Saturday, May 31, 2008

speaking this weekend

I get to speak at our church again this weekend, which is great. This came about because our pastor had to change his travel plans to Lebanon at the last minute because Hezbollah shut down the airport in Beirut (click on the link to see some updates from his time in Beirut).

So Pastor John called me and asked if I would share something one week while he was in Lebanon, specifically talking about following Christ, expecting big things from him, stepping out in faith and believing the impossible, all that sort of thing. Which is, you know, my favorite sort of things to talk about. My "life message" I guess you would call it.

I'm teaching essentially the same thing I taught last summer at the Stint Briefing... a message about when Jesus came to Simon and the other fishermen and said "Follow Me." Although I think I'm leaving out the funny comic book story from the intro, even though it's hilarious. Not sure it would go over as well with the 8:15 and 9:45 crowds.

I never used to do the same talks more than once. I've given this one a lot now. I remember I was praying once about this not too long ago, just telling the Lord I felt weird doing the same talk, and was that okay and I felt that the Holy Spirit said to me, "What if I have you do this talk the rest of your life? Could you do that?" Oh, yeah. I would be thrilled to do it. I love talking about this--the beauty of Christ, the reason people have desired to follow him, the amazing challenges and unexpected blessings of following Christ--I would talk about it every day for the rest of my life if Jesus just provides the audience and the Spirit empowerment.

And if Jesus doesn't provide the audience I suppose I could go all "Saint Francis" and preach to the birds and animals. Ha ha. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten that I have thoughts to share with you all about St. Francis... it just takes me longer to write my serious thoughts out.

And in closing... if you want to come hang out tonight or tomorrow at our church and see me pretending to be a pastor for a couple of hours, you're very welcome to join us. I'll put a link up when the talk is available online.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Human Tetris now casting for the American version

Remember those funny videos a few posts back? And the Japanese game "human tetris"?

Well, Fox is going to have an American version called "Hole in the Wall." And they need teams of three to try out. It says they are looking for Americans of all shapes and sizes.

Here's the information.

If somebody would go represent BHR I would really appreciate it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Robot Monkeys... ATTACK!

Scientists announced today a groundbreaking experiment which allows a monkey to control a robotic arm via its own brain signals (see video).

"It's disappointing, really," said Stuart Smith, a well-known monkey prosthetic watcher. "It means we're still years away from the first working models of robotic armor for monkeys, and the enormous amount of equipment necessary means that we may still be decades away from the pinnacle of scientific achievement... flying monkeys."

Animal Behaviourist Cynthia Garamond echoed Smith's disappointment, saying, "I can't believe they are coaxing the animal to obey their commands using marshmallows. That monkey will never do their bidding now. It's completely spoiled."

In other news, Matt Mikalatos would like to ask the scientific community, "Where is my flying car? It is the 21st century, and I think I deserve one."

Get the Lead Out

An interesting article here about increased violent crime among people exposed to lead as children. In fact, they can chart the decrease in crime connected to when states made the transition from leaded to unleaded gasoline.

I stabbed myself with a lead pencil as a child, right in the thigh.

In high school, when California made the transition to unleaded gasoline, I had to buy lead supplements so that my Chevy Nova could keep running.

But if anyone said I became violent because of those two things... well, I'd poke them right in the eye.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Underwater Bunnies

When I was in college, in my oceanography class, my professor showed us this science video that opened with a scene of a rabbit breathing underwater. It was sitting there in a tank, and bits of carrots were floating around and the rabbit was nibbling at bits as they came by. It was really weird and cool.

I was telling a bunch of my friends about this--yes, that means I was telling SOME OF YOU WHO ARE READING THIS RIGHT NOW about it-- and they mocked me. Mocked me!

I decided that a video of such astounding bizarreness should be on YouTube, so I looked it up as my friends watched on. Only to discover... nothing quite like what I was looking for. Which just goes to show you that you can't rely on the internet for everything. The mocking had to increase slightly at this point, and soon all you had to say for a laugh was "underwater bunny" and everyone fell into peals of laughter.

Like this:

Person A: Would you get me a glass of water?

Person B: Do you want a bunny in it?

I would like, however, to point out this gentleman. Here's a picture from one of his most famous experiments, which involved "liquid breathing" and mice. If you look at the abstract of Clark's report on this in Science magazine, you can see that he also experimented on cats.
Notice that the mouse is in the liquid in the picture at left. Yes, he is alive and breathing. And there are goldfish swimming in the fluid above him.
Not quite as good as a video of a liquid breathing rabbit, but I think we are on the right track here, wouldn't you agree?
P.S. If anyone knows where I can find a good video clip of, say, a rabbit practicing liquid breathing, please send me a link. Heh.

I Believe In Spiracles

I know many of you have been wondering, "How do insects breathe? I mean, they don't even have lungs."

That's why we are proud to present the BHR word of the day: spiracles. Believe me, you will want to know about these if you don't already.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why Everyone Loves Japan

Krista put this picture up on her blog, which is me and a bunch of our friends watching "human tetris":

Later that night Ken and Sarah introduced us to the wonderful world of Japanese pranks which included this one, which caused me to laugh so hard that I was in pain (may not be appropriate for work or if you have young kids looking over your shoulder):

And lastly, for fans of the Office, here's the "original" Japanese version (about as appropriate as an episode of the Office):

So, there you have it. Japan is great! Yay!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Behind the times... but catching up

Our good friend Ken is here visiting this week. This is great, because we love Ken and he brings many advantages with him in addition to his excellent company. One of which is that he is teaching me that there are many websites that I don't know about (but should). I thought I would pass along some of these to all of you, who probably already know about them and use them often:

1) Check out Hulu. Hulu is an online collection of free t.v. shows and movies that do things the old fashioned way: pay for themselves by having commercials. There's a pretty good collection of shows including News Radio, 30 Rock, the Office, Monk and Battlestar Galactica (old and new).

2) Pandora. Pandora is an online radio station that lets you pick favorite artists, and then it plays music from those artists and artists like them. It also lets you give feedback on which songs you like so it can tailor the site more closely to your taste. Just be sure not to open "the box" as it will release death and suffering into the world. Just kidding.

3) Jott. With Jott you can make a phone call, leave a message, and the website will send an email or text message to the people you choose. Ken points out that I will never have to type in an "Eavesdropping With Matt" episode ever again, I can just hold my phone out and record people.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Walking Z to school today, we chatted about the weather.

Z: Do you think it will get hotter than it was last week, when it was SO HOT?

Me: Yes.

Z: It was so hot that day that G [Z's best friend] and I couldn't even run at recess. We just sat under a tree in the shade.

Me: Did you just sit there and talk?

Z: Yes.

Me: What did you talk about?

Z: We talked about how cold it would have to be for it to snow enough that school would be cancelled. Then the trees would be white, and the sidewalk, and the fields. And then G said, "That's not going to happen, it's way too hot today." And I said, "You never know, Nature is a mystery."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free comic in my mailbox

Longtime readers already know that I used to work at Flying Colors Comics. In honor of Flying Colors' 20th anniversary, Joe Field (owner of Flying Colors) put together a comic of his own. Today in my mailbox I discovered a copy of that comic, along with a nice note from Libby (Joe's wife). Thanks, Joe and Libby!

Two of my buddies, Adrian and Chris, did the art for one of the stories. The first link is their shared blog, the second is Chris' art blog. Well done, guys.

News from My Neighborhood

Neighborhood Watch. Across the street from us (to the north) there is a house full of people. A guy bought the house for himself and his girlfriend and rents out rooms to all his buddies. They love to fix cars, so they often have a fleet of vehicles jammed around their house, our house and any other house that might come too near. Yesterday the sheriff came and knocked on their door for a long time, but no one answered. Then he went and wrote on the windows of one of their cars with a grease pen (or whatever they write on windows with) and marked the car to be towed because it hadn't been moved recently. Today they moved the car. What they don't know is that the house directly west of us is the one calling them in to the cops. And this is not the first time they've done it!

UPDATE: Krista read this report and wanted to make it clear that the sheriff is not the one who marked the neighbor's car. The reason for his visit remains a mystery.

Beautiful Ukranian Women. When we moved into our house, the Ukranian family next door had three little girls. Now they have one little girl and two teenage women living with them. The transformation came pretty suddenly, it seems like, and with that transformation came a sudden influx of teenaged boys hanging around the house like flies. This weekend I was working in our garden, and the girls were working in their garden, and a teenage boy from their school came over to help in the garden. I overheard this conversation over the fence:

Teenaged Boy: I weeded this whole section by pulling one giant weed!

Ukranian Girl V: Did your mom force you to come over and help us with the yardwork?

Teenaged Boy: Um, no. I wanted to come over. I -- uh -- I just like to pull weeds.

Sure you do, friend, sure you do.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mohammed and the Mormons

As Elders M and J and I wandered through various topics, they told me (again) about the uniqueness of Joseph Smith's angelic visitations and the receiving of the Book of Mormon. We talked a little bit about the faith necessary to believe this, since there's really no physical evidence for any of this having happened.

Me: So, how do you deal with this with other people who claim to have seen similar things. For instance, I find the enormous similarities between the birth of Islam and the birth of Mormonism somewhat troubling.

Elder J: I'm not really familiar with Islam.

Me: Well, you have Mohammed, a pretty religious guy off in a cave, whereas Joseph Smith was in, what, the wilderness or something?

Elder J: A grove of trees.

Me: Right. And an angel appears with a vision of a purified religion, just like Joseph Smith. Then Mohammed dictates the new scripture, he was actually illiterate I think, and Joseph Smith -- okay, I know he's meant to be translating but he dictates the translation of the new scripture. And then both the Koran and the Book of Mormon are taken up to heaven.

Elder J: I see what you're saying. And we would say, yes, Mohammed is a prophet, too.

Me: !!!!

Elder J: We see this pattern that after Christ, about every 600 years God sends a prophet. Mohammed was one of those. Joseph Smith also came at the end of one of those 600 years.

Me: I am amazed that you would say this. What do you mean when you say he was a prophet?

Elder J: The he was a sort of spiritual genius, given insight by the Holy Ghost about spiritual things.

Me: I... uh. Hmmm. I have a real problem with this. I think this makes God seem a bit schizophrenic. I mean every six hundred years he's giving humanity an entirely different system for interacting with him? The theology of Mormonism and Islam are vastly different, and I don't see how you can claim they are both prophets.

Elder M: In the end we are all backed up against the wall of faith. What you need to do is pray and ask the Holy Ghost whether the Book of Mormon is true.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Return of Elders J and M

I have more to share, but here's what I have time to type in this morning. While out walking with Elders M and J we passed some guys who stopped to shake hands and say hello. Apparently they are mormons from another ward. They exchanged names, blessings and names of people they thought the other should know. We walked away and continued our conversation.

Me: You're going to have to kill me now. I saw you give those guys the secret handshake.

Elder M: I -- the what? -- there, uh... we don't have a secret handshake.

Me: Ha ha! I'm just messing with you. Relax.

Elder M: We don't have a secret handshake.

Me: I know. I was messing with you.

Elder J: We wouldn't do it in public, anyway. Ha ha!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Survey Results

Well, the results are in. Actually, they've been in for a while. I asked for your input and advice about why you come to BHR. I hate it when people manipulate surveys, and I want you to know that we will use the scientific results of this survey in the most logical and linear manner possible.

Let's take a look at the results, shall we?

A full 69% of you said you read BHR because "This one time I was reading it and I laughed so hard that milk came out my nose and sprayed all over my computer." This means that the vast majority of you read this because either you love laughing, or love giving your computer an occasional nostil milk bath. We are looking into some marketing possibilities with this in mind, like handkerchiefs with the BHR logo on them.

Coming in at 23% is a population of people who are apparently being held captive by monkeys and--rather than answering the survey--selfishly decided to call attention to their plight. This is just what we would expect from people ignorant enough to be captured by monkeys. I am sorry the monkeys are forcing you to read this. BAD MONKEYS! STOP THAT!

6% of you are coming for the deep ministry insights. Um. Sorry about that. We'll try to have more of that. 9% are coming because there aren't deep ministry insights. We'll do our best to keep that up.

2% of you read BHR because it's slightly less boring than standing in line at the DMV. I would just add, it's also slightly less productive.

Thank you to all of you who participated in the survey. I'll do my best to continue to bring you precisely what you, the adoring public, demand.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 14th Best Novel

Tonight I finished the novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves.

I came across it because I was looking at the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels. I was skeptical about the list because I've read some of the top novels and disliked them. Joyce's Ulysses, for instance, is at the top at the list, whereas I would scarcely call it a novel. As near as I can tell Joyce wanted to insult all the literary critics and did so by writing Ulysses and basically flipping them the bird. Which the critics loved and have spent many years fawning over his memory since then.

Fitzgerald's Gatsby is inexplicably number two. It's a fine novel, absolutely. But it ain't the second best novel of all time.
Anyway, I thought I would give the list a chance by trying a novel from it, and I chose I, Claudius.

And I am very pleased. It's a great novel. It's the story of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (called Claudius), a crippled, stuttering member of Rome's royal family who survives several increasingly evil emperors to ascend to the throne himself. Part history, part family epic, part philosophical exploration of History and historians, it's well written, profound and fun to read. I love the way that Graves paints the reality of a culture that deifies its ruler.

A great book always sends me searching for everything else the author has written. And yes, I'm planning to dig up all of Graves' books in the near future.

As for The List, I think I'll give it another shot. Apparently there are some great novels mixed in with the pretentious schlock. Oh, and by the way, if you go to look at the "reader's list" (the Modern Library allowed the commoners to vote on their favorites) be prepared for a lot of partisan nonsense sent in by drunken internet societies. For instance, the followers of Ayn Rand voted her novels to the top, immediately followed by L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, courtesy of the Scientologists.

Lastly, I don't care what anyone says, East of Eden is a better novel than the Grapes of Wrath and ought to be on the top 100 list for sure.

Hot Off the Presses

The May/June issue of Discipleship Journal hit the stands this month. I have a modest article in the back talking about a tool for starting spiritual conversations called Soularium.
This is my first article in a magazine that people have heard about*, so I'm pretty stoked about that. And I think it's a solid article that-- if it encourages people to have spiritual conversations-- has a chance to do a lot of good.
*Okay, people have heard of the Wittenburg Door also, but you have to know the secret handshake to get them to admit it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

The cat next door had her kittens. Three of them. My daughter A reports that one is black and one is black and white and one is hiding.

Chalk + Sidewalk = Love. While I was doing yardwork out front, my kids left their sidewalk chalk sitting out. Two junior high girls (Rosa and Jennifer) wandered by with Jennifer's little brother, David. Jennifer immediately grabbed some chalk and wrote "Jennifer loves Jimmy" (I am making up some names here, people). Rosa followed suit. Then David wrote "Rosa sucks" and tried to get Rosa and Jennifer to come back to see what he wrote. He ran down the street after them. As soon as he was a block away I quickly scribbled out the word "sucks" and wrote "David loves" above Rosa's name. As I packed up the chalk and moved into the house I could still hear him shouting, "ROSA! Come look what I wrote on the sidewalk!"

One more chalk related incident. Elders J and M dropped by (while I was doing yardwork... it was a busy day) to set up another appointment. My daughter A wandered out and started chalking and before they left (she came up to me and said, "where did you find these guys, anyway, dad?") they stooped down to chalk for a bit with A, which was sweet. Elder M drew a funny cat in blue chalk. A asked them to write their names, and thinking that I might learn their first names I stopped to watch them. But no, they chalked "Elder J" and "Elder M". I laughed about that. I'm planning to find some kids chalking in some other neighborhood and ask if I can chalk "Regional Director Mikalatos" and a picture of a stick animal.


Old Man Mikalatos

What I'm Reading

Why am I still up? Because I'm reading for my theology class.

In addition to some systematic theology, I'm spending some time reading Graham Cole's "He Who Gives Life" which is interesting, Dever's "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" which is (at least) easy to read. The best book we have to read for the class is Timothy Tennent's Theology in the Context of World Christianity, which examines western theological biases and blind spots by exploring systematic theological contributions from eastern and "southern" (Latin America and Africa) theologians. It's ridiculously fascinating and insightful.

I was disturbed to discover upon looking up the link for Tennent's book that he is, apparently, only twelve years old. Behold! Here is his picture:

I would prefer that a man of his insight and accomplishments look like this:

Note to self: Medals are classy. Buy some!

The Three Little Ponies (by Z)

Here's a little Mother's Day story Z wrote for Krista:

Once there were three little ponies. Their mother said, "Go out into the world and build your own houses. But watch out for the big bad wolf."

"We will," all three said.

The first pony built her house of straw and sticks. Not too long after, the wolf huffed and he puffed and blew the house down. The first little pony ran to her sister's house. The second pony's house was made of iron and bricks.

The wolf grabbed an iron cutter and cut down the walls. The two ponies ran to the third pony's house. It was made out of flowers. She made some water for her sisters.

The wolf died.

The end.

How people and bees are different.

Working in the garden the other day, A told me how frightened she was of bees.

Me: Bees don't want to sting you. You know, if they sting you they'll die, so they won't sting you unless they have to.

A: Hmmm. So bees dies when they sting. That's different than people. We die if we hurt a lot or if we get hit with a machine gun.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A story by A: Rac-Penguin-Polar Bear

The kids were in child care this Monday through Wednesday, hanging out with the other kids from our work and playing capture the flag and having a great time of it. One of the activities involved getting stickers of various animals on a paper and then dictating stories or commentary on the pictures. Here is what A came up with for each animal:

Giraffes have long necks. They can almost reach the sky.

Raccoons can almost fly to trees and they have striped tails.

Penguins live on the Ice Age. They waddle everywhere they go. They are slow walkers.

Polar bears have stripes of white and black. That's all I really know about it.

Jaguars have spots everywhere.

The End.

A Story by Z: The Seven Friends

Here's Z's story, same basic exercise as A's:

Once upon a time there was a little frog that was red and yellow. One day she said, "I need a friend." So she went out of her coral reef home and swam up to the surface to find a friend.

Since she was in Africa she saw a jaguar. It said, "Do you want to be my friend?" She answered, "Yes!" So they played and played. But then one day they said, "Playing by ourselves is no fun." So they said, "Let's go find a friend." They looked and looked. But they couldn't find anyone in Africa.

So they had to go to Portland. There they found a wolf. She said, "I'm lonely. Will you be my friend?" They both answered, "YES!"

Just then a small tree frog began to look for food. She asked if they could be her friend. They answered, "Yes." Then they saw a white wolf. She said, "I'll be your friend, too."

Then they accidentally made a wrong turn and went back to Africa. They saw a sleeping lion. They were all not scared except for the little green red-eyed frog. She was afraid. She was not poisonous. She was not a meat-eater. She was the perfect snack for a lion. But the lion asked, "Can I be your friend, too?"

And they all answered, "Yes." Then they all went to the desert. And then they met a camel. She said, "I will be your friend, too."

They all had seven friends. They were all happy and didn't need any more friends.

The End.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Don't fret O Faithful Readers

Many of you have sent your concerns about my health. Three days without a post? Unthinkable! Did you trip over a discarded toy and break your hip? Are you inching, even now, toward the phone? Many of you called to wish me a speedy recovery.

But that was not the case, no. I was, in fact, at a staff conference for my fellow employees at Sun River. I shall share more about this tomorrow.

Also on the "to share" list:

1) Stories from my children
2) St. Francis quotes taken out of context and why it makes me mad
3) Maybe we'll chat about Iron Man
4) Maybe we'll discuss "RedBox."

Well. Now that you know I'm alive, it's off to bed.

At the risk of this becoming a Switchfoot fansite or something....

Here's Switchfoot's newly released video for "This is Home", a song for the Prince Caspian soundtrack. I like it.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

1) Krista tells me that the neighbor's cat is pregnant. I'm not surprised. I have often seen her hanging out on the corner with shady characters, smoking cigarettes.

2) The ice cream man is back. The tradition among children on our street is to chase after his van and try to get him to stop, especially when you don't have any money. Today I heard his music blaring and one of the Ukranian girls from next door shouted "LET'S CHASE HIM!"

3) You may recall that we "adopted" a cat. I neglected to update you by saying that she never returned after we fed her. Current theory: she was actually a he, and beat feet as soon as he figured out what was happening with the neighbor's cat.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Switchfoot Update (ocean city)

Dan shares some thoughts about last night's Switchfoot concert on his blog.

He also sent this picture of Jon Foreman buying his ice cream, as if to prove that his reporting yesterday was both accurate and timely.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Our Man in Ocean City

BHR's roving reporter, Dan, just called in to report from the Switchfoot concert in Ocean City.

Dan said that while waiting in the concession line he noticed Jon Foreman in line ahead of him, and that he ordered a large chocolate ice cream cone. Dan points out that this was very soon before Foreman was to take the stage. My theory is that this was to get Jon's energy up for the concert. Dan will report back to let us know if, indeed, Jon showed enormous energy during the concert or complained of stomach pains.

More news to come from Dan, but we wanted to make sure to get this Important Bulletin out to you as soon as possible.