t plus 49 years: anniversary observed in absentia

The tenth of October rarely carried the import while the parties were both still around. Tom and Ann (John’s dad and mom) usually celebrated quietly their lengthening partnership. Today we salute them for their steadfastness through the years.

Because of their security in the love of Jesus, neither is finally lost to us, nor to each other. Their love for each other continues to inspire the next generation. – j


two dumb things done

I’m sure there are more others could kindly point out, but two stand out from recent history.

The first came after gladly consuming leftovers from a Mexican restaurant Dy added to my lunch, including part of a roasted jalapeño I sliced barehanded. A little later, while consulting with a teammate, I noticed a speck of matter in my left eye’s tear duct and lightly disposed of it.

“Hello!” said my left eye, reacting to the jalapeño residue on my finger. After a trip to the bathroom, much water and soap, and tears through tight squints, both eyes recovered nicely and I returned to my work area to explain my sudden dash down the hall.

If the stinging heat is caused by oxalic acid, it’s also used as a wood bleach, marble polish and rust stain remover – came up in my recent search for deck stain solutions. It reportedly forms needle-like crystals in water, so some sort of cream or doughy bread might have brought faster relief before making matters worse. A few years ago, Dy suffered for hours after cutting up a jalapeño; now she holds any such pepper with her hand inside a baggie.

The second? As A.J. and I scouted the berry patches at Elver Park yesterday morning, my left foot found a rut in a gravel section of trail I wasn’t watching. I collapsed on a twisted ankle, giving A.J. a bit of a scare, but he calmly helped me back up and down the trail to the van. (Good thing we’d driven over with cans to get mulch from the other end of the parking lot, but even if we’d biked it wouldn’t have been too difficult to find someone with a phone.) Skipping the mulch to make the short drive home, I was glad it wasn’t my right ankle, which I injured similarly late in high school.

Tee and Dy joined us for the trip to prompt care, where the care really was prompt. We had our books along in case it wasn’t; Tee read us most of “Cow Dung Custard” from Unreal!, and Dy read their lunch book, The Wednesday Wars. The RN, x-ray technician and doctor were efficient and engaging. A.J. got to “help” wrap the temporary splint, motivated by a “10% discount.” (Arey was painting faces with friends across town.)

Turns out the three outer ankle ligaments were kind enough not to tear in the twist, but they did break a bit of the small bone to which they attach on the lower end. If I take proper care of it and healing is granted, this misstep shouldn’t threaten our planned travels later in the summer. In the meantime, it’s quite the nuisance and frequent pain. Determined not to complain – j

loss of a brother-in-law

Ronald L. Finnerty, Jr. passed away on Friday 6/20 after complications from heart surgery 6/3. His wife, my sister Ruth, reached the wise and brave decision to remove him from life support, in keeping with his expressed wishes. After about an hour and a half on his own – but not alone – he breathed his last. Lord. have mercy on his soul. Prayer for Ruth is especially appreciated as she deals with this latest and greatest loss.

Friday morning I shared with some coworkers before we prayed:

Ronnie’s a self-described redneck who likes his rock-n-roll loud and long. He’s loved and stuck with Ruth for over a decade through many taxing difficulties. Despite our many differences, Ronnie and I have developed some significant rapport over the past year; the friendly and serious chats outnumbered the more difficult conversations. Hard work has won “Big Ron” the respect of his workmates, whether from the seat of an excavator or down in the ditch.

An avid reader, Ronnie had picked up the capacity to laugh even at himself. So I think he would have enjoyed some of my other (otherwise totally unrelated) post for today. He is missed by a good number of folk, including us. – j

spoonerism mania = moonerism spania (and gracious suffering)

Our lives recently seem to have been punctuated by trips to visit family members – well, ailing or worse. Back to that in a moment.

Besides reading our own books and reading one of them aloud, one of the ways we occasionally entertain ourselves is with spoonerisms. I’ve accumulated a small collection from other sources, but sometimes the homegrown variety are the funniest. (We’re still trying to remember Dy’s most recent contribution to the art.) On a van ride earlier this year, we spent over an hour sampling spoonerized fairy tales. A fellow staff member, Mark S., picked up a couple of these while hosting a foreign worker years ago, and shared with our kids – among many others, with similar uproarious results – about the time “Rindercella slopped her dripper.”

Were it not for another family medical crisis unfolding in Florida, along with other factors, at least one of us would be on the road as planned in Indiana this weekend. What was to be a celebration of God’s ongoing work among the colleges and universities there was appropriately postponed as one of the honorees approached death quite painfully. Yesterday her obituary appeared (as I was attempting to write my own as an exercise following chapter 1 of Waters from a Deep Well). It tells just a little of JoAnn’s amazing life and influence, and only hints at the excruciating end. Only a believer in the resurrection guaranteed by Jesus’ own resurrection could be both honest about the pain and solidly hopeful of the ultimate cure. That cure comes (at the latest) with the repacement and restoration of our planet (at least), and our re-creator will not lose us between now and then. Christ-following martyrs most pointedly share such confidence, openly and graciously affirming that “Jesus is Lord” in the face of Roman imperialism gone mad – and many other wanna-be-gods since. You can meet more of them in Jerry Sitser’s latest book.

Meanwhile, it looks like the situation in Florida is headed toward court, against our better judgement. [As usual, the most interesting comments are probably best left offline in my journal.] Suffice it to say: My Florida brother-in-law has survived heart surgery with complications on June 3rd – against all odds – but with few signs since of consciousness and additional difficulties. His wife, my sister, after enduring with us repeated loss recently, would stave off another, whatever the expressed wishes of the other sufferer. On such issues, we “deg to biffer” (to quote Dy out of context). We continue to ask for a miraculous recovery for one or both. Knowing such boons are an overflow of the next age overlapping with this one for a while yet…

Did I mention Dy and I yesterday passed the 21-year mark of marriage? It’s true, and good. – j

No monopoly on generosity

Just wrapped up a two-day game of the classic American game Monopoly with Tee and A.J. – they were back at it this morning before I rose, even purchasing a property for me they knew I’d want. They learned a little about investing for the future (“I’m not buying Boardwalk – it’s $400!” – to quote A.J. early on) and I got the satisfaction of garnering over $9000 after giving away at least half that sum in discounted rents and “keep the change” overpayments. We ended on friendly terms with the promise of a rematch soon.

All this in spite of Dy’s and Arey’s refusal to play me this game over past alleged misconduct…which we won’t go into detail about here. (Hey, they can post too.) It was most rewarding to watch A.J. and Tee bail each other out – and even extend mercy to me on occasion. The faster-and-faster pace of the play rate and transactions reminded me of the “rat race” I’m so glad to have avoided in the day job. What a luxury to be able to sink a few hours together into a simulation with bearings on real life – without any danger of addiction.

As was mentioned this morning from the pulpit, inevitably the game ends and everything goes back in the box. Even the players themselves are ultimately liable to that rule. Good reason to exercise generosity that sustains futures and freedom. – j

The meaning of a (dot)name

In response to a commenter’s question, jdata stands for our household’s initials.

The dot-com sounding acronym was created when registering a license plate a couple of states ago, soon after the birth of our youngest member. Illinois allows free customization as long as you include a number, so we came up with JDATA 5 – and it stuck for a while. Other states are not so generous, we’ve discovered.

It also turns out to be a simple way to somewhat anonymize ourselves on the wooly, wild web. (That’s what www stands for, right?) And it’s much easier for others to remember and spell than our last name! (We’re all used to it, finally.)

Maybe we should say this at jdata.name too. – j

confessions of a TVaholic

The fellow who installed our broadband a few weeks ago was only momentarily incredulous. I was shadowing him since I’ve never witnessed a DSL install, and due to some non-standard telephone wiring we inherited with the home…which I will do no more than mention.

In the middle of narrating his progress, he noticed the satellite antenna near the middle of our back yard. His company handles that service too, he allowed. I wondered aloud if there’s a market for the used hardware, since we don’t have a TV.

“Internet but no TV?” he queried, understandably puzzled.

Sheepishly I admitted, “Yep, I’m a media addict. I wouldn’t be able to ingore the audio and visuals enough to give attention to those who live here. We get what we need from the radio or the web.”

“Well, you don’t miss much.” After days full of troubleshooting by phone or wire-to-wire, he unplugs on the way in the door: no phone, no TV for a good while. I think my teammates who cover helpdesk can definitely understand that impulse.

More recently, the Olympics tested out reliance on the web for multimedia. Sometimes in the past we’ve borrowed a TV to catch more of the action. (One mid-90s ad has borne extensive repetition: “Are you gonna eat the pickle?”) Instead, we huddled around the PC several evenings after supper to catch the previous days’ events in summary or some detail. The figure skating and snowboard cross jumps were a little extra jumpy, but we made it.

For similar reasons to my TVaholism, we still managed to avoid adding a cell phone (or two) to our household. It’s not just that we’re cheap – though that’s part of it. Broadband bundled with local phone service can be insanely inexpensive. A cut-rate cardless long distance “card” keeps us connected to friends and family as long as they ignore the caller ID readout from New York. That’s before even exploring VoIP.

It’s that we know our weaknesses. Mine isn’t the urge to gab…I’ll let you guess who saw the wisdom of not setting us up for more than we needed in wireless telecom.

So we won’t be posting about favorite TV shows, and we feel fairly ignorant of most of those we’ve heard about through the past decade or more. Not sure all the resulting space in our brains has been occupied with everything most worthwhile, but it is interesting to observe (and sometimes intervene) the pull each of us experiences toward the books from which we’ve learned so much about what really matters.

Going to read something more worthwhile, and hoping you get to do the same – j

back online, and in "Mad City"

Where did the last week (and a half) go? Somewhere in there was the final packing; great help loading and unloading on both ends of the drive south; learning our way around town and services, offices and schools; and lots of emptying of boxes and breaking them down for recycling. Everyone’s rooms and the shared areas of the house are taking shape, tho without pictures on the walls. (I decorated my cubicle slapdash in anticipation of A.’s redecoration.) DSL took off last night after a little extra help, thus this entry and the updated location for our homepage.

Theres’s too much to try to do justice to it all like this, but we are glad to be getting situated, exploring new classrooms and churches, meeting neighbors and coworkers, learning the shape of life and work in this new stage of venturing under the mercy. A good kind of tired – j