I just really need to know

I need a haircut sooo bad now, and while I was driving to the post office today, I had the near overwhelming desire to stop at a chop shop and get a buzz. I’m serious. I also keep thinking about cutting it myself, and making it super-punk. It would totally backfire, because I’m not punk. I would look even more geeky than I already do, but at least it would be funny.

and I will tell you it might have something to do with one of these two things:

1. For lunch, we had crackers with Boursin Garlic and Herb cheese, Fiber One granola bars (9 grams of fiber, due to freakish amounts of chicory root extract, which is, presumably, very high in fiber, but adds what Derek says is a very “burnt” flavor, which I cannot detect, and confectioner’s shellac, which apparently isn’t an oxymoron, since shellac is edible. I looked it up. It used to be thought that shellac was derived from grinding up the wings of certain beetles, but it’s really a secretion from the female beetle that makes the bark of the tree they live on a little more sticky, so it’s easier to walk on. But in the harvest process of scraping the trees, inevitably some beetles get tossed in too, so shellac isn’t vegetarian, and is definitely not vegan), and a Diet Pepsi. Are you still with me?

Or 2. I was up from 2:30 am to 3:30 am performing my absolute least favorite parenting duty: cleaning up spaghetti vomit from the boys’ bedroom rug while simultaneously encouraging (ordering) the perpetrator to remain in the bathroom with his face pointed at the toilet, to stop crying, whining and yelling, and to try (skip this part if you’re susceptible) to snort out the piece that got jammed into his nasal cavity, causing pain and excess nose running. Curiously, the stuff running out of his nose seemed to have a little more wheat bran than is usual. Also, the poor delinquent has a very developed gag reflex, which makes the whole snorting part precarious. In the end, there was a joyful exclamation, “It came out!” and he went to bed without further ado.

I was, for the first time, really, really grateful for the garbage disposal. I don’t use it often, because of the energy and large amount of water consumed and the fact that it mucks up the water systems (I can’t direct you to where I read this information, sorry, but this will tell you a little), but when you have a towel full of recycled spaghetti, and someone hovering over the toilet, and you just don’t want to stick your hands in there anyway, the kitchen sink with the pig works just fine.

In any case, the stomach pain has ceased, only to make way for a new and exciting headache. Which should have been preempted by the Diet Pepsi, but what can you do?

Here’s another informal poll,

If you could buy a new fridge today, and money was not an issue, which would you pick?

Keep in mind that top freezers are the most energy efficient, bottom freezers are convenient because the normal stuff is at eye level and you don’t have to bend over to get an apple or a carrot, and side-by side fridge-freezers require less opening space, since the doors are narrower, but you can’t put a frozen pizza in them.

Poll SurveyTake Our Poll

Dangit, this isn’t working. I’ll try to fix it.

Last night, we took the whole fam to view a house. Up to this point, I have been doing the house-hunting solo, using various internet searches to plan my attack, browsing neighborhoods, dragging friends and cousins along, and hitting open-houses. We don’t nave a realtor yet, nor a loan, but I’ve taken the approach that, since it’s very much a buyer’s market, there’s no rush.

A few weeks ago, I passed a house that I thought was cute. I made a note about it on my increasingly chaotic notes page, and drove on. The next week, I drove by again, and noticed from my car that the house looks vacant. So I got out and poked around. It’s a 1920’s bungalow, not unlike the fabulous house I grew up in. It sits on a double lot, so it actually has a yard, and not a 4×4 foot patch of weedy lawn. There’s an ordinance that prohibits the owner from building on the side yard, so it’s the same yard it has had for almost 90 years.

There is a great big tree in the yard (among a bunch of other big trees) that appears to be a magnolia. I have a particular love for magnolia trees-they make me weep for the beauty of the spring blossoming. There’s a garage in the back that has the original barn-style doors. The yard is definitely big enough for a pick-up game of soccer, a vegetable and herb garden, a compost pile, and maybe couple of chickens. I’m so not kidding. One day, I will have chickens. If you don’t believe me, go read this and tell me what you think.

I took Sheila to the house when she was here, and we poked around again. The neighbor, Nick, came out to introduce himself, and ended up chatting away a good half hour. He told us about the neighborhood, and seems to actually know the neighbors. I think that’s a good sign.

We decided to call the agent and schedule a walk-through, since I had heretofore only peeked in the windows. He met us last night and showed us around. I had to keep biting my lip to keep from gushing about how great this house is. It’s got a few things that are not ideal, including very little counter space in the kitchen, on which to knead my bread, the cabinetry is new and cheap, though not unpleasing to the eye, the side door is on the yard side, not the driveway side, it’s not quite 1400 square feet, there’s a giant stump in the middle of the yard, it’s made of asbestos (solid, though, so no risk of airborne particles), and I haven’t quite figured out where I would put the piano.

As far as advantages: it’s cute. Big yard. Two car garage. Two story. Some hardwood floors that were refinished this summer. Antique fixtures that the previous owner had been collecting, including super-cute doorknobs and some fantastically beautiful light fixtures. Big porch. 3 blocks from elementary school. Nice neighbors. Finished basement. What else? Take a look and tell me your impressions.

So ever since yesterday’s post, I’ve been singing “love is not love” to the tune of Brother James’s Air. I just tried to find a recording of it to link to, but I had no luck. Or maybe I’m just retarded. Anyway, I feel relieved that I’m not the only one who gets scared about moving far away. We won’t be anywhere near the grandparents (all 5 are within 75 minutes of us now), but I do have some relatives in Indiana, about 2 1/2 hours away. We already have a date for Thanksgiving. Or an appointment, I should say, since most of us are aware that Thanksgiving is already scheduled for this year. But we do have a place to go for some good tofurky.

And my other best friend lives 5 hours away, in Tennessee. I say my other one, because I haven’t really talked about her, but I can’t live without her. She’s not the one I grew up with, or the cousin, but the one I met in the Philippines. When we met, we instantly had one of those eternal friendships that casual observers don’t understand. I guess most people thought we were constantly fighting, but we were really having animated discussions on philosophical questions. And by animated, I mean there were raised voices. Sheila and I have had this same relationship in the 10 years we’ve known each other, but it’s usually higher decibel while we’re living under the same roof. Sheila always forgives me. (I should add that my real and most bestest friend is the one I live with now, but he’s a boy, and we all know the difference.)

Here’s the poll of the day.

Which one would you choose, if you were moving across the country and didn’t want to buy a house without getting to know the area pretty well?

1. A more expensive apartment ($1050 per month) with more room (4 bedrooms and 1500 sq ft) that has a washer and dryer, that’s just across the street from a major water-park and only 5 minutes from Trader Joe’s, but 2 miles from the elementary school, and only has 12 month leasing options, or

2. A smaller (1100 sq ft, 3 bedroom), cheaper apartment ($700-$800) that has washer/dryer hookups, that’s 5 minutes closer to work, 1 mile from the school, and has 3, 6, and 9 month leasing options, which would be handy, should we get lucky and find that perfect house to buy.

Bigger means no storage unit, and a possible room for the study/music room. Can you believe I just said that? I need to know what to do with my baby grand piano, which I love. And we have bazillions of books. I’m addicted to books. And how stupid is it to rent a place without having seen it?

I trust my faithful blogging friends, since you all have experience in this field. Not to do any shameless name-dropping, but Daring Young Mom called me yesterday and offered her services in finding climate-controlled storage for my piano. I should name the piano. It would be simpler if I could say, “Storage for Henrietta,” or, “What kind of restraints do I need, to move Henrietta?” Then again, what if Child Protective Services came calling? And the name-dropping thing reminds me of a story a lady told in church on Sunday, about one of her former students who stood to inherit a million dollars on her eighteenth birthday. Yes, you guessed it, the student in question was truly Paris, the Heiress. Maybe I’ll name the piano Paris. My piano wants to be famous, too.

*Update: My mom says she would pay the $1000 just to have the washer in the apartment. And the extra space is a big bonus. 

I tagged Derek and he thought that was cheating. Too bad. I made him do it any way. This is how he spent his time waiting for our delayed flight out of Oakland yesterday.

1. I love ice cream. And not just a little bit. When I was growing up, my brother and I would spend a few weeks every summer with my grandparents. My grandpa used to tell everyone, “There are small bowls of ice cream, large bowls, and Derek-size bowls.” Needless to say, things haven’t changed and a half gallon of ice cream really disappears fast in our house.

2. I can fix those cheap electronics toys that your kids love to get and then destroy. Unfortunately, mechanical toys (especially things with springs) give me trouble. Luckily I married Sarah 🙂

3. I’ve learned that for a sufficiently loose definition of “best” I can be the best at anything. For example, when Carrie proposed a contest for determining who the best husband is, I decided that if the definition of best was a combination of skill on Street Fighter 2 and number of papers published in the cooperative control area, that I should be the best in the world. You’d have to agree, it’s just as arbitrary as skill in an obstacle course.

4. I’ve always looked younger than I am. When I was serving a mission in Russia (age 19-21) people thought I was 16. Since attendance at BYU requires men to be clean shaven, I’ve never had the chance to look older by growing a wild beard.

5. My nightly routine involves reading stories and singing songs to my two boys. Sometimes they ask me to make up stories and songs and things get really crazy: I’ve created songs about bunk beds, Spiderman, ceilings, toys, dragons, fishing, and fans.

6. I once volunteered to take notes for a deaf student in an upper division psychology class and learned a bunch of interesting things about how the brain works.

7. The first time I tried sushi was with Sarah for my 22nd birthday. Now for every special occasion, getting sushi is near the top of the list of things to do.

8. As a teenager, I spent a few summers roofing with my uncle. It really made me want to go to college.

9. Growing up, I was very interested in space and the solar system and was determined to become an astronaut. Turns out that they don’t let just anybody become an astronaut and they definitely don’t let you if you are color blind.

10. Once, on a trip to LA, I learned that I wear the same size shoe as Tom Cruise. I used to use this fact as the “interesting fact” that you tell everyone along with your name in class. I have since realized that Tom Cruise is a weirdo and I shouldn’t try to associate myself with him.

OK, I’m long overdue for the Genesis question to be explained. And since tomorrow is the holiday, and Derek and I are going to San Francisco for my cousin’s wedding this weekend, now is my chance.

So, first, what is the main theme of the book of Genesis? My cousin Liz took an IQ test, wherein she was asked this question. She was troubled by it, so she called me and asked how I would answer it. Liz is no Bible dummy, she teaches The Bible as Literature, as well as other English classes, at a high school. And she goes to Sunday School, and reads the Bible on her own time. I’m no teacher, nor a Bible scholar, but I’ve read the thing at least a few times.

But apparently Liz and I had more trouble with the question than most of you did. First of all, I thought it odd that it was even part of this IQ test, with the inherent assumption that the test-taker has read and/or is familiar with Judeo-Christian literature and themes. I wasn’t sure how that relates to a person’s intelligence, since intelligence is a measure of a person’s ability to learn and adapt, and, as NungNung said, “Those things are nowhere near culturally, socially, or economically neutral, so people from certain backgrounds tend to be “smart,” and those less privileged, less fortunate, or less Christian are often left behind.” But apparently there is a “crystallized intelligence” section of the test, which is more about things learned previously, than adaptability.

Sheila’s short answer was “separation.” Adam and Eve were separated from God, and expected to deal with it. Cain and Abel, Noah and his people, the people of Babel, the physical example of the covenant of circumcision, Lot and his city, Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Esau and the birthright, Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Joseph being sold to the Egyptians, and in the end of Genesis, the people of the covenant as slaves in another land, waiting to return to the promised land, all had to work through some sort of separation. Also see Azúcar’s answer, which elaborates the separation theme.

Liz’s short answer was “punishments and rewards.” Each of the above examples shows a clear consequence for some action; being cast out of the garden for eating the fruit, being banished for murder, civilization being destroyed for wickedness. This also fits right in with the separation theme, since the punishment for most of the wrong-doing is separation of some sort; separation from the presence of God, from a society, from a loved one.

Initially, I was going to say “the beginning,” but, . So my answer was “good versus evil.” Adam and Eve were given the option of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and having chosen to eat it, blessed the rest of humanity with the choice to act on that knowledge. In each of the above examples, there was a good side and an evil side, so it was about taking sides.

The “correct” answer was “The beginning of the world.” Short, simple, and not hard to justify. Or is it? My first thought, upon being asked the question, was to say, “The beginning.” But then I though about it and decided, like Liz and others who responded, that it was too simplistic, since the creation account only takes up the first two chapters, and with the continuing saga of the children of God, there is much more to it than just the creation. The guy who administered the test told Liz that she was over-intellectualizing her answer. They really only wanted a simple answer.

Yet, I can only think that a better wording of the question, if they were looking for “beginning” as an answer, would have been, “What is the first thing you think of when you think about the book of Genesis.” Since a “theme” is “an implicit or recurrent idea: a motif” (American Heritage Dictionary), I think “the beginning” is an element of the book, but not so much a recurrent idea. Then again, I must also be over-intellectualizing it. I guess each of the above examples of separation could be looked at as new beginnings, a few of them more strikingly so than others, namely, the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Noah, the tower of Babel, and the Abrahamic covenant.

So are you mad at me? I wasn’t trying to trap anyone into giving an answer only to tell you why I thought your answer was wrong, I just wanted to know what other intelligent people thought. Obviously, some people did choose “the beginning” as their answer. But each of the other answers, in my humble genius IQ opinion, was also a “right” answer. Human life after the fall, obedience, love, separation, good versus evil, punishments and rewards, God’s relationship with his people, all these are recurrent themes in the book of Genesis.

I just don’t think this question was appropriate for an IQ test. I welcome disagreement in any form.

I need you to answer a question. It’s very simple, so it will not take you long. Please formulate your answer before looking at any other answers, and give me your first answer. You may also change your mind, after having viewed other responses, but then I will want to know your first response, as well as your changed one. Here it is:

What is the main theme of the book of Genesis? 

I’m very curious what people will think of this. And it’s really not because I just don’t know. It’s a question from an I.Q. test. No, not one of those airport news-stand ones, a real one. Does that change your answer? If so, I want to know that, too. So I don’t care who you are, for the sake of this discussion. (You know I love anyone who actually leaves a comment, but what I mean is that it’s not for specifically Christian, nor even necessarily religious people.)  And don’t worry, I will tell you the “right” answer.