Friday, December 30, 2005

The Best Rejection Letter Ever

You may remember (probably not) this post, where I sent off a story to "the New Pantagruel". Well, one of the editors wrote me a long e-mail yesterday and said he had some suggestions for it (that it be longer and have a stronger ending) and that with those revisions he might like to publish it. Woo hoo! He also offered to spend some time talking about it with me ON THE PHONE! Can you believe that? Okay. As you can see I am pretty excited, so I have to calm down so I can seem cool and collected when we talk on the phone. Ha ha! Anyway, this is my first ever requested re-write from an editor. I wish you could see my doing my Happy Dance right now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Report from the winter conference

Hi ho, Kermit the frog here reporting from the Spokane winter conference.

Tonight was our first session (which means that yesterday was the interminable drive). We have Pastor Ronnie Stevens bringing the word, Aaron Spiro is taking us before the Lord in worship and Anneli Anderson is painting in the background while Ronnie teaches. Pretty cool.

Our theme is "shaken to the core" and we're looking each day at Isaiah 6. I was very pleased to be introduced to the fascinating science/art/pictures of Gary A. Glatzmaier, who has graciously given us permission to use his "photo" of the molten core of a gas giant (as soon as he figured out that we weren't trying to use it to advance intelligent design). This, of course, explains the mechanism that likely plays a major role in maintaining the banded zonal winds on the surfaces of Jupiter and Saturn.

There's about a thousand people here and I would say the vibe is very very good. Seems like the Lord is gearing up to really do something awe-inspiring here.

You can pray for me... on Saturday I'll be trying to help us focus on the "Sent" part of our week, introducing all of the missions opportunites for students within CCC. You can check out the recruiting website I'm working on, which should be mostly ready to go by Saturday.

Overall, having fun, seeing old friends, enjoying doing ministry together with my family. Pretty nice. And how's it going out there in cyberland?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It starts so young

Me: Adios, muchacha.

Z: HA HA HA! You said "potty o's".

Me: No, I didn't.

Z: Potty-o's, Dad!

(much laughter from all creatures shorter than three feet)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Saint Tracker



For all you silly nonsensical people out there who believe that Saint Nicholas was just a regular Christian who did some good stuff once, now is your chance to be proven completely wrong... by SCIENCE!

That's right. Science now allows us to watch Santa's progress around the globe, and proves that he is the red-covered magical reindeer-driver we all have come to know from animated television specials.

3 Important lessons from "King Kong"

I saw Kong last night. Not bad. Here are three important life lessons you should walk away with after seeing the movie:

1) Do not live where dinosaurs live.

2) Do not go to places with names like "Skull Island." There is a reason they are named that. You don't want to go there.

3) If you are a woman and you happen, against all my advice, to go to a place called Skull Island where dinosaurs live then you should not spend any time relaxing in your cabin wearing only a slip and a flimsy robe. You should always be wearing a safari outfit with boots on, because it is highly likely that the natives will try to sacrifice you to something, or a monster will become obsessed with you or that enormous prehistoric insects or vampire bats will attack.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Greek Passion (it's a novel, silly)

I just finished reading The Greek Passion by Nikos Kazantzakis. I started it because I am planning to go to Greece this summer and thought, well, I should start to understand their mindset and culture by reading one of their novels. It was, honestly, a spectacular read. Here's a caveat before I go on to explain what I liked about the book: there is some pretty raw (though not explicit) sexuality in this book. It could (and probably will) bother you. It's mean to do that, it's not gratuitous, but it is potentially offensive. You are warned, friends.

Okay, scary warning out of the way, here's what I liked. This novel tells the story of a little Greek town under the Turkish occupation near the beginning of the 20th century. The town is planning for the passion play of the following year (a festival in which the entire week of Christ's passion is played out in real time by members of the village). They choose the players for Christ, the apostles and Judas and then the story begins as the members of the play begin to take on the characteristics of the people they are meant to portray in the passion play.

Here's what is amazing: this novel is really, truly, at-the-core about the Burning Hearts Revolution. Manolios, the shepherd chosen to play the role of Jesus becomes more and more Christ-like as the year advances and most of the action of the novel comes from this continuing transformation. We see people throughout the novel who are pagan (the Agha who rules the town), secularists having an outward form of Christianity (the village priest), some who are actually still worshipping Apollo and the Greek gods but using Christian names, and then those who, for the first time, are interacting with Christ and allowing him to transform them.

It's a fascinating story, and manages not to give all its surprises away until the last page. Nicely done, easy reading, at turns funny, moving and passionate.

As near as I can tell it's out of print. The link above will take you to Amazon where there's some used copies (as cheap as a dollar!). Let me know if you read it so I can call and just demolish you with questions about your thoughts on it.

Eavesdropping with Matt (episode two)

This installment of Eavesdropping With Matt is dedicated to the twenty-year old woman with the curly brown hair eating lunch at Burgerville today along with a couple of eight-year-olds who she apparently didn't know and her mom.

20yrold: --but I'm not going to do that because I am in college.

8yrold: What are you studying?

20yrold: English.

8yrold2: Are you going to be a teacher?

20yrold (offended): A professor!

8yrold: I don't like English.

8yrold2: I'm not very good at it.

20yrold (supposed future professor): Well, English isn't for everyone.

Silver Screen Celebration

Krista and I went to see "White Christmas" on the big screen last night at the historic Kiggins theatre in Vancouver. Looks like Kiggins was once on the cheap end of the beautiful old art deco theatres, and now it's the run down, shabby shell of its old self. But it's still more fun than a lot of the new multiplexes.

Seeing White Christmas on the big screen was a big treat! WC was the first movie filmed in Vista Vision and I was amazed at what a difference seeing it on the big screen made for this movie. It was funnier, more affective and generally more fun. I don't think I have ever seen it in widescreen before last night. Bing Crosby! Danny Kaye! Rosemary Clooney! Good stuff!

Special thanks to Mom for watching the kids and to Krista for being a good movie buddy, coming up with the idea and asking Mom to watch the kids. Special thanks to me for being a deep lover of movies and especially our old friend the holiday musical.

Survey results

Well, the results are in.

It appears, first of all, that you are completely torn on the monkey question. A full 31% of you said "AAAAH ANYTHING BUT MONKEYS!" and another 31% said that you wouldn't mind monkeys coming through your computer if they were teacup monkeys. Who knew everyone liked teacup monkeys? As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on monkeys controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.

As to how tough I am, the overwhelming response was that 41% of you feel that I am "tough like a teddy bear". OH YEAH? WHY I OUGHTTA... WELL... I OUGHT TO... UH... getting tired of yelling. Losing energy. Someone hold me! As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on teddy bears controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.

And when it comes to subscribing to this blog 62% of you would rather live in another country! I have a link for using your computer to control the minds of others and make them do whatever you want (live overseas, sign up for your blog). But to be honest it's just too creepy.

A lesson from my daughter

Okay, she's trying to choose between two "ballerina Barbies". One is a white Barbie with blonde hair and a blue ballerina outfit and the other is a black Barbie with black hair and a purple dress.

Me: Okay, Z, what color Barbie do you want?
Z: Purple!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My longwinded Christmas devotional

You can find it here.

Evidence that sideburns are "in"





Here is the key fact you need to know in realizing that sideburns are in: I have grown some.

(NOTE: It might be important for you to realize what my definition of "in" entails. Here it is. "In": Whatever it is that Matt is currently doing. What he used to be doing is "retro" what he soon will be doing is "visionary.")

I have never had self esteem problems, as I have always been a part of the "in" crowd.

I have included a picture of Ambrose Burnside, the civil war general who gave us the name for those hairy fashion statements.

And just to show that Ambroses's fashion sense is not an historical fluke but a visionary act of genius, I have also included a picture of sumo wrestling sensation "tiny" Takanotsuru.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

You can make history right now!

Okay, everyone.... it's the first Burning Hearts Revolution Voting Day. On this day you get to answer such important questions as, "If internet technology allowed Matt to send monkeys through his computer and out his screen, how would you feel about that?" Just click on the icon below.

Note: This is for posterity, so please be honest as you vote.

Free Vote Caster from Bravenet.com

Snow!

It's snowing! As my eldest daughter, Z, says, "Now we can go skating on the pond!" And as the grinchy little voice in my head says, "Yes, but only if we had a pond."

Anyway, we've got about a quarter of an inch so far, which doesn't do much other than make our compost pile look pretty.

The photo above is the work of
Kenneth Libbrecht, who has a whole series of books and calendars and whatnot chock full of God's exquisite little sculptures. Neat!

Meanwhile, I am hoping enough piles up around here for me to take the kids sledding at the elementary school down the street!

The Mystery of Women


My youngest daughter ("A") turns three years old in nine days. And she can't get enough lip stick. About a week ago she told us that she had some lipstick upstairs, went up and grabbed it off the bathroom sink and has been applying it once or twice a day since then.

Me: Why do you need that stuff?
A: I just do.

Krista says that A told her "it keeps my lips moist."

Where do they learn this stuff?

Warning: Do not use her chapstick if she offers it because it is really destroyed and yucky.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

When the cat is away the mice cry like crazy for the old times

Krista's in Chicago with her mom. So you would think that the kids would try to get away with something and I would go rent some crazy action movies or depressing art films. But no, the kids are melted into puddles of weeping childhood telling me how mommy does everything better (rubbing legs, singing lullubies, generally being a good person). Meanwhile I am addressing Christmas cards to send to our supporters and watching... "Without a Paddle." Because my parents already own it, so it was free. And I haven't seen it. And I'm guessing you don't have to pay attention to it so I can keep addressing cards. I just laughed. That's a good sign.

why you have to love your kids

A (yelling from upstairs): Daddy! I had to use the potty!
Me (yelling from downstairs): Then use it honey.
A (sound is getting closer): I already went.
Me (moving toward stairs): Go get on the potty.
A (still getting closer): I already went poop.
Me (almost in view): *Sigh* Where did you go?
A: In my hand.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Run away! It's Love and it's on a rampage!

I've been thinking about the way our culture talks about "love". We "fall in love" as if love were some big inescapable pit. "See I was just walking along minding my own business when WHOA I fell in love." I guess we could have statements that start with, "Love is like a pothole...."

Also, I was interested to see that the advertising campaign for "Brokeback Mountain" (the story of two cowboys that pretty much without meaning it "fall in love" and then "have some sex") that they use the phrase "Love is a force of nature." Again we have this emphasis on something unavoidable, unstoppable and possibly unwanted.

Which of course brings us to the end of love. When we fall, we get up again. "Forces of nature" (yes, even hurricanes) abate in time. So love may pull our strings for a while but in time sanity returns and we have no obligation to keep going.

It seems like such a capricious force. "I never meant to cheat on my spouse, but, well, I fell in love with someone else." What a tremendous steaming pile of crap. Excuse me. Love made me say that.

And of course I have to believe that at some level what we are talking about is physical attraction. One of the reviewers of "Brokeback Mountain" referred to the human sex drive as one of the core motivators of human beings. Right. Maybe in a liscentious and hedonistic society that is incapable of teaching human beings to desire righteousness and self control. Oh, wait. I forgot I lived in America.

I'm not sure what we're talking about but it sure ain't love.

Some new suggestions:

"I got steamrolled by love"
"love knocked me out"
"love mugged me"
"love blinded me" (oops we already say that)
"love kicked me in the head" (I like that one)
"love bit me in the nose" (nice!)
"love gave me an excuse to have sex with whomever" (good one!)
"love casued me to be committed even though times were hard" (whaaaaaat?)
"Love taught me to be faithful to my spouse"

And so on.

What does this show us? Well. Maybe that too many of us have never been loved. Or loved someone else. That's just a guess. Add some sayings of your own!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Everywhere in the World I have ever been


Krista and I joined forces to list everywhere in the world we have ever been. It amounts to about 5% of the nations in the world. Hmmm. Have to work on that.

And now, I would like to point out to the Presidents (or whatever) of East Timor, Nigeria, Spain and Chile that I clearly had nothing to do with "that little issue" you mentioned to my lawyers.

Make your own, I don't care you big Copy Cat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meditation #1: Upon Taking Out the Garbage

My tradition is to take out the trash after LOST which means far too late, when I am tired. But tonight I feel good, am enjoying my wife and my life and my kids and as I walk back through the frozen grass of my back yard I happen to look up and see the stars in a clear, brisk sky and the moon spilling over onto everything and washing out all but the brightest and most beautiful stars and wanderers and a plane flew right through Orion and I imagine all the passengers covered in stardust and the earth and the houses and the plumes of my own breath and the crisp pinch of a million frosted fingers on my face and I think to myself what an amazing and wonderful place God has made and we haven't managed to completely mess it up yet I can still see him through the street lights and hear him over the whoosh of the late night, homeward bound cars. And after all that to curl up with my wife in a too-warm bed while my kids sleep in the next room, in a house just a bit too big for us. My God, how blessed we are!

Lower your expectations


I have a couple of friends who work "in the industry" and they saw "King Kong" this week. The basic feedback I'm hearing is that any frame that has an enormous gorilla in it is well done and satisfying, and every scene without an enormous gorilla is lame. Then again, I guess we could say that about most movies. Anyway, my friends say to lower your expectations so you can enjoy the movie.

An Open Letter to My Television


Dearest Television-- I remember in my youth what an essential part of my daily life you were... school days, weekends, early mornings, even in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, you were always available for me.

Then I grew up and you seemed to lose some of your sparkle. And then I moved to Asia, and I remember losing any ability to understand you, though I loved it when you acted out sumo wrestling for me.

And lately I have found you an inconstant companion at best. It seems like you are always saying the same thing over and over. Locking you in the closet doesn't seem to make much difference.

To be honest, I find most of what you have to say insipid, boring, alarmist and laughable. But I'm still looking forward to seeing you tonight, dear friend. You are one of the few people I try to make time for every day. And even though "LOST" is a rerun tonight, I'm not sure I've seen it. I guess what I'm writing to say is, thank you. Thank you for being the kind of friend that requires minimum interaction (although I must admit I like yelling at you at all the time).

Most Sincerely,

Matt

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Key to Christmas

My Mom put some keys on her Christmas tree and sent the kids off to find them. When they brought them to her she said:

Mom: What's the "key" to Christmas?

Z: These keys from the tree!

Mom: I mean, what is the main reason for Christmas?

Z: Santa Claus!

Mom: No, I mean whose birthday is it?

A: Mine! (it's true... her birthday is the 27th)

Mom: Who else?

Z and A: Jesus!

A Four-year-old explains Santa to me

Taking Z and A home the other day we passed the local grade school, where Santa comes to visit every year. This is a high quality affair. They actually give gifts to all of the kids who come to see St. Nick. Here's the conversation that Z and I had about this:

Z: I was too afraid to talk to Santa Claus last year. I didn't know what to say to him.

Me: You could just tell him thank you for the gift.

Z: No, I mean I don't know what to say when he asks me if I've been good this year.

Me: Well, what do you think? Were you good this year?

Z: I don't know. Do you think I was good or bad?

Me: Well, you were good a lot of the time, but sometimes you were bad.

Z: I'll just tell him I was good all the time.

Me (laughing): That would be lying, though. That's not good.

Z: He's just pretend, Dad. He wouldn't know I was lying.

Me: I guess that's true.

Z: Only Mommys and Daddys know if you've been good or bad.

In which I predict the future

On March 13, 1:33 (PDT) Karen Hibberd will write me and say that she prefers journaling to blogging.

I guarantee it!

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm FINE! Seriously.

I've noticed that a lot of people are asking me if I feel okay today. I have learned over the years that when this happens it is usually because I am being a big jerk and don't realize it. So, sorry everyone, especially to my wife and kids. I don't mean to be a jerk, I just do it naturally. Sorry, so sorry. I'll make an extra effort to be patient and nice and kind the rest of the day.

The jerkiness usually goes away tomorrow morning.

Let us create a bold new world without sharks

Two things you need to know before you read my brilliant idea below:

1) My wife is an actual, certifiable genius (in the sense of having an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, not in the sense of being either a tutelary deity nor in the sense of being "slightly smarter" than average people).

2) I have an actual phobia of sharks. Not a reasonable, "One should not swim with carnivores larger than you with many rows of sharp teeth" but a "I don't like to swim in swimming pools in the dark just in case a 15 foot long shark somehow got in here" and "I am a little nervous about posting pictures of sharks to my blog" full-fledged phobia.

MY IDEA: What if we lifted all the hunting restrictions against great white sharks and killed them all dead?

MY ONLY CONCERN: Would this create a huge imbalance in the ecosystem that would eventually cause the earth to spin out of orbit and into the sun?

MY THESIS: No, it wouldn't. We would be fine, in fact better without the nasty sharks everywhere. Yuck! I don't like them one bit.

MY RESEARCH: Krista's (my wife) thesis for college was called "Stability in a two-population predator-prey interaction". In this paper she proved mathematically (using chaos theory math and a whole bunch of other voodoo) that the introduction of a certain predator fish to this lake in Africa would inevitably result in the destruction of the native species (she was right). So I figured she could give some insight into this question of whether destroying every great white shark on earth would mean minor inconveniences or a happy happy place for all of us.

Krista falls into the "skeptical of the benefits of killing sharks" camp. She claims this would create a massive shift in the ocean's ecosystem (although she admits it would likely balance out eventually). Her argument is much too lengthy, intelligent and probably-right for me to include it here (it would undermine my own argument).

As a rebuttal to her arguments, which I will not include here, allow me to say: I bet there would be more dolphins and more fish we like to eat if we eliminated sharks.

As to her disturbing question, "Don't you think God made sharks for a reason?" allow me to answer, "Yes, as a punishment for eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."

CONCLUSION: I know you agree with me. Look, for instance, at the following pictures. One is the ocean with sharks, one is the ocean without sharks. One is a picture of the tooth of a significantly-larger-than-a-great-white megalodon, all of which are extinct and I think we are doing just fine without them. Okay, to be honest I chickened out. I am not putting even a picture of those things on my blog. But you know what they look like.

Christmas list addition: harpoon gun.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

East Asia-- Why We Should All Move There Now



Guess how much this whole meal cost? I do not want to make you cry so I won't tell you. Start in the lower left where we have a lovely Fish Dish... yum... followed clockwise by shrimp, roast duck, some sort of soup, this great corn dish-thingy, rice, something-I-don't-know-what-it-is-but-good, the best tofu ever, then on the inside we have sweet and sour pork and broccoli. Man. I am hungry.

The Exploding Whale

I don't know if you've heard about the exploding whale, or read the transcript of this (true) story, but now you can see the spectacular event for yourself in glorious technicolor.

Mikalatos Christmas Tradition

Every year Krista, the girls and I read this book every day. You open a new door every day and inside is a picture from the Christmas story along with a few Bible verses from the gospels. The art is beautiful, and the overall effect is wonderful. The kids love opening the doors and looking at the pictures. This morning we all piled onto the couch and read it together. It's nice.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Yes, you are officially bored now

If you find yourself spending a lot of time here, you are probably pretty bored. Or, you know, you just love bubble wrap.

Beauty and the Beast... ON ICE!

My parents took my kids to a castle last night where some local high schoolers dress up as characters from "Beauty and the Beast" (Disney edition) and take pictures with them and so on. Here are photos of my youngest getting up the guts to take a picture with Beast (Beauty had to encourage her that it was safe) and then a picture of what was repeatedly described to me by the children today... "Then we found some ice!" They love ice.

I told them before they left not to be afraid of the Beast, that he was only pretend. Z said, "I KNOW he is only pretend." A said, "First he was the beast but then he turned into... something ELSE! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!" I am not sure what that means but it is apparently very funny.

(Note: as I look at the Beast more closely I think I might have been afraid, too. He looks like an enormous dust mite with a blue jacket.)

Every day since coming home from Asia this happens

Q: Why am I so tired?

(I think about this for about ten seconds).

A: Oh yeah, jet lag.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ammendment to the Things I Would Do If I Ruled Christmas


You may have noticed that I recently disparaged Michael Crawford's Christmas album. Well, as it turns out my wonderful Mother-in-law (Hi, Janet!) noticed, and also noticed that she gave us this self-same album. This could create a whole 'nother series of postings about knowing who is reading your blog. Anyway, so, here's my explanation on Crawford's Christmas. You see, Crawford is also the "original" Phantom of the Opera. That is, the original Broadway phantom. The original screen phantom was Lon Chaney. So, the problem is, every time I hear Michael Crawford's voice I see the Phantom very clearly in my mind. So when he is singing "Jingle Bells" I see a man with a disfigured face and a cape dashing through the snow. I have posted a picture of the respectable Mr. Crawford looking his Christmas best, and then a picture of what is happening in my head when I am listening to this album. So, I guess if I ruled Christmas I would still allow this album, but not in my Christmas Court. So listen away, lovers of Crawford Christmas!

Welcome Home


As you can see I made it home from Asia today. The trip was good, and while I didn't see everyone I hoped to see, I saw many of them. Here is what was waiting for me when I got home. My kids made "welcome home" cards. It makes me wonder what the dads who never come home are thinking.

The Smuggler

Station One (the East Asia airport): Do you have any food items in your bag, sir?
Me: Nope.

Station Two (upon entry to Japan): Do you have any food items that you need to declare, sir?
Me: No, I do not.

Station three (at the US entry): Do you have any food items to declare, sir?
Me: No.
Station three: Step aside to the agriculture and food declaration line.
Me: Okay.

Station Four (the Agricultre import lane)
Aggie: Do you have any plants, fruit, vegetables, meat products or food?
Me: No.
Aggie: Are you sure?
Me: Yes.
Aggie: You don't have any plants?
Me: No.
Aggie: Fruit?
Me: No.
Aggie: Vegetables?
Me: No.
Aggie: You don't have any food?
Me: No.
Aggie: Are you sure you don't have any food at all?
Me: I guess I have one granola bar.
Aggie: Granola bars are fine. Put your bag through the X-ray machine.

Station Five (unpacking)

Me: Hey! Look, a big pack of walnuts! I forgot about these.

A Comedy of Errors

On behalf of my friend Kelley I carried back some small gift items from Asia. I didn't look in the box she gave me, so I was surprised to find that my bag had been pulled off of the conveyor belt and I was ushered into an "examination room". I was told I could not have my boarding pass until there was "resolution" about my bag. Yikes.

The quite lovely TSA lady pointed to the X-ray screen (you know, the one you always look at as you walk through security and wonder how they can tell what anything is), pointed at a long, skinny object and asked, "What is that?"

Me: I don't know.

She: You will have to open the bag, sir.

Me: My friend is sending back gifts to America. I'm not sure what it is.

(I suddenly realize this sounds ridiculous... in this age, not to know what you are carrying for a friend onto an airplane! I see that I am in trouble. She points to the large, sealed cardboard box in my bag. I pull it out and she slits it open and starts unloading the contents... I am curious, too, to discover what this oblong and potentially dangerous object is and start digging through. I find... some chopsticks?)

Me: Is it these?

She (looking at the screen): I am not sure. Are they metal or wood?

Me: I don't know.

(At this point we both bend simultaneously over the bag and knock our heads together.)

She (rubbing her forehead): Okay. Pack it up again.

Me (rubbing my forehead): Is that what it was? The chopsticks.

(She shrugs. Me, too. I go to get my boarding pass.)

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode One)

Dedicated to the rather large elderly man with the cartoon-hound-dog voice and the red-rimmed eyes on the trans-Pacific flight from Asia to America.

Comment #1 (to the TSA personell at the airport): Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is totally inappropriate. I am going to write a letter to your airline and get you fired. Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is the last time I am flying your airline.

TSA officer: (Stony silence as she goes about the grim work of patting him down)

Comment #2 (to the flight attendant; our eavesdroppee sits two rows behind me. I can hear him as well as smell the very powerful medicinal odor of something... I think a throat lozenge): You mut have some room in business class because I am going to get very uncomfortable in these here chairs. They are too small. And I'm going to write a letter about that security woman and get her fired.

Flight attendant: (good-natured laughter)

Comment #2 (cont.): No, I'm serious. Now see what you can do about this here chair.

Comment #3 (to the flight attendant as he is leaving the plane): Jesus loves you, and have a Merry Christmas.

Eavesdropping With Matt (prologue)

I am a notorious eavesdropper. Oddly enough, I find eavesdropping on my friends and family to be both boring and morally sketchy, so I don't do that. But eavesdropping on strangers is endlessly fascinating sport. In fact, there have been times when I've found myself tuning more into a nearby conversation at a restaurant than to my companions. I think I like that I get to create my own story built around a few moments of dialogue.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy as I pull the sparkling jewels out of their common settings and place them here upon the velvety backdrop of my blog, where you can see them shimmer and twinkle without all the distractions of everyday life.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Busy day

I'm in my "home town" in Asia today. It's going to be cool! Not muhc has changed beyondthe normal things that change... the little shops that rotate through business without a pause. Other than that the city is its same beautiful strange wonderful dirty noisy happy sunny place.

Katie

You may recall my prayer request a couple of days ago. Here's the story. One of our staff women passed away this week. They haven't done an autopsy, but it appears there may have been an undiagnosed disease in an advanced state. Please be praying for her friends, family, and staff on her team (U of Montana). She was in Croatia visiting some of our stinters when it happened. Here's her picture. As you can imagine this bring up so many questions, as death and suffering always do. I told the Croatia team that I feel like all I can do in this sort of situation is follow the example of Job in the Bible... to sit down in the ashes and wait for the Lord.

Favorite Quote of the Week

"If you save everything to the last minute... it only takes a minute."

My cell phone

I am still in Asia. I turned on my American phone today and it says that it has a full signal but it is "roaming." Yeah, I guess so! I am tempted to talk on it for a minute just to see what kind of charges I would get.

A Special Coded Message About How I Am Doing for All of You Who Can Read Pinyin

La Duzi!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two Cities

I went to the opening of a cool new art gallery in this unnamed country tonight.  It's called the "Two Cities" gallery (taken, I think, from Augustine's "City of God" where there are two competing cities, the City of God and the City of Man).  I've seen a lot of good friends and been able to play Santa while I deliver lovely treats to all the good girls and boys in this city.  And, so far, I haven't eaten as much Asian food as I would like to (unless one counts the Asian version of pizza).  Ha ha!

Pray for our friends

Hey-- I don't want to give details yet, but could you please be praying for my friends in Croatia?  It includes a bunch of people there on "stint" (a one-year mission) and also some people who are visiting them.  I'll give details in a week or so, but feel it needs to stay private for now.  It's an urgent request.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Have gun, will travel


Nope. I'm not allowed to take guns when I travel. Today was a great travel day, though.

I somehow was able to print out a boarding pass on-line (which Northwest Air later assured me was impossible). I joked that maybe it was because I was a "VIP" and apparently they thought that might be the case because they didn't charge me for excess baggage. My flight left early, I had a choice of 30 movies (only one or two good ones of course), they moved me to a seat with no one next to me so I could stretch out, I got fed dinner, breakfast and dinner again, stretched my legs in Tokyo and then here I am... and with all my bags.

So. I'm here. Now for the marathon of meeting with people!

p.s. I didn't try it, but in Japan I saw a brand of water called "Pocari Sweat." Mmmmmm.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Things I Would Do If I Ruled Christmas

Okay.

I would do away with several Christmas albums.

Also. Trump would not be allowed to say "frickin'" during a kid's Christmas song (as he did on Letterman last night). In fact, he would not be allowed to sing Christmas songs except: 1) in the privacy of his own Tower 2) at church 3) while Christmas caroling.

I know, I am a harsh master. But I still hope you will vote for me to be in charge of Christmas next year.

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