and get our of his pile of dirt thank you very much. Actually, I think he was more amused by the fact that we suddenly had no clue where we were than anything. We followed the detour to the airport, where we unloaded our luggage.

Now, remember how tired and frustrated we already are. We load up three trollies with our baggage, and muscle them into the immense line that's forming behind the international ticket counters. Annette and the kids decided to come to the airport to send us off (this after they've spent three weeks in China - thanks guys!), so they kept us company for the lengthy period of time we waited. Upon arriving at the ticket counter, the guy - I can't remember his name - asked about our baggage, were we aware that only two pieces were the usual free baggage allowance, etc. We knew the drill - Liz had called ahead to ask about this too - and were ... mostly ... confident that we'd be ok.

Then he said "so you know that some of your bags are considerably overweight, right?" My heart dropped into my stomach; I'm thinking 'oh no, he's going to make us take 21 kilos out of our bags and charge us for five extra pieces of luggage.' As I'm thinking this, he says something about paying $70 extra. My first thought is "in addition to paying for each extra bag." Liz and I exchange a panicked glance before protesting that no, the rules said something else! And he looks really confused suddenly, like we should be thanking him. And then he says "ah, right, $70 is not a lot for four extra bags that are overweight."

Suddenly I'm floating; we're not going to have to pay with our firstborn to get home!!! The day suddenly seemed a bit better, happier somehow, less of a chore. We both say "ohhh!! thank you!" as he mentions that we probably shouldn't mention how many bags we have to the lady we have to pay at the next counter. I've racked my brain trying to decide why in the world he gave us that sort of discount. At this point, all I can do is thank God - and the very kind ticket agent whose name I can't remember - for sparing us.

Later, when we'd made it to customs in LA, we were once again waived through without paying duties. Life is good.

The second cool thing that happened today was the guy that sat in our row on the trip from Melbourne to LA. His name is Dave, he's a musician/guitar-player/recording engineer, and he worked at Urban Seed for a few years. I kid you not. Apparently, he was involved with Urban Seed towards the beginning, when the residency program was first being formed. It was his idea (he says) to plant a flag symbolizing the re-taking of Victoria by people who didn't want gambling at the opening of the big Casino (story for another time, remind me if I forget), a story I've heard from Marcus (who we both know) several times. He left Urban Seed a while back and hasn't really been since then; it was a fascinating conversation after that. We talked theology, praxis, protesting (turns out we agree quite a bit on that one), and many other things. Later, the conversation found its way to computers (Liz tuned out at this point). Did you know that Bill Gates was involved with the start of Apple computers? He was one of a few twenty-somethings who started the company (especially the programming side of things), after which he left and started microsoft. Also, that in Dave's experience, Apple computers crash every day for no apparent reason? He loathes that the recording industry uses almost exclusively macs now. It made me happy.

It's been a long trip home. We've flown over the Rocky mountains, over the patchwork of fields that is the midwest, over cities and mountains and barren deserts, and over streams and rivers on our journey home. It's time to re-orient ourselves again, to American money, accents, measurements, roads, and temperatures. That's right - it was 100F again in Melbourne yesterday, and it's much - MUCH - colder in upstate NY: 15F when we walked up the jetway. But I'm not complaining. We're home with family eating good food and celebrating a good year behind us, looking forward to the coming year with anticipation.

January 19, 2007

RPG Rules

Rob discovered this site that I find a touch too amusing. I'm not sure if I should admit to laughing through the whole list or not, but I couldn't help posting some of my favorite observations here. Enjoy.

Gender Equality
Your average female RPG character carries a variety of deadly weapons and can effortlessly hack or magic her way through armies of monsters, killer cyborgs, and mutated boss creatures without breaking a sweat. She may be an accomplished ninja, a superpowered secret agent, or the world's greatest adventurer. However, if one of the game's villains manages to sneak up and grab her by the Standard Female Character Grab Area (her upper arm) she will be rendered utterly helpless until rescued by the hero.

Know Your Audience
Every woman in the game will find the male lead incredibly attractive.

Gender Equality Addendum
In the unlikely event that the main character of the game is female, she will not be involved in any romantic subplot whatsoever beyond getting hit on by shopkeepers.

Party Guidance Rule
Somewhere in the last third of the story, the hero will make a stupid decision and the rest of the party must remind him of all that they have learned from being with him in order to return the hero to normal.

The God Rule
All major deities, assuming they actually exist and weren't just made up by the Church to delude its followers, are in reality malevolent and will have to be destroyed. The only exception to this rule is the four nature spirits who have preserved the land since time immemorial, but now due to the folly of mankind have lost virtually all of their power and need you to accomplish some ludicrous task to save them.

Doomed Utopia Theorem (Law of Zeal)
All seemingly ideal, utopian societies are powered by some dark force and are therefore doomed to swift, flashy destruction.

Thousand Year Rule
The Ancient Evil returns to savage the land every thousand years on the dot, and the last time it showed up was just about 999.9875 years ago. Despite their best efforts, heroes of the past were never able to do more than seal the Evil away again for the future to deal with (which brings up the question of just how exactly does this "sealing away" work anyway, but never mind.) The good news is that this time, the Evil will get destroyed permanently. The bad news is that you're the one who's going to have to do it.

Principle of Archaeological Convenience
Every ancient machine you find will work perfectly the first time you try to use it and every time thereafter. Even if its city got blasted into ruins and the machine was then sunk to the bottom of the sea and buried in mud for ten thousand years, it'll still work fine. The unfortunate corollary to this rule is that ancient guardian creatures will also turn out to be working perfectly when you try to filch their stuff. Modern-day machinery, by contrast, will always break down at the worst possible moment.

Law of Scientific Gratification
If the hero needs a new invention to progress, he will find out that somewhere in the world someone has spent his or her entire life perfecting this invention, and usually just needs one more key item located in a monster-infested dungeon before it is completed.

The Moral Of The Story
Every problem in the universe can be solved by finding the right long-haired prettyboy and beating the crap out of him.

January 8, 2007

To the Airport!

Well, for those of you who don't know, our time here in Melbourne has come to a close. We will be leaving from the Melbourne Airport on Wednesday January 17th around 1:30 and heading home to Rochester, NY. There we'll spend two weeks with my parents, Liz's parents, and visiting with various friends and relatives. Then, it's off to Kentucky, where I will continue my graduate education at Asbury Theological Seminary.

This isn't my "I'm not writing anymore" speech, by the way, but I will be gone for a week or two, as our internet connection ends tomorrow and it's unlikely I'll get much access to WiFi for a little while. I'll check email, so if you have thoughts, keep posting them, or email me.

I can't help thinking that my time here in Oz has flown a tad too fast. We've had a lot to think about in recent weeks, from the new baby on the way to a devotion for mimos to the many papers I'm writing and books I'm reading for FORGE. And as they say, time flies. It flies. I've adored my time here; the city is an amazing place, with amazing people. Well, some amazing people, lots of the ones I met were amazing, anyway. I'm going to miss them - the mimos bunch, the Urban Seed residents and staff, our neighbor Antonio, the Stolberg staff, the FORGEies ... yeah, there are lots of good people here.

To all you good people, thank you for letting us into your life for a little while - it was an honor.

January 3, 2007

The Miracle of Life

I've had friends email me their pictures of the first ultrasound. I've seen it on webpages, blogs, and from friends at church or work who proudly displayed the photographic evidence of their unborn child to anybody within grabbing distance. Usually I smiled, nodded, mumbled some sort of congratulations, and five minute later forgot about the whole thing.

But as they say, it's different when it's yours. I get it now - the pride they felt, the joy at seeing their unborn child squirm inside of mom or wave his hands around, the awe at seeing a tiny heart beating. Until today this whole "my wife is pregnant" thing felt sort of abstract, like it was happening to somebody else; I smiled, nodded, and forgot about it as I focused on writing papers or applying to seminary.

Sometimes reminders would creep in there; the morning sickness (hers, not mine), the book I'm reading about what to do as an expecting father, the list she put together of stuff we'll need for the baby ... but it always came back to me that it wasn't quite ... mine yet.

And then we went for an ultrasound, and I got to watch the little tyke waving his arms at us. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the monitor, it was absolutely incredible! Then reality kicked in and since then I've been flip-flopping between nervousness and awe. I'm going to be a father!

(click the picture to see more pictures of the baby!)