boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.


late update...

I know, I know; I broke my promise. But here's the scoop on what happened.

We were back in Nebraska for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We got back to St. Louis on Monday night, pulling up to our house about 11:00 p.m. Usually, we pull into the alley at the West end of the street in order to get to our garage behind the house. For some flukey reason, Suzanne, who was driving, decided to go around the block to enter the alley from the other side, which meant we drove by the front of our house.

Suzanne saw it first, and pointed out that something had happened to our house. Our front yard was all ripped up, and the windows on the front of the house were all broken. My first thought was that we had been robbed. Our house is set up off the street level about 8 feet. I figured that someone had backed a pickup truck up to our window, busted it in, and loaded up all our valuable stuff. (Of course, our "valuable" stuff is summed up by a t.v., Playstation2, and DVD/VCR machine; unless you consider all my theology books valuable, which I do, but not many others do.) Well, if that was the case, then I didn't think anybody would be left inside. So, I went in through the front door.

The first thing I noticed inside was that one of our front door house keys was on the floor, just inside the door, as though someone had slid it under the door. (We had just randomly left that key on our dining room table.) I thought to myself that such thoughtfulness was probably rare among thieves. But the next thing I noticed was that our "valuable" stuff was still in place. The third thing I noticed was that our windows were not broken all the way through. We have double-pane windows, and it was only the outside windows that were broken. At this point, I was growing pretty confident that we were not robbed. That confidence was confirmed by my final major observation, which was that our back door in the kitched had been busted in and then nailed shut from the inside. Either these were the most incompetent (in not taking our stuff) and most thoughtful (in securing the house behind them) thieves ever, or someone had been in our house for another reason.

I went back outside and explained my findings to Suzanne and started trying to piece things together. I noticed that some of the windows on our neighbor's house had been boarded up. And then I saw that both of our houses had the brick discolored by what must have been smoke. So, my next hypothesis was that our neighbors had suffered a fire. I figured that would explain the smoke damage, and also that firefighters would probably have to get into our house to make sure the fire hadn't spread into it. Well, we felt terrible about this possibility. Not only are our neighbors nice people, who have a bunch of kids and pets, but when we moved into our house last spring, they were just moving back into their house after suffering a bad fire a year earlier.

Well, to move the story along, I called the police that night to report that someone had been in our house. The man I talked to indicated that the fire department had indeed been dispatched to our neighbor's address, which seemed to confirm my previous suspicions. When an officer came to our house, however, he once again shed new light on what had actually happened. Yet even he did not have all of his facts straight. He hadn't been working on the night of the events, so he only told us what he had heard.

Finally, the next morning we got the full story. As I was taking pictures of the damage for the insurance, I saw my neighbors--on both sides of our house--who were witnesses of what happened. And it was crazier than anything I would have guessed.

Okay, now you finally get the tale, as I've pieced it together from various sources. Some kids had stolen a car somewhere in the city. I've heard reports of 3 and 4 kids, but there were at least three. From the most reliable account, the driver of the car was 12 and the oldest passenger was 14. They were being chased up our street by the police and they hit the back end of a car parked in front of our neighbors' house (the one with the broken/boarded windows). This caused them to jump the curb and then begin to drive up the hill that slopes up from the street level to the level of our houses. Well, at that speed, the grade of the hill caused the car to go airborne. The car actually bounced off of our house above our entryway (about 10 feet above ground level from the top of the slope). While it was airborne, the car also did a flip of what must be 135 degrees. When it landed, apparently the gas tank ignited and the car exploded in a fireball.

There were two boys in the front seats who managed to kick out the windshield of the car and get out. Sadly, they left a girl in the back seat, and the last I heard she had burns on 90% of her body and the outlook for her recovery was very poor. If there was a fourth person, I haven't heard anything about him. If I can, I would like to somehow find out about this girl and, if possible, minister to her. Please pray for her.

As far as the boys go, their outcome was as crazy as everything that preceded. Our neighbor on the other side of our house (the one whose house was not damaged), was outside within moments of the car explosion. His account is that once the boys got out of the car, they were immediately stopped at gunpoint by a female police officer (it probably doesn't matter that she was a female, but it was part of his account). He said the officer had the boys lay on the ground just a few feet away from where he was standing. He expected that she would then handcuff them. Instead, she turned away and went back to her patrol car. As soon as the boys realized they were no longer guarded by anyone, they took off running. Our neighbors on the other side (the ones whose house was damaged) who were outside in their backyard with their children, reported that the boys ran through our backyard, then jumped the fence into their yard and ran right by them. As far as I know, they were never caught.

The force of the explosion and heat of the flames caused all of the windows on the front of our house to break and melted the vinyl frame of our upstairs windows. Our railing was also torn out, and our concrete stairs were moved out of place. The paint and stain in our entryway was melted, and there was smoke over the entire front of our house. Then when the firefighters busted in through our back doors to check for fires inside, that caused more damage.

All in all, things could have been worse. But as it is, things are not good. I do feel very bad for the girl. I feel bad for our neighbors. They were only recently able to regain homeowners insurance after their fire two years ago. They can't really make a claim on the damage to their house without the almost-certainty of having their policy dropped again. I usually don't feel much but anger toward the boys, except when I remember that they are like 12 years old. They're just babies! It makes me sick to think of what life holds for them.

So, that's the scoop. Most of what was written above was written late last week. In the meantime, we've had the winter storm of the century in St. Louis (okay, maybe the storm of the bi- or triennium), which knocked our power out for a day, then our internet out for two days. Then, unrelated to the storm, our furnace died for a day, before being repaired. Now, over the next six days, I've got to finish the final projects for all three classes I'm in. Actually, I'm working on one right now, or was, until I took a break to finish this post, which is, now, finished.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!

Another link worthy of note is the collection of lists that always compiles at the end of the year. It's the kind of thing that I would love to do if I had time, but it's already being done, so I can just enjoy the fruits of somebody else's labor. Anyway, here are the lists for 2006 on nearly every conceivable topic.

p.s. I promise to post an update tonight about what happened at our house over the weekend. It was a one in a million shot, Doc, a one in a million shot.


never leave town...

More info (and pictures) to come...


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!



There's a reason why the telemarketing industry was centered in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska (until it moved to India). We folk from them parts talk English good. See for yourself:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

p.s. Missouri should not be included in the list in the chart above, becuase people from Missourah certainly do have accents.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!


grab that book...

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text on your blog along with these instructions.

5. Don’t you dare dig around for that "cool" or "intellectual" book on your shelves. (I know you were thinking about it.) Just pick up whatever is closest.


"But he would allow even 'better' interpretations, so long as the connection with the Church is recognised."

The idea for this assignment, however, was not mine. I got it here.


Farewell, Ford Taurus...

After the recent news that Ford is discontinuing production of its Taurus model family sedan, I began reminiscing. Not only my first car, but my first two cars were Tauruses (Tauri?). The first was gray, and the second was red. I don't have much recollection of the gray one, other than the natural fondness toward a first car. And I don't remember why it was got rid of. My guess is, the transmission went out, but I'm not certain. I know both cars were formerly my dad's company cars that he bought for a good price when his company's leases on them ran out. But it's the red one that I had a real connection with.

I liked the red one a lot better. It was a '93, so it didn't have as much of the "bubble" look as the gray '88 model. Plus, red is a better than gray. Although, it wasn't exactly "red". It was more like a mixture of 2 parts red, 2 parts salmon, and 1 part burgundy. Most importantly, the red car (that's what we called it in the family) had more get-up-and-go than the gray car. Of course, I'm still talking about a Ford Taurus, so I'm absolutely speaking relatively.

I've got tons of road trip stories from that red Taurus. In high school, my friends, Kyle and G, and I kept the Taco Bell at 192nd & Center in business with our virtually nightly trips. And I usually had to drive. (If you guys read this, don't try to deny it.) Or there was the time in college when we packed 7 people into my 6-passenger vehicle for the 3-hour trip from Lincoln to Kansas City (and back again) to go to Worlds of Fun. Of those 7, 4 of us were guys, including 2 that were well over 6 feet tall. Then there was another time in college when my roommate Jim and I drove from Lincoln to Miami in one stretch so we could watch the Huskers demolish Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. It didn't stop us when we realized around Kansas City that the brake pads were totally worn down, and thus we had to rely on screws grinding rotors to stop us while driving through the Smoky Mountains. It was New Year's Eve and no repair shops were open, so all we could do was turn around and go home or keep heading south. So, we kept going and when we got to Orlando at 8:00 a.m., we found a repair shop, got the brakes replaced, got gouged on the price, and made it to Miami in time to spend an hour at the beach on January 1 before heading to the stadium. Of course, there's also the period of time with the car that is associated with Suzanne. It was the car I was driving while we dated. It was the car I drove to the hotel after our wedding and the car we took our honeymoon in. And it was our car for the first year of our marriage.

Like I said, I have more memories associated with that car than would fit in its very spacious trunk compartment. If I had to point out a problem with it, I guess it would be that the car sucked. Or, to put it more objectively, it was the worst piece of machinery ever allowed to transport human beings. There was always something breaking down, always something wrong with it (like the brakes). The transmission had to be replaced three times--IN ONE SUMMER! (One of those times, I was on another road trip, in a caravan with some friends on our way to Colorado, and I had to sheepishly call my dad, on Father's day, and ask him to drive over 200 miles to bring me my mom's car and tow mine away on his trailer, which he did, which was awesome.) It seemed like once a month I had to replace some belt or hose. And it had to get repainted once because of a defect in the factory paint job. The thing was a total pain in the neck.

Like with any relationship, I guess I have to take the bad with the good. Some people say their glass of water is half-full and some people say their glass of water is half-empty. And, some people say, "Hey, I wanted orange juice, not water." I guess it would have been cool to have a mustang in high school and college like my friend Ryan did. But then there's no way I would have had some experiences, like loading up 6 friends and going to Worlds of Fun for the day, or any of the countless others that I don't have time to write about and you don't have patience to read about.

More often than I care to admit, I get frustrated with the lot God has given me, but in retrospect, I've been so blessed that I'm ashamed of the times I've complained. If I was in the Ph.D. program at SLU right now, I certainly wouldn't be getting to spend my days with Gracie. But even that is a kind of shallow way of looking at life.

Sometimes I look at the good things and circumstances in my life that God has given me as the way things should be, taking them for granted. And I look at the bad things and circumstances that He gives me as troublesome intrusions on the status quo, taking them as unjust affliction. But really life shouldn't be measured by the things or circumstances God gives us. Paul had a better perspective when he said, "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8). After all, it is not the gifts of things that are the measure of God's love for us, but The Gift of Himself. It is not that God loved the world so much that He gave us good things and pleasant circumstances. No, we are told that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16). It is the gift of a Person, and His personal love, that makes life good. Our relationship with Christ is, I suppose, the only relationship in which we don't have any bad to take with the good.

Okay, for those of you brave enough to have suffered through the excruciating detail of my recollections of my Ford Taurus, here's a treat for you: a classic Conan O'Brien skit about his Ford Taurus (showing yet another reason why we should be pals).

(Sorry, it's not the best video quality, but it's the only one on YouTube.)


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."