Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Random Thoughts 10/31/06

  • Happy Halloween. I dressed up as a guy with high cholesterol.
  • Did you hear about Saints QB Drew Brees' Mom? She's a Democrat running for local office in Texas and not on speaking terms with her son. Drew Brees said, "There is definitely history. It's got nothing to do with my career path. I've just gotten older, and my eyes have opened to the lies and manipulation." He added that her commercials were sending a message of, " 'If you don't know much about the election, vote for me because I know Drew' . . . and that is a shame because the political process should be decided on your credentials." You can read more here.
  • The F-117 Stealth Fighter (actually a light bomber) may finally get retired. It's 1970's technology made obsolete by the F-22A and modern radars but keeps getting saved because of political wrangling. But finally the last class of F-117 pilots has graduated and with money tight, something has to give.
  • Claire McCaskill is still a loon. But I wish I didn't hear twenty commercials today with Jim Talent telling me so. I get it already!
  • We're going to Grandma's tonight to be with family. The kids have some cute little costumes. I'll try to post pics later and maybe share some
  • Vote next Tuesday. Pray first. Ask yourself what's good for our nation. Then vote.
  • You have to read the email that's been circulated from a Marine in Iraq. It's really something and isn't the usual, simplistic stuff you hear from talking head pundits. It's simply the most profound thing I've read on Iraq in a long time.

Better Than I Deserve

We got back some news on my lab work today which was mostly good. My blood sugar and kidney function are perfect but my cholesterol is high (due to high triglycerides). My blood pressure, which I take daily now, is still borderline. I have a stress test later this week and am still waiting to hear about the sleep study; we'll find out more then. I also went to the chiropractor yesterday and he helped tremendously.

It looks like I'm on a plan to lose weight, address the sleep apnea, and give up fried chicken.

Life's not fair, but we do what we have to do.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Four boys will run you ragged if don't find ways to stay on top of them. For Graham, he gets frustrated if his toys get out of reach. We've discovered that a simple containment policy keeps him happy.

For the older boys, we set them loose in our backyard. We've never gotten so much good out of that backyard as we have this summer and fall. The boys climb all over their swing set and really enjoy their little basketball hoop and wagon. They play in the leaves and dig holes and jump off of everything higher than ground level. We haven't had any broken arms yet but I won't be too surprised when it happens.

Earlier today the boys were outside and the wind was bringing the leaves down like a gentle snowfall. Just to be ornery, I hollered out the door, "Boys, pick up all of those leaves right now! I want that yard clean!""

Tanner stopped in his tracks surrounded by golden leaves, "There's too many…" Brennan, crest-fallen, lamented, "Dad, it'll take forever!" And then they both turned to start picking up leaves!

I jumped to correct the misunderstanding, "Daddy's just kidding. Go have fun in the leaves. Go play! It's okay." I felt horrible for interrupting their play, but I was more than a little satisfied at their willingness to obey. What wonderful boys.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shots Across the Bow

When it comes to lasting changes in life, we need to be persuaded on three levels, usually in the same order.

Mental: First, we must be convinced that something is true. It needs to make sense to us or at least we need to trust that it can make sense. This is why expert opinions carry so much weight and why we "stick with what we know."

Personal: Second, we need to feel it applies to us; not just that it matters but that it matters to us. So long as it doesn't affect us, we can remain indifferent.

Yet it ends here for most of us. We know something is true and we know we need it but we procrastinate and drag our feet. We're convinced, we're just not committed. People who aren't facing the same decision in their lives often don't get it, "What's the hold up? Don't you understand?" Of course we understand, we're not stupid, but it's hard to take the last step…

Volitional: Last, our will must be overcome. We have to pull the trigger and actually do what we know to be right. And, for a lot of us, we have to be scared first.

That has been me. I've known that eating right and excercising is right. I've known that it's especially urgent for me to do it. But now I'm scared and that may actually get me going.

And I've had a few shocks this week. I've never had chest pain before, but I have now. I've never had high blood pressure (and I've checked it often), but I have now. I've never weighed this much, but to my disbelief, I'm now twenty pounds heavier than I thought I was. Twenty more than my highest known weight!

I'm terrified. It's time to change.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sick and Tired

I've been feeling pretty rotten this last week and have been sick off and on for a long time now. It's finally gotten bad enough that I'm scared… so I'm going to the doctor this afternoon. This last four days I've had a number of strange pains, including chest pain, and that's got me pretty well spooked. I'm showing signs of high blood pressure, which is odd – I've always had a good bp in spite of myself. I'm also not sleeping, which is only making things worse I imagine.

Please pray for me. I'm probably most concerned with diabetes or heart disease, but at this stage I'm scared enough of the unknown that I'd take bad news over not knowing. I also know that, at my young age, these things are correctable and I'm willing to do it. It could also be no big deal at all, but I'm growing convinced that it is a big deal. We'll see.

UPDATE (8pm): The doctor had some lab work done to check all sorts of scary things but the leading theory is that I'm suffering from moderate to severe sleep apnea. It would explain things nicely and can be treated. I'll spend a night in the sleep center next week and I'll need to start losing weight. I'm praying that sleep apnea is the full extent of my problems, but we'll know for sure when the labs come back.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hot Date

Shannon and I are leaving here in an hour to go to a dinner theater matinee. We've been to the New Theatre Restaurant before and we're excited to get to go again. We've had a gift certificate for quite awhile and now we're going to use it. The food there is amazing and the shows have been really good too.

We'll probably go back next summer to see Oklahoma.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

McCaskill Endorses This Exploitation

This is the add that Claire McCaskill ran during the world series showing a misinformed Michael J. Fox in the grips of his terrible disease. The first time I saw it I was overwhelmed at the audacity it would take to even run an ad like this. Never mind that Mr. Fox is fear mongering, he's using his disability to manipulate the audience. That's just wrong.

Here is the GOP response, read by conservative celebrities like Jim Caviezel, Jeff Suppan, Kurt Warner, Patricia Heaton, and Mike Sweeney. They use actual facts instead of cheap, deliberate manipulation.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Letting Him Cry

Every now and again we get a comment to the effect that we "won the baby lottery." That our kids are just naturally well behaved and polite and we just got lucky.

Not so much.

First of all, our kids aren't always well behaved. A good deal of our interaction with them is correcting selfish and unreasonable behavior. Consistent discipline is the most loving thing we do for them.

But our children also benefit from regular schedules. My boys have a had regular meals, naptimes and bedtimes, almost without exception, their entire lives. And generally we see the positive consequences of this: they're bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and can function normally because they are well rested. We don't drag them out of bed at 6am or keep the little ones awake for the whole afternoon. We're on a schedule, we stick to it, and they're happier for it.

Except for Graham.

Graham is special. He's the baby. He's the smallest and most delicate for his age. He easily may be the last child we'll have naturally (leaving room to adopt later, of course). He spent more than a week in the hospital before we could take him home. We've felt he needs extra consideration…

But that is already bitten us in the behind. Graham is seven months old and still doesn't sleep through the night. His older brothers were sleeping on schedule at two months old; we were three for three… until Graham. He'll wake up half a dozen times, screaming and sobbing. And we've accommodated him to our own detriment.

But two days ago, Shannon decided that we were going to put our foot down and make him cry it out. The first episode went on for twenty minutes and it was excruciating. Shannon was in tears, I was distraught, and Graham sounded like he had been abandoned. But when he finally calmed down, he slept the rest of night. And he slept nine hours straight last night. It's working, it's just so hard not to run to your child when they need think they need you.

But the right way is rarely easy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

23,000 Hits

We quietly hit 23,000 hits Saturday morning. I sure appreciate your time in reading my ramblings, especially when you comment on a post (no, Sean, I still don't know when I'm coming to visit you in Ecuador).

I'm up well over 700 posts now and hope to cross 25,000 hits in early December (or sooner). I still don't know when I'll use my new template (I think it's kind of pretty) but I'll probably wait until "Blogger beta" becomes "Blogger we're finally done messing with it here you go."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Answering the Cynics

Earlier this month I received a comment from an angry anti-Christian bigot, to whom I didn't respond. But it's been bugging me, so here you go.

The person's Internet name is "Hoodlum," which is telling. As is his blog and blogger biography, which states: "I am waging a ceaseless Jihad against religious stupidity, government idiocy, and corporate malfeasance,as directed by my best buddy Jesus. For I am the Chosen One, ordained by fate to strike down the forces of stupidity and bring about a new golden age of enlightment [sic]."

Interesting. There's nothing quite like debating to an irreverent, contemptuous, close-minded and bitter recalcitrant. Fun, fun, fun.

Anyway, here is his response to my post on beliefs, with my remarks interlaced:

Nice logic there, given one cannot prove a negative. Also, aren't you the one making the outlandish claims regarding the existence of all powerful invisible things that rule our life?

You're right, no one can prove a negative, that's precisely my point. The position of an atheist is untenable. You can't prove that God doesn't exist. A fool says in his heart, there is no God. But I'll give you points for boldness, because if you're wrong, your goose is cooked.

Logic leads to the conclusion that the "uncaused first cause" would be worthy of acknowledgment, at least. Whether or not He rules your life is up to you.

Also, all children do not inmately [sic] believe in God. That's why children of atheists are atheists, while children of Muslims are... Muslim, the same for Jews. In fact, most people stick with the religion of their parents, with a some becoming atheists or adherents to a different religion.

Wrong again… and you've kind of missed my point. People groups everywhere have always expressed a desire to worship. They worship whether it's God, the Earth, a tree, the stars, a hero, the state, human achievement, etc. You can't find a people who don't try to find or create something bigger themselves which impacts them at a spiritual level. Everyone knows something exists which ought to be worshipped, it's just a matter of finding Him.

Finally, when discussing Christianity, it helps to identify which of the over 33,000 sects you are discussing, for purposes of clarity.

Gladly. I mean historic, primitive Christianity based on Biblical authority. I'm not about to try to defend the things that men have added to it in the last two thousand years. So complain all you want about corrupt priests, medieval crusades, or con-artist preachers, it's no skin off my back.

Hopefully, Hoodlum will write again. I'd welcome him to engage in a debate in the form of answering any question on religion or philosophy he's willing to throw at me, so long as he will answer my questions. I think it would be quite revealing.

Camp Work Retreat

MLCC Work Retreat
November 17 and 18

Beginning Friday evening, we'll work on several outdoor and indoor projects, stay the night and continue work in the morning.

Projects include:

• moving and reorganizing of camp storage
• demolishing the old red cabin
• moving dirt and seeding grass
• painting inside and outside
• various small project completion and repairs

We'll fix cheap meals for ourselves (pancakes, hotdogs, etc.), so bring a few extra dollars to defray the costs. The retreat itself is free, just bring work gloves and any tools you might need as well as a sleeping bag and related items to stay overnight.

If you can offer help with a specific project or need more information, please contact Jared Altic.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Random Thoughts 10/19/06

  • Three Quarterbacks in the NFL this year have lost an internal organ. Isn't that a bit high? Two passers, the Pittsburgh starter and the Cincinnati backup had an appendectomy while the Tampa Bay starter lost his spleen. Only one out of a thousand people each year have their appendix removed and even fewer have a splenectomy, but there are less than a hundred quarterbacks in the NFL. Go figure.
  • Claire McCaskill is a nut job.
  • I probably wouldn't spend $20 on a t-shirt but if I did, this would be the one.
  • Okay, let me elaborate on McCaskill. She's a Democrat running for US Senate in Muhzurah. She had a debate the other night and asserted that President Bush controls the gas prices, that they're going down because that will get Republicans elected, that after the elections the gas prices will go right back up, and that Muhzurans all know it. They do? How do you even begin to argue against someone with this kind of conspiratorial delusions? I bet she thinks President Bush can control the weather!
  • I'm 4-2 with my Fantasy Football team. Torry Holt and Kevin Jones have really done it for me so far this year, especially since we get 1 point for every reception. But it doesn't hurt to have kickers like Robbie Gould and John Kasay either.
  • Our new budgeting plan is going really well. We've never actually stuck to it like we have with this Dave Ramsey class and the results are amazing. I couldn't be more pleased with the difference it's making in our lives and in our future.
  • Did you know that there is a bill in the House that would make Election Day a national holiday called Democracy Day? The Tuesday following the first Monday in November is already a legal holiday in some states. Election Day is November 7 this year.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Flagging Enthusiasm

I have this really bad habit of looking for consistency and logic where there is none. But here I go again. I have a suggestion for a new flag for Iraq.

The old flag (and its predecessors) were based on a socialist, pro-Arab agenda. It's colors and three stars represent the proposed alliance between Egypt and Syria (who have similar flags) that never panned out. But it still represented the socialistic dictatorship of Saddam's Baath party and had the words "God is Great" added during the 1991 Gulf War.

But Iraq is not entirely Arab nor is it a socialist dictatorship under Saddam anymore. So in 2004 the new government suggested this eyesore as the new flag.

It went over like a lead balloon, primarily because it's reminiscent of the Israeli flag, the only other flag in the region with a white field and light blue markings. This flag was unconventional, made no sense, and was offensive and ugly. So the government soon abandoned it and went back to Saddam's flag with the words written in a different font.

I would suggest the following flag for Iraq: It's simple, it's distinct, and it's specific to Iraq's traits as a nation. The three stripes represent the three people groups and regions of Iraq. The color green is a traditional color representing Islam. The three stripes also represent the blue Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the green fertile crescent, which has sustained human civilization for over 5000 years.

I think it would make a lot of sense and a sharp looking national soccer team jersey as well. But my money is on the Iraqi people not having a good flag for years to come.

You Throw Like a Girl

Someone decided to share a pumpkin with us.

We often get beer bottles thrown at the church from passing cars, which I pick up and throw away when I get the mail each day (once we had a six pack of empty bottles inside our mailbox). But this week we got a pumpkin thrown into our yard… or at least toward our yard. The offending gourd was basketball sized and barely cleared the ditch, where it broke into several pieces. Whoever tossed it underestimated how much strength it would take to launch the pumpkin toward a more visible part of our property. Wimps.

As near as I can tell it wasn't carved or inscribed in any way but it was a nasty, gooey mess. So I left it in the ditch for the birds and animals – it's biodegradable after all.

Highly Rated

We've been selected to be a Nielson Family, at least for a week next month. They asked us all kinds of questions about our TVs and equipment and all sorts of stuff and we'll be giving them a rundown on everything we watch for that week.

So if you have a favorite show that you don't want cancelled, we'll be accepting bribes starting immediately. Act now or every channel will be showing Fox News and History Channel documentaries!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Simple Answers?

Here's something I noticed today:

A false doctrine has an answer for everything superficial but nothing profound.

In contrasting cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons to orthodox, Biblical Christianity, the former ones seem to always have a simple (simplistic?) answer for almost anything. It usually fits into a single, comprehensive, and often tantalizing agenda or conspiracy theory. But there are two problems. First, critical and probing questions are not often answered but deflected or ignored. The faithful shouldn't ask those questions and they just have to accept it contrary to evidence and logic and experience. Second, consistency is a problem. Both the JWs and Mormons have quite a history of contradicting themselves on major points of doctrine and revelation. It's shocking.

Now I'll grant that you can find elements of the church that are all over the map as well (I'm not about to stand by the bizarre positions of the medieval church or some modern denominations). But Biblical Christianity is recognizably consistent throughout history. Biblical Christianity can be scrutinized and examined and does not need to be amended or modified for each generation.

It also doesn't need to hide information from anyone, inside or outside of the faith. Biblical Christianity is transparent and open to scrutiny (there's an entire field of study on how to answer objections and tough questions called apologetics). When a religion resists scrutiny, this ought to be a red flag.

Biblical Christianity also recognizes the limits to human knowledge. Our God is infinite. Our minds are not. If our minds are big enough to fully understand God, then either he's not really God or we are.

Men's Retreat, Part 2

Last weekend went well up at the camp. The guys were there had a lot of fun and seemed to get a lot out of it. That said, it's so hard to tell from my perspective. I did all of the preaching and thus excused myself from the discussion groups, so it's hard to say what kind of impact the weekend had on each of the guys personally. But I think we did a couple of things well:

  • I think the schedule was better for being more relaxed and flexible. I could have jammed the schedule with more programming, but there's a point where less is more, especially at a retreat.
  • We scheduled a few hours to play ping pong, carpet ball, foosball, etc. The guys seemed to have a blast during this time. The morning Hand Golf tournament went over well too (a team from our church won the trophy).
We had eight guys from our church go and hopefully next year we can get even more there.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gnat So Fast

We had a gnat problem last week, probably from a some fresh produce and an open door or two. They were driving us crazy so we went online where Shannon found a combination of dishwashing soap and apple juice that worked surprisingly well.

Just a few drops of soap and half a cup of juice and, within a few hours, dozens and dozens of dead gnats were floating in the solution. It was kind of cool… in a disgusting way.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Off to Camp

I'll be offline and (mostly) out of reach for the next 24 hours or so. I'll be at the Men's Retreat; keep us in your prayers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Random Thoughts 10/12/06

  • We were sick a lot this week, with Shannon and Graham the worst hit. It's pretty hard for Mom to get healthy when baby doesn't feel good and can't sleep.
  • The Dow closed at another record high of 11,947. I'm not in the stock market right now but I'm pretty sure that closing near twelve thousand is a good sign.
  • Cindy Sheehan, the Bush-hating peace activist, announced that she's a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize. Good grief. Just remember that Adolf Hitler was nominated before World War 2 and Yasser Arafat, an actual terrorist, won the award in 1994. The last few years the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to the UN for a peaceful world (2001), Jimmy Carter for who knows what (2002), Shirin Ebadi for democracy and human rights in Iran (2003), and the IAEA for preventing nuclear proliferation (2005). What a joke. I want to nominate Kim Jong-il!
  • Speaking of the beloved leader, Kim Jong-il, it appears that the nuclear test last week failed. It would only have been about 1/20th of the minimum size for a nuclear bomb. Oops. First the missiles don't work and now this! Why is everyone so incompetent?! Herro?!
  • The new Army advertising slogan is "Army Strong." Ugh. Me like slogan. Me no like confusing "Army of One" slogan. Mmmm… "Army Strong" good. Me sound like Marine. Ugh. Actually I do like "Army Strong" and I like the new commercial that goes with it.

Men's Retreat

We having a men's retreat at the church camp tomorrow evening through Saturday. I'm looking forward to it but I'm concerned that a lot of people haven't heard about it, besides our church.

Registration is from 6-7pm. Dinner is at 7pm. The last function is Lunch on Saturday at Noon.

We'll be playing hand golf Saturday morning, which if you've never played, you've got to try it. It's basically like golf but you play with the dimpled softballs they use in batting cages. It's a lot of fun.

You Can't See Mountains From Kansas

I've tried, I really have. I'm really wanting to be interested in a show called Jericho in which the citizens of a small Kansas town survive a nuclear holocaust. But I'm about four episodes in and losing interest fast. It's not the bad acting or painful dialog, most TV shows and movies have that. Rather it's the glaring mistakes and implausible circumstances that are like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Let me divide the writing mistakes into two categories: 1)You've never been to Kansas and 2) You haven't thought this through have you.

You've never been to Kansas:
  • You can't see mountains from Kansas. The show takes place in a fictional Kansas town supposedly near Goodland or Colby, yet the townfolk can see a mountain range on the horizon. In reality you don't see the mountains until you almost get to Denver. And sorry, Denver (and its mushroom cloud) should be on this side of the mountains.
  • I-70 is NOT a two-lane blacktop road that stops in small towns. It's a huge modern interstate with a lot of traffic. Where are all the truckers and vacationers, etc? The writers of this show should have been required to actually drive I-70 from KC to Denver. Or they should have to do it after the fact as punishment.
  • Why is the Sheriff reporting to the town mayor instead of the county government? And they have a full-time fire department, mayor and deputy-mayor but no town cops? What about a judge or other leaders and officials?
  • Is there no one in town in the National Guard? Is there no armory there? Are there no federal or state employees in Jericho?

You haven't thought this through, have you:
  • How was the fallout not radioactive? At least 15 cities got nuked and there's no radioactive fallout?
  • Why isn't there more panic over food and supplies? Riots and looting and murder wouldn't be completely surprising after a nuclear war.
  • How do you get a satellite signal from China? Wouldn't that satellite be over China?
  • How does a town on an interstate not get a steady and immediate stream of refugees?
  • So those army tanks were driving across Kansas toward Denver, huh? I hope they filled up before they left.
  • Airplanes ran out of fuel and had to land in fields? Kansas has a lot of small airports and runways (one of the longest in the country is in Salina), not to mention miles of long highways.

The list goes on and on. To see a more realistic depiction of a Kansas town after a nuclear war, watch The Day After.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Apple Offends Muslims

What a shocker (insert eye-roll here). A Middle East research group reported that the Apple Store in Manhattan (the underground one with the fancy glass cube entrance) is offensive to Muslims. Why? Because thin-skinned Muslim radicals use Windows… no, just kidding. But the real reasons aren't much better.
  • Muslims are offended because the cube-shaped entrance is the same shape as a famous building in Mecca.
  • The Apple store is open 24 hours a day.
  • The Apple store supposedly sells alcohol at its genius bar (it doesn't).

You've got to be kidding.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It'll Never Get Used

This political ad will never get used; Republicans said it was a little over the top. It was made by David Zucker, a hollywood producer and director, and former Democrat, who helped make Airplane and the Naked Gun.

Have Hope, Nerds, Eagles Are Coming

It looks like MGM and New Line Cinema are going to go forward with a movie adaptation of The Hobbit and they're going to ask Peter Jackson to be in charge. How cool is that?

I read an interview with Peter Jackson a few weeks back where he said that he would be interested but hadn't been asked yet. His only demand would be to get Ian McKellen to play Gandalf. Jackson also expressed concern that the clock was ticking since he has filled up his schedule for the next few years making his own movies.

Hopefully all of this will get worked out. It looked impossible just a few years ago with the rights to any Hobbit movie split between two warring studios, but they've decided to go 50-50. So if Jackson and company can be reunited then the movie could happen.

My two cents: The Hobbit is serious tale in the form of a children's story. My suggestion would be to have Bilbo retell the story, thru flashbacks, to a group of young hobbits (including Frodo?). That way the humorous and inconsistent parts can be reconciled as Bilbo's own invention as he edited the events for the ears of young listeners. The new movie could then be true to the source material as well as the other movies. At least that's how I would do it.

Hello, I'm a Mac

Three new adds were released featuring the Mac and PC guys and, as usual, they're pretty funny. I especially like the one where the Mac says he can run Microsoft Office and the PC gets so ill that he has to sit down.

You can see all of the adds here on Apple's website.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Email Me

I have a little routine with shy kids while shaking hands with their parents at church. Some kids are kind of skittish and hide behind their parents. So I'll try to coax them out, "Will you shake my hand? Or give me a high-five? Or wave? Email?" It doesn't normally work but it might get a giggle out of the parent.

Well, if email represents the least intrusive and most detached end of the communication spectrum, then I've reached a new low in communicating with my wife. Moments ago, we were each sitting at our own computers, not fifteen feet apart. Shannon says, "I found a bookshelf for sale on craigslist that I want you to see. Here, I'll email it to you."

We were fifteen feet away from each other! I could both see and hear her! And I let her email me!

And then I blogged about it. We need help.

Construction Delays

I'm having fits with the new blogger templates. I've basically gone back to an updated version of my old template that I've used since the beginning because the new ones either don't work right or have so many bells and whistles that I can't really use them. I stayed up until 4am a few days ago getting in way over my head and then trying to undo it. I'm still reading tutorials and trying to figure out what will work and what won't. Eventually, I'll reveal my all new header (it's quite snazzy if I do say so myself) and the overall design will be updated. Some day.

In other news the blog's "odometer" will roll over 22222 today. That's kind of cool.

Oh, and have a happy Columbus Day; go subjugate a people group or expand an empire or something. In all seriousness, how are the liberals ok with this? I haven't heard a peep.

Birds of a Feather

Shannon was reading the boys a poem about a woodpecker and asked the question, "What other birds did God make?" The suggested answers for a student Brennan's age was redbird or bluebird.

Brennan rubs his chin, leans back in his little chair and says, "Hmmm… let me think. What other birds did God make? Penguins. Penguins don't fly but they dive deep into the cold water.

"Chickens and turkeys are birds… Pigeons and Falcons are birds… A hawk is a bird. There are many types of hawks, like the red-tailed hawk…

"Oh, and the archaeopteryx is a bird, but it's extinct."

Good job, my little documentary narrator, good job.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Goodbye Buck

Buck O'Neil, the Kansas City baseball ambassador and legend, died yesterday at the age of 94.

O'Neil saw some of the most unfortunate sides of life in America, racism and exclusion at its worst. But listening to him, you heard a man who seized the opportunities he had and made the most of them. He was determined to do the best at whatever he did and God blessed him for it. This article captures the optimism that O'Neil inspired in Americans of every color:

When he didn't get into the Hall of Fame this year, people rightfully howled. As the news reached him, a final denied dream in a life full of dreams denied, he just smiled. "God's been good to me," he said that day. "If I'm a Hall of Famer for you, that's all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don't weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful."

Friday, October 06, 2006

22,000 Hits

We've reached 22,000 hits and nearly 700 posts. I'm currently getting about a thousand hits every two weeks or so. Thank you for checking in and reading and making comments. Everytime I see that someone has left a comment, I really appreciate it.

I'm working on extending the labels back as far as I can (I'm working on August '06 right now) and I've settled on about a dozen categories. Hopefully this will help you if you're looking for something and especially if you're looking for a chain of related posts.

As I was sorting this out, it occurred to me that Sean and Rebecca, our favorite Missionary pilot and his wife, could do this with their blog. Sean would only need three categories: flying, family, and close-up-shots-of-strange-bugs! Just kidding Sean, we love you.

P.S. And as far as visiting you guys in Ecuador… that's not cheap! But don't think that we wouldn't be interested sometime in the future.

Upgrade Begins

Well, I've upgraded to the next level of Blogger.

Changes you'll notice:
  • Labels! You can now browse my blog topically. Only interested in the kids or the church or current events? Now you can sort out what you want.
  • A slightly different Navbar across the top.
  • Better integration with Google. They're taking over the world, ya know. Shhhh!
  • A better spellchecker, i.e. one that's actually worth using. My ability to spell and use proper grammar in the first place is still an unconfirmed feature.

Changes yet to come:
  • Labels for past posts. I'll be working my way backwards a ways to link old posts to current ones.
  • A new layout and color scheme. It'll be a little while before I have a finished product, so until that day THIS BLOG IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
  • All sorts of new bells and whistles and wonderful little tricks that I'm learning to do under the hood.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

God is Good

We received a letter today about our hospital bill for Graham. We were told at the time that the bill would be over $100,000. Instead, it was inexplicably only $25,000, which was still a mountain to us. But the letter we received today says that the hospital will forgive 100% of the bill. We owe nothing!

God is so good! And I'm convinced that these blessings are a response to our prayers and our submission to His will for our finances. You wholeheartedly put yourself in His hands and He'll take care of your needs. His mercies are showered on us and we don't deserve it, but I've never been more encouraged to be faithful to Him. We're going to be faithful stewards of God's resources for as long as we live – what a slap in the face if we waste His money now.

The Big Three-Oh

I turned thirty a few moments ago and I'm pleased as punch. I know a lot of people are leery of milestone birthdays, but I'm all for it and the next one too. It may sound silly, but people treat you different as a minister if you're still in your twenties. I've had people openly express disappointment that the minister is so young (usually at the hospital or funeral home, rarely at church). In my estimation, preachers receive the least age-related criticism between forty and sixty. Outside of that you may be perceived as too young to understand or too old to relate.

I think my church family is different though. I've noticed a change in the last six years. I was just shy of 24 when I was hired and in the last couple of years I've really been treated as an equal and I've felt appreciated and respected. And that's important to the emotional health of a preacher.

On a lighter note: Blogger re-invited me to upgrade; how thoughtful of them to think of me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Random Military/Science/Aviation Thoughts

  • So, just how do you disarm a nuclear bomb? You can learn right here thanks to Wired magazine.
  • Is the F-22 Raptor really worth it? Some say no, but you don't have to look long to find planes that outclass our F-15, F-16, and F-18. For example, Sukhoi, a Russian aerospace company, continues to improve it's line of advanced fighter-bombers and has come up with the Su-47, a forward-swept-wing fighter that is currently being marketed several countries as a production fighter that can supposedly compete with the Raptor. Even if we don't spend the money on the F-22 and F-35, other countries are going to continue to develop the technology and sell it internationally.
  • The Army is getting some new toys to play with. Most people are familiar with the main three Army helicopters: the big, double-rotor Chinook, the ubiquitous Blackhawk, and the newscopter-painted-green Kiowa. But the Army will soon add two new helicopters: the ARH-70 and the UH-72. The ARH-70 is just the military version of a Bell 407 and will replace the similar but older Kiowa as the armed reconnaissance helicopter for the Army. It'll still look like a civilian helicoptor tricked out with a few missiles.
    The small UH-72, however, will fill a niche. Based on the EC-145, it will be used when bigger, more expensive helicopters aren't necessary. It can seat nine and has a unique clam-shell back with a high-set tail rotor. It's a neat little aircraft that can do search and rescue, medevac, utility, transport, and special ops.
  • DARPA is funding another Grand Challenge. That's the race where robot cars have to navigate a course for a cash prize. In the first Grand Challenge in 2004, no robots were able to finish. Last year, several vehicles were able to finish the 132 mile course, with a team from Stanford winning the $2 million prize. This year the robot has to navigate through traffic. The goal is to eventually replace the drivers of Army supply trucks with robots.
  • DARPA, the mad scientists of the army, is also throwing a lot of money into limb regeneration. They already have mice that can fully recover from severed spinal cords, heal holes without a scar and potentially grow back severed toes. The hope is that eventually amputees would be able to grow back limbs like salamanders do. How weird is that?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Random Thoughts 10/2/06

I thought I'd finish these up from earlier today; I was feeling a bit pekid earlier…

  • I was recently made aware of an interesting new movie, Facing the Giants. It looks like a Hollywood-made high school football movie along the lines of Remember the Titans or Fiday Night Lights. But it's actually produced by a church with a "media-ministry." The main star and director is the associate minister of media at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. They rent the equipment for their movies and most of the actors are volunteers but they get good reviews. I'd be interested to see their work.
  • For some reason Blogger has withdrawn the invitation for me to upgrade my blog to the next level. I've been working on it this summer with all kinds of ideas for layouts and color schemes and organization, but now that I'm ready they won't let me. Oh, well. I'll just have to be patient.
  • Shannon and I are taking the Dave Ramsey financial peace class at our church. It's amazing what you can do when every dollar has an assigned place to go. It takes discipline but we now have an actual (and doable!) plan to eliminate all of our debt while still building substantial savings. And it gets better: Shannon called one of the doctors we owe for Graham and he completely forgave a $1200 bill, just because we asked! When you let God run things, it's amazing what He'll do!
  • Mom went to the hospital today with chest pain, but the doctor was able to rule out anything serious. I think he said something about the pain in her chest being all in her head, but I could've heard that wrong. Besides, what does he know, he hardly looked thirty years old and everyone knows you can't trust anyone under thirty.
  • I turn 30 on Wednesday.
  • I had my first loss in Fantasy Football this year, and wouldn't you know it – it was to Dustin.
  • Graham is perhaps the happiest baby we've had. We always thought Tanner was quick to laugh but Graham is just a bundle of joy (so long as he's near Mom). Here's a picture of Graham Ryker sitting in Daddy's chair (notice the rare absence of Mom!):