Tuesday, September 30, 2008

With numbers like these...

.... perhaps McCain really should continue his 'maverick' actions. They seem to be doing worlds of good for Obama. The daily tracking polls are only good for measuring trends, but the trend right now heavily favors Sen. Obama.

All I really have to say is something that has already been echoed over and over in the last 24 hours- McCain can't scramble to take the credit for the bailout when he thinks it is going to succeed and then deny any responsibility as soon as it fails. Also- for any Republican that "changed their vote" over a speech. I say screw you. It is either true and you are mentally challenged, or it is false and you are still mentally challenged for expecting the American public to buy into it. In the words of Bill Cosby- "That's Brain Damage!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday's Tea- Almond Cookie

Today I am trying the Almond Cookie blend from SpecialTeas. It is a combination of black tea, almonds, cinnamon, flavouring, safflower blossoms. The smell itself is enough reason to brew this one. It smells, well... cookie-like lol. The official description talks about those windmill cookies with almonds in them, but the first thought I had was of snicker doodles.

As for the taste, this one holds up much better than the caramel from the other day. Whereas I felt the caramel added nothing helpful to that tea, this one brings in the cookie taste after an initial wave of the black tea flavor; leaving you with a nice sweet flavor in your mouth. As it is meant to be a dessert-like tea, adding a bit of sugar only serves to make it better.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yesterday's Teas - China Tian Mu Qing Ding Organic & Caramel with Caramel Pieces

My latest order for tea came in yesterday and I decided to give a couple of them a try.

The first, China Tian Mu Qing Ding Organic, was actually one of the free samples they send with your order. I have to admit that while I am a huge fan of black teas, I havn't had much experience with green teas. I have enjoyed the pre-made iced green teas, but most of those are so sweetened it is hard to know what you are really tasting.

Overall I was mildly impressed. It is hard to go against the instinct that the longer you infuse it the more flavor you will get out of it (in reality it just turns teas bitter). My general understanding is that green teas range from a smokey flavor to a grassy flavor. This was towards the grassy end of the spectrum, but not so much that I felt like I was just drinking grass. The one thing I did enjoy was that it had a nice semi-sweet aftertaste. I have much more learning to do on the green tea front, so I am unsure what else to say about this one now.

The second tea I tried yesterday was Caramel with Caramel Pieces. This was one that I had been looking forward to, but was kind of disappointed in. The smell was amazing, however the taste did not live up to its smell. It just seemed to have a bit of a flat taste too it. I usually expect a good black tea to hit me with a lot more flavor than this one did. I will certainly give it another try, but I am not expecting too much out of it in the future.

As well as all the tea, I also ordered a bag of raw rock sugar crystals to sweeten tea with. It is recommended over table sugar because it is able to sweeten things without messing with their original taste/flavor. I included a little bit of the crystals in each cup of the black tea, and it did do just that- unfortunately I probably wouldn't have minded if it did cover up the flavor in that one!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Proclaimers- Two Songs

I have been revisiting The Proclaimers the last few days. Everyone knows 'Im Gonna Be (500 Miles), but I have found that they haven't done an album I dislike.

First a cover of "Whole Wide World" - which to my knowledge was originally done by Wreckless Eric. More recently Will Ferrell sang it in Stranger than Fiction...

Whole Wide World - The Proclaimers

And I couldn't find a suitable/legal way to play a song called "If There's a God," so instead here is a video of Peter Kay and Matt Lucas doing '500 Miles' for Comic Relief last year. It is worth it if only for David Tennant dancing in a kilt.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"McCain has found his inner voice...

... it is his inner William Jennings Bryan"

Friday, September 19, 2008

More of John Oliver

Thursday, September 18, 2008

That's what she said...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hate, Reconciliation, and Prayer

I was driving home from work just now, and a man in a truck beside me motioned for me to roll down my window.

I foolishly obliged.

"You can't be a Christian and support Obama" he said, before yelling "I hope you like Muslims!" and driving off.

Now, had this happened out at a public place that wasn't on the road I would have hopefully been able to at least confront him on this charge. But instead there was simply no time to react before he was gone. React towards him that is. I certainly reacted alright. My initial response was anger. Not the kind of anger that makes me want to hit someone or something (although that seems to fit within my emotional range unfortunately), just anger. Oh the things I could have said if I had just been given the chance- I would show him!

To be sure- What he said straddled so many kinds of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred that it deserved to be called out for what it was- Pure and utter Shite. It was certainly not the kind of thing that Christ would say- and therefore not the kind of thing a Christian should say. And that is when it hit me- this guy was saying this presumably as a Christian.

One thing that riles my feathers mare than just about anything else is when one Christian questions the faith and orthodoxy of another without any real contact with that person. Whether it is Mark Driscoll calling Tony Campolo a wolf in sheep's clothing while distorting his words, or Catholic Bishops refusing to give John Kerry communion, or even those of us on the left who want to cast people like Pat Buchanan or Jerry Falwell out into hell. This was precisely what this man was doing, and in return what I had begun to do to this man.

The Bible does tell us that there are some wrong teachings out there (Although when it comes to heresy, I am reluctant to declare anyone who can confess the creeds a heretic- and I am also persuaded by Greg Boyd's notion that wrong doctrine is less of a heresy than acting unloving towards your neighbor). But it also provides some pretty clear examples of how to approach those with different ideas, beliefs or actions than we might agree with, and none of them consist of declaring heresy out of the gates and stripping others of their identity in Christ of our own judgment. It does point us to be reconciled if we can. Whether it is one-on-one, or in a small group, or as a church. The goal is embrace and reconciliation, not exclusion.

In those places where we are unable to do so- and this is where my encounter this afternoon comes in- I believe the peacemaking gesture is simply to pray for God to bless them with his presence and love. Now what I don't mean is to pray that God would provide that person with all of the insight that he has given myself, so they may truly see the light and agree with me. No- that isn't prayer conforming to the will of God, that is conforming holy prayer to my earthly will. And that is simply out of the question. Loving our enemies means hard work. It means doing the things that are contrary to our human instincts. And this means refraining from selfish prayer.

So, there I was, finishing my ride home, angry as can be. And then - peace. The phrase "Jesus Loves Him" began repeating in my head. Over and over and over until I surrendered the anger I had been focusing on him. This does not diminish my anger at what was behind the statements themselves, but it does take the focus off of my neighbor and put it on sin itself.

I have no way of truly knowing the status of this guy's faith. Perhaps his is as nominal as the next guy, perhaps he is committed to a life of prayer. All I can do is speculate from my own distorted viewpoint. But if there is the chance of one mustard seed, or a kernel of faith laying beneath the surface of those hateful words- then I am in no place to question him, and can only pray "God Bless you."

I have no idea how I may react the next time something like that happens, but I do pray that it will be with the heart of Jesus at the fore of my thought.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stewart & Colbert- Unable to hold in the laughter

Mitchell & Webb

One of the best comedy pairings coming out of Britain today. David Mitchell in particular is one of my favorite people to watch in just about anything. But together they are known for their sketch shows "That Mitchell & Webb Look," "That Mitchell & Webb Sound" and their long running comedy "Peep Show"

Here are a few of my favorite Sketches:

SS Soldiers realizing they are actually the 'baddies'

One roommate has issues with football fans using the word 'we' in reference to how their favorite team does

Jesus catches some heat for his Good Samaritan references

Party Invitations- To invite Shaggy or not?

Uh.... This is just weird...

Greg Boyd on Abortion

Greg Boyd on Abortion

Greg Boyd truly has become one of the most influential preacher on me lately- here is his take on the issue of abortion, which steers away from the divisive political debate, recognizing that Pro-Life people can differ on how to politically address the issue, even voting "pro-choice"- and towards the kingdom questions of how do we care for those women and families who face the abortion question. Are we willing to sacrifice for them? are we willing to bleed for them?

I personally fall on the side of things which says if we truly want to reduce abortions, we must address poverty issues, as well as fund contraception education and distribution. I also feel that the evidence shows that in places where the abortion laws are stricter and abstinence only policies are adopted, the safety of the women involved is dramatically disproportionate to countries where abortion is legal. (This article also notes some objections to the findings, but I feel the findings are probably closer to the truth than not.)

I have to admit here that as strong of a supporter of Sen. Obama as I am, I don't agree with him on everything, and I am not untroubled by some of his past votes concerning abortion. However, I do refuse to make that the only issue I contemplate when voting for a candidate. There are too many issues that are too complex to ever vote on a single issue.

And finally, I recognize the right of others to come to differing conclusions on this issue. I do pray though, that on the Christian end of the spectrum, we would turn from placing our trust in the laws we get passed, to living out the kingdom in the way we care for the women and families who face these decisions. To put it another way- Jesus did not die more for either the mother or the child, but for both. He calls us away from the temptation to judge, and into the service of love, embracing them both as our neighbors.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I love Joe Biden-

It is almost a guarantee that he will shove his foot so far down his throat that he would still be standing on two feet, but he sure does have the best lines on the campaign trail!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Today's Tea - Cocoa Cardamom Tango

One thing I brought back to Cincy from California has been a love of Loose-Leaf Teas. As a student I did almost all of my studying and school work at the local Peet's Coffee & Tea. They always had a decent variety of teas to choose from, and I became hooked on the stronger flavors to be found by brewing from loose-leaf rather than bagged tea.

So, when I got back to Cincy, finding a good place for tea was on the top of my list. So far the best and closest place to me is the Bean Haus in Covington. They have a large selection to choose from, as well as free wi-fi and are rarely crowded. It is a great place to come and relax.

Anyway, I have since begun buying some teas online. I found a great Iced Tea pitcher that has its own infuser so that you can brew iced tea with loose leaf tea. The tea can be very strong, and you have to get used to it being visually cloudy (this happens when the tannins cool off), but it makes one heck of a brew!

So, the last time I ordered some tea, I got a couple of sampler packs, which are all pretty good, but they also sent me a free sample of the one I tried today - Cocoa Cardamom Tango (pictured above). I had been holding off on making some for a while mainly because when it is hot outside I normally don't want hot tea or coffee. But today seemed like a good day for it. It was quite good. The chocolate, cinnamon and black tea flavors ended up mixing better than I had expected. My first cup was unsweetened, and that was alright, but I added a packet of splenda to the next cup and that turned out to add the sweetness the chocolate was asking for.

I can't imagine this is a tea I will return to often, but I definitely can see it as being a nice treat during the winter months ahead!

Tuesday- The movie

3 different attempts to rob a bank by 3 different groups..

Most importantly it stars John Simm and Philip Glenister. Don't recognize them? In that case skip the American version of Life on Mars and watch the BBC version instead. These guys are simply two of the best out there in Britain right now.

Tu£sday Teaser Trailer - The story of a heist gone right...

"I invite the media to grow a pair...."

Can't get more uncannily on target than Tina Fey does with this impression.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


To be honest, I never quite know what to make of Olbermann, he seems to make excellent points yet he also has a way of taking things into such a strange place at the same time. I agree with him insofar as the choice of imagery during the tribute was questionable, especially after hearing how the networks were pretty much duped into showing the graphic footage w/out a warning.

The Daily Show's John Oliver

John Oliver is without a doubt my favorite DS correspondent since Colbert and Carrell.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Neil Gaiman- Check
They Might Be Giants- Check
John Hodgman- Check

Awesomeness- Check Check Check!

Moonwalking Birds are fun...

I was watching some old episodes of QI last night, and came across one of my all time favorite moments from the show:

Here is one of the bird w/sound-


So- while I have changed in the last 3 years, this blog has most definitely not. I'm gonna have to do something about that aren't I?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

3 years gone...

I have not used this blog as a place for my thoughts in a very long time. I am not even sure I will be consistent with it this time around. It is sort of odd to look back over the old posts that are on here. Mainly because it seems to trace an old relationship from its happy start to bitter finish... I considered removing them, but they are good reminders of where I have been in the past. So- feel free to peruse them if you want, noticing the parts of me you recognize, and those that you don't recognize too- I am sure that I am not the same person I was even 3 years ago.

Tonight I had two reminders of how true that was. First I got stuck taking a bunch of quizzes that try and place you on the spectrum of political thought from communism to libertarianism etc.. I consistently came up as a social democrat, social liberal, or just plain socialist. Of course, these quizzes only go so far, which means the question of why you believe such and such on a particular issue is never addressed. I can see how my views would end up on that end of things, but my belief that government needs to be more active in taking care of the poor and outcast of society is based in my understanding of the bible's emphasis on such things rather than in a concept of equaling the playing field and eliminating oppression. Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us, and that we must always love our neighbor. We need not expect to bring everything into harmony by our action, only that we share God's kingdom with all who need it.

The second thing which reminded me how much has changed was a short but fruitful discussion with my most recent (if 3 years ago is recent) ex-gf. We broke up in 2005 and for2 long years I harbored an unhealthy bitterness towards her. In fact, if the Richie of 2 years ago saw me say hello to her online tonight, he surely would have berated me for being insane. Thankfully the Lord brought some true reconciliation to that relationship about a year ago. Since then the bitterness has faded into nothing. Tonight we talked a bit about how different the political climate is between the midwest and california (her husband is from Mich.). I realized that along with my theological education, she was one of the major forces in my shift to the left. I am thankful that there was someone to challenge my assumptions and beliefs during that time. I remember some very heated discussions over issues such as the role of women in marriage and church. At the time I hadn't done enough research to have an opinion, but was wary of what I have come to know as the egalitarian view. Now, I feel so strongly in favor of women serving as leaders in the church as well as the need for an egalitarian approach to leadership within a marriage, that I will not even consider working or making my church home in a denomination that does not allow women to serve in the same capacity as men. -But that is for another time- My point is, that God has certainly been growing me and challenging me from many different angles.

I am now back in the greater Cincinnati area. The Richie who has returned here has so many different views than the one who left here. Whether family or friends, I recognize that most of them do not share my views, and that is ok. I need that voice of challenge now just as I had it before. This is what iron sharpening iron is all about. I may not like being backed into a corner on various issues, but it is the only real way that I am going to be able to evaluate where I actually stand on things. And I am assuming that I can do the same for them. I pray that in the course of this sharpening though- that the reminder of each others humanity, neighbor-ness, and need for christ-like love would be at the forefront. Other wise we move from sharpening one another to dulling and blunting one another until all we are useful for is beating each other up- and that is certainly not the best way to go about it at all!