New U2 Video

Here's a new U2 Video. I can't imagine how long it took to put this together.

[ht: transitionpete]


Unexpected Pleasures

I noticed something this year that I hadn’t noticed before. Unexpected pleasures are better than expected pleasures. Let me explain.

Around Christmas lots of people exchange gifts. We know that we are going to get presents from certain people. We know our spouse is going to give us something. We know our kids are going to give us something. We know that we will get something from the office gift exchange. The list goes on and on. In a way, we expected those gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we like or even love those gifts and the people who give them to us. They are precious. But we still expect them. It’s an expected pleasure.

Once in awhile we are surprised and someone we never imagined gives us a little something. Usually it’s not a big thing, just a small little thing that says, I’m thinking of you. It’s unexpected and I find that it gives me pleasure. I can’t really verbalize why, but those little unexpected things are quite nice. That unexpected pleasure really cuts through all the junk of Christmas and hits home.

High on my list for next year is to be involved with more unexpected pleasures for other folks.


An Engineer's Thoughts About Christmas

There are approximately 378 million Christian children in the world according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average census rate of 3.5 children per household that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west. This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh; hop out; jump down the chimney; fill the stockings; distribute the remaining presents under the tree; eat whatever snacks have been left for him; get back up the chimney; jump into the sleigh; and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations, we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household--a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second--3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run at best 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set weighing two pounds, the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the flying reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with nine of them--Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth, the ship not the monarch.

Six hundred thousand tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance--this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of acceleration from a dead stop to 650 miles per second in one-thousandth of a second, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa which seems ludicrously slim would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4.3 millions pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

Merry Christmas!


The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating with friends and family, gift-giving and general cheer and rejoicing. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its data collection.

It’s in the Mail ...

20 billion
Number of letters, packages and cards the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. The busiest mailing day this year is expected to be Dec. 18, with more than twice as many cards and letters being processed as the average on any given day.

About 12 million
Number of packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service every day through Christmas Eve. The busiest delivery day: Dec. 20.

The December Rush to the Stores – Last Year

$31.7 billion
Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2005. This represented a 47 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many Christmas-related, registered $21.7 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.

Other U.S. retailers with sizable jumps in sales between November and December 2005 were book stores (96 percent); clothing stores (49 percent); jewelry stores (174 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (54 percent); and sporting goods stores (67 percent).

14 percent
The proportion of total 2005 sales for department stores (including leased departments) that took place in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 24 percent.

23 percent
The proportion of growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) between the end of August and the end of November 2005. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 23 percent in December.

Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoeshine parlor in a barber shop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.

1.8 million
The number of people employed at department stores in December 2005. Retail employment typically swells during the holiday season, last year rising by an estimated 46,600 from November and 186,400 from October.

$19.4 billion
Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2005 – easily the highest total for any month last year.

$27.1 billion
The value of total retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2005. This amount represented 2.7 percent of total retail sales over the period and exceeded e-commerce sales for all other quarters of the year. E-commerce sales were up 23 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2004. These businesses, which employed 261,646 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $147 billion, of which 35 percent were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 2,322 and 30,619, respectively.

If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2004, there were 149,831 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 9,360 department stores; 10,345 hobby, toy and game shops; 33,956 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 22,902 sporting goods stores; 28,772 jewelry stores; and 11,218 book stores across the nation.

The number of malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2005, a total that increased by approximately 12,000 since 1990. (Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007.)

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$485 million
The amount of money the nation’s Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2005. Oregon was the top state in tree sales ($126 million), followed by North Carolina, Washington and Michigan.

$605 million
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2006. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($65 million worth) during the same period.

Where the Toys Are ... Made

Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2004; they employed 2,386 people. California led the nation with 17 such locations.

The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2004; they employed 16,465 workers. California led the nation with 117 establishments.

$3.2 billion
Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2004.

$639 million
The value of U.S. imports of stuffed toys (excluding dolls) from China between January and August 2006. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts that were imported. These include electric trains ($65 million), puzzles ($49 million), roller skates ($82 million), sports footwear ($215 million), golf equipment ($47 million) and basketballs ($30 million). China barely edged out Canada as the leading supplier of ice skates ($6.7 million versus $6.6 million), with Thailand ranking third ($4.9 million).

Holiday Names

Places whose names are associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 1,778 in 2005); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,283); Santa Claus, Ga. (242); Noel, Mo. (1,515); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (422). On top of that there is Snowflake, Ariz. (4,958); Dasher, Ga. (807); and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C.


Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington in 2005. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah. http://www.nass.usda.gov/

Source - here


Sound Matters

If you’ve been following my blog, you know they tore down the building next to us in August to build a new high rise condo. (see Follow up on building demolition) After the demo and cleanup, a crew pushed dirt around for a while. They’d move the dirt back and forth. Dig holes and fill them up again. Watching the crew reminded me of being 8 years old and playing with my trucks in the dirt. There was no real goal, just moving dirt around. It looked a bit fun actually.

After that crew left, the construction crew came. And once again they began moving dirt around. They’d pile here and there. Dig holes, and then fill them up again. Then they appeared to get serious. Someone showed up with a big stack of plans and some surveying gear. Measurements were carefully made and marked. And once again they begin digging holes. They seemed to have a little more purpose this time. The purpose of these holes is still a mystery. I admit that I know next to nothing about building a 16 story high rise. To my untrained mind, shallow holes (maybe 4 feet deep) don’t seem substantial enough to be the foundation. I guess time will tell.

The digging of these holes was interesting to watch. The big backhoe would be digging away, then it would stop and men in orange vests and hard hats would congregate and look at the hole. There would be much pointing, handing waving and gesturing. Sometimes they would consult the big book of plans which would be followed by more hand waving and gesturing. Then the big backhoe would dig some more. And the whole process would repeat itself over and over again.

From my perspective, this was very humorous. A bit like the old silent films of the Keystone Cops. If I could have sped it up a little, almost exactly like the Keystone Cops. Now I am sure the men were having a very technical discussion about the hole. Is it deep enough? Wide enough? Are the sides caving in? There are all kinds of neat things to talk about in regards to holes, I guess. However, since I couldn’t hear them and could only watch their hand waving, it made no sense to me. You see, sound matters. Being able to hear and understand changes the Keystone Cops into trained individuals who know how to build high rise buildings. Building high rise condos requires a good deal of technical knowledge. But without sound, it doesn’t work.

I wonder how many times people watch Christians go about their business, but they just don’t get it because there is no sound. They watch Christians do things, but they don’t understand why those things are being done. Does it make Christians look like the Keystone Cops? Saint Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” We should live a life that sets an example, but don’t leave it as just an example. Sound matters. Use words and tell someone about a God who loves them very much. That’s what Christmas is supposed to be about anyway, isn’t it?


Religious Christmas cards?

I had to swing by the card shop today to pick up a couple of cards. As you might imagine, the card shop is completely awash in Christmas. There's Christmas ornaments, knick-knacks, stockings and cards (naturally). Very festive actually. I didn't need Christmas cards, so I was over in the corner where are the non-Christmas cards had been moved to make room for Christmas. As I was browsing the slim pickings of non-Christmas cards, I over heard an elderly women asking the the clerk where the religious Christmas cards where. I wasn't eves dropping, it was really easy to hear her. Apparently she was hard of hearing and assumed everyone else was too.

But her very innocent, and appropriate, question completely stumped the clerk. Where were the religious Christmas cards? They spent a few minutes looking and even brought in another clerk to help in the search. They finally found 3 whole religious Christmas cards! Wow. Two isles of Christmas cards, and 3 are religious. Man, what kind of ratio is that? I should point out that this particular card shop stocks an entire section of Christian cards, yet they could only manage 3 religious Christmas cards. Truly sad...

I wonder what Christmas would be like if it was really about Christ?



I love Thanksgiving. It's not the football - although I like football. It's not the awesome meal - although I don't turn down too many good meals. It's not hanging out with family and friends, although I certainly do love hanging out with family and friends. These are all great and wonderful things, but they are not the reason I love Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving for its simplicity and pureness. Think about it for second. All other holidays have been commercialized beyond comprehension. Christmas, New Years, Halloween, Valentines day, even 4th of July have all be commercialized. They are about buying stuff that you need for “perfect” holiday. Presents, cards, candy, fireworks, etc. etc. We’ve lost the reason for these holidays; they are just commercials for big companies to make some big money. Certainly Christmas is the worst, but the other holidays are catching up quickly. There’s no pressure for any of this on Thanksgiving. Sure we all probably spend a little more time making a bigger meal. We spend a little more food, maybe a little more gas to drive to someone’s house and certainly the turkey industry has a great season. But Thanksgiving isn’t about how much you spend, or what you get, or sending cards, it’s simply about being thankful.

Part of Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving reads

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God… They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

I like that. Spend time giving thanks. In our society we seem to spend a lot more time complaining than we do giving thanks. I wonder what our relationships with our family members would be like if we more thankful for that fact that they are in our lives. I wonder if we’d be happier on the job if we were thankful for the work and paycheck. I wonder if we’d be involved with our government (ie, we’d vote at election time) if we if we were thankful that we live in a republic that practices democracy. I wonder if we’d be more content with our house or car, if we were more thankful that we have a place to live and we don’t have to walk. I believe having a spirit of thankfulness would have a huge impact on our daily lives.

I hope you take just a moment or two this holiday and give thanks, it’s important.


If you haven't played this little gem, you need to. It's simple and fairly addictive too. :-)



Are you ready?

That phrase can have a somewhat negative connotation to it. It’s almost like, “I’m ready, but I’m not so sure about you.” But it’s a question that we are asked and that we ask ourselves fairly often. Especially when we are wondering about something that we aren’t sure we are ready to undertake. Maybe you are learning to play an instrument and you try to play a piece of music above your skill level. Maybe you are learning to play a sport and you try to do something that is more advanced than your skill set. Maybe you are in a relationship and you push too soon, too fast and the other person isn’t ready for that level of commitment yet. Possibly you are trying to get into shape and you want to go run the LA Marathon long before you are ready to attempt such a physical undertaking. We experience, and watch our friends experience, things like this all the time. It seems like we are always hearing about stories like this. We try to do something we aren’t ready to do – and usually with poor results.
On the other hand, it seems that we need to try to do new things all the time to continue our growth. If I am playing the guitar, I just can’t play the same entry level songs all the time. At some point I need to try a more difficult song. I need to advance, to learn something new. The same thing is true with sports, getting fit and even relationships. We need to get better, or have a deeper/fuller relationship. It’s generally not healthy to just stay at the same spot or level all the time.

This presents an interesting conundrum. We need to advance, to learn, to move forward, but only when we are ready. How do we know when we are ready? How do we know if we are moving too slowly or too quickly? How do we maintain balance and keep moving forward and growing, but at the appropriate pace?

Schools have done a reasonable job at this. Students have certain levels that they should maintain and then they can move forward to the next level (class). But even the with all the years and effort that have been put into the educational system, it’s not perfect. Not every student performs well under that system. Some bloom early, some bloom late. Some students are great at memorization, some do better at application of principles, some are creative, and some are logical. We are all just a little different. So I’m not sure there is one answer to question of “am I ready for the next step?”. I think each of us is going to move through life slightly differently.

While there is no one answer that works for every situation, I think there are some principles we can apply.

1. Honest evaluation. Often times we aren’t honest with ourselves. When evaluating whether you are ready or not, don’t answer with what you’d like or wish to hear, but with reality. If you know you’ve only been playing the guitar for 2 months, then you know that you aren’t ready to play Eddie Van Halen’s toughest licks. Also some things are just going to take a while. If you are trying to recover from the loss of a loved one, or you are in recovery for an addiction, or you’re trying to recover from a life time of physical, emotional or sexual abuse – please realize that this is going to take a while. Be honest with your evaluation of where you are in that process.

2. Get the opinion of a trusted person. You’re best friend might not be your best option for this. They may not be as honest with you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. But get the opinion of someone who you know will be honest. See if their evaluation of your progress matches with your evaluation.

3. Be prepared for growth bursts and defining moments. Things rarely grow linearly. They grow, then plateau, then grow again. My kids have huge growth burst now and again. All of the sudden they are inches taller than they were. Be prepared for God ordained growth bursts. I’m sure Noah didn’t think he was ready to build an ark. I wonder if Benaiah realized that the snowy day he went down into the pit with the lion and killed it was going to be recorded in history for everyone to read (reference 2 Samuel 23:20). There are moments when we grow and we are ready.

Now let’s ask the same question we asked at the beginning, this time with a positive connotation. Are you ready? Are you ready for what God wants to do in your life?


It's been quiet...

Yea, I know it's been a little quiet here. Sorry.

I've got a couple of things brewing in the back of my head that I need to ponder about a bit more before I am ready to write something. But something is coming.

I also have a new toy that I've been playing with (for the church). New toys are always fun! This one is fun because it gives us a lot more capability at church - but it's also more work. Nothing is free, eh? Come to church this week and you'll see the new toy in action. More later...


Hurry up!

Have you noticed that when you try to rush through something, that’s when things are most likely to go wrong? The other day I was headed to work on the freeway when I saw a dramatic demonstration of this principle.

There was a California Highway Patrol (CHP) on the freeway and as usually happens, traffic was backing up behind the officer. I was in the number one lane (fast lane) as an impatient Porsche driver came up in the slow lane going much faster than we were going. It looked like the Porsche was going to try to pass two cars and then cut in front of them to make the off ramp. As the Porsche rapidly passed the two cars, he noticed the CHP and dramatically slowed down. It looked like the Porsche driver wanted to get between the two cars in the slow lane to hide from the CHP, however there was no room for him to fit there. The second car in the slow lane took that exact moment to speed up and pull out from behind the slower car in front. There are now three cars headed for the exact same spot on the freeway. You can imagine what happened next, which was rather exciting, given that I was on a motorcycle only two lanes away.

Those drivers were in a big hurry to get somewhere, probably work. (How big of a hurry do you need to be in at 6AM?) The Porsche driver was trying to save all of 2.3 seconds by passing those two cars. In the end, it cost him a bunch more time and hassle. The “hurry up” attitude cost him way more than it was ever going to save him. It was a bad gamble. An accident at 70 MPH on the freeway can turn into a disaster in a big hurry. I know that I can sometimes do that same thing. I have tendencies to be impatient. I often want to get things done quickly, to be efficient. But I’m not convinced that’s always a good plan.

I wonder how many other times in our lives we make poor decisions in an effort to hurry up. We can be tempted to make poor financial decisions in an effort to make big money in a hurry. We eat poorly (fast food) so that we can be done quicker. Rush through tasks at work. Even in our spiritual life we can tend to want to hurry up and rush through. We might be tempted to race through our devotion so we can get on with the day. Or maybe our quiet time is only a few seconds. In all these cases, we often hurt ourselves more than we help ourselves. So why do we continue with the “hurry up” attitude? Especially when we are talking about our spiritual lives, the consequences have eternal implications. Why does such a small gain seem worth the risk?

Tomorrow let’s try something different. Be efficient. Be on time. Be prompt, but don’t rush. Take your time. Do it right. Don’t be an accident.


Time Change

Remember, tonight the clocks go BACK one hour.

Whooo Hoooo for an extra hour of sleep.

Boooo Hoooo for it getting dark at 5pm.


Time for New Wallpaper?

No, not the wallpaper that you hang in your house, the wallpaper on your desktop. Are you tired of your current desktop wallpaper but you don't have a brilliant idea for something else? Check out Wallpapr (yes, that's spelled correctly). Type in a search term and see what turns up.


Video IPods have a Virus

Not just any virus, but (horrors of all horrors) a Windows (gasp!) virus. (Bill falls to the floor in hysterical laughter.) Oh man, that’s just too rich! I couldn’t make up a better story than that.

I don’t have anything against Macs or IPods. In fact we own a couple of IPods. I’ve even given serious thought to switching to a Mac. Some of you greybeards will remember the Amiga – I owned several of them through the years. I’m not afraid of going down a different path than Microsoft, but I digress. So this isn’t Mac bashing for the sake of Mac bashing. In this case, I think they earned it. Recent Mac ads have been, well, blatantly untrue. I guess the hip Mac computer and the stogie PC computer ads where the computers are played by humans are ok. But some of things Mac says, or strongly implies, are just flat out lies. Like Macs can’t get viruses. Macs can and do get viruses. It’s just that virus writers channel their efforts to PCs which hold something like 90% of the market instead of going after the much smaller Mac market. That doesn’t mean Macs are immune to viruses, it means virus writers go after the big market – doh. So when a Mac product gets a WINDOWS virus and it ships from the Apple that way – you just have to love that. Irony at it’s finest.

Apple’s website had this statement. “As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.” Wow. Let’s think about that for a second. First of all, Apple follows the time honored principal of blaming someone else before accepting any blame yourself. Good marketing Apple. Not! They also seem to imply that Microsoft wrote this virus (or any virus) just to get Mac. Good grief. Secondly, if Macs can’t get viruses (Apples own advertising claim), then that means Mac must be using Windows machines to build/program Video IPods. How else would the IPod get the virus? Certainly the almighty Mac can do everything on its own. They wouldn’t use Windows machines, would they? It just keeps getting better. It’s not even a new virus. It’s been around for over a year. EVERY anti-virus program on the planet detects and stops this virus. (It’s not too obvious that I am enjoying this, is it?)

To paraphrase the popular bumper sticker, “Stuff Happens.” In fairness to Apple, I’m sure it was an accident. I’m also pretty sure somebody is losing their job over this as Mac managers fly into a rage. But when you put yourself up as the better product that can’t get viruses, you better make sure that’s true. You’ve set yourself up to be held against a higher standard. I’ve got nothing against high standards. In fact, I often campaign for higher standards. But the truth is no one lives up to their standards all the time. We all mess up and fall short. I think the goal is to try and make sure no one is watching when it happens. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Apple.

Christians also fall short of their standards. And when we do, popular society often says, “What a bunch of hypocrites! They don’t practice what they preach.” But I think a more accurate truth is, “Stuff Happens.” Maybe Christianity would be better served if we didn’t set ourselves up as the holders of all truth. We often present ourselves as having all the answers. So when something happens and it is obvious that Christians don’t have all the answers, the natural thing is to question our claims. I wonder if Christians would be better served by a more humble approach. Instead of claiming to have all the answers, I wonder if we should just claim to be in search of answers? Instead of declaring everything as black and white, maybe we need to admit that sometimes there appears to be a big gray area. I’m not sure that God sees those grey areas the same way we do, but they sure do look like grey areas to us. I wonder if admitting that we struggle to find the answers would make Christianity more appealing to non-Christians?



Powers of Ten

This has been around for a while, but just in case, here it is again.

Click here to watch as we zoom in from outer space to the space inside of a cell. Viewing this always gives me at least two different feelings. The first is "how cool is that". The second is "How small and insignificant am I?"

Fortunately God doesn't seem to care how insignificant I am. He loves me anyway.


A Consistent Picture

Volvo has an interesting history of advertising. You may remember when we found out that the company that advertised itself as the safest car on the planet cheated when making their ads. They reinforced the cars so after they rolled over, they didn’t look too smashed up. Strike 1. You may remember when a car company that wanted to be known as the safest car decided to start advertising that they were fast. They were faster than a Porsche even. Huh? Since when do ‘being safe’ and ‘massive amounts of acceleration’ go hand in hand? Strike 2.

Now they have a new campaign, ‘Who would you give a Volvo to?’ Interesting. The ad seems to play off our selflessness. It addresses how much we care about the people we love. We want to love them and protect them with a safe car, so we should give them a Volvo. You can go to their website and submit a story about how someone ‘deserves’ a Volvo. But that’s about it. Volvo is not giving away 10 cars, or 5 cars, or 3 cars or even 1 car. They think we should give away their cars, but not them. They want us to be selfless, but not themselves. Strike 3. I believe Volvo needs a new ad agency. These ads are broken, as Seth Godin would say. They don’t make sense. They don’t give us a consistent picture.

I wonder how often we do the same thing with church. Are we being consistent? In church-speak we say “practice what you preach.” It’s good to be true to what you believe and do the things you say. But I think it should go much deeper than that. Are we presenting a consistent picture of who we are and what we are about to the people around us? Do we confuse people when they come to visit our church? Think about it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t usually come to church. We talk about love for God and our fellow man, yet many churches have a big cross (some even have a dying Jesus on it) as their main symbol to reach the masses with. I don’t know about you, but it appears to me that the cross doesn’t appear to speak about love to someone who doesn’t know what it’s about. The cross appears to talk about pain and death, not love. I'm not suggesting that all the churches should get rid of their crosses. But we should be aware that it takes a fair amount of understanding as to why the cross represents love. We talk about caring for our fellow man, yet when was the last time we did something for our fellow man – besides inviting him to a church event? Oh sure, we give a couple of cans of food at Thanksgiving, but I mean really DID something – got sweaty, smelly and worn out. Imagine, entire churches actively involved in working to help people in their community. Lives would be changed. People would really understand what we were about, lives would changed. I wonder what that would look like?



Pachelbel's Canon

Classical music, awesome guitar work, what more could you need?



The Absurdity of it All

Has anyone else noticed that disposable razor commercials are simply over the top? Their advertising and marketing claims get more and more ridiculous.

There is something I should say in order to be completely fair and have full disclosure… I am, and always have been, an electric razor user. I think I may have used a disposable razor once or twice in my entire life. So that may influence my opinion. Your mileage may vary. Yadda, yadda, blah, blah.

But have you seen these goofy commercials??? You’d think there was an army of Noble Prize winning scientists working on the immensely difficult problem of how to make a couple of dollar razor. They make it seem like the average razor has more technology in it than the space shuttle. Just consider the names, the Extreme III, the Mach3, the Mach3Turbo, the Quattro (4 must be better than 3 and Quattro is definitely cooler than Four), and now we have (drum roll please, oh and crank the echo effect) the Fusion. The Fusion has SIX blades! Five for a comfortable shave and a 6th one that is on the other side for detail trim work. There is even a Power version that has a battery. The website is a riot. It’s a nice site and all but beware, it takes a while to download. There’s an attractive woman walking around in a modestly short red dress and high heels with a lab coat on. That’s just too much. NO respectable lab rat would be caught in that outfit. Certainly, she must be one of the Noble Prize winning scientists working so hard to give us the most awesome shave ever. Right....

Then there’s a TV commercial about how when a good looking man (at least I’ve been told he’s good looking – I’m not an expert in such things) gets a close shave, that the woman on the treadmill becomes so distracted that she falls off the treadmill. Not once, but twice. Maybe the woman on the treadmill is just uncoordinated, I’m not sure. But I’m not sure if I would ask a woman out on a date who kept falling off the treadmill. That could be embarrassing on your date. She might fall of the chair in the restaurant. She could fall down the stairs in the theater. There are all sorts of potentially disastrous situations that could happen. It’s simply not safe, or wise, to be around her. Furthermore, I believe the man in the commercial would be just as good looking if he used a Fusion, or an Extreme III. Heck, he’d probably still attract the ladies if he didn’t shave at all or so I am told.

So what’s the point? Why spend all the money that the companies do on this stuff? To change our perceptions? To give us false hope? Hey, even you ugly guys can use the magic razor and hot women will fall all over you. Surely no one really believes that. So what’s the reasoning for the multi-millions spent in advertising a piece of plastic with a few bits of sharpened metal? Simple. To encourage us to spend a little more on a better shave. Two blades were better than one. Three is better than two. And the arms race is on. But each time the company has to spend a little more money and do something a little more outrageous to convince us that this model is better than the last one. They have to get us to part with a few more bucks for each new model too.

I wonder what an advertisement for church would look like if it used this model? How would a congregation convince the masses that their church is better than the one down the street? And is that even a good thing? I’ve seen some advertisements for churches on TV. Usually it’s for a denomination, rather than a local congregation. I like seeing the ads. I like the fact that Christians are trying to reach lost souls. However, I must admit to being less than completely thrilled with the ones I’ve seen, but hey, they are giving it a try. I’d like to see my local church do something like that. I love my local church. I’m not sure how I would tell someone in a 30 second sound byte how great our church is. The point is not that we are that awesome – I think the point is God is that awesome. I’d have a hard time telling someone how great God is in 30 seconds. I wonder what that would look like on my TV?



Comments Are Easier

Several of you mentioned that comments were too difficult. Ok, ok... Comments should be easier to do now.

So get busy making comments.


Some White Guys Can Jump

Note, this is not me.



The Main Thing

I love quotes from great thinkers, authors, theologians, scientists, whatever. I like to hear what other thinkers are thinking about. What makes the world work for them? What are the things that they think are important? It's like taking a little peek into their brain.

One of my all time favorite quotes is by author Stephen Covey,
"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
It seems a little goofy the first time you read it. But if you think about it for just a minute, it's pretty profound. We often get sidetracked by stuff. Stuff that is not the main thing. Stuff that is less than the most important. I know that sometimes we have to take care of mundane things - we can't always be working on the most important, coolest stuff. But we need to make sure that we aren't distracted from doing our main thing. If you work for Chevy, the main thing is to make vehicles - not burritos. If you work for Taco Bell, the main thing is make food - not vehicles. Simple concept, but how many companies have messed up by spending too much effort on something that was not the main thing? More than I'd care to count.

What is your "main thing"? Is it to be the best in your profession? The best programmer? The best truck driver, lawyer, welder, nurse, mechanic, doctor, preacher, teacher or whatever? I hope we can all aspire to have a main thing that is more important than our career. Maybe our main thing should be to be an awesome parent or a devoted spouse. That seems more worthy of our efforts.

I wonder if I desire to make my main thing to be a devoted follower of Christ, could I still be an awesome parent and a devoted spouse? Those shouldn't be mutually exclusive - should they? Sometimes it seems like we think they should be. That doesn't seem right to me.



My Head Hurts

I’ve been wandering around the blogscape checking out blogs. I must say, there are some good ones and there’s some that are, well, let’s just say not so good. No, that’s too politically correct. Ok, I’ll say it – there are blogs that are down right horrible. But that’s not what is making my head hurt.

In my blogscape wanderings I kind of intentionally wandered around Christian blogs. There are some really nice Christian blogs out there. There are some good ones by various pastors, worship leaders and other church leaders/volunteers. There are a couple of nice blogs that are run by various churches or other para-church organizations. Watch for links to the good sites to show up in the right column shortly. Unfortunately, these good blogs appear to be in the minority.

Now to the part that makes my head hurt.

There are all kinds of Christian sites out there talking about stuff like being emergent, re-churching, being evangelical, being post-evangelical, deconstructing post-evangelism, being missional, being post-modern and I even saw one that claimed to be post post-modern. I don’t even know that means. What are these people talking about? My head is starting to hurt. It’s like it’s a competition of different clubs. Which club is the coolest? No, that’s not correct, it’s more like a competition of different gangs. Our gang is better than your gang. We believe this and you believe that, we are right and you are wrong. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but just a little bit. It’s amazing how the different blogs call each other out and tell them they are wrong. It’s amazing how judgmental they are towards people who hold a different opinion than they do. And who really cares? Do people who don’t know Jesus and need to be told about him care? Is it going to be easier to reach people for the Lord if you are post-evangelical or if you are post-modern? Is this really what’s important in Christianity? It makes my head hurt.

What happened to following the simple words of Jesus? Love one another. Reach out to people who need assistance. Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. Pretty basic stuff. I know sometimes it’s easy to say and hard to do. But all in all, it’s a pretty simple thing to understand. I’m not saying we need to be Pollyanna all the time and pretend stuff is ok when it’s not. It is ok to disagree with someone, but why do we have to dwell on it all the time?

It makes my head hurt and my heart break.



Guitar Chords and Transposing

People often ask me how they can learn to play guitar. I always tell them 'take lessons.' That doesn't seem to be a very popular answer. I think many people think there is a magic short cut where they can say the magic words and sleep on a guitar instruction manual one night and they will become the next virtuoso. I wish it was that easy.

If you are looking for a few resources to help you along the way. The following links could be useful. If you come across a chord you can't remember or don't know, this site will help. You can look up chords and see what strings to play. Fairly useful. This site also has some uncommon chords on it. Now you can rest easy knowing that if you forget what a Ebmsus4 is or the fingering for a G#dim/Eb slips your mind you'll have a resource at your finger tips.

If you already know all your chords then maybe you can use this to help transpose your song to a different key.

One last resource is a Capo transpose chart. This chart helps you play that difficult song more easily by using your capo.

Keep practicing and before you know it you will be playing with the worship team.



It's too quiet

For the first time since they blew up the building next to my work on August 6 (see previous posts here and here), it's quiet outside my window. No big machinery, no backup beepers, no sound of crushing cement, no sound of buckets full of debris going into dump trucks, no nothing. It is just quiet. All that’s left is a dirt lot, the porta-potties, a few pieces of machinery (that I imagine the construction crew will use) and the trailer for the office.

Construction should start soon and the noise will be back. I suspect it will take them much longer to build the new building than it did to destroy the old one.

Life is like that isn’t it? A short moment can destroy something that took a long time to build. And once it's destroyed, it takes a long time to rebuild or replace it. Whether we are talking about people or things, it’s still true. A cross word can cause someone great pain and in a moment we can destroy them, or their self-worth. I wonder how many times, without even realizing it or without meaning to, I said something that tore someone down instead of lifting them up? I hope it’s not been too many times, but I bet it’s more than it should be. I think I’d rather build people up instead of tearing them down.

But if we are talking about getting to blow something up, yea – I’m up for that!



Guitar Chords

Just in case that last post encourages you to play your guitar more (sorry I don't know how to play the uke), here's a great link to just about every known guitar chord in the universe.


Thanks to the Worship Guitar Guy for this find.


Cool Uke

We had the ninja drummer and now we have the cool uke. I've never heard a uke played like this before. Pretty cool.



Filed Under the “Huh?” Category

I went to the AMA Motocross Championship at Glen Helen today. I went with a friend and took my two sons. All in all we had a great day. We had a good spot to watch the race and we saw some good racing. It was a good day of guy stuff.

Glen Helen raceway is located in San Bernardino, CA. For those familiar with the area, you know that means it’s going to be warm. Now you must understand that ‘warm’ in San Bernardino would be considered ‘down right hot’ in many places on the earth. However, San Bernardino has its own special definition for hot. Fortunately, it was not hot today in San Bernardino, it was only warm. Warm equates to the mid-90s in San Bernardino. I think the announcer said it was T-shirt weather. Yea, like I’d wear a jacket when it is 95 degrees. I think T-shirt weather starts at about 65 degrees, but I digress.

So as we sat in our chairs in the warmness of San Bernardino, I looked around and noticed that many people had umbrellas or other shade producing paraphernalia. As my brain slowly cooked like a fried egg, I was able produce only one logical thought, “I need shade too.” So I set out on a quest to purchase an umbrella. A short walk brought me to a Glen Helen authorized souvenir stand and there on the counter in all its glory was a big Glen Helen umbrella (think big golf umbrella with motorcycles and graphics all over it). I was saved! I casually enquired about the cost of this highly desired item. I was trying not to show how desperate I was and how much I would have been willing to pay for this valuable item. It must have worked because the vendor quoted me a very reasonable price; far under the 4-digit figure I was willing to pay for some shade. Yes! Success was with in my grasp.

However, my good fortune quickly reversed. The vendor walked around the smallish souvenir stand and then reported that they didn’t have any more umbrellas. What?! I’m standing right here next to this one that is proudly on display on the counter top. But the vendor firmly reported that they didn’t have any more umbrellas. My desperate mind raced for a solution to this problem. Clearly they did have at least one umbrella, even though the clerk was sure they didn’t. In a last ditch act of desperation I suggested that they did have one more umbrella, it was right here and she should sell me the umbrella on the counter. She looked at me like I was crazy. She informed me that she couldn’t sell me the one on the counter, because they needed it to advertise their umbrellas. Huh?!? Even my slowly cooking brain understood the absurdness of that statement. Why would a business want to turn away a sale to advertise for an item they don’t have anymore? Who knows how many more times she was going to have this discussion with other shade seeking individuals? With one easy move she could save herself from having to tell people she was out of umbrellas all day, she could have one more sale AND I could have shade. That seemed like a win-win-win situation to me – but unfortunately not to her. She stuck to her guns and refused to sell that one last umbrella. Denied. No!!!

I wonder how many times I’ve denied someone something that they thought made sense, but I didn’t. I wonder how many times someone asked me for something simple, and I made it difficult. I wonder how many times I was asked a question about God and all the asker wanted was a simple answer, but I made it convoluted and hard. When I think about the stories Jesus told to people when they asked questions there is one characteristic they all have. The stories are simple enough to be easily understood. There is no doubt what the primary point of the story is, yet many of those stories also contain deep truths. That's so cool. But for now my goal is to be simple enough to be understood. I'll defer my desire to be simple AND deep for later.

If you are concerned about me, don’t be. I was able to stagger to another souvenir stand and purchase an umbrella from a smiling vendor who understood the value of making a sale. I had my shade, my brain didn’t cook, and I’m still around to ponder.



News Junkies Unite!

If you love to read the news, then this is for you! The front page of newspapers all over the world.
View by list, map, country, etc. etc.



Ninja Drummer

My friend over at Krausology.com had a contest a while back about who was your favorite ninja. At the time of contest, I didn't have a favorite ninja. I had never really considered who my favorite ninja might be. Aside from the Kawasaki Ninja motorcycles, I had no idea of who any ninjas even were. Sure there were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I can never remember which one is Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo or Raphael anyway. In my experience, ninjas were always secretive, move like a ghost, anonymous warriors who showed up during critical scenes in Kung-Fu movies to mess up the good guy’s plans. You didn’t have a fav ninja. Most of the time you didn’t even know who the ninjas were, let alone have a favorite. Plus it was preposterous to even suggest that one ninja might be better than another. The losers in the contest could get really upset and that could end badly for me.
As you can tell, I really had a hard time picking one ninja over another in his poll. Crazy I know, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that somehow voting for a favorite ninja was just wrong.
However, my opinion has recently changed and I think I’ve found my fav ninja. His name is Ivan Pacheco and he calls himself a snare drum ninja. I think that counts, doesn’t it? Anyway, I feel so much better now that I have a favorite ninja.



Who Knows the Future?

Seth Godin posted this picture in his blog. It's from a Derek Hill, maybe that's him in the photo. I have no idea where this came from, but it is too funny. If anyone finds a high res version of this pic, please let me know!
This reminds me a little snippet I saw from a cop once. They were talking about all the fortune tellers they had busted (fraud, operating a business without a license, etc.), anyway, the snippet was, "Not one of them ever could tell me that they were about to get arrested."
No one knows the future. I'm not sure I'd want to know, even if I was given the opportunity. I guess I've watched too many time travel movies where knowing the future just messes everything up.
I think I'll just let God worry about the future.



Never Enough

I'm not sure what makes guys want to make vehicles with obscene amounts of power. I do know it's great fun to stand around and grunt over some major horse power. Ron Patrick knows how to do it right. First he built a jet-powered VW. Why? Who knows, but I'd sure like to ride in it just once.
Now he is working on a jet-powered scooter. Yup, that's right. A jet-powered scooter. Obscene! But, wow, that would be so cool. I hope he gets it working.



I hate plumbing!

I hate plumbing. It is evil. It knows the most inopportune time to break. It breaks in the worst places (i.e., unreachable). Any threaded fitting will be bonded together with some substance that is the strongest bond in the universe. Pipe wrenches do nothing but break pipes, usually inside of walls (as opposed to loosening stuck fittings that are outside the walls). And any trip to the hardware store for a plumbing repair will take 15 more trips back to the store to exchange or purchase another part. I don’t know if plumbing has the mark of the beast (666), but I bet it’s either 665 or 667.

Our toilet broke the Friday before my parents were coming down for a week. Fortunately, we have 3 toilets available. Two inside the house, plus we have a nice bathroom outside that is primarily used for the pool, but it’s a full functioning bathroom. So even though the toilet in the master bath broke, there were two others to use. Normally when a toilet breaks, you run over the local home improvement store and purchase a part or two and your back in business. Oh no, it’s never that easy.

Apparently we have the Cadillac of all toilets ever made. It’s a Case toilet. It’s pretty nice, I guess, as far as toilets go. It’s designed so that it can never overflow and bunch of other nifty toilet technology that most normal people never consider in their entire lives. The problem is, they quit making Case toilets in the late 70’s or early 80’s. Apparently, there’s not much of a market for Cadillac toilets. Since, I couldn’t just run to the local hardware store, I hit the internet. Sure enough, some place in New Jersey has parts. Cool! Elation! And they well ship them directly to my door for only $200. Ouch!

Now some of the Do-It-Yourself types are screaming that the monitor right now, “Just replace the entire toilet! They are only $100.” Remember, plumbing lives next to the beast. Apparently, when you are designing the Cadillac of all toilets, you don’t worry about what everyone else in the industry is doing – you know better. After all, you are building a better toilet. So what we have is a wall mount (yes, that’s correct Virginia), a wall mount, residential, tank type toilet. Yea, let me see you get one of those at Home Depot. There are a few companies that make such a beast. But remember, with plumbing it’s never quite that easy. It seems that our Cadillac toilet has a different bolt pattern then the currently available wall mount toilets. So you can’t just unbolt the old one and bolt on a new one. Now this can be fixed by simply tearing a whole in the wall, replacing the header mount with a new one, patching the wall and hanging the new toilet. Yea, like I believe that.

Yesterday evening, I was very happy when the man in brown showed up and delievered us from our we-only-have-two-working-toilets-hell that we had been living in for 1 week, 4 days and 15 hours. I managed to get out all all the old parts and install the new parts in about an hour and I didn't even break anything else or need 15 trips to the hardware store. Woohoo! I think the planets must have been in aligment or something.

Seriously, sometimes we get so caught up in the little things. We could have let the problem toilet ruin our vacation, but we didn't. We could have let the $200 foul our mood, but we didn't. We have much to be thankful for. This is just a minor inconvience. The more I remember that, the more I am less concerned with that evil plumbing.

Life_, Fun_, Pondering_,

Building Deconstruction Update

Remember, they blew up the old building next to us two weeks ago. The demolition crew said they would have it cleaned up in two weeks. I was skeptical. I watched the clean up for the first week. The crew made excellent progress. Then I was out of the office last week making a cabinet with Dad for my wife's classroom. So I didn’t get to watch the progress the crew made.

When I came back to the office, the building is almost completely gone. There’s some foundation parts left and a huge pile of concrete. But by in large all the steel is gone and they are getting rid of the concrete. Maybe by the end of this week it will be all gone.

It’s been interesting to watch, but I sure am tired of that backing up beeper on the front end loader. I'm guessing that I will get to see construction on the new building beginning in a couple of weeks.

More stuff to ponder about...



Replacing Old with New

This past week has been fun AND a lot of hard work. I know that fun and hard work don’t often go together. Before that will make sense, I need to fill in you on some background details.

My wife, Linda, is a school teacher a small Christian school in Bellflower. There’s not a lot of money for upgrades in this school. In Linda’s classroom was an old cabinet that someone built years ago. It had big pull out drawers that she could use to hold posters and other large items that are needed for bulletin boards in the classroom. But the drawers didn’t work very well and the sliding doors in front of the drawers were always a hassle. Basically the cabinet was so hard to use that Linda didn’t use it.

Enter my father, the master craftsmen. He wanted to make a new cabinet for her that would be easier to use and maybe even look a little better too. The problem is my Dad lives in Tennessee. Yup, that means his shop and all his cool woodworking tools are in Tennessee too. My limited tools certainly were not up to the task of making a quality piece of furniture. That didn’t stop my dad. He had me take some measurements and then he cut the parts for the drawers at home in his shop and sent them to me. The plan was he could cut the parts that I didn’t have to tools to do and that we could assemble the drawers here and build the carcass of the cabinet. It was a good plan, but it has some risks to it. If anything goes wrong, I wouldn’t have the tools to fix it or make a new part.

This past week my parents flew out and my Dad constructed the cabinet – with my awesome help. We were able to build the cabinet with no issues that we couldn’t overcome. So this past week was fun, my parents were out and my brother and his son were able to stop by for a few days. It was fun. But it was also a bunch of hard work to rip out the old cabinet and build a new one. We managed to do a few other small projects around the school too, but the cabinet was the main one.

I never fully developed all the woodworking skills my father has. But I’ve helped him on enough projects to know a little bit. I know what we need to do next, I am able to anticipate what tools will be needed next. It was fun to do that again. I love the way the wood smells when it’s cut and sanded. But one of the most rewarding things about building cabinets and furniture is the sense of completion. To be able to take out something old and used up and replace it with something new, functional and beautiful. There’s a real sense of accomplishment. One of the things I’ve learned while helping my dad on the various projects through the years, most people cannot visualize what the finished project will look like. Sure they know it will be nice, but they don’t truly understand what they are getting until it’s done. That was reinforced this week at the school. Most of the teachers stopped by to check out the cabinet and they all said it looked nice. But not until it was done did they really understand how the cabinet would look and function.

I wonder how many times in our lives there is something used up and worn out that the Lord is just waiting to get rid of. He’s got something better that he wants to make and replace that old piece of junk. But we just can’t let go of the old thing. We can’t visualize how this new thing the Lord wants to do could possibly be better than the old thing we know and love. Even though it’s old and worn out, we love it. It’s familiar. We know what to expect. We know how to deal with it. We don’t want new things. We don’t understand how it could be better. Basically we don’t trust the Master Craftsmen. That’s a dangerous place to be.



Sing Like the King

Today is the 29th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. In honor of this day, the world's first training video for Elvis impersonators will be released on DVD. Learn to dance and sing just like the King. If you are really serious about this, be sure to download the 10 Commandments for Elvis impersonators - they are free.

I wonder why so many people want to "sing like the King" instead of "singing to the King" at church/worship. If the worship leader wore a white jumper with glittery stuff on it, would that help? I doubt it. There must be something that we can learn from this - I'm just not sure what it is yet.

Thanks to MMI (Monday Morning Insight) for pointing out this treasure.



AirTap de Erik Mongrain

Very cool guitar player. Search on Google video for Erik Mongrain for more videos.



It was 20 years ago today...

Remember the song from the Beatles, "It was 20 years ago today, that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play..."? Well, Sergeant Pepper wasn't involved and it's actually been 21 years ago today that my wife, Linda, and I were married.

Doesn't seem like it could have possibly have been that long. I guess the old adage of "time flies when you're having fun" is true. It's been 21 great years.

I love you, Linda.


Driving Darth Vader

Interesting story about a Christian tow truck driver who gave a lengthy tow to Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker).

What a great opportunity for the driver to share his faith. Read the whole story here.



What a mess!

If you have been following this blog, you know they blew up the old Logicon building next to us this past weekend. (read about it few posts down if you missed it.) Anyway, now they have a big mess of scrap to clean up. The newspaper reported that they would have it cleaned up in two weeks. Well, looking out my window on day two, I have to wonder if that will really happen. I guess we will know in 12 more days.

Right now there is a big pile of broken building laying on it’s side. Surprisingly, large sections of the building are still relatively in tact. (see picture taken from our parking structure) So the crew needs to dismantle the remaining pieces and haul it away. Conceptually, this is easy to understand – to watch the process in work is completely different. They don’t just use a big machine to grab junks of building and dump into trucks and haul it away. The building is carefully taken part and separated into different types of materials, presumably for recycling. All the concrete is broken up and the massive pieces of rebar are separated into another pile. Then there are different types of steel and metal that each go into their own piles. The big pieces need to be broken and cut into small pieces. It’s really quite an operation to watch, the big machinery working in concert with guys with torches to reduce the mighty building into bite size pieces. It actually makes an impossible looking task look – well, possible.

How many times in our lives to do we have something that looks impossible? We’d like to lose weight, or quit some habit, or whatever. You usually can’t get rid of it in one fell swoop. You can’t loose 50 lbs in one week. It’s difficult to stop smoking (or some other habit) cold turkey. Usually small changes that are sustainable and doable, make an impossible task look possible. Kind of like cutting up the big building into small pieces.

If we want to get rid of something in our lives, start getting rid of it piece by piece. I read once that if you do something 11 times in a row (I have no idea why 11 is the magic number), that you are well on your way to making that a habit. This is pretty good news for us. If you are trying to cut down on your coffee intake, for example. If you could limit yourself to 1 cup a morning, instead of 2 or 3, for 11 days in a row, you’d be well on your way to making that change. 11 times only. That seems doable.

Hey, maybe you can have something in your life changed about the same time the guys next door have old Logicon building all cleared away.



Follow up on building demolition

photo by: Suzanne Mapes/ Press-Telegram

The old building in San Pedro was successfully brought down Sunday (8/6/06).

Video here.

Ponderings_, Fun_,


A nation of wimps?

The folks over at Addison Road had a link to this article. It's kind of long, but there's a lot of truth in this.

Read the article here.



Speaking of changes...

The building next to the one where I work will be demolished this weekend. If you live in Los Angeles, watch the news on Sunday, it will probably be on. Actually, the building has been in the process of being demolished for quite a while. It's been an interesting process to watch.

The building awaiting the executioner is actually my company’s old building. Turns out it had asbestos in it, so we got a new building. (Fortunately, I never worked in that building, but in one of the other smaller buildings.) This building has been vacant for quite a while (years). Obviously it needed major work to remove the asbestos and remodel it for new tenants. It appears nobody wanted to do that. Now the plan is the building comes down and they will build some high-end condos on the site.

To take down the old building, they had to remove all the asbestos. So they covered the whole building in plastic. Now this is an eleven story office building, so that effort was something else. Then the workers began. I expected them to remove the asbestos from inside the building and when the plastic came off, the building would look basically unchanged from the outside. Wrong! When the plastic came off, EVERYTHING was gone. Only the cement pillars and steel beams that make the floors were left. The carpet, the drywall, the plumbing, the wires, the tile, the outer walls and everything else was gone. It was amazing. Recently the workers have been weakening the building and getting ready to blow up the remaining structure. It is fascinating to watch what they are doing. And sometimes the noise of the deconstruction has made it difficult to work.

The old building is not too far away from our new building. Actually, it’s one alley away from us. I am sure the crew knows what they are doing and they will be able to collapse this building and leave ours intact. But everyone at the offices wonders if we will have offices on Monday when we get back to work. I’m not sure if it would be good news to have no office or bad news. No work would be cool, no pay would not be so cool.

All this work to get rid of some old junk that no one wanted. Why? To make room for something newer, better, more desirable. I guess that’s progress. Certainly our old building was no landmark, or even that particularly good looking. So I doubt too many people will miss it. But there’s risk in getting rid of the old building. There’s risk in handling the asbestos. There’s risk that the building won’t fall correctly and it will damage other buildings. I’m sure it’s expensive. I know the new building will cost a lot of money to build and then there’s risk people might not buy the condos. (There’s a different condo complex going in on the other side of our building too.)

Change and Risk. Our lives are often full of both. Usually we don’t like change and risk. We view them as trouble, difficult, unwanted. I think they are a necessary part of life. Not just a necessary evil, but something that is necessary for a good, balanced life. We endured risk when we learned to walk and talk. Things changed when we went to school. Our lives are full of change and risk. Sometimes we are unwilling to take a risk to remove the old things from our lives that need to go and make room for something new that God wants to do. It's hard to take the risk and let God bring about the change.

Unfortunately, we are also often unwilling to risk very much to tell our friends about God. We could bring about a great change in their lives – and their eternal lives. But we think the risk is too great.

How much are you willing to risk, to bring about a great change?


Small changes

I spent most of my free time yesterday applying some tweaks to the layout of this blog and making my new banner (isn't it pretty?). Funny, I've been here two whole days and I am already tweaking and finding the limits of what this free system can do. I understand with "free" come limitations. I'll wait a bit and see how this all works out, but maybe someday I'll move to a real site where I can have some serious fun with laying everything out.

Life_, Tech_,


AOL is going Freebie

AOL has been losing members at an alarming rate. AOL has lost nine million customers in almost four years, slumping from a high of 26.7 million in September 2002 to 17.7 million at the end of June this year. And the rate of people leaving AOL is increasing.

So what does AOL do? They turn their backs on their well established subscription model. AOL will offer its distinctive services such as email and web security free to anyone with broadband, relying on the revenues generated by online advertising. Google, Yahoo! and MSN are already playing in this market, which was worth an estimated $8.3bn in the US last year and is outgrowing all other media. More info on AOL's switch here.

The good news is - No more AOL disks stuffing your mail box! Whoo Hoo! Man I hate those things.

But this change in AOL's approach got me to thinking. AOL is going with the "if you can't beat them, join them" approach. And I guess sometimes that's ok, maybe even called for. But I wonder if the church does this too. Instead of offering something distinctive and unique, we look at the world and say, "Hey look what they are doing, we should do that too." Now sometimes this could be ok. For example, if we look at Coca-Cola and say they are advertising, maybe the church should advertise too. That's reasonable and this is not a moral issue. But there are times when we shouldn't do this. We need to stay true to our beliefs, the things that make us followers of Jesus, the things that make us unique. We don't need to make excuses, or water down our ideals in an attempt to reach others.

The trick is to keep the main thing the main thing. (adapted from Stephen R. Covey)


Creation Museum

MSNBC had a link today regarding a high-tech creationism museum. You can read about it here.

This could be interesting. This museum has the potential to show creationism has some valid theories and might be possible. This museum also has the potential to be a problem for creationism. Sometimes in our desire to prove that the Bible and our view point is right, we can take shortcuts, which hurts our ultimate goal.

I hope this museum does us all proud. And while I am not sure they can "prove" creationism, I am glad someone is making an effort to show the other side of the debate, since we usually only get to hear about evolution.

I guess time will tell. If someone lives close enough to go when it opens, I'd love to hear about your experience.


This is it

This is something I've been debating for a while, should I start a blog or not? I'd hate to get started on this and not keep it going. However, I think there's enough interesting items happening in the world and how they relate to Christians to keep us busy.

Welcome aboard!