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kayak advice

I have recently been kayaking, and I love it! I love it so much, indeed, that I want to buy a tandem kayak or two one-person kayaks so my honey and I can go kayaking together often. We are not particularly interested in whitewater kayaking, but wants something that we could use for ocean touring as well as freshwater paddling about.

Dear Readers, do you have any advice for us with respect to kayak-shopping?

July 29, 2007 in Just for Fun, Life and Whatnot | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This morning, I've got "Potterburn," a skin condition that results from taking a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into the back yard on a fine day and reading it from start to finish. It's rather like an ordinary "farmer's tan," only with a telltale white patch on the throat where the shadow from my chin fell as I read.

How was the book? I'll avoid spoilers my comments here, and maybe say more at some future point (I do, for example, want to talk about Rowling's heavy borrowing from other sources, but I think that would be hard to do without serving up spoilers). Anne Rice often advances her books' plots by having characters tell their stories -- a device that allows her to cover events over decades or even hundreds of years, but with the drawback that one is frequently left with the impression that what vampires mostly do have days-long dinner parties where they talk about what it's like to be a vampire. J.K. Rowling has a lot of plot to get through and a lot of loose ends to tie up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and as a result relies more frequently than I'd like on characters talking about (or peering in a pensieve to see) what happened rather than on showing us what happens and revealing character in that way.

As for the ending, I much prefer Joss Whedon endings (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) to Rowling's, and I believe it's an apt comparison. Both the Harry Potter series and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series were at least partly about growing up, and both literalized metaphors to show us or remind us vividly of the struggles involved in that. But Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel kept very much in mind that as complicated as adolescence is to navigate, adulthood, marriage, parenting, and work and hardly a picnic, and also that much of the world's suffering comes not from a single great evil, but from countless more subtle compromises from and shortcomings of basically good people. I think that an ending for Harry Potter that showed that Harry and the rest were still having adventures and fighting evil would have been more satisfying that what Rowling gives us.

That said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was certainly an enjoyable read, and I'm really looking forward to talking about it -- especially about what it presents and doesn't present about good and evil -- with folks as they finish reading it. While I devoured many children's series in my childhood, I think Harry Potter is the first series of books I read as it came out, snapping each volume up on the day it was released and reading it from cover to cover in a day. I've enjoyed it a great deal, and am a bit sad it's over -- but hopeful that the series' wild commercial success will inspire publishers to find and release other series by even more skilled and imaginative writers.

July 23, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

10 least popular memory verses for Sunday school


People often view the bible as a book of inspirational sayings that will motivate people to live respectably. May this list contribute toward putting that view to rest! Youth group members: wow your parents by telling them that you've decided you'd like to memorize more from your bible, and then dazzle them with these:

  1. "You will vomit up the little you have eaten, and you will waste your pleasant words" (Proverbs 23:8).
  2. "Happy shall be they who take your little ones / and dash them against the rock!" (Psalm 137:9)
  3. "Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection" (James 4:9).
  4. "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).
  5. "... with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in both hands, and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death." (2 Maccabees 14:46 -- it's from the Apocrypha, but hey, that's useful for teaching, right?)
  6. "Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you" (James 5:1).
  7. "I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!" (Galatians 5:12)
  8. "They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken." (1 Kings 22:38)
  9. "If you are overstuffed with food, get up to vomit, and you will have relief" (Ecclesiasticus 31:21 -- another inspirational gem from the Apocrypha)
  10. "A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead." (Acts 20:9 -- and let that be a lesson to preachers who go on too long!)

You could even make some inspirational posters by taking a suitable photo, pairing it with one of these verses, and making use of this create-your-own-motivational-poster site. And yes, I live to serve.

July 5, 2007 in Churchiness, Just for Fun | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack