Monday, July 28, 2008

"You know, that's actually a misconception," replied the voice of experience, "the third time is actually not the charm."

Yeah, it happened again. Apparently the word "fix" acquires a more liberal definition within a thirty foot radius of my apartment.

On the other hand, the fact that there is water all over my kitchen and office means that those caked-on footprints have had plenty of time to soak.

There are hard water stains on the light bulbs in my ceiling fan.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Even if the third time is the charm, I'd rather not find out.

Before & After
Take a moment to look at the Before & After image above. Now, imagine a light fixture exactly like the "Before", except filled with tea-colored water and soggy chunks of drywall, and swinging on a three foot long wire below the "After", distributing the aforementioned water and chunks in wide arcs all across my kitchen. The sound of that event beginning is what woke me up this morning five minutes before my alarm went off.

In order to explain, I will have to back up. At about 1:45 this morning, I was roused from my bed by an all too familiar sound: rain. Coming out of the ceiling fan above my desk. Yes, again. I rescued my chair and my computer (again), distributed buckets and towels (again) and proceeded to call the emergency maintenance line (again). There was no one upstairs, so I couldn't turn off whatever was leaking until the maintenance guy showed up. The recording said I would be called in an hour, so I waited, and while waiting, fell asleep. I woke several times, but no call.

Eventually, one of the light fixtures in the kitchen gave up the ghost and fell out of the ceiling. I went out into the kitchen/office/living room and found that not only was there dirty water and fragments of drywall everywhere in the kitchen, but every single drywall seam in the ceiling was highlighted by a water stain, and water was dripping from two additional places in the ceiling as well as forming a six inch diameter bubble behind the paint on the wall. (I also found out later that water was leaking out of the bottom of the wall in my closet, and that my closet door is now unwilling to open when closed and equally unwilling to close again once opened.)

I called the maintenance line (again). Finally, after six hours the maintenance guy showed up only to reveal that the line to the ice machine in the refrigerator upstairs had broken (again). Yes, the same one they "fixed" before. I was delighted to see a six foot diameter puddle patiently waiting to proceed downstairs into my apartment. Maintenance guy leaves, maintenance guy returns half an hour later with a shop vac and cleans up the puddle, maintenance guy cuts down the light fixture in the kitchen, maintenance guy leaves. His parting words? "Some one will come on Monday to paint."

If anybody needs me, I'll be spending tomorrow in my apartment cleaning up the boot-shaped patches of drywall that are everywhere in my apartment.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Survey of Film History, Parts II - IV; Also, The Preponderance of S

Here begins my demonstration of the "approximately chronological" nature of my Blockbuster queue. In viewing order, I present:

The Lady Eve (1941), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. This was apparently one of the top ten films in the box office that year. It is described as a "screwball comedy," but I just didn't see it ("it" being the comedy, not the film). All in all, the film is a rather pedestrian affair; ironic, considering it's about an affair that begins on a cruise ship and ends on a train.

City Lights (1931), written and directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, is notable for being one of only a few silent films released after "talkies" had become the norm; it was Chaplin's last silent film. It is also widely considered to be his best film, and it topped AFI's list of the top ten romantic comedies of all time. I can readily believe it; it's a work of art. Highly recommended.

Alice Adams (1935) is a simple and bittersweet but not outstanding romance, starring Katharine Hepburn and Fred MacMurray. One line is a particular standout, and may in my mind justify Hepburn's Oscar nomination, but in all other respects this film gets a shrug and a "meh."

I have noticed this before in record and movie stores, and I noticed it again this weekend as I was going through my CDs trying to get rid of the ones I no longer listen to; it's a disturbing trend that appears to have been going on in the entertainment industry for quite some time now: there's a distinct bias toward artists and movies whose name begins with "S". Yes, that's right, the entertainment industry is letterist. Once I noticed it I had to find out for sure, and it turns out that of the artists whose albums I own, over 20% have names beginning with "S", and the same is true of the movies. Not only that, but movies with titles that begin with "S" are apparently also more likely to get sequels. Need proof? Spider-man, Superman, Star Wars and Star Trek are just four examples.

I smell a conspiracy, and it's people with speech impediments who are going to suffer for it.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rationale and Rationality

A topic has come up recently for a second time that I feel this time I am obligated to address. However, the rationale I am being presented with is such that I simply don't know how I should respond. That being the case, I have decided to start by taking a step back. I will explain what the topic in question is and what I think about it in a future post, but for now I think I need to discuss a larger, more general and more basic question: how do I discern which things are absolutely true?

I am a Christian. I am a very imperfect person very imperfectly serving a living, supreme and personal God who in His very nature defines perfection. He is triune, being Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He created and sustains all things that exist. All humans have sinned, and by sinning have earned the just punishment of eternal death. God in His mercy sent His Son to live the perfect life that we could not, atone for the sins we committed by His death on the cross, and through His resurrection redeem those who would believe into eternal life in His kingdom. God will absolutely never abandon those He has redeemed. The Bible is God's inspired word, the one and only sufficient and authoritative source of truth given to teach us about Himself, about how we can honor Him with our lives in response to the things He has done for us, and about how He has related to us in the past and will relate to us in the future. I hold these things (and more) to be absolutely true.

Why? Is it because the Bible says these things? The circular logic is immediately apparent: I believe that the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true. No, the true reason is deeper than that: I believe that the Bible is true because God has given me the faith to believe it. The faith that saves me allows me to hold steadfast to the truth that is written in the word He has given us.

Believing then that the Bible is the one sufficient and authoritative source of truth given to us by God, where does that leave everything else that is known or believed (including things about which the Bible says nothing explicit), and how am I to judge things that claim to be absolutely true? In regards to (extra-scriptural) prophecy, the Bible says, "Test everything. Hold on to the good." (1 Thes. 5:21) The same is true of all knowledge, as any scientist can tell you. Everything that is known or believed that is not directly contained in the Bible is known or believed as a result of observation and judgment, and must be tested. When something is claimed as a moral or doctrinal truth, we should hold to it only as firmly as it can be proven by Scripture; when something is claimed to be absolutely true, it must be absolutely proven by Scripture — anything less and it is simply a conclusion, an opinion. To say it another way, the truth or falseness of a statement is never partial, but the degree to which we are certain of either may be, unless it is based on explicit Scripture.

Being Christians does not free us from the need for logic or rationality; instead it corrects the basis on which we make our judgments and the means by which we make them. Seek the truth, seek wisdom and understanding — it's what we are called to do as Christians.
Proverbs 23:23
Buy the truth and do not sell it;
get wisdom, discipline and understanding.