In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


There were several things that I did this summer, when I wasn't posting to this blog at all. One of those things is that we bought a new car. The Saturn had belonged to Richard for 14 years, and it had accumulated 180,000 miles. It finally got to the point when the repairs were worth more than the car was worth. So, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new car.

What did we get...only the best that we could...a 2010 Prius.
And we LOVE it!

It's quiet. Over the summer, it was getting over 60 miles per gallon. Now that it's colder and rainier, it's still getting over 50, which is over double what we were getting in the Saturn.

But here's the downside: I'm paranoid.

I've already backed the car into a parked car. I was exiting the garage, and I didn't turn the wheel sharp enough on the street. When I heard a crunch, I swore and freaked out.

It turned out that I hit a rental (that was there because the owner was in another accident). It was covered and fine. Richard worked on the dent that I put into the back of the car, and it is like it never happened. There is barely a mark.

But now I'm freaked out about being in another accident. I'm more freaked out about this than I ever was with another car. I always imagine another car changing lanes quickly and side-swiping me. I can see someone (maybe me, maybe someone else) trying to make it through the stoplight and ramming into my car. I'm just imagining the ways that I'm going to wreck this car.

Does this happen with every new car? This is the first time that I've owned and driven a new car, so maybe the paranoia is normal. Can you tell me?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is Laramie a Project?

Last night, Richard and I were fortunate enough to go and see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. It is a "sequel" of sorts to The Laramie Project. The original project involved the Tectonic Theater Company visiting Laramie, WY four weeks after the brutal kidnapping and murder of Matthew Shepherd. Matthew was 21 at the time. His birth date was four days before mine.

In Ten Years Later, the same company went back to try to see what sort of impact has lingered within the community. On one hand, what they found was not all that shocking. The reactions ranged from people still struggling and fighting, to people who wanted to "move on", to those who had no idea who Matthew Shepherd was.

There were definite moments where the audience gasped at what someone said. Some moments of nervous laughter. Some really sad moments. This production includes interviews with the two men who kidnapped and killed Matthew Shepherd.

One of the sentiments that has been really common in the Laramie Project was that this could really have been any town. In fact, just before writing this, I read a story about a man in New York City who was beaten simply for being out. One character in the story stated that we have had a lot of movement, but not a lot of progress. I think I tend to agree.

The problem is that there is always something more important for our top administration and our leaders to be working on. Even I admit that. However, a hate crimes bill, an employee non-discrimination bill, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage don't seem like big things...WHEN THEY ARE TAKEN INDIVIDUALLY. Together, this is huge, but we need to focus on one thing at a time. Chipping away from the legal barriers that force us to discriminate.

However, I also know that just changing laws isn't going to make society any more tolerant. A hate-crimes law doesn't stop someone from beating someone else up. We need to continue to reach out, organize, tell our stories, and come out. Until we do, we let others continue the discrimination.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some Impact Man

Today, Richard and I went to watch the movie No Impact Man. It is a documentary about a guy in New York and his family who attempt to have no carbon impact on the world for one year. They cut out all food that isn't local, all paper products (including toilet paper), and eventually turn off the electricity.

As I see what he's doing, I am impressed. But I'm more into the character development of the man and his wife. His wife agrees to go along with his project, but she certainly isn't happy about it. She makes that known. Eventually however, she warms up to many of the changes that they have made. When the year is over, she reflects on the changes she wants to keep (and the changes she wants to go back to).

Perhaps even more powerful is the husband. He began his project in an attempt to write a blog and a book on the experience (and perhaps film this movie that I saw). Eventually, he learned that it isn't enough for one person to take himself out of the grid. Everyone needs collective action to make this work. He and his wife both grow together. He is much less wide-eyed and optimistic, and his wife is more open to changing her lifestyle in ways that she couldn't imagine.

I couple this with a great news story that I heard yesterday about the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community becoming energy independent. The Shakopee was a very poor tribe until 1982, when they opened a bingo hall. Then they opened what become the most profitable casino in the region. Instead of just dispersing the money, the Shakopee invested on how to achieve sovereignty, at least in the energy realm.

Seeing and hearing stories like this make me examine my own life. What can I still do? Most of my food is local (yea farm share!). Our house is as energy efficient as it can be without major renovations. I do still drive a car, although it's a hybrid. One thing that we could change is that we could start actively composting. I think that about 1/2 of our garbage is compostable. Perhaps we can join with a neighbor who already composts stuff. Or, we can try it ourselves. Composting might be the next step that I take to decrease my impact on the earth.

I know that I will never be as extreme as No Impact Man. He did many things that I don't want to do...or can't do (if I'm honest, they are probably things that I don't want more than can't). However, I can continually examine my life and push myself to make choices that will make the world a better place.

We are beyond the point where recycling is enough. We need to think about our consumption in new ways. God gave us a beautiful earth, and that earth needs to last for many more generations. Think about your own life and what you are able to do.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


I've been attempting to exercise again lately. This always seems to be something that I want to do around August/September. I'm not getting up quite as early as I was last time, which might help quite a bit. I now get up at 7:00 and head downstairs for a approximately 30 minute routine that involves stretching, crunches, and either upper or lower body routines. Not bad.

Richard and I are also attempting to take very brisk walks in the evening. It doesn't happen every evening, but it was a routine that we tried to keep over the summer. I'd like to keep doing it until it gets beastly cold (which should give us a couple more weeks at least).

I'm aware that my body is getting older and more out of shape. I'm feeling a little guilt for not doing more when I was younger and healthier. However, guilt about the past doesn't do a whole lot for me now. I am still young and healthy, and I can start working on my body right now.

We've debated joining a gym, taking a class, or getting a personal trainer. Richard doesn't want to spend the money on something that we may or may not do in the future. He believes that our work in the basement is good enough until we can establish a real exercise routine. I would like a class or a trainer, just so that I have something to go to. Someone to keep me accountable. Someone to watch my form and keep me from hurting myself. For now, the basement is working fine, but someday I'll want to step out into the world where people work out.

Let me be clear, I'm not in bad shape, but I could be in better shape. This is about preservation and maintenance. I'm not going to become a gym bunny or anything. But I do want to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise. So I'm putting it out there for others to follow up on.