Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Don’t Hurt Me

Have you ever sat back, looked at the East Coast, and wondered what exactly we do during a hurricane? Do we sit huddled in a corner waiting for the roof to cave in? Do we count our copiously stockpiled provisions? Do we go surfing?

The answer is that someone, somewhere is doing all of those things. But we don’t stop there! No no, we don’t take the hurricanes lying down. We go out and beg them to leave us alone!

What? You don’t believe me? Oh, then you need to watch this. For reals.

(And in case you were wondering, this video will be featured on national TV tomorrow morning! Ah, the rewards of boredom.)

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O’re The Ramparts We Watched…Or Something Like That

The National Anthem. It’s got a great story. Beautiful history. It’s the ultimate expression of the tenacity and bravery of Americans in the face of overwhelming odds. Even through the darkest night, with bullets and rockets everywhere, our flag still stands.

It deserves to be sung with passion, dignity, power, and emotion. It deserves to be sung like this:

It does NOT deserve the butchering that it got at the SuperBowl LXV last night. No song deserves this, let alone a National Anthem:

So, there you have it. I must go weep for America’s future now….

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Never Forget

It may be nine years later, but the memories live on.

May we never forget.

Taken from the deck of a Naval battleship.

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Happy 4th!

It’s Independence Day! Enjoy.

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Sunday At Starbucks

It all started with getting up at 8:30 am on Father’s Day. Wait, let’s have a little more background first.

I’m not an overly complicated person; I simply know how I like things. Sometimes this means that I do things myself, so that they are done correctly. Other times, it means that I have to leave my final destination in the hands of others and navigate them as clearly and simply as is humanly possible.

Too, I’d like to preface my remarks with the acknowledgement that Sunday mornings at Starbucks can be horrendous. I’m aware of this fact, and always adjust my expectations accordingly. However, I’m also a good judge of what is busy, normal, and slow. Just so we’re clear.

Now, let’s try this again:

It all started with getting up at 8:30 am on Father’s Day. Dad’s choice for lunch was Olive Garden, which opens at 11 am. Thus, in order to get in at the first seating, we had to go to early service. (To be honest, Dad is an early bird who would always prefer to go to 9 am church. Mum and I are night owls. We compromise. Late service it is! But I digress….) So, I’m up early, dressed, make-up on, and I think I even found my right mind! It was a little Father’s Day miracle.

Church was wonderful. The great news is that we were finished with service by 10:15. The bad news is that we were done by 10:15. Olive Garden, if you remember, opens at 11. What to do, what to do?

Oh. How about running to Starbucks?

Hurt me.

So, off we toddle to the nearest Starbucks. Allow me to stress that THIS IS NOT MY STARBUCKS. We good? Okay!

Three of us have traditional orders: Iced Grande Sweetened Green Tea. Tall Vanilla Bean Frappuccino. Iced Venti No Classic Dark Cherry Green Tea Lemonade (it sounds harder than it is). Only one order requires any sort of special attention, so we started there. I needed to mark out 1/2 pound of Three Region Coffee before my benefit expired Sunday night. I’m here, let’s do it now. So, I grab my 1/2 pound and join my family in line.

Okay, this is not my Starbucks. However, I’m in here enough that all the baristas are (or should be, at least) familiar with me. Besides, my family is standing together as a group. Four of us. Just keep that in mind for later.

It’s our turn to order, and I take the ordering/paying lead for several reasons:

1. I’m the barista; it’s literally my job.

2. I’ve got the discount numbers.

3. It’s Father’s Day- no way Dad is paying for our drinks!

First things first. I hand my 1/2 pound to the barista (after smiling and saying hi), and tell her that it’s my markout. Once that’s taken care of, I ask her if she’d be willing to grind it (which they should offer anyway), and if she would brew me a pourover- tall in a grande cup.

For future reference, I’m looking to receive the middle-sized cup containing only the amount of liquid that would fit in the cup to the left. That’s what “tall in a grande” means. The cup to the right is called “venti.” There’s your barista lesson for the day! Oh, and remember what a venti looks like, okay?

Here’s where the visit begins to go awry:

Snag 1: This barista’s worked for the company longer than I have, and she looked at me blankly. Pour over? How does that go again? She looks at her shift, and asks him how to grind and measure for a pour over.

Snag 2: He looks at her as if she’s grown 3 heads. Pour over? Paper filter?

At this point I jump in: you grind for a cone filter. Ahhhhhhh; faces clear up, concern vanishes- this is doable!

Snag 3: Barista comes back. Do I know how much coffee to use? But of course.

Then she disappears. The shift disappears. She reappears. My coffee (bag and brewed) does not. Okay, we’ll give it some time. She hits total. I say I have more drinks. She takes my first drink order. She hits total. I tell her there are more drinks. She takes my next drink order. She hits total. I tell her there’s another drink order (anyone else remember that my family of four was with me? Okay, good.). She disappears. Shift reappears. Other baristas are bustling around. New barista comes on to the floor. My barista is still missing. Customers look at me like I’m the reason the line isn’t moving. I’ve my money in hand; where’s my barista?

Finally, she returns with cups. Crisis averted; I pay.

Vanilla Bean Frappuccino up!

Iced Sweetened Green Tea up!

Iced Dark Cherry Green Tea Lemonade up!

….

….

….

….

….

No 3 Region- bag or brew. Shift won’t make eye contact. Register barista won’t make eye contact.

….

….

….

….

….

I mozy to the other end of the bar, and visually locate their pour over. There’s the 3 Region; it’s done brewing, all ready to go. Two steps behind the counter, and it could be mine! But I’m nicer than that. I continue to wait for my coffee.

….

….

….

….

….

….

Now, granted there was a steady stream of customers, but nothing this store can’t handle. For goodness sake, our store could handle this level of business with 2 people, and they have 6!

Still, I wait patiently (in view of the baristas in hopes of giving a visual cue to them.)

….

….

….

….

….

….

I finally give up. I go over to the family’s table, slump over, and beg Dad to go ask for the brewed coffee. He comes back with….

….

….

….

….

a full Venti. Pop quiz: does anyone here remember what I requested? Yes, that’s right; a tall in a grande cup.

*facepalm*

I’m angry at this point. Incensed. All I wanted was a little bit of coffee brewed, coffee which I provided. Did they listen? They did not.

I still don’t have my 1/2 pound of coffee back.

We sit for a while in the cafe, because believe it or not we did still have a bit of time left to kill. As we left, I went over (business is dead now), and asked the barista if I could get the rest of my markout that they didn’t brew. She blinks; she doesn’t know where it went.

I ask the shift; he looks at me like I’m trying to cheat the company. Ummm, he guesses that would be okay. (Remember, this is MY coffee benefit that I earned, paid for with MY numbers. I’m really not cheating at all- the coffee belongs to ME.) He pours the ground coffee into my bag, and I finally escape.

Annoyed.

Very, very annoyed.

This is the kind of Starbucks experience that gives Starbucks a bad name; this is what some people think of when they hear the word “barista.”

It’s sad, to say the least. No star skills were showing ; there wasn’t even the common courtesy of assuming that a fellow partner knows what she’s talking about when she asks for a certain brew. Lest you all think that I was being a pain, allow me to remind you that nothing here was complicated: they chose to make it complicated. I think I was nice too; I waited patiently, I tipped them, and I used my best manners. I even complimented them on their hand-drawn signage.

So, sheesh.

I’d like to take a minute to personally apologise to anyone for whom this is a “typical” Starbucks experience. If I found it frustrating (and I understand Starbucks), how much more maddening must it be for you all?

There’s a simple solution here: everyone in the world should come to my Starbucks when I’m working. I’ll treat you all correctly!

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The Front Fell Off

To show that the oil spill is on my mind, I thought that I’d share one of my favourite videos. It’s only a few minutes, so enjoy!

Yes, I know that this video is not from this oil spill, and that it is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s still fun though!

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Ploughshares and Pruning Hooks

Today in Precept class we talked about war. Joel 3:9-10 talks about the very end of time, around the time of the events taking place in Revelation 19. (If you’re not familiar with Revelation 19, please take a few minutes and refresh your memory. This post will make more sense!) The nations are at war, the soldiers are gathering. In these verses in Joel, the Lord tells them to “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.” (NASB)

This is the ultimate call to war, a call to take your means of growing crops for food and life and turning them into weapons of war. The implication is clear—if you do not prepare to defend yourself, then you will not need to worry about growing food. You won’t be there to eat anymore.

Matthew 24:6-7 warns us that the end of time will be bloody and violent, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Revelation alone details 10 wars that take place in about 7 year’s time:

1. First seal, the rider on the white horse who comes conquering and to conquer (6:2).
2. Second seal, the rider on the red horse, who comes to take peace from the earth (6:4). Well, war will take peace from the earth.
3. Fourth seal, rider on an ashen horse name Death, who had Hades following him (6:8). They kill a quarter of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and with wild beasts.
4. Sixth trumpet, fire and brimstone come out of the mouths of 200 million horsemen (9:16-17). Read that number again: 200 million. 200,000,000. Wow. Moving on….
5. The beast makes war with the two witnesses (11:7).
6. The dragon makes war with the archangel Michael and his armies (12:7).
7. The dragon makes war with the followers of God (12:17). (The beast and the dragon are other, prophetic terms for Satan, just so you don’t think I’m trying to write the plot of a fantasy novel and pass it off for Biblical truth!)
8. The beast assembles armies to make war against Christ and His followers (19:19). *spoiler alert* This does not go in the beast’s favour.
9. 10 kings of the nations go and destroy Babylon (16:19).
10. Gog and Magog gather for war by the order of the beast (20:8). Fire comes down and destroys them. By the way, this is the only battle that does not take place in the 7 year time frame, this happens after the Satan is bound and Christ rules for 1000 years. We’ve a while yet to wait for this battle.

It’s a lot of war, a lot of fighting, a lot of death. Right now I can hear you all thinking; “What kind of God would bring this destruction to people? What is the point? What good does this all do?” I don’t want to get into the first two points because they are vast and deep subjects to explore. If I were to go there now your eyes would glaze over and your head would nod and you’d start snori….

Ahem. Basically, suffice it for now to say that God would not be true to Himself if He didn’t bring judgment at some point. However, it’s been almost 2000 years since Revelation was given to John, longer for the other prophecies. God intends for man to know what is going to happen so we can make an informed decision: will we trust in Him or not? We know the future, we can control our fate. Do you want to be on the winner’s side, or do you want to experience the punishment dealt out by the victors? It’s your choice, but I choose to be on God’s winning side.

The last question is worth examining. What good does all this do? For the answer, let me take you to one of my favourite prophetic books, Isaiah (though Joel’s a favourite too). There? Good! In 2:4 there’s a very interesting verse describing what life will be like after God establishes His kingdom for good; “and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” It’s the exact opposite of the verse in Joel.

What a wonderful thought! In these days of war and uncertainty, it’s nice to think about peace. It may be hard in these modern time to understand all this business about ploughs and pruning hooks, so I’ll try to update it for you. Imagine an Air Force bomber being unarmed and turned into a mail carrier. Envision a tank rolling through neighbourhood streets playing “Turkey in the Straw” and selling ice cream. Things normally meant for military combat are instead converted for peaceful, everyday use. Can you imagine how secure these people will feel? Just the sheer amount of peace and lack of fear that allows you to turn your weapons into tools blows my mind.

More than this, they won’t even learn war. No sane nation, even a peaceful one, goes without some sort of combat training. There are always people learning to fight, just to be prepared, be ready, be safe. These people will not learn war—they will not fight nation to nation. This is absolute, utter peace—a peace the world has not known since sin entered the world, and death through sin (Rm. 5:12). It is just a wonderful, hopeful picture.

That is why I believe. This is what I live for: ultimate peace that comes from the ultimate source, God. One day, in His time, it will happen. Until then, I just hold on preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the gates into the city…He who testifies to these things says “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. –Revelation 22:13-14,20 NASB

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Powerless

At precisely 1:54 this morning, my entire neighbourhood lost power. Those of you readers who know me well will gasp in shock, as you realize that this is right in the middle of prime study time for me. One minute I’m happily reading tweets and looking for a blog plugin for the English club (and yes, working on an English paper), the next minute everything around me went dark.

To be honest, my first thought was “oh, Mum is making a statement about the lateness of the hour.” Then, I realized that she couldn’t have turned off the lamp beside me without me noticing her doing it. Then, my internet connection disappeared.

It’s one thing to lose power during the day. You have to keep your fridge and freezer closed, interior rooms may be a little dim, and the radio will fall silent. Really though, it’s not much of an imposition. Losing your power at night is a whole different ball game.

For one, I can’t see anything. I mean, the ENTIRE neighbourhood has no power- this includes street lamps. Two, I stupidly didn’t charge my phone for the last 48 hours, so I’m down to a sliver of battery and I need my phone to wake me up in the morning. Thankfully, I did charge my iPod so it’s my portable lighting device. As for my laptop- well, I obviously don’t have internet, but I’m on powersaver and typing this right now. I’m good to go for another hour or two.

This whole incident is just bringing home how much we rely on things that most people don’t even have. It’s automatic to walk into a dark room and reach for the light switch. You expect that when you open the fridge, a little light will pop on. When I turn on my iPod, I expect to see my wifi signal. When I plug in my phone, I expect it to charge. When we look outside, we expect to see the porch lights on the neighbour’s houses.

However, right now in Haiti, there are people simply wondering if their house is still standing, if their neighbours are still alive, and if they will be able to find any sort of food. Bodies are being discovered with sickening regularity, each body representing not only a life lost, but also a family destroyed. I’m sure that they aren’t worrying about charging their cellphones, or surfing the web on their iPods. I’m sure that all they want is their family and friends to be alive, and to know where to find food, clothing, and shelter.

My house is still structurally unchanged- even my alarm system is still set thanks to back-up batteries. I have plenty of food and water in my fridge and garage. My family is all around me, safely tucked into their beds. My phone may be low on power, but there are two more in the house all ready to go. Despite my lack of internet, I’m still sitting here typing away on my laptop.

You know, I think that I’m pretty lucky. Because, when you look at your life in the big, world picture, you come to realize that every frustration and setback is nothing when compared with the suffering of others. So instead of mourning my lost study time, I’m going to shut this computer off, get into bed, pray for the people of Haiti, and thank God that all I have to worry about is a low cellphone battery.

It’s really not so bad being powerless.

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