August 31, 2004

The Great Minnesota Get Together

That’s right; I did it. I braved the maddening crowds and the vats of oil to be a part of the State Fair again this year. I did it for the history, for the entertainment, for the family bonding experience, and, let’s face it, for the cheese curds and free crap.

And the free crap was plentiful. The highlights are the temporary tattoos. There seem to be a plethora of them, but the two I indulged in were the St. Cloud State Husky temporary tattoos in the education building and the atomic tattoos in the Wonders of Technology exhibit because, believe it or not, they were offering to airbrush a similar tattoo on any appendage for $12 at a street carnival I went to this summer.

In addition, if your mother ship was Bethel College (now University, but those of us who think this is a shameless marketing ploy refuse to convert), you can get a free Bethel University window cling. You have to admit to being an alumnus, though, which might cost you a certain amount of pride if you’re a self-respecting atheist. Having firmly decided that I can’t be an atheist, I fessed up and got a free window cling. (Yes! Finally, a reason to be glad I’m not an atheist! Free crap!) In addition, you can get the free Bethel University ruler, which is an upgrade from the free Bethel College ruler of previous fairs.

Just to be obnoxious, either just before or just after visiting the Bethel booth, you should check out St. Thomas. They’re giving away free purple St. Thomas hankies. I mean, they’re purple! And you can wear one while admitting to being Bethel alumni. Or wrap your free window cling around your forehead while asking for a St. Thomas hanky; you know, nothing like antagonizing the Christians.

Also, be sure not to miss the 3M display in the Wonders of Technology building, which would be rather hard to do, seeing as how they sponsor the building and take up about a third of it. They’re giving away the traditional free postie pack and also wall hangers with sticky backs. The post-its are not as creative as some years; they’re pretty much the standard issue yellow postie, but a free post-it is an awesome post-it, anyway.

The two free exhibits that I never miss are the Fine Arts Building’s art display and the Creative Arts Building’s quilt display. I wish I had the time to do artistic things again, and I wish I had the patience to acquire quilting skills. Since I know neither of these two things is going to happen in the next year, I go to the exhibits and look at what other people can do. You should, too. My favorite photo was of a leaf with water droplets on it. It was priced at $75, which was about the cheapest one there--surprising for me, as I usually seem to pick out the most expensive things wherever I go. Looking at it is free.

That’s about it for the worthwhile free stuff. If you think you’ll ever where a paper hat shaped like a pickle, you could always explore the Creative Arts building. As far as the other wonderful part of the fair (food), my two personal favorites are Dippin’ Dots and Cheese Curds. Of these, the cheese curds win every time. Be sure to get the right cheese curds. They are located on Dan Patch Avenue in a building of their own next to World’s Greatest Fries. Do not be fooled by mere ridiculous substitutes such as “Cheese on a Stick” and “Cheesy’s Cheese Curds.” :)

Now get out there and enjoy the free crap and greasy food, people; if you can't ring out the summer in style, at least ring it out with a crowd.

Posted by LoWriter at 05:09 PM | Comments (7)

August 20, 2004

Vote for Your Favorite Color

If you have a color that you would like to see featured on the "Terror Alert Color of the Week" slot at the top of the page, I'm currently taking requests.

Posted by LoWriter at 07:54 AM | Comments (4)

August 17, 2004


If you're a Harry Potter fan, the door is open with a new clue at Mugglenet has the hints for how to view the clue. Here's what you do: Click around in the doorway across from the windowsill until you hit the light switch. Throw the darts at 7, 1, and 3 (in that order). Then click in the code 302723. That will get you a very obscure clue. I don't really get it, but maybe you all will and you can shed some light on it for me.

Posted by LoWriter at 12:21 PM | Comments (4)

August 13, 2004

The 'Rents and Other Tales from the Crypt

So, have I mentioned that my parents and I, especially my dad and I, don't get along, like 86.4 percent of the time?

We argue about everything: politics, the weather, my writing, school, the car, the phone jack, cooking, work, vitamins, and the price of rice in China. This particular time, I'm not reading my Bible well enough, praying well enough, or going to church often enough due to the fact that I think gay people should have rights.

That's right. I said it. Gay people should have the same damn rights as straight people. If we want to talk about what Leviticus says, then let's get to it. You go read it tonight and tell me what you find. It says some pretty interesting things about what to do if someone's house has had mildew in it, which involve, among other things, killing a bird over a pot of fresh water (Leviticus 14:33-57, Quest Study NIV version). I understand that Leviticus is not the only reference to homosexuality in the Bible. However, I still feel that it doesn't matter whether you think homosexuality is a sin or not, denying equal rights to an entire people group is wrong, and this is not the first time the Bible has been used to justify this kind of behavior.

This is not what I said to my father. After a long, unrequested and unprovoked tirade about the awefullness of homosexuality and the glory of our government for trying to stamp it out of our society, I said something to the extent of, "I don't think it's right to deny homosexuals the same rights as straight people." After which I was promptly insulted and asked where I had gotten the idea that everything that's in that book [The Bible] isn't true?

It's not that I don't think it's true, it's that I think some portions are, oh, I don't know... LESS RELEVANT than others. (i.e. any solution for mildew that involves dead birds and clay pots and which doesn't involve bleach.) In addition, my particular version of the Bible says, about the life and words of a pretty important guy, as far as Christianity goes, "Jesus replied, 'Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands'" (Matthew 22:37-40, Quest Study, NIV).

Wait.... did I mis-quote that? Am I reading that correctly? Because I don't see anything in there about oppressing people I don't agree with (or who I don't believe God agrees with). Wow. You mean the foundation of Christianity is to love and not to rebuke, limit, and rid the society of certain people??? OH MY GOD!!!

So here are the cards in my hand, people: I'm a Christian. (I'm also a straight, although that shouldn't matter.) I wanted to be an atheist for a period of time when I was in college. Hell, somedays, I still wish I could be an atheist. I hate what Christianity has done and is still doing to the world in the name of God. I hate what we do to each other. (Also, I would potentially have a lot more money if I didn't feel very strongly that I am supposed to be exactly where I am right now work-wise.) It would be a lot easier to believe that there was no God and beebop along minding my own business because being a Christian means that I'm responsible for loving everybody, and let's be honest, somedays, I don't have the energy or the desire to love everybody (such as when I was in the middle of this particular argument). Also, I wouldn't have to be challenged about/held accountable for/asked questions I can't answer about all the things Christians have done that have caused suffering for people around the globe like I have to now almost every time someone who is not a Christian finds out that I am one. In spite of these things, through a series of events that I may elaborate on someday, I could not and still cannot deny that there is a God. Underneath all there is inside of me, there is something else that is not me and that I can't account for. Underneath it all, I feel an overpowering sense of love and acceptance that I know is not mine by rights, and yet there it is, anyway. How do I know God exists? I don't. But I believe He does. Could I be wrong? Absolutely.

So could anyone else.

And I have waited long and hard for that one piece of faith, though not for any one reason alone, since becoming an adult. I am at a point where I am realizing that I will have to have it challenged constantly since I don't want to believe in things that don't hold up under testing. The religion I choose to follow has to be at least as durable as my mauve apartment carpet, or I may as well stay home with cuddling with said carpet, eating cereal and watching Cowboy Bebop DVDs on Sunday mornings.

And in the end, the main issue in this debate (what constitutes sin and what should we do about it) is really not my problem. It's (thankfully)(can I get an amen?) not my job to figure out who's living in sin, who's right, or who's wrong. I'm not the one that has to decide who gets what for doing this or that. It's my job to take care of the people. All of the people. And I can't seem to get that right 99.98 percent of the time, anyway, and it's a lot less complicated, so I don't see that I have any business monkeying around anywhere else. Pretty direct, that whole "love God, then love people" command, and yet I can't even get it right when it comes to dealing with my family or my friends or complete stragners. Not a lot of loopholes and conditional terms in a statement like that, are there? Yet, I continue to be amazed at how hard it actually is.

Posted by LoWriter at 12:17 AM | Comments (5)

August 09, 2004

The Hottest Chick in the Comic Shop

Well, OK, make that the only chick in the comic shop.

I will be the first one to admit it. I am a geek. Not only do I admit it; I fully embrace my geekiness. And this weekend, I spent some time in the comic shop encouraging my geekiness to blossom.

To be fair, it's also a game shop.

I go to Source Comics and Games on Snelling and Larpenteur for all my geeky needs, including my recently acquired game fetish. Board and card games, though, not video games. (For the most part, I think video games are a waste of time, energy, and valuable eye sight. I mean, original NES is fine, but I don't need to play on a 3D screen when I can play live games with real people instead of on a computer. A little Mario Cart never hurt anyone, I suppose, and I guess StarCraft is looking pretty hot, too...but on the average, video games=booo.) I never used to enjoy board or card games very much, either. Then I discovered that it's only main stream games like Monopoly and Smear that make me want to vomit. Three good friends have since introduced me to a plethora of card and board games that are interesting, fun, and hilarious, including my most recent acquisition: Brawl, which is why I was in the comic/game store in the first place. (I bought two characters. I decided that a weekend with my family was apt to make me crazy if I didn't lighten things up a bit.)

Brawl is a "real time" card game, which means that I can throw cards down as fast as my little hands can move. We don't take no stinkin' turns. The game is meant to simulate a "fight" between characters. Every deck has "bases" on which you play "hits," "blocks," and "clears." Advanced decks have other cards, such as "reverse," "hold," and "null" cards. Hits played on your side are points for you. Hits played on the other player's side are points for them. (You want to get the most points.) Blocks allow you to block the other player from scoring any more points on a particular side of the base. Clear allows you to clear a base and all the cards played on it from the game, which lets you play another base if you can. You can play from the top of your discard pile as well, which makes it exciting. Once you get to the bottom of the deck, there are "freeze" cards, which end the game on the bases where they are played. The game can continue if all the bases are not frozen, so you have to be a little careful if there's more than one player. You win the bases where you have played the most hits against the other player. It's a fast game, usually lasting about 5 minutes, if that. And it is my latest obsession after Harry Potter, which is why I was in the comic store.

Usually, I go to the comic store, I get my deck or (save us) my new dice, and then I leave, but yesterday I was spending some time browsing when I suddenly noticed that I was receiving several stares. Usually, when I walk in by myself, the cashier gives me a friendly hello, which I enjoy because it makes me feel like I'm a person instead of a dollar sign. Yesterday he was busy, so I beebopped around looking at the other cheapass games that I have never seen or played, but I suddenly realized I was being watched. One of the guys stocking the shelves quickly looked back at the books he was filing on the wall when I looked over. At first, I thought it was because they were worried that I was stealing, so I kept my first selections far out in the open. This did not help matters. I wandered around some more, noticing as I did that the guys chilling at the tables where the game tournaments usually take place were also looking my direction. By this time, I was very concerned that I might have toilet paper sticking out of my pants or something, but this was not the case. Finally, another fellow geek came meandering in from outside, looked at me, looked away, looked again, smiled, and said hello, which I returned. "Wow, they're friendly here," I thought. And that was when I came to a very interesting conclusion.

"I am the only chick in here," I said to myself under my breath as it suddenly dawned on me that there was a definate lack of estrogen in the place. I began to understand what endangered species must feel like.

To be fair, I think that if I had chosen to wear my spiked collar I would maybe have blended in better than I did on this particular occasion. I was looking fairly old to be hanging out in a game store. (Although, not older than the guys at the tournament tables.) As I think back on previous trips to this store, even when Carl, Jill and I have gone, I realize that the guy to girl ratio has usually been tipped in favor of the guys.

There are two reasons I bring this up: First, I always feel funny when I realize that I am not as young as I feel and that I might be considered too old to shop certain places, and second, I don't understand why the ratio for game/comic geeks is stacked in favor of the guys. I guess I'm not a complete game/comic geek because I've just been introduced to some of the fringe gaming elements, but I enjoy it a lot. Why is this predominately a guy activity?

Posted by LoWriter at 12:13 PM | Comments (5)

August 04, 2004

If I Win the Powerball (Provided I Buy a Powerball Ticket Someday)

My sister and I used to dream up what we would do if we ever won the lottery. We would spend hours discussing what we'd do with our winnings. I still sometimes do that with friends, and last night was a banner night for it. (Be aware that I'm talking like $250 million jackpots. None of these measly $10 million prizes for me and my daydreams.)

First, I would take the cash option. You would earn back whatever you lost if you put the money into some kind of savings plan anyway, just from the interest. Also, there's no guarantee I'm going to live for 20 years to see the pay-out, so I want my money now. Once you've done that, you have to pay taxes. We figure you end up with less than half but more than a third by the time you're done with all of this.

Next, I would pay off all my immediate family's debt and pay for my youngest sister's college. Then I would consider giving some to my friends. My friend Danika said last night that she'd give 20 of her closest friends $100,000. I like that theory. So, I'd give 20 of my closest friends $100,000. I'm not going to name you here. You know who you are. (If you're not one of my closest friends, you may want to consider beginning to kiss up now. Kissing up after the fact earns you fewer friendship points and, therefore, less money.)

Then I think I'd stick it into some kind of savings plan and live lavishly off the interest for the rest of my life, if that's even possible with the current interest rates. I would definitely buy one of those apartments on Grand with the balconies and live there. Then I would pay off the cops to never ticket or tow my car as long as I lived there.

Then I think I'd keep going to work. People argue with me about this, but I'm pretty sure I'd still go to at least one of my jobs because I think it'd be fun to see how much crap you could get away with before getting fired. You know that for at least a couple months they'd be trying to get a donation out of you, so they wouldn't fire you then. Besides, I firmly believe that you could be completely useless/incompetent for the rest of your life, especially in academia, and never get fired, even if you didn't have any money to donate. Therefore, I also argue that you could probably be downright insubordinate for anywhere from 4 to 6 months in academia, especially if you had money, before anyone decided that they would actually have to fire you. I think that if I were rich, I would just start rattling cages at work. I would start trying to change the whole place and keep going until I either succeeded or got fired. Wait a minute... that seems to be my real life. Well, I'd worry less about it if I were rich. I've never been fired, and I think that, under the right circumstances (i.e., wealth), it could be a lot of fun. I also think I'd laugh more often at people who were trying to be serious. Perhaps there would be some flicking off when appropriate (and yes, there is such a thing) as well.

After I got fired, I would start going to grad school. I think I would keep an apartment here for the weekends and go to that Iowa Writers' Workshop for school during the week. I mean, if all else failed, I could probably afford to pay them off to accept me, too. I would definitely have to live in Seatle for a year as well.

Once I finished that, I think I would spend my days writing, playing Brawl, learning kickboxing, and probably traveling around the country/world/universe. (In my custom made space ship.) (Yes, that's right. I said spaceship. With intuitive controls and an improbability drive.)

So, basically, winning the lottery would help me reach all the goals for my life in about five years.

Those of you who know what a work-oholic I am will find this funny, but.... to be completely honest, I think I'd get bored.

Posted by LoWriter at 09:45 AM | Comments (5)