Rationale for blogging

I realize I link to Mission Safari a lot, but there’s so much there worth linking to. In this case, Tim explains his reasons for blogging.

I especially like what he has to say about transparency. I, too, think it’s important to convey both the ups and downs of mission work (in my case, short-term mission work — I hardly want to compare what I do to what Tim does). People need to understand that mission work is not for “super-Christians” but for regular people living under grace. God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called.

The food spectator

Even during my week of down time last week, when I wasn’t posting to the blog because I was in the process of trying to get it moved, I got a blog comment — from someone who doesn’t like Jack Hourigan. (“Jack,” by the way, is female.)

I’m amazed, but I continue to get blog comments on a few months-old posts I made about the Food Network television show “How To Boil Water.” I’m not sure why — perhaps someone linked to one of those old posts on a fan site or something.

Anyway, my previous posts talked about changes in the casting of the show — first it was hosted by Lynne Koplitz and Frederic von Coppernolle, then Hourigan and von Coppernolle, and now Hourigan and Tyler Florence.

After some initial misgivings, I’ve come to enjoy Hourigan and Florence — but I’m a little mystified by a subtle change in the format that I’ve noticed in the past few weeks. As the title suggests, “How To Boil Water” is supposed to be aimed at beginning cooks. The title dates back to the early days of Food Network, when it was a traditional single-host cooking show. It went off the air for a while, and then the current two-host format was introduced: a chef (von Coppernolle or Florence) teaching a cooking novice (Koplitz or Hourigan, both of them standup comedians).

The last few episodes, however, have eliminated the actual physical interaction between the hosts. Hourigan no longer gets to cook herself, under Florence’s direction; now she just sits at the counter and watches, asking the occasional question, as Florence does everything himself. This seems to defeat the purpose of the two-host format.

Food Network once had another two-host cooking show in which the co-host never cooked: “Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay,” where Jacqui Malouf peppered Flay with questions about what he was cooking and why. But Malouf was a little more assertive than Hourigan — in fact, one of her primary functions was that she punctured Flay’s pomposity just a little bit. (By contrast, I haven’t enjoyed any of the solo work Flay has done since “Hot Off the Grill.” Check out this vulgar but dead-on assessment of Flay’s on-air personality.)

I’m not sure why Hourigan has been banished from the cutting board on “How To Boil Water,” and I hope it’s not the first step back towards a single-host format.

Created with me in mind

I got two AOL free trial CDs in the mail today. Of course, getting an AOL CD in the mail is about as rare and noteworthy as Larry King getting married, but this time there was a new twist.

One of the AOL CDs was the regular, garden-variety offer. The other was for “AOL Black Voices … An AOL created with you in mind.”

Really? Created with me in mind? I haven’t looked in a mirror in the past few hours, but when I shaved this morning I don’t recall being black.

I think that if I were black, I would consider “AOL Black Voices” a little condescending as a marketing plan. The Internet is the Internet, and it’s huge. Yes, there are certainly internet resources that might relate to the black experience, or race relations, or other concerns faced by black Americans. But those resources are easily accessible to anyone, of any race, no matter which ISP they are using.

One of these days, I’m going to try to compose a haiku composed entirely of the passwords they give you with AOL trial CDs. You know the ones — the password is composed of two surreallistically-unrelated words, connected by a hyphen, like LILAC-GAVEL or NYLON-RESIST.

Of course, the real scandal to these AOL trial-offer disks is the free offer itself — 1175 free hours of service. The trick is, you have to use the 1175 free hours over the next 50 days. Let’s do the math; that would require you to be online 23 hours a day. So the offer of 1175 free hours is just misleading and absurd, since no one is going to get anywhere close to using that number of hours in a 50-day period. They should simply say “50 free days,” or “two free months,” or something like that. I’m really surprised they haven’t gotten into legal trouble for this.

Categorized

I have categorized all of my old imported blog posts. I have also updated a few links and deleted a few old posts that were out of date — either they were captions for photos that aren’t up on the new system, or they had to do with something specific to the old site, or what have you.

Remember, I was not able to import the comments from Blogger into WordPress, so if you’ve commented on a past post, please don’t be offended. I’ve gotten several nice e-mails about the new site design, by the way, but no one’s actually left a comment on the blog’s comment system yet. Please do so if the muse hits you; I’m anxious to make sure the comment system works.

It was fun, as I was categorizing all those old posts, to re-read what I’ve written over the past 10 months. (I had another blog, “Kenya Minus 365,” before that, but stupidly lost those posts when I created the first version of this blog in 2004.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it even half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Career Day

On Wednesday, Jay Curtis — the owner and publisher of the Bell Buckle Echo — called the T-G looking for someone to cover for him today (Thursday) at Shelbyville Rotary Club’s annual Career Day. This is held at Motlow State Community College during the college’s spring break. It brings together sophomores from all three of Bedford County’s public high schools to hear from various speakers about potential careers.

For many years, the T-G had supplied a journalism speaker (and sometimes a speaker on newspaper advertising as well). I’d done it once or twice in the past, but not in quite a few years. This year, Jay — who is, after all, a Rotary Club member — had planned to do journalism himself. But something came up, and so he needed a replacement. My editor didn’t think she could make it herself, so I ended up with the job.

Given my recent vocational frustrations, there is some irony in me talking to fresh-faced teenagers about why they need to consider journalism as a career. But I do believe in the ideals of journalism, and don’t mind talking about them. I talked to two different groups about the qualities needed by a reporter, and about the rewards and frustrations of life in print. I had 19 teens in one group and 12 in the other. They were attentive (mostly) and asked good questions.

Well, most of them were good questions. One had me scratching my head.

“What do you wear when you do an interview?”

I explained that it depended on the interview — I wouldn’t wear the same thing at the Governor’s Mansion that I would wear to interview the Farmer of the Year in his dairy barn.

Bloglet

I am having trouble getting the new site to work with Bloglet, the service a few of you used to have the blog delivered by e-mail. Bloglet, of all things, doesn’t like the way WordPress formats the date of its syndication feed.

The Bloglines and My Yahoo! links at right do work, and I’ll look for another service similar to Bloglet for those of you who prefer to get this drivel — er, scintillating prose in your inbox rather than your web browser.

The team is announced

Jan Schilling and Bill Joy had both told me that they plan to be on the Kenya trip this August, but I really didn’t know who else would be on the team, and I was getting curious. Today, I got an official “welcome” e-mail which has been sent to all the team members, encouraging us (among other things) to pray for one another. I’m sure we all solicit your prayers as well:

John Carney
Bill Joy
Kylene McDonald
Jan Schilling
Carolyn Schussler
David Schussler
Mary Margaret Willems

LEAMIS Staff
Gail Drake
Frank Schroer
Debra Snellen
Bob Willems

The e-mail also adds to that list Pastor Paul Mbithi and his wife Grace, with whom we will again be working in Kenya.

All of the names above are returnees from the 2004 trip except for David Schussler and Bill Joy. I’ve not met David, although I was a teammate of Carolyn’s in both Nicaragua and Kenya. Bill Joy I know well from Mountain T.O.P.; in addition, it was Bill and Bobbie Joy who taught Kylene and I copper foiling in preparation for last year’s Kenya trip.

We will have our pre-field training April 29-May 1. The trip will be Aug. 3-18.