You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2009.

I turned over 200,000 miles in my 1995 Nissan Maxima this week. I take a small amount of pride in that.

Be that as it may, and even though I love being an unofficial member of the Junky Car Club, I’m looking forward to getting a car that doesn’t pretend it’s not going to start each morning.

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In the absence of a better memory, I must often rely on mnemonics to prompt myself. On a related note, I am never more frustrated with myself than I am when I forget to pray for someone. Often, when I say “I’ll pray for you,” I stop what I’m doing at that moment and pray about the situation. Nevertheless, I hate when I run into the person two weeks later and realize that was the only time I thought to pray for her.

Thus, the prayer mnemonic. I think of something I do regularly (but not so regularly it’s routine and therefore invisible to me) and apply a specific prayer to it. I was first introduced to the idea when my sweet husband was looking for a job several years ago and a friend of ours promised to pray for us every time he spent cash. I thought it was a terrific idea and it’s been useful ever since. For a friend who recently suffered a miscarriage, I’m vowing to pray for her every time I see a baby. For someone who’s sick or has a sick relative, I pray every morning when I take my vitamins.

Look at this.

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Click on it and look at it bigger.

The yellow ball is the sun. The two specks in the bottom left quadrant are the space shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Telescope. They were in front of the sun for 0.8 seconds and this guy snapped it. Unbelievable photograph.

See more of this guy’s work here. I want to be friends with him.

Inspired by a tasty dinner prepared in Jon & Amanda‘s kitchen and the ensuing conversation. Thanks, friends.

My favorite gadgets I don’t own yet:

  • Pasta extruder (the aforementioned)
  • Burr grinder (if I could find one that was reasonably priced and smaller than a breadbox)
  • Citrus juicer (I’m tired of picking out the seeds)

If you watch the NASA channel as intently as I do, you know that the shuttle Atlantis is about to dock with the Hubble telescope. The astronauts are making final repairs on Hubble that will allow it to function for a few more years, after which point it will fall out of orbit and most likely burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.

Spend some time on the Hubble image gallery. Sure, the colors are digitally enhanced, but it’s just beautiful.

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wedding3On Sunday, my best friend and I celebrated the sixth anniversary of our marriage. As someone told me the other day, “That’s close to ten!” Indeed.

I’m still kind of amazed that after six years of marriage and more than eight years of being his friend, I don’t get tired of Mike Nelson. Ever. The more I know him, the more I want to know him.

First, the bad news.

As announced last week, my friend Ben Arment is leaving Catalyst to pursue something God has been working in him for several years. I give him a load of credit for his courage and for his commitment to do what’s best for his family.story_screenshot

The good news is that a first-of-its-kind event, Story, is the product of his brain and will be held in Chicago on Wednesday, October 28. Don Miller, Nancy Beach, Mike Foster, Chris Seay, and several others will be speaking, and I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The idea is to gather pastors, teachers, writers, artists, and all those who tell the story of the Gospel.

Visit the Story website to learn more and to register (and to explore a very cool site). You can also register to win a trip to C.S. Lewis’ home in Oxford, England. Yes, please.

Even in manners. Just one more thing from The Rituals of Dinner

“In many cultures, two people do not feel they can talk in a friendly way with each other unless they have first eaten together … A corresponding attitude is that which makes it impossible for a desert Arab who has once eaten salt with a man ever to treat him thereafter as an enemy. It is as though reconciliation must never be needed,  because it has taken place already; enmity has been overcome in advance.”

I’ve been known to pick up an eclectic assortment of library books.

ritualsExhibit A:
The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners by Margaret Visser

What I’ve learned:
“The Latin word for a hearth or fireplace is focus. [Sorry for not learning that in 10th grade, Mrs. Sullivan.] … The French word for  a household is a foyer, literally, a ‘hearth.'”

“[In many cultures, both ancient and modern,] if a woman decides to stop cooking for her man, or if he refuses to be fed by her or insists on cooking for himself, the breakdown is an outward signal of a serious failure in their relationship … In Assam, south of Tibet, if a family member is furious enough to refrain from eating with the household for a whole twenty-four hours, the dissension is extremely grave. If he then decides to cook separately, he is taking an irreversible step; it must be followed by his building a new house and by a splitting up of lands and property. This is a terrible rite of rejection called ‘the throwing away of the cooking pots.'”

“In some African societies … [the husband’s] avoiding the food in any particular wife’s dish is a deep insult, ritually suggesting that he suspects her of trying to poison him.”

On Saturday, Mike and I took a class at Whole Foods on grilling beef. Highly recommend it. A few things I learned:

  • E. coli is the most commonly-found bacteria in beef, but it only grows in the cow’s intestinal tract. When beef is processed industrially (read: 400 cows an hour for 16 hours a day), the chances of puncturing the intestines are pretty high. When processed on smaller farms at a slower rate, the chances are almost negligible, making it far safer to eat rare beef.
  • Assuming you’re eating beef that’s been handled well, much more raresteakflavor is retained when it’s served rare. Next time you cook beef, try eating it one notch rarer than you normally do. Close your eyes if you have to, but it will be much tastier.
  • Beef should be thawed and brought to room temperature before cooking. This allows the meat to cook evenly, keeping you from having a raw center and charred outside. Do not skip this step. It’s that important.
  • I kind of thought the draw of “free range” beef and poultry was just the touchy-feely aspect of happier chickens and cows. Not so. Free-range animals, as the name suggests, move around a lot more than industrially-raised animals in pens, which means they use their muscles, which develops flavor in the final product. It also means they’re leaner since they don’t stand in once place all day.