Are you serious!? Or a really bad day

Posted in Olympia Living, Soccer with tags on October 14, 2008 by olymatt

So I was pulled over. Twice.  It was a beautiful Friday, a week ago, and I am on my way to work, excited for the coming weekend.  All of a sudden there are lights behind me. I am at a loss. I wasn’t speeding. I signaled before I turned. The officer comes over to my car and I roll down the window. The offense? An expired tab. I am surprised. I didn’t receive a reminder in the mail and I bought the car only 6 months ago. I tell the officer that I thought that with the new registration that the year started over with the transfer of ownership. I was wrong of course but he gives me a warning and lets me go. I am relieved.

That day was busy and I park the car in the garage that evening and don’t drive the thing the whole weekend. You probably can guess where this is going. I get in my car and drive to work Monday morning. As I approach the same intersection maybe 1/2 mile from my house I remember the registration I still need to renew. Too late! I look behind me and I see more lights and…it’s the same cop!  He walks over to my vehicle and I again roll down my window for him. He tells me, “Matthew, I told you to take care of this.” 

First off, I find it disrespectful to call me by my first name. I don’t call him “Jim” (or whatever it is), I call him “officer” and even “sir”. This casual use of my name also demonstrates that he remembers me well enough to do so. I said that I did not have an opportunity to take care of it over the weekend. He replies that there are no grace periods. I am thinking to myself what the warning was if not a “grace period”?! He goes back to his car and spends what seems to be an eternity writing the ticket and, donning a sly smirk on his face, he slowly sonters back in my direction, handing me the ticket. I tell him he gave me one business day (one!) to take care of it. He tells me to have a nice day with some enthusiasm. He is enjoying this! I say nothing and drive away.  Did I mention the tabs had expired only three weeks earlier? Goodbye $124.

Now, ultimately I was in the wrong. I admit this. The registration is my responsibility and I didn’t renew them on time. He didn’t have to give me a warning but in doing so I thought it was silly to only give me one day (okay, the weekend) to take care of it. Other “fix-it” tickets give you more time than that. I imagine my financial setback the result of a Monday morning meeting where the commanding officer is informing his subordinates of a budget problem and to start writing tickets and not give warnings and lo and behold 30 minutes later I am seen driving down the streets and aha!… there is an opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong. I respect the police and I value their services. I just think this in this particular case he should have given me more time. But he didn’t and there is nothing I can do about that. I was so mad that morning that I had to remind myself to “bless my enemies”. So, I did just that. I blessed him over and over as I drove to work. I really did! Literally and out loud. I prayed and asked God to help me let the whole situation go. In truth, I felt uncomfortable at thinking of an officer as an enemy as I did it, but I was just so mad. It wasn’t law enforcement that angered me, but the percieved lack of mercy by that one person.  Of course I renewed the tabs that day and I secretly wished he would see me again the next morning so I could drive by with my shiny new sticker unable to pull me over a third time.

So it was a bad day. Here is a video of footballers having bad days of their own, as well. I take certain comfort in it.


Give to Ceasar (or Obama, or McCain, or Congress) what is theirs

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2008 by olymatt

I can’t wait for this year’s election cycle to be done. The ads, the news stories, the SNL skits, radio spots- it’s just all too much.

I am at my sons’ soccer games which happen to be going on at the same time in fields right next to each other. I am positioned right in between them so I can turn one way and cheer as Evan stoutly defends his team’s goal and then turn the other way to clap as Jude passes the ball to a teammate and away from the huddled mass of 7 years old all trying to kick the ball as hard as they can and in no particular direction. There are two soccer moms behind me and they are talking politics.

The conversation sounded like many I have heard in the last several weeks, debating the merits of each candidates experience, talking about the bailout, critiquing the VP nominees. One of the women said she didn’t expect the president to be an expert in everything, but should be smart enough to surround themselves with smart people to help. Their main job was to be able to inspire people to action. The other lady started to get passionate and went off on how could Americans vote for someone like Palin who is ignorant in her opinion. She felt that this was a failure of the public schools country-wide to teach people to think critically, that there is no way a smart and reasonable person would vote that way.

I felt like turning around and asking where this woman went to school. Was it public? People were only critical thinkers if they agreed with her politics? I wanted to argue with her. I wanted to tell her that, regardless of political affiliations, she must see the arrogance of that statement. But, I realized, that it would be a pointless conversation. She would just get mad, and it would be ackward at every subsequent soccer practice. The practical side of my life would be adversely affected (as in, the relationships around me, even if a casual one with my son’s teammate’s parent) whereas on a bigger scale (who gets elected) would not be any different because of it.

City council meeting on the isthmus debate

Posted in Olympia Living with tags , , on September 16, 2008 by olymatt

Based on the passions subdued but at times seeming to bubble to the surface at Kiwanis yesterday when the isthmus debate was the the featured program, I can only imagine what tonight’s council meeting will be like. I just hope civil heads prevail.

The anti-development group led by the former Mayor of Olympia proposes building a park there. That’s a fantastic idea, except who is going to pay for this and the demolition of the current “mistake by the lake”? Even if the money was somehow raised (without tax dollars? probably not) it took years to build a little bridge across the water, how long would this take? I may be an old man before that happens. Uh oh, did I just take sides?!

First yogurt, now cheese

Posted in Food with tags , , on August 17, 2008 by olymatt

So after successfully making my own yogurt several times I tried cheese from this recipe. It’s currently chilling in my refrigerator.

What I am pleasantly discovering is that things such as these are not that hard. I don’t always get it right, but I actually like the process, which is unique for me as I usually HATE the process; I only want the end. Take for instance baking. I am on a quest for the perfect rustic baguette. I must have baked 30 loaves in the last 2 months, but I am getting better. In fact, before making the cheese I tried two more. The NY Times no knead recipe has proved to be best so far. By taking their one loaf, using only 1 1/4 cups, and splitting into two parts and gently rolling them to baguette size I could get the same crunchy crust and chewy center with lots of holes.

Bored or Offended?

Posted in Literature, Religion with tags , on August 5, 2008 by olymatt

I just finished several books by Ian McEwan- On Chesil Beach, Cement Garden and In Between the Sheets. I was strolling through the downtown Timberland library and the cover of the first on that list caught my eye, calling me from the “recommended by readers” shelf. I had seen the movie Atonement which was based on his novel and quite enjoyed it and, as I was feeling a little bored and not in the least optimistic with where I was headed mentally when searching for my next read, I checked it out. Book covers, unlike wine labels, do a lot for me when deciding what to read. If I could switch careers, book cover designer would be high on my list. Interestingly enough my favorite books don’t have great covers, so perhaps I should just admire the designs and walk away.

On Chesil Beach was fabulous. McEwan’s writing is fluid, engaging and insightful. The story is about a couple who arrive at their wedding night both virgins with a lot of expectations. The author describes them as old fashioned, remnants from an earlier time.  Through a series of flashbacks, the he recounts their respective lives and shows how their upbringing, families, education and courtship led them to this singular event and how their emotional preconceptions, desires, apprehensions and confusions affects their impending physical intimacy. What is amazing is his ability to articulate how each of them is approaching sex, and it how the success of this first encounter symbolizes for them both, in part, their hope for future happiness as a couple. In our current culture where premarital sexual experiences makes this whole subject almost mute, it was fascinating to see someone speak on a subject through the eyes of characters who were ignorant in such matters with such sensitivity and awareness. This book I think would be particularly poignant for anyone who has abstained before marriage, as it brings up some issues that would be beneficial to discuss both before and after the wedding.

So on the heels of this book I give In Between Sheets a go. I am thinking I have found my next favorite author and I am excited about it. This one is a collection of short stories and with the title I am expecting something a bit more controversial, but given how he handled the subject in the last book I am hoping for a pleasant surprise. The first story is cliched and bit crude, but I press on. What’s next? How about a story of a girl having an affair with a monkey, with some details of their copulation? What!? Bestiality is never funny to me. Never. So I stop.

Cement Garden is next. The last book was from his earlier years, so I excuse his choices as trying to be too edgy. I will give him another chance. Again the book is well written, which is no surprise. It’s about a family who’s mother and father die and the kids have to fend for themselves. The story is told from the son, who has a crush on his bigger sister. Okay, so maybe confused boys can have such a thing and they grow out of it, yes? At least that is what I a hoping. The kids are under a lot of stress, dealing with an extreme situation, they don’t know how to handle their emotions. They rely on each other for help. Well the “help” does not stay innocent and the story ends with mutual incest. Another subject I don’t find funny. In fairness the book is not a comedy and he never makes them out be “healthy” but nevertheless I was sickened by it. I don’t want to ever be entertained by the subject, even if it is presented as the twisted end of a dark story.

I am almost at a point that as a Christian I am either bored or offended by entertainment. It’s either Little House on the Prairie or the Family Guy. I am being forced into becoming a person who constantly criticizes Hollywood and the media and subsequently annoys everybody and is labeled as a prude. I don’t want to be that guy. But, what is surprising is reading people’s reactions to the subject matter like I mentioned. It doesn’t seem to matter. You can write about whatever you want, no matter how dark, as long you are master at storytelling.

Fair trade is a no brainer

Posted in Food with tags , , , on August 3, 2008 by olymatt

You can dismiss a lot of things as pointless or not worth the effort or sacrifice, but fair trade is a no brainer for me.  Making sure that what I buy is not being created/cultivated/made possible by enslaved children and other opressed peoples is important. God doesn’t like it much, either.  With more and more information being made available about what is actually going on in the rest of the world, I think I have responsibility to not plead ignorant to what is going on. Hopefully it will be easier to get a hold of products that are beneficial to producer, seller and buyer all the way around, no matter where you are. 

On this note, I am trying out the new ice cream maker I got for my birthday this evening. With local organic milk and half and half and some (it appears) fair trade chocolate chips (Sunspire chips from Ralph’s Thriftway) I have a preservative and guilt-free dessert. Sunspire is not certified free-trade but their site talks about the relationship they establish with growers and suppliers to ensure fair practices and stability for the farmers.  Is this enough? Should I trust their literature? Should I trust a certification? What other information as a consumer can I rely on?

If and when they build a time machine I will seriously consider going back and killing Hitler

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2008 by olymatt

So a friend and I went and saw The Dark Knight yesterday evening.  With the all the hype surrounding this movie I won’t give it yet another review but suffice it to say that I thought it was well done like most everybody else. I was almost determined not to see it given all the talk even though I was looking forward to its release.

The joker throughout the movie presents various moral dilemmas, seeking to expose “the truth” about the people Gotham- from his fellow villians, Batman, other law enforcement and the general citizenry. It reminded me of the kinds of questions presented by ethics professors everywhere to their perplexed students, albeit as a murderous psycopath.  But I found these questions to be rather stupid, proving nothing, if but entertaining (not the weird ones). 

I think it is more insteresting to consider more practical and realistic moral dilemmas. Here is one we talked about last night. Is it a greater act of mercy to not have children if the world they grow up in is so wrought with problems that they have a good chance of experiencing, or worse, be the cause of great misery? But by explicitly choosing to not have them are you not condemning them to non-existance? Is this worse then misery, if some of their life would not be so? How about eternity?  If there was just a slim chance they would make it, is it worth the chance? Would you want to play the odds if you were them?