Sunday, October 4, 2009

Old Rag

Last week I went camping with some friends in shenandoah national park. I haven't been camping in at least 10 years, but I really enjoyed it. On friday evening we hiked old rag. The rocks at the top were a blast. If there hadn't been cloudy, we were going to do some stargazing before coming down. Hiking down the mountain in the dark was quite challenging.

On Saturday, we did a 16 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail. It rained all day, but it was still fun. One of the side trails we took went up a mountain. Because the climb up was much longer than it looked on the map, we didn't get back to camp until about 9. I don't think that I've ever been so cold and wet on a hike before, but I still had a great time.

I'm gradually buying gear for a backpacking trip later this fall. I went to a used gear sale at REI yesterday. Since they let people return stuff for any reason, they have lots of slightly used gear to sell off. I got a pair of gore-tex hiking boots for $12 and a medium size internal frame pack for $50. I think they had some great deals on backpacking tents too. Unfortunately, they didn't have any good rain gear. I wish somebody had told me about this sale when I was a scout.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New apartment and new job

Denise and I moved into the apartment next to our old one at the start of February. The new one is only $3 more a month and has a larger dining room area, a second bedroom, and four more closets. We finally have space to put all of our stuff away instead of leaving it on the floor in the bedroom. We are mostly moved in now. Unfortunately, the clothes are all in the second bedroom because the bar in the our closet isn't attached to the wall properly. The brackets for the bar were screwed into drywall instead of a stud and several of the screws have pulled out. It sags very badly when I hang our clothes on it. The manager has repeatedly promised that it would be fixed, but maintenance still hasn't come. I'll probably try calling every day and see if I can make them fix it. Overall I am very happy with the new place.

Right after we moved in I applied for an internship with Booz Allen Hamilton, a big IT consulting company in the area. The interview went well and they seemed to be interested in hiring me. They recently called me back and offered me a position. The job will be a big pay increase for me and it should be fun too. I'll be starting as an intern this summer and continue on part time until I graduate next may.

I've had my job at Target for so long that it will feel strange leaving. I've been in school for so long that starting a career will be a big change for me. I haven't received the offer letter in the mail yet, so the job doesn't feel quite real to me yet. Hopefully fedex will deliver it soon.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I had a lot of fun this Thanksgiving since its the first one we spent at our apartment. I thought we were going to spend it by ourselves, but we ended up inviting Denise's parents and grandmother over at the last minute. We had Rosemary Turkey with sweet potatoes, stuffing, various vegetables, biscuits, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie. I think this has been the only really big meal I've cooked since we got married. Well have to do it again sometime.

Today wasn't quite as much fun. I was originally scheduled to open the store this morning. On wednesday a coworker called and asked me to switch for an evening shift instead and I agreed to do it as long as our boss agreed. She called back a few hours later to say that the boss approved the switch. When I came in to work today, I found out that my coworker didn't even talk to the boss about it. My boss was upset that none of the three managers in the morning had worked on black friday before. I guess I should have guessed that my coworker lied to me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crime near home

This morning there was a armed robbery and attempted rape in front of our apartment. The article says that it happened in the 1200 block of Alban ct, but that is a bit redundant since Alban ct is only one block long. If Denise had to work this morning, we would have seen it happen as it happened at the time Denise usually leaves for work. I see crime reports for school all the time, but they are usually nowhere near the places I go. This just creeps me out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cat Pictures - and a new camera

I know some blurry pictures of Kali have been emailed around, but I finally have some good pictures of her that don't look like a ball of fur. I also just got a new camera as an early Christmas present. They were clearing out an older model DSLR at work and I picked one up for a fairly good price. Taking pictures is much more fun when I don't have to wait to develop them or think about how much it will cost me to develop. As a nice bonus, all my current lenses zoom by 50% more with the new camera.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scripture in context

I was reading a message board post post a few days ago about marital rape. I think the poster was trolling the board and he certainly got a reaction. The original poster claimed that a man could not rape his wife because God requires a wife to submit to her husband. Surprisingly, a significant portion of the board agreed with this sentiment. Someone far down the thread pointed out that the Talmud requires a man to have sex with his wife essentially whenever she wants (subject to exceptions for manual laborers) and places no such requirements on women. If a man failed to meet these requirement, his wife could divorce him without his consent. The poster argued that all statements about marriage should be read in the context of these rules because they would have been well known at the time the new testament was written.

That sort of conception of marriage is quite foreign to Americans. Although people claim that wives should be submissive because the bible requires it, I wonder if people didn't form the belief first and then find scriptures to justify it.

I don't think it necessarily takes 2000 years for the history to fade from people's minds. Today, everyone knows that in the early years of the United States our leaders were good Christians even though the seven presidents after Washington all had Unitarian or deist beliefs. The Christian right wants to be part of a Christian nation so badly that they don't want to think about the fact that the country went through a period of religious doubt in the early years. The Book of Mormon was published in this period as 'another testament of Jesus Christ.'

That never made any sense to me. I rarely met anyone who joined the LDS church who didn't have some vague belief or familiarity with the bible already. Apparently the lds church did attract lots of doubters in the early days. At the time of Joseph Smith, many people thought that the indians disproved the creation story in genesis because the indians could not have been created separately in the new world because they would have been wiped out by the flood. They couldn't have been descended from Adam either because there was no way for any descendants of Adam to get to the new world.
This inconsistency between the bible story and the fact that indians lived in the americas before europeans came apparently caused a significant bit of doubt about the accuracy of the bible. Scholars were heatedly debating how to resolve the inconsistency, but the problem seemed unresolvable. The book of mormon was released as this debate was occurring and provided a reasonable story that explained why the indians existed and how they descended from Adam.

Since that time, Americans have stopped worrying as much about how the indians were created. Maybe that is because they're vanishing. Or maybe less attention is payed to the origin of the indians because evolution threatens the creation story more directly.

While the historical context of scripture is critical to understanding it, context is hard to find because the easiest source of context for scripture is other scripture. The scriptures often combine information about the beliefs of the jewish people with an indication of which beliefs were correct. For example, the new testament often comments on the beliefs of the different schools of thought. This commentary is the most accessible information about the beliefs of each school. While the commentary is accurate, it doesn't give much context about how similar each school is to the traditional beliefs of the jewish people. This is especially true of important topics like the nature of the afterlife and the attributes of the messiah. Some day I would like to read a book on traditional jewish interpretation of Messianic prophecy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Toothbrush

I know it seems silly to blog about a toothbrush, but it is the best thing i've bought in a long time. On my trip to the dentist on Monday, I noticed that they were selling an electric toothbrush at a substantial discount. I've not been happy with how clean I can keep my teeth with a regular toothbrush so I bought it. The brush is wide enough that all I have to do is slowly slide it across my teeth. The brush has some little rubber bristles that slide into the cracks between the teeth and pull out plaque and food particles. When I'm done my teeth feel like I just stepped out of the dentist's chair. It even properly cleans behind my wisdom teeth. The brush cleans between my teeth so well that I can floss without looking to make sure that the floss removes stuff stuck between my teeth. With the new toothbrush, I can brush and floss in about 4 minutes instead of about 8 before. For anyone interested, the toothbrush is available here.