Friday, December 30, 2005

Humility is a picky squirrel

Well, it looks like I was wrong. Almost a week on, a carrot hangs untouched on our squirrel feeder, days after the corn has been picked clean. I thought I had it figured out: squirrels are rodents, so they must like carrots. Find me a rodent that doesn't like a carrot. Rats, rabbits, hamsters, raccoons (OK, not rodents, as it turns out, but kind of similar) - they can't get enough of the orangey, rooty goodness. But not squirrels.

And to think that I disparaged Hermanito Scott. He critiqued my squirrels-eat-carrots theory by noting the large number of cartoons that do not show squirrels eating carrots. Actually, I remain convinced that I was right to mock him, as using cartoons as a nature guide is ridiculous. All the same, the cartoons were right this time. (I should send a note to Acme Co., telling them not to drop their coyote-centric product line.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A babe lying in a manger

Our youth minister at Glen Mar, DC, had a great message for the kids this past Sunday. Well, it was meant for the kids, but I was moved by it, too, so with full credit to him for the theme, I summarize and share it with you. He led a discussion to make his point, while I'm trying to write the condensed version, but I hope that at least some of the message comes through.

In Luke's gospel (the Christmas story Linus recites), an angel tells the shepherds that "a babe lying in a manger" will be the sign for them of Christ's arrival. Why a baby? Why a manger? Yes, we know, there was no room at the inn, but surely God could have picked a time when there were vacancies, never mind a more dignified mode of arrival. But He did not, and not by chance. The great God of the universe did not come to mankind as a king, arriving with trumpets and heralds in a grand procession of power and glory because that's not why He was coming. He was coming to meet mankind in their darkness, in their dirt, when they were weak and lost. And so that's how He arrived: a weak, helpless baby, in a dark, smelly barn. (My apologies to any readers who are proud to have kept clean stables. You have to expect that barn out back of the Bethlehem Dewdrop Inn was probably not the finest in the land. And I don't care how clean your barn is, it's likely not where you would receive the king of all the world, if he came to visit.) We don't have to be dressed in our finest out on the high street to find God. When we are weak and we can't see, and our whole world seems like a dark, smelly place, Christ will meet us there. That is where He started His work on this earth.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Garrison Keillor is fascinating

Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion is not entertaining or amusing to me, but it is fascinating because it almost is. I never seek it out, but when I happen across it on the car radio, I always listen. Some shows, on TV or radio, are immediately and obviously not enojyable, so I quickly move on. But with Garrison I always get the feeling I'm on the cusp of enjoying it. It's like a barely foreign language: if I would just listen a little bit longer or cock my head just so, I would get it, and hours of NPR entertainment each week (and 30 jillion hours of archived delights) would be mine. But it never happens (or hasn't yet), and so I arrive at my destination confused and unsettled, a wheezy, twisting voice of middle America haunting my steps.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


USA Today had a good article for the 40th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". I had not realized that, at its 1965 debut, the show was considered risky and even flawed for many of the reasons that it was and remains exceptional. The jazz soundtrack, the extended reading from the Bible, the absence of a laugh track - it's easy to point to these kinds of differences today and say, "Boy, things were different back then." Well yes, they were different, but not on those counts. Perhaps anything truly excellent will always seem anachronistic.

Cool but wack

Rice scientists (spend eight years to) build world’s first nanocar