Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quiet Helicopters

Here's a great article about how Eurocopter is designing rotor blades that make helicopters quieter. As someone who lives and works under the flight path of military helicopters, this would seem like a good thing!

Make note of the YouTube video letting you hear the difference.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amazon Wishlist

Even though my birthday and Christmas are a long way off, Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner… has a great wish list function on their website, which can be searched by other people, and I'm using it as my to-buy list. I'm not asking anybody to start buying me books (I'm not stopping you either!) but I would love to be able to look up a list from which to shop for my friends' birthdays and such.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Meaningless Freethrows

Here we go again. The downside to KU playing regularly on ESPN is that the Jayhawks are almost always the late game, at 8pm. That means that the six o'clock game is still being played when KU tips off. Again that wouldn't be so bad, except that most college games which run long do so because the losing team is fouling to prolong the game.

So get ready Monday to watch West Virginia, ten points up, shooting meaningless free throws because UConn (and ESPN) won't give up. Yay. Meanwhile, we're missing the first 15 minutes of the KU game. Again.

Why can't ESPN inset the freethrows in a box in the corner of the screen like CBS does during the tournament? CBS does a great job switching games at the right time. Or does ESPN assume that we'd rather watch East Coast freethrows than the number one (Midwest) team?

Enjoying TED

Here are a few of my favorite online talks, lectures, presentations, and such. Each of these happen to be from past TED conferences:

There are lots of great TED talks, a few boring ones, and a few which I think are politically-correct babble.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Thoughts 2/19/10

  • Are you waiting for news on whether your favorite TV show is being renewed or canceled? Check here for a pretty good list of where this year's shows sit. Here's another list for cable channels. Most shows are still up in the air, but some have been renewed already: Stargate Universe, Survivor, Parks and Recreation, and almost everything on cable.
  • University of Kansas scientists had been sitting on the fossils of a giant fish and didn't realize it. Whether you accept the evolutionary paradigm or not, it's funny that it took a visiting scientist from Oxford to identify the bones collecting dust in the basement. Rock Chalk!
  • Curling for nerds, eh? Yup, curling is definitely more exciting with spreadsheets. Keep the hammer, ya hoser!
  • More Wired magazine on sports, especially the Olympics, here.
  • Miss me yet? That's funny, Mr. President.
  • My girls are leaving me for the weekend. Shannon is going to the Women's Retreat at Mission Lake Christian Camp and Anneliese is going to stay with Aunt Sonya while Mom is gone. It'll just be us five boys at home Friday and Saturday.
  • Thanks, Dustin for the $10 iTunes gift card. It's so hard to decide what to get! Music, apps, movies… ok, it'll all be spent on iPhone apps!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

110,000 Hits and Five Years

This is just another mile-marker post, marking 110,000 hits today. That's 110,000 hits that are almost exclusively friends and family. Thanks for reading my blog!

I've been blogging now, almost daily, for five full years (since February 2005). I mostly just comment on life and current events but the real purpose of my blog is to leave a record of me (my thoughts, opinions, and my life) for my children.

The blog also serves the purpose of making me write consistently, which is a good discipline to have, and it helps me communicate with family.


I'm trying so hard to be excited about these Olympic games, trying to recapture the nationalistic fervor of yesteryear. We're a great nation but there are fewer people these days who want to celebrate that. I would love to see the Olympics fill us with pride and patriotism every other year and we don't need to be ashamed of that.

Days like yesterday, however, help: Shaun White, Shani Davis, and Lindsey Vonn all won gold medals Wednesday, keeping us ahead of the very strong German team.


Now if only our curling teams could win a single match!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sonya

Happy Birthday to my much older sister, Sonya. Hang in there, you're almost 50! We all love you.

Today is also my niece's birthday. Happy 8th birthday, Cora.

February 17, is one of the more popular birthdays at our church. So in addition to Sonya and Cora, it's also the birthday of Gary R. and Dana M. It's also the birthday of Jim Brown (probably the best running back ever), Michael Jordan (probably the best basketball player ever), and Paris Hilton (probably… um… no… well, nevermind).

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Global Warming in 15 Years

The whole man-made global warming hoax is coming apart at the seams. Sure the global climate grows warmer or colder as the centuries march by, but it's in no way proven that man-made causes are behind the warming we saw in the late 20th century or that the warming trend would necessarily continue. In fact, we've had no warming for the last 15 years.

As the wheels come off Al Gore's bandwagon, people are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they've been fooled. Intellectuals and other authorities were mistaken or, worse, lied for political or philosophical reasons.

Now some of the principle figures in promoting climate change have been caught lying and have even conceded that Al Gore's global warming isn't happening right now. The famous "hockey stick graph" is a lie, an exaggeration for political ends.

Some random thoughts on the subject:
  • How many billions of dollars have been lost fixing a problem that didn't exist? What third-world poverty, suffering, and underdevelopment is the by-product of our "green" policies?
  • Al Gore's movie, and the hockey stick graph specifically, is blatant propaganda. Will schools apologize for making our students watch that garbage?
  • Conservation and preventing pollution are still noble ends, but what arrogance did it take to imagine that human activity controlled the weather? Did we realize what tiny fraction of a percent our activity added to the world's total carbon emissions?
  • Didn't anyone care that people like Al Gore, GE (which owns NBC), and others were making money hand over fist? NBC's "green weeks" have been an obnoxious source of indoctrination for a few years now.
  • A few cold years doesn't prove anything, but neither did a few warm years. That's the point. The climate changes. It's been much warmer in history and much colder. It's likely to change and there probably nothing we can do about it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why Naps Don't Work

That's a 15-pound cat that thinks my ribs are comfy.

Random Valentine's Day Thoughts

  • I have been with the love of my life, Shannon, for almost 18 years now (ages 15-33 and counting). Our 14th wedding anniversary will be this June 1.
  • Want a pink (or blue) Wii remote for Valentine's?
  • Can Valentine's Day be redesigned and re-branded? Apparently a lot of thought has gone into how Valentine's Day could be redesigned with a new logo, new colors, and much, much more.
  • We had a wonderful date night Thursday, going to New Theatre to see "Cactus Flower," starring Loretta Swit from "M*A*S*H." It was a cute play and, as usual, the food was out of this world. It was also fun to go with Dustin, Alanna, Chris, and Cindy!
  • Our home Bible study starts tonight; we're watching the Truth Project videos.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics on Your iPhone

If you have the Scorecenter app from ESPN, you can go into the settings and add the Olympics as a favorite sport. It'll give you the latest news, the option to follow particular events, and the medal count.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sermon Tips

Here's a few tips for that next sermon:

  • Check your zipper. Every time. Seriously, I've already saved one fellow preacher with this advice.
  • Starting with a prayer or a joke are two ways to deal with nervousness. If you can handle the nervousness, I'd suggest you skip the prayer 'til the end. At the end, your prayer can re-state your point of application and tie-in nicely, but a prayer to start often steals your own thunder.
  • A good principle in crafting a sermon is the DT (Dominant Thought). Have one main point that you can sum up in one phrase or sentence. Everything you say needs to fit under this DT and everyone who hears your message ought to be able to clearly get your DT, even if you never state it (though you probably will, more than once).
  • This DT is where you're going. The intro can start out by asking or looking for this point, the body can unpack the point, and the conclusion can apply the point. Once you've made the point, you're done. Say a prayer and get out, leave them wanting more.
  • Don't chase rabbits too often. If you tell them everything you've learned or studied or experienced, the audience will forget your DT. Less is more.
  • Whenever you teach verse by verse, take the time you have for that section and divide it by the number of points/verses you want to cover. You'll be shocked at how little time per verse you have… unless the congregation likes two-hour sermons!

That's Not Quite Right

This is an actual, unaltered photo of the new Nike uniforms unveiled this week for the University of Kentucky. That's a school of higher learning, believe it or not.

Look closely now…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Random Thoughts 2/11/10

  • Don't get mugged! Thieves are targeting people with iPods, so much so that home burglaries are down, because the iPod in your pocket is worth more than the DVD player in your living room.
  • Survivor starts again tonight. It'll be all veterans this season, back for their second or third time on the show, including four previous winners and seven runners-up.
  • Phil Harris, of Deadliest Catch fame, passed away Tuesday, aged 53. He had suffered a stroke in January, offloading crab at St. Paul Island, Alaska. He had already filmed this season's Deadliest Catch episodes and the Discovery channel is probably going to do a special honoring him before the series begins in April.
  • The Winter Olympics starts tomorrow; I wish I was more excited. When I was a kid, the Olympics were a huge deal. Now, I'm not even sure if I'll watch and I don't think my kids are even aware of it.
  • Man-made global warming is a hoax. Not because it's snowing a lot this winter, but because there's a political and philosophical agenda that is met by believing that humans living freely are a blight upon the earth.

Going to the Theatre

Shannon and I are enjoying an early Valentine's Day treat tonight. We are going to the "theatre" with two other couples where we will enjoy a 5-star meal and (hopefully) a good show.

We've had seen a few live shows that weren't so great, but usually it's alright. And the gourmet food at New Theatre Restaurant is outstanding every time.

Thanks to everyone who is making this possible. I appreciate it so much!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Longest 747

Here's more info on the Boeing 747-8, which recently had its first test flight. There's also a look inside the giant aircraft on the production line.

Over all, the 747-8 is an impressive evolution of a design that first flew over 40 years ago.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Super Bowled Over

  • And that was Super Bowl XLIV. Good game, all the way to the end. Congrats, Saints.
  • I was rooting for the Colts, but the Saints were easy to appreciate. They had the feel-good story of the game. Both teams had several great, likable players with very few if any "thugs" to grate on your nerves.
  • You can re-watch the commercials on YouTube or Hulu.
  • As some are predicting, I hope the Colts draft Tim Tebow.
  • Speaking of Tebow, the fuss over his Focus on the Family commercial was completely uncalled for. But I did hear one left-wing pundit say that radical women-hating outfits like Focus on the Family shouldn't be allowed on the air at all. Wow.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Movies About the Muslim World

I should have added this category to my Entertainment 09 Review: "Favorite films about the Muslim world."

Last year I saw three remarkable movies, all set in the Muslim world and with Muslim protagonists: Slumdog Millionaire, Persepolis, and The Kite Runner.

Set among the Muslims of India, Slumdog Millionaire (2008) was a interesting tale told in an interesting way. It's not Citizen Kane but it was easily my favorite movie of the year. I like to root for a movie and this one makes it easy. A lot of people didn't like how India was portrayed in the film but a lot of real children suffer in a lot of countries and this story could have been told in our country a few generations ago.

Set in 1980's Iran, Persepolis (2007) is not your average animated film. It's a French-speaking cartoon based on a very serious memoir of a girl who grew up in Iran but suffers the ills of being drawn to Western culture. A little shocking at times, it's still fascinating.

Set in Afghanistan before and during the reign of the Taliban, The Kite Runner (2008) is based on the best selling book. It tells the story of an Afghan boy who grows up and leaves Afghanistan for America, leaving behind his boyhood friend. The movie does a good job of showing cultural differences, both within Afghanistan and in contrast to the West.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Bowl Party

We will have a Super Bowl party at church again this year. Come watch the game on the BIG screen!

5pm, Sunday afternoon. Bring snacks and/or soda!

And in case you're wondering, dat are dey Colts dat will beat dem Saints!

Volleyball Again

Our church is playing volleyball again this winter/spring in Bonner Springs. Last season, one of our teams won the championship (and got t-shirts!).

We have two coed teams that play on Tuesday nights, from now through April. The Coopers set things up for us and we seem to have a pretty good time, although we also have a history of injury. If you see someone on crutches at church, it's probably a volleyball injury.

On Saturday mornings we usually go to a neighboring church and play volleyball for practice. Our kids play in one of the classrooms while the adults (and sometimes teenagers) play practice games for a couple of hours. Kyle D. helps arrange this, so thanks, Kyle!

My Old MacBook

How long should a laptop last?

I know a lot of business laptops are swapped out every two years. Personal laptops ought to last three years or so.

But my MacBook is closing in on four years old, and it's finally starting to show some wear and tear. It seems like just yesterday, I got the thing. I'm very happy with how it's held up and it's still functioning, but I know I'm on borrowed time. I use it seven days a week, and often for several hours at a time. It's been on for about 43 or 44 months straight, traveling with me on vacation and between home and the office almost daily.

I suppose that sometime this year, I'll be shopping for a new laptop (I'll make this one last as long as possible). I had considered getting Apple's new tablet, the iPad, but that doesn't look like a replacement option quite yet. I did read an article this week that said as much as 90% of future personal computers will be "net books," low-powered, internet focused machines. If Apple's tablet evolves much in the next year or two, that might yet be an option.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Random Hurt Locker Thoughts

  • The Hurt Locker was nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.
  • It was filmed in Jordan, which bears a striking resemblance to nearby Iraq and carried quite a bit of risk.
  • The director, Kathryn Bigelow, is the ex-wife of James Cameron. Both are nominated for best-director this year.
  • I really enjoyed that Hurt Locker was not overly political. Bigelow never mentions George Bush and doesn't dwell on why the soldiers are there. They just are there, dealing with it, sometimes poorly. Knowing several Iraq veterans, this seems a lot more authentic in contrast to the "Oliver Stone" version of history where naive patriots are dragged down into barbarism, dehumanized by the conspiratorial powers-that-be. Stone sees history through his own political agenda and the enormous chip on his shoulder (Stone is a Vietnam vet). The Hurt Locker is neither sanitized nor agenda-driven.
  • Some of the Iraqis in the film (the suicide bomber, for one) were actual Iraqis living as refugees in Jordan.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

On Facebook the Other Day…

Dustin: Urbandictionary says Dustin means "hunk"... I'm sure you ladies may remember my phone number in high school was 774-HUNK. Coincidence? I think not. I knew it all along.

Alanna: ....I think it also means 'vain one'.... ;o) …you aren't too bad, maybe a little on the scrumptious side :o)

Kristen: there are no words. :)

Jared: Hunk of what?

Jared: Btw, we got the phone number before we got you.

Anita: I can confirm that, Jared!

Dustin: HEY!! Don't rain on my parade!

Rachelle: Wait--did your phone number really spell HUNK????

Dustin: Of course, Rachelle! 774-4865. As i was growing up, I felt it my responsibility to share that fact with every girl my age that I came across. It was their privilege to be made aware.

Rachelle: LOL--that's too funny!

Super Bowl Logo

The Super Bowl makes a new logo each year for it's Roman numeral named games. This year is Super Bowl XLIV (44). If you're interested in how a thing like that is made, click here.

Starting next year, however, the NFL will standardize its Super Bowl logos. They'll all follow a pattern based on the Lombardi Trophy itself. Each logo will be silver Roman numerals, with the trophy and an image of the hosting stadium.

I think it would be interesting to go back and do this retroactively for the first 44 Super Bowls, including ones in stadiums that don't even exist anymore.

109,000 Hits

Another milestone post; 109,000 hits. Thanks for reading!

I've also added two new tags, for the first time in a long time: "Humor" and "Kansas City."

2010 Airshow Canceled

This summer's airshow, the Kansas City Aviation Expo, at the downtown airport in Kansas City has been canceled.

They couldn't schedule either the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds and some runway construction work has run past its schedule. I didn't go every year, but my boys were just starting to get to the age when an airshow would really go over well.

The 2011 show is still in the works.

In other KC news, the downtown Hereford House was demolished this week. The fantastic old building was damaged by a fire some years ago and Hereford House claims they'll build another downtown location, but it won't be the same.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Random Thoughts 2/2/10

  • Ground Hog Day was a much bigger deal when I was in grade school.
  • Look at this graph. It shows child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), broken down by type of family structure. Not surprisingly, all types of abuse are rarest in families with both biological parents. In fact, it's not even close. Likewise, the most dangerous environment for a child, hands down, is "single parent, w/ partner". The abuse rates here are off the charts.
  • More here on the new Boeing 747-8, the longest airliner ever.
  • The general in charge of the F-35 program got sacked this week. Hundreds of millions in performance bonuses have also been pulled. Like most major weapons programs, it's over-budget and over-due. Meanwhile, the Russians have flown the lastest version of the Su-27, the F-22-looking T-50. It's not an F-22 but it's fairly close, as Russian planes go. The Su-35, another evolution of the Su-27, is also a top contender–probably just half a step behind the F-22.
  • I go to Bing everyday just to look at the pictures.
  • Why do I still watch "Heroes"? The last couple of episodes I've been reading my email while it plays in the background. That show flopped in it's first season finale and never really recovered.
  • Have you seen my cute kids? Here's Graham with his train hat and Anneliese looking for trouble.

Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations have been announced this morning, this year with a extra long list of Best Picture nominees.

Here's a list, with commentary.

Best Picture:
The Blind Side
District 9*
An Education
The Hurt Locker*
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up In the Air

*I've seen it. Which ones have you seen already?

  • I've actually been avoiding Inglourious Basterds in spite of the World War 2 theme because it looks like the kind of movie that would make you feel like you wanted a shower afterward.
  • The Hurt Locker is my favorite here.
  • Please, please, please, don't let Avatar win. It was good but highly overrated.
  • District 9 is highly underrated by non sci-fi fans, and might be the best sci-fi in a decade.
  • I missed The Blind Side in the theater.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Airport Shuttle

I'm leaving tonight to pick up two missionaries at the airport. They're on their way to Ozark Christian College but they had some kind of hangup in their plans, so the college contacted a local alumnus to get them from point A to point B.

I've always told Ozark folks that I would be happy to take them to the airport but I've hardly ever been taken up on it.