Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reclined at Nebraska Furniture Mart

New haircuts, same old patience and good behavior. The boys have been exceptionally well behaved lately, even while Mom and Grandma window-shop.

Here you see Tanner and Brennan's new haircuts (cut for summer and buzzed for basic training?). Tanner still has the longest hairstyle.

WSOP 2009 Early Thoughts

The WSOP (World Series of Poker) began this week and runs through July 15.

  • I think Poker, especially No-Limit Hold'em, is a great, psychological game. It's a game of skill, the skill of reading people. There's also cards involved.
  • I also know that gambling will ruin you, especially if you're "good" at it. You don't have to wager money to play poker, though almost everyone does. My suggestion: if you play poker, play it with friends with no money involved whatsoever. If you play for money, you'll pay too high a price in the end.
  • The WSOP is tournament-play only (you pay an entry fee and win a cash prize), not cash games (where players gamble the money they bring to the table). I appreciate the WSOP's approach. Morally speaking, I prefer tournaments: I could pay to play in a tournament and win a prize (or lose) without losing any sleep. But just sitting in a cash game would bother me a bit, like I'm being co-dependent to someone's gambling problem.
  • The WSOP needs professionals to win. If anonymous one-hit-wonders keep winning the big games, then poker will just look like any other game of luck. But if talented pros can get some noteworthy wins, then the game-of-skill argument gains ground. An elite cadre of professionals is all that separates poker from something like the lottery.
  • Poker's popularity may have peaked a few years ago and that's okay.
  • I track WSOP results on this page.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Random Thoughts 5/29/09

  • Wow, it's almost June. Where has the year gone? June 1, is our 13th wedding anniversary.
  • Your home Bible study might be illegal, at least if you live in San Diego. The argument is that this minister needs an expensive permit from the city, otherwise he's in violation of land-use regulations. Wow. And so it begins. [Thanks for the heads-up Dustin]
  • You can't go wrong with Thomas Sowell (he's a favorite commentator of mine). Watch him talk about socialism, fascism, and captialism here with Glenn Beck.
  • Pixar's Up opens today. By all accounts it is yet another instant classic from Pixar and Disney. The critics absolutely love it and recommend seeing it in either 2D or 3D.
  • My daughter might be the reddest redhead we've had yet. She doesn't have much hair but what is there is closer to Shannon's color rather than the strawberry blond her brothers have sported.
  • Is President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, may not be a racist per se, but she's blatantly biased as a jurist. She'll decide cases and "make justice" based on empathy for particular parties not a color-blind, unbiased interpretation of the law. That's bad. In fact, it's the very thing that has undermined the Constitution for decades now.
  • Poor Graham has had a black eye for the last week. It's just awful looking. That in addition to all of his other bruises and scapes make him look pretty beat up right now.
  • If you're a Democrat car-dealer, you may be getting special treatment while all the Republican dealers are getting closed down. Hear more here.

The Bank Job

This is what a well-behaved group of boys look like in the lobby of a bank:

No fighting, no screaming, no running around. Just four boys patiently waiting for their parents to finish up business in another room. They quietly read magazines while they waited. We told them to act as if the bank was a library.

And this was after we gave them Mt. Dew and candy.

Brennan is 8, Eli is 5, Tanner is 7, and Graham is 3.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Linked Within

Thanks for the new widget, Shannon (from Alisa and Jenny).

LinkWithin links each blog article to three (related?) ones from my archives. This is great for catching content readers have missed or pre-dates their arrival. I've enjoyed going back and reading my own posts, especially family related ones.

BTW, my last post was my 1,900th post.

Biden's Test

We're 130 days in and Joe Biden was right, the world is testing President Obama.

  • The North Koreans tested a serious nuke the other day and launched test missiles over Japan again.
  • Israel and Iran could go to war any day now.
  • North Korea's navy is threatening ships in the Sea of Japan.
  • Afghanistan is unresolved after eight years.
  • Hugo Chavez has declared war on capitalism generally, and the U.S. indirectly.
  • Russia and China attack our computer networks daily, threatening a cyber-war.
  • Iraq is unfinished, with much left to do.

Fortunately our apologetic President has tasked Hillary with international diplomacy.

Good grief.

On a note about North Korea specifically: We have spent decades trying to bribe, appease, and placate the Norks. What has that gotten us exactly? Aren't innocent people in Seoul and Tokyo more vulnerable than ever to the crazed ravings of a madman?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Decline of Western Civilization

But hey, I'm doing my part… on all fronts.

As our culture dies, the useful idiots will continue to embrace multiculturalism like sheep inviting the wolf over for dinner. But the wolf can't help himself; he is what he is. Historical Islam has a militant side that is never far removed from the mainstream. Denying it doesn't make it go away.

I fully expect to see my children live under a passive and declining European-style socialism and my grandchildren to be a Christian minority in a nation divided between atheism and Islam.

My greatest fear is that the secularists would resist violently the encroaching Islam, sparking a war. But where do the Christians stand in such a conflict? With the atheists or with the Muslims?

Nevertheless, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Kingdom. The Church will continue somewhere if not here.

[Thanks for the heads-up, Dustin]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Just a few notes in honor of those who've sacrificed themselves for our freedom:

The Teeny-Weeny TV

We moved our bedroom television out into the living room while we wait for the replacement to arrive (in two or three weeks). The old, much-troubled, TV was 42 inches. The bedroom TV is 26 inches. That's not only half as wide, it's only a quarter as big.

I hooked it up while Graham watched on. He was amused at the "teeny-weeny" television that now appeared in out living room. The talkative little guy just kept saying "teeny-weeny" and "itsy-bitsy."

Oh, come on; it's not that small. It wasn't that long ago that a 27" TV was a really common living room size. The bedroom TV will do us just fine until Sony sends us a new TV.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Random Thoughts 5/23/09

  • I knew that Bannister Mall was closed… but I didn't realize how quickly the place had fallen apart. Here's some demolition photos.
  • We so enjoyed visiting our neighbors and their barbecue team at the Great American Barbecue. This year the event was moved to Sandstone from the Woodlands which made things feel a lot different (not necessarily worse, just different). In my opinion, our neighbors' best entry was their pulled pork. It was the best Shannon and I have ever had.
  • If you eat barbecue and/or live in Kansas City read this article about Kansas City-style barbecue.
  • We're becoming board game addicts. Besides the award-winning Settlers of Catan, we're also playing Ticket to Ride, another great German game. Ticket to Ride is simpler and quicker than Catan but is still a great game! In fact, if you like geography or trains, this game is incredibly fun. I know some train-geeks that need this game.
  • Did you hear Dick Cheney give his speech this week (part 1 here)? It's hard to disagree with anything this guy said. His speech was that good. My question is why didn't he make this speech three years ago? Make sure you listen to the whole thing.
  • How does a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old make Dad happy after playing with the garden hose (and earn themselves a new Wii game)? Just…like… this:

My Stinking TV Died!

It died. It really died. I thought it was just a minor repair but it turns out that Sony's KDF-42E2000 LCD projection TV is a lemon.

It's apparently so bad that Sony is offering a free replacement TV (32") or 80-85% discounts on 46" and 52" models. We weren't planning on replacing our relatively new TV (less than two years), but I guess we'll take advantage of Sony's recall.

The only problem is that it will take something like three weeks to have the replacement TV sent to us.

Lesson learned: Don't assume that just because you can order a part over the internet and do the repair yourself that you should. There may be a better deal waiting if you just call the company and complain a little.

Friday, May 22, 2009

92,000 Hits

Just another mile-marker post; 92,000 hits.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To Cancel or Not to Cancel Update 3

Here's CBS's schedule for next year…

…and a few thoughts from me:

  • Here's another "V" trailer from ABC.
  • "The Unit" got canceled by CBS. Nuts. That's been a regular on my TiVo playlist for four years now. Goodbye Snake Doctor, Betty Blue, Cool Breeze, and Dirt Diver.
  • Jenna Elfman is back on TV again in a new sitcom, but I can't say I would bother watching.
  • "NCIS" gets a spin-off starring LL Cool J, "NCIS: Los Angeles." Sure.
  • There are so many (more) medical dramas across the four big networks, you wouldn't think anybody would even miss "ER," which has finally ended. That said, I worn out on the hospital dramas a long time ago, only barely making room for the sitcom "Scrubs." The best medical dramedy of all time in my opinion: "M*A*S*H."
  • CBS is taking "Medium" after NBC canceled it, much like ABC took NBC-canceled "Scrubs" last year. Is NBC's programming so great that they can cancel shows other networks will routinely snatch up?

To Cancel or Not to Cancel Update 2

Here's NBC's 2009/2010 schedule and here's ABC's schedule. And Fox's schedule if you missed it.

Interesting notes:

  • Bible-inspired "Kings" is officially canceled. Nuts.
  • Thursday nights on NBC looks like this: "The Office," "30 Rock," "Jay Leno," "Parks and Recreation" (Amy Poehler), and "Community" (Joel McHale/Chevy Chase). Wow that sure sounds impressive.
  • Jay Leno. Every. Single. Night. At nine. Why does this feel more excessive than when he was on every single night at 10:35? It shouldn't be any different, right?
  • "Chuck" won't be back until after the Winter Olympics, which are in February. That's right, no Chuck for over nine months. That's so not cool.
  • Almost all one-hour dramas are being forced to cut costs. Fewer and less frequently appearing cast members, fewer special effects, fewer episodes. Almost all of the shows are being affected. 2009/2010 will be the year of the low-budget half-seasons.
  • "V" will be on ABC sometime this year but hasn't been scheduled yet. Two clips here.
  • "Scrubs" will return in the Spring. Since more than half the cast is doing other TV shows, movies, and projects (Christa Miller and Neil Flynn have sitcoms on this same schedule for the same network!), I wonder if that gives them time to finish/flop and then come back to "Scrubs"?
  • ABC managed to write four paragraphs in their news release about "Scrubs" without really telling us anything about whether the show will be the same or fundamentally different. How do you continue a show after you've wrapped it up? I guess we'll see…
  • NBC announced shows for the summer… wait for it… of 2010. Really?!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Random Thoughts 5/18/09

  • After one year, what are the best WiiWare games? This list includes "Toki Tori," "World of Goo," and "Tetris Party," which we also own and enjoy. Wii owners who don't get online are missing out.
  • Speaking of the Wii, after what seems like a year of mediocre games, there are some great ones coming out now: "Punch Out" comes today. "Boom Blox Bash Party" (i.e. Boom Blox 2) is arriving tomorrow. "The Conduit" arrives June 23. I've also heard that Excitebots is pretty good; I bet my boys would like it.
  • Two words: Wolfram Alpha.
  • Needless to say, I didn't win that fancy grill and three months of Omaha steaks. But that's okay, my neighbors are beginning to barbecue on a regular basis – this neighborhood smells great!
  • Jon Gruden will replace Tony Kornheiser in the booth for Monday Night Football. That's gotta be a good thing, right? It probably also assures MNF will be on a 7-second delay.
  • Joe Biden is embarrassing. That's all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Cancel or Not to Cancel Update

There was a bit of news yesterday for your favorite TV shows next Fall. Most of the announcements will be made Monday or Tuesday.

  • Against all odds, "Dollhouse" is getting a second season. Josh Whedon, perhaps the first and only third-generation television writer and one of my all-time favorites, is getting a chance to further develop his sci-fi show. Here's an insightful article about how a show like "Dollhouse" can overcome abysmal ratings to be picked up for renewal.
  • "Scrubs" may not be gone after all. After one of the best series finales ever, ABC is reportedly going to bring (some of?) the cast back for a little bit more, and maybe change the show's concept and format. What?!
  • "V" is back. Remember the lizard-Nazi-aliens disguised as human visitors in flying saucers show from the '80's? It's going to be redone by ABC.
  • Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are back, but not together. The two paired in the well received but quickly canceled "Back to You" a year ago, but now they'll appear on ABC in separate sitcoms called "Hank" and "The Middle," which puts Heaton opposite Neil Flynn (The Janitor from "Scrubs"). Overall, ABC seems to be going back to more sitcoms next year.
  • To everyone's shock and amazement, a Nathan Fillion show ("Castle") got renewed. We knew you could do it!

It would be hard for the geek in me not to check out "V" and I'll watch anything that Kelsey Grammer does. I was ready for "Scrubs" to end… and it did… but now it's back? Uh… I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Does anybody know if "Castle" is any good? What about "Fringe"?

More news and TV rumor confirmation coming this week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not the Brightest Bulb

Our projection lamp went out on our TV last night. It had been giving us a warning message for a couple of months and you tell by looking that the picture wasn't 100%, but last night while Shannon and I were watching "Dirty Jobs" it just died.

The replacement part won't be along until the middle of this week at the earliest, so that means several days without our main television: the television we watch while we eat, our main movie-watching TV, and the TV on which we Wii.

After 24 hours, I can safely report that we're surviving just fine.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Random Thoughts 5/15/09

  • Today is the 20th anniversary of my decision for Christ and baptism.
  • The NBA draft has 74 underclassmen who left school early to enter this year's draft. There are only 60 draft slots to be shared among these underclassmen as well as 29 foreign players and a few hundred college seniors who are eligible. Somebody got some bad advice. Last year saw less then 30 underclassmen get drafted, which was higher than usual but still less than half of those that declared.
  • I'm starting a new sermon series on Daniel this Sunday.
  • Nickelodeon is ordering 26 episodes of a Kung-Fu Panda television series. They've also produced the recent series "The Penguins of Madagascar," which my boys like alright.
  • The FN SCAR assault rifle is being given to an operational unit (75th Rangers) to deploy to Afghanistan. The SCAR, or Mk 16, is a possible candidate to replace the M16 family of weapons, notably the M4 carbine. I was always a fan of the XM8.
  • How does President Obama explain to his fans that he's not going to stop the military tribunals like he said he would? He's had a couple of serious reversals recently that smack of: "Oh, now I have to be a responsible grown up instead of a idealistic, devil-may-care liberal." Welcome to the real world and its realities Mr. President.
  • Retorical Question: If inflation smacks us hard in the next 12-18 months, is that going to punish hard-working people who saved their money (now worth less) and reward those irresponsible people who went into into debt (also worth less now), assuming the latter keep their jobs? Inflation in general hurts the lender (saver) and helps the borrower (debtor). That said, it's not like inflation is a good thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Attitude of the Questioner

It's good to have a healthy skepticism. This world is filled with liars, false prophets, con men, and frauds. People in this world want your money, your attention, your time, your submission, and your loyalty – and few actually deserve it. We should question and investigate every claim to truth.

Because I feel so many have been duped in history, I naturally find a kindred spirit among the iconoclasts and skeptics. But many skeptics today are also dyed-in-the-wool atheists or agnostics and, for the most part, dour, mean-spirited grumps.

To these questioners with a chip on their shoulder (Penn & Teller, Bill Maher, George Will, and the late George Carlin and Carl Sagan, et al.) I have this to say:

A healthy skepticism is not the same as a hopelessly jaded cynicism.

Just because some have lied and failed in religion does not negate all faith everywhere. You've thrown out the baby with the bathwater and given up the race short of your goal. Keep asking your questions, you've not looked everywhere yet.

91,000 Hits

Just another mile-marker post.

Thanks for reading!

This Boot is Made for Walking

Shannon was given a walking boot for her broken foot yesterday. That means the break is healing properly, she shouldn't need any surgery, and she's gaining back mobility.

But the poor girl is still mostly miserable. She's in a lot of pain and she's still using crutches, which just doesn't cut it when it comes to taking care of five kids.

Speaking of the walking boot, thanks to the Strub family for the loaner. That saved us $500! What a blessing to have accident-prone friends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Wife in the Shower

Yeah, this is the only picture that will ever be taken of Shannon in the shower. But it is kinda funny.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No Touchy

I went to church sick Sunday morning. It was the sickest I'd ever been during a sermon, so ill that I preached sitting down.

The whole service (early service, Sunday school, and late) I was in a miserable fog, nauseated and woozy. But the most memorable part was the lack of physical contact. I didn't shake hands, give side-hugs, or touch someone's arm; I kept entirely to myself. I don't consider myself a "touchy" person nor have I given that much thought to how touch plays into our church relationships, but take touch out of the equation…

Well, church is kind of lonely if you don't contact a single person while you're there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

F-35 Eyes

Check out this video of how the new F-35 fighter sees in every direction all the time. It's pretty cool.

Take note of the Eurofighter and the Russian Sukhoi blowing each other up. A lot of countries will be choosing among the these two and the F-35 to buy for their air forces.

Random Mother's Day Thoughts 2009

  • Happy Mother's Day! Especially to my lovely wife, who will spend this mother's day with five kids and one broken foot.
  • Chuck is probably saved (only to die a slow death in a bad time slot next season) but Dollhouse seems to be toast already. Friday-Sunday primetime is usually bad for network one-hour dramas, especially sci-fi. If either one of these shows went to a cable network (i.e. FX, TNT, USA, Sci-Fi, etc.) they might actually have a chance to tell their stories to smaller but loyal audiences. Networks make their Fall schedule announcements by the end of the month.
  • Shannon's broken foot came at a bad time, with both of us juggling multiple things in our schedule. Seems like this is a great time to step back and take a breather. Families today try to bite off more than we can chew anyway.
  • From a recent ESPN article, "Kansas City erects the $276 million Sprint Center to lure an NBA or NHL franchise. The building hosts circuses and motivational seminars." Ouch!
  • Over at Rotten Tomatoes, Wolverine is rating a dismal 37% and Star Trek has an outstanding 96% (so far). I'm still trying to wrap my head around that… and I'm a long-standing trekkie! But the dismal performance of the Star Trek franchise in the last 10 years has me jaded. I'm used to the idea of Star Trek existing far outside the mainstream.
  • I'm really enjoying the book The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes. Ultimately it's only a history book (about the Great Depression) but it's really well written.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Down But Not Out

It's 1:35 AM.

I'm just returning to the office after spending the last five hours in the hospital emergency room. Shannon broke her foot playing volleyball.

Grandma and Grandpa took the kids home and put them to bed and we sat in the ER waiting for the results of the x-ray. Poor Shannon waited almost three hours for pain medicine. She has a small but painful fracture in the top of her foot and possibly a ruptured tendon. She'll see the orthopedic surgeon later today (Friday).

It'll be interesting to see how she takes care of five kids, runs the home, and keeps me in line with a cast on her foot. It ought to slow her down to normal super-human speed.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Life Cut Short

This is tough week, preparing a funeral for a young man (28) that died of brain tumor. He had been married about four and half months.

The service is tomorrow at 11am.

Pray for the family and the young widow.

90,000 Hits

Apparently we blew right past 90,000 hits yesterday without me noticing.

Thanks for reading!

Star Trek? Really?

Is it possible to a goofy looking Star Trek re-make might be a significantly better movie than the cool Hugh Jackman-as-Wolverine movie?

That can't be right.

But that's all the talk. The Star Trek movie supposedly rocks and Wolverine is painfully bad… or so they say. I'll find out in six months when all of this breaks loose on DVD.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Random Thoughts 5/6/09

  • Consumer Reports loves Mac laptops. So do I.
  • Shannon is going nuts planting stuff around the house. It must be the annual spring/early summer plant-a-thon.
  • Lincoln Christian College and Seminary, one of the finer schools in our brotherhood, is changing their name to Lincoln Christian University.
  • Great article about the CIA, code breaking, and a mysterious monument in Wired.
  • Not everyone is hurting in these rough economic times. Apple has $29 billion in cash reserves generating rumors that they'll use that cash to buy out Twitter or game company Electronic Arts. Probably not on both counts, though.
  • We (myself and a growing group of friends) are still hopelessly addicted to Settlers of Catan. I've noticed that we're generating a lot of come from behind victories. I won Sunday night in a six player game with four cities and two separate victory points after lagging behind for most of the game; I really was only trying to play the spoiler until I realized I was getting close at the very end. In several other games recently I have led early only to get overtaken in the endgame.
  • We play the Fishermen of Catan add-on, the Harbor Master card (2pts), and various house rules limiting the robber to help speed up the game. On the other hand, several of us are what you might call "glacial" players.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Perfectly Normal

There is nothing wrong with the baby girl you are about to see. Just don't make direct eye contact with her or any sudden movements…

She's going to love this picture in about 10 or 15 years!

Chuck's Fate Unknown?

Here's an update on Chuck.

NBC made an announcement that they're not going to make an announcement for another two weeks. Great. So our favorite spy dramedy is still in limbo, but NBC did say that if Chuck is retained it probably won't stay on Monday nights. Great. Perhaps NBC can bury it on an obscure night and cause the ratings to tank. They're good at that.

Even though NBC is doing everything it can to destroy television news and entertainment in general, it may just become the savior of television comedy. It is renewing The Office and the Office-non-spinoff, Parks & Recreation. Next Fall, we begin getting 5 hours a week of Jay Leno in prime time. We also get a new comedy called Community starring Joel McHale:

Monday, May 04, 2009

Chuck Rescued

Early reports cite that NBC will announce today that Chuck is being renewed for another season. That's cool for all of those Chuck fans that enjoy their light-hearted action/comedies.

In the season finale of Chuck, I was watching the final scene thinking of the line from The Matrix, "I know kung fu." Then he actually said it! The writers of that show connect with geek culture references better than any other show on TV.

NBC will also keep Parks & Recreation but will cancel Kings, the modernized tale of Biblical King David. Sorry to see that one go, but I figured as much.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My New Grill?

I entered a contest to win a grill and steak package online. For years I've filled out online surveys for a marketing research firm that offer prizes and such. I've not entered a drawing for over a year so I've got dozens of surveys worth of points to invest in this one drawing:

“Steak” your claim as the neighborhood cookout king or queen with this gas grill and steak package. This powerful barbeque emits 36,000 BTUs of heat on three stainless steel burners with a crossover ignition system. Features include stainless-steel Flavorizer bars, push button ignition, two removable work surfaces, and a whopping 611 square inches of grilling space. Once you’ve got it fired up, use your new grill in style with an assortment of gourmet beef entrees from Omaha Steaks. Each month for three months you’ll receive a special selection delivered right to your door.

Omaha Steaks package includes 1 delivery of top quality steaks each month for 3 months:

Month 1: Eight 6 oz. Top Sirloins
Month 2: Four 7 oz. Filet Mignons
Month 3: Four 10 oz. Boneless Strip Steaks

We don't really need a grill right now, but hey, I wouldn't turn it down!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

First Crash

For the first time that I can think of, my three year old laptop, a 2 GHz Intel Core duo MacBook, actually crashed.

When it happened I was so stunned that I leaned in, squinted, and tried to make sense of the message that told me to restart the computer. Really?! I have to restart? But I've not done that in years!

In almost nine years, across two laptops, I can count the number of total-restart crashes on one hand. Oh yeah, I've also had exactly zero computer viruses in that time as well.

The negative end of things is that my MacBook is not holding up as well as my virtually immortal iBook. That thing lasted me six years of daily use and abuse before it finally died. Though it works fine, my MacBook is beginning to show signs of age and more general wear and tear then I wanted it to at this stage. My hope is to make it last 4-6 years before replacing it.

How long do you expect a business laptop to last?

Friday, May 01, 2009

TV Shows Canceled

There's a lot of good TV that's coming to an end, especially for us nerds.

*Shannon's shows

Ended (or about to reach the end):
Battlestar Galactica - classic top-notch sci-fi
Boston Legal* - hated the show
ER* - stopped watching when Dr. Greene died
Scrubs - funny show
Stargate Atlantis - another great sci-fi show, better than the original
Special Report w/ Brit Hume - now with Brett Baier
Leno and Conan - to be continued in different forms

Kings - modernized story of King David never had a chance
At the Movies - Ebert & Roeper booted by PTB
Trading Spaces* - stopped watching years ago

Maybe Canceled:
Chuck - favorite scripted one-hour
Dollhouse - the networks hate creator/writer Joss Whedon
The Unit - great show if anyone would watch it