7-minute Trailer for Part-1 of The Hobbit

First of all, I think this idea is delightful– taking all the clips released so far and putting them in chronological order.

Second, I just figured out they’re releasing it in three movies (not two as I first thought), one per Christmas for the next two years then the third for the following summer’s blockbuster season.

Can I just say: This feels disingenuous.

I liked the idea of a two-part movie. I liked that we’re not squishing things too tight to include all the characters and iconic moments (P&P 2005 comes to mind).

But for the stretch to three, I anticipate a swirly of self-gratifying (LotR) backstory that is plain not-necessary for the enjoyment of this story.

Bppblt. But no one asked me.

I really wish they’ll do it well, but I don’t have high hopes.

All that out of the way, here’s the really-cool editing job. (Thanks for the link Kaye!)

More Doesn’t Keep Being More

Image courtesy of Claudio Jule via stock.xchng

In contrast to the popular saying,

Money can’t buy happiness

there is this study that shows a fairly tight correlation between money and a lot of good things. (Here’s another eye-opening view, if you go in prepared for anger and crass language.)

I liked reading about this study when it came out, because I’d always thought along the lines that money has got to simplify a LOT of things and how most of the “simple freebies” that are cozy and fuzzy-edged in any story aren’t so accessible.

I mean, I do those things, and they’re not necessarily cheap and accessible.

  • Musical instruments you actually *want* to play are a pretty penny.
  • Pets/animals take work and money.
  • Craft supplies that are enjoyable to use usually can’t be found at the thrift store
  • Even simple “hanging out” with friends involves cost to someone– either in transportation, food, or entertainment.

Free is really less common than storytelling will admit.

It is this common sense awareness of increased money = improved life that gets us into trouble.

When we see, Oh, more money is better life, we don’t see that topping out– until it does.

This is why you don’t see movies about poor people realizing their two jobs plus night school are eating away at their family life and just. not. worth it.

It’s the rich executive or the workaholic mom who have to choose family over acquiring even-greater wealth.

~ ~ ~

All that to say that we educated types have the same relationship with information.

Continue reading »

What you CAN do

This is what I wrote on the side of our fridge Saturday afternoon:

Focus on what you CAN do,
Rather than what you don’t know.

It came out of an interaction with Elisha that morning, where he *PANICKING!* was running out of time to finish emptying the dishwasher.

“Where does this go?” he’d gasp, running from the kitchen. “What about this?”

And I kept telling him, with increasing irritation, “There’s a whole dishwasher of things you do know what to do with. Save what you don’t know for later.”

It was weird because I always put away the esoteric stuff anyway, like canning funnels or flour sifters.

But it was that fridge line that became the mantra, to the point that I wrote it where we’ll all see it 16-times each day.

It’s a funny (odd) line to think on, as there’s not the parallelism you’d expect.

Image courtesy of Sue Byford via stock.xchng

But is wasn’t until the kids were down for the night, and I was alone in the house (Jay was gone for the weekend, catching salmon to stock our freezer.) that I saw that morning conversation as foreshadowing.

Have you ever seen foreshadowing in your own life? I’d love to hear about it.

Alone with my thoughts is not always a safe place to be, because (like my darling children) I have the ability to escalate.

And as a fairly intelligent adult, my escalations have the terrifying ability to be plausible.

Over the last two years (maybe I’ll tell that story someday) I’ve discovered the tar pit of anxiety, along with depression. It’s a tricky place for me, because my understanding of intellectual honesty is that you don’t pull back from an idea just because it gets uncomfortable.

So I’ve assumed for years that being uncomfortable is part of the process of being honest.

I ran into trouble when there were so many variables that a specific, concrete truth was not knowable.

That’s something I saw Saturday night.

A new data point entered my world, with a kaleidoscope of refracting possibilities. I could actually feel the tension in my chest preparing for take-off. Then I walked by

Focus on what you CAN do,
Rather than what you don’t know.

For the tiniest instant it felt like lying to myself. It felt like sticking my head in the sand.

But no “truth-telling” or looking closer at the problem would have resolved it. Continue reading »

Second-Borns and Authority

There are many families in our church with children of similar age.

A few years back, this led to an observation that the 2nd-children of the families, while every bit as sweet (we have an *amazing* group of kids. I just love ’em), the 2nds were distinctly less compliant than the oldests.

This isn’t to imply that *all* of the oldests were compliant, just that, set on a scale the 2nds were all less so than their older siblings.

It was from this observation I came up with my current theory about birth-order and response to authority.

It goes like this:

When you’ve got an oldest/only child raised in a healthy home, s/he is interacting directly with his/her source of authority; learning about the reliability of the authority figures; learning the consistency of their motivation and the extent of their power (e.g. of enforcement).

When you add a younger child to the same environment, you have the same reliability/consistency etc, but you also now have the older child.

In my experience the older sibling can act in proxy for the adults (e.g. carrying messages), or they may freelance (offer a command based on their own authority/desires).

I contend this is where s/lower compliance comes from.  It comes from the extra layer of filtering the younger child (feels s/he) must do before deciding how or whether to act. If nothing else the extra questions create a response-lag, or a suspicious orientation toward authority.

Continue reading »

Speaking of Homeschooling

Here’s a reprint from about two-and-a-half years ago.  Because the idea of ambassador is one I want to keep in front of me. For many reasons.

I mentioned  that life will be getting even busier soon since school will be starting, then added the clarification that we are homeschooling.

“Oh,” says Person-A, “Will Jay be teaching them math?”

“He could,” I said, surprised at the question and not wanting to make Jay look bad by saying he’s not currently planning on doing any of the teaching.

“I was just thinking he ought to be able to,” Person-A finished.

Then (this was my moment of lucidity) I realized Person-A had just insinuated it took an engineer to teach 1st-grade math.

“Are you implying,” I asked, genuinely hoping to embarrass him, “That I can’t teach 6-year-old math?”

Yes, that’s what he was implying.  He didn’t even try to defend himself.

I was surprised, but shrugged it off.  It wasn’t important to me what he thought.

It wasn’t until later that night, thinking again of the leggy Darwin fish on the car in his driveway, and remembering the sign during voting season for the local fellow I wasn’t voting for, that I began to feel something about our interaction wasn’t right.

And then this morning I realized that I had gone into the conversation utterly unprepared.

I had gone to admire a delicious new baby and prattle family small-talk and keep up positive neighborhood relations.

It was not in my mind that I was entering as an ambassador of Christ, and Homeschooling, and Conservative Thought, and Purposeful Parenting.

Lord-willing, that will never happen again.

I acted as though I was a friend among familiars, being sloppy in my explanations and imprecise in my reasons.  In short, I did more to reinforce any (diminished) view they may have of those things than to correct it.

And maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the problem is that I didn’t enter as an ambassador, aware of what I represented.  If I’d had the right mentality going in, I know I would have done better (If I’d only know this was a job interview…).

I might have recognized the “playing” of me and my ideas before the next day, and maybe refused to play.  I want to think I’d still not be offended (it never serves a diplomat’s goals or purpose to be offended), but I could have been more “professional” and less of an airhead.

Again, not that I’m sure I was the opposite extreme, it’s just that I muffed a fine opportunity to muck up their stereotypes.

And I find that disappointing.

All the same, I haven’t yet learned how to respond politely to subtle insults, and it occurs to me that had I fully known what was going on I might have been a poorer representative of Christ than I otherwise was.


I’m a defender. It’s what I do– often without thinking about it.

I see someone on the defensive doing poorly, I jump in on their side.  Especially if it’s an argument I know and think I could do better than them.

I think I lost a friend this way last year.  He hasn’t spoken to me the same way since I took the other side of his literal-6-days creation debate.  It is in my nature to try and homogenize, to find the perfect faerie* argument to make everything “technically” mesh.

For the record: I think the “specific Hebrew word for a 24-hour day” argument is weak.  The argument that brings me to a literal creationist stance (which, for the record, I hold) is my belief from scripture that death did not exist before the Fall.  Therefore, billions of deaths over millions of years– in order to get to a human creature, sentient and capable both of communion with God and division from him– is not possible.

I have a high degree of empathy– the ability to get into other people’s heads or emotions and imagine how certain things affect them.  As a result I can take far too much responsibility for their comfort.  For their feelings.

And I recently figured out that to be healthy as me I have to quit thinking so much of others.

Whoa! Is a Christian allowed to say that?

You see for about three years now, about as long as I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve been feeling responsible to keep my choices (for example, to homeschool) from making other parents feel guilty for making a different choice.

Before that it was about being a stay-at-home mom, but it seems more people do that with preschoolers so I didn’t feel the separation as keenly.

The point is, I imagined how I’d feel if I were the other parent, and I downplayed the significance of our different choices because, well, if she wanted to be home, I didn’t want her to feel bad, and even if she didn’t, I wanted very much to avoid any possible conflict or fight over which choice was better or (an even worse word) “correct.”

This sheltering or defending of others has continued as Jay and I made our lives more complicated and atypical: gluten-free, debt-free, tiny house, homegrown (I like to call it “ethical”) meat.

I’ve avoided talking about our choices, especially the whys, because I didn’t want to draw such stark lines as I knew they’d create.

So I basically said what anybody chooses doesn’t matter, because we’re all different, with different needs and different stages.  And while that’s true, and I really don’t want to create a hierarchy or polarize folks, it killed me emotionally.

Because I had just said– continually said, over years— that what I invested in, the hard stuff I chose because it was important to me and I felt it was worth it and made a difference– Didn’t. matter.

And I don’t want to do that any more.  This is where I need to be my defender and trust everyone else to be grown-up enough to own and love their own decisions.

I’m certainly not going to pick any fights, but I’m going to quit being embarrassed of how hard I work. I do it for real reasons, and those reasons carry me through. Make me stick with things even when they’re hard.

What I do is valuable. Not something to kick under the bed like the shoes my husband won’t get rid of.  I’m proud of what I do. It is important and worth defending.



*Faerie are creepy to me on a couple levels.  The main one is their commitment to the truth– as it is useful to them.  Their methodology is to manipulate the “mortal” they speak with by speaking nothing but the *exact* truth.  Of course they will direct, imply and manipulate to their purpose’s end, but they will never be culpable to the charge that they ever spoke falsehood.

When I talk of me speaking faerie I mean it in terms of working words or reality as a puzzle that I’m trying (by means of the exactness or slipperiness of language) to meld differing views enough to bring cooperation if not true peace.

And in case anyone needs me to add it, no I don’t believe in faeries. They’re just a usefully specific type of truth-teller, and I like having a precise vocabulary.

Why Euthanasia isn’t Merciful

Euthanasia has been defined as “mercy killing.”

What I was reminded of this week is that, for honest Christians at least, there can be no such thing.

Bible-believing Christians know that judgment comes after death, and how can hastening God’s judgment on an individual be mercy? We do not know their hearts, only what they’ve shown us. How can we know but God’s reason for allowing the suffering (and therefore, continued life) holds more mercy then throwing someone unready on the unavoidable Judgment?

Legislating Morality

This is an interesting video by an interesting guy who seems to make things interesting simply by talking fast and on-point.

(I realized recently don’t follow any vlogs largely because this is one of two people I’ve seen able to do both.)

It is entitled, Adorable Puppy Explains Health Care Bill, and in it John makes the impending bill-to-be-reconciled sound quite reasonable. Even the bit about insurance becoming required.

He compares it to car insurance, “Because,” he states, with beautiful and irreducible logic, “your stupid decisions affect people I care about– like me.”

And this, beloved public, is the whole (fully justifiable) point of “legislating morality.”

The same woman who cries, “Keep your laws off my body!” might as well be prepared to hear, “Keep your hand out of my wallet,” because issues of morality (i.e., sin) really do cost us money as a society.

And that was even before activists were looking for public funding of abortion.

Being Political Again

The letter I sent to my (AK) senators through American Family Association‘s political-action page.

For the record, I know I don’t go politico very often at Untangling Tales, but there are some things I feel I have to use what (even small forum) I have to distribute information.  And maybe model a little action beyond hand-wringing.

Doubtless you’ve received much communication about the Heath Care Bill, but I have to add my (forgive me, near-panicked) voice against it.

There are many reasons I oppose the Health Care Bill but stopping the taxpayer funding of abortion is the element that sparked my urgency.

The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid funds – and Medicaid funds only – from being used for abortions, but that restriction wouldn’t apply to the government takeover of health care, so protestations Abortions wouldn’t be funded are, well, misinformation is the nice word.

Under the Capps Amendment in the House bill, the public option would be *required* to offer abortion services, and every American would have to have access to at least one health care plan that included abortion.

It is immoral to fund the destruction of innocent human life, and I resent– even fear– being required to participate. I am fundamentally opposed to the Health Care Bill and any attempt at government take-over of the health care industry. I urge you to protect the life of the unborn (and the Right to Choice of all Americans– not just those “choosing” abortion) by opposing the Health Care Bill.

Sincerely, (etc.)

Until today I have been at the hand-wringing stage, and no matter which way this issue goes, I want to know I did what I could– however little.

Should Break 500 tomorrow. And might start a fight?

431 titles entered in the database, taped in 10 boxes, all piled by the garage door waiting for the transfer to the under-the-house (yes, it’s book-safe).


Anybody reading this blog identify yourself as a Christian?  Anybody in that group ever prayed (or heard someone at your elbow pray), “Lord let the people around me see my life is different and ask me about it”?

Does that make anybody besides me nuts?

Here’s the thing: I have never heard those words from someone whose life I would have identified as “different” (at least, not in an attractive way), and I can honestly say, I don’t *want* to attract attention because I’m different.


Let me try that again.

I have all my life been different.  Different is not the problem.

Here’s the logic/expectation I see behind that prayer:

If my life and/or attitude is good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect (or at least more so than the lost around me) they will notice and want to be like me. Then I can talk to them about Jesus.

My problems with this idea:

  1. My life (or attitude) must be good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect before I even get a chance to share the truth that is central to my life.
  2. You’re giving people a lot of credit for noticing.  It is my writerly opinion that the vast majority of humanity waits for things to be pointed out to them.  Not many have trained themselves to notice stuff (Sherlock Holmes/Monk stuff really feeds off this).
  3. You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to themselves they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
  4. You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to you they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
  5. You’re assuming they’d actually want to be like you. 

All of these problems can and have been gotten around.  I’ve heard the stories too.

But for someone who is ready, someone (forgive me for dividing believers into categories, but here I go) who actually wants to actively share his or her faith, I think this is the wrong way to pray.

If I attract people because of how I look or live my life, how do I know I won’t equally turn them off (or away) when I, as a fallible, sinful human being simply (or sensationally) screw up?

It can’t be about me.

I am not going to save anyone.

And while I want my behavior to reflect well on the Savior who ransomed my life from Hell, well, the fact that I need a Savior should be enough of a reminder I won’t always reach that goal.

I pray for opportunities to speak Truth, and the courage and sensitivity to create opportunities.

It’s not the only way to pray, but I’ve rarely heard it at my elbow, and have only just begun to do it myself.

The juxtaposition is hard for me: seeing the need to box books, teach my children, manage my home… and pray for a hurting world. Speak to hurting people.

It’s becoming overwhelming now.  It feels like too much. And that (as I told myself after the birth of #2 and again with #3) is likely the point. I think it is possible to become too “competent,” or confident.

Only when we recognize how inadequate we are do we seek God for what only He can provide.