Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: How would you use the government's money?

How a government uses its money demonstrates the priorities and goals it sets forth for its culture. Governments of the past have poured money into architecture and other art forms for moral or to solidify their country’s identity in the world, some governments have chosen to put their money into armies to advance their property, save the land that they have or subdue their own people, others have more subtle programs that demonstrate their philosophies none the less. In Canada, for instance, we have a free health care system (well almost free) and this demonstrates the notion that we should each care for our fellow citizens regardless of their wealth. In many ways the money gestures are small but they represent what the country sees as important.  

If you had the opportunity to be in power what would you spend the money on?

More intellectual questions? Try:
Religion and Politics
Finding Sources

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Working with Photo-Paint

  Posted by Picasa

Here's my first foray into Photo Paint .... grrrr! It is not exactly idiot proof. For example the help section blithly encouraged me to "spray on the layer" with ne'er a spray tool in sight. Never mind the fact that layer was not the word they used for the photo in the first place! However, I did prevail in the end although I have yet to figure out just how to change the size or exactly how I managed to "spray" in the first place. These are tasks best left for another day. For instance, the day the sky falls. Face it, I will probably be stuck with what ever random size or act this program spits out. Especially if I spray it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An Architect's Tower: The Ending

Antoni wandered, alone, down the streets back to the cathedral. His anger was seeping into the cobble stones and bewilderment rushed in to replace it. What right did Beatriz have to say the things she said? After all, he knew she wasn’t perfect. And yet, it was hard to believe she meant him true harm. After all, if she didn’t care she would have stayed at home. Beatriz had come a long way … for him, and he had let her go, no forced her to leave, that much was clear. He suddenly felt short of breath and leaned against a house to rest.

A little boy and his father hurried by and, seeing Antoni, crossed to the other side of the street. The little boy tugged on his father’s sleeve, “Daddy, we should give him something. Look he’s so tired.”

But the father just shook his head “No, he’ll be fine. Just look, he’s got money in his hand.”

Antoni waved his cane, “Save your money, I’m no bum!” but they were right, he certainly looked like one. Antoni opened his hand, checking to see if he was indeed still holding his change from the meal. There, right in his palm, was a tiny snail shell. It was odd that he hadn’t even felt it. He gazed at the tight spirals of the shell going on and on in constant motion and seamless parallels, the shades of palest pink to brown in glorious ribbons. Beatriz picked them, shelled them everyday, and yet … he remembered with a smile, she loved the shells. She had a small collection by the time he left the town all carefully laid in a box she had lined with felt. He had asked her once how she could bear to look at those things and she had said … he closed his eyes as the memory fell into place.

Beatriz, her long dark hair flowing in the breeze held the shell so gently in the palm of her hand.

“I don’t know why you keep these. You get new ones every day.” Antoni could just see the gulls circling by the beach and was anxious to get there.

“Oh, I see lots, but they are so beautiful. This one; I like the color, and the shape, it’s small and perfect.”

“I don’t know. It’s just a shell. It’s alright to look at; I just don’t know why you’d keep it, that’s all.”

“You look,” she said, handing him the shell gently, “you have better eyes for this sort of thing.” Her legs swung back and forth under the bench, “I started collecting them after what the priest said at church…”

Antoni laughed, “He told you to start collecting snail shells?”

“No!” she elbowed him sharply, “of course not! Don’t you remember? He was showing all the kids, you know, us older ones, the symbols painted around the church, ‘this one is the Lamb of God’ and ‘that one is St.Andrew’s cross’…”

“Yes, I think I remember, a little…”

Beatriz laughed, “You were looking at something I bet! Looking again and not really listening. Anyway, he comes to this shell, a snail shell, and a few of the girls were snickering at me again, but he says to us all. ‘Don’t you laugh children, this is an important symbol. It reminds us all of how we get to heaven.’ And one of the boys yelled, you must remember this, ‘Yes, you go round and round!’ But the priest made us all very quiet and whispered ‘No. Our sins died with Jesus on the cross. This shell, in its spiral, reminds us that the stone was rolled away from the tomb. That he was no longer to be found with death. That he brings us to rise again to new life, a life of forgiveness. That is what the shell reminds us all.’”

Antoni gazed at the shell in his hand. It was Beatriz’s precious shell from all those years ago. He remembered. He remembered it all.

The sun was just setting through the panes in Antoni’s workshop as Joan came in the final time.
     “I’m sorry Mr.Gaudi, but I really must go home. This is the third time this week I have missed Rosa’s meal and I…”
     Antoni held up his hand to stop him but didn’t even look up from his work. Joan sighed and leaned against the wall watching the sun go down through the colors in the window. Finally, Antoni looked up, his eyes shining gleefully; he thrust a long roll of paper into Joan’s arms. “I’ve found it Joan, I’ve found it!”

“What?” Joan looked up from his daze.

“I’ve found the secret to the towers!” Antoni patted the roll urgently, “Now go, quickly, to the foreman. Go, Go!”

Joan didn’t move, he just sighed. “That’s what I have been trying to tell you Mr.Gaudi, the sun is setting, everyone has gone home for the day.”

Antoni threw his hands up into the air, “When do these people work? Never mind, never mind, I must at least show someone. Look here.” He unrolled the drawing for Joan to see.

Joan squinted through the gathering dark, “Yes, most unusual staircase inside the bell towers. What is it? A shell? Very imaginative but, forgive me sir, I’m not sure that I understand.”

Antoni smiled and nodded, “Yes, I had exactly that problem myself.”

Miss a chapter? Here they are:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Monday, April 24, 2006

Piffle, Piffle, Snort.

Some things are worth saying ... for instance ... blubber.

Certain words just sound good. It doesn’t matter what they mean or if they are attached to a sentence, you want to say them all the time. It’s unfortunate, but some of the best words are ones that you only use on rare occasions.

I say, starting today, throw caution to the wind and use these words as much as possible. Make up new tenses and variations if you have to! Why should the zoo keepers have the regular use of blubber all to themselves?  You could, for instance, say that you are having a blubber day. Did you eat too much? Work too slow? Were you adding extra insulation to your walls? Let them wonder. Here’s my list of the latest “must have words”:

Buble: (As in Michael Buble. Buy his album if you want or just use it as the upper class version of ‘bubble’.)
Anonymous: Like pseudonym it should have been an ‘80’s hit song, whakachicka, whakachicka!
Scrumptious: Diddlyuptious!
Contraption: Use instead of ‘thing’. As in “what is that contraption?”
Gob smacked
Carmi lion
Smokey Tokyo: Not a comment on the place, my brother and I used to say it because it sounded cool!

Join the fun! Add to the list!

Enjoy this post? You may also like:
Survival Tips For Cave Dwelling
Romancing the Clown
Stop My Life, I Want To Get Off

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Time with Family

Hey there,
Just a quick note to explain the thin posts. We always end up having our family visits after Easter and this year is no different. I am taking a few moments to enjoy our time together, it is always so short. The posting will resume after the weekend. Happy Easter all and best wishes to everyone!

Playing With People: Progressive Party

Here's an idea that I culled from Jim Davis's book: Garlfield, How to Party. Yes, I'm am not only admitting to the fact that I took a humour book seriously, but that I am actually concidering putting that info into practice. Here's the idea. Take a bunch of party goers, snacks, and one unsuspecting host, mix.

The party goers get together and plan the party before the event. They decide who will bring and make food, what decorations or theme will be made and arrange the date. It is important that the host of the party not know any of these details. The day of the party arrives. The first guest stands on the doorstep bearing food.


Then the second guest dings the bell, "well, this is unexpected."

A third, "um, just what is going on!"

You get the idea. The party is then in full swing and the best part is, the host doesn't have to clean any dishes!

Enjoyed this post? Try:

The Guest Book
The Elevator

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: Ban the Bunny?

Just a thought or two regarding the Easter Bunny:

During the last two weeks an Easter Bunny house has been on display at the mall. Like the Santa house at Christmas, the children can go to get a picture, this time with an enormous bunny … that never blinks. No wonder my children don’t want to go near it! My children will, of course, awake to the sight of little Easter Eggs adorning our kitchen and with great excitement tell everyone they meet how the “Easter Bunny came to our house.” I’m not about to “Ban the Bunny” but I wonder what purpose the Easter Bunny serves. Santa at least teaches children to “be good”, if only under the threat of empty stockings. The tooth fairy eases the pain of loosing your teeth with a promised reward, but an Easter Bunny? What do I find so weird?

First of all, the bunny lays eggs, yes, lays them, a trait not found in the rest of the species. (It is possible that the bunny only decorates and hides the eggs; but that would make him crafty, and strange.)

Secondly, while bunnies are, admittedly, very cute and even often seen in the spring time, they have very little to do with Easter. It could be the Easter Ground Hog for that matter.

I cannot think of any reason why an Easter Bunny would be appropriate for the season, can you? If you can, let me know.

Want more intellectual questions? Try these:

What's inside the Caramilk Bar?
The Chicken or the Egg?"
Knights of England
Men and Sports

Comics: all the ones you love!

uComics -- Comics, Editorial Cartoons, Email Comics, Web Comics
I just found a great site. This one has all the cartoons from the newspapers that I grew up reading, like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Doonesbury (although, honestly, I never did understand that one), For Better or For Worse, B.C. and Foxtrot, to name just a few. So check it out if you are in need of a giggle. If you happen to know of more sites feel free to post a comment.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Architect's Tower: Part 4

Antoni felt the world crash in on itself. As he paused Beatriz rushed on, “They always say terrible things. I don’t know why I listened this time, forgive me, Antoni. When you first left they talked, they said, 'Antoni has lost his faith', 'Antoni lives life and does not care', but I knew in my heart that you cared. Even when they talked about the women …” She paused, “There were always women more … suited. But when the priest came last week, I couldn’t ignore it. He said you were 'a poet who had forgotten the words. You make the form but it is empty. You risk making it void.' I know that I am the least of your cares, but still, you are alone now, and you must know I have always cared.”

Antoni could hardly look up. His head swirled with all the things she said, people and places. Terrible moments he had forgotten made frantic entrances and piercing exits in his mind. It was true. He couldn’t dream of asking forgiveness now. Most of the people were dead, the rest had forgotten. Surely God would do the same. “I know, please, let me explain…” he mumbled, not even knowing how he would begin. “I should have returned home to see you. There are many mistakes that I would undo. Beatriz, you do not understand the politics here. It does not matter so much your belief, it matters the things you do. The amends you make. You ask the priests. Did you know there is no such thing as purgatory?” Gaudi laughed, “You should read the church history. There are lots of things the priests don’t tell.”

“Purgatory or no, amends or no, there is hell. You know that.”

“What hell could there be that you or I do not already know Beatriz? What God could be that cruel?”

Beatriz sighed, “There is sin, Antoni, you and I and the entire world together make life as cruel as it is.”

“But a God that allows it…”

“No Antoni!” exclaimed Beatriz, “Can you honestly say you obeyed and it turned out wrong?” she began to cry, and looked away. “Antoni, if you do not go to the priest. If you do not confess…”

“Then who would care? I have left beautiful things for people to look at, a cathedral for God to be glorified. God will see what I’ve done and let me into heaven.”

Beatriz didn’t even look up,“… when you left I was happy for you, Antoni. You had such dreams, such visions. They were gifts, to the world, to you. I was so certain you were would be alright, that we would meet again in heaven. It didn’t matter what you did, that you never visited, because I would see you again in heaven and everything would be right. In heaven I would not be this … woman. I would not have this past, this present, only perfection and forgiveness. Even when you had your women and fine clothes, even Carmita, Fransesc’s wife whom everyone knew was your lover; even then I believed it must be a mistake. You would not have forgotten. You would have confessed. There would be some reason, some mistake made by the person telling the story. Now, I question if you should have ever left. All this ... all these beautiful things you have made will be nothing, Antoni, nothing if what they say is true.” She finally looked at Antoni, with fear. “You can not excuse the things you’ve done. You cannot blame the priests for their lives. Each man must answer Antoni!”

“What about you Beatriz? Have you been happy? Have you dared to confess? I know about your past. I know what you have done.”

“It is not about me.”

“You Beatriz, who have lived your life in fear, never wanting anything for yourself, never daring to do anything, how would you begin to understand? You are not so perfect. You have lied, cheated. You even allowed yourself to go down to the barn where the boys met. I know. You dare to tear at me!”

“Antoni! I, I don’t know how you can throw that in my face!”

“Beatriz, you throw hell in mine.”

Beatriz set her chin firmly against the tears. “There are many, many things between my God and me. Heaven knows. The priest knows. You know too, Antoni. There were no secrets between you and me. There is no excuse, I know that, but I know there is forgiveness too. I only came because I thought…Antoni, your family is gone. I fear I am all that is left who will talk to you. If what they say is true...I will never see you again.”

“You do not know me, Beatriz. You don’t understand a single thing.”

“I know you Antoni.” She said in a small voice. “I know when you are scared.” She got up from her chair and took his hand. He struggled to get free of her grasp but her grip was as strong and she would not let go. She pried open his hand and held it. “Antoni, please. If you wish to be rid of me, fine, but please, Antoni, remember.” Beatriz let go of his hand and walked slowly out of the shop, alone.

Miss a chapter? Here they are:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

First let me say that I’m terribly sorry. The Wednesday story will have to wait until tomorrow.

I’m not too good at excuses; in fact I’m really bad at them. I’m even worse at lying … not that I haven’t tried, frequently. I was always the kid saying “I didn’t eat the chocolate cake,” with chocolate smeared up to my ears. How did I not feel it? I don’t know. Ignorance, in that case, was true bliss.

Well, what’s my excuse? My basement flooded. No, I’m not kidding. Here in the far, far north, spring is just beginning to poke her sleepy little head through the snow. Unfortunately, she became enamored of our sewage line on the way through.

Tonight was Easter Bonnet night. Earlier today I was rescued from solidifying my reputation at my daughter’s school (see: Mortgaging my Brain) by my dear friend who reminded me that tomorrow was Easter Parade Day. She also brought me her glue gun, and a bunch of Easter Eggs, a sure sign that she knew I would forget again, which of course, was absolutely certain. So, all the other tasks that I had in line for the evening, like, basking in the glow of my children’s adoration had to wait. Tonight was Easter Bonnet night.

I was walking down the basement hall with craft stuff for making the aforesaid Easter Bonnet, when I heard a swooshing sound. The thought running through my head, I’m not lying, was “boy, it sounds like my pockets are full of water.” I might have even checked. When, you might ask, was the last time that my pockets were full of water? I can’t say it has ever happened, but it is possible. Of course, that was a completely illogical thought and I quickly put it out of my mind. Notice I did not even check if there was water on, oh, let us say … the floor. My husband came downstairs about twenty minutes into the bonnet making and immediately exclaimed “Oh no! There’s water everywhere!” There was! The water started in my office and went, gasp, all the way to the toys and laundry area. You can just imagine the chaos. Would I have to wash and dry our clothes the ‘au natural’ way? Should I market my experience to reality TV? “Pioneers of the North: Watch as a modern house wife raises four children in the wild. No running water, no electricity, no laundry facilities, woman against the elements in one final battle.” I’ll keep you posted.

Truth be told, there were a few tense moments but it looks like the insurance will come through. So now we have to live all smushed together for a few weeks, which should make life interesting, but not truly bad.

Oh look. In the time that I have taken to write my excuse I could have proofed the whole segment! The time police will be after me for sure. So, please, wait until tomorrow. I’m in hiding. And as I’ve said I’m bad at excuses.

The Williamson Playboys

These guys have been been a major force in the music industry for more than a century. The father and son duo, Rufus and Cecil Jr., invented Cajun, Blues, Jazz, Electronica, to name just a few musical styles, but have always managed end up ripped off and uncredited.

Just try to picture this: Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" was originally written for Archduke Ferdinand (whose assasination started the first World War!) It was also played on tuba and ukulele.

Incredible? Hard to Believe? Try just plain funny! This group is the brain child of two former Second City Mainstagers, featuring their sharp wit and crazy blend of musical styles, all played with instruments you would never dream of putting together ... in a pop song. I was lucky enough to catch their show while in Toronto and I picked up their CD. Here's a run down of some of my favorite songs:

(a tribute song. "We came down on the wrong side of that story." says Rufus.)

Candle in the Wind
(We barely knew the Archduke, we'll miss his fashion sense.)

(a radio ditty exemplifying the virtues of a product that you can eat ... and also run your car on!)

I love the CD but, even though the kids will love the sound, it does have small amounts of swearing, so don't just stick it in the car like I did. Bad Mommy. Check out their video in the section listed "clips". If you enjoy The Williamson Playboys join me in encouraging them to "put a few more clips on their site!"

The Williamson Playboys

Monday, April 10, 2006

Playing with People: The Elevator

Why just stand in an elevator when you can play with people’s minds?

When you walk into an elevator do not turn to face the doors. After all, there is no rule that you must face the only exit. Just common sense, and who needs that all the time? Instead, stay facing the back of the elevator and let the hilarity ensue.

Enjoy this post? Try these:
Playing With People:The explaination
PWP:The Guest Book

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: The Gospel of Judas

Judas is a hot dude these days. He even has his own gospel. Just take a look at other blogs, and the search keyword lists to see that a lot of people are talking and thinking about this. Check out this blog that I found while surfing yesterday as an example: boogala

So exactly what is this Gospel of Judas?
You can check these sources:
The Coptic Ps.Gospel of Judas: includes synopsis of text in English, Prof. Hans Van Oort’s opinion of the validity of the text, and a listing of the major news articles

Early Christian Writings: This is a scholarly run down of what is currently known
Hypotyposeis: gives a bit of the history of this “finding” including the fact that he posted on this very topic and document last year. A conspiracy that was not hidden? Now that’s new.
National Geographic:
Gives a teaser for their up coming special on the “Gospel of Judas”

This, finally, brings me to my Sunday Intellectual Question:

What do we consider to be our standard for evaluating the validity or truth of our sources?

In my high school history class we talked a lot about having a “primary source” to base our information on. This source could be a person who was at the event, or an original text (not comments upon or synopsis of the text). Of course, this can not be the end of our trust. Just because I was there or wrote something a long time ago doesn’t make what I say or write true. We need to evaluate source against source. Here’s some useful ways to evaluate:

1. Are there more than one “primary source”? If so does this account fit with the majority of those sources? If not, what about it does not fit?

2. Are there “hostile” primary sources available? (People of that time period who have no interest in forwarding the agenda of their “foes”) What do they say about the document? Do they praise it because the text is a clever invention of friends or are they startled that the majority are buying a lie? Do they give clues, even in their opposition, to the fact that the document may be valid or invalid? Is there a “united front” against the majority or do they give different reasons or stories than the people with which they are aligned.

3. Writing style, ‘paper’ used, knowledge of life and death of the author. Could the ‘supposed author’ have written the text? Is the writing and ‘paper’ in line with the time it was possible to have been written in? Keep in mind that Carbon Dating is only so accurate. It cannot, to my knowledge, get within a few hundred years accurately.

Pease join in with your comments and ideas or even extra links to this hot topic.

If you liked this post you may like:

Finding Sources
Can We Know All Things?
Religion and Politics

Friday, April 07, 2006

Mortgaging My Brain

I have written previously that lab rats have proven, scientifically, and with the help of scientists, that females loose brain cells by the litter.  See:  Make Self Smartness  
I am pleased to announce (“Thank you, thank you, no need for applause!”) I have now fallen to a new low in brain cell output. I have forgotten my name. No, not a password, or a nickname or even the obscure inane thing my brother called me when he was two, but my real, honest to goodness, name. Heaven help me!

Last weekend while shopping at my daughter’s school yard sale I picked up what I thought was a fabulous find, the seat cushion for a stroller.  

Perhaps you are thinking, “What an odd duck.” And if you are, you would be particularly tickled to know that at 19 I brought home a rusted, holey wheelbarrow, which I had the odd notion of “sprucing up” to carry props for street theatre, props, which would inevitably include a rubber chicken. True, while chickens are in no way water fowl, they are of course, birds, which should precisely prove my point.  Ducks do not have large brains and should not, under any circumstances, be used in laboratory studies.

Back to the cushion: You see, while my wheelbarrow was merely misguided optimism, the cushion had a very real purpose: to cover the peeling seat of our second hand double stroller, which I love dearly, though not as much as chocolate, or ice cream.  An ordinary person would perhaps have questioned the fact that the cushion appeared to be stroller less, cast adrift on the stormy seas of life to make its wheel free way in the world alone, but I was happy in my fortune and quickly scurried to the check out before anyone else with a peeling stroller seat could catch wind of my find.  

Alas, it was not to be. The bright eyed lady behind the counter quickly pointed out, “Are you taking the stroller too?”
“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t see a stroller.”  

She looked at me oddly, with pity in her eyes. I bet she could tell that my eyes weren’t fully open under the glare of the florescent lights. “If the stroller doesn’t sell, do you want me to take your name and we’ll sell you the cushion?”

Bewildered, I nodded.
“So,” she said, “what’s your name?”

“Say something!” said my brain to my mouth.
“What do you mean, ‘something’” said my mouth, “You’re the smart one. I just move the muscles.”
“Then stall, stall for time.”
“What? I don’t know how! What do you want me to do? Dance? What’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t know!” came the frantic reply, “I just can’t seem to remember anything! Keep her distracted while I shut down and reboot.”

This is why I stared blankly in her direction, “Um, just a second.”

She started to laugh, “You can’t remember you name?”

“No, I can, I can … its Cara.”

“Wait a sec,” she said, “are you the lady with the twins?”

“Uh, huh.”

“And are those your other two yours as well.”

“Yes,” I said vaguely.

“Well, no wonder you can’t remember your name.”

Rats, you can be assured of your usefulness. She, obviously, read that study too.

Enjoyed this post? Try:
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Beauty Tips From Construction Guys
Parenting Olympics:Winter

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

An Architect's Tower: Part Three

Antoni’s heart beat fast as he steered Beatriz to his regular table. The coffee shop was hardly more than a hole in the wall, with a few rickety tables and chairs placed outside, but Antoni liked it. It was secluded and had a nice view of the park. He enjoyed the peaceful view most days, but today, even though Antoni could hardly look at Beatriz as she walked beside him, he could think of nothing else but her. It was all such a mess, a mistake even. Why should he have to deal with complicated feelings he was certain time had erased? It would be rude to leave but every muscle in his body was tensed to run at any moment. That’s why he hated caring, too much stress for old age.

What could Beatriz mean? Could it be that after all these years she was in love with him? He never imagined that she could be. He had never even considered the possibility. He had always put his eye on the society ladies, and in his younger years, recklessly pursued many … after fame and fortune had aided him on his way. And yet, buried in his heart there was the certainty that she was more suited to him than all of those girls could have ever been. She understood him. At least she did once. He paused as she lowered herself gingerly down onto the bistro chair. He should have pulled it out. There were a lot of ‘should haves’.

A woman brought two coffees and set them unceremoniously down on the table. Beatriz sighed and gazed into hers, the spoon she stirred with shook in her hand.“Do you remember much about the days in the country?”

He paused again. What would he say to her? Antoni’s mouth opened on its own and the strangest thing popped out. He hated when that happened. “I remember this little toad. He always sat inside the curve of a broken pail, by the gate at Domingo’s house.”

Beatriz burst out laughing, “The emperor! I remember. His pail is still there, barely sticking out of the dirt, no one else knows it’s there, but I can see it!”

“I can’t believe I said that! That is the strangest thing to remember.”

“Not really,” she laughed, “You always had such keen eyes. Good for art, good for buildings.”

Antoni laughed now too. “I used him on a building you know. Abstract. I really should take you, it was a joke but of course no one got it. You would appreciate the sight. I had a good laugh thinking of him squatting on the rooftop of this grand city house, looking always from his hole.”

“Another time perhaps.” Beatriz shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“Yes, another time.” His laughter slowly faded.

“I remember,” this time her voice drifted away, snagged barely by his ears before the roar of the traffic, “I remember how you used to help me pick the shells, down by the water in the morning, out in the roughs by noon. The snails, they were so hard to reach, you helped a lot.” She looked smaller somehow as she played nervously with her spoon, rubbing her finger along the length of it.

“I didn’t mind.” Part of him wanted to hold her fingers still, to make everything that had passed before right; the other part was wishing he was miles away far from his churning stomach. How could he begin to make up for things he should have done? He couldn’t go back.

“Do you remember how we talked?”

Antoni could only nod.

“We talked of so many things: of form and beauty, of life, of death. Of things that were important.”

“We did. Everything seemed so clear then.” He smiled and waved his finger at her, “except a few times when you set me straight. Do you remember the argument we had over the communion of Saints? I thought they were talking about the pictures on the walls all getting together for communions, at night, while no one was looking. You had to explain to me that the priest was talking about how we commune with all the faithful at the sacrament. How very silly!”

“Yes, how very silly.” She smiled but looked away. “Antoni …” She looked so sad, the spoon trembling in her fingers, knocking against the table in an odd syncopation. “I am afraid to ask, afraid that what other people have said will come true, but forgive me, I must know. It is a great honor, to build a cathedral, Antoni.”

“Yes. Yes. I was lucky to be chosen.”

“A great thing … a great and frightening thing.”

“What do you mean, Beatriz?”

Beatriz sighed again and bit her lip. “They are talking about you Antoni.” She reached across the table and held his hand firmly, tears in her eyes. “They say you build the cathedral but you do not believe in God. They say … they say … you will not even visit purgatory. They say you will go to hell.”

Miss a chapter? Here they are:
Part 1
Part 2

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cranium | Club Cranium

I love games. The best one I have found, so far, is Cranium. Ususally when you play games one person is great at trivia, another pictionary, someone else charades, and as a result no one is happy with the game you end up playing. This game, and all of the Cranium series, is designed to let everyone shine. Their kids games are stellar. My kids love their preschool game and ask to play it a lot. I am getting to my actual topic here ... I promise!

The Cranium site has all kinds of fun fantastic ideas for things to do with your family and friends. The fun is not just for kids. You have to join the club, but it is free. Check out their Crazy Cleaning Tips in the fun ideas articles. I never thought I would say this but cleaning could actually be fun! They also have downloads, games and "Make your own Cranium cards" for parties (Baby showers, Office parties, you name it.)

Cranium | Club Cranium

Monday, April 03, 2006

Playing with People

Notes On: Playing With People

Ah, the things I like to do. I love jokes, fun and pranks. My parents had great friends who always loved playing jokes on each other. Their parties were always a lot of fun and I often went to sleep to the sounds of people laughing at the silly things that were going on. Of course, to me, the prank or fun isn’t really fun unless everyone gets a kick out of it, including the pranked-on, so I’ll try to keep any suggestions within those parameters. I’ll also try to post ideas as often as I can. Go on, have a little fun with your life! Try some of these fun things, or just imagine yourself doing it. It will bring a smile to your face!

Playing With People: The Guest Book

Etiquette says: A good host or hostess should provide a guest book by the front door.

Here’s my suggestion:
Indeed! Get a guest book! Beside it have a box of silly glasses, hats and signs. As each guest walks in the door insist that they choose one to put on. Guests could be anyone that steps inside the door, Fed Ex Delivery Person, your kid’s school friends, important politicians on the campaign trail … you get the idea. Take a picture for posterity. Place in guest book.

Preschooler Play sites

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it ... lots ... but I have four kids age four and under. I thought I would post a few sites that they like to play with. I found that there is a big difference between "preschool" sites they can play with and ones that they enjoy but I have to play. I'l try to list the sites virtues and detractions.
My kids love this site and it is a big favorite of mine too. The preschool section is easy for the kids to manipulate and challenging enough that they like to do it again and again. In the play section they can help dress Poko's dog for the seasons by doing connect the dots, help Granny make a sandwhich or build a dog house by remembering what she asked for (we'll have to try to play that one in our kitchen!), or play with Lunar Jim as he rescues space aliens and collects moon rocks. My kids also like the section called "Sticker Park" where they place animal "stickers" in a scene and the narrator describes the animal.

Scholatic Books

The kids really enjoy this one, but it is not totally kid user friendly. I usually have to explain how to play the game and basically help them point and click in the right order. The following portions though are not too hard for them to learn:
In the Clifford the Big Red Dog section, I spy, Peek-boo-puppy
Match Animal Underwear
Sort with Flo and Zo

The Wiggles

My kids love the Wiggles. Love, love, love them. Their site has lots of songs, merchandise,and a few games aimed at the preschool kiddies. I find that I have to read, explain, then play the games for them. They enjoy it but it does take away the learning aspect from them.

Nick Jr.

This site has all the cartoons that my kids like, the Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and Blues Clues. They have nice printables and craft ideas as well as games but I have found that the games are either so simple that they are virtually pointless or so difficult I can hardly do it. Yes, I can count to 10 and I do know my ABCs, but I must admit I can hardly catch the stars on Dora's Star Catching Game. This of course illicits cries of "Come on Mommy, you can do it!" and shame at the fact that I cannot complete a preschoolers game! Sigh.

Robert Munsch

What a great site. Robert Munsch seems like a genuinely nice man who really loves his fans as much as they love him. His site has photos, books and even free downloadable stories ... this alone has kept my four year old happy for hours. God bless you Mr.Munsch.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: Men and Sports

What is the attraction between men and sports?

Admittedly, there are some guys out there who would rather watch foreign films than a weekend of football, but most of the guys I know would love to have a room of their own, snacks, comfy chairs and a TV screen … sports 24/7.

I can understand playing sports, but watching sports for hours on end? The men I know watch sports with something I can only describe as intensity. The world and everyone in it could be racing around them, these guys stare at the screen, shouting, muscles ready to spring into action, as though, if they moved from their divot on the couch, the score would magically change and their team/player would lose! Quite frankly this attachment boggles my mind. Do guys fantasize that they will be called ‘off the bench’ at a moments notice? Or could it be the same kind of love lavished on live sports in the past? Just what attraction does it hold?

Ladies, any ideas? Guys, give me a hand. What is it about sports on TV that you love so much?

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