Saturday, April 28, 2007

Brewster Dream

Amy and I were staying at my uncles house, which used to be my grandma and papas. There are two bedrooms upstairs and we were sleeping in the one I used to sleep in when I spent the night as a kid.

I woke up the next morning and went down to shower. The house looked exactly as I remember except for the bathroom.The shower had moved from one wall to another. There was no tub, but a drain on the floor, camp style. There was also no shower curtain, so I was showering in the wide open.

After a few minutes my aunt and uncle came in and sat on the toilet. They weren’t doing anything there, but sitting (fully clothed) quite comfortably too. In moments my mother also came in and stood by the door.

Nothing seemed odd about this while I showered, until the turned off the water. Then like Adam and Eve, I suddenly realized I was naked. I crowched down to hide my naked bits, but then realizing there was nothing to do, I grabbed a towel and dried off.

I put a t-shirt on, but that’s all the clothes I had. As I started to leave, mom told me to wait. It seemed there was an Aunt or somebody outside who would be offended by my lack of clothing.

We argued abot this for sometime, and the aunt and uncle pair who were on the toilet joined in. Eventually, without any other options I left with just the t-shirt on. I raced upstairs to the bedroom, where I found my wife laying on the floor, half under the bed, totally zonked out.

I tried to wake her and ask why she was on the floor, but all she did was mumble and push me away.

It was here that I awoke.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mullins does stand up

Mullins does a monthly stand up routine for kids only, a kid friendly show...
This is footage of his first time doing this. He will admit, it was a little rough, but it's be polished to perfection now... enjoy Mullins fans!

The Chinese Dilemma


A little background information for the old guys who are new to the blog: My wife and I are currently living in Bloomington, Indiana. The wife is wrapping up a PhD in French Linguistics – she has finished all of her course work, passed her exams and has only but the dissertation to write.

I recently got laid off from my job, and this being a small town filled with a large college, career options are few. With the dissertation being able to be written anywhere, and my job worries, we feel it is time for a move.

CHINA-Great%20Wall%20ofr%20China%203My sister and her husband (Bethany and Brian Bates for those of you who were at Faulkner long enough) are currently residing in Shanghai, China. They work at a high school for international students. They’ve been in China for about three years now and absolutely love it.

Amy and I have talked about traveling over there ourselves and working for a year or two. The thing is, it’s always been talk – a pipe dream if you will - something that sounds exotic and fun, but nothing more than that. The thing is with us being in what you might call a transitional period, I’ve kicked it up a little and we sent our resumes to Brian.

I got an e-mail from my sister this morning saying they had given the resumes to the administrators at the school. She also said they were eager to get somebody to teach their English as a Second Language classes. Amy, though not certified in ESL, has taken some courses in it. She also tutors foreign students in English at the local library, and she taught ESL during our year in France.

The sister also said if they like Amy they’d find me a spot. We’re expecting a call in the next week.

chinese-dragon-redNow, the question remains whether or not we would take this job if we were offered it. That’s a big move. It sounds great in a lot of ways. But we do want to start a family soon. It would be more difficult for Amy to do her research. And we’re not sure how this would effect Amy’s ability to move into a full time job at a US university. In part she’d have some real ESL experience, which is a field she loves. But it would still be out of the US market which could be detrimental (most universities expect you to jump right into your field and complete your dissertation quickly.)

Who knows if we’ll even be offered the gig. Much to think about, and I request your prayers that it will not only be offered but that we’ll make the right decision concerning it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Plaster Casting Ants

What is this, you ask? That is the nest of the Florida Harvester Ant. Scientists poured a type of plaster into the nests, creating a mold of the entire structure. "Cool" you say, and right you are. Click on the picture for the entire story, and for lots more pictures.

The Midnight Cafe In Your In-Box.

Behold the miracles of modern life! Detailed observers will notice a new little box in the sidebar. It asks for your e-mail address, but do not coil in horror, for this is no nefarious, underworld request. There will be no spam, no pornographic insults, or luxurious requests at helping some third worldian rid themselves of the shackles of newfound wealth. No, this is a showing of the fantastical amazements of modern technology. When one enters ones electronic mailing address into the box one will then begin receiving the Midnight Café Discussion blog postings through that very electronic mail box.

So, by all mean, and if you please (or dare) enter in thine address and be admonished and encouraged by the farcical ravings of the Midnight Café in the privacy (or publicity) of where ever you care to receive such things.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Precher's Dillema

My father-in-law is a good man. He has been a minister for more than 30 years. He was one of the original missionaries in Sierre Leone, Africa. He has currently been preaching for a small Indiana congregation for at least 15 years. He is sound in doctrine, kind, gentle, and a friend to everyone. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand, and carries a smile for everyone he sees.

He is being fired from his current position and is having great trouble finding a replacement position.

A few months back the elders at his congregation sat him down to tell him they would like him to leave. They were not really explicit as to why. There was something about a couple of members having some issues with him. They weren’t real clear on what that issue was, but it seems more of a personality thing than a doctrinal thing. They also would not say who these people were.

Also they stated they were not happy with the current membership numbers. In fact, they said that they had wanted the attendance to be up by a certain number by the first of this year, and that goal was not met. However, they did not relay this information to the congregation, nor to my father-in-law. They have given him until the end of this month to leave.

All kinds of emotions flair through my system.

If a member has a problem with anyone, let alone a preacher, shouldn’t they have a sit-down? Why wouldn’t the elders bring in this person or persons and let them talk with my father-in-law? They should try to work these things out, before they let him go. We have a hidden feeling, this person, is in fact one of the elders and he’s too chicken to actually talk to my father-in-law.

If an attendance goal was set, why was no one told? There are so many things wrong with it, I get all kinds of pissed. Attendance should not be the only goal of a congregation. Certainly we are told to teach and save the lost. Certainly we should be inviting people to come. But if all we care about is butts in the pew, we may in fact get that, but at what cost? Look to the TV to find giant congregations full of false teaching. Growing the current membership spiritually and brining the lost in by sound doctrine should be the priority.

Seeking and saving is not the duty of just the preacher. If an attendance goal is set, the membership ought to be involved. As Christians we are all to be telling the Good News, not just the preacher. But certainly he ought to be told of this goal. How is anyone expected to reach a goal, if they don’t know what the goal is, or that there even is one.

Even secular work places do better than that.

This Sunday we visited my in-laws and attended services with them. One of the elders announced they had found a new preacher and he would be starting in June. None of the two elders told my father-in-law beforehand. Luckily a kind member had let him know a few days ago, in private, or I don’t know what would have happened. My father-in-law asked the elders if they wanted him out of the preacher’s house now, and they said he has until June, and maybe a little longer because they were “working on something.”

Fifteen years of dedicated service this man has given them, and he’s treated like a dog. What’s the rush? Would the church be hurt if they waited until he was gone to start looking for a replacement? From a business perspective I can understand how you’d want to make the transition quick, and find a replacement quick. I can also understand how you might put the pressure on him to leave so that he won’t stay forever. From a business perspective this makes sense. But this is God’s Church. We are supposed to be better than that. It would be different if he was accused of preaching falsehoods. If he had taught from the pulpit unsound doctrine and led others astray, I can understand kicking him out. But the only reasons given for his departure is that he didn’t bring enough people into the building. That’s no reason to be treated this shoddily.

My mother-in-law told me that none of the elders have even spoken to her. Not just about this situation, but even a hello.

On the other end, he is having great trouble finding another job. He has been to probably 20 congregations and not heard anything good. Almost all of them have directly asked him how old he is (he’s in his 60s) and several have pretty much straight out told him he won’t get the job due to this.

In the secular world, you don’t even ask that question. Not even for jobs that require a great deal of strenuous activity. If you do you’ll get your butt sued for age discrimination. But apparently as Christians we don’t mind a little discrimination. Because, of course, a lifetime of service and experience doesn’t mean anything. Young people straight out of college with little experience will do a better job.
This completely depresses me on the state of the church.

Low Country Boil

I attempt to cook a feast I have never made before with outstanding results. This is a dry run for a big boil I plan on doing in early May for more people...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Truth or Myth?

Hey, guys. Tell me if you've heard the following story before, if it's true, and where you heard it.

I'll don't recall all the details, but it goes something like this: a railroad bridge operator (don't know if that's the correct term for it, but you get the idea) has to lower the bridge for an oncoming train. The guy's son is playing on the gears and gets stuck. The guy doesn't have time to save his son, so he has to lower the bridge so the train can go by, thus killing his son in the process.

True or false? Any takers?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Time for tea

Brews last post made post number 666 for the blog. So, just to be safe, I am quickly posting a new post. A movie I made today...

RIP: Kurt Vonnegut

” I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going
over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things
you can’t see from the center. “

Neighbors From Hell

I live on the second, and topmost floor of my apartment complex. I have four “neighbors” in this building. Next door to me are two female grad students. I often bump into them coming out and into the apartment. They are both very nice and we involve ourselves into the small talk of acquaintances.

Downstairs, below the grad students, reside a young couple with a little girl. They too seem pleasant enough, and we exchange “hellos” from time to time. Both adults are smokers, and while it is wise of them to do this activity outside, away from the child, I will admit to some annoyance at smelling that foul odor when I am out on my porch. But I don’t smell it too often, so I don’t mind so much.

(Humorous side story: my first night in the apartment I witnessed the woman and child bid the man farewell for the weekend which was shortly by the man watching hard core pornography on his television. Still brining boxes in from the car I passed by his window several times, which was only covered by a light-weight sheen curtain, whereupon I could see into his apartment and what was on the TV.)

Both of these apartments have been occupied by the same people since we moved in. The apartment below us, however, is now on its third tenants. The first couple stayed about a year and were pleasant enough. I rarely saw the, and though they had a big dog, I never heard it bark. The second couple were a little rough looking (think young bikers) and had a habit of playing their music at ungodly levels. Their stereo had the big bass hook up, so we would often hear this –thump thump thump – emanating through our floor. Though I must say they only did so during daylight hours, so our slumber was never disturbed.

The current family is about to do me in. It is a middle aged couple with a son who I’d guess was in his early twenties.

They are all compulsive chain smokers. One day, as I was pulling into the complex, I saw them open their door and quite literally a wall of smoke came shooting out. The smell seeps up through the piping causing our bathroom, utility room, and furnace to smell like a giant ashtray. We now burn scented candles non-stop in the bathroom to help us not vomit.

Though their cars seem to be held together with duct tape, they have what appears to be a very expensive, wide-screen, high definition television. This is played at high volume at all hours of day and night. It is not a rare thing to be waken up at two in the morning to hear its roar.

Speaking of their automobiles, the son drives a very old Blazer with an engine that sounds like a sick volcano. It revs and roars and makes me want to shoot it to get it out of its misery. The son also carries on some very odd hours and it is normal to hear him coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

Recently, they have started storing a large lawnmower next to the outside apartment stairs. It’s not all that noticeable, but just adds to the trailer park feel they have already created.

The final straw, in my mind, is the fact that the mom parks her old, rusting mini-van in a no parking area. Like most apartments and businesses there is a section of the sidewalk leading to the apartments that dips down allowing wheeled access to the parking lot. This dip allows wheelchairs and dollies a smooth transition from the lot to the sidewalk and thus our apartments. The section of the parking lot that connects with this dip has big, bright lines painted across it to indicate that nobody is to park there. It’s common courtesy to not park in these areas so that any wheelchairs or dollies can have that access.

My neighbor continually parks there. I know this is a small thing, and the truth is we don’t have any wheel chairs in the complex, and the UPS guy can manage, but this just burns me up. I am nothing if not a rule follower, and it’s not like there isn’t plenty of space in our lot. It is never full. This woman is just lazy. She’ll park in the no-parking spot to save herself from walking an extra ten feet.

I’ve been having fantasies about drilling a hole through the floor and poisoning them.

Somebody buy me a house, please.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Sort-Of Easter

The wife and I usually spend Easter with her parents. Usually we head down Saturday and spend the day playing cards, watching movies and walking the abnormally lovely park (for such a small town.) Sunday is greeted with church services and then her mother fixes an amazing array of deliciousness for lunch. Amy’s mom is a great cook under any circumstances but she tears it up for the holidays. I swear to you she can make a simple sandwich lunch into a seven course meal. And for Easter we usually get a big ham, home-grown vegetables and a variety of other sumptuous treats.

Alas, this year, her folks are out of town. Being in the visit other churches mindset we decided we would travel somewhere near and visit a congregation we have never attended before. There is a small town named Judah that resides about 30 miles to the south. There is a young lady, whom Amy knows from her parent’s congregation that now attends services in Judah due to her recent attendance at Indiana University. This is the place we chose to attend today. Or, I should say, this is the place we tried to attend services.

To find the congregation I first googled it, but for reasons I do not know, all I found was garbage. Either Judah is so small Google doesn’t recognize it, or nobody in the town is net savvy enough to make any sort of dent in the Goggle ratings. From there I went to and looked it up. They had two congregations listed for Judah, but one of them only had a PO Box and a rural route number. Since I can’t find directions to a PO Box I chose the other congregation. Google mapped the address and we were set to go.

We left at 9:30 expecting to arrive a little before the 10 AM kick-off, I mean worship. The drive down was pleasant, though quite cold for a mid-April Sunday. Looking at the directions we were a little confused as it gave a Bedford city name, which is a town a bit south of Judah. But we had mileage directions so we figured it must be close enough to Bedford to be considered in the city limit.

Eighteen miles in we were supposed to turn left on Main Street. Twenty two miles in we found ourselves in Bedford proper with no sight of a Main Street. We made a left at the next light and wandered the streets looking for something to lead us properly. The directions had a turn on Fifth Street and being onSixteenth Street we made a left and slowly moved towards Fifth.

On Fifth we turned and hoped it was the right direction. The guide told us Fifth turned into First, but we were having none of that. Miles down the road I realized we were well outside the city, and the road had turned into State Road 50. Turning back Amy say another road listed on our directions. We doubled back and turned there. Well into the outskirts of town we saw Anderson road of which the church was supposed to be located.

This was a short, dead-end road with nothing but residential houses. The short road did contain the blockage we were looking for, but there was no way I was going to knock on somebody’s house and ask them if we could worship.

Racing back into town we hoped we could find the regular Bedford congregation, of which we attended a few months ago. No such luck. Though not a large city, Bedford has too many streets that look just alike to make any head-way. At 10:30 we gave up the search and headed to Wal-Mart.

Purchasing some crackers and juice we then made our way to Wendy’s. It was right at eleven at this point, and having had but a small breakfast we were both quite hungry. Bellies full we headed home. It was a nice drive as we sung devotional songs the entire way. Our home congregation is a bit old, and empty of young people so the songs we tend to sing are more traditional. I love the traditional, but sometimes my heart longs for more devotional oriented music.

Arriving home we sang some more and had communion.

It is the second Sunday of the month, which means pot-luck followed by a 1 o’clock service at the home congregation so we rested for a moment then headed for services.

All in all it wasn’t what I had expected out of my Easter Sunday, nor what I will ever dub my favorite, but it’s definitely something I’ll remember for years to come.

Promo video... was bored Sunday

I can't help but wonder about the following:

When I look at my YouTube channel, I see that the Stubbs Coke addiction mockmentary part ONE has 118 views and part TWO has 60 views... clearly people are bored with part one and never move on to part two.

Because of this (but really just becasue I was bored and wanted to have some fun), I made a 2 minute promo to promote the mockumentary. It is also worth noting that some scenes that didn't make the cut of parts 1 and 2 were squeezed into this promo. Nothing special, but I was able to save a few short shots with this. I am working on an outtakes video as well. The promo is below.

I dont think the blog is dead... but sometimes I think, Brew, that you and I are the life-giving blood of it. If you are out there, please, say something. Just so we know you are at least reading it. Perhaps going back to the huge email threads would be better. I miss KellieJ (Though she is no where near an internet connection right now), the occational popin by Frederick, and Mullins (though he does comment once a week on 3 or 4 topics, then is gone till next week). Of course, most folks now have jobs that take up more time than my job or Brew's job does, so I understand. Still, I miss 'em all.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Amy Loves Books

Hi, this is Amy, the other half of the Brewster household. Mat's finally gotten me write something for the blog. He's even trying to tell me what to say to introduce myself.

About once a week my husband and I venture into town for entertainment. Occasionally we see a movie, but more often, we visit the public library and the bookstore. The library has books of all sorts, movies, and music. We each have an account and each gather a pile of items to peruse. Our interests vary. I venture towards the non-fiction. I might pick up a book on sewing (though I don’t have a machine, my mother has long put off teaching me), gardening, birds or cooking.

Sometimes I choose a book on exercise and diet which I dutifully read and apply one principal of, once, and then forget. Other times, I check out books on finances and budgeting. Those are even more difficult to apply. But the effort of reading the book salves my conscience and heightens my awareness of my flaws.

Mat will pick out fiction (mysteries and thrillers) and lately graphic novels. We have an extensive collection of classics at home (both were English majors), so we rarely look for that at the library. In the movie section, I invariably choose foreign films that sometimes we watch. Mat’s choices include horror. We both like the classic films in black and white.

For me, I never know what to choose in the music section. Each time I come home with at least one CD that has visited our house before in Mat’s collection. I’ve been picking up books and audio programs on CD as well. My 6 hours a week in the car has encouraged me to listen to new music and books. I’m still not used to paying that much attention while driving though. So I’ll listen to NPR instead because Morning Edition’s stories are three to six minutes long.

More about books

Something I’ve wondered about: sequels. Sequels in the literary world are a bit different from sequels in the movie world. I’m not thinking of books in a series like Harry Potter. That’s an original author continuing their work. Really, I’m thinking of those books that nod to, are inspired by, and continue or twist an original. In all honesty, I haven’t read too many of these.

My reading listing includes Wicked from Gregory Maguire (who has made a living out of “sequeling” the fairy tale stories and rewriting them for grown-ups) and Mrs. de Winter, the sequel to Du Maurier’s Rebecca. There’s another sequel to Rebecca as well, Rebecca’s Tale. Then there is Scarlet, the sequel to Gone with the Wind and all the Darcy sequels to Jane Austen’s famous characters from Pride and Prejudice. I glanced at one of these in the store and saw immediately that the author hadn’t captured Austen’s writing style: the quotable Austen! “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (I almost had it from memory. I was close, Dr. Shull!)

So what about the literary sequel? I enjoyed Wicked for it's story but not Maguire's intellectualizing, but it is so unlike The Wizard of Oz that they don't compare that well. I don't remember Mrs. de Winter and would only re-read the original. On the other hand, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead was a success. But not all sequels fare so well. And yet, we want to remember these stories, to reconsider them, and in some cases to reinvent them. Do we have the right?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The stress of garbage day

Driving home last night after our child birthing class, I passed the homes in our neighborhood with their garbage cans neatly placed at the end of their driveway...

As I progressed further into the subdivision, I noticed fewer and fewer garbage cans... by the time I was on my street, there were only about 3 or 4 people who had their garbage cans by the road.

Then it occurred to me... I am only reminded of Wednesdays being garbage day because I see others with their garbage cans by the road. I certainly don't have a reminder on my Outlook calender, my phone doesn't remind me, and I don't put a note on the refrigerator reminding me... I depend on my neighbors.

But what about the house at the very beginning of the neighborhood? Who reminds him/her/them? No one! They are essentially fully responsible for reminding the entire 500+ home neighborhood that tomorrow morning is trash day! They don't pass any other homes in our neighborhood and the surrounding homes outside our neighborhood have a different trash day! I can't begin to imagine the stress level in this home! They must have notes littering the living room. Notes on the dashboard of the car. Notes on door knobs. "I can't forget, everyone is relying on me!"

The first home in the neighborhood is a very nice home, but brothers and sisters, I wouldn't take it for all the money in the world if it helps me avoid such stress.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For All You Fishermen

I cannot vouch for the following story. I found it as a forward in the departmental e-mail. I have not touched the words that come from people I do not know. I know nothing save that these pictures are unbelievable.
A guy who lives at Lake Conroe (50 miles north of Houston) saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange in the lake and went to investigate. It turned out to be a flathead catfish that had obviously tried to swallow a basketball that became stuck in its mouth!!The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface.
The guy tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it and release the hungry catfish.