2008-12-30

A Little Green


One of the goals that I'd like to meet next year is to be a little more green. Not the color, but eco. Being green is one of the cool things that we'd all like to be, but there's so much noise, confusion, and misinformation that's hard to know what to do. For one, I think the the extremists on both sides don't help. Some tell us that we shouldn't do anything that hurts the planet - don't cut down a single tree, never run an internal combustion engine and heaven forbid never use a regular light bulb (apparently using regular incandescent bulbs is the single worst thing you can do). The other side is no better. They tell us there is plenty of oil, plenty of trees and that the status quo is good. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Nearly everyone believes we need to take care of the planet. It's the how that we differ on. If you believe some folks, the simple act of using a CFL (Compact Florescent Light) will save the planet. I think it's a little tougher than that, although I do have some CFLs in my house. Of course, others tell you that everything is just fine and there's nothing to worry about. I'm not sure that I believe that either. I'm no expert, but I suspect we are going to need to make some adjustments in our lifestyles. I want to do my part, without turning into some eco-terrorist.

I was proud of my little contribution recently. Like nearly everyone else in America, I've got a garden hose in the back with a spray nozzle on it. After several seasons the nozzle broke. However, I could not get that *#&$^% nozzle off the hose. The metal nozzle had fused itself to the metal end of the hose. Pipe wrenches, thread releaser, nothing worked. I needed to water the plants so I cut off the end of hose. I figured I'd just have to replace the hose. When I went to the local home improvement store to replace it, I was shocked to find out how much a stupid garden hose is. Then I saw a little plastic end to replace the end of the hose. For a $1.99, I figured I give it a try. I didn't really expect it work, I expected it to leak like crazy or come shooting off when I turned on the water. But I was trying to be a little green, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I'm happy to report that it works like a champ! It doesn't leak. It was easy. (And remember, I Hate Plumbing!). And it was only $1.99. Now my garden hose is like 2 inches shorter than it was - no big deal. It's as good as new, so my old one is not in a landfill. The plastic end shouldn't fuse to the new nozzle like the old metal one did. And did I mention that I saved quite a bit of green (cash)? Not too bad.

What little steps are you willing to take to help take care of the planet? That's worth pondering about...

2008-12-29

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not much of a New Year's Resolutions kind of person. It seems like I can never keep a New Year's resolution very long. I don't know what happens, but they just don't work. If it works for you - that's great. But it doesn't work for me. So my normal New Year's Resolution is "not to resolve."

But this year I do have some goals I want to accomplish. (Maybe if I don't call them resolutions they'll work better.) One of my overarching goals is to be a better Christ-follower. This one always gives me problems because it's to vague and I worry about being a fake Christian. I end up with read the Bible more, spend more time in prayer and be less self centered on my list. I guess those are ok, but they are pretty nebulous and hard to follow through on. But if you make a more detailed list, you can run into problems too. I don't want my resolutions, oops - I mean goals, to look like this.
1. Get a holier email like IForgiveYou70x7@yahoo.com. (It's available - I checked...)
2. To look more righteous and pious by carrying my Bible with me everywhere I go. (hey, maybe then I could get through the Read the Bible in a Year plan in something under 4 years.)
3. Obliterate all the other Vacation Bible Schools in town.
4. Join the prayer team at church so I can look more spiritual.
5. Follow more theological blogs in my RSS feeds.
6. Include the Bible verse of the day on my blog.
7. Make sure my church website takes all comers in the Church Websites Smackdown.
(list inspired by The Stuff Christians Like and he's WAY funnier than me. You can find him at http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/2008/12/462-making-christian-flavored.html)

Recently I've been dwelling on what's the difference between the a typical, fake Christian that no one likes and a true Christ follower. My goal is to be the later and NOT the former. Everyone hates people who ACT holier than thou. Non-Christians don't like them because they are always all over their case about something. Christians don't like them because they give Christianity a bad name and they're basically a pain-in-the-neck. And I'm pretty sure that Jesus doesn't like their behavior either. I REALLY don't want to be that type of Christian.
I want to be a genuine Christ-follower, not a religious guy.
I want to be authentic, not a fake Christian.
I want to be about people, not about programs, ministries and services.
Even saying some of those things can make you throw up a little in your mouth. They are so over used and cliche that it's disgusting. But I do desire to be better. So I'm working on list that will help me accomplish those goals. It's not easy....

What are your resolutions, I mean goals, for the New Year? That's worth pondering about....

2008-12-27

One Last Christmas Post


Yea, I know - Christmas is over. But there's something that has been bothering me about Christmas this year and I thought if I wrote about it - maybe I'd get over it.

I was born and raised in the East and Mid-West. Christmas was a fun time of snow, sledding, lights, Christmas decorations and very typical winter activities. I have fond memories of going to the "old downtown" where the stores were festively decorated and walking around in the cold winter evenings. Christmas in Southern California is a completely different beast. Usually we have sunny skies and pretty fair temperatures (this year was a bit unusually cold and wet). It's a very different feeling to Christmas.

Recently, one of my childhood friends on facebook asked me, "How do you get into the Christmas spirit in California without the snow and cold?" I understood what he meant. When I first moved to So Cal, it did take some getting used to. Christmas just didn't quite seem right. However, you adjust and eventually decorating the palm trees in the front yard while wearing shorts and a t-shirt seems like a normal Christmas.

But his question bothered me (hence this post). Why should it take certain atmospheric conditions to get me in the Christmas Spirit? And what does snow or no snow have to do with Christmas? Again, I understand his question. Certain rhythms or traditions in our lives is a good thing. There's nothing wrong with that. Cold weather, snow and Christmas lights are a great combination that help us feel festive and somehow ready for Christmas. That's perfectly ok. But does it help us get ready for Christ? Or does it help us get ready for spending too much money on too many people? That's a question we each have to answer individually.

I know this year my family made a conscious effort to be less about the stuff and more about the real reason of Christmas. I like that. It feels good. We didn't spend too much money, but we had a great time with our friends and family. Perfect.

I think this verse from The Message says it best.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

It doesn't matter if it's cold and snowy or not. It matters where your focus is. Are you focused on external things like presents, decorations, parties, etc? Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but those things shouldn't be our main focus. Maybe we should be more focused on what Jesus did, and continues to do, for us. Maybe we should be more focused on the "unforced rhythms of grace."

I know where my focus is. Where is your's? That's worth pondering about...

PS - I know I won't be missing the January/February blues when it's cold and nasty. I'll be riding my motorcycle! I LOVE So Cal!

2008-12-25

I Celebrate the Day

By Relient K



Merry Christmas!

2008-12-24

It's Not Christmas without Some Ho Ho Hoey

Gary Hoey makes some rockin Christmas music. But again, not many videos. Here are a couple of samples.



2008-12-23

The 12 Days of Christmas

Relient K style

Angels We Have Heard on High

Relient K does some cool Christmas stuff. But they don't make many videos...

2008-12-22

Music Box Blues

One last TSO.



You just can't go wrong with Trans-Siberian Orchestra!

O Holy Night

More TSO. From their 1998 TV special/movie.

Faith Noel

More TSO

We Definately Need Some TSO

That would be some Trans Siberian Orchestra!

Christmas Canon Rock

2008-12-21

Happy Christmas

Yea, it's not Christmas without John Lennon

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

This is not really one of my fav Christmas songs. But I've always kind of like John Cougar Mellencamp.... I think that's his daughter singing at the end. Apparently she didn't get his voice.

Christmas Song

Here's a rare one from Blues Traveler



One of my favorites.

2008-12-20

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings

BNL and Sarah McLachlan



Love this version!

What are you listening to???

What are some of your fav Christmas tunes? Post them in the comments.

Little Drummer Boy

What Christmas is complete with Bowie and Bing?

2008-12-19

The Christmas Song

This is always a classic



Dave Matthews and Tim Reyonlds

I've Been Away Too Long

Sorry that I've been far to absent around here. It's just been plain old crazy, busy this year. I'm finally getting a bit into the Christmas spirit this year. I know, kind of late, but hey - it is what it is.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post some fun Christmas music from YouTube. So over the next couple of days watch for some of what I am listening to this Christmas.

2008-11-25

Ken Block Shows Off Some Mad Skills

This guy can really drive!



I wanna know where I can get a 530hp Subaru!

2008-11-09

Worth Watching

Wow.... What an inspiration.


What are you complaining about that you really shouldn't be?

Update: Video is now available here http://www.maniacworld.com/are-you-going-to-finish-strong.html

2008-11-02

Interesting Conversation

When the prospective jurors (that includes me) were at lunch on Friday, a situation developed that I found interesting - as well as thought provoking.

I was sitting by myself at a little outdoor eating area reading my book. The 5 people at the table next to me were heavily involved in a discussion about Prop. 8 (gay marriage). They appeared to be extremely against gay marriage - based on their language. Lots of strong adjectives, lots of colorful language that people don't use in mixed company (although there males and females at the table). As the discussion went around and around as to why gays should not marry, a lesbian couple walked past. I guess I don't really know that they were lesbian, but since one of the girls (yes, they were very young - probably high schoolers) had her hand down the pants of the other one with her hand on her butt, I'm making the assumption that they were lesbian.

As you can imagine, that couple walking past re-ignited the conversation at the table next to me. Another way of putting it, would be that it poured gasoline on the fire.

As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is wrong.
As an American, I believe in live and let live.
Up till now those two items have never been in conflict. I realize that I can't force my beliefs on anyone else, nor do I wish too. But at the same time I don't want someone else to force me to accept their beliefs.

It's a tough issue. I suspect that either way the vote turns out - the issue will end up back in court. It kind of makes voting on this particular measure feel very empty.

That doesn't make me happy.

2008-10-31

Rough Day So Far...

I got called in for Jury Duty on my Friday off.... Bummer.
I got rear-ended by someone on the way to court this morning.... Double Bummer.
I haven't gotten put onto a jury yet.... Well, that's one good thing.

Update: I managed to escape without getting on a jury. Now to get some estimates on getting my truck fixed. At least the damage is not too bad.

2008-10-26

Funny Marketing

My son turned 16 a few days ago. He got the usual barrage of cards from family and friends. Most had some money in them to help him celebrate his big day. One card was different. It was from the Car-Freshner Corporation (yes, they spell their name wrong). You know the guys who make those little pine tree car freshener thingies. They actually sent him a Car-Freshner for his 16th birthday!
That is just classically funny.

2008-10-14

Vote

I seriously hope everyone is registered to vote and planning to vote this year. It's important. I honestly believe that.

If you haven't decided on who to vote for, maybe this will help you decide.

click here

2008-10-03

Fun Friday Video



I'm not quite that bad.... yet...

2008-10-02

Back Up Plan

Do you have a back up plan? You might need one.

2008-09-29

Late is Not Always Better Than Never

It was an interesting weekend here in Downey. We weren't supposed to drink the water. Now over all, this isn't all that unusual, cities occasionally issue warnings like this for contaminations. Most Californians don't drink the water anyway - we'd much rather pay premium prices for water in a plastic bottle. But I digress...

Here's some of the back story. The city of Downey "produces" most of their own water. I laugh every time I read that, but I'm pretty sure there's not a water factory in Downey. The good Lord provided water and Downey pumps it out of the ground at 25 different wells. Downey also has 25 test sites where they continuously test the water. (Anyone wanna bet the 25 test sites are next to the 25 wells?)

Sometime on Thursday, three of the 25 test sites reported higher than allowed levels of bacteria. This happens occasionally here in So Cal (and probably in other major cities too). Usually the city just works with the area affected. But for some reason Downey decided to issue the 'boil your water' release to the entire city. This hit the news outlets Thursday evening and Friday morning. Most Downey residents learned of the order to boil water from the news. Apparently this upset some folks, rightly so in my opinion. So Friday evening the city used their calling system to call all the residents in Downey telling them to boil their water. This was more than 24 hours after the bacteria had been found. At our house, we got two phone calls about an hour apart.

At the time the old saying, "Better late than never" popped into my head as I thought about how late the notice was. Chances were that if I drink tap water, that I would have done so already in the last 24 hours. This was not a big issue for our family. We could easily boil water and we had some bottled water (for my wife - I drink the raw tap water). However, it was kind of unusual to see every restaurant and fast food place in Downey closed all weekend. I bet that hurt some one's pockets.

Late Sunday evening, and by late I mean 10:30 pm, the mayor's recorded voice was on the phone again. This time telling us it was safe to drink the water. Cool. I wondered about a call so late in the evening. Linda and I had just gone to bed so it didn't interrupt us to much, but I'm sure some others go to bed much earlier than that. I remember wondering about two phone calls on Friday evening as I drifted off to sleep. Sure enough, at 11:35 pm the phone rings again with the same message from the mayor. 11:35 at night. I don't want a drink of water at 11:35 pm. I want peace and quiet so I can sleep. Needless to say, my vote will go the other guy running for mayor at the next election.

So, while I'm frustrated with Downey's leadership in handling this relatively minor situation - I also find myself wondering if 'better late than never' is really true. If the water had been seriously contaminated, instead of slightly elevated levels of bacteria (probably harmless), would telling the population more than 24 hours later be ok? I don't think so. In 24 hours I bet a lot people drink water, brush their teeth and do other things that could expose them to the bad water. Is waking everyone up, twice, at night ok? Hey, we know it's late, but we wanted to let you know... Come on. That's just ridiculous.

Most of us have probably said better late than never at least one in our lives. I know I have. I'm going to make an effort to be more careful when saying that from now on. I don't think late is better than never. On time is better. If it's your birthday, I want to tell you happy birthday on time - not late. If you are sorrowful for something, I want to tell you when you mourn that you have my sympathies, not late. If you are celebrating a wedding, graduation or other big event, I want to tell you congratulations on time, not late. On time, now that is better.

2008-09-28

That's just disturbing

I was at Target this past week with the family. Target seems to be one of the few stores that we all like to go to. There is something there for just about everybody (at least in our family).

Anyway, we are walking around the store and of course the Halloween section is in fully glory. The costumes, the decorations, the candy - it was all there. Right behind the orange and black Halloween decorations, was the white and red lights of Christmas. Yup, that's right. Christmas decorations in September! Out on display with the Halloween goodies. That was just plain old sad to me.

I know Christmas is a big deal.
I know Christmas is more commercial than I wish it was.
I know that for many retailers, a good Christmas can be the difference between closing the doors or remaining open.
But wow, Christmas in September with Halloween. That's just too much.

2008-09-14

What are you asking?

I received a call from WalMart the other day. First of all you have to understand that I hate WalMart. I refuse to shop there. So I was very surprised they would call me. I wondered if I was the last person on earth who didn't shop there and they were calling to find out why. It turns out they wanted a reference for someone who had applied to work at WalMart.

For a brief moment I was impressed with WalMart. I've had quite a few friends through the years who would say "I used you for a reference on an application" and usually no one ever calls. So here WalMart was actually following up. The HR rep said, "I only have three questions to ask you." "OK," I thought, that can't be too bad. Then she actually asked five questions. Not follow ups, but actual questions. Why set the expectation to three questions and ask five? Did she think I'd hang up when I found out that I would have to answer 5 questions?

One of the questions was very unique. She asked if "I thought the applicant could do the job to which they had applied." So I asked what I thought was a very normal question, "What did they apply for?" Hey, if the guy applied for the CEO spot, maybe he's not up to that. But if he's applied for the stockroom, then we're good. The HR rep told me that she couldn't tell me what job he had applied for. I asked, "So you want me to tell you that the applicant can do the job, but you won't tell me what the job is?" She said, "Yes." That sound you hear is what little respect I had for WalMart leaving the room.

I almost gave my friend a bad review - I wanted to save him the pain of working for a company like that. But I didn't. I told the HR rep that "They could do the unknown job very well." She seemed ok with that.

If you are going to ask someone to do something - make sure there's value added to it. Don't ask them to give you give you a reference for something unknown. Don't ask them to do more than you originally asked for.

It doesn't seem that hard....

2008-09-09

It’s the Simple Things

It’s the simple things that make life so great. Things like new motorcycle tires. I love new motorcycle tires. It’s kind of like when you were a little kid and you got new sneakers – except it’s a million billion times better. Remember how new shoes made you run so much faster? New motorcycle tires are just like that.

For those who haven’t thought about such things – motorcycle tires have a round profile. Compare that to car tires which are decidedly square. Car tires have a large side wall, a fairly abrupt angle and then the tread which is fairly flat. Contrast that with motorcycle tires that have a small sidewall and a very rounded tread. This type of tire makes it much easier for bikes to lean when turning (relatively important).

The problem is when you don’t turn very much and you just ride your bike in a straight line – like I mostly do going back and forth to work everyday. Then your tires develop a flatspot right in the middle of the tire. When that happens the bike doesn’t handle very well. The bike wants to go straight and it takes more effort to make it turn. The bike will often be ‘jittery’ as it transfers from the flat spot on the tire to the rounded edge. This makes freeway off ramps all kinds of fun.

New tires fix all that. My old bike feels new again. It corners great! Just like new sneakers when you were five years old.

It’s amazing how a simple thing like new tires make the bike new again. That can also be true in our lives as well. Things might not be going to well – for whatever reason – but a simple smile, a card or note, or an act of kindness from someone can change the whole day.

What simple thing are you going to do to make some else’s day better?

That’s worth pondering about.

2008-09-01

Who Wants to be Like That?

I have a daily Dilbert calendar on my desk. Dilbert is great cartoon, IMHO. You can never have too much Dilbert. Anyway, a strip the other day featured Dogbert talking to Dilbert. If you're not familiar with Dilbert, yes - Dogbert a talking dog (what comic is complete without at least one talking animal?). Dogbert is always trying to make money or scam someone in one way or another.

In this particular comic Dogbert does all the talking. He says, "I decided to start a discount religion." "The tithing would only be 5% and I'd let people sin as much as they wanted." In the last frame he says, "The only problem is that I don't want to spend time with anyone who would join that sort of religion." It's not the funniest Dilbert comic ever... but it sure got me to thinking.

Why doesn't Dogbert want to be friends with people who'd join that religion? Probably because we don't like people who take shortcuts or who cheat. There's some sort of honor or status from doing things the "right" way. We don't want to be associated with people who would join a cut-rate religion that allows them take shortcuts. It's just not right. Yet many Christians do support taking shortcuts. Many Christians don't pay tithe and offerings. And there's plenty of Christians who pick and choose what parts of the Bible are important to them. Then we wonder why Christians are viewed less than favorably by the public at large. One recent (questionable) poll even showed Evangelic Christians to rank very low in trustworthiness.

If we know cheaters aren't appreciated, why do we cheat? If we sign up to join a community, whether that's Christian, Buddhist, the Boy Scouts or whatever, why don't we willingly do our best to live up to that communities standards? That's worth pondering about...

2008-08-22

Pride Goes Before A Fall

We've all heard it. Pride Goes Before a Fall. Here's a visual illustration.



The old truth remains true.

2008-08-20

Stupid Olympics

OK, the Olympics aren't really stupid. Me staying up too late every night watching sports I don't even care about, now that's stupid.

What is it about the Olympics that entices us to stay up and watch? The other night I was watching Women's Team Handball - and the US wasn't even playing. It was like Norway vs Ukraine or something like that. But wow, what a weird, ummm, I mean unique sport. It's like the inventor loved basketball, ice hockey and soccer and wanted a sport that featured all their favs. Strange stuff. Then there is rowing. I can tell by watching the people in this sport that they have trained hard and they are really putting out some effort. But man, what a boring sport to watch. They have individual rowing. Two man (or women) rowing. Four person teams and even eight person teams. But the eight person teams aren't twice as fast as the 4 person teams - how come? Seems like the 8 person teams are slacking. Then there is water polo. I mean really, who cares? Yea, it's a tough sport. It's hard to swim, control the ball and try to drown your opponent all at the same time. But still, who cares? Apparently I do, cause I watched the stupid game and I don't know why. I still don't know why the ref blows the whistle every 3.2 seconds during that game either. Nobody fouled out, so what gives?

At least the Olympics only happen once every four years. Maybe next time I'll have more self control. Or maybe not....

2008-08-09

Cool video

I know, it's been a while since I posted. Would you believe I got struck by lightening? Me neither....

But here's a cool slow motion video of a lightening strike. Supposedly filmed at like 5000 frames per second!



That's one bad thing about So Cal, there's no good thunder and lightening. Oh well, I guess you can't have it all.

2008-07-15

You want me to what?

A major intersection not to far from my house is undergoing construction. It appears they are widening the entire intersection. So they ripped out all the sidewalks and put up approximately 10,000 orange cones. Just in case someone might not notice that the sidewalks are missing, they added signs saying "SIDEWALK CLOSED USE OTHER SIDE." (yes the sign is in all uppercase. I guess they figured if they yell people will pay attention.) The only problem is the other side is in the same condition as this side. What's a pedestrian to do?

Surely the construction workers noticed the absurdity of putting up signs tell you to use the other side with the same sign on the other side. But they did it anyway. Is it a law that you have to have that sign up? Can you get a ticket for walking where the sidewalk is closed? Since there's a bus stop right there, people continue to make their way through the mess as best they can. I'm sure for some people with limited mobility, that's a significant challenge.

As I think about areas of my life where I have influence, like work or home or church, I wonder if I'm doing things that create more challenges; or am I doing things to help people? After all, if you believe Jesus came to show us a better way, shouldn't that include all parts of your life?

That's worth pondering about.

2008-07-13

Why is it so hard???

Why is it so hard to find someone who can give a decent consistent haircut? It doesn't seem like it should be that hard.

What in your life is harder than it should be?

2008-06-28

What if Worship was like the NBA?

I love basketball and the NBA. So what if our worship services were more like the NBA?

2008-06-18

Funny Sign

There's an elementary school right around the corner from us. They have a sign in front of the school that keeps everyone informed of what is happening at the school. It's pretty cool.

Today I went past and they were thanking their volunteers for all the help they have given this school year. The last line was the funny one.

YOU GUYS APE THE BEST.


I don't know if they were out of the letter R or if their R broke and so now it looks like a P, but that was too funny.

2008-06-15

Remodel Your Bathroom in Three Steps!

This is how to remodel your bathroom in 3 steps.

1. Have a father who likes to remodel.
2. Find a reason to invite your father to your house for a few days.
3. Help your father.

I never said all the steps were easy.

Seriously, when my Dad was out for Alex's graduation, we did remodel the bathroom. Rather inexpensively too. So here's what we did, in case you are considering something similar.

The main bathroom in the house was fairly dated by the light fixtures and wall paper. Fortunately, the tub, tile, sinks and toilet were all in decent shape. So the plan was to rather easily freshen up the bathroom by changing the light fixtures and taking down the wall paper and giving the room a fresh coat of paint. The wall paper came off without too much trouble. There were only two layers, and I am getting rather skilled in removing paper as the previous owner was addicted to wall paper. The ceiling was painted gloss white and the walls are sandy brown. The harder part was the light fixtures. We had two long light bars over the big mirror. But there was only one electrical box in the center that they were both wired into. It took trips to several different stores before we were able to find lights that worked. Lowes was the store that came through with the good lights, matching towel racks, and a glass shelf.

Since the wall paper and fixtures were taken care of, we made a last minute decision to take down the aging gold shower doors and replace it with a shower curtain. This was a bit more difficult because the shower rod either needed to be extra long or L-shaped to go around our tub. Persistence and a little ingenuity solved our problem. We bought two curtain rods and were able to make them into one longer curtain rod.

A new carpet, new switch and plug covers and some new hardware on the vanity rounded out the make over. I'll get a plumber out to change the faucets to new ones. That will complete the removal of the gold from the room. You may ask why I didn't change the faucet, it's because I hate plumbing. Seriously, I probably could have done the faucets, but the drain plugs require a special tool I don't have. So I'll let the plumber fight with those.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas and hope for your own mini-remodels.

Reports of My Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

It's been too quiet here for too long... Sorry about that.

My youngest son, Alex, just graduated from 8th grade and my folks were out for the event and to visit for a while. My brother and his family even made it down for a few days, it was like a family reunion. Seriously, we had a good time and I was glad to see everyone. We don't get together as often as we'd like to.

But I'll be back at here and see if we get this thing going again.

2008-05-16

Bible Locations

Have you ever wondered where some of the Bible locations are in relation to modern cities and places? Wonder no more.



OpenBible.info has some great resources. You can use the free Google Earth (download here) and put the overlays from Open Bible on it. The overlays are setup by chapter in the Bible so you can easily find the sites you'd like to see.

Very cool.

2008-05-14

Useless or Annoying

I don't know if anyone else has this issue or if it’s just me, but have you ever noticed that there is a fine line between useless and annoying?

For example, most motorcycles do not come with clocks. That’s annoying. You can’t use your wristwatch because it’s under your gloves and jacket. So I bought a little clock that you can mount to your handlebars. It’s a decent clock. It has a glow-in-the-dark face – for at least 15 minutes of darkness (useless). And a thin little brass second hand (REALLY useless). When I’m riding my bike, I never need to know that it’s 6:04 and 26 seconds. Plus the thin brass is very difficult to see against the glow-in-the-dark face when you are bouncing down the freeway at, umm, California freeway speeds.

But the useless second hand doesn’t bother me. I’ve learned to ignore it. Until yesterday.

Yesterday the second hand fell off the spindle and now it resides at the bottom of the clock. For the first time I noticed that the second hand actually has a big round part that goes over the spindle where the hand attaches to the movement. Now that it’s at the bottom of the clock, the big round part is as annoying as it can be. Every time I look at the clock all I can see is that stupid second hand bouncing around. It went from useless to annoying in one brief moment.

The clock still seems to keep time just fine. But I’m going to have to replace simply because that stupid second hand bothers me.

What in your life has gone from useless to annoying?

2008-05-10

It's Been Quiet Here

Yea, it's been a little quiet here. We've been working on the 50th Anniversary weekend for our church (Downey Adventist Church). Man, has that been a lot of work!

The good news is the event was this weekend and it went extremely well. Lots of visitors (the worship service was standing room only!). Lots of goods times, memories and pictures. It was great.

Now I'm going to sleep for two days.....

2008-04-26

A Beautiful Mind

This guy has an amazing ability!!



I've heard of photographic memories before, but that's over the top.

2008-04-24

Bumper Stickers

I don't know why I read bumper stickers. Most of them are, well I guess I should just say it, dumb. Occasionally you find a gem, but generally they're just pretty goofy. I don't know why I continue to read them. I guess it's a bit like gold panning, usually you don't find anything but there's always the chance you could bring home a nugget.

The other day I saw one that went beyond dumb, it was offensive. The guy was driving a mid-1980's Camaro. My folks used to have one of these cars. An OK car, not the best GM ever put out, but not the worst either. On the back of this particular Camaro was a Chevy bow-tie sticker. So far so good. Above the bow-tie sticker it said, "This car was made with tools" and below the bow-tie it said "not with chopsticks." What?! Did he really put that on his car?

I'm usually not a big fan of being PC (Politically Correct). I think we are too sensitive about too much stuff. However even I found that bumper sticker offensive. I'm sure all those Asian workers are putting together inferior products with their chopsticks. They're too stupid to even use tools. Crazy! Can you imagine an import car with the sticker "This car was made with tools, not with forks"? Me neither. Although it would make a lot more sense given the average weight of Americans verse the average weight of Asians.

The really interesting thing is if the sticker had said, "I support American products" or "Buy American". I probably would have agreed with him. No problem. I guess it's all in how you phrase it. There can be a fine line between providing support for something vs tearing the other thing down.

Today I choose to be positive. To build things up. What will you choose?

That's worth pondering about.

2008-04-22

NBA Playoffs!

I love me some NBA Playoffs! Win or Go Home! It's great. I'm very happy this year because the Celtics have a great chance of doing very well. That just makes me so happy I can't even see straight.

I'm a little bummed about one thing. I enjoy watching the Suns and the Spurs play. This year they face each other in the opening round. That means that either way, a good team that I enjoy watching is going home early. Bummer...

But other than that... I'm very, very happy!

2008-04-16

The Front Fell Off

I saw this video and it made me laugh. This is a comedy duo from Australia.



This kind of reminds me of the political speeches and interviews that are happening right now in the US as the race for the presidency heats up - much of the rhetoric is pretty bizarre.


[ht BrokenHeadStock]

2008-04-15

Commercial Technology

With all of the technology we have in the world, you'd think someone would fix commercials. I'm not talking about stupid commercials. There's no technology that can fix the amazing stupidity shown in some of the commercials. I'm talking about showing commercials to a completely wrong audience.

I was watching a program on TV last night and they kept showing all these DR commercials. You've probably seen them. They make the most awesome chipper shredders, roto-a-tillers and brush whackers. These are the most amazing things ever made for the home owner - at least according to the commercial. The problem is you need to own like 20 acres of untamed wilderness to put these tools to use. I'm sure somewhere in the US there are people who have these untamed wildernesses that need these high powered tools to control the thick brush that threatens their family homestead. Those folks just don't live within a few hundred miles of here. Actually the nearest one maybe a few states away.

I live in Los Angeles. No one has huge yards with thick underbrush that needs these types of tools. It seems like the DR company is wasting advertising dollars and wasting my time showing me these commercials. Why isn't there a technology that would only show commercials to a locale if there was a need? The Sonic commercials are another example. There aren't any Sonics within miles of here, but boy they sure do show a lot of commercials. Why?

If you could invite such a technology, I sure would appreciate it. If you get rich from it, a 2% idea fee would be much appreciated too.

2008-04-13

Assuming the Worst

Have you ever noticed that sometimes we assume the worst?

The other day as I finished my shower, I could hear a sound that didn't sound good. I'm always leary of unidentified sounds in the bathroom, they can mean plumbing problems - and I HATE plumbing problems. The sound I could hear sounded like a pinhole in water pipe. There was a ssssssssss sound, like water leaking under pressure. Terror struck my heart.

I turned off the lights in the bathroom, so the fan would go off and it would be quieter and I could identify which pipe was leaking. As I fumbled around the dark trying to determine where the sound was coming from, I could picture how badly my day was going to go. Visions of sledgehammers, breaking tile and drywall filled my mind. What a great day this was going to be. Not!

As I continued searching for the source of the sound, I noticed that it seemed to be coming from the wrong end of the shower. The end without water pipes. There I found a pressurized can of lotion that my wife uses. It looked like a plastic bottle, but closer inspection revealed that it was a steel can coated in plastic. Apparently it had developed a leak and the contents were bubbling out. What a relief!

I quickly emptied the can to relieve the pressure. Visions of exploding steel cans aren't pretty either. I started to realize that it was going to be an ordinary, regular, even boring day. And that was a good thing!

Why do we look for the hardest, most difficult solution to the issues we face? Why does a noise in the bathroom equal leaking pipes instead of just a defective can? Have you ever wondered if something dreadful happened to someone you were waiting for when they were late? We don't wonder if something simple happened like they are just running late because they were visiting with friends, we often think of the worst case scenario. Why?

How much less stress would you have if you looked for the simplest, easiest, best solutions instead of the most complex, hardest, worst solutions? I'm guessing that would be a big improvement.

2008-03-30

Sunny So Cal

I took a day off during Spring Break to hang out with the familia. We went to an outdoor mall and while the boys were playing a few video games, I snapped this pic on my cell phone. Not the greatest quality ever...

I sure do love living in Southern California!

2008-03-24

She Called

Give this a listen.




I'm proud to have young men and women like this in our Armed Forces.

Here's the words.

And she called...

Blacks, Whites...wait
African Americans and Caucasians, Asians, excuse me.
Vietnamese, Philipenes, Koreans and Jamaicans or
Haitans, waitin' Hispanics y'all.

Please be paitent
Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Venezualean, Cuban, Dominican, Panamanian Democrats
I beg your pardon, you partied with the late, great Reagan?
Republican, Independent, Christian, Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, 5 Percenters,
Hindu, Sunii Muslim, Brothers and Sisters who never seen the New York city skyline when the twin towers still existed.

But still She called.

From the bowels of Ground Zero she sent this 911 distress signal.
Because She was in desperate need of a hero,
and didn't have time to decipher what to call 'em,
so she called 'em all Her children.

The children of the stars and bars who needed to know nothing more than the fact that she called.
The fact that someone attempted to harm us
this daughter who covered us all with her loving arms.
And now these arms are sprawled across New York City streets.

A smoke filled lung, a silt covered faced,
and a solitary tear poured out of her cheek.
Her singed garments carpets Pennsylvania Avenue and the Pentagon was under her feet.
As she began to talk, she began to cough up small particles of debris
and said, "I am America, and I'm calling on the land of the free."

So they answered.

All personal differences set to the side
because right now there was no time to decide which state building the Confederate flag should fly over,
and which trimester the embryo is considered alive,
or on our monetary units, and which God we should confide.
You see, someone attempted to choke the voice
of the one who gave us the right for choice,
and now she was callin.
And somebody had to answer.
Who was going to answer?

So they did.
Stern faces and chisled chins.
Devoted women and disciplined men,
who rose from the ashes like a phoenix
and said "don't worry, we'll stand in your defense."
They tightened up their bootlaces
and said goodbye to loved ones, family and friends.
They tried to bombard them with the "hold on", "wait-a-minute's", and "what-if's".
And "Daddy, where you goin?".
And, "Mommy, why you leavin?".
And they merely kissed them on their foreheads and said "Don't worry, I have my reasons.
You see, to this country I pledged my allegience
to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic.
So as long as I'm breathin, I'll run though hell-fire,
meet the enemy on the front lines,
look him directly in his face,
stare directly in his eyes and scream,
"I AM AMERICA! WE WILL NOT BE TERRORIZED!
WE WILL NOT BE TERRORIZED!
I REFUSE TO BE AFRAID!
I'LL FIGHT YOU ANY COUNTRY, ANY CONTINENT, ANY TERRAIN.
I'LL FIGHT TO MY LAST BREATH!"

And if by chance death is my fate,
pin my medals upon my chest,
and throw Old Glory on my grave.
But, don't y'all cry for me.
You see, my Father's prepared a place.
I'll be a part of his Holy army standing a watch at the Pearly Gates.
Because freedom was never free.
POW's, and fallen soldiers
all paid the ultimate sacrafice
along side veterans who put themselves in harms way.
Risking their lives and limbs just to hold up democracy's weight,
but still standing on them broken appendages anytime the National Anthem was played.
You see, these were the brave warriors that gave me the right
to say that I'm Black. Or white.

Or
African American or Caucasian,
I'm Asian, excuse me.
I'm Vietnamese, Philipene, Korean, or Jamaican.
I'm Haitan, Hispanic

Y'all, Please be paitent.

I'm Mexican, Puerto Rican, Venezualean, Cuban,
Dominican, Panamanian, Democrat
I beg your pardon, you see I partied with the late, great Reagan.
I'm Republican, Independent, Christian, Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, 5 Percenters,
Hindu, Sunii Muslim,

Brothers and Sisters We're just Americans.
So with that I say
"Thank You" to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines,
for preserving my rights
to live and die for this life
and paying the ultimate price for me to be...FREE!

2008-03-18

What Are You Looking For?

Watch this.



Motorcyclists too. (that will make sense after you watch the video)

Did you see it?

2008-03-11

Super Bright Headlights are Social Commentary

I go to work pretty early in the morning. The official military time that time of day is "O dark thirty." Basically that's so early it's still dark. I'm not complaining. I'm kind of a morning person and usually I get out of work a little earlier, so it's all good.

However, driving to work in the dark, at least in L.A., can be a bit frustrating. There are people in L.A. who drive around with their bright headlights on. Why? You don't need them in L.A., it's never really dark here. The city lights provide quite a bit of ambient lighting. And even if it was that dark here, you're on the freeway in L.A. The car in front of you is only a few feet away, you don't really need your high beam headlights on. And some folks don't stop there. They get those super bright, so bright they're blue, headlights. You know the ones, the lights that passenger jets use for their landing lights. They have roughly the same candle watt power as the Sun. Yea, those lights. And for some people, that's not even enough. They have their highbeams on, the super-bright-blue lights, AND they have their driving lights on. In California it's illegal to run brights and driving lights, so that means these folks went out of their way to change the wiring of the car to make this happen. Why? Are these folks so challenged to see in the dark that they need extra-ordinary amounts of lumens just to see? If so, I really want these people off the road!

I've been thinking about this for awhile and I'm sure there are many possible reasons for why people do this, but here are a few.
1) People are just clueless. I bet quite a few of those folks have no idea their highbeams are on and that they are blinding everyone else.
2) People just don't care. They know their highbeams are blinding everyone else, and they just don't care. They think it's their right to have their lights as bright as they want. I mean the car manufactures put the brights on the car for reason, right?
3) People are lazy. I'm betting some of the folks have burned out their low beams and have to drive around with their highbeams on, or they won't have any lights at all. It's easier for them to use their highbeams than it is to fix their lights. (You don't even want to know how many cars in L.A. are driving around with multiple idiot lights (warning indicators) flashing on their dashboards - but that's a different post.)

I suspect these three characteristics can be manifested in other areas of people's lives as well. Driving is just one indication of our over all care and concern for other people. Think about the people in your life at work, at school, in the neighborhood, etc. Are we clueless as to how they are doing? Do we not care? Are we just too lazy to do something about it? Those are hard questions we need to ask ourselves. While driving around L.A. with your highbeams on may not seem like the deepest social commentary ever, I do think that the lack of care we show other people in one area of our lives is likely to spill over into other areas of our lives. If we show no concern for others when we are driving, we probably will not show a lot of concern for people in other areas either.

What kind of care do you show for other people? When your driving and at other times too. That's worth pondering about...

2008-03-09

Pimp My Stroller

I found these guys, Rhett & Link, from MicroExplosion. Pretty funny stuff.




Be sure to check out some of their other videos. Good stuff.

2008-03-08

Spring Forward


California will make the switch to Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 9. Don’t forget to change your clocks and electronic calendars.

This is also a good time to check your batteries in the smoke detectors and check the air filters on your heater/air conditioner.

I'm Superman!

Oh boy, is my son going to be disappointed to learn that I am Superman (and he's not).

Your results:
You are Superman
























Superman
80%
Iron Man
70%
Green Lantern
65%
Supergirl
65%
Robin
60%
Wonder Woman
60%
The Flash
55%
Spider-Man
50%
Hulk
50%
Batman
40%
Catwoman
35%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test



What Superhero are you?

2008-03-02

Advertising

I help a couple of non-profits with some advertising and community awareness events. I'm certainly not the biggest expert regarding marketing and advertising, but I do know this. If you are going to send out something to promote your organization - PROOF-READ IT! Fix all the spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. And if that's not your thing, find someone who can help.

That seems like common sense, right? Yet, I continue to receive substandard writing and grammar for advertising. Amazing. I'm not talking about an occasional typo or mistake, these are articles riddled with errors. I received something today to include in our church bulletin, and frankly it was embarrassingly bad. I wish they had asked for help from someone before they sent it out.

Is English that difficult? Ok, maybe it is. English has some really crazy rules. But this is a skill that we should be able to master. What I’m really wondering is, what does it say about our educational system if so many of us have not mastered basic language skills? I guess the real thing to ponder is, are we going to do anything about it? Are future generations doomed to have poor English skills? Is there something can be done? Does it matter that we can’t write proper English?

For those of you who are bilingual, do other languages have this same issue? Does the quality of writing seem to continually degenerate?

What do you think?

2008-02-22

Hey Jude!

This made me laugh for SO many reasons.



Maybe she'll be ready to help in the band in a few years.

2008-02-21

More Smartcar

Sorry, I can't help it. I have to post this video. This car has a grip on me. I REALLY need one of these!

2008-02-17

Looping

KT Tunstall is amazing and the things she is able to pull off with the loops are incredible. I wonder if she would be willing to play with a small worship team on Saturday mornings.

2008-02-05

Mercy for Pets But Not People?

I was talking to some friends and somehow we started talking about pets and how painful it is to have to put them to sleep when they get old and sick. Everyone agreed that putting a pet to sleep is one of the most difficult things in life. And everyone agreed that it is the right thing to do. It's almost universally viewed as kind and humane to put an animal out of it's suffering and let it rest in peace.

Interestingly enough, we don't feel the same way about people. Very few people seem to think it's ok to help an elderly or sick person pass on. In fact, most people seem to think it's most definately not ok to do that.

I can't help but wonder why the same action is sometimes viewed as merciful and sometimes it's viewed as inhumane. None of my friends could adequately explain why they believed the way they did - they just all thought it was different somehow. Is this something that we learn as we grow up, or something that inate within us?

Thoughts?

2008-02-02

Cars and Snowboards

Rally driver Ken Block has some fun on the slopes with some snowboarders.



Crazy or fun? What say ye?

2008-01-31

Superbowl Half Time Entertainment

If you're like me, you can't remember too many specifics about the acts during the half time show through the years. We all remember the famous Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake incident - but what year was that? We might remember last year's half time show, but probably not too many others.

Well this site will help you remember who and when.

This year Jordan Sparks (American Idol) performs the National Anthem, Ryan Seacrest is scheduled to host the pregame and the half time show features Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen.

What has been your fav half time show?

2008-01-21

I NEED one of these!

Here's a little formula for pure fun.
One little, itty bitty smart car PLUS one of the most powerful motorcycle engines ever produced EQUALS great fun.




Yea, I need one.

2008-01-04

Mad Skills

I'm not sure what you do with this skill - other than impress everyone at the local picnic. But it's still cool anyway. If there was a professional wheelbarrow racing league, I think these guys would be in it.




What mad skills, that are mostly worthless, do you have?

2008-01-02

More Difficult Than It Needs To Be

I recently had the pleasure of flying back into LAX for the first time in quite a while. [heavy sarcasm] I’ve been fortunate to not have to fly commercially for quite some time. I don’t mind flying per se, but I rather dislike all the hassle of lines, security checks, etc., that flying requires.

As any air traveler into LAX knows, there are an amazing number of options for ground transportation when you leave the terminal. There are shuttles to hotels, shuttles to parking garages, shuttles to rental car agencies, shuttles to take you home, and who knows how many other options. To help prevent complete chaos at the terminal, someone decided to make different color stops for the different type of transportation desired. At first glance that seems like a reasonable solution, however let’s check the implementation.

There’s a Green stop, a Blue stop, a Purple stop, a Red stop and an Orange stop. Apparently they didn’t think too long when they were picking the colors. Somewhere between 9 and 12 percent of the male population suffers from some kind color blindness and maybe 1 to 2 percent of the female population. Plus when you consider the majority of the male population just doesn’t really care about color and basically can’t identify all the colors in the 16 box of Crayolas, you have a huge percentage of people who don’t do color.

Red/Green color blindness is the most common form of color blindness. But some people suffer from Blue/Green color blindness too. So that means Red, Green, Blue and probably the Purple are rather poor colors to pick for van stops. But the real killer is the Red and Orange. At the terminal I was at, they are at opposite ends of the area where vans can stop. It was impossible to tell which one was Red and which one was Orange. I had to walk to one and ask the attendant who was working at the stop what color that stop was. Naturally it was the wrong one so I had to walk all the way down to the other end to the other stop. When I mentioned this to the van driver, he said a huge number of people couldn’t tell the difference in the signs. Apparently many people make the mistake and some get quite upset when the van won’t stop for them because they are at the wrong stop. And if the vans stop at the wrong location, they get fined. If they do it twice, they get suspended. So the vans don’t stop at the wrong location, and the travelers don’t understand and naturally get upset. What a great way to treat the people who are making your business possible.

There are some real easy fixes to this. Maybe use colors that don’t cause an issue. Strangely enough the two best colors, white and black, were absent from the list of colors. No one get’s those two colors mixed up. Or use colors of different intensity, like yellow and dark green. Another option might be to write the word Orange, Red, Blue, etc on sign so every one would know which is which. Maybe numbering the stops could be effective too. It’s pretty hard to mix up Stop #1 with Stop #5.

What are you doing that maybe making life unnecessarily difficult for someone else? Maybe you have customers, co-workers, club members, church members or some other group that you are unintentionally inconveniencing. Try looking through someone else’s eyes and see what you can improve to make it easier for them.

That's worth pondering about.