Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Flu Trip

I woke up Sunday morning, with just a little bit of rattle in my chest. I felt fine otherwise but the nagging chest congestion, which gradually became a cough and then a sneeze, continued through Monday and Tuesday. Then Tuesday, at lunch, I crashed big time.

Fevers and chills, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, a terrible headache, and other unmentionable symptoms hit all at once. By Tuesday at 4pm, I was heading home to bed. I was in bed, by and large, for the next 22 hours, too ill to eat or even sleep peacefully, too miserable to stay awake.

I always think that I'm going to take advantage of an illness to read and sleep. But when you're sick, you don't feel like reading or watching a movie or much of anything else.

I'm assuming this is just a normal flu bug and not anything dramatic, like H1N1, but who knows. I'm staying away from the public and avoiding our baby girl, Anneliese. Hopefully, in another day, I'll be back on my feet and ready to go.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Music Man Girl

We were watching The Music Man and we noticed that Anneliese was craning her neck to watch every time there was singing. She became glued to the television for the duration of every barbershop quartet harmony or dance number.

None of the boys were so transfixed by singing and dancing. I wonder if this is a little girl thing or if she'll be particularly musically inclined?

I can imagine my little girl watching musicals with us in years to come and learning to sing and play instruments… just not by the "think method."

The Other SNL

I went to Dekalb, Mo last night to preach at their youth service, Sunday Night Live. Dekalb's youth minister, Andrew Sampson, is doing such a great job up there (it's his home church, which could be a challenge to many ministers).

The kids lead their own worship, take communion, take up an offering, and listen to a guest speaker. They eat dinner before the service and they had ice cream afterward. What a great program!

Good job, Andrew! May God bless you and your ministry.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/25/09

  • When it comes to the creepy posters representing Obama as the Joker, technically "fascism" may be more accurate than "socialism," at least in regard to who owns business.
  • I was surprised at the warm reception and loud applause that Rush Limbaugh received on the Jay Leno show last night. Hmmm.
  • Mmm, mmm, mmmm, Barrack Hussein Obama. See the Dear Leader-esque videos (with lyrics) of American school children singing praise to President Obama. I especially liked the line, "Red and yellow, black and white, they all are equal in his sight." Seems like I've heard that one before.
  • In some jobs, a person with autism might do a better job. This guy employs autistic people as software engineers.
  • I was holding Anneliese when she suddenly reared back and head-butted me in the mouth, splitting my lip. Ouch! She is so grounded!
  • Did you see the video of supposed U.S. military personnel kidnapping a protester on Drudge? Yeah, pretty fake looking, if you think it's military. Here's a great rundown of why this video does NOT show military personnel. Perhaps, police though?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/24/09

  • I caught over an hour's worth of creepy Libyan nutjob Muammar al-Kaddafi the other day when he was speaking at the U.N. Wow. He wandered all over the place, with long pauses, as he meandered through a crack-pot's view of the history of the United States. This guy talked about Vietnam and the JFK assassination! What does that have to do with anything happening today? His main theme was America is evil. Thanks, Muammar. Go back to your failed socialist state, you creepy old weirdo.
  • Speaking of the U.N., Kaddafi at one point seemed to suggest the U.N. might consider re-locating from New York to another country, like China or India (it was during his 10-minute rant about jet-lag). I hate to agree with a terrorist supporting loon, but…
  • I'm going to upgrade my laptop in the next few days. So I'm cleaning up files, backing everything up, and then it's on to Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6). I don't expect to run into too many issues; it should be fairly straight-forward.
  • Shannon was going to be gone to Oklahoma for three days but had to cancel her trip due to illness. I'm so glad they didn't go. I would have been working and busy most of that time anyway, but coming home to my lovely wife and crazy brood is the highlight of my day.
  • I try not to agree with Gregg Easterbrook too often, but once again he nails a complicated issue: cloning. A clone is an identical twin. Period. After you get past this point, most criticisms are kind of vague and nebulous. My concern is when science takes an innocent life. And cloning doesn't necessarily involve any embryonic deaths whatsoever. This isn't harvesting stem cells from dead babies, it's causing a twin that one could raise from infancy.
  • Impressive apps on my iPhone: the DirecTV app. It's crazy to be able to scroll through the television listings, hit one button and record on my DVR at home. I can even pick which DVR does the recording (master bedroom or living room). That's cool. I don't even use the television's onscreen program guide anymore, I check the listings on my phone even when I'm sitting in front of the TV. I'll never miss a World War 2 documentary on the History Channel now!
  • I believe the President can't wait to get the heck out of Afghanistan and Iraq both, as soon as is humanly possible, i.e. without making him look bad.
  • Speaking of the President, this idea that he has that we'll have a planet free of nuclear weapons is asinine. What kind of naïve, pie-in-the-sky, rainbows and unicorns sort of poppycock is that?! I'm not sure that we would even keep that promise, let alone all the lying, scheming, power-hungry, third-world nutjobs out there. Everyone will sign that treaty and then secretly keep/build their own arsenal, just in case. And what will stop terrorists or even corporations from having nukes? Signing a U.N. treaty? Really?! How stupid.

Learning Some Basketball

I had the older boys at the church a few days ago. So I decided to use the time to teach them some basketball. I checked them on their dribbling and showed them some passes. But the basket was calling to them so I showed them how to do right handed layups.

I adjusted the basket up to 10 feet and showed them what I was doing step by step. Then I lowed the goal to about 7 feet and let them try. We went back and forth, raising and lowering the goal as I made little corrections.

Brennan got it fast. He was fairly coordinated and showed some instinct for it. Tanner, on the other hand, was just a little too young. He enjoyed it, but the hand-eye coordination just isn't there yet. In contrast to Brennan finesse, Tanner does have more raw power. Tanner's also more easy-going about it all.

I thought they both did great when you consider that they were playing with full size, men's basketballs. At this age, I don't drill them and they don't play youth sports. We don't need the extra stress and the boys don't need "Coach Dad" taking all the fun out of it quite yet.

Tanner also spent quite a bit of his time chasing the ball. He kept losing it and the ball would roll down the length of the parking lot. That sweet kid must have chased it down five times.

Here's a video, watch Tanner in the background:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teaching Our Children to Become Communists

Did your children watch The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard in their school?

Millions have seen the video, which is interesting and witty. It's even right on some points. But it's also dangerously biased propaganda indoctrinating children against capitalism, which is painted as endlessly evil. Leonard is wrong about the government (it's NOT govt's job to take care of us and 50% of our taxes do NOT go the military) and she's wrong about (or outrageously slanted in her presentation of) almost every other "fact" she presents. From forests and renewable resources, to America's role in the world, to "toxics", Leonard gets her facts wrong and is cynically anti-American.

It doesn't get more slanted than this. This woman hates the producers of stuff, hates historically capitalist America, and hates Wal-Mart. But her socialist spin is being spoon-fed to our children. Have your kids seen it?

Here's a great review of The Story of Stuff, that notes:

"“The USA is 5% of global population, but uses 30% of resources.” …The USA also produces 27% of the world’s GDP. 30% of resources, 27% of GDP: this seems to be a good measure of our efficiency, not waste. Any economists out there who can explain to me why this is bad?"


"One thing that always frustrates me is that some people hate corporations, while still using their benefits. They hate big, nationwide or global-sized businesses. They want everything to be localized down to the mom-and-pop store level. Then they get in their car, use their computer or cellphone and send an email.

"Those last things would either not be possible or affordable without big business. Without a corporation paying zillions for research and development, without mass-production, without a large production and distribution infrastructure, we arguably wouldn’t have the Internet. Or affordable cars with easily-repairable parts. Or computers and email. Or forget those “consumer” products, and focus just on healthcare: Who do you think developed that flu shot and other disease inoculations? Or the heart stent procedure that probably saved the lives of multiple people in my family? AIDS and cancer research, the almost-worldwide eradication of polio, or (to use a specific example from someone I know) advances in knee implants, providing knee pain relief, faster recovery and less physical therapy, a wonderful alternative to total knee replacement?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

App Review: Fantasy Football Cheatsheet '09

I wasn't going to use an iPhone app for my fantasy football draft. I really wasn't. I had seen the free ESPN "draft kit" which looked like it had plenty of information but wouldn't really function well during the chaos of an actual live draft.

For me, a good draft tool isn't just about starting with good information, or even tracking that information (which many experienced folks still have a lot of trouble with). A good draft tool will help you organize and reorganize that information as the draft unfolds. How do you reorganize your lists as your strategy shifts? (Note: any good draft strategy must be flexible enough to adapt to how everyone is affecting your plans. It's opportunistic, i.e. the draft gave me lemons, so I made lemonade.)

So when I read about 290Design's app, I was curious whether this app could be good enough for me to leave the laptop, copious notes, and spreadsheets at home.

Good information? Check. It gets its information live off the internet from respected sources, like The ESPN draft kit had static and dated information. This was up to the minute.

Intuitive tracking? Yup. Click on a player, tap "MyTeam" or "Other." Players on your team have a star and everyone else has big red X. And because you can flick-and-scroll on the iPhone, longs lists weren't the problem I had anticipated them being.

? Absolutely. You can sort and filter players by your own ranking, average draft position, average auction value, or projected points. You can sort them by position, by starters v. backups, by veterans v. rookies, even by conference. You can search, create wish lists, store information for separate drafts, and view your own team as you build it.

I had two live drafts: a regular serpentine draft of 10 and an auction draft of 8. In both drafts, I never opened my laptop or a magazine. I never used any notes or lists of bye weeks. I never lost track of the ebb and flow of the draft because I had everything I needed, literally, at my fingertips.

My only real complaint is the app's lame icon and startup screen, which seems completely unlike the rest of the app. Did your kid draw that?

Fantasy Football Cheatsheet '09 gets my highest recommendation, which I can safely say now because it's too late for my competition to use the same tool.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun with Entomology

We have quite the assortment of bugs around the church building. Including this critter, which Dustin left on my desk a few weeks ago in a plastic cup!

What is this thing? Some horrible cross between a grasshopper and a cockroach? I really haven't been able to identify this thing. I have other pictures this forsaken thing, with its armored head and roach-like limbs. Any ideas, anybody?

Then we have this, the largest praying mantis I've ever seen.

This thing was 7 or 8 inches long, about twice as big as any mantis I'd ever seen before.

I live two miles from the church and we don't a fraction of the fauna the church property does. Snakes, frogs, ground hogs, raccoons, deer, endless varieties of birds and more insects than any place you've ever seen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/18/09

  • Here's an update on the military uniforms. The Army is going to field the new brown uniforms alongside the evaluation-winning Multicam. I'd like to see them adopt the Multicam.
  • ACORN. Really?? Wow.
  • Here's the 20 strangest and most disturbing Craigslist ads ever. Weird. [Thanks, Dustin]
  • I can't watch the Duke @ Kansas game tomorrow because Comcast and DirecTV won't play nice. Great.
  • We are about 75 or 80 episodes into the highly rated Canadian comedy, "Corner Gas." Remember that every April 13 is Corner Gas Day in Saskatchewan, seriously.
  • Don't look at my sleeves. I learned to sneeze from Kathleen Sebelius.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

100,000 Hits

Yahoo! We've passed 100,000 hits on my blog!

That means
my mom has read my blog A LOT!!!

Thanks for reading everybody!

The Bad Old Days

Remember when using a computer involved swapping out floppy disks every few steps? Whew, I had almost forgotten, until I saw this video.

Ugh! How did we survive it?

I haven't owned a computer with a 3.5" floppy drive since 1996 and I haven't used a 5.25" floppy since I was a freshman in high school (1991). Honestly I only use the optical drive (CDs and DVDs) only once in a great while and almost never for data transfer. With the internet, thumb drives, and networks, removable media is living on borrowed time (I'm looking at you Blu-Ray).

New Army Camouflage (Again)

I've always liked the new-ish Army camouflage pattern, the gray colored digital pixel uniform, UCP (right). It seemed especially effective in rocky terrain or concrete-filled urban settings. But it obviously has some short-comings, trying to be the perfect camouflage pattern for all environments. So now the Army is going to issue a variation of the supposedly universal pattern, with noticeably more coyote brown, to two units going to Afghanistan.

The new uniform (left) bears some similarity to the much-praised, commercially available Multicam, yet manages to be significantly uglier. Way to go, Army! It also is quite similar to the Marine Corps pattern, Marpat, which comes in at least two varieties, woodland and desert.

Obviously the Marines got it right the first time: two well-conceived digital patterns for different terrains. Perhaps it is too much to ask for the Army to adopt Marine Corps patterns, but why not use the more highly rated Multicam as a base pattern, as many have been suggesting for years. The Special Forces, which are allowed more freedom in choosing equipment and such, have used Multicam in the field and reportedly give rave reviews.

But instead of using the off-the-shelf Multicam (or any of dozens of other ready-to-go options), the Army is going to re-invent the wheel. Who knows, maybe the final product will be better than Multicam.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shopping for My Daughter

I'm sure this won't be the last time, but I think it's my first. How'd I do?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/12/09

  • I'm not a car guy, not even a little, but even I think this new 571-horsepower Mercedes is really something. And it's only a cool $257,000!
  • Census workers have badges and official forms and don't ask for your bank account number. Read more here.
  • Here's movie news for two years from now. Pirates of the Caribbean 4 has a script and a release window. My older boys really enjoyed these movies and I'll bet they'll be waiting in line for this next one. In fact, it may easily be Brennan's favorite Disney franchise.
  • Best FREE apps on my iPhone: Facebook (recently improved), Dictionary (from, Bible (from YouVersion), Movies (by Flixter), Scorecenter (from ESPN), Coupon Sherpa, Flood-It!, and SnapTell, among others.
  • Dorks unite against the Friday Night Death Slot, the television slot on Friday nights where sci-fi shows go to die.
  • It looks like DirecTV dropped the sports channel Versus because Comcast wasn't playing nice with them. Now how am I going to get my NHL hockey coverage? Actually, Versus carries some Big 12 sports, so it will be missed (Duke @ KU next Saturday). But college sports' ESPNU (which carries four Jayhawk basketball games this year) is now part of my package, so that makes up a lot.
  • Well, in college football it's the non-conference part of the season. So KU plays on an obscure 2nd-tier cable sports channel, Mizzou is on pay-per-view, and poor K-State isn't on TV at all, anywhere. Ho-hum.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember Rick Rescorla

Do you know the name, Rick Rescorla?

He was a true American hero, multiple times over, whose memory should be honored, especially on 9/11. But the most don't even know his name.

Here's a great write-up at the Mudville Gazette.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/10/09

  • May God bless you and your family on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 (Friday).
  • If an historic event was to happen to myself, I'd literally explode. If that sounds about right, then you don't need to read "5 Grammar Mistakes that Make You Sound Like a Chimp." Four mistakes are represented in my first sentence.
  • Contrary to Cris Collinsworth's opinion, NFL overtime rules are stupid.
  • The Senate appropriations committee has killed the F-22 stealth fighter. We have the ones we have, and that's it, leaving us with a falling number of fighter jets, hundreds fewer than just a five or ten years ago. I guess we don't need them. Congress also canceled the new presidential helicopter, a search and rescue helicopter, and various other military items. It's a good thing we don't have a war going on.
  • NBC sideline reporter Andrea Kremer reminds me of our friend Ashley B., Mike's sister. Obviously Andrea Kremer is much older, but otherwise…
  • NFL started tonight!
  • New iTunes and updated iPhone OS = even more satisfied user!

Ellen on Idol

Ellen DeGeneres will replace Paula Abdul on American Idol, hopefully making the show a little funnier and a little friendlier.

I've always liked Ellen (except for when her show got pushy about the homosexual issue) and I think she could add a lot. I always thought Paula seemed a bit too sappy, maybe even insincere, by trying to say something nice no matter what. Ellen, however, is genuinely witty and exudes sincerity. I think this is big move in the right direction for the show.

Unfortunately, Ellen's sexual preferences may easily be a distraction. Angry contestants often insult the judges and few TV shows are more politically correct than American Idol. The first time an angry crooner hurls a slur at Ellen, we'll likely be treated to a hand-wringing, tolerance seminar on behalf of the show (but probably not taught by Simon).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Voices of the NFL

Here's a great rundown on who will be in the booth for all of the networks this NFL season:

NFL broadcasting guide with Cris Collinsworth, Matt Millen, more - Richard Deitsch

Shared via AddThis

Bath Time

Here's my sweet little girl, getting all clean. I'm not sure why she's eating the cup…

By the way, this is my first YouTube upload.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

The Noticer
Sometimes, All A Person Needs Is A Little Perspective
By Andy Andrews

A kind but mysterious stranger visits the lives of people in Orange Beach, Alabama, at critical moments in their lives. He gives them what he calls "perspective" and it saves their marriages, their relationships, and their very lives. Then, as suddenly as he comes into their lives, "Jones" disappears again. Who is he? He's your best friend, even if you've never met him before.

I wasn't sure what to make of the character, "Jones," at first. Was he a normal person or something more? Was this a character that I would or could accept? Thanks to Andrews' skillful writing, the character was endeared to me almost as quickly as he was to the townspeople of Orange Beach.

Jones approaches each individual at a critical moment and speaks with authority and compassion. It's tough love, but the difficult questions he asks are full of wisdom and kindness. This is where Andrews, the storyteller, finally got me. The loving counsel provided to each individual is so compelling that I found myself reading and re-reading Jones' interactions with each individual. My heart broke for these characters and I loved Jones for loving them enough to intervene.

Through the course of the book, Jones began to take on an almost Aslan-like quality, which is saying something for an old white-haired homeless man, but it is highest praise from this reader.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Not So Labored

It's Labor Day, so I worked.

I had a nice, quiet day at work: a pleasant counseling session and several hours of quiet study and reading. I finished an excellent book and was able to return home before dinner.

I appreciate beyond words the flexibility I have in my job. On the one hand, I work six days a week including multiple evenings. I'm on call 24/7 and am often pulled in multiple directions at once to tend to various facets of responsibility.

But on the other hand, the church is very flexible with my day off and I float it from day to day depending on my family's needs. I'm only minutes from home and get to have wonderful access to my family that most jobs couldn't allow. And because it's church, part of my work week includes my family (though the boys aren't fans of the sermon time yet).

Today, it made sense to work. Our family schedule, the kids schooling, and my counseling schedule made today a good day to get work done. Now I can take a day later in the week and not be behind.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How's KU doing? Who knows?

I realize that Kansas is only barely a top-25 football team, but why can't I listen to their home opener on a real radio station? And I'm sorry, KLWN 1320 AM, but you don't count if I can't tune you in from 30 miles away.

None of the Kansas City stations were carrying the game and no television outlets were available to me. I tried to listen to KLWN on the internet but it didn't work. I really just want to listen to my Jayhawks in the background while I work; is that too much to ask?

Thank goodness that the score and basic game info is readily available on the internet.

Random Thoughts 9/5/09

  • Ahhhh, a day off. It goes by way too fast! Friday was my first real day off in a few weeks (I get parts of days here and there; ministers do a lot of split-shifts). We watched a movie, played with the kids, and generally lounged around. That's good stuff right there.
  • Brennan (almost 9) keeps getting in trouble with his mother during home schooling. The nerd keeps writing in "bionicle," which isn't English and, therefore, not an acceptable language for homework assignments. Here's what the bionicle language, called Matoran, looks like (right).
  • I was just thinking the other day that, when I was 9, I was getting up at 6am to watch sci-fi anime shows (Robotech, Voltron, Speed Racer, etc.) just like Brennan does now. The difference is that he then gets on the computer to stream his favorite Clone Wars episodes off the internet. Yeah, I didn't have those options.
  • Less than a week until NFL football!
  • I'm actually looking forward to college football. I use to completely ignore college football until the April Draft. But now that KU is making bowl games and beating their rivals, I'm suddenly interested! KU's first game is tonight!
  • Yes, Mr. President, the creepy North Korean-esque "Dear Leader" routine with the schoolchildren is a great idea. Personality cults aren't disturbing at all. Like others before me have said, Americans pledge loyalty to the flag and the Republic for which it stands, NOT individual leaders. How did something with these overtones ever make it out of the White House brainstorming sessions?
  • New low-scores on Flood-It!: Small - 15/22, Medium - 22/30, Large - 29/36. I cannot stop playing this quick, simple puzzle game! I play it in the gas station, I play it while watching TV, I play it everywhere.
  • Someone sent me this lobster. How cute (and disturbing) is this?

Thursday, September 03, 2009


My three-year-old loves to pop bubblewrap. He came to me and asked for protection; he didn't want his brothers popping his bubbles!

How cute is this little nerd-in-the-making?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thanks Captain Obvious

I just heard the 12:30 news report on 980 KMBZ:

"Authorities are learning more about the raging wild fires around Los Angeles. The fires were started by one or more persons. It's not yet known if the fires were accidental."

Really? I guess as soon as you rule out acts of God and dolphin conspiracies (you can never trust those crafty marine mammals, they have sonar), you know this much. It had to be either one person or more than one person, accidental or on purpose.

Maybe it's a slow news day.

Slow to Blog, Quick to Facebook

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I really enjoy writing but I've been swamped lately, with several factors interfering with my commitment to write every day:

  • An increased counseling load, writing new lessons and sermons (I'm in the midst of teaching and preaching new material across the board), and a dreary backlog of administrative stuff keeps me busy at the office.
  • Five ornery little kids are keeping my wife frazzled and life at home hectic.
  • I've tried to invest a little bit of time into fantasy football this last week. Not a fraction of what I used to invest but enough to get by as a participant and complete my obligations as commissioner of our league.
  • Another factor is joining Facebook. Now I have an outlet for "short-form" blogging, i.e. my Facebook status. Any thought under three sentences in length ends up on Facebook instead of my blog. Lists, stories, and longer commentary still go the blog, if there's time.
  • I've also begun reading more. So my movie watching has dropped off considerably, along with my blogging. I haven't touched the Wii twice in four months. I still like video games, both alone and with my boys, but I don't have the time right now.

Speaking of "short-form" blogging, I agree with the sentiment from my sister-in-law, Alanna, about Twitter: "What's the point?" I already have a quick outlet in my Facebook status, why would I tweet too? Facebook status reports already sport too many "I'm eating a sandwich now", "I'm cold", "I'm bored", and other trifles. Some friends use Facebook and Twitter to give hourly updates on their lives to nobody in particular, whether they have anything to say or not.

My new t-shirt idea:

Even Bloggers Think
Twitter is Narcissistic
[picture of a blue bird gazing in a mirror]

(If somebody prints that on a t-shirt, send me a pic!)

Thankfully, Facebook has many other redeeming qualities as a social networking app. And several of my friends are wittier than average (I'm looking at you, Jessica Robins).