Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm twenty-six.  I'm celebrating my five year anniversary in just a few days (Cinco de Mayo) by taking a much needed vacation to Asheville, North Carolina, where I hope to enjoy some rest and some fun times with Keisha and Avonlea.  Keisha and I visited Asheville for our honeymoon, and it only seems fitting to return now.

I'm not much on sentimentality, at least for most things.  I prefer to live in the Now and look ahead to the Later.  The Past is an ever fading whisper that lives only in the mind and hearts of us all.  Holding onto childhood trinkets and slips of paper seems mostly pointless to me.  But now that Avonlea is here, I'm finding that there are some things that I want to keep.  Why?  I can't say for certain.  Perhaps it's to help her understand a part of the Story that is her life.

Today is the last day of the A to Z challenge.  I've pretty much winged most of these posts off the cuff, with little foresight and no real plan of action.  For today I've decided to list (in no order) some of the zeniths of my life, some of those times I can look back and see myself on the top of the mountain, so to speak.  To be honest, it's harder than it sounds.  I've lived a blessed and happy life.  I consider much of my life to be in the upper elevations of the mountains.  Anyway, below are three major highlights.

1.  My salvation from sin and hell by Jesus happened when I was eleven.  I didn't know exactly what that meant and how to apply that to my life for several more years, but it was then when the Spirit first called to me and I responded in earnest.

2.  Keisha married me.  The wedding was a blur and the church was packed.  We had several friends and family come in, some even foregoing the Kentucky Derby (which was on 5/5/07) to celebrate our nuptials.  I played hangman with my groomsmen in a Sunday School room while waiting for the event to start.  We asked one of the pastors to present the Gospel during our wedding, as we knew that this was one of the only times several people in attendance would step inside a church.  I had a Darth Vaders shaped and colored groom's cake, though I didn't get to come in to the "Imperial March" as I'd hoped.  Five years later and I'm more in love now than I was then.

3.  Avonlea Brynn Stewart came into this world in a rush of emergency due to Keisha's soaring blood pressure and loss of fluid.  We went to a regular check-up and two hours later I was in scrubs and brain addled.  I remember it all very clearly.  I paced back-and-forth outside the operating room, staring at myself in the small mirror, heart pounding, my breath fogging my glasses beneath the hospital scrubs I had on.  I was rushed inside, where I took Keisha's hand in mind and waited.  Soon a baby cried and Daddy followed suit.  I had a daughter.

I could talk about the euphoria that follows a challenging game of tennis that I happen to win.  I could bring up the day I graduated college with my engineering degree.  There are so many more things in my life that are high points that I'm stunned thinking about them.  I'm incredibly blessed.  Likewise, there are plenty of vales and caverns between the peaks, things that have grieved me to no end, and I'm just as stunned thinking about those.

I'm twenty-six years old and I am the person I am today because of the zeniths and voids I've lived through.  I like to think of my life as a slow rising slope, ever-moving upward and to greater heights.  There are interruptions and downslopes, some severe, but they are not enough to sway the line downward.  By myself I would definitely be approaching uncharted depths, but thankfully I am not by myself.  No, I have the constant presence of the Spirit within me, guiding me.  I have the loving arms of a wife to encourage and help me whenever I need her.  I have the undeniable and unconditional love of a daughter that sees me as her Daddy.  I have friends and family that are united by something stronger than blood.  I have a community that challenges and inspires me.  I'm zenith living, and I praise God because of His manifold blessings on me.  Even when I cannot understand how He's working in certain situations, I know that He is, and that's good enough for me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Young Love

Once upon a time there lived a young dapper of a boy named Logan. His hair was the color of rust and his eyes an alarming blue-green, and all the strapping lasses swooned whene'er they saw him. But Logan was a simple lad, caring as much for the fairer sex as he did for a trip to the local tooth doctor. His heart was focused on the things all young lads hearts focus on: Star Wars, camping, the Allowed Woods, the creeks, and the Great Wilderness of Bremen.

The township of Bremen has always been an idyllic farming community. Farmers spend more time with tobacco, corn, and bean crops than they do with their own families. Twisty, curvy roads wind through the countryside, often just wide enough for two vehicles to meet. There are no stop lights, no bars, no shopping centers. No, there is one gas station and enough churches to house the people of Bremen eight times over.

It is no wonder, then, that our young hero would meet the girl who stole his heart in this tiny town. What's more, it is no wonder that red headed Logan would impact a young lass by the name of Keisha at such an early age. For you see, Keisha and Logan first met when they were but pups, under the watchful eye of a neighbor and a cousin. He, no more than six, and she, no more than four, were fated for love.

Through the years, Logan grew dorkier and dorkier while Keisha grew lovelier and lovelier. While he kept his eyes on other things, Keisha kept a place in her heart on him. When High School came around, Logan was a Junior, Keisha a Freshman. He still had little to no interest in girls. A chance meeting one day at the local library brought his attention sharply into focus. Rather bluntly, Keisha, stricken with an arrow from Cupid, approached Logan and asked him if he'd like to go to a school dance. Logan politely refused, but his heart began to change that very day. For the next year he thought of this girl and his refusal. He thought of how beautiful she was and how he knew deep in his heart that he wanted to be with her. But as dorkdom often does to people, Logan lacked the courage to say anything.

At the same time Logan's best mate, William, began fancying a certain young lass, a beautiful young girl by the name of Keisha. A kink in the plans, Keisha kept her eyes still on Logan, and Logan secretly kept his eyes on her. Through tact and patience, Keisha waited for Logan. College loomed ahead, and Logan knew that he had to confess his love for Keisha 'ere he left. He first told William, confessing his heart and his secret love, asking his pal's opinion and blessing. Kindly, William gave his approval, and Logan decided to make take the plunge.

It was early. Students were gathered in the cafeteria, chattering and eating breakfast. Logan's heart thumped and his mind raced. He stood and rushed to the table where Keisha sat, surrounded by girls. He unceremoniously plopped next to her and spoke in an unintelligible garble, asking her to attend the Winter's Ball if she were free. Astonished, Keisha said sure, though she easily could have refused him for his prior spurning. Relieved, Logan left in a whirlwind, leaving behind a table of talking girls.

That is just the beginning of the story of the couple known and Logan and Keisha. There is much left to be told.

Friday, April 27, 2012


X usually brings to mind algebra.  Solve for x.  For most people, it's the first independent variable one comes in contact with.  Up until algebra and pre-algebra, x simply meant to multiply numbers together.  It was pretty simple.  Pretty convenient.  And then the Cartesian plane is introduced, along with the concept of solving a function, f(x), and childhood ends.

I've been fortunate enough to always enjoy mathematics, and I've always excelled in the field.  That's probably part of the reason I went into engineering.  That's probably the reason I took a job as an engineering calculus grader for a few years, where I got to check student exams and quizzes.  I liked the beauty of math, the simple logic that said if you did this, then you can get this answer.  And once I started getting deeper into calculus, once I started understanding roots and intercepts, once linear algebra somewhat clicked, my world opened up even more.

The cool thing is that so often we solve for x without even knowing we're doing that.  If we're planning a road trip and know the distance and the speed we'll drive, we can estimate the time it'll take.  Likewise, if we know a trip is about 2 hours away and we're going about 70 mph, we can figure that the location is somewhere around 140 miles.  We make so many estimations and guesses without even thinking about it, and that is a form of numerical analysis and x-solving.

I love math.  I do.  It's fun, especially when it makes sense.  There are upper echelons of calculus and mathematics that I can't begin to fathom, but the stuff that I do get, that's enjoyable.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Worship 703

Friday night will be our second WORSHIP night.  The first one, WORSHIP 803*, was back in February.  It started with an idea to intentionally worship God as best we could.  Our single goal was to glorify God because He alone is worthy to be praised.  There was no plan, just enter the sanctuary with shoes off and hearts opened.  We had a small setlist, but we wanted the freedom of going where we felt led, too.

This time around our theme is ENOUGH.  We've got about ten songs prepped for the night, focusing on God's provision and general awesomeness being enough for us.  Honestly, if I have the love of God in my life, what more do I need?  And how wonderful is it that He chooses to bless me with so much more?!  Our goal is the same, to just praise God.  For some, that's in silence, arms down, head low.  Others may lift their hands and sing loudly the songs we've selected.

For me, I'll be leading with guitar and offering my words and talents up to Him.  It's nothing I ever thought that I would be doing, but I'm convinced that God gives people talents and skills for a reason, and I choose to honor Him with my amateur skills.  I long to worship the Creator with everything I've got inside of me.  Like that John Mark McMillan song, "I wanna love You when the blood of my veins don't know how to call out Your name, I want to love You when the birds don't hang around."  I don't want a conditional love, but I want an all-consuming and life-changing love to pour out of me.

And I want that for others, too.  I want all of us Sons & Daughters** to genuinely, honestly, humbly worship the Lord.  I can't wrap my head around the concept of why God desires our worship, but He does, and I'm not going to be one to hold back.  (As if I could.)  One of my all time favorite songs that describes my heart is "Yearn," by Shane & Shane***.  Pretty much every time I listen to that song my heart implodes and my soul says Amen.  Check out the acoustic video below if you're unfamiliar with this song.

Lord I want to yearn for You, I want to burn with passion over You, and only You.  Lord, I want to yearn.

It is my prayer that WORSHIP 703 glorifies God.  I pray that our songs and voices create a pleasing aroma to God, and that we are poured out for Him.  Soli Deo Gloria!


*The first event was on a Saturday night at 8:03pm, which is why it was named so.  This event is on a Friday night and starting at 7:03pm.

** Up until very recently this phrase has been absent from my vernacular.  I have always used "Brothers & Sisters in Christ" when referring to the Church family, but I'm trying to switch up my thought processes on this one and start thinking of myself (and others) as Sons & Daughters of the King (John 1:12).

*** I could do a big, long post about Shane & Shane.  Awesome voices and unreal guitar playing make beautiful music.  Their newest singe, "Liberty," has this phenomenal Middle Eastern vibe to it that has you tapping your foot and reaching for your guitar.  Check it out!  "Where the Spirit of the Lord is now there is liberty!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Very, Very Beautiful

I just wanted to put these Easter pictures up of Avonlea.  The third is probably my favorite, but they're all so close that it's hard to pick.  

I'm in awe that someone as beautiful as Avonlea can come from me.  She really does get all her looks from Keisha.  I rock her to sleep at night and I kiss the fluff that's on top of her head and think just how amazing she is and how much I'm blessed.  I've been a daddy for almost eleven months now, and I look very much forward to the years ahead.

How does this fit into V-Day?  Obviously I'm stretching a bit by using a mere set of adverbs (the same word, even) to describe the adjective I'm using to describe my daughter, whose name has a "V" in it.  But can you blame me?  I mean, just look at how cute she is.  I can't help but show these off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unusual Unity

When people are united for a common cause, the results are amazing.  Whether it's a team of scientists all passionate about eradicating a virus or a youth group determined to provide food at a homeless shelter, a united team is a thing of beauty.

God is infinitely beyond my comprehension, but I understand Him to be both United and Individual.  There is the Father aspect, the Son aspect, and the Spirit, hence the Three-in-One God.  Likewise, Jesus the Son established and built the Church, His Bride, as a single united entity.  To complicate it, though, the church is also the individual people that make up the Bride.  And whenever people are included, things get messy.

Disunity is a problem.  In the home, when a husband and wife are not on the same page, the family suffers.  At a job, if one manager wants one thing and another something else, there is confusion and a lack of output.  In the church, when one member puts their individual wants above another's, there is strife.

What does the solution look like?  Simply, we must all aspire to be more selfless.  This rings true in all circumstances.  If a husband selflessly sacrifices his choice in love for his wife's, the family grows stronger.  When the managers meet a compromise, there is efficiency.  When the church member adopts the lifestyle of Jesus, the gospel is spread.

Too often we view selflessness as failure.  We tend to think that a life of sacrifice is horrible, that we're entitled to certain things just because.  In this situation, I think of one of my favorite passages in the bible, Philippians 2:3-11. (Emphasis is mine.)

[3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If anyone had a right to entitlement and to be selfish, it was Jesus, the Innocent Lamb of God.  Instead, out of love He chose to empty Himself of His God-form and become Man, where He then went on to suffer an unimaginably horrible death.  Jesus did all of this so that we could have eternal life in heaven and be united with the Trinity in glory.  He did not do it to glorify Himself.  No, He did it to give glory to the Father.

That's how unity works.  It's supernatural.  It's awesome.  It's something that I'm trying to live out in my life, and it's something I long to see within the church.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Temptation of Adam

Just over a year ago I made a post titled "The Temptation of Adam." At the time I said that Josh Ritter "...may possibly be the best songwriter alive today."  Well, a year has passed and my opinions are about the same.  His lyrics still outshine nearly everything else I listen to.

"The Temptation of Adam" is a love song between two people who are squirreled away in the subterranean levels of a missile silo.  The man is tempted to launch the missiles and start World War III just so he can stay below ground with his partner and so that their love could last.  As he tells Marie, "There's something tells me things just won't work out above/ That our love would live a half-life on the surface."  It's really no wonder that the man is tempted so.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite line, as there are so many wonderful ones from this haunting song.  I particularly love the words from the third stanza,
We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
'What five letters spell apocalypse?' she asked me.
I won her over saying W-W-I-I-I
Oh we smiled and we both knew that she'd misjudged me.
I can just see them there, that wicked grin on their face after what he'd said.  I imagine all of the long hours the two spend together, first getting to know one another, then onto flirting and romance, with doubt on the heels.  It's tragedy.  It's romance.  It's an excellent example of how brilliant Josh Ritter is.
We could hold each other close and stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead
And carve our name in hearts into the warhead
"The Temptation of Adam" is played on a down-tuned guitar (one full step for you savvy ones out there) with some 50's era sounding horns and strings in the background.  The video below is actually an acoustic version, but the startling black & white video is perfect for the tone of the song.

Josh Ritter is one of my favorite artists out right now, and a large part of that is due to the wonder he produces with every song.  A natural balladeer, his stories hit a part of me that not many others can do.  I hope you give "The Temptation of Adam" a shot and see if you like it.  If so, definitely check out the rest of the guy's catalog.  You won't regret it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday, with Some Minutes Left to Spare

Here's the gist of it.  Today is S-Day.  I thought about posting on Serenity and how I'd love to have just one more season of Firefly.  I thought about posting up the vast and terrible history of the Stewart Clan from which I came, across the raging oceans, through sands and time.  I thought surreptitiously about posting something so subtle and forbidden that shortly after clicking the "Publish" button that I would kill over dead from a poisoned dart.

Instead, I've got nine minutes left of Saturday, S-Day, and I've not the time or energy to post much of anything worth its salt.  Sure, there are plenty of esses is today's post, plenty of consonance and wordplay, but what does that accomplish?  Nary a thing.

So today, simply, I woke up on the shy side of seven a.m., stumbled to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, threw on a hoodie and jeans, packed up my discs, and headed out to Yellow Creek Park for some early morning disc golf.  'Twasn't a pretty game.  Then I returned to Stewartland and fixed some omelets and breakfast for Keisha and me.  After that it was nearing nap time for Avonlea, so I managed to get a quick shut-eye in with the babe in my arm.  Noon-thirty came and went, salads for lunch, and we were on the road to Muhlenberg, where I'd give Clint his surprise.  The day felt like Autumn, cool and breezy, and my sinuses have been about to kill me for days.  My throat is filled with tiny salamanders trying to scratch their way out.  My eyes grow bleary, and there are three minutes remaining.

Stream of consciousness is one of the greatest things to have ever came into being.  Especially when there's coherency.

So it's time to brush, floss, and sleep.  Happy S-Day.  Or something like that.

Friday, April 20, 2012

John Mark McMillan Concert (12th & Porter 4/15/12)

John Mark McMillan is far reaching with his music.  His most popular song, "How He Loves," has been covered by many different artists, most famously David Crowder* Band and the Glorious Unseen. [Note: The previous link contains the original original version of this song, with a rare third verse that is possibly the most powerful, heart-wrenching verses I've ever endured.  If you don't know the history behind this song, read this or watch this, then try listening without tearing up.  This kind of brutal Christian honesty is sorely lacking in a lot of stuff out there today, and "How He Loves" is powerful.]  It was this song that first turned me on to John Mark.  I discovered the wonderfully complex album The Medicine thanks to my friend Alex, and from there I was hooked.  See, John Mark is a Christian, but he's a rock & roll artist.  Like any artist, one can't help but write/paint/etc things that are personal.  John Mark's candidness and penmanship make every song rich, and when you add hypnotic music, you get something spectacular.

Venue: 12th & Porter, Nashville
Status: Hot, Standing Room Only, Literally up against strangers
Opening Act(s): Kye Kye and Jude Moses
Main Act: John Mark McMillan
Time: 8:00pm

I'd never heard of the opening acts before, and had no idea what to expect.  I've learned to expect that opening acts generally are not even remotely close to the main act, and in this case I was about half correct.  Kye Kye, while I did enjoy their music, had a very heavy electronica rock sound.  So loud that, being just feet from the stage, my entire body shook with vibrations from the sub.  The music was so loud that I could not understand anything the lead singer was singing.  Nevertheless, they're music was cool, just not what I was in the mood for.

Jude Moses was the polar opposite.  Two guys with wicked awesome mustaches (seriously, check out their website above for pictures), armed with an acoustic guitar and a keyboard.  They played three or four songs and reminded me of Justin Townes Earle.  The brothers then exited the stage and soon John Mark appeared.

They played a healthy mixture of songs from both The Medicine and Economy, hitting some of my favorites, missing others.  It was really cool to be a part of "Death In His Grave" (which I recommend that you watch the video to get an understanding, as this was kind of how the song was in concert).  I'm a big fan of the "Oh-oh-oh" part, and it was great the way the lights and crowd erupted with the song.

The allure of John Mark McMillan is that he gives off the impression of openness and honesty.  He seems sincere in what he does.  His songs have grit to them, pointing out that the Christian life isn't easy but there is victory.  There is more to it, of course.  Good songs require both good music and good lyrics, and John Mark excels in both of these areas.  The live performance was not as polished as the albums, but there was a fresh sense and some minor experimentation with a few songs.  He kind of reminds me of Jars of Clay, but more with more swagger.

Really, it was crazy watching these guys play.  There was synergy out the wazoo, obvious to anyone watching.  They felt each other and worked to make something memorable and fun.  John Mark talked with the crowd a little, but not too much.  He was funny, but mostly he just let the songs speak for themselves.  "Skeleton Bones" and "How He Loves" were my two favorite songs he performed, mainly because the dynamics were awesome and the lighting was perfect for the mood.  (Plus "Skeleton Bones" is one of the coolest and catchiest songs he's done.  I really recommend you give it a listen.  And if you're wanting something else with a sweet beat and snazzy words, check out "Carolina Tide."  Listen for one minute before you decide whether or not you like it.)

Overall, seeing John Mark McMillan was an excellent experience.  The crowd was varied, from posh hipsters to rednecks.  John Mark put on a great performance, and the people seemed to enjoy themselves.  I know I had fun, and I'd gladly see him again.  If he comes close to you, be sure and check him out.  You won't regret it.  And if you're not familiar with John Mark McMillan and enjoy good music, then I recommend you familiarize yourself with him by listening to the songs I've linked in this post.  His stuff is truly remarkable.


Portmanteau is one of my favorite words.  I mean, juxtaposition is pretty exciting and all, but it's just temporary.  Now making a portmanteau, that's a completely different beast.  Takes courage.  Effort.  Mayhap an Elven forge and someone with wit.

It's been a long while, so a history lesson is in order.  The term "Rememorandom" originated in high school.  I've always considered myself artistic, and I've always enjoyed dabbling with the many different muses.  In high school I wrote a lot of poems.  They were awful and angst-filled, and I tried to capture emotions that I didn't necessarily have.  (I was lucky, I suppose.)  I wrote all kinds of these things, filling up a 5 Star notebook*.  In my young mind, they were brilliant.  They were things T.S. Eliot would be proud of, or maybe Adam Duritz.  I even created a GeoCities website and posted them on there, putting them out there for all the world to see, cause I knew they were powerful.

Then I grew up.  I went to college.  I matured.  I lost some of my artistic side as I entered Engineering School.  Rather, I drifted from poetry into something else.  In 2005 I decided, on a whim, to start a blog. I don't know why.  For some reason the word "Rememorandom" came to mind, and I felt that it was a good choice to fit my personality and what I wanted to do with my blog.
Remember:  I've kept a journal for so long I can't remember when I started.  I decided to switch to a digital format, using the blog as the source.
Memorandum:  According to Wikipedia, a memorandum is "a note, document or other communication that helps the memory by recording events or observations on a topic, such as may be used in a business office."
Random:  Sometimes a tiger will eat an elephant.  Sometimes a basketball will sink.  Once, I found a quarter with my name on it and there was no room for me in the Days Inn.
In addition to these things, a more focused blog emerged.  I began writing book reviews for myself, just because I enjoyed it.  I loved to read, I loved to write, and I loved to recommend good books, so it soon turned into something more public.  Now I receive free books from a few publishing houses (though I'd love to get in with the Big Boys), and I occasionally accept them from indie authors.

In addition to reviewing, I began adding original fiction to the site.  No real goals other than simply sharing output and craving critiques.  Maybe one of these days I'll be good enough to get a book written or something, but until then, this is my method of choice.

I enjoy the blogging community.  Online relationships are stronger here than on Facebook or Twitter.  This is why I continue with Rememorandom.

Lastly, I always get a chuckle when other bloggers mention my blog.  Most people tend to misspell my blog's name, usually putting REMEMORANDUM as opposed to REMEMORANDOM.  That O is important.  Without it, the portmanteau is reduced to two words squashed together and the randomness of my blog disappears.  When it's included, though, that makes a world of a difference.  Never underestimate a good portmanteau.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Questioning Myself

Me+: Query: what are you going to do this weekend?  Wanna hang out with me?
Me: No, not really.  I've already made plans and I don't feel comfortable telling you all the details.  Why?
Me+:  Because I'm lonely, Me.  I'm all but abandoned down here.
Me: Maybe that's because you're more than slightly annoying.
Me+: (scowling) Maybe it's because you're--
Me:  I thought this was going to be some sort of interview.  If it's a pity party, then I'm out of here.
Me+: No! No! I'm sorry.  It's, I, ah, yes.  Sorry.  (coughs) Query: How was the concert the other night? Who did you go see?
Me: It was awesome, dude.  I went and saw John Mark McMillan down in Nashville.  Pretty sweet show.
Me+: Query: When can I expect to read your review?  The fans are just dying to know.
Me: Uh, it's in progress.  Should be up either this evening or tomorrow.  Tell 'em I'm sorry it's taking so long and that I'll have Alfonso hop to it at double time.
Me+: Will do, my good man.  Say, Query: have you watched Cabin in the Woods yet?
Me: Did you just turn British?  Did you just speak in italics?!
Me+: I'm doing the asking here, but to answer your queries, I've always been British (long live the Queen!) and yes, I did speak in italics.
Me: (whistles) That's high class there.
Me+: Indeed.
Me:  And no, I've not watched the movie yet.  I want to see it, just finding the time and a babysitter and a matinee, y'know.  Those are important.
Me+: Yes.  I'm currently AWOL from my babysitter, and I would appreciate your confidentiality in this matter.  Uhm, let's see here... Query: What's going on with the MLC?  Any new prospects or anything?
Me: (deep sigh) Nothing new, really.  Still hoping and waiting to hear back from one potential group, and my inside source makes me think that I will any day now, but as of yet, nothing.  It's a tiring process.  As for the MLC Proper, well, that's a different story, one that I don't really want to go in here.  Let's just say that I'm simultaneously busy and not busy.
Me+: Hmmm.  Sorry to hear that.  (pulls out a random index card)  Query: Why come you no like--
Me: Y'know you don't have to start every question off with the word query, right?
Me+: (stares at Me blankly for an uncomfortable forty seconds)
Me:  Oh... Maybe you do.  My bad.
Me+: Yes, Me, I very much do.  Please don't bring it up again.  Query: What's your favorite coffee creamer?
Me: I prefer hazelnut, but I also like French vanilla, too.
Me+: Query: What's your favorite color?
Me: It has always been green, and it always will be green.
Me+: Queries: Are you as excited about that Zac Efron movie as I am?  Do you have any plans for your anniversary that's coming up?  What are you reading?  Breakfast?  What book of the bible are you currently reading?
Me:  That's a lot of questions, Me+.  No, not at all.  They're in the works.  Look at my sidebar and see for yourself.  Not usually, but I fried some eggs and made biscuits this morning.  I'm almost through Numbers and soon to be in Deuteronomy.
Me+: Well that's all the time we have for today.  I'd like to thank Me for stopping by and taking some time out of his busy schedule.  Any final comments?
Me: (grinning) You forgot to say query.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss.

I could talk about how much I love the guy and how I first found The Name of the Wind just weeks after its publication date while on my honeymoon.  How, on a whim, I decided to buy the book just because it sounded interesting and I liked the title.  How I took that book home and had a complete paradigm shift in the way I thought about books and fantasy and story telling.  How I emailed Pat after finishing the book and thanking him for revitalizing my reading life.  How I mailed him my 1st ed, 1st printing hardback, along with "something cool" as payment, and how he signed and shipped it back.  How my "something cool" was a quarter with a bullet hole in it that I shot, and how he's mentioned the quarter both on his blog and at one of the signings I saw him at as one of the cooler things that he's received.

I could talk about how much I love The Name of the Wind and how, even though it's my favorite novel, I've never actually done a proper book review of it here on Rememorandom.  How I've purchased several paperbacks and given them away to people to help open their eyes to the rich world Pat's written.  How I mailed my brother a copy of it while he was over in Afghanistan and how he loved it and read it multiple times.  How I am currently re-re-re-reading it and enjoying it still very much.

I could talk about The Wise Man's Fear and how much I enjoyed it, how I felt that it captured the same spirit as its predecessor and further deepened my love for Kvothe and his life.  How I happily waited the many years for its publication date, never once doubting Pat's genius, never once getting upset that it was taking too long.  How the book is subtle and the mysteries are deep and complex.

I could talk about Pat's annual fundraiser that he started with Heifer International and how, from the goodness of his heart, he donated an unreasonably large amount of his own money to something he believed in because it was the right thing to do.  How he's continued to grow the fundraiser into something enormous, something that changes the world.  How he seems to be an all around good chap, undeniably smart, and truly funny.

Yes, there is a lot I could talk about when it comes to Pat Rothfuss.  I've met the guy twice, both at signings, and both times I got starstruck.  Embarrassingly so.  I can honestly say that he is no doubt my favorite author and that I've recommended his books more than any other, and I like to think that I've made a few disciples along the way.  For those of you who may not know him, I boldly recommend that you pick up The Name of the Wind and check it out.  I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

OB Coffeetalk

I've mentioned it a few times, but since today is O-Day, I'm excited to write about something that's important in my life: Coffee Talk.

Coffee Talk, simply, is wonderful.  The community aspect of building up one another and investing in one another is excellent, but even more, the way God is using this is awesome.  We've had enough interest expressed in what we were doing that we had to start a podcast, which currently has around 140 unique listeners and over 200 plays.  This led to our website,, which is just an extension of the podcast, but a venue to expand the ministry even more.  (You can see the current podcast at the top-right of the page, but if you're interested in subscribing, go to the website or click here.)

In short, every Wednesday morning at 6:00am we go through Scripture.  We all read the same passages (usually around 15-20 chapters) during the week and discuss what stood out.  We've been through the New Testament (excepting Matthew and Revelation), the Psalms, the Minor Prophets, Genesis, Exodus, and now we're in Leviticus.  Crazy.

Additionally, we sometimes read through other books, too, to challenge our walks.  We're currently reading Richard Stearns The Hole in Our Gospel, and I'm taking a beating out of every chapter.  It's a good kind of beating, but a beating nonetheless.

I'm very thankful and blessed to have a group like Coffee Talk.  I look forward to every Wednesday morning, and it's weird going a week without it.  I feel close to these guys.  It's unreal how much God has grown this group, turning it into a ministry that's seeing changes in hearts.  I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I'm tired.  Went to a concert last night.  Got in late, like, almost 2am, and I'm no longer nocturnal.  Used to be I could stay up late without any ramifications the next day.  But now, at twenty-six and the father of a ten-month old, I'm good if I make it to 11 o'clock.  Truth of the matter is that I'm just too darned busy. And since I'm being honest, it's something I'm trying to remedy.

See, I'm constantly pressed for time.  Who isn't, though, right?  Well I say fie on that.  Fie on the world and its problems.  Fie on America and its insatiable greed.  Fie on clocks and fie on me if I don't try to do something about it.  We live in a time when seminars on "time management" exist, because our culture says that more is better, and to get more then we have to work more and commit ourselves more.  Add to that our many relationships outside of work, friends and family and school events and church gatherings, and the free time shrinks.  Add to that the taboo of refusing to do something and time disappears.

That's why Monday nights are Family Nights for my family.  We set it up a while ago that we would spend our Monday's together as a family, doing family things and enjoying one another.  The rest of the week usually varies, but somehow I always find myself over-committed.  I make plans to hang out with one friend one day and another at another time and my schedule somehow fills up and the only time I have to do things is either late at night or early in the morning.

Frankly, it's exhausting.  I'm involved in several different ministries at church, and while I love doing them, it's also physically, spiritually, and emotionally taxing.  Then if I throw in the various other situations going on in my life, I'm beat.

I don't write all this to just whine about time restrictions.  It's very likely that you, dear Readers, also have saturated schedules.  I write this just because it's something I'm working on, part of my goals for myself and my family.  This year began with goals of reducing possessions and intending to live more minimally. I think it's only fitting that I also reduce my commitments and obligations, or at least accept the freedom that I don't have to say yes to everything.

Cause it's something I struggle with.  I'm an analytical people-pleaser according to the personality test I once took, and I completely agree with that.  I hate to admit it, but I sometimes put others before Keisha and Avonlea in my efforts, and I don't realize it.  I'm working on it all, truly, and I hope you are, too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


This is the conclusion to my short story for the AtoZ challenge.  I'd recommend reading the first five parts before this last one, if you want the full effect.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.


They spent the last two days hiking the trails in the park as a family. Now, at dusk on the Seventh Day, a community of five families gathered at the base of the Spire, talking quietly among themselves. No one said it, but they all knew it was very near. The moon was a blood orange, wicked and sinister, poking through the metallic colors in the sky. Jodie held her kids near her, relishing every second, knowing each one could be their last. Ronnie looked up at her, a smile on his face.

"I love you, momma," Ronnie said, hugging her belly. 

"I love you too, Ronnie." Jodie wanted to cry, to tell him what was going on. It felt like a betrayal to keep it from him. It would be to tell him. "Did you have fun today?"

He nodded eagerly. "A lot. Can we come back here next year?"

Jodie's heart broke. "I hope so," she said. "I really do." President Hombs' speech once again flashed through her mind. Relinquish any hope that you may be clutching. This is an irrefutable and inescapable event... She wanted to be mad at somebody, something, but all of her anger burned out with two blasts from a shotgun. A strange peace filled in its place, coated heavily with a dose of catastrophe. 

The sky began to flicker, like a loose fitting lightbulb. Stars began disappearing. Kyler wrapped his arms around her other leg, squeezing tight. "I love you, Mom. I love you, Ronnie," he said.

Ronnie laughed. "I love you, too, bubby." Wind howled, buffeting the Spire with a furious assault. "Is it always this pretty out here in the country?"

Tears were flowing unashamedly. "Yeah, always. The city lights drown out a lot." She didn't know if Kyler could hear her over the wind.

The moon vanished. A second later the Spire followed. Jodie's breath caught in her lungs. I love you boys.

Time failed. The planet ceased rotating, ceased orbiting. Atomic reactions turned inert. All matter dissolved away, leaving nothing behind.


That's it.  My personal challenge was to make a story focusing on the letters H-M.  Most obviously it had to do with the title, but the title also reflected a thematic element, too, I think.  Does it wrap up neat enough, or does it leave you aggravated that I didn't say what happened between Jodie and Darrel?  Are the discrepancies between the world of this story and our world too subtle (i.e., former President Austen, the St. Louis Nationals, etc.)?  Do they even matter?

Whatever.  I hope you enjoyed.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The American Book of the Dead, a Review

I feel like I owe Henry Baum, the author of The American Book of the Dead, a sincere apology. You see, he contacted me early last year about his book, thinking that it might be something that I would enjoy. I agreed to review the book, but told him that our first child was due soon and that it might be a while before I got to the book. Undeterred, he went on and mailed me a signed copy, scribbling a note on a card wishing me the best of luck with my soon-to-be daughter and that there was "no rush." Then Avonlea came and my reading life was hit.

Finally, at the end of March, I picked up Mr. Baum's book. (I confess, I also downloaded the ebook from Amazon for portability sake, which is currently priced at $0.99 and easily worth it. There's also a free download available through the book's website, linked here) I vaguely remembered that the book was some sort of apocalyptic tale about a struggling author and some strange happenings. As long as it took me to start the book, had I known that I would finish it so quickly I would have started much sooner. (It's an easy enough read to finish in a long afternoon sitting, if you're so inclined, as the book weighs in at just shy of 250 pages.)

It is difficult to describe The American Book of the Dead. The first word I think of is "Meta." Then maybe "weird." It's really impossible to classify it as a single genre, as it touches on almost everything. It's post-apocalyptic, pre-apocalyptic, apocalyptic, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, suspense, religious, satire, and a host of other things. It reminded me a lot of Kurt Vonnegut, though maybe not as deep, nor as funny. A blurb on the book says it's very much like Philip K. Dick, too, though I've not read any of his stuff, so I cannot attest to that.

Eugene Myers is a struggling writer in his 50s. He's making do by teaching a class at a local college. He's bored and depressed and his wife doesn't really love him and he doesn't necessarily love her back. The year is 2020 and the world has gone to hell. Random acts of violence are the norm, and there's little to be done about them. Sex is everywhere, with people copulating on prime time television and not a soul cares. All around him Eugene sees his world and its problems and he writes about his lifeless marriage and whatever he can think of. One afternoon he discovers an online sex video of his daughter. This straw breaks the camel's back, so to speak, and it begins the strange journey of Eugene Myers.

Paralleling Eugene's life is President Charles Winchell. Charles is a Christian Extremist who is bent on destroying the world so that he can rebuild it and enjoy the peace that is prophesied in the book of Revelation. Charles won his presidency on promises that he would save the world, and that's exactly what he intends to do. The man quotes scripture and takes the bible's words a fair bit out of context.

That would be The American Book of the Dead in a nutshell. Baum's writing is smooth and engaging. His story is thought-provoking and provocative. I felt the message was rather heavy handed at times and possibly fueled by conspiracy theories, but never downright offensive. The book progressively grew more surreal, to its advantage, and I never once got bored with the story. However, for all its praise, the tone of the novel was rather matter-of-fact, which took away a lot of the suspense. I'm not saying that there was no suspense, because there was, but I think there could have been more.

Henry Baum's book provided a surreal reading experience, as many things that jump into the Meta tend to do. However, by and large, I think Baum kept a deft hand on the plot, driving it forward with building momentum. Personally I would have enjoyed seeing more of the world and more of its characters, especially in the latter part of the novel. Instead, The American Book of the Dead is a tight, character-centered book that has some urgency in its message. Why? Because Baum's frightening future is something that could easily happen, barring the magical-like things that happen.

If you're in a reading slump and curious to try something bizarre, check out The American Book of the Dead. Even though I would have liked more development with some of the characters and settings, it still was a fun romp through genre-defying madness. And if you've read and enjoyed some Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five particularly comes to mind), you should definitely give this a try.

FTC Thingy: I received this book for free from Mr Henry Baum himself. Not in person, mind you, but through a machine of different people it did eventually arrive at my house, autographed and lustrous. Mr Baum did not hypnotize me and force me to write a flattering or positive review, and the opinions reflected here are solely my own. Furthermore, Mr Baum did not include any sort of cookies with my book, so I was under no Cookie Clause, either.

Last Days

This is Part 5 of the AtoZ story I'm telling, using a letter for the theme for each day.  See Part1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.  Conclusion is tomorrow.  Thanks everyone for reading.

Jodie watched her boys out the corner of her eyes. They were both groggy in the early morning, but soon they would be excited, once they made it to the Spire. It had been an eventful night. She told Kyler everything. Well, almost everything. She didn't tell him about Darrel, but he didn't need to know that. All things considered, that was unimportant. She hated it, but Darrel wanted peace, so she let him find it. After everything he had put them through, he deserved it.

They pulled out of the drive and hit the roads. Traffic was still a nightmare--it had been since the announcement earlier in the week--but at least the roads were navigable. Abandoned vehicles littered much of the streets, out of gas and out of drivers. She drove a circuitous route, taking her near the spot that she had met Darrel at again last night. Jodie wasn't sure what birthed the idea, to call him and ask for another meeting, claiming that she'd had a change of heart. He was already deeply intoxicated when she called.

Being Cabinet Officiant to the President, Jodie had a lot of privileges. She went to the armory within the Compound and took out a shotgun. There were no guards on duty, after all. Almost everyone had left the day President Hombs gave her speech. Jodie only stayed out of necessity and loyalty. She walked the gun to her vehicle, loaded it, and set it in the back seat. At seven o'clock she picked Darrel up at a bar and drove him to the hinterlands, near the Mississippi River.

"You still want forgiveness, Darrel?" They were staring out at the water. The mammoth stadium of the St. Louis Nationals loomed behind them. Darrel reeked of alcohol. "You want to make it right to me and Kyler and Ronnie for what you did to us? Do you really want that?"

Darrel nodded, slightly lackadaisical, slightly with the vigor of a sinner being offered atonement. "You know I do," he said, turning to look at her. She nodded and threw her cigarette down.

"Okay then." Jodie walked around the car and opened her back door. She picked up the gun and came back around, aiming it at her ex-husband. Darrel's eyes widened as she pulled the trigger. The blast struck him in the chest. Blood splattered everywhere, thick, hot, and full of life. "I forgive you," she said, standing above him. He was wheezing. Jodie cocked the gun and put another shell in. Darrel convulsed. He was trying to talk, but her ears were ringing from the blast. She placed the bead above what was left of his heart and squeezed the trigger again.  "I forgive you."

"Where are we going?" Ronnie asked, breaking her out of her memory. 

Jodie caught his eyes in the rear view mirror. "We're going to the Spire, sweetie." She looked at Kyler. He had taken the news remarkably well. At thirteen, she figured, you're able to believe things a little easier. She was forty, had read the proof, and still had trouble believing it. The fact that it was all just going to end was too far-fetched to fully embrace.

It took several hours to get out of the city proper and across the river. Jodie had filled up the night before at the private pumps at the Compound. The Spire was located in the White Mountains of West Kentucky, close enough to make a day trip if desired, but far enough away from the city to fully enjoy nature. Its peak was the highest elevation in the United States, and its near vertical walls were a favorite for extreme climbers. The boys marveled at its size the first time they saw it, and she knew they would react the same way this time, too. It had that effect.

It was early afternoon as they pulled into the park. As she expected, it was mostly deserted. There were a few vehicles, families probably doing the same thing she was, spending their last days together, having fun, enjoying life. She'd read theories on how it would end, filled with vague guesses and hypothetical equations, but Jodie didn't much care as to the how. As long as she had Kyler and Ronnie, she could face it head on.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kyler Investigates

This is Part 4 of my AtoZ Challenge story, featuring letters H-M.  See Part 3, Part 2, and Part 1.  Thanks to everybody that's been reading!

Kyler wriggled ever so slightly. He had to find a way out of the bed without waking up Mom or Ronnie. Especially Mom. After her announcement that they were going on a little trip tomorrow, Kyler knew beyond a doubt that something bad was happening. Now if he could only find the proof. Fortunately, he was on the edge of the bed, not in the middle, where it would have been impossible to get free. His mother seemed to be in a deep sleep. Kyler studied her eyes in the dim nightlight, slightly freaked out by the possessed-like motions behind closed lids. He sucked in a deep breath. Here goes. 

Kyler rolled over from his back to his side, facing the edge. His mother's arm dropped from its perch on his chest and hit the mattress. He continued rolling until his feet hit the floor. He was a half-crouched statue, breath frozen away inside his lungs. Ronnie coughed, and his bark sounded like a shotgun blast to Kyler. His heart pounded loudly, thumping in his ears.

After what seemed like forever, Kyler exhaled and began making his way out of the room. On tip-toes he moved as silent as a ghost. He crept slowly until he made it to the stairs, then he bounded up them taking two or three at a time. Like a dog on a blood trail, Kyler ran straight to his mom's bathroom. He rummaged through the dirty clothes, searching for the outfit he'd seen his mom in earlier. Oddly, it wasn't there. This only solidified Kyler's suspicions. 

He spent the next several minutes looking through the house for the clothes. He checked the trash cans, the laundry room, even the deep freeze. Nothing. Where else could they be? He was about to give up when one last idea came to mind. Kyler opened the side door that led out onto the back patio. Above, the moon had a strange orange glow to it, like a harvest moon only not as large. The sky itself was a different color than usual, metallic looking, like an oil sheen on pavement. Kyler puzzled over this for a moment and then shrugged it off. Priorities.

The vehicle was unlocked. He popped the trunk, certain that he would find what he was looking for inside.

"What are you doing, baby?"

Kyler spun around, blood rushing to his face. The vibrant night colors dropped an eerie glow on his mom's face. "I, uh." What could he say? He couldn't lie, not to her, but he didn't have to worry about it. Words weren't forming.

"Kyler, honey, is something wrong?" There was sincerity in her voice. Love. Worry.

All at once the oddness of the situation was too much for him and he began bawling. "I don't know what's happening," he said between intermittent sobs, "but I know something is. Schools are closed. President Hombs let you off. The clothes you wore home are different. They're... Something ain't right." He paused, looking up at the moon. "Even the sky is wrong."

A look of shock passed over his mother, followed immediately by a profound look of sadness. The only time Kyler ever remembered seeing her so sad was after Daddy left, when she told them the news. "Shhh," she said, squeezing him. "It's okay, sweetheart. Mommy's just had a lot on her mind lately."

Kyler pulled away. He took her face in his hands and stared at her eyes. She wasn't telling him everything. He saw it in her eyes. Kyler frowned. "Mom, please, tell me. I'm not a little kid anymore. I'm thirteen. I'm not... Ronnie. Just tell me what's going on. Please."

Her eyes filled with tears. Beneath the orange moon, they looked like melted iron. "I'm sorry," she began. "I should have told you sooner, but I didn't know how. Two days ago...." She trailed off, staring out across the yard. "A few days ago President Hombs made an announcement...."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jodie Comes Home Late

This is Part 3 of the H-M Story for the AtoZ blog.  See Part 1, Part 2.

"Something's wrong with Mom," Kyler said. "She's been acting weird."

"Uh-huh," said Ronnie, his attention focused on their over-full fridge. "Where the heck's the milk at?"

"I'm serious, Ronnie. Something ain't right. Ever since the other night when she came in there and woke us up, crying and telling us how much she loved us and all. Didn't you think that was weird?"

"Nope. She's our momma. That's what they do. Aha!" Ronnie pulled out a half gallon of two-percent. He checked the date, sniffed for good measure, and poured a glass. 

The phone rang. "Hello," Kyler answered. Ronnie downed his glass and filled another. Just like Kyler, always freaking out over every little thing. What a dork. Ronnie knew everything was fine. In his ten years of life he'd had to learn some hard lessons, and one of those was that whenever things got tough, their momma would get them through it. "Okay. We will. Love you too. Bye." 

"What'd she want?"

"Said she's gonna be late tonight. Had something come up at the Compound and told us to make sure and not let anybody in the house."

"Naw dip. This ain't the first time we've been here without a sitter."

"I know. But like I said, she's been acting weird. She said she took off the rest of the week, though. The President was giving everybody a mandatory vacation. Maybe we'll actually do something this year."

Ronnie shrugged and wiped his milkstache away. "Maybe. Beats staying around this place."

It was nearing midnight when they heard the garage door open. They'd spent the night playing video games and killing each other a thousand different ways. Their mother popped her head in the room. "Hey you two. Had a good night?" They each mumbled something unintelligible. "I'm gonna hop in the shower and then I'll be back down. Stay awake. I've got something to tell ya'll. Love you!"

She wasn't gone a minute before Kyler opened his mouth again. "Did you see her clothes? Different than what she went out in this morning. Something's up with her, Ronnie. Something bad. I can feel it."

"Mm-hmm." Ronnie said, his attention focused on the screen in front of him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm Sorry

For this week's AtoZ Challenge, I'm presenting a 6-part story.  Part One, yesterday, is here.

Darrel Preston stood outside the gates of the Compound, hands deep into his coat pockets. It was February Sixth. Seventh. He'd stopped thinking about dates after President Homb's speech yesterday. They just didn't seem to matter any longer. Spend your last days with the people you love, she'd said. He had sat in stunned silence through the whole thing, fully aware of her every word, and as soon as the screen darkened, he stood up, packed a backpack, and headed out the door.

Jodie was a thousand miles away in St. Louis. Traffic would be terrible, Darrel thought, so he hit the road as soon as possible. It had taken two straight days of driving, but he'd made it, just like he said he would. Jodie was reluctant at first, but through the desperation in his voice she'd agreed to meet him. The kids wouldn't be there, she made that clear. Darrel said he understood.

A door slid open and Jodie walked out. She was as beautiful as the day they'd first met. "Hey," she said, pulling a cigarette from her jacket. Darrel had always hated it when she smoked, and she knew it. He let it slide. 

"Hey. It's good to see you."

She shrugged, inhaling smoke and tar and cancer. He wondered how long she could keep the bile inside of her. He almost expected to see it leaking out her eyes. "I've got ten minutes," she said, smoke billowing from her mouth as she spoke, like a manhole vent in the early morning. "Maybe less." 

Darrel's heart pounded. Things weren't going well. Not well at all. He'd just wanted to come and see his wife and sons, to hold them all again and be a family once more before everything stopped. He'd practiced his apology speech during the car ride until he could say it backwards, but now the words might as well have been in Farsi. Darrel searched her eyes, looking for just a hint of compassion. An impenetrable ocean of black stared back at him.

"I, uh. How're the boys? How are they taking the news?" Stupid question.

"I didn't tell them," Jodie said. "No need."

Darrel nodded. "Good. That's good. I was worried that--"

"If you were worried," her words slammed into him, "then you wouldn't have gone and did what you did. If you would have thought about somebody other than your own sorry self for just one second then you wouldn't have screwed up so bad. But you didn't, and now look at you. You come back here wanting vindication and liberation from your guilt, expecting me to forgive you just cause the world's ending. Well I ain't wired like that, Darrel. I ain't got it in me to forgive you, not after what you did to us. It don't work that way."

Darrel's ears filled with a ringing noise. Jodie was still talking, but her words were drowned from the tinny squeal in his ears. He had to find a way to gain control of this situation before it got any further out of hand. He had no clue what to do. He tried to pull his eyes away, but found that they were stuck. There is true rage behind those eyes, he thought. His face was burning up. This was definitely not going as planned.


"What did you expect me to do? Welcome you in like a returned soldier? Gah." She threw her cigarette down. Darrel stared helplessly at her. He felt like a scolded dog. "My break's up. Goodbye, Darrel." Jodie turned to go. With a will he didn't know he possessed, Darrel reached his hand out and grabbed her jacket, like he could pull her back. He was on his knees holding on with everything he had in him.

"I'm so sorry," he said, tears pouring down his face. Jodie's back was to him, but he could tell that she was listening. "You're right. I didn't think. I never do. I've never deserved your love, and I don't understand why you married me in the first place. You were too good to me, and I took that love and spat in its face. God, Jodie, I am such a fool. It's been three years since I've saw them, since I saw you, and it ain't been an easy three years. I've been meaning to call, but it just ain't ever felt right. But now, that, you know, it's ending, my priorities have came into focus. I'm just sorry that it took this long."

He was still on his knees, holding her jacket in his hands. "Goodbye Darrel," she said, her voice a blank slate of emotions. "I don't want to see you again." She pulled away, stomping back through the Compound's door.

Darrel sobbed freely. "I'm sorry," he choked.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora, a Review

There are many different types of people throughout the port city-state of Camorr. You've got the gentry who living high above the filth and grime of the lower city. You've got the yellowjackets patrolling the town, who seem to be more willing to take a bribe than to actually do any policing. There are priests and priestesses of the Twelve, some more pious than others, but all respected by the cityfolk. There are pawnbrokers and money lenders, sailors and spice merchants. There are many people in Camorr, many honest folk trying to make an honest living. And then there are the thieves.

Locke Lamora has had a knack for stealing things ever since he was a young lad. Taken by the Thiefmaker at an early age, the orphan boy proved to be more than the Thiefmaker could handle. Locke was traded (sold) off to another man, the Blind Priest of Perelandro named Chains. Here, under the tutelage of the "blind" wizened man, Locke began to learn the true art of thievery and deception.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a fast-paced yarn that guarantees to keep the Reader up long past bedtime. Locke is a fascinating character, instantly sympathetic and charming, but he's not the kind of man you'd necessarily want to be hanging around with. He's gifted at slight-of-hand, as is obvious from his introduction to the story, but he's also got a knack for bringing trouble. Lies is, at its simplest, a heist story about Locke and the Gentleman Bastards (the name of his gang) trying to rob a certain wealthy noble. The story is, however, not simple, and when one man tells lies for a living, life's bound to get complicated.

There are many memorable things from the book. What comes to mind first is the humor. Scott Lynch writes bloody brilliant dialogue (albeit rather blue) that more than once had me cackling like a loon. What's more, the dialogue comes across as genuine, almost as if Lynch spent some time with some con men in his day and picked up on the lingo. Even under pressure, Locke never loses his sarcastic mouth, and it was this humor that really shined.

Another piece of the book that was equally enjoyable was the fantastic world building. The city-state of Camorr is built on the ruins of some ancient civilization known as the Eldren. Not much is revealed about these mysterious ancients other than the ubiquitous glass structures that they left behind. Man does not know how they lived or what they did, and Lynch doesn't offer much (any?) assistance to the Reader, either. He hints at magic and arcane secrets, but hints are all we're given. This offered a lot of depth to the book, but it also leaves one a bit frustrated, too, as answers aren't forthcoming. I could go on and on about the world building, but I'll leave it with just this one piece, so as not to spoil anything.

Scott Lynch has sold me to his world from just one book. I'm curious to know so much more about so many things, but I'm also eager to get back with Locke again, too. The book is presented in an interesting way, following a Chapter-Interlude-Chapter method. Each chapter deals with the present, that being the heist story, while each Interlude deals with something else. For much of the book the Interludes are like a flashback for different characters, but as the book progresses, these sometimes become folktales or history lessons on the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and felt that it did wonders with the pacing of the novel.

The Lies of Locke Lamora has been out for a few years now. If you've not read it (or never heard of it, for that matter), then I suggest that you remedy that. The story telling is impeccable, the characters are unforgettable, and the action is high. There's humor aplenty, but sadness and despair aren't strangers, either. All in all, I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this book, but I'm ever so glad I did. Highly recommended.


The theme I established for this week involves creating a short fiction piece from the Letters.  I've got H-M to work with.  This is the first piece, "Hopeless," which is mostly exposition.  Thanks for reading.

Henrietta Hombs smiled out at the crowd before her. She could do this, she thought. "Good people," she began, her right hand raised as if it could somehow stop the whispering. "I'm here tonight with a report that sounds like it was lifted from the pages of a horror novel. If only it were so. However..." Henrietta stalled, scratched her face, cleared her throat. "President Austen once scribbled in her journal that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a President in possession of grave news must put on a false-face and pretend otherwise. 

"Ms Austen, as I have become aware, did such that. During her term the Western Rebellion had just ended and it was imperative for the President of the United States to appear in control. Much has changed over the last two centuries, but there are some things that have not." Henrietta paused again. She tried to find the compassionate eyes of her husband in the crowd, but the white light of the cameras essentially blinded her. As if she needed another handicap.

"I received a report not twenty-four hours ago that our world will be ending within the week." Whispers. A guffaw. "We have reached the terminus and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Physicists once thought of time as an infinite line, having no beginning nor end. It turns out that there is, in fact, both a beginning and an end, and we are all quickly approaching the latter.

"I do not have the vocabulary to explain this here, but the data has already been published to the Department's website, if anyone cares to find meaning. My purpose in this speech is three-fold. First, I implore you to heed my words as truth and to spend your last days with the people you love doing the things that you enjoy. Second, I beg you to remain as calm as you can and to act with charity and love, not selfishness and greed. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is that I ask you to relinquish any hope that you may be clutching. This is an irrefutable and inescapable event, and the sooner you realize that we are all doomed the sooner you can get on to doing the first two points.

"I have enjoyed serving as this nation's final President, and I beg your forgiveness for not finding a way out of this situation. Believe me, we have tried. It is a hopeless situation. Thank you, and may God save us all."

Saturday, April 07, 2012

God and Gifts

The infinite creator of the universe loves me.  At the start of everything, before He spoke light and time into existence, He knew me.  He knew the kind of person that I would be, the kinds of thoughts I would think, the kinds of words I would say, the kinds of sins I would commit, the kinds of pride I would exhibit.  He knew all about me, all about us, and yet He still loved me, He still loved us.

How much?  God loved us enough to fully become Man in the form of a man named Jesus.  Jesus, the only Son of the Father, loved me.  He lived a perfect and spotless life because He knew that sin had to be defeated and that the Father's judgment and condemnation had to be completed.  Why?  Because we had sinned by disobeying His single command, to not eat of the Tree.  We were all subsequently cursed, and we still are, but we're no longer obligated to live under that curse.

Jesus, being God in flesh, lived for around 33 years before being murdered/executed.  In all His time here on earth He never once sinned.  He never once stopped loving His fellow men.  He never once stopped loving me.  He knew exactly what was required to fulfill God's justice, and He freely gave of Himself so that we could have eternal life.  He knew that we would be unable to live perfectly and that we would be consumed by God's wrath and found wanting.  He knew that the only way to avoid that was to sacrifice Himself and appease the sin debt that was required.

So He did.  He lived a holy life by loving God with His whole heart, soul, body, and strength.  What's more, He loved His neighbor nearly as much, to the point that He would lay down His life for them.  Then came the cross, the terrible pain of crucifixion and asphyxiation and nails and thorns.  Then came the emotional turmoil of imminent death.  He knew what was coming, that the Father would remove His Presence from the Son.  They had been in a holy communion of Three since before time began, never separated, and yet the Father would have to turn His back on His only Son because of the sin that Jesus was taking on.

And He did.  And darkness fell.  And the veil tore from the top downward.

Jesus was placed into a tomb, a large stone was rolled in front of it, and a guard of Roman soldiers was put there to make sure nothing mischievous happened.  Man, however, could not stop what was coming.  On Sunday something not mischievous but rather magical happened.  Jesus defeated hell and the grave.  He arose, resurrected, putting down death and walking again on earth.

He was seen by many.  He lived among men for forty more days and then He ascended--literally--up to heaven.  He said He was leaving so that something better would come.  He gave us the Spirit, God, to dwell within us.  All we had to do was trust Him, Jesus, and follow His commands.  What were they?  To love God with our whole hearts, souls, bodies, and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Salvation is simple.  Salvation is complex.  Salvation is the greatest gift Man has ever received, and it is the greatest gift I have ever been given.  Greater than Keisha's love for me.  Greater than Avonlea.  Greater than anything I can imagine.  God loves me.  He loves me.  He loves me.  And He loves you, too.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Easter.  God's gift is free for the taking.

(If you'd like to talk about any of this, feel free to send me an email if you'd like.  I'd love to discuss what God has done in my life with you.)

Friday, April 06, 2012


I'm struggling with the Letter F.  I might have been iffy about yesterday's letter, too, even though I knew I was going to write something about engineering.  What it turned into was something else entirely.  I don't want that for today.  I want something short for a change.  I thought about doing a Flash Fiction Friday, as it was practically begging to be done, but I'm doing a whole week of fiction next week, so I decided against it.  Instead, I offer fragments of unfinished things in various drafts folders stored throughout the Web.  Some are complete thoughts.  Others, not so much.


He brushes teeth for a living.
That's all that he can do.
He eats nothing on Thanksgiving
but a box that tastes of glue.

He's a monkey spaceman pirate
Straight from Planet Argumflax
And if you give him carrots
he'll fill your brain with useless facts.


The knife pierced between his shoulder blades once. Twice. Three times. Satin hands caught him as staggered and pitched forward. He knew their touch intimately. Innately. "Mother?"


All the clocks stopped working simultaneously. Chaos ensued.


The last several posts I've written have gone stagnant or into remission.  They simmer in the lineup, all bubbly and noxious.  The same thing that happened to them is happening to this one.  I'm stuck.  See, I've not really ever been one to believe in a writer's block, but lo, I seem to find myself against one.  I don't know where or how to proceed.  I could write in full about what Avonlea's been up to, how she's been sleeping much better and feeding even better than that.  She's got another appointment tomorrow to get more immunizations, poor thing.  She's twisting her hands and laughing and smiling and grunting and being quite adorable and entertaining. Or I could talk about Keisha and how I'm trying to be a better husband than what I am, how she is such a beautiful, wonderful wife that God saw fit to bless me with.  I could talk about the Christmas, how it cometh like a gust of wind through a paper mill, how most of our gifts are bought, many wrapped, and yet there's no snow.  There's much I could talk about, but I just don't feel like it.

No, really, I'm not even sure where I'm going.


Do you ever think about the way we do things?  Why, for example, do we have stores like Wal-Mart? Why is our education system from K-12? Why is a full day's work made up of only eight hours (shouldn't that be called a third day's work)?  Why do we have programs and routines, habits and norms?  Why do we do church the way we do?  And even more pointedly, why do we just accept these things for what they are?

"Don't rock the boat" we're told, and yet we admire the people that do.  Without boat-rockers things would be stagnant and wretched.  Without boat-rockers there would be no revolutionaries, no activists, no reformers.  But for the life of me I cannot figure out why we don't rock the boat on some things.
Noun: A central or primary rule or principle on which something is based
I've come up with a few possibilities.

It's how we're programmed.  As babies we learn that food is good.  Food is comforting.  Food satisfies the empty feeling in our tummies.  Thus, we assume that food is good and necessary, and we bury this fundamental in our brains.  As we age this type of thing evolves with us, and we assume things are good because they make us feel good.  But somewhere along the lines we substitute (or possibly confuse) good with truth and we end up

I sometimes wonder how close I am to madness.  It's like the line that separates sanity from psychosis.  Sometimes I'm not sure which side of the line I'm on.

I think this happens when life catches up with me.  Rush after rush after rush after whatever

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Engineering Equations and Existentialism

There are certain equations that I use more often than others.  The simplest and most frequently occurring is the Rational Method equation.

Q = CiA

The Rational Method has its roots in the mid-nineteenth century (Chow, 1988, Page 496) and is likely the most common method for computing discharge in hydrology.  Usually Q is calculated in cubic feet per second, and you know what, who wants to know any more else about this?  Honestly, once you saw that equation up there, did you skip down to the end of the post?  Is anyone even reading this line?  Hello?

I once found a barrel filled with everything I've ever desired, and after I saw it, I immediately forgot its contents.  I took the barrel, buried it deep in the ground, and went on with my life like nothing had happened.  Shortly thereafter I found myself standing at the checkout line in the gas station next to the Kroger on Third Street with a bottle of Faygo in my right hand and a pack of Orbit in my left beside anything a fox can do to a log or something.  Millard Fillmore  was there, as he always is.  So was the Great Somnambulist.  It was a meeting of the minds, so to speak.

And the cashier, he looked at me and said, "Hey, you no want the box?"

"What box?" I ask.

"The box," he said, as if that cleared things up between us.

"Listen," I began, but before I made it any longer into my diatribe I was interrupted by President Fillmore. When he speaks there is a power about him, like when Gandalf puts Bilbo in his place at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.  ("Bilbo Baggins, do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks.")  The room even gets that nightshade darkness about it.

"Sir." The President's voice cuts through the air.  "My man does not fathom it yet.  He is prohibited to understand.  Please do not open his eyes until it is time."  My mind reels.  The taste of honey is strong in my mouth and I'm thinking back to something I once read for class.
Commonly, Q is in cubic feet per second (cfs), i is in inches per hour, and A is in acres, and the conversion (1 cfs = 1.008 acre-in/hr) is considered to be included in the runoff coefficient [C].  The duration used for the determination of the design precipitation intensity i [see above] is the time of concentration of the watershed.
It's Chow again, rising back to the flotsam.  We're a page over now.  Oddly, this is how my brain thinks.  Sporadically.  With brackets and parentheses.  The cashier gives me an honest frown, like he knows what I saw in the barrel that's buried out in the wilderness of Kentucky and knows that it's out of my reach.

"What's going on here?" I ask, but no one says anything.  The Great Somnambulist scuttles away, disappearing out the door and into the gloaming.  "That's a dollar ninety-four," the cashier announces.  Dazed, I hold out two one dollar bills.  He takes them from my hand, avoiding my eyes.

President Fillmore places a gentle hand on my shoulder.  "Do not worry, pilgrim.  You'll know soon enough."  And I'm out the door, alone once again, sipping on my Faygo and wondering exactly what had just happened.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dostoevsky and Doritos

Many proclaim Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov to be the greatest novel ever written.  In part of my 2012 Manifesto, one of my hopes was "to finally read The Brothers Karamazov."  I started it in January, reading from the Constance Garnett translation that I own.  I trudged along for a bit, weighted down by the heavy prose and extremely long monologues.  Around page 60 I went to the library and checked out the Larissa Volokhonsky translation, as it was said to be truer to Dostoevsky's original tone.  I read on, still wondering where the story was going, still determined to make it through the 750+ pages.  Around page 100 I paused and read another book (The Reapers are the Angels, which was excellent, review here) to give myself some space, take a deep breath, and ready myself to jump back in.  By page 140ish I had stabbed myself in the eyes repeatedly and rued the day I decided to read this book.  My personal struggle with forsaking a book still is tough.  At 160ish I gave up.  I didn't care about anything that was going on.  I suppose all Russians in the 1800s were maniacal philosophers, from the peasants to the high-ups.  Not only that, they were all apparently somewhat psychotic and prone to outbursts of unequivocal rage/despair.

I quit.  Mom assures me that Crime & Punishment is the better book.  Mayhap I'll try it out sometime and see if my opinions of Mr. Dostoevsky change any.  If so, I may consider Karamazov again.  Or maybe I just need to be much older and wiser before attempting this again.

If Dostoevsky is depressing and dense, Doritos is the exact opposite.  I've long been a fan of the crunchy goodness that the chip brings to any type of food.  Eating a pizza?  Tastes better with Doritos neatly arranged on top of a slice.  Is that a bowl of soup?  Better crunch up some Doritos and pour them in, like you would a cracker.  What's that?  You're eating a sandwich without chips?  Fool.  You know better than that.  It's true.  If I have an addiction in my life, it's to Doritos (and pops, too, which you probably could have surmised).  I seriously eat them with almost every meal that I consume.  If you think I'm joking, well, you'd be surprised.  I think I go through a bag or two a week, and that's the 13oz size.  In my opinion, all foods benefit by adding Doritos to them.  (Mmm.  We made a meatloaf with Doritos crinkled on top once.  Delicious.)

I realize how unhealthy this sounds, and believe me, I wish I didn't desire the things so much, but I do, and there's little I can do to stop myself.  It's bad enough that if I see a flavor I've never had before that I impulsively buy it immediately.  I'm normally a store brand kind of shopper, but with these bad boys I have to have the name brand.  There's just something magical about the crunchy, cheesy bite of heaven that I find superior to any other chip on the market.