Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How did you find this blog?

Google Analytics provides interesting tools that allow you to see how dismally attractive your blog is from a statistical standpoint. It's a free tool and an interesting resource.

I have been quite interested in the search terms people use to land here. Below are a list of terms people used in the months of May and June to get here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

100 Things Your Kids May Never Know

I enjoyed this great post from GeekDad the other day and thought I'd share my favorites.

4. The number of TV channels being a single digit.
6. Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.
17. That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’
21. 5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.
23. DOS.
37. Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
45. Not knowing exactly what all of your friends are doing and thinking at every moment.
50. Privacy.
58. Putting film in your camera.
72. Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
91. Having to manually unlock a car door.

You can see the full list here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Worship at Providence

Here's a video edited by Tim of our services over the last couple of months. It's just a taste. We get to work with some very talented people--all of whom love to serve and love the Lord! This is on the church web site, but I thought I'd spread the love here.

Worship@Providence 09 from Providence on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In high school there are certain things that you learn about World War II. Years later, there are much fewer things that you remember. There was Hitler, D-Day, FDR, the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the battleship and carrier wars fought in the Pacific over little tiny islands in the middle of nowhere, and finally the first use of the atomic bomb by the US on two Japanese cities.

There were plenty of new perspectives to be gained on the war in the Pacific through James Bradley's book Flyboys: A True Story of Courage. Though the book focused on 8 specific pilots and gunners, as well as their background and families, their individual stories were presented in context--not just of the war, but of Japanese history, culture and mindset.

There were several theses Bradley skillfully presented in this book. Here are some bullet-pointed highlights:

• The Japanese and American cultures could not have been more opposite one another. In everything from the way they ate their meals, to the way they saw their place in the world, these were two very different "worlds" at war, neither able to truly empathize or understand one another.

• Previous to World War II, the primary dimensions for battle were land and sea. FDR pushed hard for the monies to invest in this new 3rd dimension, the air war. Indeed, it proved pivotal in both the Pacific and in Europe.

• Japan "learned" imperialism by observing the west. They believed they were doing the best thing for China by invading it in order to "culture" it with it's own brand of civilization. Japan as a country felt snubbed at the end of World War I when they were awarded very little territory and concluded that this was as much a racial decision against them as anything. They had been exercising the same ethnic cleansing they observed in the US as the anglo-saxon race obliterated the native tribes in the name of civility and religious conversion.

• Though there existed much honor in Japanese warriors of previous generations in the 18th century, the generation that fought World War II perverted the standards and practices handed down to them, and with a mixture of mythicism and power-hungry leaders, led the nation to believe that even in the face of hopelessness, they were as valuable in death (in war) as they were in life. Surrender was the ultimate act of cowardice and shame, even among the civilians, who, in the impending land war with the US army, would fight to the end with sharpened bamboo sticks.

• While condemning the bombing of civilians of England by Germany, the US apparently saw nothing inconsistent with bombing city after city in Japan indiscriminately. There was no urban planning in Japan. Wooden houses were built right next to large factories in Japanese cities. The Napalm burned both easily, and as a result, many Japanese civilians were killed or made homeless.

• The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not out-of-the-blue acts of desperation or experimentation that led to the surrender of Japan. The use of these weapons were actually the next logical step in the systematic bombing of many Japanese cities by B29s in an effort to delay a ground war and were used in the hopes of bringing a swift surrender. We are awed by the destruction of a single bomb, but the damage done was commensurate with what was already being done using many planes and many pipes of Napalm.

The temptation when reading a book that deals with such difficult subject matter is to confuse the quality of the book with its content. Some passages in this book were difficult to read. Anecdotes and interviews of Japanese soldiers that fought in many fronts: Iwo Jima, ChiChi Jima, New Guinea, the Philippines, and China were gruesome and disturbing. Stories of torture and cannibalism abound. Bradley uses these stories not gratuitously, but to reinforce the thesis previously mentioned about the Japanese warrior mindset at the time and also to proudly display the bravery of the American and Japanese soldiers in the face of certain death.

Yes, it is difficult to recommend a book with such material-like what a Stephen King book is like, except with real events-but the story is well-told, the research is thorough, and the book is well-cited. Reading this book brought the Pacific theater to life and gave me a renewed respect for the generation that fought in World War II.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

14 Basic Skills

Recently in my RSS feed appeared an article entitled "14 Basic Skills All Men Should Possess."

Sean Percival evidently couldn't come up with one more to make the list nice and rounded. Or he got to 10 and thought of four more things. So here we go. Do you agree? Can you align yourself with these arbitrary and random skills?

  1. Drive a Stick-Shift (check)
  2. Hook up and Entertainment Center (check-though it would be fun to get to set up a new one some time!)
  3. Fix a toilet (check - forced learn that one!)
  4. Navigate a Map and Use GPS (check and check, though these seem like completely different skills to me, and the GPS one doesn't even really seem to be a skill at all.)
  5. Change the Oil (check-yeah, motor oil)
  6. Balance a Checkbook (check, but file this under obsolete skills-at least in the analog world. Who actually balances a checkbook? I make Quicken do it.)
  7. Cook the Perfect Steak (CHECK- come on over some time, I'll show you how it's done)
  8. Swim the Breaststroke (check - though there's no distance specified. That's good. I can do it pretty well, but not for very long)
  9. Write Effectively (hmm, I think so, my blog readers can decide, and the recipients of my many, many emails can toss in an opinion here too. You know who you are.)
  10. Dress for the Occasion (FAIL)
  11. Sew a Button (check. I've got this one down. I probably average a button every two months)
  12. Do Laundry Properly (check, though my kind and gracious wife usually handles my laundry, when she's away, I can clean my underwear and starch my shirts)
  13. Handle Roadside Emergencies (check-Anyone can call AAA, right? I've changed a couple of tires in my day. Loads of fun.)
  14. Build a Fire (FAIL. I have never started a fire without a match or lighter, but I can set up a pretty good, long-lasting fireplace fire or campground fire with good kindling.)(I miss my fireplace)
I'm giving myself 12 out of 14. Soon I'll write the "14 skills every woman should possess." That oughta get things stirred up.