Sunday, August 18, 2013

zebra questions

lately I’ve been thinking a lot about zebras. one of the things I’ve been wondering is why they are striped. when it comes to evolution, I believe that animals (and humans) evolve slightly over time, but I affirm that they were all created by a creative designer.

evolution tells us that animals evolve and take on traits to help them survive in their environments- so why are zebras striped? why is any animal black and white for that matter? are there any black and white environments that they can blend into? is it because their predators are color blind? you would think that if zebras wanted to have an evolutionary advantage, that they would be tan or green to hide in their environment- or become faster than lions- or bigger than lions, but for some odd reason, their DNA made them black and white striped.

Wikipedia says that no one really knows why zebras are striped, but most think it has something to do with camouflage. this is what the article says about the evolutionary advantage of stripes:

“A wide variety of hypotheses have been proposed to account for the evolution of the striking stripes of zebras. The more traditional of these (1 & 2, below) relate to camouflage.

1. The vertical striping may help the zebra hide in grass by disrupting its outline. In addition, even at moderate distances, the striking striping merges to an apparent grey.

2. The stripes may help to confuse predators by motion dazzle—a group of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large mass of flickering stripes, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out a target.

3. The stripes may serve as visual cues and identification. Although the striping pattern is unique to each individual, it is not known whether zebras can recognize one another by their stripes.

4. Experiments by different researchers indicate that the stripes are effective in attracting fewer flies, including blood-sucking tsetse flies and tabanid horseflies. A 2012 experiment in Hungary showed that zebra-striped models were nearly minimally attractive to tabanid horseflies. These flies are attracted to linearly polarized light, and the study showed that black and white stripes disrupt the attractive pattern. Further, attractiveness increases with stripe width, so the relatively narrow stripes of the three living species of zebras should be unattractive to horseflies.”

evolution tells us that an animal’s dna will change to help it survive- well, how does a zebra’s DNA know what it looks like from the outside? how does it know what it looks like from far away? how does it know what it looks like from above? how does it know what its environment looks like so that it can blend in with it? how can it adapt to make its skin and fur into an optical illusion, if their DNA doesn’t have eyes? is it all just trial and error?
come on.

I wonder this about all black and white animals- like pandas- why are they black and white? why aren’t they green? and why would penguins be black at all? wouldn’t it make more sense just to be all white?

again, I think these animals look the way they do because they were created by a Creator, and He thought they look cool. and they do.

there is this passage in the book of job where God goes off on how cool some of His animals are. He talks about wild oxes, horses, ostriches and hawks. its like He is impressed with Himself at how creative He is and how amazing these creatures turned out. he says this about wild horses in Job 39:

“Do you give the horse its strength
    or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
    striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
    and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
    it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side,
    along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
    it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
    It catches the scent of battle from afar,
    the shout of commanders and the battle cry.”

He asks the question- “did you make horses awesome?” and the unstated answer is,
“no. you didn't. but I did.”

He made horses awesome.
and zebras awesome.
and you awesome.
so be awesome today.

God is love.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

homemade toys:: the dress shop

the other day Jane and I were in the mood for a homemade toy project- so we got to work on a dress shop for the critters. we had a lot of clothes, shoes, and a few hangers, but we needed more hangers, more clothes racks, and a background. I got some dowels and a foam board from Michael's and we got to work. here is what we came up with:
you can see that there is a worker at the cash register, and some mannequins showing clothes- I think you can click on the photo for better detail-

I made some mannequins, some hangers, and a couple of clothes racks. I cut the board to size too. we had the floor, and jane did all the rest! here is the top view:

you can see on the top right that there is a dressing room too!
this was a fairly inexpensive way for us to have some fun together, and to allow my little girl's imagination to run wild for awhile.
being a dad is fun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

switching channels-

tonight, I was flipping channels and jane was drawing-
I wanted to watch this show about a famous motorcycle builder, but I wasn't sure if he was going to start swearing, so I had my hand on the remote, just in case.

he started talking about wanting to be a better dad to his kids, and he started saying something like, "I want to be better dad, not some BLEEP, BLEEP who BLEEP BLEEEP..." (the channel censored out his words). I changed the channel as quick as I could. I felt dumb that jane heard any of it, but she looked up from her coloring and said, "whatever he's talking about, I know that it has nothing to do with my dad-"

that was cool to hear.

being a dad is awesome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

funny conversations-

the other day I was at Erik's deli getting a sandwich. the lady taking my order was a little older and was playfully picking on a younger employee. the conversation went like this:

ME: "how are you?"
THE CASHIER: "I'm great! I've been here all morning and its almost time for me to leave- but Carolyn over here is already drunk!"
ME: "already?!"
CAROLYN: (looking embarrassed): "I'm not even 21!"
THE CASHIER: "we know that never stopped anyone, don't we?! DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE CAROLYN!"

poor Carolyn.

the other day I was at church, and a female student came up to me and said:
STUDENT: "are you limping?!"
ME: "yeah- I hurt myself running."
STUDENT: "so you were just running, and you hurt yourself?"
ME: "yes. things like that can happen when you're old like me."
STUDENT: "so what part of yourself did you hurt?"
ME: "well, to be honest, I injured my hip, my thigh, and... my rear."
long pause.
STUDENT: "well that's ok. my butt hurts most of the time too!"
ME: "?!"

the other day jane wanted to read a book that I thought was a little too mature for her- she said,

JANE: "dad! I can handle this!"
ME: "I think you're not quite old enough for this. this book is a little scary..."
JANE: "come on dad! I'm a PG-kid! I can handle PG!"
ME: "you're definitely a G."

the other day I was having another sandwich at Erik's, reading my bible, and an elderly couple walked by- the wife walked up behind me, leaned down to see what I was reading and said, "getting ready for your sunday school lesson this week?" I said, "no- I'm just catching up on some reading." she said, "well, I gut ready for mine earlier today!" then her husband walked up to me and cheerfully asked, "understandest thou what thou readest?" which is probably the king james version of a passage in the book of acts- I answered, "I'm trying!" I was happy to meet them-

Saturday, August 10, 2013

perpetua's passion

while I was on my break last week, I read a fascinating book called Perpetua's passion Joyce Salisbury. it tells the story of a Christian martyr named Perpetua from the year 203.

Perpetua was a wealthy young mother, who lived in the city of carthage in 203. carthage is in the northern part of Africa, and was sort of a mini version of Rome, with its amphitheater, temples and roman culture. Perpetua was a recent convert to Christianity, and her faith was tested when she refused to worship the roman emperor, septimius severus. every citizen of the roman empire was required to worship the emperor through prayers, incense or offerings on a regular basis and the Christians refused. most found a way around the rule by paying someone to do it for them, or not thinking it was a big deal, but Perpetua refused and was thrown onto the death row of her time.

she was imprisoned with a few other Christians from her church. one of the unique things about Perpetua's martyrdom is that she kept a diary of everything that happened to her, and before she died, she gave that diary to an unknown narrator who filled in the events after her death. in her diary, Perpetua talked of how her father begged her to renounce her Christian faith. he told her to think of him in his old age, and of her baby that she had been separated from. but Perpetua replied with a statement that she is remembered for: "I am a Christian and cannot be called anything other than what I am." even when she was on trial, the prosecutor only asked her one question, "are you a Christian?" and she only answered, "yes. I am a Christian." that was all that was needed to condemn her to death.

Perpetua also had visions from God when she was in prison, and she recorded them in her diary. some of them were pretty bizarre, but they mostly showed her going into the area to battle, and winning in the end. she saw herself entering heaven as a victor. the other prisoners with her had similar dreams.

on the day that Perpetua was to be executed, she was excited. she considered it an honor to die for Christ. the other prisoners went first. they were tied up, beaten, and then one at a time sent into the area to face the wild beasts in front of a blood thirsty crowd. none of them died from the beatings or the beasts, and it was custom that after they faced the beasts they would go through a door away from the crowd to have their necks slit. Perpetua was beaten and then put into the arena to face a wild cow. the cow trampled her and she was taken with the others through the door to be killed by an executioner. on this particular day, the crowd was so blood thirsty that they demanded that the prisoners be executed in front of them.  the martyrs all bravely exposed their necks to the executioners.

through the story, there are many tales that point to Perpetua's character and others-centeredness, but this one seems to be the most telling, and the most famous. the narrator who took over Perpetua's dairy noted that Perpetua's executioner was a rookie and actually missed her throat when he went to strike her neck. he seemed to stab her in her collarbone. the narrator then noted that Perpetua screamed in pain, but then she "took the trembling hand of the young gladiator and guided it to her throat." from what I can tell, she felt for the young man, and actually helped him to martyr her. the narrator writes, "it was though so great a woman, feared as she was by the unclean spirit, could not be dispatched unless she herself were willing."

there is not much left of ancient carthage, but a chapel and a placard has been placed in the ruins of the arena to remember Perpetua and her bravery.

the book is pretty fascinating. if you're into ancient history, or church history, the book is very well researched and thought through. if I'm ever in north Africa, I would definitely enjoy visiting this sacred space.

there is much more to say about Perpetua, her boldness, and even the boldness of thousand of Christians across the globe who are facing even more terrible tortures- but that's for another time- please keep those brave brothers and sisters in your prayers, and learn how to help them.
until then,
God is love.

2 weeks off-

today is my first day back in the office after 2 weeks off- I had a great time with Deanna and jane- here are some of the highlights-

// I made an attempt to get all of the popcorn off of my ceiling. attempt. I only got one room done before I figured that it was going to take a lot more equipment and money. so I settled with the one room with hopes of getting the others done soon.

// I spent a lot of time at the gym, but I wasn't running. a few weeks ago, I pulled something in my hip/ thigh/ rear-end area. I haven't been able to even walk fast, let alone run. so I've been on the bike and jogging very slowly for very short amounts of time and spending a lot of time with the ice pack. I was running a few half marathons a week for a few weeks there, and I think my body was rebelling against all of the grief I was giving it. I'll be better soon.

// we went to the movies a bunch. we saw the smurfs, turbo, planes, despicable me, and monsters university. the theater is just down the street from us, and its a fun way to spend some time with jane.

// I introduced jane to the flea market! she loves it! we found a ton of cool treasures and hard to find toys that would be $20 or $30 in the store for only a dollar. we found this little gem at savers for $2:

we also had some fun consigning some stuff that we don't use anymore- we got to sell some old books and toys for a few extra bucks- we're recycling!
// I
read 2 books, one was a really cool church history book that I will post about later, and one was a FICTION book. I have read maybe 5 fiction books in the last ten years- so this was fun. it was about star wars and the period of time between episode 3 and 4.  I had to run over to santa cruz, and I had some spare time, so I took a lawn chair and read my book on the beach! so relaxing.

// we went to Monterey, to the aquarium, and to san Francisco to fisherman's warf- we had dessert at ghirradeli both times! we got to ride the BART and the cable car with jane for the first time-

// I love catching up with old friends, and I got to have a few long conversations with some dear old pals- a few on the phone, a few in person- always refreshing.
// I ate a lot of ice cream, and a lot of sandwiches from Erik's deli. abbott's habit is a good sandwich.
today I'm back in the office- I love my job. I love the people I work with, I love the work I do, I love my quiet little office. have a great saturday- and:
God is love.