Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beyond Opinion

Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend by Ravi Zacharias

My thoughts on this book

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was not written by Ravi Zacharias. I just wanted to get that out of the way. I noticed right away (but only after I got the book in my hands) that each chapter is written by a contributor, and is edited by Zacharias, though he does contribute to a few of the chapters.

Though the book is organized in a logical manner, it would work fine to take the segment you are interested in and read just that portion. One of the strengths of a book like this is that if you tire of a particular author, you only need to wait until that particular essay is finished, and the next chapter will contain new information on a new subject written in a completely different style. This was a strength and a weakness of this book. From chapter to chapter one could find great depth in reasoning and arguments for faith. Some of the chapters may require a couple of readings to really grasp the breadth of all the author is saying. Other chapters are quite informal and are full of anecdotes which may or may not be very useful though at least entertaining.

The chapters I found most useful and eye opening were "Challenges from Science" (John Lennox), "The Trinity as a Paradigm for Spiritual Transformation" (L. T. Jeyachandran) (one of the most thought-provoking things I've ever read) and "Challenges from Islam" (Sam Soloman)

Probably the greatest thing I will take away from this book, however is the idea of teaching apologetics to my kids. Not in a formal way, but in the casual everyday encounter with culture and life and the Bible. We as a church have lost that intentionality regarding our young people and I am determined to make apologetic thinking a part of their education and skills! Check back in about 10 years and we'll see how that worked out.

We used this book as a small group tool. We meet weekly and read a new chapter each week. There was usually plenty to discuss from the readings. Each chapter was usually 20-30 pages each.

View all my reviews.

Check Out My Landing Page

Just for fun I've created a landing page. What is a landing page? It is an attempt to solve a problem created by multiple social networking outlets. The solution to a problem only the internet could create. I decided to create it after reading this article.

The idea behind a landing page is that it can be tailored to suit the audience who arrives on it.

Think about why people click the URL on a Twitter profile?

Most times that I do it - I want to know more about the person behind the Twitter account. I want to know who they are, what they do and how I can connect with them.

Being taken to the front page of their blog doesn’t really answer all of these questions without me having to do some more work (looking for an about page, sifting through their latest posts etc).

Also, in an attempt to be creative, I managed to secure a cool domain name with the ".me" extension. So I got "Brian Is Me"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Gift to You

OK, it's not entirely from me. OK, it's not from me at all--at least not in the sense that I created it, I'm just bringing it to your attention.

For all you Firefox users out there, install this clever little add-on. It will enhance your Google search results by providing a context cloud of related terms to your search. Very handy. Hard to describe, just give it a try!

I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Harry Connick Jr Concert

We had a great time with Neil and Kimsu at the new Durham Performing Arts Center Wednesday night, taking in a Harry Connick, Jr. holiday show.

It was more than just a holiday show, however, as Connick's two hour-straight performance turned in several classic New Orleans blues, such as Beale Street Blues and St James Infirmary.

As a special bonus, his good friend Branford Marsalis joined him on stage for a couple of tunes. Marsalis is not part of the tour, but since he lives in the Durham area, he was a welcomed and easy addition to a great show!

Here left to right are Connick at the piano, Lucien Barbarin on the trombone, Mark Braud on the trumpet, and Marsalis on the Soprano Sax.

Here are some random things I enjoyed about the concert:

1) the venue. The new "DPAC," as it's called is elegant and state of the art. It seats 2,800 (most or all of which were full) and sounds and looks outstanding.
2) the band. By this I mean the horn players, in addition to a couple of excellent soloists, the horn section was tight, confident, and in perfect sync. There were three trumpet players, three trombone players (including an excellent bass trombone player) and three saxes (tenor, alto/tenor, bari). This was scaled down from the normal big band of 4/4/5. I imagine Connick had to do some revoicing and rearranging to make all that work.
3) the rhythm section was outstanding as well. The bass player in particular was spot on with time and intonation. He and the drummer worked so well to create deep, deep pockets.
4) the intonation. Trumpets in octaves, the band harmonies, and balance were perfect.
5) great time. Everyone knew where the pulse was. Even when Connick intentionally played so far behind the beat on some of those blues tunes. It never slowed. Just a perfect feel.
6) great improvisational solos. No one played a bad solo. Connick's playing is so tasty. Somewhere between his former teacher, Ellis Marsalis and Thelonious Monk--he has a strong blues influence but also plays very percussively and angularly at times.
7) great singing. Connick knows his limits vocally and stays right in his comfort zone--keeping everyone listening in their comfort zone!
8) great entertainment. Part of what made the show so enjoyable was the fact that Connick is great at talking. Plenty of humor and improvisation which was a lot of fun.

If you ever have a chance to see Connick, do it. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Drive faster!

I cannot be convinced that school buses driving on the highway, even in the right lane, with lights flashing on top, and behind and in front and beneath, is remotely safe when they move at 45 mph while traffic all around them moves at 70 mph. This cannot possibly make things safer all around. In the last two days I have encountered dangerous traffic conditions, once in the morning and once in the evening because of school buses going too slow.

Drive faster or get off the highway. Someone's going to get hurt. In an effort to make things safer for the kids on the bus, bus drivers ironically create unsafe conditions for everyone around them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

60 P.S.I.

Some advice for you, but first my boring story:

Last week I went to a gas station a block from the church to fill up. I didn't go to fill up my gas tank, I went to fill up my tires. I have had this Buick for about three months now but I had not yet put air in the tires. It turns out they were all under-inflated by about 10 lbs each. I was unclear however exactly what the tires SHOULD be inflated to. I couldn't find the information on the tire (besides, it was night and dark), and the sticker inside the driver's door that usually has this information was torn off.

So I put 32 PSI in each tire and drove off. It occurred to me later to check the owners manual. Oddly, the manual didn't say anything about the recommended tire pressure--except for one tire.

It said in big bold letters to be sure to keep the spare doughnut tire inflated to 60 PSI. I wasn't even sure where it was! The next day I found it hiding under the "floor" of my trunk and checked the pressure. The pressure was so low, it barely moved the needle on my gauge. Only to about 10 lbs.

So I took it back to the gas station with free air and after about five minutes of standing there pumping air in the tire, it is now completely inflated to 60 PSI. Hopefully I'll never have to take advantage of that.

My advice to you, again, 1) keep your regular tires inflated to the recommended spec. 2) find your spare (and I don't mean the one around your waste.) 3) inflate it completely. 4) pray that you'll never need it.

Would there be anything worse than having a flat tire on some highway, pulling over, jacking up the car, replacing the tire with the spare only to find out your spare is flat too? OK, there might be some things worse, but this is such an easy preventative fix!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Five Love Languages of Children

The Five Love Languages of Children The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you have children, you should read this book. The love languages apply to more than just children of course, they relate to everyone, but this book focuses on relating the love languages to children.

The authors, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell say that by the ages of five or six you will be able to see characteristics of a dominant love language emerge in your child. The five love languages identified by the authors are 1) Quality Time, 2) Physical Touch, 3) Words of Affirmation, 4) Gifts, 5) Acts of Service.

The reason the love languages are important is because it is how you can uniquely identify with your child to help the feel loved the most. It is also a way for you to recognize when they are attempting to dispense love in their most meaningful way.

Besides simple recognition, the book spends a couple of chapters dealing with the love languages related to discipline and learning. Without a full "love tank," children will not respond well to either discipline or learning.

Again, for parents with children living at home, I would highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


We rarely eat Chinese food. In fact, I would say most of the time, Chinese is something that always sounds like a great idea until you're in the middle of eating it--then you wonder why you thought it was such a great idea.

Anyway, I was struck by the wisdom that came my way via the "fortune" cookie at the end of the meal. It read "Only talent people get help from others."

It may be that they're trying to see if we've been paying attention to the "Learn Chinese" found on the opposite side of the "fortune." Unfortunately "chun juan" (Egg roll) isn't going to help me with this quote.

I have been pondering the meaning. Could it really be saying that only "talented" people get help from others? But then why would that be the case? If they're so talented, they should be able to help themselves. Should it be "tolerant" people? Can someone please help me with this?