Archive for July 2008

India Journal: Eunuchs

This is our team, with our friend, Deshpande.  He’s a part of the Truthseekers team in Delhi.  He walked the streets and train stations with us, translated for us, insisted on carrying our luggage, took an ailing team member to see a doctor late at night, and many other things for which we’re grateful. Deshpande’s desire to serve others is constantly evident.  But his love for God and people also expresses itself in a unique, and difficult calling.  He is beginning a ministry in Delhi to reach out to India’s eunuch and prostitute community.  In India, the eunuchs, or hijras as they are referred to, consider themselves a third gender.  Very rarely will someone be born that way . . . all the rest are adopted into the hijra community through an “operation,” which is actually a ritual that I won’t go into here (for the strong-stomached, you can read […]

Crazy skyscraper

An architect has just announced plans to build three skyscrapers – one in Dubai, one in Moscow, and one in New York.  Each floor moves independently, has wind turbines between each floor that generate enough electricity for the building (and then some), and can be built with fewer workers in just over half the time compared to a normal high rise.  This picture is one building, not five.  Follow the link below for more pics. “Paging Mr. Jetson.  Mr. George Jetson, your apartment has arrived.” Check it

Tech Geek Robert Scoble on Church Planting (accidentally)

Even though I’m significantly out of my element, I often stumble through blog posts by Robert Scoble, who is a self-admitted “tech geek.”  He’s always got a strong opinion on what’s going on in the high tech world – some people like him, some don’t.  Though he’s seems to be a much nicer guy, you might think of him as the Chris Matthews of tech. He posted an interesting entry today on what he calls “The Silicon Valley VC Disease.”  He mentions some current thinking by venture capitalists when it comes to funding startups that make applications for trendy, potentially flavor-of-the-month things like the iPhone and Facebook. What is the disease? That you must make bucketloads of money (or at least have a shot at doing that) in the first two years of business. If you have a plan to make just a reasonable amount of money, or if it […]

The writing bachelor

For the second time in the past three weeks I found myself driving Michelle to the airport this morning for a weekend away.  A couple weeks ago, it was a quick trip to San Diego to see family and her new horse.  This time it’s a quick trip to Milwaukee for a family funeral.  She found out this week that her uncle died, and it’s an uncle that she spent a lot of time with throughout her life, so it’s good for her to be able to go.  So, here I am, a bachelor once again.  Last time, I was dead tired, having just barely gotten off the plane myself from three weeks away, so in terms of productivity, I was essentially a waste of space.  This time, I’m hoping to be super productive.  I really need to get into a momentum groove with my dissertation writing.  If I can […]

Alternative Calendar in the works for 2009

Last week as I walked around Green Lake with my friend Eliacin, he told me about something that the Mustard Seed Associates are brewing up – an alternative calendar.  From their website: “We would like to highlight ways to celebrate the ordinary events of life – not putting emphasis on the negative but on the positive; giving them a Christian focus.” They’ve got some examples, but need some more input.  So, get creative and go submit your ideas!  I would personally LOVE it if this alternative calendar had fewer Mondays and more Fridays.  Of course, I suppose that Tuesdays would become the new Mondays, but you can’t hate on a guy for trying.

The Great American Throwaway

This morning, an appliance repair man came to fix our oven, which has been limping along for the past few months.  Since he was on the spot anyway, I had him look at our microwave oven, which went on the fritz while I was away for three weeks. Oven repair?  No problem. Microwave oven?  Apparently, this piece of equipment, which was manufactured less than four years ago (according to the serial number info on the back), will cost around $120 to repair.  Why?  Because the part that needs to be replaced costs $85.  I remember purchasing this microwave when we moved to Seattle – we paid $60 or $70 for it.  How is it possible to sell a new microwave for less than the cost of the parts? Any normal American would say, “Well, I guess I’ll just throw the old one away and buy a new one – it’s […]

I suppose I should be ashamed to admit this . . .

. . . but I watched this show last night for the first time.  Laughed uncontrollably.  It’s totally not the kind of show I’d normally enjoy – not usually into slapstick humor.  I need to never watch the show again . . . but I just might get suckered in. [youtube=]

India Journal – USAmerican politics

O.k., this post is a quickie.  One of the funny, unexpected things about meeting and talking with people in India was their interest in the U.S. presidential election this year.  More often than not, when I would meet someone on the street or in a shop or wherever, they would ask, “Where are you from?”  Resisting the temptation to say, “Canada,” I would tell them I was from the U.S.  Upon hearing this, I would rapidly get peppered with questions like, “Is Obama going to win?”  I’d tell them that the polls were close, and we’d have to wait and see, but I’m pretty sure everyone I talked to said they hoped Obama would win.  It’s very clear to me that if India could vote in our elections, McCain (known in India as “Who’s that?”) could start his retirement planning early. Obama seems to be as popular in India as […]

India Journal – Central India

About a week and a half into our time in India, we boarded a train for a 13 hour overnight trip to central India.  We were in one of the nicer trains – air conditioned, sleeper cars.  The train cars have multiple sleeper sections, which are shared by eight or nine people – each with it’s own “bed.”  Gettin’ cozy with strangers!  But having seen the second class cars (no AC, and a heckuva lot cozier with a LOT more strangers), we were quite content with our travel accommodations.  The picture to the train station – masses of people crashed out everywhere, waiting to get on board the packed trains. We got off the train in a city called Indore.  Pretty big town, but nothing compared to Delhi.  We were there to participate in a two-day seminar for Dalits and OBCs (see my previous post on caste if you don’t […]

India Journal – A very brief intro to caste

One of the primary things we went to India to learn about was the caste system, and how to overcome it. It’s difficult to convey to Westerners just how pervasive the caste system is there, and how difficult it is to overcome it. The closest comparison for people in North America is racism . . . except that with caste, it’s racism on major steroids, and it’s much more random, given that you don’t know someone’s caste just by looking at them. You have to learn family names, regions, etc. before being able to label someone. We met lots of folks from a variety of caste backgrounds. As is typically the case, the people who have the power and privilege will usually downplay the extensiveness of the problem, and live their lives as though the problem doesn’t exist. But you don’t have to scratch very far below the surface to […]