Thursday, December 21, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
It's not like it's a bad tune. I actually rather like it. I could have been worse. Could have been Feliz Navidad. It could have been Gilligan's Island. Thankfully it wasn't.
Does this ever happen to you?
What was my song for the day yesterday? Van Morrison's Moondance. Don't ask me why.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
We had the DVD from Blockbuster's mail service sitting by our TV for probably three weeks or so. Just never got around to watching it. Finally, I was able to convince my wife to give it a try. We put the kids to bed, popped some popcorn and put on Peter Jackson's King Kong.
I had seen this version of the movie once before. In the theater when it was released. If you have never seen PJ's version of King Kong, you should rent it. It takes a while to get moving, but we have to decide that we like Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and are at least suspicious of Carl Denham (Jack Black). Liking Ann was easy, and Carl was easy to like--and dislike as Jack Black did his con-artisty job of getting everyone he needed imprisoned on a ship bound for an uncharted isle. (Sounds like the makings of a bad sit-com).
PJ's version of this story is a little bit like Kong meets Jurassic Park. It's a long movie too. It took us two nights to watch the whole thing. Janet watched about two-thirds of it then decided it was time for her to go to bed.
As I watched this movie again, a thought struck me. There would never have been a story if anyone other than Ann/Naomi had been taken by the big ape. I mean, suppose the smug film director Carl/Jack was taken away by Kong. The rest of the guys from the boat would have said (in their best Seinfeld voice), "Hum, yeah, that's a shame," and probably would have booked it on out of there. But since the lovely Ann/Naomi went missing, all the guys just had to go after her. Had Jack gone missing, it would have been a much shorter story.
So here are some questions of logistics: 1) Once knocked out by a singular bottle of chloriform, how did they get Mr. Kong up onto/into the boat? 2) Are there really any more uncharted islands? 3) How did the natives come up with the technology to keep Kong out of their quaint little settlement? 4) What girl in her right mind would scale the Empire State Building? 5) Are there really that many ladders and steps to the top? 6) Could one stand at the top really? with a 25 foot monkey? 7) Come on now, can Kong really beat up three T-rex dinosaurs? 8) if you're a passer-by in Manhattan and there's a big ape on top of the ESB, and planes are firing on him to kill, would you stand down there at the foot of the building waiting for him to fall? 9) if you're Jack Driscoll/Adrien Brody, how do you feel coming in a close second to a big ape? That can't help your self-esteem.
Friday, December 01, 2006
read more | digg story
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
I'm fortunate to get to play with a great group of players every week, but for some folks, even experienced players, this looks like a great way to keep your ensemble chops up!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
We're on a two lane road with a nice shoulder. I could easily have gone around, but Nooooo. I have no choice but to hold up because for some reason to make a left, you have to go to the far right of the lane.
My approach has always been to go to the left most side of the lane, keep the wheels staight and let others get around me. Oh, and signal, of course.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
....when you're concerned again about how much water you're using.
....when you make that big payment every month.
....when you begin to imagine how you might modify parts of your house's structure some day.
....when you begin to learn your neighbors' names. (apartment living is sometimes too cloistered)
.....[more from my readers?]
It's good to have a house again.
Monday, September 18, 2006
It made me laugh.
This ABC news report about a Jesus Camp documentary reminds me of the Simpson episode because it presents a view of Christian youth and the Christian world that is skewed by a minority but then extrapolated on the rest of Christianity as a whole. Notice how the church camp footage is interwoven throughout the piece.
Friday, September 01, 2006
At first I chuckled. Then as I thought about it, I realized there was nothing here but mockery. There are so many assumptions and presuppositions written into those five words that actually communicates the opposite of any belief in Christ's return, or even Christ himself.
I remember Dr. Larson saying once that when he was a kid, growing up in evangelical fundamentalism, which yielded it's corresponding legalism, that if he was in a movie theater when Jesus returned, he wouldn't be taken with the rest of the Christians. This, of course, had nothing to do with salvation, nothing to do with eternal security and nothing to do with living in grace. These kind of Sunday school scare tactics have led to a kind of cynicism that leads to questioning the faith, the validity of salvation and even the eminence of Christ's return.
"Jesus is coming-look busy" implies that even if we believe in Christ's return, he is the mean boss pulling into the parking lot and we have to get back to work, close our solitaire (or worse), and "do Christian stuff." It makes Christ out to be a miser rather than a loving savior who freely gives.
It also implies that Jesus wouldn't know what we were doing before he returns, that he can be fooled or deceived. Underlying this thought too is the idea that "looking busy" is how we earn his approval. It's a works-based theology that takes us back to the middle ages in some ways. I picture the poor uneducated masses, muttering up some prayers paying some indulgences throwing in a little mysticism, and hoping for the best, not really sure if what they're doing will appease a distant Almighty, who hates them because of their sins.
Ultimately, the "look busy" theology identifies itself as a non-belief system. Since we don't know when Jesus is coming (after all, they've been saying that for 2000 years!), and since he evidently hasn't yet, let's go ahead and acknowledge what we're all feeling: we don't really want to look busy. It's far easier to do what we want, rather than to live for they guy who isn't here yet anyway.
As I looked up the words of the bumper sticker I came across an entire line of items with this silly little mantra emblazoned on them. If this is how you want to approach the return of Christ, you can proclaim it in any one of the following ways:
Saturday, August 12, 2006
I wonder how many of my creditors will be so kind and let me wait years and years to pay back my debts...
read more | digg story
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Lightening rods, libraries, fire stations, modern diplomacy, The University of Pennsylvania, the Declaration of Independence, Voltaire, and the postal service, all have Ben Franklin in common. Walter Isaacson, in his biography about Franklin does a great job of objectively and chronologically laying out Franklin's life through much research, study of letters to and from Franklin, and a bit of analysis thrown in along the way.
This 493 page hardback edition (plus another 100 pages of notes and appendices), is a very well written story of a man who intersected with so many people, activities and ideas, it seems he could have lived several lives.
Franklin was born in 1706. He was child number seventeen and because of this could not apprentice in the family business, which was candle making. Instead, he became an apprentice to his brother in the print shop. This he began when he was only ten years old.
At age seventeen he ran away from Boston, short-changing his duties as an apprentice to his brother and went to Philadelphia. Isaacson writes that Franklin
"...had the happy talent of being at ease in almost any company, from scrappy tradesmen to wealthy merchants, scholars to rogues. His most notable trait was a personal magnetism; he attracted people who wanted to help him. Never shy, and always eager to win friends and patrons, he gregariously exploited this charm."
As Franklin arrived in Philadelphia with no money and no reputation, he journaled a manner of living that became a kind of personal credo, or at least "version one" of it. Here, at age twenty, he came up with four basic "rational" rules for how he would live his life:
- It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe
- To endeavor to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action--the most amiable excellence in a rational being.
- To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of suddenly growing rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty
- I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever.
Franklin, even as a teenager was forever writing "letters to the editor" or various essays about public policies, issues of the day, religious and moral issues, what have you. Having his own printing press gave him much opportunity to distribute his essays and political thoughts throughout Philadelphia and Pennsylvania through his newspaper. He would also print pamphlets that would be distributed through out the colonies. One important thing he finally received as appointment was the role of the post master. This was significant because he no longer had to pay the previous post master (also a publisher/printer) a fee to distribute his papers. As post master, Franklin began to gain control of distribution, and eventually set up post offices around the colonies. Thanks to his organization, a letter previously sent by post from New York to Philadelphia could take weeks. After Franklin organized the postal service, that time was cut to just a couple days.
One of the interesting traits of Franklin was that he was never into theoretical abstractions. He would come up with an idea and along with it a plan to implement it. His prescriptions, weather it be the Albany Plan, or ideas on how to start a fire company or build a library, always consisted of a great amount of detail regarding the internal structure and inner workings of an organization. He was a very thorough writer and thinker and almost every letter he wrote or political plan he drew up featured tedious details on exactly how a given operation, trivial or monumental, should run.
Franklin's approach to politics can be boiled down to his belief in the common man's right to assemble and elect for themselves representatives. Through out his life, until the end of the American war for Independence, Franklin's opposition were the Penn family and supporters of the appointed governors. Among the supporters for the proprietary governorships was Philadelphia's other printer, Andrew Bradford. The rivalry escalated from poking fun at eachother's printing errors to serious clashes and personal attacks over the course of a few years.
Even in the tumultuous days of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin considered himself a subject of the king and always sought a profitable way to provide electable representation of the colonies to England. Even after the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed, Franklin still desperately sought to make the colonies an extension of the crown. Franklin believed in the ability of the people to govern themselves, but still held to a "sovereignty-of-the-state" notion that he believed could be reconciled if each served the other fairly. This of course could not be resolved politically or diplomatically and eventual war resulted.
Isaacson notes that Franklin often alienated his male friends but never lost a female friend. He married Deborah Reed Rogers in 1730. Their relationship, as I'll note later was not a close friendship or romantic interest, but rather seemed to be more like a contractual obligation. She, the wife, he the husband. She work hard at home and helped with the general store in the print shop while Franklin, who loved to travel, did so frequently. While away, Franklin entrusted her with the duties on the home front, but rarely expressing a great deal of emotion regarding missing her while he was away, all while in letters, providing exact instructions regarding the finances and affairs of the home and the business.
Many of Franklin's letters reveal a quite flirtatious tone with many of the young women he met in his travels. This was the case through all his life, women of France, England, or the colonies loved him, or at least admired him, and returned the flirtatious rhetoric. Franklin, however, many times upon realizing he was approaching the moral boundaries of the relationship (especially in his letters) would suddenly feign a "but that will never happen" or a self-deprecating "Woe is me" kind of tone. As he got older, this tone would become abruptly paternal, particularly as his "intellectual" interests remained young enough to be his daughter. Franklin did genuinely enjoy the company of women, probably more than men, and found their conversations stimulating. The exceptions were Deborah, his wife, and Sally, his daughter, whom he constantly kept compartmentalized in familial roles, with more duty and obligation attached rather than love or passion of any kind.
More to follow...
Monday, June 26, 2006
We've got a lot of stuff going on right now and I have several things to post, but I'm going to wait until the dust settles and I can attempt a substantial contribution to the blogging world.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The thing about getting to Iowa from here, unlike Ohio is that it's far from a straight shot.
It used to be that all we had to do was drive north a little bit to I-80, aka, the Ohio Turnpike and head west. After staying on I-80 for about 11 hours, one would wind up in eastern Iowa and I-380, which takes you north to Waterloo.
Our adventures from Raleigh, for any of you who may need to make the trip, went something like this:
- Start at I-85. This seemed in congruous to me, because one would assume that taking I-40 would be the logical starting place, but from NW Raleigh, it makes more sense to go through the Triangle Research Park area, jump on 147, go through Durham, and end up on I-85 S, which soon takes you to
- I-40 W. Take this to Winston-Salem, then hop onto 52 W, which eventually for just about 10 miles or so becomes
- I-74, until you hit
- I-77 N. Take this out of NC, through Virginia and into West Virginia where it becomes the WV Turnpike.
- At Charleston, pick up I-64 W.
- Here is some more debate. Do you take I-64 to Lexington and then head up north to Cincinnati, or do you continue on to Louisville and go up to Indianapolis? We chose to pick up
- I-75 N to Cincinnati, where we then took I-275 around the city until we hit
- I-74. We were on this road for the longest stretch of the trip. On the way out, we drove as far as Greensburg, IN, half way between Cincinnati and Indianapolis and stayed over night. Nice little town in the middle of nowhere.
- Once you approach Indianapolis, I-74 merges with I-465 (I think) which we took going around the city and continued on through Illinois. Once in Illinois, I-74 goes from NW to a direct northerly climb at Peoria toward the Quad cities where we finally pick up I-80.
- I-80 west takes us to I-380 which takes us right to an exit to Janet's sister's place.
It was interesting to ride through various topographical regions. Heading west and north from Raleigh takes you into some hills before we reach more mountainous terrain of the Appalachians (SE of this mountain range, that word is pronounced Apple-A (as it cAt) chin, NW of the range we always said Apple-ay-shun) through a few tunnels, some beautiful country side windy-road scenery, then rolling hills, still with plenty of trees through Kentucky, several river crossings, until after the Ohio River and into Indiana, things suddenly become flatter, and farmable. The further west we went, the flatter it became!
We took two days going out and the kids did really well--only one stop each day going out, and three days coming back (stopping in Indianapolis, Charleston).
Next time, I hope we can fly.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
One thing I learned from it today was that there was a state that wanted to join the union under the name "Franklin." Do you know what modern day state that is? This would have been around the time of the First Continental Congress.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Our church, like many others, has been gearing up for the whole Da Vinci event recently. Sermons, guest lecturers, etc., have all come and warned of the herecies and inconsistencies in both the book and the movie.
I remember back when I was in college and the first Gulf War began. I was at Cedarville and there was a learned man who came to speak in one of our daily chapel services to warn us that so many things pointed to the end being near. "Jesus is coming any minute," was his big speach. He scared us all to death, in some ways, making parallels of world events to an interpretation of the last days. At this time too, there were lots of books writen about Iraq as Babylon, all sorts of articles appeared in Christian literature pointing out the parallels.
Then the year 2000. A flip of the calendar, yet somehow we, as the church, needed to be ready for disaster, because that chip with the old date sub routine written in it in the gas meter by our house was gonna explode, even though the date routine was never required of it. More hysteria, more books, more articles, get your canned foods, find shelter, be ready for anything. And a lot of it coming from and for the Christian community.
So now we have Da Vinci, and pardon my cynicism, but where was everybody when Indiana Jones raided the "Lost Ark?" "God-in-a-Box" theology with a great adventure and everything. And the "Last Crusade?" "It's time to ask yourself 'what do you believe?', Dr. Jones..." What? that the holy grail if administered correctly gives healing powers and immortality--but wait, only if you stay behind that line.
What is it that is so new that the Christian community has to study up on because of the release of this book/movie? What skewed biblical principles are being put forth that have not already assulted the Truth of God's word in other writings, books, tv shows and movies for centuries? Why now?
What person, having seen Indiana Jones is going to ask quesitons about God, and eternal life, and the holy grail? What person, after reading or watching Da Vinci is going to start an argument with a known Christian over the elements of the story and their veracity?
Why now is the Christian community suddenly implored to learn how to defend what they believe, when all along, and all around them (us) doctrines of theology and morality have been attacked for years? We are being instructed on how to debunk Da Vinci as though that is the argument to be made. As the fabled story goes (is it true?) bankers learn to identify counterfeit bills not be studying the counterfeits, but by studying the real thing.
So let's ignore the hype and be ready, Da Vinci or not, to be able to defend the reason for the hope found within us.
What do you think?
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Before bedtime we have a little devotional together and I've taken advantage of this time to help him not only relearn these Bible verses, but understand them as well. This time around, instead of memorizing the verses by rote, he can read the passage himself. We are going line by line through the Psalm in a somewhat condensed inductive method, exploring each phrase as he commits it to memory. We encountered the first phrase of the third verse a couple of weeks ago and I've found myself meditating on it over and over ever since.
He restores my soul.
There is a great deal of truth and insight wrapped up in this simple phrase. Here are some thoughts word by word.
This pronoun refers back to vs 1. It references "The LORD," Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, here seen as a gentle Shepherd. I was thinking about how our image of this passage is often mixed with the story Jesus told about the shepherd who went to find the one lost sheep. Knowing that one out of 100 was missing and longing for its safety, he went and searched for it until it was returned delicately to the fold. I am not a scholar enough (at all) to know if this is an unprecedented way to view Yahweh. In the Psalms we see "the LORD" as a rock, a deliverer, light, salvation, owner of the earth, etc. Only in two other Psalms is Jehovah referred to as a "Shepherd" (Ps 28 and 80). Nevertheless, the picture being painted, and the dimension being revealed of the LORD in this Psalm is of One who cares for, guides and protects those who would be led by Him.
There are a great deal of implications emanating from this single word. I think of the following, implicit in this single word: past and future; on-going; teleology; exclusivity of the Spirit; necessity of action; compliance of the recipient.
Some further expansion:
- Past and Future. The need for restoration is rooted in the past. When man sinned and each of us found ourselves with his nature, the necessity of restoration was (is) required to reestablish fellowship with the Creator. Restoration has a place of resolution seen far into the future (from the human perspective) and in fact will not be totally realized until after death
- On-going. Not a singular event. Rather, a constant, needful prodding and shaping that took place, is taking place, and will continue to take place
- Teleological. It is not an arbitrary process. There is a purpose and unique journey and role for each one being restored
- Exclusivity of the Spirit. Only God can restore. Previous verses speak of the physical needs being met. (Not being in want, green pastures, quiet waters) This restoration of the soul touches a place only the Divine can intersect. Physical contentment mentioned in surrounding verses merely masks the depth of need healed only by the Creator whose image we bear.
- Necessity of action. This process of restoration is central to fellowship with the LORD, the shepherd, and essential if we are to have hope of eternal fellowship with Him (v 5).
- Compliance of the recipient. He does not force restoration upon us, he freely gives it, but we must accept it. I have wondered if we are best made aware of our need for restoration once we settle in the green pastures and rest by the quiet waters. Perhaps here in the quiet moments can our need of restoration cut through the din of our assiduous lives.
This continues to be a personal Psalm in which we realize that even though shepherds never attend just one of the sheep, this Shepherd has made himself continuously available to the individual.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness...
Similar observations can be made throughout the remainder of the Psalm.
As mentioned earlier, this is a dimension unique to this Shepherd. Where other shepherds can only meet the needs of the physical, this Shepherd is uniquely qualified to minister directly to the spiritual needs of those He tends.
What nuggets of scripture have impacted you or ministered to you like this has to me?
Monday, May 08, 2006
This is M.C. Escher's Waterfall. For the less-informed, if you look closely at this picture, you'll see that the water flow is an impossibility, though on two-dimensional paper, it seems like it ought to work. Notice how even the supporting columns look right at the top, but not at the bottom.
Well, thanks to RocketBoom, I found this clever contest held on Worth1000.com. The rules are thus:
I thought this was clever. What would a child Escher have handed in to his art teacher? And what would his teacher's responses likely be? Here's an idea:
We've all got to start somewhere, even the art masters. In this contest your task is to depict the masterpieces of the renassiance [sic] masters (or other time periods) as they were drawn when the masters were children. Do not simply edit existing masterpieces - recreate them through a child's eyes (i.e. a 3d cube would be an early MC Escher, or a paint by numbers Mondrian).
The rules of the game are thus: Show the works of the art masters (sculptures, sketches, and paintings are all fine) as though they were created by the masters when they were children (as in the themepost, "Baby Warhol" by meowza). As always, quality is a must. We will remove poor entries no matter how much we like you. You'll have 48 hours for this contest, so make your submission count.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I've decided to take a philosophy class called "Existentialism in Literature and Film." Here is a description of the class:
The course will be organized around various attempts to reinterpret the Judeo/Christian God, and to determine in what sense, if at all, such a God is still a living God. We will study Dostoyevsky's and Kierkegaard's attempts to preserve a non-theological version of the God of Christianity, as well as Nietzche's attempt to save us from belief in any version of God offered by our tradition. We will view and discuss three films that deal with related issues.
In his opening remarks, the professor admits that many students will probably not show up to class, but listen to the lecture while jogging or something. This appears to be a way to solve allowing everyone who wants to take the class to be allowed to take it without a waiting list.
Kind of interesting. This is gonna be great.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I am such a creature of routine. There were a couple of things I always did (and continue to do) when putting gas in the car. First, I always wait until there is less than a quarter tank to refill it. Most people do, I think. It's just a matter of lengthening the amount of time between fill-ups. Second, I always fill the tank. I never just put five bucks in , or five gallons. I always fill it. Why? Well, I guess it's the same reason I always reset the odometer--to get an accurate assessment of my fuel consumption per mile. Even now I reset the odometer--every time--even though I never calculate the mileage. Weird.
Somewhere along the way I reasoned that I could never get a true and accurate measurement of the efficiency of the fuel I was consuming unless I knew exactly how much I was putting in. Could the automatic shut-off on the gas pumps be trusted? I didn't believe so. Especially if I went to a number of different gas stations, their mechanisms could all be very different. What if some filled me up to the top and others left a half gallon in the tank? The only way I could be sure of the most accurate measurement is if I could see exactly what was in the tank--i.e., if I could just top it off--even very slowly, I could see just where the fuel level was at the place the nozzle goes in.
Then I started noticing these little signs appearing in various places around the gas pumps. "Warning: Do Not Top Off." "Yeah, yeah, yeah," I thought, "why not? They just don't want me to spill it. I don't spill it. I'm very careful."
Finally, this week I decided to try to do a little research as to why those signs appeared at every gas station. Was it the law? Was it a suggestion? Was it personal preference?
I've since found some compelling reasons to stop topping off the tank.
- If you over-fill your tank, the vapor recovery system, installed on most gas pump nozzles will actually suck some of the extra fuel that you just thought you used to top off your car back through the vapor line and back into the storage tank. The bad news is, of course, this fuel has been metered and you've already paid for it!
- Topping off your tank affects your car's vapor collection system which in turn will cause your car to run inefficiently.
- Spillage. This is always an issue and no matter how careful you may intend to be, you still may spill some gas outside your car. It messes up your paint and can create a potentially hazardous mess for the next customer.
- Gasoline expands after it is retrieved from the cool tank in the ground. If you fill your tank to the top, you leave no room for the gas to expand, further sabotaging your car's vapor collection system.
It's a habit I'm going to have to learn to break, and even though I know I'm gonna feel like I'm not getting enough gas, from now on, I'm going to resist the urge to top off the tank! What do you usually do?
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I was excited when I learned that the season started with the Indians at the White Sox on Sunday night, April 2nd. Excited because ESPN had requested that the game be pushed back from the original Monday afternoon start to Sunday night so that they could air a good division rivalry.
Eric, being the big fan the he is, and me, being the big fan that I am, decided we needed to ring the season in at a place where we could watch the game on a big screen. We found a Damon's and got some ribs. Dave B., Eric's brother in law, and former Ohioan joined us as did Mike P, whom we are slowly but surely converting [back] to baseball.
The game was a drag. They played three or four innings, ended up tied, CC left the game early with a strained muscle in his abdomen, then it rained (in Chicago, that is). It rained for three hours. We didn't stay for the conclusion of the game. We couldn't if we wanted to--the place closed at 10:00. In fact, I couldn't even stay awake for the conclusion of the game once it resumed.
In spite of a let down for the opening day of this season, there are a number of reasons to like baseball. Here's a list of random thoughts regarding the game and what's so great about it.
- 162 games plus spring training and play-offs
- You don't have to wait a week for the standings to change
- A team can overcome a multi-game losing streak and still get to the play-offs
- Minor league development
- Minor league games
- "Duct tape night"
- The "game within the game" --pitcher, batter, etc
- No cheer leaders
- Get into most MLB games for under $10. About as much as going to a movie.
- Fan participation (foul balls, bats)
- Free souvenirs
- No clock to govern the game
- Managers get tossed
- Players get tossed
- Sometimes there's even a bench-clearing fight (close to hockey, Mike and Dan)
- The defense has the ball
- Game of threes: 3 strikes/out 3 outs/half-inning, in a perfect game, each batter can face the pitcher 3 times (27 outs=9 innings)
- No "tie" column in the standings-each game played until somebody wins
- You can get a tan while watching the game
- You can eat peanuts (the perfect snack) while watching the game
- You can leave peanut shells under your seat and someone else will clean it up
- Sometimes guys collide
- Double plays
- Triple plays (I saw one once in KC)
- Hitting for the cycle
- A walk off home run
- Over 100 years of history
- You get to do corporate singing
- No replay review by the umpires
- Cool patterns in the grass.
- A closer striking out "the side" (doesn't happen for Cleveland)
- Unbelievable amount of statistics
- Inside-the-park home runs
- The many useful metaphors in life derived from baseball (step up to the plate, hit it out of the park, three strikes and you're out, etc)
- Mid-season trades
Monday, March 27, 2006
"Badly drawn, badly written...a strain on the young eyes and young nervous systems – the effect of these...nightmares is that of a violent stimulant. Their crude blacks and reds spoil a child's natural sense of color; their hypodermic injection of sex and murder make the child impatient with better, though quieter, stories. Unless we want a coming generation even more ferocious than the present one, parents and teachers throughout America must band together...”
Video games are out of control, right? The above quote was actually taken from a Chicago Daily News editorial in 1940 decrying the contemporary plight of comic books. The days of Mickey Mouse were over. On to Dick Tracey and Flash Gordon.
My recent interest in this was brought on by a series of articles, especially this one in the latest issue of Wired Magazine.
"Every generation believes that preceding generations had more moral fiber, were more devout, that young people are running amok, and that new fangled innovations are hurrying the world to ruin. The fact that every generation over the last 2400 years has believed this, that similar sentiments can be found in Pliny the Elder, Saxo Grammaticus and William Bennett, does not give us pause."
Can it get worse, or is "worse" always a constant hidden by parents and other moral authorities but always sought by the wild "punks?"
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
E-mail is not like snail mail with envelopes, papers, flyers, etc piling up on a desk, always demanding a sort. With e-mail, you can take care of stuff when you need to, flag it, mark as unread, forward it, etc. Why bother erasing?You lose a convenient record of what someone has sent you. What do you do?
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Yes, in the ultimate extension of Christian book store "Jesus Junk," there's this from the latest issue of Newsweek:
March 6, 2006 issue - Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: Christians are finally getting a high-caliber shoot-'em-up videogame of their own. Due out on PCs in the second half of 2006, Left Behind: Eternal Forces is the first game adapted from the blockbuster books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Let's see....what other ways can Christians still be "Christians" and still have all the fun of the rest of the world?
Friday, March 03, 2006
Very slick, very nicely done. Enjoy!
Oh--and it won Grand Prize from Firefox in it's category.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Overall, the TV ratings for the Olympics were down this year. I was stunned to find this article in a USA Today last weekend with suggestions for how to improve the ratings. I still can't decide if it's satire or if it's honest. Here are parts of it with my comments included:
To many Americans — particularly younger people — the Olympics aren't relevant. Put simply, they aren't cool. "I hear no buzz about the Olympics any more," says Irma Zandl, a trends forecaster. "The Olympics has lost its soul."
Alright. What is THAT about? The Olympics has lost it's soul? Have the Olympics changed that much over the years? Are there not gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded for each event? What has changed here? The Olympics or the surrounding culture?
Fixing the Games' image won't be easy. Or cheap. Or without risk. But it can be done, say sports marketing gurus, image experts and event planners contacted by USA TODAY to brainstorm 10 ways to revive Olympic "cool."Because "cool" is what it's all about.
1. Put more 'reality' in Olympic TV.
In a world of risqué reality TV shows, people crave nitty-gritty details and down-and-dirty competition.
"They should have athlete confessional rooms" where Olympians privately vent their innermost thoughts to the camera, says David Adler, founder of BiZbash Media, which produces an events trade website and magazine.
Yes, and we know from past "reality" TV programs that everything we the viewer sees is real. What is the deal? This is about the games, right? The conflict is on the ice/snow. Do we need to create artificial conflict so that somehow the athletic competition becomes more interesting, or we're somehow more attuned to the event?
Yet another way to offer more reality TV would be to reinvent the Olympic Village. With its global appeal and throngs of young, hormonally charged athletes, the Olympic Village is ripe for an uber-cool transformation — and maybe a few gimmicks.
Yes--intramural sports meets Mardi Gras. And stop using the word "Über" without the umlaut!
2. Let viewers have a say.
Viewer voting on televised competitions such as American Idol has given rise to new phenomena: official judges might get the last word, but they're no longer the only voice.This is briliant. Allow the public to have a say in sports they can't even spell, let alone know the rules. The voting would be based on nothing more than superficial qulities of the athletes.
3. Tap more tech.
Rather than banking on the younger set watching TV, Olympic organizers need to move faster in distributing content through other media. Think more podcasting, streaming video, text messaging, even ring tones that have Olympians saying cool phrases...while this might cut prime-time viewing, he says NBC could make up lost revenue with the right fee structure. It could sell an Olympic package for "a couple hundred dollars" or sell viewing rights for individual events, sports or athletes.You've got to be kidding. People aren't watching the Olympics now when it's brought to them for FREE, so this guy now thinks it would be a great idea to sell subscriptions just because it can appear on alternate media?
4. Spotlight big rivalries.
Any sporting event without rivalry is boring — especially the Olympic Games, says Michael Lynch, senior vice president of marketing for Olympic sponsor Visa USA.
"We could do a much better job building up the rivalries," he says.
Yeah, since the demise of the Sovient Union, the US has lost a real "bad guy" to go after. Who's left? China? Canada?
5. Decide more medals head-to-head.
Gold, silver and bronze medals in timed events could be decided by a single race pitting the three finalists with the best times, says Lynch. "The less done by the clock the better."Wow--so now the arbiter of the highest standard is completely removed from the equasion. Can you imagine three or four people on the moguls...at the same time?
6. Offer more and hipper music, less and hipper talk
Olympic events need to move to the beat of diverse genres of current music, suggests Carol Moog, a consumer psychologist and blues harmonica player. "It should look more like a music video," she says.
For events such as snowboarding, she says, lose the TV commentary altogether in favor of a Gen Y-favored music mix.
When commentary is called for, NBC should find more young, hip voices, says Katie Paine of KDPaine & Partners, which consults on business reputations. No self-respecting teen wants someone like their father describing snowboarding, she says. "Instead of someone translating snowboard-ese into English, you need someone who actually speaks snowboard-ese."This is a great point. As long as we're doing it to sport, let's go ahead and reduce music, language, and commentary to the lowest common denominator--so the kids can understand it.
7. Go back to the 4-year wait.
Sponsor pressure nudged organizers to reschedule the Olympic Games from every four years to separating the Winter Games and Summer Games two years apart beginning in 1994 with the Lillehammer Winter Games. "It's created Olympic fatigue," says management consultant Pam Murtaugh. "It was a pinnacle experience that has been diluted by its frequency."Dude--whether the summer and winter games are combined or not, the wait IS STILL FOUR YEARS! So "Olympic Fatigue" would be reduced if we had both portions in the same year as opposed to one portion seperated out by two years?
8. Be less predictable.
"Unpredictability and surprises really can work to your advantage," says Don Mischer, producer of the Atlanta and Salt Lake City Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the 2006 Super Bowl half-time show. For the Atlanta Games, Mischer and a handful of people kept the last torch carrier a secret — and awed the crowd when Muhammad Ali came out.
I'm sorry--I think surprisingly few people watch the Olympics for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Olympics, after all are about the games, not the fireworks. And what's the deal with Avril Lavigne?
9. Be more extreme.
Olympic organizers could rip a page from ESPN's extremely lucrative X Games — adding a slate of grittier, heart-pumping events. For the Winter Olympics, organizers should consider adding a snowboarding competition that includes a terrain park with jumps and sliding rails, says Ron Semiao, creator of ESPN's X Games. For the Summer Olympics, he suggests adding skateboarding, bicycle motocross and motorized sports.
I can't put my finger on it, but something seems very diluted and impure about that suggestion. Maybe the motorized portion. The "snowmobiling" race? Could happen.
10. Rethink the Olympic mission.
"Is it about athletic competition at the highest level, or is it about generating revenue?" asks David Carter of Sports Business Group, a consulting firm. Like other big-time sports, the Olympics has become "addicted to the corporate dollar," he says. As a result, more critical decisions are being made by the network and sponsors, not athletes or organizers.
That this is even a question amazes me. This is continuing evidence of how big money has infiltrated all of sports--especially in the US. The ability of the team, the individual contributing unselfishly to the whole, the players/athletes team play is secondary to the money the teams make, the TV revenue generated, the big contracts the players get, etc., etc.
One more thought that may be an unfair generalization of age group who was primarily represented in the Olympics. Could it be that "the kids these days" don't have as much interest in the games because they can't relate to the hard work and dedication it took for these Olympians to achieve all that they have? Could it be that a kid's ability to do virtual snowboarding with cooler tricks that defy virtual reality leaves him uninterested in the true nature of the sport?
Could it be that a large part of overall disinterest in these games by most Americans is that we really don't know anything about the games? What are the rules? What is good form? How are they judged? How is a winner decided?
I can't wait for the next round of Olympics.
"Jesus didn't try to heal every leper in the world during his earthly ministry."
A good thought as it relates to quantifying your work and ministry.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
This started with a commentary written here, by a guy who I don't think I know, but appears to be from our old stomping grounds. Read his thing first. Here's my commentary:
Yeah--in an effort to be profound, this guy hasn't thought things through all the way. Is Zondervan publishing based on a malicious platform because they publish "christian" material _and_ make money? What about Christian travel agencies that book tours of the holy land?
The problems start with this statement--and I'll comment as we go:
Certain concepts are intrinsic to the operation of the CCM industry, namely that Christian music is a ministry,
Yeah--let's make sure that's dispelled. Companies do exist to make money. Christian radio stations sell advertising, for example. Slapping a "christian" label on something does not preclude its ability to compete with a business model that allows it to survive.
and Christian musicians are ministers (in the church leadership sense)
No. Some, maybe, but the real smart ones--I mean the ones who desire to minister in the church-- avoid being signed all together. Once signed, the label can take much more control about where the artist goes and "ministers" and this is usually at the expense of the many smaller congregations scattered around the country who could go NUTS to have an artist come to their church. Problem is, their venue is too small, so the label sees a loss. This isn't anybody's fault, it's just a reality of the business. If an artist commits to a label, they know what the consequences (good and bad) will be.
who are accorded the same privileges and responsibilities as pastors.
And we cannot blame the artists for this. This is brought to bare by others who bring these kinds of presumptions to the table.
In a broader stroke, let's assume that a Christian artist (CCM artist) is a Christian. What does THAT mean? It means that they can sing about anything they want. Just like I can play jazz piano in a club. Just like a (Christian) doctor can practice in a hospital. He doesn't have to go to a "Christian" hospital to work, he just needs to be a Christian doctor where ever he is. He isn't less of a Christian because he doesn't use his gifts on a mission field. The one place that could use Christian artists/musicians is the music industry. The reason Christian artists can sing about or write about anything they want is because that is the reality of life. We don't go through life without some interaction with the "secular." So why should it be ignored in the music?
The point is that CCM artists can sing about God, about biblical things, or they can sing about how they felt when they broke up with their love, or how their car broke down--the difference is their world view--their perspective on life, their view of broader heavenly context.
So--what am I saying--I don't know it's late and I need to go to bed. In a nutshell:
CCM labels are in it for the money: duh.
CCM artist=ministers: no--not in the same way a called pastor is--not all the time.
CCM can be about anything and fall under the umbrella of "kingdom perspective" and not be inappropriate.
For more on this read Charlie Peacock's At the Crossroads: Inside the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Maybe time for a new template....
You are Data
|Even though you are a genius|
you are always striving to be better.
Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...
Saturday, February 04, 2006
- I just bought a cell phone. Actually, I bought two cell phones. We went with Sprint because my whole family is on the sprint network, as well as Eric H and David B. Janet and I will share the minutes. Happy to give you the number--just let me know that you'd like it.
- The person the Indians will miss the most next year will not be Coco Crisp--it will be Bob Howery.
- For the first time Wednesday morning, I had to scrape a thin layer of ice/frost off my window before leaving for the Y. By mid-day, it was in the 60s.
- I got my NC driver's license yesterday. I decided to go in and wing the "written" test. The test was administered on a touch screen computer. There were twenty-five questions of which I had to answer 20 correctly. I JUST squeaked by. I answered twenty correctly. The things I didn't know were questions about what would happen to me if I got 7 points, what would happen if I refused a substance abuse test, etc. Next step is to help Janet pass the test then get the NC state plates. In NC, only one plate for vehicle is issued--no one has plates on the front.
- I am currently reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin while I walk on the treadmill at the Y each day. I read about 25 minutes a day. It's going to take me a year to get through the book--unless, of course, I read it at other times!
- I walked into the steam room at the Y for the first time Thursday. It was hot in there. Kinda hard to breathe too. I don't think I'll be spending much time in there--I like to earn my sweat the old fashioned way.
- I don't think it's a good idea to have Steve Wozniak on This Week in Tech podcasts. He may have helped get the home computer industry going in the late 70s with Steve Jobs, but he monopolizes the podcast with uninteresting anticdotes and comments that bog it down. I think Dvorak is annoyed by him too.
- I have a 20 Gb 3rd generation iPod that I'm using now. I like it better than the one I used before--it has a dock and it holds twice as much. I prefer the original interface, however.
- I think I'll need to get the starter on my Mazda replaced soon. It's being temperamental.
- I've opted for punctuation on this post, Rob.
- I've run out of USB inputs on my G5 at work. Here are the devices that require them: iPod, Palm, MIDI interface, keyboard, external HD, and mouse (it's a long story). I had to get a USB hub from the IT guy. Some things, however only work if they're plugged directly into the computer (for some reason). The MIDI interface, I think needs to be powered directly by the computer, as well as the mouse receiver. I've finally got it figured out. I think.
- I am also reading a great little book as a devotional that I got as a freebe at the Saddleback Worship Conference last summer. It's written by Buddy Owens and it's called The Way of the Worshiper. Starts with Romans 12: "In view of God's mercy..." I'm sure I'll comment on it further as I get into it--as well as the biography I'm working on.
- I take an elevator to my office every day. It's on the 4th floor. Sometimes, if I really feel ambitious, I take the stairs. Never on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, however, which are the days of and after my leg day at the Y.
- The church building requires no keys. That's kinda nice. My key chain has never been so light! Access to various floors and sections of the building is granted by a keycode that you punch into a pad by doors and in elevators and stair wells all over the building. You only have to know your one code, and with your code, the system gives you access to areas you should be able to access and blocks you out of areas you should not have access to. I mean to which you should not have access.
- It's been a bit of a rainy day here, but the rain has stopped and it's 65 degrees out so I'm going to go for a walk while the kids are napping. It's supposed to turn cold here this week. Highs only in the upper 40s and low 50s. Some apologies to my Ohio friends.
Monday, January 30, 2006
It was a lot of fun once I learned how they did their songs. Most of the songs I knew, but not exactly in the style or form (or key) they did them in. It was a lot of fun!
One thing I was not mentally prepared for was playing three services. In "the old days" in Akron, we used to play four morning services. That made for a long morning and I learned how to pace myself mentally and emotionally. For the last couple years in Green, however, we have only needed to lead two services. Coming from that mentality, I kind of "burned up" in the first two services and didn't budget my concentration very well for the third (and fullest) service. There were not train wrecks, it was just an adjustment for which I was ill-prepared.
Mike, who led the group, plays great acoustic guitar and sings. (He also is a great drummer). Shelly and Eric led vocally, and Eric improvised some on the violin. Jeff played a mandolin, and Chris played bass and Jason suffered through the acoustic drum/IEM issues (yes, we have those issues here at Providence too!)
It was a nice acoustic band, a little folky in style and a lot of fun to play. The congregation seemed to enjoy it too, engaging pretty well and responding to the understated styling of the morning in a real healthy way.
This week, I'll play all three again, but completely different arrangements than what I'm used to, and songs I'm less familiar with. Patty has kept me up to speed nicely though, and supplied me with everything I need in order to prepare.
This Sunday, they happened to schedule "O God of Mine," which I charted for Maureen and Emily just a few weeks ago! It was nice to pull out my rhythm chart and use that one for this week. I haven't met the person singing it yet, but I know for me it won't be the same as "Mo" and "Em..." Miss you guys!
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
My bank was Falls Savings. That bank doesn't exist anymore, it was bought out by Fifth Third Bank (don't ask me about the name) around 1996 and so it became our bank by default. We just left it the way it was and things were fine.
I knew before we moved that 5/3 didn't have a bank branch anywhere in NC. That was ok, I thought, I'll just conduct all of my business through the ATM and the internet. I even discussed it with a teller at the Arlington St. branch and she agreed that ATM or USPS would be a great way to handle my transactions. (I later reflected that sending a signed check through the mail may not be a great idea after all).
So, one day last week I needed to deposit a couple of checks. I went to the Wachovia ATM next door and put in my card. My options were 1) Check Balance 2) Fast Cash $50 withdrawal 3) Cash withdrawal 4) Cancel. Where's the deposit button? I had filled out the envelope and everything, signed the checks, did the math, I was ready to go!
So the deal is that if you want to take money out, you can access your account from just about any ATM in the world, and of course, along with that, they're happy to charge you a little fee for their trouble. My logic was that if they can make a withdrawal, they oughta be able to do the opposite. Right? I was even prepared to pay a small fee. Didn't happen.
So I decided to go into the branch and ask what was wrong with their ATM! OK, I didn't know that....sorry. So, I opened a checking account right there on the spot.
Fortunately, the little research I had already done led me to the conclusion that Wachovia was the bank I wanted to use anyway. I just wasn't ready to start using it this soon. I spent last weekend going to all my linked accounts online (because I'm such a day trader) and changing or adding the new routing and account number.
So, for future reference, I guess one can only make ATM deposits at the bank associated with the ATM. Otherwise, you're stuck.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
- North Raleigh is a busy place
- It is generally warmer in Raleigh than Akron
- Rhythm sections still rush in Raleigh
- Brass players are still too loud in Raleigh
- YMCAs cost about twice here what they do in Akron
- They are also three or four times the size
- Weights seem heavier here
- We've just experienced our first pounding (that's a good thing)
- There is a GREAT full time jazz radio station in Raleigh
- There is a GREAT full time classical radio station in Raleigh
- There is no Mike Trivisonno in Raleigh
- There is no Major League Baseball team in Raleigh
- People are generally more friendly in NC--at least they're happy to talk with you for a while
- There are a lot of trees in NC--especially the evergreen variety
- My office has a window
- You only have to have one license plate on the back of your vehicle
- We have to take a written driver's test before we can get our NC driver's license
- Most left turns have their own signal, which means that even if there's no oncoming traffic, you still have to wait until you get the arrow
- We get paid only once a month
- DSL is available everywhere down here
- Providence has three packed out services and the over flow building is overflowing
- I have to think of a birthday present for my wife
- Austin wonders if people who speak with a southern accent (which is just about everybody) are speaking a different language
- The Island wasn't that great of a movie
- Hotel Rwanda was excellent
- I have a hard time knowing whether or not bullet statements should get periods. Maybe Rob can help.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Our days go like this:
- Wake Up
- Feed the kids breakfast
- Feed ourselves breakfast
- Pack some stuff
- Check e-mail
- Get Reece a drink of water
- Pack some more stuff
- Break up a fight between the kids
- Pack some more stuff
- Check E-mail
- Move some boxes around
- Worry about forgetting to do something
- Get some more boxes
- Meet some one for lunch
- Pack some more stuff
- Remember to make an important phone call
- Pack some more stuff
- Check e-mail
- Throw more stuff out
- Meet some one for dinner
- Put the kids to bed
- Pack some more stuff
- Watch some news
- Go to bed
Friday, January 06, 2006
The other day Guy complained that I haven't added a post to my blog in a while. (Thanks for checking). Well, I've been a LITTLE busy. Truck comes on Tuesday (10th) !! My final goodbyes to great friends happened this week--Kenton, Emily, Jim, several friends on an individual basis, the "Y gang," etc. That was hard. The stress is building. The tension knot on the back of my neck is getting tighter!
It's so weird that we're really doing this. North Carolina will never be the same! [insert smiley face here].