Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Scientific Method Meets the Human Nervous System

We learn that when we do experiments, we must change only one variable at a time. If there are several variations happening, you don't know which one is responsible for the change in outcome.

That's why it's hard to experiment on people. Did the person feel different (or did the medicine or diet have an effect) because of the weather, because of personal or social or emotional issues, because of change in nutrition, because of activity level, because of exposure to germs, or what?

A person who is obviously celiac can't be expected to eat wheat for a couple of weeks to prove to the doctor what effect gluten has on his system.

A person who suspects she is having problems digesting milk can only know for certain if she adds milk back into her diet, and then abstains from milk, and then tries it again. This has to occur several times before she can be sure that the trouble arises from dairy products and not from other environmental factors.

Thing is, testing some of these things hurts. If I, oh, say, get new glasses and within hours begin to have pain in my eyes, how do I know whether the pain is a long-term problem or just the "growing pains" of adjusting? Back and forth, back and forth, testing whether the bifocals are actually causing problems, or if it's just circumstantial. Maybe the eye pain and the headaches are due to some other cause.

Today I am --with much trepidation-- wearing my bifocals again after the pain drove me to tears on Wednesday. After having experienced relief from returning to my old glasses three times, it's mighty hard to put the bifocals back on my face again, anticipating that my current hypothesis will prove correct. Thing is, even if the glasses aren't the cause of the pain, I'm afraid that my expectations may give me problems.

Longsuffering and Abundant in Mercy

In the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 21 and Luke 20), the owner of the vineyard sends messengers to his workers. But they refuse to listen. He says, "Surely they will hear my son." But when he sends his son, the workers kill him. The owner will certainly destroy the workers and give the vineyard to others.

Until the last few months, I had never engaged in a really good, deep study of The Acts of the Apostles. As I dug through Acts, one of the things that struck me is how many times God reached out to His people, calling them to repentance, loving them and giving them mercy.

The Jews refused to hear the prophets of the Old Testament and killed many of them. They killed God's Son. But the Father is even more patient than we might expect from the parable. He didn't stomp in and smash His people for killing His Son. Still He sent them prophets. Peter and John preached and were persecuted; Stephen was martyred right away; it wasn't long before James was killed. But still God sent them prophets. When He sent Paul to the Gentiles, Paul always went first to the synagogues, calling the chosen people to repentance, preaching God's love and mercy. But still they persecuted the prophets. They attempted to assassinate Paul. But even after that, it's ten more years before Jerusalem is leveled to the ground.

God gave them forty years [interesting number] after killing His Son.

Psalm 86: But You, o Lord,
are a God full of compassion
and gracious,
and abundant in mercy and truth!

February 20, 1960

Today's Laugh

A man lay sprawled across three entire seats in the posh theatre. When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the man, "Sorry, sir, but you're only allowed one seat." The man groaned but didn't budge. The usher became impatient. "Sir, if you don't get up from there I'm going to have to call the manager." Again, the man just groaned, which infuriated the usher who turned and marched briskly back up the aisle in search of his manager.

In a few moments, both the usher and the manager returned and stood over the man. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to move him, but with no success. Finally, they summoned the police. The cop surveyed the situation briefly then asked, "All right buddy, what's your name?"

"Sam," the man moaned.

"Where ya from, Sam?" With pain in his voice, Sam replied, "The balcony."

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Change in Peter

Do you remember the story in Luke 8 and Mark 4, where the disciples' boat was caught in a storm, and Jesus was sleeping through it all? The men accused Him of not caring about them: He was snoozing instead of being panic-driven and frantically helping them save their ship.

Do you remember the story in Acts 12, where Herod executed James and discovered that it pleased the Jews? He decided to earn more brownie-points with the Jews by killing Peter too. But while Peter was in jail, awaiting his death, an angel came and released him. We read:
Constant prayer was offered to God for Peter by the Church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers,...

Peter is sleeping. He is on death row, and he's sleeping. He is no longer panic-driven and frantic in the face of death. Now he's looking more like Jesus, trusting in the Father though the circumstances bode ill.

Entrust your days and burdens
to God's almighty hand.
He cares for you while ruling
the sky, the sea, the land.
For He who guides the tempests
along their thunderous ways
will find for you a pathway
and guide you all your days.

Today's Laugh

When the office printer's type began to grow faint, the office manager called a local repair shop where a friendly man informed him that the printer probably needed only to
be cleaned. Because the store charged $50 for such cleanings, he said, the manager might try reading the printer's manual and doing the job himself.

Pleasantly surprised by his candor, the office manager asked, "Does your boss know that you discourage business?"

"Actually it's my boss's idea," the employee replied. "We usually make more money on repairs if we let people try to fix things themselves first."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's Laugh

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer are all given identical rubber balls and told to find the volume. They are given anything they want to measure it and have all the time they need.

The mathematician pulls out a measuring tape and records the circumference. He then divides by two times pi to get the radius, cubes that, multiplies by pi again, and then multiplies by four-thirds and thereby calculates the volume.

The physicist gets a bucket of water, places 1.00000 gallons of water in the bucket, drops in the ball, and measures the displacement to six significant figures.

And the engineer? He writes down the serial number of the ball, and looks it up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today's Laugh

The doctor said, "Jerry, the good news is that I can cure your headaches, the bad news is that it will require castration. You have a very rare condition, which causes your testicles to press on your spine, and the pressure creates one hell of a headache. The only way to relieve the pressure is to remove the testicles."

Jerry was shocked and depressed. He wondered if he had anything to live for. He couldn't concentrate long enough to answer, but decided he had no choice but to go under the knife.

When he left the hospital he was without a headache for the first time in 20 years, but he felt like he was missing an important part of himself. As he walked down the street, he realized that he felt like a different person. He could make a new beginning and live a new life.

He saw a men's clothing store and thought, "That's what I need-–a new suit." He entered the shop and told the salesman, "I’d like a new suit." The elderly tailor eyed him briefly and said, "Let's see … size 44 long." Jerry laughed, "That’s right, how did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" Jerry tried on the suit. It fit perfectly.

As Jerry admired himself in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about a new shirt?"
Jerry thought for a moment and then said, "Sure." The salesman eyed Jerry and said, "Let's see … 34 sleeve and 16½ neck." Jerry was surprised. "That's right, how did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" Jerry tried on the shirt, and it fit perfectly.

As Jerry adjusted the collar in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about new shoes?" Jerry was on a roll and said, "Sure." The salesman eyed Jerry's feet and said, "Let's see … 9-1/2 E." Jerry was astonished, "That's right, how did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" Jerry tried on the shoes and they fit perfectly.

Jerry walked comfortably around the shop and the salesman asked, "How about some new underwear?" Jerry thought for a second and said, "Sure." The salesman stepped back, eyed Jerry's waist and said, "Let's see, size 36."

Jerry laughed. "Ah ha! I got you! I've worn size 34 since I was 18 years old."

The salesman shook his head. "You can't wear a size 34. A 34 underwear would press your testicles up against the base of your spine and give you one hell of a headache."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Self-Indulgence of Fat Tuesday

Today is the last humongous party-day before Lent starts. It's our last chance at self-indulgence until Easter-tide, right?

Even for those who go meatless during Lent, very few get rid of the butter and eggs and milk and cheese. The "self-indulgence" of Fat Tuesday used to be getting rid of the fat in the house. Woo hoo! We're going to indulge and feast by using up all the butter and the eggs! (I wonder if they made quiche?)

And now what does today's self-indulgence consist of? It's a little wilder than eating quiche. Come to think of it, society-wide, normal everyday life during Lent today is probably a lot more self-indulgent than Fat Tuesday was in centuries past.

Wishful Thinking

Give me spring, lots of spring,
under sunny skies above --
don't fence me in.
Let me be in the wide open spaces that I love
[in summery warmth] --
don't fence me in.

So, will the sheets actually dry before it's dark and time to bring them in? Probably not. Hopefully, though, they'll retain a little of the outdoorsy scent while they finish drying in the machine.

Today's Laugh

Toward the end of Sunday service, the minister asked, "How many of you have forgiven your enemies?"

80% held up their hands.

The minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

"Mrs. Neely? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don’t have any," she replied, smiling sweetly.

"Mrs. Neely, that is very unusual. How old are you?"

"Ninety-eight," she replied.

"Oh, Mrs. Neely, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said, "I outlived all those bitches."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Progress on Woodmans

Four walls and part of the roof!

Another 6-8 months of traipsing to far-away Woodmans locales and/or fudging by with Aldi & Walmart, and then there will be a Woodmans close. I timed it the other day when I headed to Shorewood: it was less than 20 minutes to the off-ramp near the new Woodmans. And it's right smack-dab on Gary's way home from work too.

Dark Pedestrians

What is it with all these people in dark coats and dark jeans walking around at night, on unlit streets, crossing the road without checking for moving vehicles? No white on them anywhere. No reflective stripes. But they walk, oblivious to where the cars are, or who's turning, or whether they've crossing against a red light.

I don't wanna hit anybody! But I don't know how long it'll be before it happens. Especially during winter, with all the people walking in the road instead of attempting unshoveled sidewalks.

Today's Laugh

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today's Laugh

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they go in. Jacob addresses the man behind the counter, "Are you the owner?" The pharmacist answers yes.

Says Jacob: We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?
Pharmacist: Of course we do.

Jacob: How about medicine for circulation?
Pharmacist: All kinds.

Jacob: Medicine for rheumatism, scoliosis?
Pharmacist: Definitely.

Jacob: How about Viagra?
Pharmacist: Of course.

Jacob: Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundice?
Pharmacist: Yes, a large variety. The works.

Jacob: What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?
Pharmacist: Absolutely.

Jacob: You sell wheelchairs and walkers?
Pharmacist: All speeds and sizes.

Jacob says to the pharmacist, "We'd like to register here for our wedding gifts, please."