Monday, February 25, 2008

Some airport ideals that we should adopt into the rest of the world

First and foremost, let us remind ourselves that the Portland airport (PDX!) is a forward thinking insitution, and that whatever backwards airport you are accustomed to may not have embraced all the things I shall list below. But behold, they are readily embraced here in the City of Roses.

1) Free Internet. I don't know why this is so difficult to understand. We do not want to pay more than a month's access fees to get on the internet at Starbucks for twenty minutes. The only conceivable reason to charge people for this is that some people actually pay. Stop that right now! Let's demand free internet for all.

2) Bookstores open at 6 a.m. PDX requires that all their stores open when the customers arrive. I like that I can buy a book earlier than I would usually wake up. Not that I think all stores should open at 6 a.m., but let's be honest... bookstores should open before ten in the morning. When a man has stayed up all night reading, he wants a new book.

3) "Rest Legalities." My flight today is delayed due to a "flight crew rest legality." In other words, the government has stepped in and said that the flight crew has worked hard enough and they need a break. I would gladly adopt this into some portions of my life. "Daddy, wake up and get me some breakfast!" "Sorry, darling, but there is a 'parental rest legality' preventing me from getting your breakfast. It will be delayed by fifteen minutes." "But I'm hungry!" "Sorry, kid, that's the law."

4) Someone to carry your junk. I like how they'll take my bag and lug it around for me. When I arrive at the correct location, HUZZAH! It magically appears. This is often true.

5) Paranoid security workers to look at me askance when they read my foreign last name. Oh wait, we already have that.

6) Moving walkways. 'Nuff said.

7) Live accordian players who will play any song you like for one thin nickel! Like I said, the Portland airport is ahead of its time. Okay, I made that up. But there is a live piano player.

lunch plans

By lunchtime I'll be at the Chicago airport. My plan is to have a Chicago dog for lunch. I haven't had one in about four years... the last time I was at O'Hare. For those of us from the west coast, a Chicago dog is weird. There are strange pickled things that don't appear to be pickles, and hot peppers and I'm not sure what else. But I like them. And although it's 5:30 in the morning right now, I'm still looking forward to the strange goodness that is a Chicago dog.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mikalatos

You wanted to know everything about me. Here's the link.

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed BHR reader JB Windle called me to say that the link sometimes generated more-than-questionable content. I've removed the link now. Thanks, JB!

Yes, this is why you should stay tuned to BHR every moment of every day. You snooze, you lose.

This one is for Big John

Friday, February 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I'm sure this is old news for most of you, but just in case you live in INDIA or something, here's the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie:

May 22nd is the old man's big day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mecha Manga Bible Heroes

My good buddy Ken sent me this link for a new set of Bible comics... rather than traditional comic interpretations, this one will have aliens and giant robots. Yes, it's the Bible... but with aliens and giant robots.
<----- There's David fighting a giant God-hating robot right there.

The Valley of Vision

I read this prayer yesterday, from the book Krista gave to me, The Valley of Vision. It's a puritan prayer, and I found it deeply moving and significant. So I thought I'd share:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the heights;
hemmed in by the mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells, the brighter your stars shine;
Let me find your light in my darkness,
your life in my death,
your joy in my sorrow,
your grace in my sin,
your riches in my poverty,
your glory in my valley.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy happy Valentine's Day

Krista and I ran out to the coast for one night on Valentine's and stayed at her aunt's beach house. We had a nice meal out and wandered the beach taking pictures and soaking in the beauty. We had a nice prayer walk on the beach, too.

I often say that my love language is books. When someone carefully considers me and buys me a book, I feel deeply loved. Even gift cards for books do it, because I know I am difficult. I am ridiculously picky about books.

When it comes to spiritual books, it's even harder. For some reason (no doubt a personal defect) I am even pickier about spiritual books.

For Valentine's Day Krista bought me The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Each page-long prayer is full of deep reflections on spirituality and the nature of God. She also got me Fenelon's Seeking Heart, letters written by a French Archbishop several centuries ago. I've only just begun to scan them, but I am very pleased. I feel that they will have a significant impact on my spiritual life, and they were an excellent gift. Thanks, Krista!

Revolutionary Advice With Matt

Dear Matt,

I heard it's unsafe to flush old medications, which is what I've always done. What's the best way to get rid of them?


Sitting On A Crapload of Old Medicine

Dear Crapload,

An excellent question, especially since in some states it's now illegal to throw your old medicines in the trash, in an attempt to keep drug addicts and racoons from getting hopped up on your leftover medications.

I personally prefer to flush my leftover medications in neighborhoods other than my own, primarily because I am concerned that alligators in the sewer may become either enormous or psychotic, rise from the sewers and bite off me hand.

The public restroom in any Starbucks is a safe place to do away with those medications. The alligators near any Starbucks are already out of control due to the amount of caffeine that seeps into the groundwater. Sewer alligators near Starbucks locations have up to eleven times more caffeine in their blood than other wild alligators. A slight increase in pharmacy castoffs seems to calm them somewhat, and I've found that the incidence of sewer alligator attacks in my neighborhood has decreased nearly 27% since I began to discard our old medicine there.

If you are the sort of calloused individual unwilling to do the extra work to do away with your extra medications, it may be that your neighborhood has a Collector Monkey. Many Organ Grinder Monkeys have been out of work in the last few years, and now they wander about on unicycles gathering leftover medications to deliver to the recycling center.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now

When we lived in Asia, I always wanted to be in a movie. Or a television commercial. Like this one:

I think this might be my favorite commercial ever. Krista and I are old friends with the actors in this commercial. It makes it even better. We even made a slideshow together once, which involved setting a stuffed Tigger on fire.

I hope you enjoy this little slice of Reality Television.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Finish the Sentence: While the Wife Is Away, The Husband Will....

Rent awful movies that she doesn't want to watch.

This is a tradition dating back to the first years of our marriage. If Krista is out of town, I dredge up whatever movies I've been waiting around to see and watch them while eating some sort of snack I wouldn't eat in front of her. Like, I don't know, cold spaghetti sauce or something. I discover later that (a) I have lost my taste for the movies that she doesn't want to see and (b) I still like the taste of my snacks.

Tonight's movie: The Departed.

Reason Wife Will Not Watch: Ridiculous Levels of Violence.

Tonight's Snack of Choice: Tina's Burrito (Red Hot Spicy Beef flavor)

Predictions Regarding Movie: I will enjoy it. I will find the ridiculous levels of violence excessive. I will wish that I saw it on an airplane.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

She's just a girl, who says that I am the one... but the kid is not my son

I went to get my hair cut today. I went to pay and the beautician (handsomtician... is she still a beautician if she's cutting my hair?) said, "Are you paying for him, too?"

"He" was a guy in his late teens or early twenties, sitting in the waiting area.

"No," I said.

"Oh," she said. "Is he with that guy getting his hair cut right now?"

The guy getting his haircut was also in his early twenties. I had never seen him before.

"I have no idea," I said. "I don't know those guys."

"Oh," she said. "Sorry. I just heard him say his Dad was paying for him."

Luckily I hadn't given her a tip yet.

You Can't Handle the Tooth!

I went to the dentist today. I resolved to ask questions about anything I didn't understand, and thus learned many helpful things... like the number scale for pocket depth on your gums. (NOTE: Lower numbers are better. If they start saying things like, "THEY'RE BLEEDING!" that's probably a 5).

Here are some tips my hygenist gave me that I will pass along to you:

1) Floss at least once every 24 hours. This will help prevent increased pocket depth and the formation of bacteria and tartar.

2) When brushing near the gumline, brush at a 45 degree angle. This will lessen the plaque buildup.

3) More French Kissing. French kissing prevents plaque buildup and promotes healthy teeth.

(Alright, alright, I added that last part myself... but don't tell my wife because I have a note from the dentist saying we need to french kiss more.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Nineteen)

Dedicated to the young couple at the video rental store, he with his spiky blonde hair, she with her long straight brown hair.

She: Let's rent this! Jackass 2.5!

He: Nah. It's going to be the same as Jackass 1 and 2.

She: But it will still make me laugh.

He: It's just more of the same.

She: So it will make me laugh.

He: We already saw it.

She: It will make me laugh, though, just like the other ones.

He (picking up another video): Lake Placid 2. It was a mistake to make that movie.

For those of you who occasionally wonder aloud, "Why does Hollywood keep making movies like 'Jackass'?" this is your answer: because they continue to make money off them. Ditto, Lake Placid. Ditto, "Saw: Ad Nauseum."

I took the moral highground and rented "Ocean's 13." The sequel to a sequel. Since they couldn't come up with a compelling plot they settled for providing an emotional experience roughly equivalent to Ocean's Eleven. But it still made me laugh.

Leap Frog

Last night that same frog was sitting on our front step. He was about a half inch from the front door, directly in the center of the door, facing inward. I had a good laugh about that, but quickly shut the door after leaping over him and into the house.

So far as I know he's still out there somewhere.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Sometimes the frogs in our backyard sound so close.

Last night just before bed one hopped across our kitchen floor. A pretty good sized one, too! I opened the back door and helped him out, but I could tell the wintery air shocked him. He leapt back into the house, so I had to scoop him up and put him outside again.

Where was he coming from? How did he get into the house? We're not sure. My theory: he's a frog prince, but he couldn't get upstairs to the kids to get his kiss.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Late Night Television, Entertain Me!

The Drew Carey show comes on at 9. Since the writer's strike, this is by far the best thing to watch, unless you really like schlock like American Idol.

My favorite advertisement tonight was for a drug called MIRAPEX. It's a drug for treating "restless leg syndrome." Here are a few of the side effects:

Somnolence (In fact, the warning says that MIRAPEX can cause you to "become sleepy or fall asleep while doing normal everyday activities like driving a car.")

In addition, you might feel faint or become dizzy when standing up.

Some people have hallucinations. Not just visual ones, either. Auditory, tactile and olfactory hallucinations, too! Wow!

And lastly, my favorite set of side effects:

Compulsive gambling, eating, and increased sex drive.

On the other hand, HEY! No more restless legs. Ha ha ha!

Here's a testimonial from Adrian Jones, former restless leg sufferer: "I remember when I used to sit on the couch and my legs felt just awful. Restless. Weird sensations. But ever since I started taking MIRAPEX I've been sleeping a lot, feeling nauseous, wanting to eat more, have sex and waste money and... I FEEL SO YOUNG! It's like I'm back in the fraternity again. I hardly ever think about my restless legs anymore." Okay, I made that one up.

A last thought from the MIRAPEX website: "Please note that this is not a complete list of possible side effects."

Revolutionary Advice with Matt

Dear Matt,

I need your advice. Whenever I go to the movies there is an old man who is hard of hearing. He makes comments to his friends, thinking he is whispering, but he is actually speaking loudly and distracts me from the movie. Is there a polite way I can tell him to be quiet?


Helpless In the Theatre

Dear Helpless,

The trick here is to remember that the old man can't hear you. Some might tell you to use gestures to try to get the man's attention, and then hold your finger up to your lip as if to say, "Sh!" I disagree. You could try to ask the man politely to keep the noise down, but chances are he wouldn't hear you the first several times. Remember, he is speaking loudly but thinks he is practically whispering. So, your best bet is to yell, "SHUT IT, OLD MAN!"

Be sure to scream it suddenly, as if to get his attention.

Here's a simple equation to help you in these situations:

(Loudness at Which Old Man Is Talking + Volume of Movie) (Distance From Old Man) = Required Volume of Your Shout

Sincerely, Matt

Monday, February 04, 2008

Upcoming Discipleship Journal Article

I just signed the contract for a short article of mine to appear in an upcoming issue of Discipleship Journal. It will most likely be in the May/June issue (ish 165). I'll share more about it when it's available. In fact, DJ bought internet rights as well, so it may be up in their archive come May, so I'll put a link to it.

Books To Be Read

I just used some of my Christmas money to order me some books.

Behold! The books which wing their way to me through the postal system:

The Book of Joby

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

I, Claudius

As I wait I am in the middle of another novel, which we'll actually discuss here later. I've been waiting to write a glowing post about how great Dave Egger's What Is The What is, but haven't gotten to it. Allow me simply to say, find it and read it. It matters.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ode To Sleep

Jet lag creates an insatiable desire for sleep. Tonight, as Krista and I made our bed, I found myself thinking inwardly, "Ahhhh, it will be nice to curl up beneath these sheets and sleep tonight." A basic thankfulness for sleep comes upon you.

It would be, I think, an appropriate time to write odes to sleep, to sing songs about one's pillow, to recite stirring speeches about the glories of a well-earned rest at the end of an inevitably too-long day.

So, I have written you all a poem entitled,

"A Limmerick Ode To Sleep, Written Upon My Return from Thailand, and Which I Find Both Clever and Immensely Funny Due At Least Partially to The Length of the Limmerick's Title, and Partially, No Doubt, To My Lack of Sleep."

When I get back into town
from flying the world all around
I prop up my eyes
and of sleep fantasize
on a bed, or a couch or the ground!

The Gormand

My daughter A has a weakness for sauces. Foods pronounced inedible become wonderful delicacies with the correct ratio of ketchup to food. Here is an example from tonight.

A: Broccoli? I don't like broccoli!

Me: I don't either, but I still eat it.

A: I'm going to dip it in my milk.

She proceeds to dip a piece of broccoli in her milk. When trying a new food combination she screws up her face and thinks deeply before making her pronouncement, which follows this formula: A description of the taste followed by whether she likes it or not.

A: Tastes like... milk. Milk... and broccoli. Hmmm. I like it!

Friday, February 01, 2008

International Bathrooms

Two thought about bathrooms from today's travel. For those of you unable to discuss "the powder room" dispassionately and with a calm stomach, abandon ye this post now.

Bangkok. A sign beside the toilet said, in English, "Do not place tissues in the flush toilet." I thought about this for a long time, trying to discover the intended meaning of this sign. A small wastebasket beside the toilet implied that I was not meant to put used toilet paper in the toilet. I have been in countries where this was the case, so this could be true. However, in the rest of Thailand I had thrown such waste into the toilet with impunity. It could be that the toilets at the Bangkok airport have been a source of major controversy and perhaps do not work correctly. But then I thought it might be referring to tissue paper, meaning "kleenex"... I don't know why they would care, but I am a cultural outsider, aren't I? In the end, I used the small wastebasket for the toilet paper and hoped that this would not be an unpleasant surprise for some poor Thai lady.

Tokyo. A quick stop in the restroom of the airport lounge revealed a clean stall that smelled as if some fellow traveller might have exploded in it. As I stood debating whether or not I could hold my breath long enough to fulfill my intestinal purposes, I noticed an electrical outlet next to the toilet. Above it stood a small table, apparently meant for... a laptop computer? Could this be? Do people really need to check their email or blog from the toilet? There is wireless in here -- I mean, in there. There is wireless in there.

so serious

Bangkok airport...

The customs lady was very serious this morning. Our line was by far the slowest. We got up cose and we could see why. She took her job very seriously. She even had a tie pin fashioned to look like handcuffs.

Okay, got to catch a plane!