Twentyteen

Emma made up a number: twentyteen.

Tivo update

Viacom channels are back on Dish Network, but I don't care, because I'm cancelling it later today. My new Direct TV dish and Tivo is set up and working nicely. I was up late last night learning how to use it, customizing our channel list and just recording random shows. I watched the Daily show while I was playing Gunbound and I could pause it during my turn and do a replay when John Stewart mumbled. This morning Sara recorded Waiting for Guffman. And yes, I did watch the Screensavers last night on Tech TV.

Mr. Ferguson

I'm posting this from Adrian R-III school where I'm substitute teaching for a fourth grade class. The kids are at recess. They had a teacher go home in the middle of the day and since I'm close they gave me a call. So far it's going well. I taught Social Studies and Math.

Tivo on its way

I called Dish Network and found out that we're not under a contract with them. So I placed my order for Direct TV with Tivo today. With any luck, it will be installed by tomorrow afternoon. Here are the specs for all my geeks.

40 hour Tivo/cable box and Triple LNB Dish: $69.99
Direct TV programming: $29.99 / month
Tivo service $4.99 / month
Shipping: $0
Installation: $0
Peace of mind from shopping locally: Not quite priceless, but very nice.
Cool stuff I can do with a Tivo: Wow.

Our favorite channels are gone!

If it's possible, this is even worse than when our extra-basic cable dropped Tech-TV. Dish Network, as part of a dispute with Viacom, has dropped four of our favorite cable channels: VH1, Comedy Central, and 2 Nickelodeons. We probably watch one of those four channels about 80% of the time that our TV is on. Here is a news story about the dispute, and you can also read official statements from Dish Network and Viacom. In some markets, CBS has been dropped, too, but not in Kansas City. This is going to make a lot of people mad, especially basketball fans, since CBS carries March Madness. For my part, if this isn't resolved soon, we'll probably switch to DirectTV. I've been thinking of switching to Direct TV, since you can get the cable box integrated with a Tivo. We could record two channels and watch a third all at the same time. So far dish network isn't letting people out of their contracts yet, but if this goes on long enough I think they'll have to.

Lord of the Rings Racing Game: Mordor GP

The April issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly had this preview of a PSP game. My friends Anthony and J.J., showed me this. We think it must be an April fool's joke. What do you think?

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Work day at our house

Today my parents came over and helped us make some improvements to our house. Being the geek that I am, I documented it for posterity. Click below to see the pictures.

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Float one over my house

Here's some good news for those of us in rural areas who can only choose between cheap, slow dial-up internet access and expensive, fast satellite broadband. Balloon goes up for rural broadband. The European Union is funding research for broadband internet that would be delievered by airships. It's expected to be 200 times faster than DSL, and very cost effective. I'm not sure if we'll ever see anything like this around here, but I know that there are no plans to have DSL or Cable internet in Adrian any time soon. I'm guessing that we'll see wireless broadband before DSL. It could be 3G, or airships, or who knows what.

CDs I can play without skipping a song

5. Soul Coughing Ruby Vroom
I had a marginal knowledge of this band (Super Bon Bon, Soft Serve, Soundtrack to Mary) when I met Danny, who owned three of their CDs. I love this album, their first, because it is raw and original--probably why none of the songs received radio play. Their lyrics, while often nonsensical, become the rhythm of the drums and bass so that they actually do tell a story (however neurotic it may be). I know this is getting long, but I have to say this: it is rumored that the band broke up after Ricky Martin's "Shake Your Bon Bon" was released (because of S.C's "Super Bon Bon".) Poor guys.

Favorite Ruby Vroom song: Janine
Lyric: Janine, I drink you up/ If you were the Baltic Sea and I were a cup, uh huh.

4. Caedmon's Call 40 Acres
I don't listen to many Christian artists, but I love Caedmon's Call because they play many different instruments and styles of music and their lyrics are deep and powerful (or fun and whimsical; pretty much any -icals you can think of are on this album).

Favorite 40 Acres song: 40 Acres
Lyric: Out here the Texas rain is the hardest I've ever seen/ It'll wash your house away, but it'll also make you clean

3. Ben Folds Five Self-Titled
You have probably noticed, being the astute readers that you are, that four of my top five listings are the artists' debut albums. I'm not sure why this is, but it probably has something to do with liking to be the "discoverer" of a band (as much as you can be when you live in the Midwest). At any rate, I love BFF's first album.

Favorite Self-Titled song: The Last Polka (I have no idea how I forgot this song on my best break-up songs entry. I apologize).
Lyric: He said, "Well I hate that it's come to this/ But baby I was doing fine. How do you think/ That I survived the other 25 before you?"

2. Weezer Self-Titled
It's blue. It's beautiful. And it's the sole reason I became a (mediocre) bass player.

Favorite Self-Titled song: Only In Dreams
Lyric: You can't avoid her/ She's in the air/ In between molecules of/ Oxygen and carbon dioxide

1. Pearl Jam Ten
Again, I have to say that I used to eat, sleep and breathe this band (I have recently discovered some more worthy pursuits).

Favorite Ten song: Oceans
Lyric: Hold on to the thread/ The currents will shift/ Glide me towards you know something's left/ And we're all allowed to dream of the next time we touch

Honorable Mention
Eric Clapton eric clapton unplugged
Tori Amos Little Earthquakes
Rusted Root When I Woke

What (Not) to Wear

If there is one issue that incites passionate feelings from all ages and degrees of liberal- and conservative-ism, it the issue of personal modesty. Perhaps it is because, according to most parents and other adults, adolescent girls are dressing too provocatively. Perhaps it is because, according to said adolescent girls, there is no conceivable way to dress according to a standard that is incredibly outdated and prudish. Whether for these reasons, or for a host of others, the fact remains: the teenage wardrobe has become a breeding ground for harsh words, hurt feelings and confusion. Add in the problem of "causing others to stumble" and modesty, or a lack thereof, becomes a major forum for Christian debate.
What is the issue, exactly? Too much skin, or too little discretion? A world filled with impossible standards, or Christians who hold impossible expectations? And if modesty can't be defined in objective terms by unbiased parties, should the problem simply be avoided? Not according to Leida Pickett, a Certified Health Education Specialist who teaches teens about abstinence. Pickett admits that she once thought modest dress was an unimportant concern, but now believes it does have merit. She does not, however, agree with the methodology many choose to employ.
"I'm not comfortable with adults trying to make fashionable things taboo with guilt, punishment, criticism and shaming. I don't think that works," she said. Pickett even disagrees with using the word 'modest' as an exhortation to more pleasing behavior, describing it as, "antiquated, outdated, outmoded and unrealistic—every connotation is negative." Embodying the typical teenage mindset, she explained, "'Modest' kids don't get noticed, they don't have any fun, and they aren't fun to be around—your basic downer."
If this is the message girls are receiving from adults, no wonder it gets such a cool reception. In fact, to a perceptive Christian teen, this message seems downright hypocritical. "The Bible doesn't teach that the body is something evil or shameful that needs to be hidden. Modesty should grow out of a sense of gratitude for what God has given us and a sense of responsibility about how God wants us to use our bodies," explained Melissa McBurney in a 1996 Christianity Today 'Q and A' segment.
Demanding modesty from non-existent Biblical texts leads to little or no compliance and more rebellion. And even if the right reasons are cited, adults are often guilty of overlooking the core of the issue—teens are learning to make the difficult choices that go hand-in-hand with growing up. "[Girls are] frustrated by the clash between their values and by their very real, very valid need to be noticed and appreciated as females," Pickett explained.
Whether we would like to admit it or not, telling a teenage girl she can succeed in anything she wants with one breath, then telling her she must be modest with the next is contradictory. To these young women, a harsh stance on modesty today comes at a price—present success in their own world, which is often a primary concern. The adolescent life is based on acceptance, and a major blow in this area can have harsh consequences, as feelings of self-worth seem to develop substantially in this short time period, but often last a lifetime.
Should we put this issue aside because it carries the potential for damaging self-esteem? Perhaps a look inside the teenage mind will bring clarity. "I think that it's very important for Christians to dress conservatively," says Lisa Wainwright, high school sophomore and ACC member. "You're a reflection of God for others." Wainwright is far from the typical modesty advocate; she admits she likes clothes that are "really cute" and enjoys dressing in the latest fashions. But her concerns reach farther than her own closet: she realizes that wearing some types of clothing carries a lust-inducing risk in members of the opposite sex.
"I hate when guys look at girls because of what they're wearing: it's disrespectful. But then again, girls shouldn't wear clothes [that cause] this, Wainwright said.
On some level, Wainwright and her adult counterparts agree on a solution. But if resolving the modesty issue is as simple as "wear more clothes," then why is it currently unsettled? Danny Ferguson, ACC's Associate Minister who works primarily with youth, said he thinks the problem may have more to do with adolescent males. "Sure, [young men] are affected by the way girls dress, but I don't think we can get girls to dress in a way that won’t affect them at all," Ferguson said. He added, "I don't think a girl can force a boy to sin because of [what the Bible says in] I Corinthians 10:13 –there's always a way out."
Ferguson is not hard-hearted, he is simply realistic—the male mind is tuned to female frequencies, and no amount of clothing will stop a lustful thought if it is going to be had. While he admits that "girls can make it less difficult" by wearing less-revealing clothes, he knows that images of the female body can be everywhere, and not every female is concerned with covering her body.
Ferguson shares a message of hope for the young (and older) men who do try to think modest thoughts. "Most of the guys who are making an effort to [think pure thoughts] spend a lot of time feeling like they are terrible people. I think they need to understand that everyone has a problem area and you can do better."
Ferguson's own practical suggestions, "view women as people, not objects; look women in the face; walk the other way if necessary," demonstrate that he, himself, is not immune to immodesty's potential dangers. Modesty is an issue to which most women and men can relate, whether in their teenagers' lives or in their own. For those looking to make a real difference, both Pickett and Ferguson offer advice.
"Parents should have a standard of modesty for their kids; if they're too strict on it, their kids will rebel, but if they're reasonable and can explain why, it can help kids develop their own convictions," Ferguson said.
Pickett also believes in setting standards. "Adults should help kids come up with workable alternatives—work with them, not against them," Pickett encourages. "Don't fight the fashion—change it. If a daughter wants to wear fashionable V-neck shirts, but mom thinks they show too much cleavage, mom should buy her an equal number of higher-cut tank tops that she is required to wear with them."
Pickett said she believes that if adults will model modesty in their own lives, and if they will teach young men to not only accept, but to praise and to respect modesty in their female peers, the issue will be closer to a resolution. And if Christians of all ages are working toward purer lifestyles, real spiritual maturity cannot be far behind.

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