Monday, May 31, 2010

My Girl is Bipolar for Horses

We went to Aunt Sonya's yesterday, which seems to be Anneliese's favorite hangout of late. One of the highlights is that Aunt Sonya has horses!

Did someone say horses?

Where are the horses?

There's the horse!!!

Thanks, Craig and Sonya, for loving our kids! (And for having horses)

Memorial Day 2010

In 1994 I visited the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Metro Manila, Philippines. Over 17,000 Americans who died in World War 2 are buried here and another 36,000 names of those Missing in Action are also listed here.

It's a remarkable monument to the fallen.

Better Biking

I'm steadily improving in my cycling, getting stronger and faster. Today I took a mid-morning ride, about six and a half miles long. I had my best time for that route yet, shaving a minute off my time and averaging over 12 miles per hour; it was one of my better rides ever considering the hills on that route. There's one hill that is just long enough and just steep enough to really get me, almost stopping me each time.

I've only been biking for two and half weeks but I'm really pleased with the progress I'm making. I'm a pretty big guy but I've gone almost 75 miles and burned almost 6000 calories. I'm sure that if I can keep this up, a little six mile ride would make a nice warm-up rather than be the devastating workout it is now.

My first major goal is to ride around Wyandotte County Lake, which is pretty hilly and bit longer than most of my current rides.

My iPhone's GPS tracks the route and gives me my speed and location and all the averages, including splits by mile or by time. It maps my ride on Google and then sends me a link via email. Having this kind of information (and communication – it emails my wife as I ride) is really helping me enjoy the sport.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Random Thoughts 5/28/10

  • I'm sure glad Kansas is so flat because otherwise those hills would've absolutely killed me on my ride this morning. Ugh. I'm enjoying the cycling but it is a lot harder than I had anticipated.
  • I've read the Arizona immigration law. And a lot of people don't have a clue what they're talking about. In my opinion the law tries too hard to be cautious and politically correct.
  • The World Series of Poker (WSOP) starts today. As usual, I'll be rooting for the professionals, as that strengthens the argument that Poker is less a game of chance and more a game of skill. When the more skilled and experienced players win more often, like Phil Ivey's incredible run last year.
  • This is a real-life scramjet. For real. Finally, the materials science caught up the engineering.
  • Former child-actor Gary Coleman died today. Hmmm… that's really sad. I saw an interview with him recently, he seemed like a nice guy whose parents robbed him blind and set him up for a seriously difficult life.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A New, Longer Route

My bike route this morning was a hilly, 6+ mile route that took me about half an hour. It nearly killed me and it's the closest I've come yet to stopping mid-ride. I have longer routes mapped out but it looks like my conditioning is going to have to improve first.

Counting the added weight of my bike, I'm still pushing a considerable mass down the road, with all the aerodynamic qualities of billboard. I've been especially disappointed with how little my downhill inertia translates into uphill distance. More than once a nice old man in a motorized wheelchair was making better speed up a hill than I was. Oh, well.

In the last two weeks I've cycled almost 60 miles and burned about 5000 calories. I've averaged 11.35 mph, which seemed really slow to me at first but, now that I'm done a few hills, I can't believe it's double digit. So far: no wrecks, no flats, no dog bites, no soccer moms in minivans running me off the road… yet.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

That Got A Long, Low Whistle

I was looking at some church database software and saw this sentence:

Some churches call a Family a “Pledging Unit”.

Wow. I can't imagine why people think churches are out to get their money.

Random Thoughts 5/26/10

  • HBO's "The Pacific" comes out on DVD on November 2. Please don't call until at least the morning of the 3rd.
  • I'm almost done reading Eugene Sledge's book, With the Old Breed. It is easily one of the best war memoirs I've ever read. It will be on the required reading list for my boys when they're old enough to handle it. Wow.
  • There are lots of rumors floating around about Verizon or even Sprint getting the iPhone sooner rather than later. The new fourth generation iPhone is expected to be released in coming weeks and the current iPhone 3Gs dropped in price at Walmart to $99.
  • This is why "Lost" was the most overrated show in a long, long time. I can't stand it when writers make stuff up as they go along, writing without a plan, and then leave the audience hanging with dozens of unanswered questions.
  • Has anybody noticed that North and South Korea are about to go to war and that a South Korean ship was torpedoed by the North, killing 46 sailors?
  • President Obama is seeing his lowest approval numbers ever. His approval index rating is -20 and his job approval is down to 42%. Here's the report from Rasmussen.
  • Finally, here's a great video paying homage to the Get a Mac ad campaign that gave us, "I'm a Mac." "And I'm a PC."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not the Trash Man

Random Thoughts 5/24/10

  • We just finished our home Bible study yesterday, watching the "Truth Project." I have to say that the video series is good but not readily accessible; some of the lessons are downright tough to endure. But all of the information is good and necessary; perhaps the college lecture format just isn't as user friendly as they expected.
  • I've been cycling almost everyday. My standard route this last has been a five mile, 25 minute route down to Wyandotte County Park and back. My iPhone tracks the speed and position via GPS and gives me a report on how I'm doing. The nerd in me loves that!
  • My beautiful wife just found and salvaged (or "picked") a BBQ smoker. You have to check out what she did with it! Now we have a $300-400 smoker for almost nothing.
  • One of my friends from church, Marc C., has been helping me with the whole cycling thing. Perhaps the best part yet was a small mirror he gave me Sunday that clips on to my sunglasses. That little rear view mirror may literally be a life saver, especially when I'm changing lanes on Parallel Pkwy.
  • Our sermon podcast feature is back up on the church website. Now you will be able to search and find sermons and listen to them in multiple ways. We'll be adding archived sermons shortly.
  • We're getting ready for fantasy football again. We're debating going to an auction format for the draft. It's an improvement in most ways over the traditional serpentine style draft, but it is more involved and it is different than what we've been doing. I think it's the way to go but I can see some of our super conservative guys not being interested in changing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Random History Thoughts 5/22/10

  • Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. Widely considered the best of the six Star Wars movies, Empire is easily my favorite and probably generates enough interest to forgive the flaws of the other five films.
  • Today is the 30th anniversary of the original Pac-Man video game.
  • Last Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of Mount St. Helens erupting.
  • June 1 is the 30th anniversary of CNN. It's also our 14th wedding anniversary. Happy early anniversary, sweetie!
  • Today is the 633rd anniversary of the Pope denouncing John Wycliffe.
  • This is the 167th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. "You have died of dysentery."
  • Today is the 104th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' patent #821,393 for the "flying machine."
  • Today is also the 20th anniversary of Windows 3.0. Fortunately, Windows got a lot more Mac-like, including the comparable Windows 7.
  • Today is the 18th anniversary of the last Johnny Carson "Tonight Show."
  • Today is the birthday of composer Richard Wagner (197) and actor Laurence Olivier (103).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

TV in Fall 2010

In a perfect world, television shows with good acting and writing would continue while poor ones would be canceled. It's not a perfect world. Budgets, personalities, and pandering to the lowest common denominator rule the day, so… here's the scoop on TV next fall:

Ending/Canceled: Heroes, Law & Order, Scrubs, FlashForward, Dollhouse, 24, 'Til Death, Ghost Whisperer, Cold Case, Ugly Betty, Lost, et al.

Renewed: Chuck, V, Castle, Survivor, American Idol (sans Simon Cowell), The Marriage Ref, Parks and Recreation, Community, Who Do You Think You Are, and many more.

Here's TV Guide's scorecard for the Fall schedule.

  • So NBC is getting rid of "Law & Order" (tied with "Gunsmoke" with a record 20 seasons of drama) but is ordering a new "Law & Order: Los Angeles." I've not watched any of the Law & Order series for years (since the Det. Briscoe/Jack McCoy/Arthur Branch days) but I used to be a fan.
  • There are rumors that "Law & Order" will move to basic cable channel TNT to air the record-breaking 21st season.
  • I've been watching "V," in spite of itself. The show is poorly written and has some really mediocre acting, but the nostalgia factor helps me give the show a lot of grace. My question is how in the world a show like "V" gets renewed when shows like "Firefly" can't finish a single season?
  • I understand the networks' reasons behind it, but I think that putting a show on a long hiatus (eight months or longer) hurts the fan base of the show.
  • Survivor has been moved to Wednesday nights at 7. Formerly, it had been on Thursdays nights since 2001. Survivor's first season was on Wednesday nights at 8, all the back in 2000.
  • I can't believe CBS greenlit a new show with the s-word in the title, staring William Shatner. I suppose they could change the word to "stuff" or even "shat" (because of Shatner), but still…
  • The traditional network television season is roughly September-December with the second half from January to May. But cable television is throwing that to the wind. Cable channels sometimes offset their programs so that you're watching their shows when the networks are showing reruns, e.g. AMC's "Mad Men" starts July 25, while the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" started in April and will run through the summer.
  • Conan O'Brien returns to TV, this time on TBS, on November 8.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brain Damage

Like Bill Cosby said, the children have brain damage!

This morning I texted Shannon while she was at the doctor. These are the actual texts:

-Our children are retarded. I'm changing the bike tire, patching it and putting sealant in it. Meanwhile…

-Sis takes off her poopy diaper, Tanner steps in it, and she squats and pees on the kitchen floor.

I walked in the house from working in the driveway to see my 14-month old daughter squatted over a puddle on the kitchen floor. She sees me, bolts upright, back peddles in place like a cartoon character, and lands on her behind, soiling the yellow dress I had put on her just 15 minutes before. Just beyond her is my 8-year old, who was sitting on his behind next to dirty diaper, sticking one fecal matter-covered foot in the air.

The 9-year old and 6-year old were running in circles around the other two yelling, "What do we do?! What do we do?!" The 4-year old was sitting on the beanbag watching TV; none of this had yet risen to a level that he deemed more important than the cartoon he was watching.

I was in disbelief that my four boys didn't notice their baby sister remove her diaper, right in front of the TV, dump a bowel movement out of said diaper and then waddle to the kitchen to urinate.

I was just outside (that time) for less than 15 minutes.


Random Thoughts 5/18/10

  • Here's a list of states ranked for business by CEOs. The Top 10, led by Texas, are mostly "red" states. The bottom five, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, New York, and California are pretty solidly "blue" states. Kansas and Missouri are right in the middle, at 25 and 26, respectively.
  • I patched my first bicycle tire today. Brennan ran over a screw with his new bike and I did the repair, removing the tube, finding the leak, patching it, adding sealant, and doing all sorts of other things YouTube taught me.
  • Are you tracking what TV shows are getting canceled? I am. I'll post something at the end of the week after all the networks announce their plans to ruin television as we know it.
  • The NBA lottery order is decided tonight, which might affect two KU players (Aldrich and perhaps Henry).
  • Did you hear that Ted Turner thinks God is telling us something? It's not about oil wells or environmentalism or any other item in the news but God is trying to tell us something. Good try there, Ted, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
  • Great new poster for the next Narnia movie. Did you spot the Dawn Treader?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Going for a Ride

I rode my first non-commute today on my Bike, a quick 25-minute, five mile round trip to Wyandotte County Park and back. My iPhone's GPS tracks the ride and gives me a fairly accurate report on my speed and path, which you can see here.

The app I use is Cyclometer, which tracks the rides, manages routes, provides charts and maps, and even emails my wife when I arrive at my destination. The only problem I have is probably a limitation of the phone: the GPS doesn't accurately portray the elevation at all. The elevation graph misses the hills and valleys completely, but the speed graph seems right on.

Google maps recently added bicycle routes to its features. The map of Wyandotte County doesn't show a lot of bicycle paths or bicycle friendly roads but there are still some good options.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Random Thoughts 5/16/10

  • Al Gore doesn't know what he's talking about. Great article, by the way.
  • Two words about my cycling: saddle sore. But I'll keep riding and slowly increasing the amount that I ride. If the rain lets up, I hope to ride Monday morning.
  • Protecting our border doesn't seem quite so racist when a third of the citizens in Arizona and 52% of the Border Patrol officers are Hispanic. Besides that, calling someone racist today is about the biggest ad hominem attack possible: you don't have to answer their argument, you just attack their character.
  • I got to work yesterday and realized that I had a chunk of some sort of cereal bar or pop tart in my shoe. I didn't put it there.
  • Speaking of work, I took my four sons with me to the office and they played quietly together for hours. I got a lot of work and studying done while they played. What good boys.
  • Poor Shannon went to Worlds of Fun as a youth group sponsor… and it rained all day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Baby What?!

I was looking through the freezer for something to fix for dinner for the boys… and did a double take… and a triple take. I could have sworn this package said, "Baby Whale."

My Schwinn

My goal after losing 40+ pounds (January to April) was to buy a bike. I have an easy commute and my older boys are starting to bicycle every day, so it seemed like a good idea. So after four months of saving and waiting (and starving), my bike finally arrived.

The assembly wasn't too difficult, especially with a knowledgeable (and enthusiastic) friend to help. Marc not only helped me assemble the bike but fine tuned the brakes and shifters and adjusted everything that could be adjusted.

And here's the final product, my 700c Schwinn Avenue.

The boys are so happy to ride together up and down our street (on their new bikes, that replaced the stolen ones) and I've traveled back and forth to work a few times now. The workout is great but how do you get used to being so saddle sore? I'm thinking of a giant piece of yellow foam and some duct tape. That's what Lance Armstrong would do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

Here's a fantastic graph showing how long it took professional golfers to win a major from when they first starting playing golf. Most of them played for over twenty years before they won their first major.

There's no substitute for hard work and dedication.

I'm Moving to New Jersey

…just so I can vote for this guy. New Jersey governor Chris Christie is awesome!

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random Thoughts 5/13/10

  • The planet Jupiter got demoted from corporal to private. The planet recently lost one of its two large red stripes and scientists don't really know why.
  • It's been a great season of "Survivor," which ends this Sunday by the way.
  • Pixar canceled it's upcoming movie, Newt, which would have been about the last two blue-footed newts on Earth. It would have been a "not if you were the last man on earth" love story, which I thought sounded really interesting. Oh, well.
  • "Heroes" is almost certainly canceled for next season. That's okay; it's been dead on it's feet for awhile (like since the last episode of the first season). There may be a tv-movie finale to wrap up the show. The networks reveal their Fall lineups next Monday.
  • I started biking today, making three short 2-mile trips between home and work. It'll take some getting used to but soon this little jaunt will be child's play.
  • Will Verizon get the iPhone this year? It's been about 14 months since a Verizon sales rep told me not to leave because "we're about to get the iPhone too; this year for sure!" Yeah, whatever.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some Assembly Required

It looks like Dad's bike arrived first but we'll all be back on two wheels by this weekend.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Random Thoughts 5/11/10

  • Best computer rumor I've heard all week: Apple's MobileMe service, which syncs your data between devices and provides online storage for $99 annually, could become a FREE service. I'd be all over that.
  • How in the world does my little girl (14 months old) know to play with hairbrushes, lipstick, and nail polish? We didn't (directly) teach her that. The boys at that age would have used the hairbrush as a gun… but how did they know that? Could it be that boys and girls are different?
  • I really appreciate our church's youth minister, Chris C. He's hard working, creative, and has a heart of gold. God has blessed us by calling him here. But if I get five minutes alone with his cell phone, I'm changing all of his ring tones. Chris' philosophy is that ring tones are easier to hear if they're more annoying; I hear his phone in my sleep.
  • We are slowly shopping for bicycles to replace the ones stolen from my boys. It's going to run us something on the order of $350, and that's shopping online, at garage sales, and at Walmart. We have had some help with this (Thank You!!!) but it's still quite an undertaking.
  • I did finally get my money for my bicycle, a Schwinn Avenue hybrid. I'm getting pretty excited about the prospect of cycling, both to commute and to ride with my family.
  • We've started watching "American Pickers" and "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel. We're addicted.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Starting a Library

What book would you give to a young person to begin their Christian library? Let's assume that they already have a Bible; what else should be on their shelf?

I'd love to generate a reading list of Christian books to share at church through our website (thanks for the idea, Tom M.). Add your comments below or on Facebook.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Topeak Surgery

I found a Topeak-brand neoprene cell-phone pouch, normally $20, for $2.99 on the clearance rack. The pouch has a belt clip that snaps into a mount for handlebars and such. It's perfect for carrying my iPhone when I start cycling, except for one thing… there's no room for the earphones plug at the top of the phone (due to the pouch's velcro flap).

Well, I solved that problem in about 5 minutes.

I stopped by Home Depot (I wasn't sure where to go but I got lucky) and bought a small, 96¢ neoprene rubber grommet. When I got back to the office, I measured the case with my phone inside, took a hole punch and made a hole. I inserted the grommet and voilá!

I'm super pleased with how easy this modification was. As long you have a quality hole puncher, you could do this to backpacks, arm bands, fanny packs, or anything else that could hold an iPod but lacks the necessary headphones access.

Random Thoughts 5/7/10

  • JaMarcus Russell was cut yesterday. The Raiders will have paid him $39 million to be the biggest draft bust in history. Once again: I… Told… You… So.
  • I still can't believe someone stole our kids' bikes Wednesday night.
  • So how is the recruiting going for next year's basketball season (the signing period ends May 19)? Here's the rankings from which has their #1 recruit (Josh Selby) going to Kansas but ranks the recruiting class at #23 overall. KU missed out on PF Terrence Jones, who announced last week that he'd stay in Washington state. Personally, I'd like to see them add another forward or center to develop behind the great front line KU already has. This team seems really guard heavy, even after losing Collins and Henry.
  • We had a great deacons' meeting last night. Those are good men, all around, and we had some fantastic discussions. I know I'm biased but I feel like we're blessed with more earnest, spiritually mature and humble men than a church our size deserves.
  • Only 39% of voters would re-elect President Obama if the elections were held today. Welcome to the reality of governing (versus the lollipop and rainbow land of academia and campaigning), Mr. President.
  • I'm really fascinated by Eugene Sledge's book on his WW2 experiences, With the Old Breed. Wow.
  • I don't have an iPad… yet. I'm probably more of a 2nd generation guy. But this website gallery of full size screen shots is kinda perty.

Another Liberal Sees the Light

Here's a great little testimony of a former liberal, awakening from her academia-induced stupor to greet the light of day. It was written a week ago to note the communist holiday (irony noted) of May Day, but it's a good read any time of the year.

More of Robin's posts here.

115,000 Hits

We passed 115,000 hits sometime yesterday.

Thanks for reading! 99% of my hits are from family, church family and personal friends. Thanks for checking in on my random ramblings.

Note: I'm only blogging a milestone post in increments in 5,000 now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bike Thieves

You've got to be kidding.

Somebody stole our kids' bicycles during the night. Specifically, they took four children's bikes, a tricycle and a scooter. Some were out front but the others were in our garage (which makes it burglary).


Nothing else was taken but now our kids, who ride their bikes daily, are without their bikes!!! We called the police, talked to our neighbors, etc. I just can't believe someone would steal from children. And we have so many questions:

  • Was this a random event or were we targeted?
  • Why our bicycles and not our other property?
  • Why our bicycles and not any of the others in the neighborhood, including several in our neighbors' front yards?
  • Will the thieves come back?
  • Are we safe?
  • Do we have to lock up all of our stuff now? (Our neighborhood generally doesn't)

Lessons learned:
  • Write down the serial numbers on the bikes.
  • More lights. More dogs.
  • Bicycle locks.
  • Let the "Momma Bear" pack heat.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Random Thoughts 5/5/10

  • Happy "France-Suffers-Another-Embarrassing-Loss" Day.
  • I've been a political, social, and fiscal conservative my whole life and racism just isn't something I ever encounter. I bet its been twenty years since I heard someone earnestly advocate a racist position. The conservatives I know are proudly of the party of Lincoln.
  • The largest airline in the world is the new United Airlines, the product of the merger between United and Continental. Here's what their new logo and brand identity look like.
  • Tim Tebow has the best selling jersey in the NFL.
  • Shannon has been a busy bee lately. Check out what she did to my garage… er, barn. Finishing touches here.
  • Why is HTML5 replacing Flash in your future? Read here, computer geeks.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Grandma's New Computer

Unlikable Heroes

I recently finished the book A Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie, the war memoir of a WW2 Marine and (in part) the basis for HBO's new war series, "The Pacific." In reading it I realized that I don't like the guy, which is frustrating because I so admire veterans. As I wrote on Facebook:

Me: "I'm reading Helmet For My Pillow (Leckie) and With The Old Breed (Sledge) now."

Facebook Friend: "Jared... I need to read both of those books too. How are they so far?"

Me: "I'm realizing I don't like Leckie, as a person or as an author (reminds me a lot of David Kenyon Webster of Band of Brothers fame, whose book & personality is snobby, lazy, selfish, ignoble). But Sledge's book is one of the best war memoirs ever written."

Leckie is a self-described brig-rat (repeated thrown in jail while in the Marines) and a chronic thief; he disobeys orders, goes AWOL, avoids fighting, and avoids responsibility at all costs. He doesn't seem sorry at all for giving such a poor effort.

I remember when I read Webster's book how disappointed I was that one of the "Band of Brothers" men was purposefully dragging his feet. You might recall that Harvard educated "Web" got lightly wounded in Holland, was slow returning to Easy Company, missed the Battle of the Bulge, and was received coldly by his remaining comrades. In his book he openly talks about avoiding responsibility and deliberately being difficult.

Leckie had him beat by a country mile.

On the other hand, both of these men (Leckie and Webster) volunteered to fight and engaged the enemy. They both were intelligent authors who cast themselves in the unfavorable light of their own books. I guess they both still deserve our respect; it's just hard to see heroes act in a way anything less than heroic.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Cross Walk

My dad came up with a design and lead a small crew that built a walkway between buildings at Mission Lake Christian Camp.

Good job, Dad!