Thursday, June 30, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/30/11

  • I tried to put a green t-shirt on my daughter, who recoiled in horror.  "Don't want!!!"  "Honey, what's wrong with this shirt?"  "Pink!!!"  Oh.  I should have known.
  • I've been hearing John Lennon's former personal assistant make claims, as he did in a recent documentary, that the late Beatle was a closet conservative in his final years, embarrassed at his former left-wing radicalism.  The assistant, who was with Lennon everyday before his death, claimed that Lennon was arguing with liberals and, if eligible, would have voted for Reagan.  This kind of change over time is not that unusual, but Lennon was an icon for a generation, so…
  • Do you want to guess which country is the new head of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament?  That's right, North Korea.  What a joke.  Usually, it's human rights abusers leading U.N. conferences or committees on human rights, but this one seemed especially ironic and undebatably ludicrous. 
  • California passed a law taxing the internet.  Amazon immediately responded by terminating it's affiliate advertising program with 25,000 websites.  Way to kill jobs and innovation, California!
  • I'm preaching through the Old Testament minor prophets, i.e. I'm making sermon-prep unnecessarily difficult and tedious.  Yay!  Next year, to make up for it, I'm preaching a six-month series on John 3:16.
  • I'm home for lunch and listening to the kids watch SpongeBob SquarePants in the next room.  Without ever deliberately watching the show, I can recognize each episode they watch by its dialogue.  Wow.  Time for the short people to read a book.
  • Michelle Bachmann, now running for Republican nomination for President, has five children and helped raise 23 foster children, mostly teenagers.  I guarantee that the Left's yellow journalists are scouring the country looking for these young people to give some "dirt" on Bachmann.  They'll relish the chance to vilify a pro-Life, Christian, mother-of-five.  For more information, see Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Missing my Camper

My sweet Tanner is gone to church camp this week.  He's been gone since Sunday and is coming back tomorrow afternoon.  It's not that long, but Brennan was gone to camp all of last week and both of them will be leaving in a couple of weeks to go to another church camp.

We love those little stinkers and miss them.  Their siblings pray for them every night and constantly ask when their brother is getting home. 

Besides that, Brennan and Tanner make up about 90% of our slave labor.  Litter boxes, trash barrels, dishwasher-emptying, vacuuming… when they're gone, Shannon and I have to do all of that.  When I teach them to mow the yard, I'll never want them to leave.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/25/11

  • It's the middle of church camp season and we have three that are campers this year -- Brennan last week, Elijah today, and Tanner tomorrow.  The two older boys leave for another week of camp next month, the same week that I teach at a different camp.
  • Well, the Morris twins (aka: the Morii) were drafted into the NBA about as expected, back-to-back, 13th and 14th, though Markieff went first.  Josh Selby, the one-and-done disappointment who had exactly one great game as a Jayhawk was drafted 49th, in the bottom half of the 2nd round.  You'd have to think that he could have done better after another year of school.  Perhaps the NBA will change their rule on eligibility…
  • I can't believe the President told the 10th Mountain Division that deceased Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti "came back [alive]", apparently confusing him with Sal Giunta, who did survive to be awarded the same medal by the President.  That's something that is rare enough and important enough that you need to keep it straight.  Update: The family of Jared Monti reports that the President called them personally and apologized.  Good for you, Mr. President.
  • Here's a fascinating story in the New York Times, written by a gay activist, about a fellow gay activist who went straight.  In fact the man, Michael Glatze, turned his back on the gay identity completely, became a Christian, and eventually went to Bible college.  The article itself, though obviously biased, is honest and extremely well-written.  Glatze's story is also here, and he writes here and here.
  • I've got a new favicon for my blog.  That's the little bitty icon next to the web address in your browser.  Neat, huh?
  • Here is the latest and best trailer for the upcoming Captain America movie.  I hope that this represents the tone of the final product – unapologetically pro-American.  It's the element that most movies (I'm looking at you stupid G.I. Joe movie) get wrong, trying instead to appeal to international markets.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Scene of an Unexpected Party

I came to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit later in life than most, in my early 20's, as they announced that work had begun on the filming of an adaptation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.  After recommendations from a friend, I went out and bought a box set of all four volumes and read them in order from The Hobbit to The Return of the King.  I loved those stories from the first chapter!  How had I missed them?  Did my parents raise me under a rock? 

With baited breath I waited for each of the three Rings films to be released, asked for the DVDs each of the following Christmases, and re-read the books, along with Tolkien's other works.  But I hated that Peter Jackson, who had so faithfully adapted the source material to screen, didn't start at the "real" beginning, i.e. The Hobbit.

Next year, a dozen years after first reading the book, I'll finally see The Hobbit on screen, by Peter Jackson, with many of the same sets and props and actors as we saw in the Rings.  Yay!

And this is the first production still from the film.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Impressive Uniform

This is easily one of the best Army recruitment videos I have ever seen.  Go Army!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/22/11

  • The NBA draft is tomorrow night.  Not that we'll have any idea of where the Morris twins will actually end up.  The draft itself will have countless trades and then there will be even more trades later.  So after a few days we'll see where the twins end up, if they're together, how low Selby might fall in the draft, and whether any of the KU seniors get a sniff from pro teams this year.
  • Jason and Jason are fixing the AC on my wife's van.  God bless you guys.  One of the Jasons came and showed me a part yesterday.  It might as well have been an alien artifact.  He claims it came out of the van and was broken.  Uh, sure.
  • I'm trying to finish things up for Day Camp at Mission Lake on Saturday.  Please contact me if you're going and/or sending your 1st and 2nd graders.
  • I'm in a dilemma and scripture doesn't seem to help, other than to further clarify the dilemma.
  • Great interview with Dirty Job's Mike Rowe here about how our country has a dysfunctional relationship with hard work.
  • If you're keeping track of the World Series of Poker, John Juanda has won his fifth bracelet and Phil Hellmuth has placed 2nd twice already.  The seven-week WSOP is about half over.
  • Just in case you weren't sure that the Left is anti-family (or at least they see people as the world's chief problem), here's AlGore waxing on about controlling population.  "You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management…" he says.  That includes abortion of course, right?  The Population Bomb, written in the 60's and claiming that worldwide famine would starve hundreds of millions in the 70's and 80's has been proven to be deeply flawed.  The problem is NOT too many people; it's too little freedom.  Free, democratic countries in history don't starve.  Corrupt, totalitarian countries (like the ones who tell you how many children to have and which light bulbs you can use) experience long, lasting famines, even in modern times.  AlGore (who has four children himself that we know of) has two standards: the one that he lives by where he flies in private jets, owns palatial estates, and lives as he pleases and the standard that you should live by, where you have one child, a bicycle, and a government check.
  • Like Reagan said, "…the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/18/11

  • If you're going to bringing 1st and 2nd graders to Day Camp next Saturday, let me know ASAP.  The better we know how many kiddos to expect, the better we can adjust our plans for crafts, meals, and activities.  Thanks!  If you're staying to help let me know too!  
  • American Airlines is going to a paperless cockpit using the iPad.  About 35 pounds of paper charts will be replaced with a two pound iPad, running an FAA approved navigation charts app, saving the airline over $1.2 million in fuel costs alone.  Oh, and it's really cool, too.
  • There have been some interesting reports that Apple, with its ridiculously huge stockpile of $70 billion in cash, should just buy the rest of the cell phone industry.  Of course this would be illegal, and (as others have pointed out) why on earth would Apple want to sell Nokia phones?  But more attention is being given to the what Apple might do with that money and the cell phone industry isn't the best target.  I'll join in the chorus and say the best place for Apple to leverage it's cash and influence is Hollywood.  Almost everything about the television/movie business is inelegant, awkward, and overpriced.  And when good, affordable ideas (like Netflix, Hulu, Redbox, etc.) do arise, the "Powers That Be" in Hollywood slap them down and limit what content they can provide to you.  Hollywood needs to go the way of the post-iTunes music industry.  Stop selling us the b-side of television (infomercials, b-movies, reality show dreck, etc.) and let us buy the stuff we want at a reasonable price.  Make it easy to find and watch what we want, when we want.  So here's to hoping Apple helps kill the television networks, movie studios, cable providers, etc. as they currently exist.
  • KU has added a transfer, 6-8 forward Kevin Young, to the team.  Young is eligible to play immediately as he's already sat out last season.
  • Keith Olbermann's new show on Al Gore's television network begins Monday…  I just thought of at least two reasons why I won't be watching.
  • Climate scientists were found to be doctoring data on rising sea levels, adding a fraction of a millimeter every year to the actual data.  Of course they claim that it's a necessary adjustment, but it's also no longer a real number.  As usual, we should wary of Al Gore-like claims of flooded coastlines.  
  • Interesting money-saving advice: How to eat when you're really broke.  We're so doing a garden next year… and with 5 kids to provide the slave-labor, we'll eat like kings!
  • How I learned to stop worrying and love Intel
  • Oh, good news: President Obama says that $10 million per day of drone attacks and military support in places like Libya and Yemen don't constitute "hostilities."  Wow.  Did Democrats think we'd be fighting in four different Muslim countries and keeping Gitmo open three years later when they voted for President Obama?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/15/11

  • Wow.  Some Kansas City guy took some laptops to the computer repairman and the repairman found a screen that said "Joplin School District."  The creep was arrested yesterday for looting.
  • Chiefs TE Leonard Pope saved a boy from drowning in a swimming pool.  Pope was the only one at the home who knew how to swim.  Teach your kids to swim!
  • The Armor School at Fort Knox has shut down and been transferred to Fort Benning.  Since 1940, the Army has trained its tankers in Kentucky but now those days are gone.
  • Stars and Stripes has a new section called "Heroes."  Go check it out.
  • I had no idea how high tech the cotton industry was.
  • According to reports, half of all iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc.) owners never back up by syncing to their computers.  The next software upgrade will fix that, as it happens automatically, and this will fix a lot of problems that people have because they didn't take the time to do this manually.
  • Good news for Army guys who hate those black berets.  The new uniform rules get rid of the beret and replace it with a patrol cap when wearing your ACUs.  Personally, I thought the black beret looked horrible 90% of the time on 90% of soldiers.  
  • We went to the library and started with the first season of the sitcom, "How I met your Mother."  Someone told me that it was a "sweet and sentimental" show.  Really?  All I knew about was the commercials during football games and they focused on the one character, played by Neil Patrick Harris, who's a bit of cad.  It turns out the advice was right and the commercials were misleading.  We watched the first season of the show and it was delightfully sweet and sentimental (by today's standards).  And funny too!
  • Is our new war in Yemen war #4 or war #5?  It depends on whether you count President Obama's increased bombings and incursions in Pakistan as a separate war or an extension of the war in Afghanistan.  The other two are Iraq and Libya for those of you keeping score at home.
  • The Best Picture Oscar has been tweaked again.  For a long time there were five nominees.  Then two years ago, they expanded it to ten nominees.  Now it will be between 5 and 10, with the sixth nominee (and lower) needing at least 5% of the vote to be included.  That's probably better, I suppose.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AFI's Top 100 Movies

Four years ago I started watching classic movies in earnest.  Specifically, I made a copy of AFI's (the American Film Institute) 100 years… 100 movies list and worked my way through it (there's actually 123 movies total on AFI's 1998 and 2007 lists), finishing earlier this year.  To my surprise, when I first began I had only seen 55 of the top 100 movies.  I thought I was a bigger movie buff than that.

So I began working through this list (and the list of Academy Award winners) and I found so many enjoyable gems like the Buster Keaton silent film The General (1927) and the Errol Flynn's swashbuckler Mutiny on the Bounty (1935).  I saw John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Humphrey Bogart age as I flew through the decades.  I saw great westerns like The Searchers (1956), High Noon (1952), and Stagecoach (1939) as well as a slew of film noir greats like Sunset Boulevard (1950), Double Indemnity (1944), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Chinatown (1974).  I didn't really even know what film noir was, or how good it is, before I started going through this list.

I saw some great comedies, great war movies, great epic films… and 95% of the list was great film-making.  But I also suffered through some truly miserable dreck like Caberet and Easy Rider, probably two of the worst on the entire list.  More than a handful of the films were disagreeable to my tastes and sentiments; a couple of them I purposely waited to find edited versions because of the volume of offensive content.  That said, I haven't yet dismissed a film for merely being offensive.  If it was offensive on purpose, it might have been (crudely) making a legitimate point about the human condition.  But I'm not a fan of just wallowing in the gutter for sake of wallowing.  Only a handful of AFI's list seemed gratuitously pointless.

In the end, I've developed new tastes in story-telling.  I've seen nearly the complete library of Alfred Hitchcock films as well as all the high points of directors like Billy Wilder, John Huston, John Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Capra, and William Wyler.  I've discovered a large number of silent films that are really, really good.  And easily half of my favorite movies all-time, are classic movies that I've seen just in the last four years.

So now that I've wrapped up AFI's list, now what?  Well, the top 100 came off a list of 400 nominees…  And there are great foreign films… And there are so many great books to read… And some of these I'll want to re-watch with my kids as they get older…  And…

Random Thoughts 6/14/11

  • Pray for my uncle Ron.  He had a heart attack and the latest word is that he'll have to have surgery this week.  We love him dearly. 
  • Happy birthday, Mom!
  • People love underdogs and hate braggarts.  That's why it was easy to jump on the Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks band wagon.  LeBron James and his fellow Miami Heat teammates are great but I'm betting that a lot of casual fans were cheering for whichever team the Heat were playing.
  • What can you buy with food stamps these days?  Look at that receipt!!!  Apparently your food stamps can buy six lobsters and two porterhouse steaks.  And don't forget the 120 cans of Diet Mt. Dew to wash down all that steak and lobster.
  • George Lucas and his team have created 50 hours (about two television seasons' worth) of new, live-action Star Wars material for television.  So why are these scripts not being filmed yet?  The technology required is too expensive for a television budget.  They think the technology will be three or four years away, before a television show can afford the special effects required to film this show.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/11/11

  • No matter how you do it, homemade ice cream just can't go very wrong.
  • AEG president Tim Leiweke is telling the papers that he has 5 NFL teams in talks about moving to Los Angeles.  The supposed candidates are the Vikings, Chargers, Raiders, Rams, and Jaguars.  To me the best candidate also has the largest local impact: the Jaguars.  If the Jags move to L.A., which would be a huge gain in television audience numbers for the league, they could switch places with the Chiefs.  The Jags would play in the AFC West against the Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos, while the Chiefs move to the AFC South and play against the Colts, Texans, and Titans.  I'd hate to lose the Raiders and Broncos rivalries, but the logistics alone would save these teams millions of dollars in traveling expenses.
  • So when is AEG going to get an NBA team (or even an NHL team) in the Sprint Center?
  • I had a 10-hour migraine yesterday and more of the same, off-and-on today.  I think it's mostly allergy related but still… 
  • I'd never heard before that the Dalai Lama considered himself Marxist.  I'm not completely shocked, I'm just surprised that he thinks Marxism and religious freedom can coincide.  What foolishness.  What I'd like is for some more Hollywood liberal-types to admit that they're Marxist too.
  • Nintendo unveiled its new game console to be released next year.  It's not the Wii 2, but rather Wii U.  It will play current Wii games and use the Wii controllers too but this system is all HD and high end with a special controller that has a six-inch touch screen in the middle.  I'm not sure if my kids are going to be into this, but I kind of hope they are considering the investment we've already made in Nintendo games and controllers.
  • And here is a scathing rebuke of sexual liberation, liberal feminism, and women who marry jerks like Anthony Weiner.
  • Your next bicycle helmet should be made of cardboardNo, seriously.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Please See the Zoo's Loan Officer

The Kansas City Zoo has made great strides forward in the last few years, becoming an increasingly desirable destination for our our family.  But, for a family our size, it's also becoming increasingly expensive.

$23 - Adult admission (x2)
$43 - Child admission (x5)
$35 - Tickets for trams, train (x7)
$14 - Tickets of boat (x7)
$28 - Tickets for sky tram (x7)

That's $143 to go to the zoo for the day, not counting food!  Granted, this assumes that you want to ride the rides, but the Kansas City zoo involves some serious walking, perhaps too much walking if the weather's hot or you and your children are not actively training for a marathon.

Fortunately, a "Friends of the Zoo" season pass for two adults plus dependents is only $155, which for a family our size is nearly paid for on the first trip.  For a family of eight, it's actually cheaper to buy the season pass then to go once.  Plus the Friends of the Zoo pass gives you a discount at other zoos across the country.  If we went to KC and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha (half price), once each in the same season, we'd more than get our money's worth.

Another Funny T-Shirt

I almost bought this t-shirt for my wonderfully nerdy, eldest son.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Oops, Lost One

KU's basketball recruit, DeAndre Daniels, committed to play next season at UConn.  At UConn, Daniels will see nothing but stability, NCAA rules compliance, academic excellence, and zero chance that coach Jim Calhoun will retire.

Still, it would have been nice to add Daniels to the stable at Kansas.  Poor Texas thought they had this kid secured two years ago.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/7/11

  • My brain has filed both Adam Carolla and Norm MacDonald in the same place, under "tall, 47 year-old, dark-haired, dry-witted comedian who's kinda funny".  I keep getting the two of them confused unless I consciously think which is which.
  • Texting on your iPhone is about to be replaced by free texting on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  Check out this new feature of the next iOS here.
  • The next version of the iPhone/iPad operating system will bring a lot of advantages, several of them geared toward folks who use the device as their only computer.  Personally, I can't wait to get my grandmother set up like this.  Currently she's performing "without a net," per se, as she doesn't have a computer to back up her iPad.  Under the new operating system, her iPad data will all be backed up seamlessly, behind the scenes, without a second computer.  Perfect!  Better safe than sorry!
  • For all you bad parents out there, your iPad will now teach your child to read by reading to them children's books to them, with actual narration and highlighted words.  Thank you, robo-mommy!
  • The circumcision ban on the table in San Francisco is antisemitism that the Nazis would be proud of.  Not sure about that?  Check out this obscenely-racist, anti-Jew comic book!  Secular socialism seems to go hand-in-hand with antisemitism (remember that Nazi was an acronym for "national socialists").  You'd think after WW2 that this kind of thing would be impossible… especially in America. 
  • Our guest worship leader for this weekend had to cancel due to the death of a close friend.  Our prayers are with him and his friend's family.
  • I'm reading more on Rob Bell and his new, liberal take on Hell (or the lack thereof).  In fact, I'm going to teach a class on it at camp in July.  Let me know, if you're a Bell-fan who's been keeping up on the latest developments in his doctrine.
  • Here's a great article about my college archaeology professor re-digging up his artifacts after the Joplin tornado.  We love you, brother Fields!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Random Thoughts 6/6/11

  • Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day. That means it's time to watch Saving Private Ryan again, or preferably Band of Brothers. However, I need to keep in mind which WW2 movies we may use in a home school history curriculum with my boys in the next few years. I don't mind re-watching movies but there's only so many hours in the day.

  • Here's an awesome article about the scientific examination of the tornado damage in Joplin, Mo.

  • You can watch a video stream of today's Apple keynote address at the Worldwide Developer's Conference. They introduced the next OS for the Mac, OS X Lion, the next version of the iPhone and iPad OS, iOS 5, and their new cloud services.

  • So Anthony Weiner was lying? No, say it isn't so. And yet it turns out there are more photos and more women involved. Good grief…

  • I'm not a fan of tattoos, but this left-wing nut wants people like tattooed for denying global warming. He goes on and on, because in his mind this is all inevitable, and he's willing to be the Gestapo of the loony-left for the sake of our collective future. His problem is that he's making several assumptions that can't be proven or even known entirely: 1. That Global Warming is happening. More scientists are jumping off this band wagon than on it as it appears that the warming trend of the 90's has stalled out. 2. That Global Warming is bad. The Earth has been significantly warmer and cooler in the recent past. It's the cold spells and ice ages that destroy crops and kill large numbers of people. 3. That mankind can do anything to change the ebb and flow of the climate. If we wanted to change the temperature of the planet by 1º in either direction, could we actually pull that off? Half a degree? How has it been able to change several degrees without us (in the past)?

  • So this radical lib would do what exactly? He jokes about tattooing (and killing) people who disagree with him. So what happens when people like him take over, imprison and murder the deniers, destroy offending businesses and ruin entire economies, restrict freedoms for a generation, and yet the Earth still does whatever it was going to do anyway? This guy (and those who think like him), without a doubt, is the most dangerous person in the room.

  • I saw this sign after washing my hands at the loading dock of the local Sam's Club.  For some reason it made me chuckle.  Just imagine all those poor forklift drivers popping up hundreds of miles from home.  How many have we lost that we needed a sign?

  • Friday, June 03, 2011

    So I Heard You're Moving FAQ

    Q.  So, I heard you're moving.  Is it true?

    A.  First of all, don't look so excited – we'd only move a couple of miles up the street.  We have to be careful to be clear, lest someone say, "Oh, good for you; we'll pray for your next ministry."  WE'RE NOT LEAVING THE AREA!  But, yes, we're working on moving to a different house.

    Q.  How long have you been looking to move?

    A.  We weren't looking at all until this opportunity was presented to us.  In fact, I went to a few of my church Elders for advice before I would even seriously consider it.  I'm a bloom-where-you're-planted kind of guy.

    Q.  Are you moving right now?

    A.  Not quite yet.  It'll probably take all summer to work out the details.

    Q.  Do you secretly hate Kansas City …Piper …your neighbors …your current house?

    A.  No, we love our house and our neighborhood.  We're staying in the Piper area, just about two miles north of our current location.  Plan A was to add-on to our current house, we love it so much.  But, after a lot of prayer, Plan B (moving to a better house) seems like the right way to go.

    Q.  Are you secretly embezzling church funds?

    A.  No (but thanks for asking), the new house is very affordable for us.  It's a modest step up and our overall financial situation should be better in the new place.  The Lord has provided an incomparable opportunity here.

    Q.  What is the most important factor in your decision?

    A.  Bathrooms and elbow room.  We're a family of seven sharing one bathroom; the new house has four.  This house is more "five-teenagers friendly," which we'll need in a few years.  We are giddy at the thought of our family growing up in this new house.  It's perfect for us.

    Q.  What are your long term plans?

    A.  Lord willing, to serve at WCCC for the foreseeable future.  I pray to raise my children in one community, to establish long friendships, and serve faithfully until He calls me home.  This may or may not entirely be the Lord's plan but it is our intention and, quite simply, the way I'm wired.

    Random Thoughts 6/3/11

    • What a wonderful mini-vacation we had!  Thank you, Shannon, for being my best friend and thank you for marrying me 15 years ago.
    • Here's tech-writer Walt Mossburg telling the Adobe CEO that his product, Flash, stinks on Android.  Ouch!  Maybe someday we'll all be HTML 5 compliant.
    • This cat plays the shell game better than me.
    • Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is the least convincing liar but best deeper-hole digger in congress.  Way to go, you foolish pervert.  He'd be better off to fess up, chalk it up to a lapse in judgment, and move on.  Instead, he's been awkwardly not denying that the lewd picture is of him.  Ugh.
    • More info on Medal of Honor winner 1st SGT Leroy Petry here
    • Here's a before and after photo of Joplin.  Please continue praying for these folks; it'll be a long, slow recovery.