Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/28/11

  • I know it's an old joke but I heard that Facebook was shutting down for maintenance February 29-31.  But that's nothing, last year the whole internet was turned off on those days!
  • Yesterday I preached from Leviticus 11-15.  This is what we call the fine art of not saying too much.  Some details are better left un-said in polite company.
  • I went with Mom and Dad to Cummings, Ks for the funeral of an old friend, Jake Roudebush.  I go to a lot of funerals and it just never gets any better –– seeing a family go home without their loved one hurts my heart every time.  Praise God for the certain hope we have in Jesus Christ.
  • We actually sat down and watched the Oscars.  What were we thinking?  James Franco, especially, and Anne Hathaway were really bad as hosts and the show just dragged along at several points, including a 94 year-old Kirk Douglas who presented an award but was so difficult to understand that you wonder why he was allowed up there.  I wasn't able to see most of the movies so I don't have a strong opinion yet on the winners, but I do wish that Restrepo had won for best documentary.
  • My wife took a document off the internet and emailed it to herself as a PDF to show a clerk.  I think that's my new top reason I love her.
  • Poor Charlie Sheen.  You have to be pretty empty inside to be trying that hard to fill it.  These are likely his last days.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/26/11

  • I really enjoy sitting in my office studying and writing on a Saturday afternoon with a Kansas basketball game on the radio in the background.
  • Charlie Sheen is a drug-addled train wreck with an eccentric and over-blown ego.  "My fire breathing fists?"  Really?  Television writer and Sheen-nemesis Chuck Lorre may be a miserable person to work with/for but he's also one of the most talented writers in the history of television.
  • The Top-50 Opening Title Sequences of All Time (with video), according to
  • I wonder if the fuss over the unions in Wisconsin are hurting the negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Union?  I would think that the economy would hurt the public perception of the players argument for more money.  But I think this go-around is going to be more about getting better health benefits for current and retired players and avoiding that crazy 18-game schedule idea.
  • The Oscars are tomorrow.  It's the kind of thing that I'm interested in for trivia's sake, but I rarely agree across the board and seldom want to actually watch the show itself.  Typically, I'll record it and skim the three hour affair in about 30 minutes.
  • I had moments of doubt last year about Xavier Henry.  I'm downright underwhelmed by Josh Selby.
  • Does Colorado storm the court after every win (like today after beating Texas)?  I don't know when the last time was Kansas stormed the court in Allen Field House, but I hope it doesn't happen again in my lifetime.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Abortion is Black Genocide, Part 2

You've got to be kidding.

Al Sharpton was going to protest this billboard (which has since been removed)?  Whose side is he on?!  In New York City, 41% of pregnancies end in abortion and the rate is almost 60% for blacks.  How is this even possible?!

I'll tell you how: Al Sharpton and others like him deliver a block of voters to the Democrat party and he gets a (small) seat at the table.  It doesn't matter that that same party is complicit in the genocide of supposed "undesirables" from our society.

6 out of 10 African Americans are being systematically killed in one of our major cities and Al Sharpton and the Democrats are for it.  Like President Obama said last week, "Planned Parenthood has done good work…"  Wow.

Go to the website advertised on the billboard.

[Thanks, Dustin, for the heads up]

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/23/11

  • Did you see the crazy guy on Survivor?  If you did, you know exactly who I mean.  Wow, that's television gold right there.
  • Thanks for using my referral code on the Shopkick app.  I've already had three of you get me extra points.
  • The iPad 2 is officially set to be introduced on March 2!
  • I saw a funny t-shirt on sale online.  I'm not sure why, but the thought of pigs being shot out of canons makes me giggle.
  • Is Apple introducing new MacBook Pros tomorrow?  My four and half year old MacBook, is slowly dying.  It's very high mileage and now it's just struggling.  The battery is dead, the keys are falling off, the fan runs too much, and the other day it froze for five minutes because I tried to print.  The poor old thing is just getting worn out.  It's been a great machine and I've put crazy hours on it, but I've been looking for a new machine for a year now; it's finally time to move on.
  • Here's a great article on the myth of the Christian divorce rate.  My only question is how much the stats are skewed by "active" Christians who get divorced and then become "inactive" because of the divorce.  Perhaps it's not so much that active faith protects you as much as divorce leads to inactivity (versus inactivity leading to divorce).  More research would be helpful.  [Thanks, Jim R.]
  • I watched the third episode of "Top Shot" last night; what a great show.  I really enjoy the whole premise of that competition.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I just got a $15 gift card to iTunes for FREE-ish!

Okay, it took me some time to earn it. But I downloaded an app called Shopkick for my phone with which I scan the bar codes of items and check-in via GPS when I'm near a store in order to earn points.  You earn enough points and you get gift cards to stores like Best Buy, Target, Sports Authority, and Apple.  Read more here.

Each day I open the app and check in to the stores near me, especially if I'm out running errands or shopping.  Then when I go to a store that has scan-able items, I scan the bar codes with my phone's camera.  I don't always have time for this but when I do, it's kinda fun, like a scavenger hunt, and I really have discovered a few new products that I never would have paid attention to before.  Thanks to Shopkick, I can tell you exactly where to locate the Planters-brand honey roasted cashews in every gas station in Kansas City!

Shopkick isn't as lucrative here in Kansas City, compared to other cities where sponsoring stores have a device that sends a signal to your phone that gives you lots of points, proof that you were physically in their store.  But even without that perk, I earned that $15 gift card in less than a month.

If you download Shopkick for your iPhone or Android phone, use my referral code for an extra 50 points for both of us.  My code is:  squirrel2482

Monday, February 21, 2011

We're No. 2-ish!

This was a bad week for top ranked basketball teams with teams 1-4, including Kansas, losing to unranked teams. So, understandably, Duke jumped from #5 to #1 and the losers got bumped. Kansas is #2 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and #3 in the AP poll. Texas especially took it hard, dropping from second to fifth.

Unfortunately, all of the top teams this year have serious flaws compared to championship teams of the past. The watchword this year seems to be "parity." And that means that March Madness office pools around the nation will be won by the secretary who doesn't watch sports and picked her teams based on their uniform colors and whether she liked their mascots.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/19/11

  • My darling über-wife did her first bit of preaching at the women's retreat last night and this morning.  From all reports she did a great job!  She has a good bit of public speaking experience through Weight Watchers but this was one of the first times she spoke in a church setting.
  • I watched the "Jeopardy!" episodes earlier this week when an IBM supercomputer named "Watson" squashed two human champions.  I guess I'm not that impressed.  Most of its points came on basic name-that-author, name-that-date kind of questions that a computer ought to be able to answer almost instantly before a human can respond.  On the other, there were entire categories where the computer was utterly clueless, demonstrating how completely unable the super-machine was to understand language that a small child could get.  Don't get me wrong, Watson represents a huge jump forward in computers understanding human language, but it's not there yet in spite of the $1 million "Jeopardy!" win.
  • Here's the newest, biggest 747 yet.
  • I took the kids to uncle Dustin's last night to play with their cousins and see our old cat, Leuk.  They all had a blast, nine kids trying to pet one cat at the same time!
  • I think that school teachers are awesome people in general but the Wisconsin teacher's union issue that's going on right now makes teachers and unions look really bad.  Greedy, selfish, "pay us money that doesn't exist or we'll throw your kids under the bus."  The average Wisconsin teacher gets paid half again more than the average Wisconsin private sector employee in salary and benefits.  Way to bite the hand that over-feeds you!
  • Here's hoping that Apple releases a new laptop for me this week.  The rumors point that direction.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Youth Football

Senior and Freshman football players, '94
Here's some great advice from Gregg Easterbrook, sports writer and youth football coach, about youth football.  In a nutshell, 1) young boys don't need to play tackle football until 8th grade, 2) watch out for abusive coaches, and 3) don't be afraid of football.

Many parents wonder whether they should allow their children to participate in football. Here's my view:

Advice No. 1: No one should play football in pads before eighth grade. This is the position taken by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it's also the TMQ view, based on my experience as a county-league flag coach, a middle school (tackle) head coach and a father of two football players.

The juvenile brain case is weak because the skull has not finished maturing. Kids below eighth-grade age (age 12 or 13) run a high risk both of concussions and of the minor brain trauma that lacks immediate symptoms but does cumulative harm. Many concussions are not caused by single big hits but rather by the accumulated consequences of routine hits. Although youth players don't hit as fast or hard as older players, the brain case of a youth player is more vulnerable than an older player's.

The younger a player is, the lower his odds of benefiting from football. Football at ages 10, 11 or 12 is dominated by early-maturity boys; prep and college football tends to be dominated by late-maturity boys. (The best advice you can give anyone who wants to become a college football player is to start puberty late. One of the questions a smart recruiter asks is, "Has he started shaving?" The desired answer is no.) Because youth football is dominated by early-maturity boys, there is little relationship between who's good at age 10 or 11 and who's good as a high school senior. In youth football, early-maturity boys always outplay late-maturity boys: Neither group learns much. Kids in pads at youth-league ages are running a neurological risk -- this new study finds a rise in concussions in youth sports -- in return for a very low likelihood of reward.

Youth tackle football is usually of low quality -- often 22 boys falling down simultaneously. Many games are lopsided, owing to the best boys wanting to be on the top teams. But when a youth-league tackle football game ends 50-0, no one on the winning team has learned anything. Youth league football is sustained as much by the egos of the parent-coaches as by anything that happens on the field. And a youth league coach who's boasting about a 50-0 win is a guy who knows nothing at all about football.

Parents, have your kids play flag football until eighth grade. A good flag program teaches boys (and occasionally girls) how to be in the right place at the right time in a football game, and if children learn that by eighth grade, they have done well. When the high school feeder program starts at eighth grade, then switch to tackle. Parents, I did not allow either of my boys to put on pads until eighth grade.

Advice No. 2: Once high school is reached, be wary of monster coaches. Many high school football coaches do a great job. But many treat players in ways that would, legally, be child abuse if done by a teacher. Monster coaches don't teach, they only destroy boys' self-worth, and they might physically harm the boys through the punishment drills bad coaches impose.

How to spot a monster coach? Ask to attend a practice. A conscientious football coach is happy to have parents watching practice (although he won't talk to you during practice, so don't even think about it, and never bother the coach about your child's playing time). A coach who will not allow parents to observe practice is likely a monster coach. Unless your boy is a gifted athlete with great size or speed, someone who might draw college recruiting interest -- and be realistic, even most high school stars never get a college offer -- playing for a monster high school coach is a negative experience.

On the other hand, a losing season with a conscientious coach can be a positive experience. And a winning high school season with a kind, skillful coach is one of the finest things that can happen to a teen boy.

Advice No. 3: Parents, don't be afraid of football. There is risk involved in driving to the movies, but you let your kids go. For most high school and college players, football has more upside than downside. To reduce the downside, don't play tackle before eighth grade; be sure your son wears an advanced helmet (see below helmet item) even if you must buy it yourself; and, if your high school has a monster coach, walk away and don't look back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/16/11

  • Words with Friends is now available on Android as well as iOS devices; there is a free ad-supported version of the game and paid, commercial-free version.  If you like scrabble, this is a great way to play it with people you know.  My username is Thumper44 and my grandmother's is Grandma AJean.  Dustin is dustinofkc and Shannon is shannongasoline.
  • I watched Top Shot on the History Channel again yesterday.  I really like this show.  The history, the guns, the competitors… it's all really cool.  Kind of like Survivor (which starts again tonight) but with a different crowd (replace the waitresses and aspiring actors with former Marines and cowboys).
  • Yesterday I stopped by the gas station on my way back from the graveside service at the cemetery.  I noticed the gas station clerks out in the parking lot talking to drivers but didn't think much of it.  One of the ladies ran over to my door and said that the electronics in the store were down and they couldn't do business today.  I looked at her in her heavy coat with her face red from the cold wind, "well, try to stay warm out here!"  She looked back at me and said, "Yeah, we've already had the cops called on us.  Somebody saw us out here talking to cars and thought we were prostitutes."   Oh…  I guess I'm ill-informed but do prostitutes usually work the Legends area at noon in a Carhartt jacket, pink snow-boots, and stocking cap?  Who knows, maybe that perfectly describes Kansas prostitution in February but somehow I doubt it.
  • I was wanting to do the "Best Picture Showcase" movie marathon at the local AMC theater that starts this weekend but my plan got derailed when I read the fine print.  You can't choose the movies à la carte.  There's no way we're going to sit through two 12 hour screenings and I don't want to pay for movies I've already seen, so… no movies for me.
  • I'm really proud of Brennan.  I increased his daily required reading and he jumped in with both feet.  Yesterday he must have knocked out 250-300 pages of his Harry Potter book (Order of the Phoenix), which took him several hours through the day.  But he did it, finishing the book, and now is in the process of watching the movie.
  • I can say with some confidence that yesterday's funeral sermon is the first time I've uttered the phrase "honky-tonk" from the pulpit.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/14/11

  • I have a funeral to officiate tomorrow. *sigh* There's a voice inside my head that says, "clinical detachment" and "hey, it's okay for you to be happy today" …but that's easier said than done. When people are grieving it strikes a melancholy chord in me that I can't just set aside. I can't easily go on with my day and leave these things "at the office." Generally speaking, these things chew me up and spit me out emotionally.
  • For you Dr. Who nerds fans, look what I found.
  • Kansas is #1 in the Coaches' Poll as of today. Texas is second, in spite of their three loses, and Ohio State slipped to third. Pitt and Duke round out the top 5.
  • Happy Valentine's Day.
  • Okay, there are riots in the streets in Iran now. We're going to support this too, right? Because protests in support of democracy is always good, right?
  • I've been having crazy bad sinus headaches lately. That's different than my sore back/neck, go to the chiropractor headaches and the wrong time of year for my allergy headaches. But this stupid cold that everyone has been passing around the last few weeks is lingering in our house.
  • Donald Trump will never be taken seriously as a candidate for President. He was a self-described democrat just a few years ago and has been a donor to various liberal democratic campaigns. That goofball is just a self-promoter. I want to hear from serious candidates.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/11/11

  • For my Verizon friends: if you're switching over from the Android to the iPhone, here, this might help.
  • If you're not reading Lifehacker, by the way, then you're missing out.  Little tips like what to do when you've stripped a screw hole , how to get your car out of the snow, or how to wrap headphone cords, are incredibly helpful.  Not to mention all the tech and gadget tips… it's a daily read for me.
  • The people who make Valentine's Day commercials (that run incessantly on sports and news channels) have an interesting view on adult relationships.  First, women are easily-bribed children who will have sex with you if only you buy a token gift of pajamas or a teddy bear.  Second, the key to a woman's heart is teddy bears, pajamas, and flowers (not financial security, relationship security, and being treated like an adult).  Third, men are dumb enough to believe that this quid pro quo transaction is a slam dunk and will work for them, this Valentine's Day!  Guys, a thoughtful gift is always a nice idea, but c'mon!
  • None of the above is applicable to the hoodie-footie, which my flannel-clad-but-always-cold wife assures me is her most desired item on the planet right now.
  • So help me with this:  If the foreign dictator is pro-American (Egypt) then we want him out now, regardless.  But if the dictatorship is anti-American (Iran) then we sit on our hands and do nothing.  What am I not getting?  
  • So how long until there's a shooting war in Israel?
  • Birthday party for Graham and Anneliese on March 13.  The cute ones turn 5 and 2, respectively. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top Shot Reloaded

I watched the first episode of the second season of "Top Shot" the other night.  The History Channel's reality show pits marksmen of various disciplines against one another in a Survivor-meets-gunshow history lesson.  If you like military history, guns, competitions, clean and decent entertainment or all of the above, this is the show for you.

See the first episode of season 2 here.

In the first episode, the contestants had to shoot a target with a Civil War-era Sharps rifle, shoot billiard balls in a team relay with a M1911 .45 pistol, and then hit moving targets with a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum pistol.  Add to this the tension of forming two teams where almost everyone is an "alpha male" and the losing team choosing teammates to be eliminated… and you've got a pretty good show.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/8/11

…and that's saying something!
  • Our church volleyball teams play for the first time this season tonight.  We have three teams that play in the rec league in Bonner Springs.
  • Here's what true love is (for nerds): 
  • Also this.
  • Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!  Those Tigers had me worried for the first half.
  • In regard to the Black Eyed Peas during the Super Bowl halftime show, 1) Our church sound guys could have done that better.  2) They were doing us a favor. Thus, 3) P.T. Barnum said, "Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public." 
  • Did you not see any of the 10 movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar?  Want to see all of them?  In one sitting?  AMC is offering a 24-hour marathon at select theaters and a two-day marathon at many of their theaters, including four in KC, later this month.  I've only seen three of the ten and there are five that I would have at least a little bit of interest in.  Hmmm… tempting.
  • Two of my boys, #3 and #4, are hanging out with me in the office for a little while this evening.  Fortunately most of my studying is done for the day and I'm just blogging and such.  Right now we're playing a game, trying to find all the Jayhawks in Dad's office.
  • My easy prediction: You said goodbye to your floppy drive (I haven't had a 3.5 inch floppy drive since the mid-90's), now you can say goodbye to the optical drive (CD's and DVD's).  By this time next year, Macs will likely have moved on and other computer companies won't be too far behind.  I'll keep a DVD player in a drawer somewhere, just in case I need it once or twice a year.  Everything you need can be downloaded online or from a flash drive.

Jayhawk Flash Mob

Just in case you missed it, here's a group of students at the Kansas/Missouri game last night:

I'm thinking they might have planned that.  Here's the same thing from another angle with better audio.

By the way, is it still a "rivalry" when one team wins 12 in a row?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Algore is Still Wrong

Remember, we are five years into Al Gore's warning that "we only have 10 years left" before an irreversible global warming disaster.

Consider yourself warned.

[Thanks, Mike K.]

Friday, February 04, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/4/11

  • The Super Bowl is this Sunday!  The church will be open to all at 5pm.  Bring a 2-liter and some snacks!
  • Coolest iPad cover yet, with stealth anti-theft feature!
  • The NFL owners are hinting that they may be willing to negotiate their demand for an 18-game season.  I smell a rat.  18 games (up from 16) is a ridiculously bad idea for the players, who can barely survive the 16 games they play now.  To me, this seems like a negotiating tactic.  The owners throw out a terrible and untenable idea that they know the players will never accept and then "reluctantly" back down from this position as they negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.  Tricky owners, you can't fool me!
  • I had a brief, 11-hour migraine headache today.  Ergggggghhh.
  • I got my first real scratch on my iPhone screen yesterday.  You can't see it unless the you catch the glare while the screen is off but you can feel it.  That's frustrating; I'm so careful not to drop it or put it my pocket with my keys.  Oh, well.
  • Surprise, surprise.  A recent study found that "questioning revealed that men who do not eat meat were also viewed as less masculine than the others – even by vegetarians."  Previous research had found that vegetarians are seen as pacifist, weight-conscious [i.e. vain], and liberal.  I'm shocked.  The stereotypical effete, metrosexual pantywaist comes off as less manly?  It's hard to believe.
  • Here's 10 great quotes from real-life Madison Avenue advertising man, David Ogilvy.  Profound stuff if you're trying to persuade or sell or even just communicate something.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Writing, Writing, Writing

My sixth anniversary of blogging is this month.  I've been averaging better than one post a day for about 2,200 days (I'm closing in on 2,500 posts).  This blog has earned $0, which is fine, and has a very small but loyal following consisting mostly of blood relatives and people at risk of being asked by me, "did you see my blog yesterday?".

I've said before that my main goal is to write a daily journal that my kids would have in case I get hit by the proverbial truck.  I've also appreciated being able to keep a line of communication open to far-flung friends and relatives.  But mostly, this blog has been about the exercise of writing.  I've generated some three quarters of a million words on this blog.  That's half again bigger than Tolstoy's War and Peace and ten times bigger than the average novel.  It turns out I'm prolific in more ways than one!

But I've still got a long way to go as a writer so I've decided to set a goal, to publish a book before I'm 40.  That's six years.  I've got several ideas that I've entertained for years, including two that I think about almost daily:  One is a novel, a science fiction story that I've written and re-written in my head, day dreaming it for years now.  The other is a non-fiction book about ministry, which will hopefully be the practical and good-humored guide I wish I had had when I graduated Bible college.

For all of you writers out there, here is a good link about writing: 7 Habits of Serious Writers.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Random Thoughts 2/1/11

  • I can confirm it is indeed snowing… a lot.  Stupid global warming.  Be alert in case church cancels again tomorrow.  Our Elders will make that call, but it's very possible.
  • Social Security is broke now.  Oops.
  • Pay attention to Egypt.  I hope this works out peaceably, but even a "peaceful" transition could still lead to war with Israel.  It's time to read up the history of the region, especially the Sinai War of '56 and of course the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War.
  • It happened again today.  Goofballs, who should never operate a motor vehicle, were going the WRONG WAY down the parking lot rows at Walmart and then doing 3-point turns (or worse) to get into an angled parking spot that was pointing the other way.  Seriously?  I've seen this three times in the last two weeks.  What's wrong with you people?
  • This would be a great day for a Redbox movie or two… but the selection of movies there is horrible.  The couple of good ones that are there, we've already seen.  And the other 90% of the movies there, including a lot of direct-to-video debris, is just awful and unwatchable.
  • My snow shovel, which I'll need soon, was missing this morning.  I asked the boys where it was.  The answer: in the backyard, somewhere, under the snow.  Grrr…

Blizzard Conditions?

I blame all the Prius hybrid owners and their silly little cars.  Way to over-correct!

Classic Movies on a Snow Day

Since you're home anyway…

Turner Classic Movies has a pretty good midday lineup:

10:15am  The Thin Man (1934)
12:00  Citizen Kane (1941)
2:00pm  Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940)

You could do a lot worse than that!  If you don't know the Thin Man series of movies, this is where you start; I promise you'll become a fan.  Citizen Kane is often acknowledged as the best movie ever made, and yet a lot of regular folks haven't given it a chance.  And whatever you think of Chaplin, you've got to be impressed with the gall of making fun of Hitler when no one else was!