Five Blankets In An Ice Storm

In case you hadn’t heard, we’ve had a bit of an ice storm in my part of the world.

Mixtures of ice, sleet and rain began Monday afternoon and lasted through all of Tuesday, leaving between 1/2” and 2” of ice on everything.

Throughout Tuesday night the trees began to snap under the weight of all the ice, sounding like a chorus of artillery fire. And indeed, it does look somewhat like a war zone around here, or as if a tornado had ripped through the area, with trees and power lines down all over the place and fences, cars and houses damaged.

Despite all the devastation, I think my memories of the 2009 Ice Storm will mainly be fond ones, centered on the hospitality of others and a lesson on contentment that I received in the unlikeliest of places.

No sooner than our power had gone off Tuesday afternoon we began to get calls from people who had gas stoves and fireplaces who offered to let us stay with them. As it began to get darker (and colder) Tuesday evening, we finally decided to impose on some friends for the night, and we greatly appreciated their hospitality.

Wednesday morning Caroline and I decided to brave the icy roads and head to my parents’ house (whose power had been restored after a matter of hours), but on the way we stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up some carbonated, caffeinated essentials.

Wal-Mart was swamped. Hundreds of people were there to buy what they needed, and the combination of the big crowd of customers and a small number of employees who had been able to get to work meant that the check-out lines were incredibly long.

As the checker began to scan our items, the young man in line behind us struck up a conversation. From his appearance and the way he spoke, he appeared to be of Asian descent or from somewhere in the Pacific. I immediately warmed to him.

He had apparently ventured out to Wal-Mart to buy a few bananas. He asked us if we had power, and I told him that we didn’t, but that we were heading to someplace that did. When I asked if he had electricity where he lived, he cheerfully responded, “No, but I’ve got five blankets. I just stay underneath them and it keeps me warm.”

It’s hard to know much about people just by interacting with them for a few moments, but if I had to guess, I’d say the man wasn’t at all well-off financially, didn’t have friends with electricity right down the street, and had been braving the storm all on his own. In short, he was far less blessed than I was.

I took my leave of him to make the journey with my wife and my 2-liters to my parents’ warm house, hoping the high-speed internet would be working by the time I got there (after all, I had been without for 24 hours, and that’s a tough way to live, right?). Meanwhile my Asian friend took his bananas and headed back to his dark apartment and his five blankets.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4.11, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Some people clearly have a better grasp on this than I do.


Redundancy Defined

Darren McFadden on his rookie season in Oakland:
“I felt like overall it was a good year without the injuries,” McFadden said. “Other than the injuries I thought it was a good year for me overall.”
This makes D-Mac sound pretty foolish, but I blame the sportswriter for not editing the quote.


Life: Imagine The Potential

I came across this video from CatholicVote.org, and on the heels of yesterday’s briefest of posts, I thought it was especially appropriate.

It’s only 41 seconds long…check it out.

Thanks to Todd, who posted it first.


AP: “Obama To Reverse Abortion Policy”

It begins.


Enter Obama

America inaugurated a new president this week—you may have heard something about it.

Actually, you’ve probably heard a lot more about it than I have—without television or internet in my new house, I didn’t see or hear any of the inauguration, which is a little disappointing.

Not disappointing because I’m a big Barack Obama fan; I’m certainly not, as I’ve written before.

Disappointing because Obama makes a good speech. Even when I disagree with him, he’s easier to listen to than a lot of people.

Disappointing because the inauguration of a black president is an historic event in the history of our nation. An event we should be proud of, and which shows how far we’ve come in the last 40 years.

Disappointing because as the new president of our country, Obama faces a lot of serious problems, and he’ll need the support of Americans, even ones like myself who disagree with him (a support that Bush never really got).

Barack Obama wasn’t my choice, but he is my president.

I didn’t elect him, but I will respect him.


Exit Bush

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, is president no longer.

Bush’s time in office has been hectic, and his second term has been characterized by the continuation of an unpopular war, a faltering economy and sagging approval ratings.

For the most part, I don’t think Bush has been given a fair shake.

Sure, I don’t agree with everything he’s done, but he’s also had a lot to deal with. From the most threatening attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, to a crippling hurricane, to a vice president who accidentally shot someone in the face, President Bush couldn’t really get a break.

From the beginning, people have claimed that he was an idiot because of his famous misstatements, and I’ve mentioned before that I think that’s unfair. Bush actually scored a very respectable 1206 on the SAT, and based on that score, his IQ has been estimated to be around 125, which would put him in the top 10-15% (and therefore, more intelligent than the vast majority of people who make fun of him).

And much has been made about his low approval ratings, but I think we should be pretty careful about judging the success or value of someone based on the fickle feelings of the mob. Abraham Lincoln was an unpopular president as well, but with the benefit of historical context, he is considered by many to be the greatest president in our history (I’m not saying that Bush is the equal of Lincoln, but he’s certainly not the abject failure that he’s been made out to be either).

At the end of the day, whether you agreed with him or not, I think there is one undeniable fact about the presidency of George W. Bush: he made his decisions based on what he thought was the right thing to do, not what would make him popular.

That’s an admirable characteristic. It’s a characteristic that we generally try to instill in our children. And one that is pretty rare amongst politicians.

So goodbye President Bush, and thank you for your service. I tend to think that history will be kind to you. Certainly kinder than we have been.


Reading In 2008

One of my personal goals for 2008 was to spend more time reading. I was successful in this goal, thanks in large part to the fact that I started going to bed earlier, and read before going to sleep (rather than my previous habit of staying up late watching television).

Without further ado, I present my reading list for 2008:
  1. The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
  2. The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
  3. The House on the Cliff, Franklin W. Dixon
  4. Angel of Darkness, Caleb Carr
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  6. The Ministry of Fear, Graham Greene
  7. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  8. The Return of Mr. Campion, Margery Allingham
  9. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  10. Why is the Foul Pole Fair?, Vince Staten
  11. The Teammates, David Halberstam
  12. Ordinary Men, Christopher Browning
  13. Heir to the Empire, Timothy Zahn
  14. Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn
  15. The Last Command, Timothy Zahn
  16. Shadows of the Empire, Steve Perry
  17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
  18. The Holy Spirit: Unraveling the Mystery, Bobby Dockery
  19. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  20. The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan
  21. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  22. The Master of Ballantrae, Robert Louis Stevenson
  23. The Witchmaster’s Key, Franklin W. Dixon
  24. The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton
  25. Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene
  26. Fire in my Bones, Jimmy Allen
  27. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
  28. Yukon Ho, Bill Watterson
  29. The Catcher Was A Spy, Nicholas Dawidoff
I’m a little embarrassed by some of my guilty pleasures (Star Wars and Hardy Boys books), proud of some books which I re-read and was better able to appreciate (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and The Man Who Was Thursday in particular) and was able to find a few books that I really, really liked (Thursday, Life of Pi, The Teammates).

I read 29 books in all, which comes out to a little more than a book every two weeks. That isn’t too bad, but I’m hoping to do better in 2009, and already have a stack of books picked out to read (and am always open to suggestions for more).

I’ll have to get on the ball though. Between being sick for the first week of the year (I typically don’t read at all when I’m sick) and moving to a new house for the past week (and misplacing the book I was in the process of reading), I’m not off to a good start at all.


How I Did In 2008

Just over a year ago, at the start of 2008, I did something and made a list of New Year’s resolutions for The Doc File. With 2008 being completed, I guess now is a good time to go back and give the list a glance-over to see how well I did:

1. Blog on a more regular basis. Specifically, I mentioned that I’d like to blog three times a week. That would come out to roughly 150 posts in a year, and last year, I posted 100 times exactly.

Verdict: 2/3 Success. I’ll renew this resolution for 2009.

2. Blog with more balance. With this resolution, I was decrying the tendency I have to get into ruts when I blog and I even suggested dedicating certain days to certain types of posts.

Verdict: Failure, but I’ve also decided it was a stupid resolution. I’ll try to balance out topics as much as possible, but I’m not going to not post something just because it’s on a similar topic to a recent post.

3. When you start a “series,” finish it. Looking back, it seems like I did continue to struggle with some series, but I did finally bring the abortion series to a conclusion, and I was pleased with that.

Verdict: Partial Success. Still room for improvement.

4. Do a better job responding to comments. I think I responded to virtually all of my commenters in 2008, and I think I generally did so in a timely fashion (sometimes comments were sent to my Bulk mail folder, and I didn’t become aware of them at first).

Verdict: Success. I’ll try for more of the same in 2009.

Out of four resolutions, it looks like I successfully followed through with about 2 1/2, which comes out to roughly 63%. That’s not so good on a report card, or as a slogan either (“63% Successful Since 2008!”), but I guess I’ll take it.

“Smoltz Deserved Better From The Braves”

Here’s a really good column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball too closely, John Smoltz, the face of the Atlanta Braves, is close to signing with the Boston Red Sox after Atlanta failed to offer him a competitive contract for the 2009 season.

It’s been hard to root for the Braves the last couple of seasons, but this is a new low. I’ve been a Braves fan since 1987 (which is basically when I first became aware of them), but my fan-dom has reached a crisis point.

Good luck in Boston, Smoltzie.

Thanks to Jared for sending me the link.


Not A Good Idea

I’m not a Florida fan, but since I’m an SEC fan in general and since I don’t really think Oklahoma deserves to be playing for the National Championship in the first place (after losing head-to-head against Texas), I had already decided that I would be rooting for the Gators tomorrow night.

Those feelings have only changed slightly after Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks said that Tim Tebow wasn’t as good as the top three quarterbacks in the Big 12. Now, instead of just wanting the Gators to win, I’m hoping that they destroy the Sooners and that Tim Tebow puts up about 500+ total yards in the process.

A word of advice to Dominique Franks: when you’re a member of the nation’s 98th best pass defense, you probably don’t want to provide motivation for a former Heisman Trophy winner. Good luck with that.



I’ve been sick since last Saturday. I finally decided to go to the doctor on Tuesday, who thought I probably had food poisoning and prescribed some antibiotics. So far, they haven’t helped much, but I’m hopeful that they will—I really don’t want to go back to the doctor again.

This makes the third December in a row that I’ve suffered from some sort of stomach ailment. I got sick after eating at Taco Bell two years ago in December, and last December, I had to have an emergency appendectomy.

I’m starting to dislike December.

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