Thursday, September 27, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/27/12

  • This is what we've really needed: every NFL quarterback matched up with a look-alike muppet.  Some of these matches are stretches but a few are spot-on.
  • From the perspective of a long-time Fantasy Football commissioner, I don't like Thursday night NFL games every week.  In most leagues you can't conduct business, i.e. trades, adds, drops, waivers, etc. when the games are "active."  In a typical week, this was Sunday noon thru Monday night (less than 36 hours), leaving you Tuesday thru early Sunday morning (5+ days) to manage the league's business.  But with a Thursday game, a league's business is mostly frozen from Thursday evening to late Monday night (over four days), leaving a smaller window for management.
  • The regular NFL refs are back, getting paid up to $200,000 plus benefits, or about $4,000 an hour!  The real NFL refs are special because they have extra unblinking eyes, clairvoyance, the wisdom of Solomon, and can slow the passing of time with their mind powers.  Now we'll never have another blown call!  Yay!
  • My wife made a minecraft block as my son's birthday cake.  That thing must have weighed 50 pounds!
  • I got my bd's Mongolian BBQ birthday gift certificate today!  It's a wonderful time of year!
  • DVR technology is awesome.  This week a bunch of our new shows have started back up.  However, we've been gone late every night this week.  So we have several hours of shows waiting for us, which we can watch on our own time, skipping the commercials.  Other than the mild risk of spoilers from friends, this is the way to go!
  • I've been getting more involved in our home schooling lately.  I always assumed that as the boys got older that I'd be more involved but it turns out sheer quantity has brought me to the table.  Graham (#4) is now a full time student and so most mornings you can find me practicing the alphabet and counting to one hundred with my funny little six year old.  These are not the advanced subjects of American history and civics that I had imagined teaching but I've enjoyed it!
  • Other school subjects I still imagine teaching my kids as they get older:  The Complete Tolkien Collection, The Koine Greek Alphabet and You, Antebellum American Political Theory,  Beyond Narnia: the Complete C.S. Lewis Collection, Causes of World War 1 (with a field trip to the National WW1 museum), Philosophy 101, Introduction to Archaeology, The Exhaustive World War 2 Timeline, Beginner's Annotated Shakespeare, Survey of Church History, American Film to 1927, American Film after 1927, The History of the Ancient Near East, The Complete Visual History of American Military Ranks and Uniforms, Evolution and Origins Philosophy through History, English Literature, The History of the Roman Empire, Survey of European History, and American Football to 1970.
  • Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/25/12

  • I've recently watched a few Civil War documentaries that leaned heavily on the letters of people of that day… and listening to these begs a question.  In a time when many folks didn't finished 8th grade – if they had any formal schooling at all – how is it that they all sound like poets compared to the way people talk and write today, when 56% of the country has attended college?  The 19th century vocabulary and diction seems so advanced, even from just average people.  In contrast, go read some Facebook or Twitter posts and weep.
  • My oldest turns 12 tomorrow.  Wow.
  • Just remember that the NFL referees with 10 or 20 years of experience also make bad calls each and every game.  Thus, I don't think the pressure is on the NFL at all, even after the Packers/Seahawks game last night.  Rather the league sees a bunch of rookie referees that will get better every week.
  • I wish the more experienced referees were in the game, but the (union's) notion that these guys are so special that they can never be replaced… is nonsense.  Eventually the scabs will gain experience and be equal to the union guys.  Someday.
  • If you get a black iPhone 5, you're going to want to get a case.  The black coloring can scratch off the aluminum with normal use.  Some examples online are pretty minor but a year or two of going in and out of your pocket may rub the paint off all of the edges and affect resale value.
  • Sci-Fi struggles on television.  Look at the last few years, filled with big budget, poorly written dramas, that have struggled to find and keep an audience: "Terra Nova," "The Event," "FlashForward," "V," "Jericho," and now "Revolution" and "Last Resort."  "Heroes" went dramatically downhill after the first season and "Lost" fans were famously un-thrilled with the answers they did or didn't get.  Even the legendary 1960's "Star Trek" only survived three seasons before cancellation.  With an occasional exception, American network television is not a good place for science fiction and fantasy.  Life and death, save-the-world story lines don't work well with the business of television which insists on quantity over quality to be profitable. 
  • However, genre-TV (sci-fi, fantasy, historical drama, etc.) can work on cable and online, where the business model is completely different (though admittedly the budgets are much smaller).
  • Tonight is the banquet for Hands of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center.  I'm a big fan of their executive director.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hobbit Humor

The fantastic Hobbit trailer released yesterday had five different endings… here they are all together in one place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/19/12

  • It was terribly sad to hear about the loss of NFL Film's Steve Sabol yesterday, who passed from brain cancer.  I was surprised that he was already 69 years old, but it's still tragic.  Interesting trivia: Steve Sabol has won more Emmy awards in more categories than anyone else in television, ever.
  • Granted it helps if you like football, but NFL Films Presents is still (and has always been) one of the best shows on TV (hidden away late on Tuesday nights and on Wednesday afternoons on ESPN2).  Sabol's absence will be felt.
  • New Hobbit trailer on facebook, here.  HD version here.
  • I upgraded to iOS 6 and it looks great!  That maps are surprisingly nice (I didn't think I'd be impressed by that).
  • AEG, the company that manages Kansas City's Spring Center (among other venues, like the Staples Center) is up for sale.  Supposedly, whoever buys AEG will inherit the 35-year contract with KC.  The Sprint Center never attracted an NBA or NFL franchise but otherwise has been very successful and profitable.
  • Do people who call in false-alarm bomb threats actually get away with it?  Are there still pay phones out there somewhere?
  • Both of our church volleyball teams played for the first time last night.  It didn't go very well, but I think we still had fun (I only had three nervous breakdowns).  These things work out as we get more in sync with our teammates.
  • I really didn't think that replacement refs would make a noticeable difference.  I was wrong.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/17/12

  • I'm eager to get a new iPhone, and I am eligible to upgrade, but I'm not going to wait in line overnight.  I'll just hold off a few weeks and get one after the initial rush.  No worries.
  • I'm just as excited to see the refinements to iOS that are coming out this week.
  • Yet another reason why my wife is a-ma-zing!
  • A new Hobbit trailer comes out this week.  I link to it when it hits.
  • The Wii U, Nintendo's next video game console, comes out this Thanksgiving with the hefty price tag of $350 and games that may cost upward of $60 each.  I can imagine upgrading the Wii at some point, perhaps, but it's hard to justify this kind of cash when games on the iPad and iPhone cost 99¢.
  • You can search Google for an actor's "bacon number," i.e. the number of connections it takes to link an actor to Kevin Bacon through shared screen credits, a la "the six degrees of Kevin Bacon."  The problem is the Google knows every credit for every actor and Bacon has been in approximately a gazillion films, so most searches return a bacon number of 1 or 2.  The trick is finding actors with a number of 4 or more.  Just go to Google and type "bacon number justin bieber" to find a celeb with a bacon number of 4.
  • I prayed for the President by name in church last week and a few people thought that I endorsed him or encouraged voting for him.  Whoops.  I didn't intend that at all.
  • The most commonly stolen vehicles in Kansas City here, starting with the Honda Accord.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Doing the Right Thing

A good friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently and words can't describe how I much I appreciate it.  This is the attitude that Christians should be working toward: an increasing desire for worship, Bible study, and fellowship.  I see so many Christians skipping church, or coming late and leaving early… I pray this appetite would increase in their lives.

Had a rough start this morning. I overslept so I missed church service. Then that mean ol' conscience of mine kept telling me I could still make it to Sunday School. I didn't have time to wait on a fresh shirt so I wore the grubby one I had on (and brother, it was grubby!!!).  After Sunday School they had a baptism, and, grubby or not, I don't miss baptisms. It was then that God shined a light on me. One of the little guys of the church decided he wanted to sit with me during the baptism service. I can't even begin to say how absolutely thrilled and honored I was at that. Thank you my Dear Heavenly Father for the rewards we receive for doing the right thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/11/12

  • Eleven years ago today on a bright, clear day exactly like this one…
  • Few headlines can top this: "NBC's Today Show Skips Moment of Silence For Kardashian Interview."
  • Conspiracy nuts are out in full force today.  Gag.  Really now.  Do you really think that there are that many people loyal to President Bush that none of them have talked in eleven years?  Really?!  And you think that Bush pulled off a 9/11 conspiracy but couldn't "find" WMDs in Iraq?  Conspiracy theories are for weak-minded people who want sensationalism in their life to distract them from reality.
  • Real life conspiracies get leaked, betrayed, and revealed.  People whistle-blow, testify, get interviewed, write books and screenplays, and try to cash-in on their 15-minutes.  If anything about 9/11 was a conspiracy we'd have had years worth of hundreds of involved people lining up and trying to sell Bush and Cheney down the river.  Not a bunch of nobodies giving "expert" opinions about how buildings are supposed to collapse (or not) when hit by jetliners.  Good grief.
  • The next iPhone will likely be announced tomorrow.  Does anyone want to buy two 16GB black iPhone 4's in excellent condition?
  • Here are 375 ebooks that are free to download.
  • GM loses $49,000 on every Chevy Volt is sells.  Oops.  The loss is even worse on a Volt that gets leased.
  • I lost my first week of fantasy football.  What stinks is that most of guys had great weeks but I played a team that did fantastic.  In those situations I wish my players would have had their worst performances rather than waste it in a losing effort.  Oh well.
  • Here are some Google search tips: 20 Google shortcuts and 10 more Google shortcuts.  I've often used the world time, weather, and movie showtimes.  Google definitely makes the internet awesome but they also have trouble not being evil.  It turns out that nobody gets sued more than Google for stealing intellectual property.  Check out this story about smart phones, tablets, Google, and Apple's board members.
  • Thanks you, Zach, for cheering me up.

The Disappointment of Uncertainty

My ankle hurts everyday.  My knees don't throb at the end of the day.  My shoulders don't ache.  My other ankle is not in constant discomfort.  It's just that one joint, my left ankle, the one I've broken at least once and sprained half a dozen times or more.

So I went to my doctor and had X-rays taken.  Then I went to a specialist.  Then I paid to have an expensive MRI done.  Up to this point, the expectation was that the MRI would show the broken bits of bone inside my ankle, in addition to the damaged ligaments, all of which would then be repaired surgically.

But this morning I went to get the results of the MRI and the doctor found it wasn't as bad as he expected: no loose bone fragments inside the joint, nothing requiring immediate surgery.  That's good news… sorta.

I don't want surgery; I'm not sure how I could afford surgery.  But the "good" news lay on me like a wet blanket.  What was causing the pain?  Generally speaking, a loose and damaged ankle.  An ankle damaged enough to warrant fixing?  No, just bad enough to hurt chronically.  Will physical therapy solve the problem?  Not likely but it could help a little.  Will shoe inserts fix it?  Not directly, but it could help a little.  Would surgically tightening the ligaments make the pain go away?  Perhaps but not definitively.  Is there any definitive solution to the aching joint, like what was originally suspected?  No.

I kept asking the doctor, why, if there's no significant damage, I keep having such prominent pain in that joint?  There's lots of scarring.  The ligaments are stretched out.  There's a bit of fluid in the joint.  There are tiny bits of loose bone around the ankle.  But beyond keeping it stable, supported, and attempting to strengthen it, there's not much else that can be done.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/10/12

  • For DirecTV subscribers, yesterday only, we had a free sampling of NFL Sunday Ticket.  Watch any NFL game you want!  But the best part about this was DirecTV's Red Zone Channel.  This is pure genius; it's a channel that switches back and forth among all the games to show you everything interesting.  You see every touchdown, every big play, with a host narrating the switches.  Most of this is live but when the games go to commercial you get highlights.  I watched six hours of football and zero commercials.  It was wonderful.
  • Dreamworks Animation released their schedule today, including: How to Train Your Dragon 2 in June 2014, Penguins of Madagascar in March 2015, Kung Fu Panda 3 in March 2016, and How to Train Your Dragon 3 in June 2016.
  • Rep. Joe Walsh told Sandra Fluke to "go get a job.  No doubt; a 30-year old professional student tells America to pay a $10/month bill for her.  It's awful how many people don't know how to take care of themselves and want the government to do it for them.
  • Most Christians don't read the Bible every day.  I'm shocked (not really).
  • There were some nasty tweets about Cardinal Dolan at the DNC last week.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

God? No!!!

I was floored to watch the DNC try to reinsert language mentioning God into their platform.  The mention of the name of God has been reduced by the Democrats year after year and finally it hit zero.  So when they tried to reinsert a mention (along with language acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital –– about which I remain dumbfounded that there is any question on that matter; their governing body meets there) they struggled to get the necessary two-thirds vote.

Watch the procedural disaster here as the leaders ignore the vocal dissent against including these two changes:

The delegates do not want God mentioned and/or they do not want Israel supported (CSPAN shows a pair of pro-Palestinian delegates).  How do Jewish Americans support this party?  I also have trouble believing that Christians can support this group, not only because of the increasing distance from Biblical Christianity and Israel but for the moral decline of the Democrat party, especially in regard to abortion.  I think a lot of good Christians are Democrats but I don't see how the moral stands of the Democrat party match their personal values.  I'd think it would directly contradict those Biblical beliefs at several crucial points.

How do Bible-believing Democrats not feel that the party has left them long ago?  How can a party say it's pro-women and then honor men like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy like they did Wednesday?  Isn't that at least a little ironic?  How can it stand for minorities and then allow former Klan members like the late Senator Robert Byrd, or defend its stand against civil rights in the 1960's and for slavery in the 1860's?

As a Christian there are days I can barely tolerate American politics, let alone the Republican party.  But if Republican positions are sometimes only partly Christian, it feels like the Democrats are steadily becoming anti-Christian.  How could this have happened?

All of this leads congressman Allen West to make a campaign commercial using the footage.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Random Thoughts 9/4/12

  • Grandpa took four of his grandsons to the KU football game the other night.  Brennan, Tanner, Kelby, and Elijah went with Grandpa to Lawrence to watch the Jayhawks.  I'm so happy that my kids have access to him on such a regular basis. What wonderful memories.
  • I wonder how the Democrats think their message will play to most Americans?  They reworded their party platform from 2008 and took out the name of God.  It also removes language recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which you wouldn't think would go over well with American Jewish people.  The platform calls for taxpayer-funded abortions. Homosexuals will be overrepresented at the convention at a rate nine times higher than what the last census shows in the general population.  Food stamp use has climbed to a record 46.7 million people.  Household income has dropped almost $5,000 in four years.  Gas has more than doubled.  The national debt passed $16 trillion today.  Unemployment remains higher than what Obama said would cause him to be a one-term president.  The President has not done a very good job, almost every number is against him.
  • In the convention this week, every time the Democrats say "we need to act" or "we need to care," they almost always mean "we, the government."  The Dems say government is the solution while the Republicans have moved back to a position on limited government.
  • It's amusing to watch Democrats get interviewed about President Obama's record.  They get asked a question about whether Americans are better off than four years ago and, within the first sentence, they're talking about the "hateful rhetoric" of Gov. Romney.  Wha?  How did you get there so fast?  Answer the question!  Did they send out a memo that says everyone must absolutely NOT talk about the last four years?
  • I'm supposed to finally get that MRI on my ankle Thursday.  I went to a specialist and found out that I have a couple of problems with my ankles, one of which will require surgery, which will require the MRI.  So I'll be having surgery, likely before the end of the year… unless things change again.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan, who played John Coffey in The Green Mile, died yesterday.
  • NFL officially football starts tomorrow!
  • New iPhones should be available by the end of the month.  Shannon and skipped the last update (the 4S), so we're pretty eager to see an upgrade.  We're crazy about our iPhones.

The Soviet Perspective

So I was reading an online interview with a former Soviet Army prison guard.  He was in the Red Army, a guard at a gulag in Siberia, and a Soviet citizen until he got political asylum in 1989 and came to live in America.

In the interview, people from all over the world asked him questions about life under communism and what Soviet prisons were like.  He described the bleak hopelessness and frustration of living in that world and the shock of coming to America for the first time.  He also detailed his success of rising from a gas station attendant in L.A. to become a small business owner.  Finally someone asked the retired old man the question we were all wondering about:

"As an Armenian yourself, what's your opinion on the Kardashians?"

His answer:

"They are a shame to our people, and a rotting influence on our young women."