Saturday, July 29, 2006

What Is This??

Okay, first of all, this has nothing to do with IR topics; it's a mild vent.

I like to blog surf to help generate traffic for IR Haven and occasionally, I see some weird sites...but then I run across this:

Many have expressed a degree of frustration that some quarters of the 9/11 truth movement are not as bold in their stance when drawing conclusions about 9/11 evidence as is necessary to make an impact. The American Scholars Symposium was crystal clear in its summation that 9/11 represents an inside job carried out by criminal elements within the US government. The deliberate implosion of the twin towers and Building 7 allied with the reversal of routine air defense procedures leave no other explanation than the fact that the attack was a self-inflicted wound.

The only problem with that theory is the two hijacked planes that hit the two tower buildings (and the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon and the hijacked plane that went down in Pennsylvania) which was seen by millions of people -- many of them live over television news channels as the explosions happened!

The massive heat from the explosions and the still-burning jet fuel melted the support infrastructure of the buildings, causing their collapse. I had that explained to me by engineers as events were unfolding that day as we watched in horror.

Do people have no shame in their "blame America/blame the U.S. Government" paranoia?

Don't answer that. I already know...

08-03-06 Update: I went back to the site (after its webmaster posted a very civil comment) and after a little digging, found a 40-minute long 911 conspiracy interview with Charlie Sheen conducted by none other than Alex Jones!


Is that a helicopter I hear?

Best Wishes,
Not In The News Friday (NITNF) - Late Edition (TM)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

Apologies for not posting yesterday but, what can I say, it slipped my mind (the horror! the horror!). This week's topic: Loving Day!

(Hat tip to Zen for pointing me to the website)

From the Loving Day website:

What is Loving Day?

On June 12th, 1967, interracial couples became legal thanks to the Supreme Court decision entitled Loving v. Virginia. Before that date, states had the right to separate and punish interracial couples. These punishments included imprisonment of up to ten years. Violations included marriage, sex, and living together. This issue is a part of the civil rights movement that is too often forgotten. On June 12th of every year, celebrate your legal right to love a person of any race.

Their website has some very interesting links and resources and even a section to share your IR stories. I think it's great that someone thought to set aside a day to recognize and celebrate the significance of the legalization of interracial marriages and relationships. You can plan your own celebration or join in on someone else's (events listed on the website). It also has the "legal map" from 1662 to 1967, showing each state as it legalized interracial marriages. Very cool! Check it out.

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Exploring What Makes One Interracially Motivated

Picture from Melting Pot Gifts

In the process of moving, you inevitably end up taking a trip down memory lane. It either happens while you're boxing stuff up or when you're unboxing things at your new place.

It happened to me yesterday. At first, it was kind of tough because I found the newspaper clipping of my dad's obituary from May 1997. That was rougher than I expected it to be. But as I began transferring papers from a nearly unuseable box into a new box, I ran across old letters I sent Angel when she was in college and in the Army. And while I will not disclose any of the contents of those most personal letters, I will say that it taught me some things about our relationship and about myself.

I sometimes wonder why my first love happened to be a black woman. Why did things just click so perfectly (at first, at least)? And did this affect me in other dating choices at that time? In retrospect, I believe that it did, but that did not keep me from dating women of many races, including asian, hispanic, black and white.

But one thing was certain: I treated every woman the same, regardless of race. I was looking for Ms. Right. I wanted someone to love who would also love me. My heart's desire always was to get married and have children, so I wanted someone who shared those goals. I went through some odd and painful experiences looking for her. My first love did not want marriage or kids (and sadly, that was just the beginning of the problems with that relationship). Several women didn't seem to know what they wanted (I guess that's pretty normal). Others knew what they wanted and didn't choose to clue me in. Such is the nature of dating...

Then I met Angel. We were friends before we started dating. But before we could start dating, I had to realize that I loved her. And I did (and do) love her. I knew she was beautiful the first time I met her but I fell in love with her for her personality, intelligence, sensitivity and boldness. We also had a great deal of fun together!

For example, early in our relationship, she planned to surprise me by borrowing a camcorder and taping our whole Saturday together. I had already planned to take us to the Bastrop State Park and some other places. We ended up watching the sunset on Mount Bonnell, one of Austin's great romantic nature spots (we also stopped at many places before then, too). We could be spontaneous like that and we both enjoyed it.

So, being very upfront, my attraction to black women was a factor in why Angel and I had some of our initial chemistry and why I find her physically attractive. But what's kept us together is a combination of that chemistry along with our personalities, our striving to make it as a couple and the desire for our relationship to grow and mature...and it has! Race had nothing to do with the latter factors.

I'm incredibly proud of our biracial children. They are everything I ever wanted and so much more. Sure, they will try to get away with some things and have a little attitude sometimes, but that's just part of growing up. We're firm with them but we always try to show them that we love them...and they always show us that they love us, too.

I look at them and I see the perfect blending of the black and white "races" and from that, I see that race is literally what you make it. I also see that the combination makes them genetically and culturally stronger than each race by itself. It gives them more options and more of a future.

I've been with this woman for 14 years, married for 11 of them. I will always be learning what it means to love her and I hope to continue to learn her, understand her and find new ways to be there for her. That's what she's done for me. Her race does not determine whether I love her or not. It's part of who she is and I love all of who she is. But human beings are more than their race.

I wish some people could learn that.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our Newest Tenant: Winsome Gunning Art Walk

Please visit this week's tenant and see the lovely artwork and blogging at Winsome Gunning Art Walk. I enjoy the colors and feel and the sentiments in The Artist's work. I hope you do, too.

Best Wishes,

Monday, July 24, 2006

Youthfest 2006

Picture of 2003 Youthfest

Last weekend was full and fun and exhausting...but worth it. Our church sponsored the 2006 Youthfest in Austin, Texas, a two-day event with live music, good food, skits, guest speakers and the preaching of the Gospel. Over the course of the six hour event on Saturday and four hour event on Sunday, hundreds of youth and their parents, of all nationalities, attended.

The Mayor Pro-Tem, a City Council member and others gave encouraging speeches to the youth. There were also activities for the youth, including face painting and some fun mascots (two church sisters dressed up as a star and as a candle -- very cute). There were also vendors like The River 102.3 FM and the local community college and at least half a dozen others.

It made the local tv news and got some photos in the local newspaper and its website. But most importantly, by the end of the event, 8 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ!

First Light performed 2 songs on both days to enthusiastic response, which was wonderful. You can hear the two songs we performed on the First Light My Space site (link above), "You Were There" and "Hold On" (both recorded at the 2003 Youthfest (pictured above).

There are a couple of unique things I'd like to mention about the event. The first was that this was an event by a church made up of many interracial couples. That's just the way our nondenominational church is, welcoming of and loving all nations. Secondly, every musical group has bilingual songs that include Spanish.

One of the best moments of the event for me was during one of the songs on Sunday by our church's Youth Choir. A young married couple sang a duet that was backed up by the choir. They sang the first verse and chorus in English and it was well-received. And then they broke into a Spanish version of the first verse and chorus and got enthusiastic clapping from Hispanic (obviously Spanish-speaking) attendees in the audience. And then the whole choir sang in Spanish supporting the lead singer -- and you could just tell, there was such appreciation for what was being said. The song is called "And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love."

The church set up a projection system that acted like a big screen tv so people in the back could see what was happening on stage. And we had several cameramen from different angles recording the whole event. And I think it was recorded for CD, too (hopefully).

It was a lot of work and we're still tired and sore, especially after all the moving (which is now 100% complete)...but as I said at the beginning, it was all worth it. We did Youthfest in 2003 and 2004, now in 2006 and we hope to have another one next year.

Best Wishes,

Friday, July 21, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF): Deep Edition (TM)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

The first few NITNFs have been kind of light and fluffy, so I wanted to cover a topic with a bit more substance this week: the interracial marriage of Moses and Zipporah!

Unlike the not quite apparent difference in skin tones in the animated movie "The Prince of Egypt," the Bible makes it very clear that Moses' wife was Ethiopian while Moses was a Hebrew. Not only that but his interracial marriage with Zipporah actually caused family tensions with his sister, Miriam and even Aaron. This displeased God so much that He punished Miriam. Moses had to plead for mercy for her and even then, God still wanted to make an example that her bigotry displeased Him.

My take: God was no respecter of persons then and He is no respecter of persons now. God loves all nations and He hates racism and bigotry. Take that how you will concerning the events that are in the news today.

The whole account is in Chapter 12 of Numbers in the Old Testament. I realize that not all people agree on the Bible but it's fascinating reading.

Numbers 12: 1 -16 (King James Version)

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.

And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.

With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.

And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.

And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.

Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.

And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.

And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.

And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New Logos?

Since I was getting tired of text and haven't had time to re-upload the original logos to IR Haven, I went ahead and made some new ones online. What do you think? Do you like these or did you prefer the old ones more? Let me know!

Move update: The duplex is almost entirely cleaned out now, btw. I had no idea we had so much junk in the garage! Amazing...

Logo update, later in the day: After looking at the original logos again, I decided they were better. I uploaded them to Photobucket and linked them back here. So, although change is good, in this case, I think it's better not to mess with a "classic" look (at least till I come up with something better).

I put the "alternative versions" in thumbnail format with this post (click each thumbnail for the full-size version) for everyone to see (and...enjoy?)

P.S. - I finally got the background image uploaded to PB -- woohoo!

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Winner of the World's Worst Unintentional Site Makeover!

Yes, for a few days, IR Haven had "Image Not Available" wallpaper and numerous "Image Not Available" images, including the email link. Don't you love the cute little red stop sign X? It's so pretty...not!

No, IR Haven was NOT hacked.

I found out the hard way that Blog Explosion's image hosting has a 250 MB monthly bandwidth limit and that limit is very easy to reach. When that happens, your images no longer show; instead, you get the big red stop sign.

So I switched to Photo Bucket. They have a 10GB monthly limit on bandwidth.

By comparison, 250MB x 4 = 1 GB so Photo Bucket gives you 40 times as much bandwidth.

I will need to add the background image and some other images later today, but at least I was able to re-makeover the site in the meantime...lest some of you go blind (which would be really bad; I would feel awful)!

By the way, we're about 99% moved now.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

When Exercise Attacks!

So I've been taking a new bus route to get to work since the move. On weekdays, I take 3 different buses to get to work (I used to take only one). Today was my first time taking a Saturday route to work -- and it only involved taking two buses...but there was a catch: I had thought the bus would take me closer to my job than it actually did.

So I found myself a couple of miles from my job instead of about half a mile like I'd planned.

In Texas heat.


The only good part was that it was still early morning (around 9:15 am). I made good time, walking fast. I still was sweating pretty hard...but I made it in less than half an hour, so I was happy.

Next time, I'll pick a route that gets me a little closer. Really.

Best Wishes,

Friday, July 14, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun! You won't find these tidbits in news stories, no sirree!

This week's NITNF: Today we "trivialize" another well-known mixed-race actor -- Keanu Reeves!

Prior to his appearance in A Scanner Darkly, you may know him from The Matrix trilogy of movies.

You know him from Speed

Some of you may even remember him from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

But did you know that he loves ballroom dancing?

He also once had a job sharpening ice skates.

Personal Quote from Keanu:
When told, "You'll just have to bite the bullet", his reply was, "Yes, but I don't have to eat the whole rifle."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quick Moving Update

Okay, so we have essentially moved in to the new apartment. There's still a few straggling items at the old place and a lot of cleaning up to do, but a good 80% to 90% was able to be moved on Monday and Tuesday (the majority of it -- *pant, wheeze* -- on Monday!)

The kids have been adapting reasonably well. They've liked being able to help move stuff and bring stuff up to the apartment and they seem to like their new room already. My youngest son, Josey, in his most optimistic tone, proceeded to explain the comparisons between how many bedrooms and bathrooms the duplex had as well as the living room and dining room -- so the places really were similar after all (now imagine it explained about twice as complex as that)...with a smile on his face. It was very cute.

The basic utilities were already on when we moved in. We got cable, internet and phone on yesterday (advantages of working for the company that supplies those services). I was finally able to get my George Foreman Grill over last night. For some reason, I had an innate fear that I would drop it in the move, so I was very, very careful with it. Ah, a "chef" and his grill...

The only stubborn point for me has been the washer/dryer connections. My friends who helped me move all the furniture on Monday also moved the Washer and the Dryer. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to hook them up. I made an attempt in a condition of dehydrated, overheated exhaustion on Monday night and it was just laughable. Keep in mind, in Austin it got to 97 degrees F(ahrenheit) with a heat index of 102 degrees F. And of course, we moved things during the hottest part of the day (hey, it had to get done). Now that I have all my tools and my wits back about my head, I should be able to get it hooked up by tomorrow.

Yesterday wasn't much easier. I moved all of the computer equipment over by myself. Scarily, it was a vehicle load all by itself (who knew?). Although not as hard as hauling the washer and dryer up a steep flight of stairs, the cumulative effort of making 5 or 6 trips up those stairs in 90+ degree heat was still exhausting (and nerve wracking, I need all of that equipment).

But it does feel good to see all of us settling in and getting used to the new place.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moving Day

We will be moving into an apartment next week. This will be our first move in 10 years, which is significant in many ways.

First of all, there are the positives. Considering that we've been renting one half of a duplex for 10 years, financially it makes more sense to put rent into an apartment. We'll actually be paying less money and have better maintenance. Also, the complex was recently renovated, so it is essentially a new place. It's near an elementary school that the boys can both go to and it's closer to Angel's job and still near mine, too. In the long run, we see this as a good time to get ready to (eventually) buy a house.

There are some negatives, of course. It will be smaller, so we'll have to be more creative with how we decorate and occupy the apartment. But even that is good in a way (did I mention I'm an optimist?). It'll force us to get rid of a lot of things we've probably been unnecessarily packratting.

I think it will be harder on the kids. My oldest son was only months old when we moved into the duplex and our youngest son was brought home from the hospital to this duplex. It's the only home they've ever known, so naturally, they're quite attached to it. I understand -- I'm a sentimental guy, too. We have a lot of memories in that house. I know we'll miss it.

But it's a necessary step for us and I think it will be for the best. Stability is always good but nothing is constant in life except change.

I came to realize some years ago that wherever your loved ones are, that's home.

Best Wishes,

Friday, July 07, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun! You won't find these tidbits in news stories, no sirree!

This week's NITNF: Okay, so today's trivia does have a biracial tie-in! Yes, our focus today is Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry!

Berry, who won the Oscar for her performance in Monster's Ball, has an acting career spanning back to 1989. Many were stellar performances...or at least positive ones.

You may remember her as Storm of the X-Men

You (like many of us) may have wondered about Catwoman...?

But did you know Halle Berry was in the 1997 comedy BAPS?

Oh, well, these things happen...

Have a great weekend!

Best Wishes,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

One Drop (Rule) Is Wrong

The last time I blogged on this type of topic, I got a sharp criticism from an African-American reader who felt I wasn't qualified to speak on such things because I'm white. Nevermind how racist that in itself is, it is how some people feel. So let me preface this post by saying I am qualified to speak on the following topic because I am the father of two biracial children.

First, some historical background via Wikipedia:
The one-drop theory (or one-drop rule) is a historical colloquial term for the standard, found throughout the United States of America, that holds that a person with even a tiny portion of non-white ancestry ("one drop of non-white blood") should be classified as "colored", especially for the purposes of laws forbidding interracial marriage. It is an ethnocentric concept based on the idea of human hierarchy. This notion of invisible/intangible membership in a "racial" group has seldom been applied to people of Native American ancestry (see Race in the United States for details). The notion has also been applied to the idea of solely black ancestry.

By 1925, almost every state had a one-drop law on the books, or something equivalent. These were the laws that gave power to bureaucrats like Walter Plecker of Virginia [8], Naomi Drake of Louisiana [9], and similar people around the country — people whose mission was to hunt down any families of mixed ancestry and shove them to the Black side of the color line.

In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court, in its ruling on the case of Loving v. Virginia, conclusively invalidated Plecker's Virginia Racial Integrity Act, along with its key component, the one-drop rule, as unconstitutional. Despite this holding, the one-drop theory is still influential in U.S. society. Multiracial individuals with visible mixed European and African and/or Native American ancestry are often still considered non-white unless they explicitly declare themselves white or Anglo, and are typically identified instead as mixed-race, mulatto or mestizo, or Black or American Indian, for example. By contrast these standards are widely rejected by America's Latino community, the majority of whom are of mixed ancestry, but for whom their Latino cultural heritage is more important to their ethnic identities than "race". The one-drop rule is not generally applied to Latinos of mixed origin or to Arab-Americans.

So, keeping this in mind, it is troubling to me that One Drop Rule is even around... It's a way of thinking whose time has gone the way of the dodo and the dinosaur. It needs to die.

And this is my opinion only, but I believe One Drop Rule is racist. Yes, racist ... because it states that one racial heritage is dominant over the other even within a mixed-race genetic makeup. One Drop encourages a biracial or multiracial individual to choose one racial heritage over the other and downplay or deny the other -- supposedly for the good of the individual or to help them "fit in." As a social context, it is particularly insidious because often shame is used to batter the biracial individual into submission of the group- or collective-inspired racism. Mob rules thinking. It is wrong and should be called out for the terribly misguided racism it is. No one race or culture is any better than any other.

Fortunately, my sons have not faced this pressure yet. Austin is a fairly diverse city and interracial marriages and families are common here but there is racism, too -- from all sides. Someday, they may be encouraged to think that they're only Black. It may be from friends or coworkers or anybody, really.

My job as their parent is to teach them to embrace all of who they are. It's not about being white or black or even Apache. It's about being you, whatever that means. And my job (and my wife's) is to answer their questions about where they come from. If they want to know about African-American or even African culture, we will teach them. If they want to know about Native Americans, we will do the same. If they wanted to know about my Dutch ancestors, same thing.

Life is too short and confusing enough to be distracted by "racial identity issues." Simply be who you are -- ALL of who you are. My boys do not think of themselves as any one race -- they know they are mixed. But more important than that, they know they are loved.

That's really all that matters...isn't it?

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Worry-Free July 4th

Yesterday was a very nice, relaxing day. The whole family had the day off and we just stayed home and took it easy. I only went out once to buy ingredients for the spaghetti and meatball supper I cooked. I will admit it, it was a rainy day and we were lazy all day. I had the digital video recorder (DVR) recording the G4 Star Trek marathon while I played video games for a while on the computer. The kids enjoyed the Tom and Jerry marathon on Boomarang (but not all day for them, and not all day for me, either -- watching the tv for more than 90 minutes tends to do serious damage to one's IQ).

I did enjoy cooking. I haven't made meatballs in years. I used ground turkey meat for the meatballs this time, which was a first for me. I seasoned it with some steak seasonings (salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, red pepper) and worcheshire sauce and then cooked it in the skillet. Next time, I will add some chopped onion to the mix, though; it really helps with the texture. Anyway, I combined that with a couple of different spaghetti sauces from the store (sauteed onion and garlic and super chunky mushroom, both from Ragu) and some Barilla angel hair pasta -- and voila!

Even though I dearly love cooking on my George Foreman Grill, it was nice to cook something on the stove for once. Spaghetti itself is a no-brainer but the meat is what can take time. I usually just break up the ground beef (or turkey) and brown it, drain it and let it get seasoned by the sauce, but I wanted to do something different this time. I also wanted to see how the flavoring of the turkey meat would in turn flavor the sauce. (I really liked how it ended up adding a nice dash of the worcheshire taste to the sauce!)

Sometimes the greatest benefit of having freedom is to use it. But also, it's important to remember that those freedoms were attained at a high cost. We need to be grateful for our independence.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Is This Cool Or What?

Look -- Up In The Sky! It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's A -- Bunny??

Okay, sorry that it's off-topic but the 30-second bunny parody of the 1979 Superman movie is just amazingly accurate and funny! A must-see if you've ever seen the original...although I showed it to my kids and they got it, too. (I let my oldest son see the original Superman with me on cable tv last fall.) Family friendly and cute.

Happy July 4th in advance!

Best Wishes,