Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

We've had ridiculous amounts of rain this week with another three or four days of rain forecast before it clears up. I like a nice spring shower as much as anybody but I'll be happy when it dries up a bit:

  • Our indoor dogs are crazy about outdoor mud; they love it and can't stay away from it. That means lots of baths and cleaning up when its wet outside.
  • Our indoor boys are crazy about outdoor mud; they love it and can't stay away… wait a second… yup. Having dogs and little boys are very similar responsibilities. They're dirty and destructive little critters that you can't help but love.
  • Mom will go insane without being able to send the kids outside to jump on the trampoline or ride their bikes.
  • It's hard to grill in the rain. Or mow. Or do yard work of any kind. Our yard looks like a jungle and we missed out on mowing on the one dry day in the last week.
  • I'm wanting to play ball and some outdoor games with the boys, but again the whole rainy wetlands thing is slowing us down.
  • When the storms are really bad, we don't get consistent television reception. That said, it's better with our new dish than it used to be. No we only lose reception during the weather reports that tell you a tornado is coming!
  • The kids and dogs are scared of storms.
  • The humidity makes the hamsters and dogs smell even worse than usual.
  • I'm umbrella challenged. I keep one with me in the car but I can't seem to open or close a wet one without soaking myself. I might be better off in some instances to just walk through the rain rather than pull a wet umbrella into the car with me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Have Bowling Pins!

After being out of the office for a day, I arrived at the church to find a box of ten bowling pins!


Now you might be thinking, "Why would anyone need more than three to five bowling pins? You know… for juggling."

But bowling pins are also great for target shooting. My father-in-law, before he passed away, took me target shooting and he was big into shooting bowling pins. They can absorb a surprising amount of abuse without falling apart, though these particular pins are already pretty roughed up.

I'm giving most of this box of pins to my brother-in-law Craig, who is an avid shooter. Shooting with Craig will probably be my next best chance to target shoot anyway. The police and my next door neighbors frown on shooting here in the city.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Random Thoughts 4/27/09

  • I found it hard to get too excited about the NFL draft this year for several reasons: 1) The Chiefs' previous regime was so bad at picking talent in recent years that fans have grown cynical. 2) Not much happened trade-wise. 3) The new Chiefs are a lot like the Patriots, they'll draft hard-working blue-collar guys that fans will love after we get to know them but not before. 4) No KU players of note, though a few signed undrafted.
  • You have to love the crazy Raiders. They draft a second-round type guy in the first round and seventh-round type guy in the second! Never let a guy in a tracksuit run your organization.
  • I performed a cold-water baptism yesterday. It was my own fault: I forgot to check the water being out of my normal routine. But stepping into a cold baptistery is a shock we don't have to suffer too often anymore – the water is almost always heated.
  • Former Mizzou football players made out like bandits this weekend. Congrats.
  • Elijah's 5th birthday is tomorrow. I'm taking the day off and looking forward to treating the squirt to a fun day.
  • Network television is a disaster. A lot of our favorite shows are being canceled and replaced by reality-show garbage. There's a good chance that tonight's Chuck will be the last episode of that series. I guess it's good that we're finding quality board games to play!
  • I'm enjoying teaching the Youth Group Sunday School class. It's a good bunch of kids. The tone is goofier than I'm used to with adults but getting to know these kids feels so rewarding.

89,000 Hits

We passed 89,000 hits this afternoon. Thanks for reading.

I totally forgot to watch for 88,888 hits; I would have taken a screenshot of that. But 99,999 and 100,000 will be cooler.

I'm plugging along at a consistent rate of 100 hits per day, more or less. So I should pass 100k in the middle of August.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spoilers Ahead

Warning: Serious spoilers ahead. Really don't read these.


You were warned!

1. Rosebud was the sled.
Citizen Kane (1941) - his childhood sled was his most meaningful possession.

2. Soylent Green is people!
Soylent Green (1973) - the food of the future is made from recycled people.

3. It was Earth all along.
Planet of the Apes (1968) - that'll teach you to monkey around with nukes.

4. Bruce Willis is dead.
Sixth Sense (1999) - I don't care who you are, NOBODY saw that coming without being told.

5. Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze.
The Usual Suspects (1995) - the whole story is a clever lie… mostly… I think.

6. He's Luke's father.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - This is less shocking if you watch episodes 1-3 first.

7. He tunnels out with the rock hammer.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - no one ever looked behind those posters.

8. Norman's mother is dead.
Psycho (1960)- Norman has some serious mommy issues.

9. Ash is an android.
Alien (1979) - never trust those evil corporations and their robots.

10. Jack doesn't survive the sinking.
Titanic (1997) - did you really think they'd live happily ever after?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just the Guys

My four boys and I are going it alone while Mom and baby are out of town for a few days. I taught the boys to play Uno and we went to a reptile store this morning to look at the snakes and lizards and such.

We've had a lot of fun but we sure miss Mom.

All the Spoilers You'll Ever Need

I was reminded this week by Ben Croshaw of all the spoilers a movie watcher could ever need.

So can you name the movie?

Major spoilers ahead:

1. Rosebud was the sled.
2. Soylent Green is people!
3. It was Earth all along.
4. Bruce Willis is dead.
5. Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze.
6. He's Luke's father.
7. He tunnels out with the rock hammer.
8. Norman's mother is dead.
9. Ash is an android.
10. Jack doesn't survive the sinking.

I'll post the answers late Saturday or Sunday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Thoughts 4/22/09

  • Xavier Henry and his older brother, CJ, seem that they are coming to Kansas to play basketball after all, announcing their decision for KU tomorrow. This would seem like great news, as Xavier is NBA-ready now and would add a lot to Kansas' run at another National Championship. That said, it's hard not to be a little disconcerted by difficult this "obvious" decision seemed to be for the Henry brothers. I guess we'll cross our fingers.
  • Here are some incredible pictures of Saturn and its rings and moons.
  • Did you catch that the Detroit Lions changed their logos, uniforms, and such. It's mostly the same, but the lion is more detailed and there are little changes here and there.
  • My parents are at Disney World today. Apparently we weren't invited. I hope Grandma and Grandpa have fun in the place little kids (like four little boys I know) dream of. No bitterness here though.
  • Dustin gave me a "key finder" that he didn't want anymore.

    It beeps and flashes incessantly at the slightest noise as it sits on a shelf in my office where Dustin left it. It's supposed to respond to whistling or clapping, but it also goes off at the telephone, radio, conversations, the chair squeaking, or any noise made by a small child. After beeping through an entire phone conversation I decided that justice must be served.

    Ahhh. That's better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Mac Ads

There are four new Mac ads out this week. I'm awfully fond of these silly things. In the new batch, I especially like "Legal Copy." I don't know if the ads actually persuade anyone, but all of us that use and enjoy our Macs get a kick out of it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Catan

Everyone is catching the Settlers of Catan fever!

With friends and family, we're playing Settlers multiple times each week. You generally need to play once to get up to speed but almost everyone seems to really like it. Here's some thoughts:

  • Game length: We played a fast one late Sunday night at 45 minutes. Typically, 60-90 minutes is more realistic. We've had a couple of long ones, usually while teaching new people, that go a full two hours.
  • I'm going to teach Brennan (8) to play the game this week. I'd teach Tanner (7) but I don't think he has the patience yet to last more than an hour on one task. He'll get there eventually.
  • One of the best things about Settlers is that every game is completely different. But I'm looking forward to a big 5 or 6 player game, as I've not yet used my extension pack. The board is bigger, the rules are slightly different, and there's a little more variety.
  • Speaking of variety, I have two expansions or scenarios for my Settlers game, The Great River of Catan and The Fishermen of Catan. There's an infinite number of variations, house rules, cutomized tiles and scenarios for this game. It's so easy to tailor it to your liking.
  • Here's the website for boardgames: I've not been impressed with Mayfair's (the American publisher of Settlers) website yet as it seems to have lots of broken links.

Most important, I highly recommend TableTop Game and Hobby in Overland Park. It's a nice, clean, well-stocked store dedicated to board games and related paraphernalia. The owner, Phill Kilgore, is helpful, intelligent, and friendly. Phill can help you with all of your family's board gaming needs.

When I visited TableTop, Phill answered all my questions and made several helpful suggestions for games my kids might like. And he's a bigtime Mac user. How could you not like the guy?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Catan War Stories

I won a game of Settlers of Catan Friday against Shannon and our friends, the Andersons. Here's the play-by-play of what seemed like a lucky come-from-behind kind of win.

Playing blue, I was hemmed in from the start. Surrounded, both of my settlements were cut off from any real expansion or reaching the ports I wanted. Shannon beat me to the valuable 2:1 wood port (purely out of spite) and Jay-rod cut me off at the other end of my road (again with the spite thing). It was so crowded in my neighborhood that my third settlement was my last; I was out of room.

Two things happened in the game that I'd not yet seen. First, Shannon built twice on a brick 6 which sat on the 2:1 brick port. That's about as lucrative as it gets in this game. Second, Jay-rod earned the longest road, stretching 12 or 13 segments long, without a single spur, dominating half the island. Every road piece he played in the entire game counted toward that one, long uninterrupted road. No one else was even close.

Unable to get the longest road or go anywhere, I just kept buying development cards and playing knights to stay alive. This earned me the largest army card and paid other dividends: I started getting lucky when I'd draw a card, repeatedly getting wheat and ore. Eventually I upgraded my settlements to cities and then I lucked into two victory-point development cards which gave me the win.

Three cities, largest army, two victory point cards, and lots of luck to come from behind for the win. Best of all, we laughed a lot and had tons of fun.

88,000 Hits

Just marking the milestones here… but sometime in the next week or so we'll pass 88,888 hits. If you're having a slow week, that's pretty cool! Otherwise…

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Movies My Brother Should See

I've given up on trying to get Dustin's inner-geek to watch the Lord of the Rings movies or even Harry Potter. I don't expect him to watch all the war movies that I appreciate. But here's some movies I think my little brother might actually watch and enjoy.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) – Dustin's a big fan of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). In my opinion, the Coen Brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy is a great movie, very much in the same vein as O Brother and nearly as good. Raising Arizona (1987), and to a lesser degree The Big Lebowski (1998), are similar Coen Brothers comedies.

Groundhog Day (1993) – I don't know if he's seen this already or not, but if any movie is worth watching over and over and over again… well, you get it. It's the best Harold Ramis has ever been behind the camera, including Multiplicity (1996), and I think it's the best Bill Murray has ever been in front of the camera. [Yes, that's a dig at that stupid Lost in Translation rubbish. Gag.]

The Sting (1973) – Everyone our age likes the new Pitt/Clooney Ocean's Eleven movies. That's fine, but it's worth seeing the original Ocean's Eleven (1960) as well, as I think it's easily the second-best of the four Ocean's movies. But a lot of people my age have never seen The Sting with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, and Eileen Brennan. It won seven Oscars including Best Picture and was more interesting than any of the Ocean movies.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – While I'm on a Paul Newman kick, let me name a couple more. Butch Cassidy is just a good movie. Period. But I was surprised at how good Cool Hand Luke (1967) was. If you don't like Newman, then what we have here is a failure to communicate.

The Usual Suspects (1995) – It wouldn't hurt to watch this one edited for television. Nevertheless, it's one of the most underrated films of all time. It's a really smart (and violent) crime mystery. While you're watching Kevin Spacey, I really liked K-PAX (2001) and Beyond the Sea (2004).

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) – I know Dustin enjoys intelligent dialog and I can't think of a more enjoyable who-dunnit mystery than Orient. This is yet another movie with an all-star cast that will keep you guessing 'til the end. I get a wide grin on my face when I think of watching Orient for the first time.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – This is my favorite James Cagney movie and one that made me think of Dustin because of the singing and dancing. Cagney gives an amazing performance portraying an amazing performer in this true story… and it's patriotic to boot. If you like this one, you can see Cagney get to actually fight in WW1 in The Fighting 69th (1940) and What Price Glory (1952).

Dustin, get back to me when you've completed your homework assignment. Most of these are available cheap at Blockbuster or the local public library and I caught most of them on TV.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Board Game Geek

I recently purchased a board game that I'm pretty excited about, Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan is an award-winning German board game. It's been one of the top board games of the year for 10 years running. It's as smart a game as Monopoly or Risk but is much shorter (60-90 minutes).

I've played it a handful of times now and I really like it! You build and trade and compete, working with and against your fellow players. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once everyone understands the gameplay, the game can run its course rather quickly. As the wikipedia article states, "The game is well suited for family play, since no one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards goals that are within their reach." And the best part: the game board is set up differently every time so no two games are ever the same.

The usual suspects playing this game are Shannon, Kyle, Mike and me but I know that David T. plays, so we'll have to make a date to play. I also think Brennan could learn and maybe Tanner too. Anyone else who wants to take an hour or two to learn the new board game with us. You can also learn interactively here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Thoughts 4/15/09

  • Happy Tax Day. Yeah, right. I think a lot of good people protested today for the first time in their lives.
  • Here's a puff piece on how great KU will be next year. I appreciate how it lines up all the facts for us but let's remember that nothing is guaranteed. The best teams in basketball do not always win the championship, and that's assuming that all of this talent will stay healthy and gel into a cohesive team. I hope it does but it's not a fact yet.
  • Those people who make t-shirts sure are quick.
  • The Chiefs have exactly zero nationally televised games this year. No Monday night games, no Sunday night games, no Saturday or Thursday games. Nothing. Just a schedule of anonymous noon games and three 3:00 games when playing at Denver, Oakland, and San Diego. The Chiefs could easily go into their bye week with a 1-6 record. Good luck Matt Cassel.
  • The good news is that when the Chiefs are horrible, we have fewer people missing church to see the games.
  • Verizon will almost certainly lose me as a customer in this next year when my contract runs out. First of all, I want an iPhone. Secondly, Verizon seems to hate its customers and the service has only been just okay. Even if Verizon began offering the iPhone tomorrow, I still don't know that I wouldn't switch carriers. I'm just really open to going somewhere else, and now AT&T offers this great little gadget that everyone loves, why would I not leave?
  • Don't miss the National World War 1 Museum at the Liberty Memorial. It's new, it's award winning, it's really worthwhile. Kids of junior-high-age and up would get a lot out of this museum, especially if they're studying this part of history already.

Fair Tax

Check out the Fair Tax Website.

The FairTax:
  • Enables workers to keep their entire paychecks
  • Enables retirees to keep their entire pensions
  • Refunds in advance the tax on purchases of basic necessities
  • Allows American products to compete fairly
  • Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy
  • Ensures Social Security and Medicare funding
  • Closes all loopholes and brings fairness to taxation
  • Abolishes the IRS

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Killing Millions Wasn't Cool

People who don't know history are doomed to repeat it…

…and they're idiots.

This is the best little explanation of who Che Guevara was that I've ever seen. The guy was a killer and a communist; his face represents the same kind of evil as Adolf Hitler. The irony is that he hated the freedom and the capitalism that brings you those "Che" t-shirts. In this country you're free to wear those shirts and free to be dumb enough to think they're cool.

But you don't have to stay ignorant.

Excellent work from my Libertarian friends at

Other Che resources:
Anti-Che t-shirts
Previous posts on the topic

There's Two of Them

Dustin recently saw this plate on somebody else's car.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Collins and Aldrich are Back!

Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich announced tonight that they are both returning for another season with the Jayhawks! Yahoo!

That bodes well for a Jayhawk team that will add two top recruits and a 7-foot transfer center, not even counting one or two additional top recruits like Xavier Henry or Lance Stephenson. But with Collins and Aldrich, it doesn't seem so urgent to get either one of those guys for the one and only college season they intend to play.

Rock Chalk!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

87,000 Hits

Just another "mile-marker" post.

Thanks for reading.

Random Thoughts 4/10/09

  • Well, that makes things easier. According to the news, Tyrone Appleton and Quintrell Thomas have asked for a transfer out of Kansas. Appleton was a guard buried deep on the bench and Thomas played behind the Morris twins and incoming star Thomas Robinson. Now Kansas has a scholarship to spare, even if both Collins and Aldrich stay, paving the way for Xavier Henry to transfer to KU.
  • We watched Parks and Recreation tonight, the non-spinoff created in the same vein as The Office. It was okay and we like Amy Poehler, but it's hard to judge a show based on its first (few) episodes.
  • I've been geeking out on basketball and volleyball lately, but I'm really longing for football season. Just four or five months to go.
  • Speaking of volleyball, I thought I'd go buy one, intending to spend $10 or $15. Come to find out, a decent Tachikara, Molten, or Mikasa volleyball runs between $40 and $60 per ball, with nicer ones coming in at $80, $100, or higher. For a volleyball. Seriously. Let's just say I'm still shopping around.
  • Easter is this Sunday and we're realizing that it's becoming harder and harder to hide Easter eggs for this many grandkids.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

KU Favorites Next Season?

From Sports Illustrated:

Three of the top 10 high school players in the Class of 2009 remain unsigned. Guards Lance Stephenson, Xavier Henry and John Wall have yet to choose a school, and all three are talented enough to significantly impact any team they go to. All three are weighing multiple options, but all have at least one school [in common] on their list: Kansas. Should the Jayhawks get any or all of them, plus keep either or both of Aldrich or Collins, they will likely be title favorites for next year.

I hope we see Xavier Henry choose KU, which seems likely. The best case scenario would see Henry, Collins and Aldrich all with the Jayhawks next November. Wall doesn't seem to be leaning toward Kansas anyway, and Lance "born ready" Stephenson seems to be a high-maintenance loose cannon, though a very talented one. I'd rather see Stephenson go somewhere else to implode, even if he brings them 30 wins; an 18 year-old prima donna is too much trouble to bother with.

Update: Immediately after posting this I found a couple of articles from this morning speculating that John Wall might follow Xavier Henry to Kansas. This is pure speculation and Kansas doesn't even have the openings for either player right now, but who knows?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sweet 16 Champion 2009

Congrats to Bryan C. who narrowly pulled out a win over Mike K. in our Sweet 16 game. Bryan finished with 431 points out of a possible 477 and just one point ahead of Mike K.

Nobody picked North Carolina as their top team, though on average they were picked to be the 13-pointer.

Personally, I've gone from last to first to right in the middle. Shows what I know.

431 Bryan
430 Mike
424 Justin
420 Jared
394 Chad
382 Dustin
374 Richard
331 Mindy

Final stats here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

NCAA Final

Grrr... nice "game."

Sorry Spartans. Congrats Tarheels.

Meanwhile, KU awaits news on Xavier Henry, Aldrich and Collins, and how we reload for next season.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Everyone's a Spartan Tonight

Go Michigan State!

Why should I root for the Spartans over the North Carolina Tarheels?

  • Michigan State beat KU and there's something that hurts less when the team that knocks you out goes on to win it all.
  • Two words: Roy Williams.
  • I have friends at church that are Michigan State alumni.
  • Everyone loves an underdog. There's fear that North Carolina will win by double digits and make it a boring game and no one (outside of North Carolina) wants that.
  • Roy Williams is going to cry either way.
  • North Carolina already has four championships (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005), where Michigan State has only won twice (1979, 2000).
  • You gotta feel bad for all those unemployed union workers in Michigan right?
  • Did I mention Roy Williams? It still hurts. Nothing will make the pain go away. Okay?!
  • Proper KU fans still hate North Carolina for beating Wilt Chamberlain in triple-overtime in the national championship game of 1957. Coincidentally, North Carolina had previously beaten Michigan State in triple-overtime to play Kansas.
  • Tom Izzo actually is the down-to-earth, blue-collar, regular guy that Roy Williams pretends to be. [Sorry, I'm working something out here.]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Now in 3D

My boys were given a gift so that they could go do "something special that we wouldn't normally do." So we took them to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. It was a lot of fun.

First off, the movie was surprisingly good – really funny and enjoyable. And the boys loved the whole 3D thing. The movie used the kind of 3D glasses with polarized lenses (instead of colored ones) and I thought it was the best 3D I'd ever seen. It was clear and vibrant and didn't cause too much eye strain like I feel the red/blue glasses cause.

Graham wasn't into it, he wore his 3D glasses more after the movie was over than during the actual show. But he's more 3&M than 3D, i.e. three years old and moody. He doesn't sit through a 90 minute movie very well under the best of circumstances.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What Do You Want? Part 2

To be perfectly clear, I didn't (and wouldn't) ask for a new car.

But there is a Bible Belt subculture where the pastor of a church is lauded and praised. And, in some cases, ministers are grossly overpaid, given too much control, and receive expensive gifts (like new cars or expensive homes). I feel this is wrong on several levels.

There's a saying that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I don't want supreme control over the church and I don't want an embarrassment of riches in material compensation. I dread being corrupted by the rewards I might receive on this side of Glory. Material gains and political power are pitiful recompense for lost integrity.

My greatest fear is failure in this responsibility (i.e. the teaching and prayerful care of this group of believers).

86,000 Hits

Up to 86,000 hits now; that's pretty good for the five or six people who actually read this thing!

Thanks for reading.


From Dustin:

Here’s Alphapointe’s main webpage,, check out the short video on the home page at the bottom right.

Good video (which includes Melvin and Julius)! Melvin, who's completely blind, recognized Dustin the second day… by the sound of Dustin's shoes. Dustin is a new salesman for the company's products.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What Do You Want?

Today my friend Pat was asking me what I wanted for Pastor's Appreciation (in October).

I feel like the church takes of me very well, both salary-wise and in the small ways. But at the same time, I'd never have the gall to ask for something huge like a new car. Something like that would be too embarrassing for me to accept (the cost of a new car could hire a part-time office administrator or could be a radical investment in a new missionary).

But I did come up with something. It's doable (but not by me by myself) and relatively inexpensive. There's a small, egg-shaped granite boulder at the place I grew up in Winchester. My dad dug it out of the field there and moved it up to the house where I jumped off it a thousand times growing up. I've already asked the current owner for it, but he said he would want it replaced with a nice park bench.

The trick is moving it. It's not large but I bet it weighs 1000 pounds or more. I don't have the means to lift it or transport it. But I'd love to have it at my current house, alongside the "Altic" stone that came from the property where my dad grew up. Then someday, one of my sons (Brennan, probably?) would inherit the "Altic" stone and my little granite boulder to have at his house. Those rocks hold a lot of sentimental value to me.

Help with a project like this is far more valuable to me then some huge gift in the same way that the help we received remodeling our house has endeared those people's time and effort to a place deep in my heart. Likewise, someday I'll save up the money to pave my driveway and put in a basketball goal. I don't need it given to me, but the help with the project will mean the world to me.

Gifts like these are the best Pastor's Appreciation ever.