Grief That Can’t Be Spoken

The row in front of us was empty at church last Sunday. We attend a small church, where news travels fast, so we knew exactly who was missing and why they were missing.

At our church, most people have their own spots. This seating chart is unwritten, of course, but well-known and followed. Our spot is behind a family. The mom and dad, in their fifties, along with their daughter, who is our boys’ Sunday School teacher, sit in front of us. Their son used to sit in that row too, before he went away to college. Their other daughter used to sit with them, before she got married two summers ago; our boys were the ring bearers at that wedding. And her parents used to sit there too, before they finished their days on this earth.

But they weren’t in church last Sunday. The marriage which started two summers ago had resulted in the birth of a granddaughter – the first grandchild in the family. That happened just before midnight on Saturday, and the family was awake into the wee hours of Sunday morning. The birth announcement was made from the pulpit, though by that time everyone knew.

She had been ready for grandchildren for a while. She was glad when it was her turn for nursery duty. The church nursery for the last several years has involved our children, and she would let us know after church how much she enjoyed watching or holding our child and how good that child was. She was an elementary school teacher, and kids were a joy to her. Even the troublesome ones received kind words from her. It would have been nice to congratulate them on the birth of their grandchild. “No matter,” we thought that Sunday morning, “we will see them next week and ask about the baby then.”

Later on Sunday, she said she didn’t feel good, and complaints were one thing you did not hear from her. She went back, as a patient this time, to the same hospital in which her daughter was recovering and her granddaughter was sleeping. She got to be a grandmother for about twenty-five hours.

Tonight was the visitation; the funeral is tomorrow. I have been to funerals before, but this is different from any of those. All the others were at least expected – advanced age, prolonged illness, etc. This came out of nowhere and was over before most people even knew it happened.

I was glad the casket was closed during the visitation. I am not a fan of open caskets. I would rather have my memory of a person be that person’s doing something other than lying in a casket. In this case, my mind pictures the photograph that was displayed at the funeral home – she is sitting next to her husband and holding her grandchild.

God has spared me from major sorrow in my life so far, and for that I am grateful. It will be rough for me to see them in church again – just the dad and the daughter now. The spot where she always sat will be right in front of me. It might be empty on Sunday, or maybe someone else will sit there. But it won’t be right.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,

John 11:33


You may have seen last week’s introduction to PSALMs. Now it is time for the second movie. Once again, there is no theme or correlation with anything – I just made the animation that came to mind with the Legos at hand.

Now only 148 more to go.

If the movie player isn’t working, you can save the .mpg file to your computer and open it with your computer’s movie-player software

Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 2:11

On Behalf of Our Measuring Cups

or “What’s Wrong with a Pint?”

With no further introduction, ladies and gentlemen, I give you this:

An Open Letter to Bottled-Water Companies

Dear Bottled-Water Company:

I see what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to sneak the metric system into America. This letter is to inform you that your tactics are not going unnoticed. The USA is supposed to use the good old Imperial system of measurement.

You still have a chance to change your ways and gain the favor of Americans. Here is my proposal on how you can do that:

put less water in your bottles.

There is precedent for this – the ice-cream companies stealthily switched the standard size of an ice-cream container from 2 quarts (a half gallon) to 1.75 quarts. And they left the price the same. Less product + same price = more profit.

You can follow the same formula.

The standard bottle size for water is 500 mL (16.9 fl. oz.). You don’t even have to change the bottle size. Just put a little less water in each bottle and change the printing on the label so it reads 16 fl. oz. (473 mL). That way the bottle will be a nice, even, standard American number (2 cups), and the metric system gets second billing, the way it should be.


A Proud American

The cost of water in a bottle of water is around 5 cents. So the average company might save a quarter of a penny per bottle. For 2007, the top brand was Dasani, at about 22% market share. The US consumes around 40 billion water bottles a year, so Dasani’s share would be at least 8 billion water bottles per year. At a quarter of a penny per bottle, that would be $20 million in savings per year for one company.

What do they have to lose?

The water you drink shall be the sixth part of a hin by measure; you shall drink it from time to time.

Ezekiel 4:11


Inspired by both The Brick Testament and Wallace and Gromit, I made a movie. Okay, it is really not much of a movie, just a couple seconds of animation. But it is fun to watch.

PSALM stands for Progressive Stop Action Lego Movie. The official term is stop-motion animation, not stop-action movie, but I took some liberties to make a nice acronym. And if you use Lego people (AKA minifigs) for the characters in the movie, you’re supposed to call it a brickfilm or something like that. Oh well, I’ll stick with PSALM.

Now only 149 more to go.


  • this movie has nothing to do with Psalm 1.

  • usually the verse-of-the-post is somewhat related to the content of that blog post. With this movie, however, I am just going to pick a verse out of that chapter.
  • if the movie appears as a white rectangle, scroll the web page up or down.
  • if the movie player isn’t working at all, you can save the .mpg file to your computer and open it with your computer’s movie player software

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2

Not So Rosey

And now it is Gamma’s turn.

It is appointed to our children once to contract roseola, and after that the judgment umm… not to get it anymore.

When Alpha was 15 months old, he got roseola. I had never heard of roseola before, but by now I am quite familiar with it. It started off as a FOUO (fever of unknown origin), and then once the fever had gone and we thought everything was fine, the body-wide rash appeared.

Alpharoseola rash on the back of Alpha

So, I learned all about roseola and it passed and was never a problem for Alpha anymore.

Then when Beta was 17 months old, he got roseola. Well, we didn’t know it at the time. We just knew he had a fever. It was very high, over 105, and it wasn’t coming down so we took him to the ER. Beta always did run warmer than the other children, so we should expect his fevers to be higher too.

The hospital gave him an IV and some over-the-counter fever reducer and ran a blood test. The fever came down eventually and the blood test did not show anything. The hospital didn’t know what else to do, so they gave him a course of antibiotics (through the IV – much more efficient, though of course totally useless against the virus that he had) and sent us on our way. We should have known what was coming, but we were surprised a couple days later when spots appeared all over his body.

Betaroseola rash on the back of Beta

Gamma has them both beat. He’s not even a year old and he already contracted roseola. His fever was slight, only 101. It’s hard to pinpoint when or how or where he picked up the virus, since the incubation period is over a week. But slightly over a week ago he, along with his brothers and mother, swam in a hotel pool. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Gammaroseola rash on the back of Gamma

We’ll see if Gamma is ahead of the curve in his other developments too. Maybe we should add roseola to the list of developmental milestones. It would fit right in there with when your baby should get teeth, start walking, say his first word, etc.

The priest shall look at him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the infection has not changed and the infection has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him for seven more days.

Leviticus 13:5

All-Haiku Bowl Results, 2009

Okay, okay, it is 2010 at this point, but the results are headlines as 2009 because they match with the 2009 predictions made in 2009 for the 2009 season. Also, the results are not all-haiku, just the predictions were. A more accurate title would be “Results for the All-Haiku Predictions made in 2009″.

Before the bowl games commenced for this past college football season, I made some predictions. Here, for your reading enjoyment, is the tally of those predictions. Note that the results are not in haiku form, in contrast to the predictions.


Here is the list (correct predictions in green, incorrect in red):

Fresno State over Wyoming

UCF over Rutgers

Southern Miss over Middle Tennessee

Oregon St. over BYU

Utah over Cal

Nevada over SMU

Ohio over Marshall

Pitt over UNC

BC over USC

Kentucky over Clemson

Georgia over Texas A&M

UCLA over Temple

Miami over Wisconsin

Bowling Green over Idaho

Arizona over Nebraska

Houston over Air Force

Stanford over Oklahoma

Navy over Missouri

Iowa State over Minnesota

VT over Tennessee

Northwestern over Auburn

PSU over LSU

WVU over FSU

Oregon over Ohio State

Florida over Cincinnati

NIU over USF

UConn over South Carolina

OK St. over Ole Miss

Arkansas over East Carolina

Texas Tech over MSU

Boise St. over TCU

Iowa over Georgia Tech

CMU over Troy

Texas over Alabama

And here are the results of the various forecasting methodologies (see last year’s results for description of the methodologies) (also, use the word methodologies if you want to sound important; methods would work just as well and is shorter) :

  • Some Blog Site picks were 15-19 (better than last year!)
  • CBS120 picks were 19-15
  • HTW was 20-14 for the official Home Team Wins (HTW)
  • HTW was 11-23 for the Geographical Home Team (GHT)
  • Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate (ITP) was 20-14 if using HTW
  • ITP was 16-18 if using GHT

I won’t analyze the results as much as I did last year, mainly because I had more time and more sleep last year. But it was a bad year for GHT; last year it was by far the best method. Just goes to show that college ball isn’t as uniform and well-behaved as the NFL. Of course, by well-behaved, I mean the predictability of the statistics and games, not the manners of the players themselves.

Thoughts on the season’s results

  1. What more does Boise St. have to do? They should be ranked second, not fourth, in the season-end polls. Texas didn’t prove they’re the second-best team in the country; they just proved they’re not the best. Boise St. had better get a top-5 pre-season ranking because they deserve the same presumption of excellence that any other big-name school (of which they are now one) would get.
  2. Texas did not get a fair deal in the championship game with Colt McCoy taken out on the first drive. That is what happens during football sometimes, but it still felt like I was swindled. I was all set to watch the two Heisman candidates battle it out, and I didn’t get to do so.
  3. I don’t personally know Nick Saban, but his expression and demeanor after the Gatorade bath really made me think that he is not friendly. Your team is about to win the championship, your players just dumped a cooler full of beverage on you to celebrate, and all you do is scowl? Maybe his all-business attitude helps him win, but he is the face of Alabama football and he needs to remember to help out the PR department a bit. Yes, winning a national championship is great PR. All I’m saying is that my main memory from the game is the expression on his face and how unhappy it looked. It was so out of place.


Since the strength of the conference has something to do with the results, I thought I would tally each conference’s bowl game record for the 2009 (and the first bit of 2010) season.

  • ACC: 3-4
  • Big 10: 4-3
  • Big 12: 4-4
  • Big East: 4-2
  • Independent: 1-0
  • MAC: 1-4
  • MW: 4-1
  • PAC10: 2-5
  • SEC: 6-4
  • Sun Belt: 1-1
  • USA: 2-4
  • WAC: 2-2

So the best conference was the Mt. West and the worst was the MAC. Perhaps you could say that the SEC was the best because they had ten teams go to bowls. Or you could say the SEC was just the most popular conference.

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

Genesis 4:7

Family Conversations, Part 6

Alpha is a good sleeper, which means that sometimes he is not the easiest child to awaken. A side effect of that is that he is not ready for breakfast when he awakes. Beta, on the other hand, usually asks to eat breakfast as soon as he is awake.

One morning, I could tell by Alpha’s expression and body language that he was not in the mood for breakfast. That, and the fact that he refused my initial offer of cereal and yogurt. Since we had some unusual leftovers in the fridge, I thought I would try to pique his interest in eating breakfast.
I: How about a bear breakfast?
Alpha: What?
What do bears eat?
(giving Alpha a serving of smoked salmon, which he likes) Yep, and salmon are fish. What else do bears eat?
(serving a small dish of blackberries) Yep, and you’re having blackberries.
Blackberries and salmon would be very yummy for a bear.
So you’re having a bear breakfast.
Beta (running from the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room while waving his hands in the air): Ahhh! Run for your lives!!! There’s a bear in my house! There’s a bear in my house!

Never a dull moment here, folks.

Another day, I was finishing my meal and Beta was already done and making up a game. I don’t know exactly what kind of game, but I think it was related to football. He came in from the living room and announced the teams: he would be one team and I would be the other team. Then he announced the names.

You’ll be the Princess Buddy Mermaid team. I’ll be the Silver Rock Monster Bullet Grumpy Bear team.

I see where I stand. And apparently they’re never to young to start smack talk.

They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well.

Mark 8:7