Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Just finished Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire,"  a best-selling historical novel published in 1998, about the Battle of Thermopyle in 480 BC, the decisive battle in the Greco-Persian wars.  It is a compelling story well-told of a fascinating period of history.  An excellent read about an event that defines the word "epic". 

It is, of course, the same storied event that was the subject of the popular movie "300" from 2006, by Frank Miller and Zack Snyder, although the book has a much different flavor, of course.  I enjoyed the movie, as well, and I highly recommend the book.  Here is a trailer for the movie:

This was the last of the books that I had been given last Christmas that I had not read.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bacon Oatmeal

This is a recipe for 1 serving.  It is easily doubled, tripled,  quadrupled, etc.

2 slices of the best quality bacon
1/2 cup of Quaker Oats oatmeal; not the instant, the other kind.
1/2 cup of 2% milk
1 tbsp butter
1 heaping tbsp of Splenda brown sugar.

This recipe is very quick and easy, but the process is specific in order to get the best blend of flavors.

Fry the bacon to taste in the skillet, then remove to paper towels to cool and to drain excess grease.  Place oatmeal and milk in a microwaveable bowl and zap it at full power for 1 minute.  Remove and stir.  Add the butter, return to the microwave and heat at full power for 1 minute.  Remove and stir.

Stack the 2 bacon slices, holding them in one hand over the bowl.  Using kitchen shears, snip the end of the cooked bacon, allowing the small bacon bits to crumble over the oatmeal.  Sprinkle the Splenda brown sugar over the bacon bits and oatmeal.

Return to the microwave and cook at full power for an additional 30 seconds.  Serve immediately, stirring to blend once more before eating.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize has become increasingly ridiculous and irrelevant over the last couple of decades, even comedic at times, in a pathetic kind of way.  Here is a list of the winners since 1980:

_ 2008: Martti Ahtisaari
_ 2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore
_ 2006: Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank
_ 2005: International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei
_ 2004: Wangari Maathai
_ 2003: Shirin Ebadi
_ 2002: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
_ 2001: United Nations, Kofi Annan
_ 2000: Kim Dae-jung
_ 1999: Medecins Sans Frontieres
_ 1998: John Hume, David Trimble
_ 1997: International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams
_ 1996: Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Jose Ramos-Horta
_ 1995: Joseph Rotblat, Pugwash Conf. on Science and World Affairs
_ 1994: Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
_ 1993: Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk
_ 1992: Rigoberta Menchu Tum
_ 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi
_ 1990: Mikhail Gorbachev
_ 1989: The 14th Dalai Lama
_ 1988: U.N. Peacekeeping Forces
_ 1987: Oscar Arias Sanchez
_ 1986: Elie Wiesel
_ 1985: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
_ 1984: Desmond Tutu
_ 1983: Lech Walesa
_ 1982: Alva Myrdal, Alfonso Garcia Robles
_ 1981: Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
_ 1980: Adolfo Perez Esquivel

Some of these are absolutely worthy, to be sure.  Others seem relatively obscure and unknown.  But then there's Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Yasser Arafat, Mohamed El-Baradai, and...

...wait for it....

Al Gore.

And now this.


Sunday, September 27, 2009


It is not my intention to start "a word of the day" theme, nor is this space going to devolve into some kind of Jungian dream journal.  However, I have had more vivid dreams lately than normal, several each night, and one of them was highly unusual.  Two nights ago, I dreamed of the word "plinth".  In my head, I saw it in print, I heard it spoken, and I myself said the word, repeating it.  At the time I had no idea what it means and was only vaguely assured in my dream that it is, in fact, an actual word.

I trolled the internet for definitions and the one I like the best came from the ubiquitous Wikipedia:

In architecture, a plinth is the base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests.[1] Gottfried Semper's The Four Elements of Architecture (1851) posited that the plinth, the hearth, the roof, and the wall make up all of architectural theory. According to Semper, the plinth exists to negotiate between a structure and the ground. Semper's theory has been very influential in the subsequent development of architecture.[2]

I especially like the line, "exists to negotiate between a structure and the ground."

Why I dreamed this word, I have no idea.  Maybe I should ask a Jungian.  Here are a couple of more gratuitous plinth pics:

Here is a different kind of plinth...evidently it is also a kind of sophisticated, articulating medical chair:

And here's a short video about an art project involving a famous plinth and a bunch of English folk:

Has anybody else ever had a dream about a word? Next, I just need to start working it into as many conversations as possible.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Call Your Name - Gateway Worship

One of the best worship songs in the last couple of years. I was blessed to be in the congregation the night this was recorded.

Sing will surprise you.

Gateway Church The singer/songwriter is Zach Neese. Here is a link to more of Gateway's worship music.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gastronomic Stimulus

Here are some random food links that I like.

First, a sweepstakes to enter to win lots of groceries. Yes, there are coupons and recipes involved for those interested in such things. If you're hardcore and you like to make your own pasta noodles by hand, don't bother. The rest of you go check it out.

Secondly, here is a link to the arepa con queso recipe that I like. In fact, I'm cooking some now. This is a very simple, good recipe. You need the right kind of flour, though, or it won't be right. You need the PAN Harina Precocida de Maiz Blanco which is available from many Latino or specialty grocery stores. While you're there you can get the queso blanco, too.

Thirdly, and I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating. I am a big fan of Mark Bittman. His blog, his books, his online cooking video segments. Everything he does is aimed at helping you and me, the non-professional home cook learn to prepare better food with simple techniques and better ingredients. He gets it. He knows we aren't making foie gras...but he will show you how easy it is to make an excellent curry, a superior pasta sauce, what to do with a pound of ground lamb, or how to grill vegetables in the oven. It's real cooking for real people, but it's really GOOD cooking. If you want to eat better and still live your life, you will like Mark Bittman.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Visitor

Among the several good things about Netflix is how easy they have made it for us to watch movies for which we would not normally have either the time or, because of where we live, the access to conveniently see films that have limited release.

One such was the independent film, "The Visitor," written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, who also wrote and directed 2003's wonderful "The Station Agent." "The Station Agent" is really one of my favorite films, so artfully done. I had read good things about "The Visitor" and was pleased to find it in the mailbox.

One thing I had previously noticed was how "The Visitor" shares a similarity with the former movie in that reading the plot synopsis is completely misleading. Both feature simple, almost banal, stories that are, in fact, rich and deep, and are brilliantly and beautifully told.

Although "The Visitor" boldly violates one of my few but firm rules about what constitutes a "good" movie, I still must recommend it most highly. It centers on the the unlikely relationship that emerges among an interesting quartet of characters. The only recognizable actor is the lead, Richard Jenkins, and he is not a movie star. He's one of those guys you see 3-5 times a year in various minor roles and say, "Oh, yeah...that guy." In this movie, his work is very, very good as the tightly wound (and unwinding) professor Walter Vale.

Although each of the actors is strong, Hiam Abbas, an accomplished Palestinian actress from Israel, as Mouna Khalil, is especially striking in her role. Her performance is captivating, nuanced, complex, and powerful.

It is so seldom that a film can really successfully unpack a story as well, or develop characters as deeply as a book does, but that is what McCarthy does with "The Visitor." It is a difficult story, but one well worth telling. Here is a link to the trailer - check it out.

Rent this movie.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem

"The request reads: "Children wanted for Future Temple service. Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect is searching for parents willing to hand over newborn sons to be raised in isolation and purity in preparation for the rebuilding of the biblical temple in Jerusalem. Only members of the Jewish priestly caste, the Kohanim need apply..."

Words from an ancient scroll disovered in a recent archeological dig? Or perhaps an excerpt from a Hollywood screenplay for some biblical epic? Actually, those words appeared in the contemporary Israeli newspaper, Haaretz."

Read the whole thing. The last couple of paragraphs tell why this is important.

Believe it.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Hey, remember blogging? Way back in like 2008 when everybody would write on their blogs and stuff, sharing their innermost thoughts, posting recipes, pictures of puppies and kittens, and all about stuff their kids were doing and things like that? Yeah, those were the days.

Well as long as I'm here, I'm going to do a brain dump.


I was surprised at the visceral, emotional reaction I had today when I read this story about how the idiot dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is talking trash about Colombia. My first thought was, "Hey, I know those people, you butthead. Leave them alone!" Those are my friends he's threatening and I don't like it one bit.


I think the recent proliferation of vampire fiction, including all of it's cinematic variants, is just plain weird. I'm definitely not into it, mostly because it's ridiculously popular and because I really don't have the time for that kind of reading. But, still, I think it is a peculiar sub-genre. Okay, I confess...I did enjoy the early years of Joss Whedon's Buffy series, especially when it was in syndication and was broadcast every morning during coffee time. I also think 1987's "The Lost Boys" is a kind of modern classic, but most of the rest of it is just not that interesting to me. Somewhere, though, I bet there are several hundred graduate students in English Literature analyzing this phenomenon and cranking out the definitive theses. I don't want to read those, either.


I recently saw the Clint Eastwood movie, "Gran Torino," and liked it very much, charmed even by it's imperfections. It really is one of the best movies I've seen in the last year. I also finally saw the award-winning "There Will Be Blood," starring Daniel Day Lewis. What an absolute waste of time that movie is. Hated it.


"Sometimes people may be so appalled, so offended by what you have to say that they don't stick around long enough to hear your explanation, much less your apology."

I dreamed this statement, in this morning's pre-dawn slumber. There was a dramatic context, of course, but I barely remember it. The statement, though, I remembered loud and clear upon awakening


It is absurd, but the Indiana Symphony Orchestra is heavily promoting on TV their upcoming concert featuring the greatest hits of Queen. Please. What is this going to accomplish, really? They are going to butcher this music while simultaneously selling their artistic soul for a little coin. What a complete waste of time, money, talent, and effort. And, no, I don't have to hear it first to justify my opinion any more than it is necessary for me to drive off a cliff in order to understand how terrible it would be to die in a fiery crash.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mission Trip to Bogota

On Monday we leave for a short-term missions trip to Bogota, Colombia with a team of 12 people from our church. We have a sister church there, the North Church, and will be working in a variety of jobs, including the continuation of some remodeling at the Wesleyan Bible Institute, an important minisitry training center. The Bogota North Church is the largest Wesleyan church in the world, actually, and it will be a very interesting and exciting trip.

Nancy will be taking and publishing photos, and I will be blogging our trip here, at the website of our team leader, Steve Mathews.

We are praying for a safe and productive trip, of course, but even more so we are hoping and anticipating that we will see God at work in new, transformative ways, in us, our team, and in the lives of our Colombian hosts.


A post full of insight and wisdom from Kem Meyer on parenthood...what it is, what it isn't, and what it means.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Body Mass Index = Junk Science

In the news last week, among other things, was the new report from the Trust For America's Health describing how America continues to grow fatter, with nearly 2/3 of the states showing adult obesity levels of 25% or more.

Here's a link to an interesting (and humorous) NPR story on why the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a significant component in this new study, is a completely bogus and useless tool to judge whether or not you truly are as lardamous as you think you are. Now, I'm not saying that it wouldn't hurt for you to drop 5 lbs. But I am saying that it is stupid for us to allow the politicians and bureaucrats to use bad science to push through more useless and expensive government regulation and legislative control.

You can read the story, or click on the "LISTEN NOW" button in the article to listen to it if you need both hands free to finish off that last piece of leftover blueberry pie from Saturday's July 4th cookout.

In other health news, here is a happy story telling how (5) cups of coffee a day can possibly stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Senator Boxer's Ego is bigger than the state of California.

California Senator Barbara Boxer, in typical fine form:

As opposed to Brigadier General Michael Walsh, the commanding general of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who, you know, more or less just had his rank given to him for charm and good looks.

This woman's unfettered hubris is appalling. Again. General Walsh deserves another medal for his calm, accommodating reserve in the face of such overweening arrogance.

Yes, ma'am.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ethiopian Mathematics

For a couple of reasons, I've been thinking about mathematics lately.

JP had a homework assignment from his Finite Mathematics class (IU/East) this past week that was really interesting. His assignment was to create an instructional video, a visual tutorial for the solving of a complicated problem incorporating ratios, matrices, chemicals, fertilizer, and marketing.

First, I marveled at the ease with which that he could solve such a tricky problem. My family's DNA is largely minus this particular gene. But my son is not only good at it, he also takes a measure of enjoyment from it's successful pursuit. The class itself is interesting in that it's emphasis is on real-world applications, not merely theoretical abstractions. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with theoretical abstractions, per se.

Secondly, even though he thought the whole thing was no big deal, JP was very creative in the way he assembled his tutorial video, using markers, Sharpies, digital camera, and a confident, engaging patois that made it all surprisingly interesting. No, really. His teacher is planning to use this video, and the others created by JP's classmates as the basis for a website that student's can use to learn how to solve different types of math problems. Personally, the whole thing struck me as yet another remarkable example of how technology has transformed the way we learn and communicate. However, as recently as 10 years ago, the capability of producing this kind of thing on the dining room table did not practically exist within the reach of most people. Twenty years ago, we really didn't even have the vocabulary to discuss or understand the concept.

Here is another short math video, produced by the BBC, that I found fascinating, too. It is about the strange connections between an ancient mathematical practice still in use today by Ethiopian merchants and it's connection to modern computer calculation algorithms. Check it out.

Personally, I find it a compelling argument for intelligent design and strong evidence of the creative mind of God. But I digress...

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Loaded Chicken

By popular demand, here is what a Loaded Chicken looks like.

It's not natural.

Great picture by Nancy.


Update: Food & Think, the cool Smithsonian blog about food, did a followup piece on the photographer who authored the original "What's in Your Fridge" project.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's In Your Fridge?

I found Good Magazine's pictorial essay of the contents of people's refrigerators fascinating. I'm not sure why, except that it is one of those slice of life exercises that the Internets seem to be good for.

The one with the rattlesnake was pretty interesting.

Here's what's in my fridge ------------------>

Obviously my snapshot is vastly inferior to the ones in the essay. And, for the sake of authenticity and personal integrity, I didn't pose any of my foodstuffs. This is them in their natural, candid state, caught unawares before the intruding lens.

The only thing that I can see here that may merit some explanation is the thing on the top shelf next to the egg carton. That is a chicken made out of wire. It's function, allegedly, is to store the eggs. My wife always tries to get me to "load the chicken," but I refuse, on philosophical grounds.

Sometimes a guy just has to put his foot down. A man needs to know where to draw the line - what battles are worth fighting and stuff like that.

h/t Mark Bittman

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skynet Wins - Goodbye Sarah Conner

I'm not big on TV blogging, but I did just find out that one of the few shows that I enjoyed has been cancelled. Ain't that the way? Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles was really a good action series.

And now, with no one to protect us, we are all doomed to destruction and enslavery at the hands of our evil robot overlords from the future. Thanks alot, Fox.

Oh, but they did renew Dollhouse. Hate that show. I'm a fan of creator/producer Joss Whedon, but that show is stupid. Not gonna watch it. Not even gonna link to it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rap Chop featuring Vince (Steve Porter Remix) - MBPYNHO

This edition of Music By People You've Never Heard Of features a healthy dose of laugh-out-loud hilarity as well as a slamming remix track by Steve Porter. This is crazy, but it is also wildly creative and very well done. I love what happens at about 2:58, with the guest vocal.

This makes me want to stay up late and buy crazy plastic stuff on TV in the middle of the night.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bogota, Columbia - Missions Trip

In July, Nancy and I are going to Bogota, Columbia on a week-long short-term missions trip with a group from our church. We have a sister church there, and we hope to be involved in remodeling and equipping the school there. Our church sponsors and organizes several such trips each year, some domestic, some international and we are looking forward to it with increasing anticipation for a number of reasons.

While our church is by no means huge, here in our area we happen to be one of the larger congregations and we have people who come not only from nearby Richmond, but from any of a couple of dozen small rural communities within a 60-70 mile radius, stretching into nearby eastern Ohio. Our team of approximately a dozen is made up of some people with whom we already enjoy close friendships as well as some people that we are only just now meeting and getting to know for the first time, which I really like. There is an especially interesting and highly diverse mix of ages, personalities, experience, and areas of personal skill.

Nancy and I like to travel and we are both excited about seeing a new place, experiencing a new culture, and meeting new people. I am brushing up on my Spanish, which was always merely functional, at best, and is now more marginal than ever, having lived in Indiana for the last 10 years.

It has been fun to research and learn about Colombia, too. I was astonished to learn that the Bogota metro area has over 8 million people, which puts it just under the size of Chicago and appreciably larger than Washington, D.C.

It will really be interesting to see and hear, first hand, what life is like there. In addition to participating in the work projects, I am anxious to try the local cuisine, see some of the city, and just soak up the local culture. My hope and expectation is that we'll meet new friends, learn new things, and come away with a broader perspective on life and faith. My compadre and worship leader extraordinaire, Steve Mathews, is leading our group, so we are hoping, too, that there will be some good musical interaction, too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Jordan Lee Pike - MBPYNHO

Yeah, I know you've probably never heard of him, but the kid's got it.
Take a listen:

Scallops & Asparagus

I am absolutely going to try this recipe, if only for the incredible color. But it sounds like it will taste amazing, too. Finding decent scallops in rural Indiana may be the tricky part. But we've got your asparagus.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Postcards from Hell

I get them. I am certain you do too. If you are like me, most of the time you either ignore where they come from or you minimize their significance. Occasionally, you may not even realize who sent you that Postcard, but most of the time you know.

I need to quit reading the Postcards from Hell. Sometimes I get several a day. How did That Guy get my address, anyway? Oh, yeah, now I remember. I gave it to him and he's always had it. And he sends me Postcards even though I've asked to be taken off of his mailing list. Are you on his mailing list? I bet you are.

Postcards from Hell are full of lies and bad news. Mostly just lies, and mostly lies about The News. Because The News is not really bad. The News is Good.

I need to quit reading the Postcards from Hell. Otherwise, how can a man like me remain in the light?

Trent over at Morphine Life has some excellent things to say about this, too, and a great song to share by the Wood Brothers. Check it out.

Hell, Norway
Is that train about to leave the station?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I know it's a couple of years old, but here it is anyway, my new favorite song for the next day or so:

Here's an entertaining live version from the David Letterman Show:

Did you check out that old funky desktop mic he was singing through? Don't you just love the chorus to this song? Don't you like it when I ask rhetorical questions as though you were standing right here? No?

Thanks, again, Sharon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nob Sugino - Lap Steel Artist - MBPYNHO

A few months back, around my birthday, I think, I purchased an album sound unheard (and sight unseen) by a Japanese lap steel guitarist named Nob Sugino. I had read his name somewhere and thought it might be interesting to hear how he played one of my favorite instruments. The album was "Wake", and you can ge it here.

The album is an eclectic and surprising blend of sounds, textures, and styles. I like it a lot. Sugino's approach to the instrument is aggressive and confident, but also nuanced and sensitive. It is a fascinating listen. I visited his website and learned more about his equipment and technique, signing up to receive updates as they became available.

Well, this morning, I received a nice personal email from Sugino, inviting me to check out three videos of new performances that he recently uploaded to YouTube. These are all really well done. Great performances on three different, unique instruments.

And check it out! He is using the Boss RC-20XL Looper Pedal! The same one that I've been playing with for the last couple of months and that I've written about here repeatedly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Jesus Stands Corrected

- excerpt:

I've been corrected many times by Christians -- after reading (on-air) something Jesus actually said. They don't like it. I'm serious. "You know, all the commandments can be summed up with love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said that, and..."

Ringing phones. "Hello?"

"You forgot one: Evangelize."

Jesus stands corrected.

From Brant Hansen. Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

U2's "With or Without You" by Neanderpaul - MBPYNHO

In this broadcast of Music By People You've Never Heard Of, I bring you this inspired and inspiring home-brewed version of the famous U2 anthem as performed by Neanderpaul. I'll tell you up front, this is not a great recording, even by the standards of YouTube. It won't matter, just check it out.

I know nothing about this guy, and I found him as I was searching for videos of artists using the Boss RC-20XL Loop Station. For those of you not hip to what the Loop Station is all about, Neanderpaul is an able demonstrator of it's considerable creative possibilities. He plays, sings, and records every sound you hear in this video in real time....this is a completely live performance.

There are a lot of folks using this kind of fun tool nowadays, and I've written about it before. In Neanderpaul's videos, though, I was especially struck by his unpretensious demeanor and his passionate approach to every performance, whether it is a cover tune like this one or an original. You get the sense that it doesn't matter who or even if anyone is listening. There is an implicit devotion to honesty, economy, and simplicity that is admirable. His commitment to the music really shines through.

I don't know the guy, but he's an artist, and I like what he's got going on. It's not about perfection, it's about passion.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Michelangelo's Pieta

A passing reference in a book I am reading reminded me today of one of the most arresting works of art that I have ever seen, Michelangelo's Pieta. We saw it last April while in Italy, celebrating our 25th anniversary.

I have seen a lot of famous art in my life, and one of the blessings of our marriage is that Nancy and I both enjoy art museums and art history, as well as creating our own art.

Yet, nothing I had ever previously seen or read or thought I knew about Michelangelo and his legendary body of work prepared me for the exceeding beauty, the grandeur, the grace, and the power of this particular statue.

Located in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, this statue of Jesus' battered and lifeless body, cradled in the arms of his mother, Mary, simply must be seen to be appreciated. It is one of the few works that commands one's complete rapt attention when in it's presence. This is, of course, due in part to the solemnity of the subject and also to the majesty of its representation, hewn from stone and meticulously polished by the hand of a supremely gifted artisan. Far more than a mere religious icon, which, in Rome, number in the millions and towards which I am relatively inurred, I was taken aback by the unexpected wave of emotion and introspection that this image inspired.

Completed by Michelangelo in 1499, there are several interesting things about this statue's design. It has been noted that some of the body proportions of the two figures are not "right, " strictly speaking, due to the inherent difficulty of portraying a fully grown man splayed limply across the lap of a woman. Much like a painter, the artist seemed to understand that adjustments needed to be made so that , from the perspective of the viewer some distance away, the image would appear perfectly normal and natural. The overall shape of the sculpture is pyramidic, with the thick folds of Mary's clothing largely creating the necessary mass to balance the image and support it's overall effect.

While the subject of the Savior's mother in grief at the death of her Son was by no means unique, Michelangelo's depiction of Mary differed significantly from those that had come before. The image of Mary is clearly that of the serene, young, teenage virgin mother, not the grief-stricken, mature, 45-ish woman that she certainly was at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. There are a number of theoretical explanations for this, but the one I find the most compelling posits that Michelangelo is intentionally bridging Christ's birth to His death in this single image. The young virgin mother sees in her arms the precious little newborn baby whose selfless life will eventually lead Him to the fulfillment of prophecy at Golgotha. At the same time, we who view this scene are actually seeing the grim future, which is at once the greatest of victories, draped in sorrow and loss.

This statue has an interesting history, too, a summary of which can be read here.

Finally, if you have never travelled abroad or are intimidated by the idea or cost of going to a faraway country, I encourage you to reconsider. It is far easier and much less expensive than most people think and the rewards are incalculable. It will change forever the way you look at the world.

Btw, the top pic is mine. The bottom one is shamelesly purloined from Wikipedia.

Friday, February 13, 2009



Do you think that our nation's leaders have any idea in what low regard they are beheld by those they govern?

UPDATE: The Democrats finally made the bill's language available around 11 p.m. Thursday, approximately 10 hours before members meet Friday to consider the bill and 38 hours short of the time promised Americans to review the bill.

That our leaders cheat on their taxes, lie with impunity, and twist both the letter and spirit of the law for the sake of personal power and material gain should not surprise us.

That we allow it is the greater crime. And yet, most of them will, I daresay, be reelected.

Yeah...change we can believe in.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Action Figure Museum

I have been driving through Paul's Valley, Oklahoma for years on our semi-annual trips back and forth from Texas. This is totally worth stopping for.

If you missed the Wired mag article and pics, check it out here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Peanut Butter and Cabbage Sandwich

This is an exhilarating post by chef and author Michael Ruhlman. Check out this picture, taken by his wife (a superb photographer), then go read about it.

I want one now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Economic Prognostication

It is a very rare day that I read, much less rebroadcast, financial articles, but
this one
from CNN Money is particularly timely, understandable, interesting, and.....concise.

h/t microlesia

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"The Last Lincolns" and Books I Haven't Read Yet.

As I mentioned a short time ago, I need a new category tag entitled "Books I Haven't Read Yet," so that I can offer unqualified recommendations and initiate uninformed discussion and opinions on books that look interesting but which I may or may not actually get around to reading.

Here is one such book, entitled "The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family," by Charles Lachman.

Here is a blurb from the publisher:

Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre. But that historic event takes place near the beginning of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and one of the most unusual books ever written on the sixteenth president and his family. Going far beyond that fateful day into uncharted territory, it's a gripping page turner written by a TV producer with proven storytelling skills. This absorbing American tragedy tells the largely unknown story of the acrimony that consumed the Lincolns in the months and years that followed the president's murder. This was not a family that came together in mourning and mutual sadness; instead, they fell out over the anguished mental condition of the widowed Mary. In 1875, Robert — the handsome but resentful eldest Lincoln child — engineered her arrest and forcible commitment to an insane asylum. In each succeeding generation, the Lincolns' misfortunes multiplied, as a litany of alcohol abuse, squandered fortunes, burned family papers, and outright dissipation led to the downfall of this once-great family.

Charles Lachman traces the story right up to the last generation of Lincoln descendants: great-grandson Bob Lincoln Beckwith, his estranged wife, Annemarie, and her son, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith. Bob, who was according to all medical evidence sterile, believes the son who bears the Lincoln name was the product of an adulterous affair. Annemarie, however, wanted the boy to be a "Lincoln," putting the child in line for a vast inheritance. There's even evidence — uncovered by Lachman for the first time — that a scheme to obtain possession of the Lincoln fortune was orchestrated by Bob Beckwith's chauffeur, who may have been the notorious outlaw and skyjacker, D.B. Cooper.

Published in advance of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday in February 2009, The Last Lincolns provides an unforgettable glimpse into the personal legacy left by the man who could unite a nation…but not his own family.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

George Bush saved 10 million lives

Yes, George Bush saved 10 millions lives.


From the Music By People You Never Heard Of wholly owned subsidiary of PikeSpeak, here is "Doot-Doot" by Freur, circa 1983.

Other than "doot doot", most of the lyrics are completely unintelligible. It doesn't matter, though, there is much to love about this song/video and I suspect that deep, thoughtful lyrics would probably just get in the way. Sure the haircuts and clothes look funny, but so what?

Things I like about this include the understated "slow-burn" groove, the synchronized echoey vocal sounds and the complex texture created by layering multiple simple parts.

My favorite section starts about 2:32 when the drummer comes in, attacking that classic Simmons drumkit with such drama. That is also where the synth strings come to the fore....and I really love the rich, warm sound of 80's analog strings.

h/t Chordstrike

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Comical. Or not?

Personally, I was always a little suspicious of Aquaman.

This is just darn silly
, in my opinion. But Stan Lee is a man who knows a business opportunity when he sees it, that is for sure. I, too, wait with baited breath, to see what super-power this "hero" will reveal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The middle distance

I just noticed that on my blog masthead, I have the same expression as Miles Davis does on the "In A Silent Way" album cover. Except I'm all neon-y and he's a famous jazz trumpeter noted for his extraordinary creativity and crotchety demeanor.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The importance of context

"...I got rid of the body. I kept the neck, but I had to trash the body..."

This was what I was saying to my wife in a matter-of-fact voice just as the window opened in the Starbucks drive through. I turned to see an earnest, wide-eyed young man with a startled expression on his face, reaching out to me with a Grande Americano (plus half-and-half) in each hand.

I received the beverages, smiling broadly as I handed him the payment.

I am certain he wondered what I was talking about.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Blonde Joke

A blonde is watching the news with her husband when the newscaster says, 'Two Brazilian men died today in a skydiving accident.'

The blonde starts crying to her husband, sobbing 'That's horrible! So many men dying like that.'

Confused, he says, 'Yes dear, it is sad, but they were skydiving, and there is always that risk involved.'

After a few minutes, the blonde, still sobbing, says, 'How many is a Brazilian?'

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Do you believe that we'll be reunited with our loved ones when we get to heaven?

Thanks to for pointing to this compelling Q&A from

Q: Do you believe that we'll be reunited with our loved ones when we get to heaven? I deeply hope we will be, but with all the millions and millions of people up there, how will we ever find them? Maybe I shouldn't worry about this but I do. - Mrs. R.E.

A: Yes, I firmly believe we will be reunited with those who have died in Christ and entered heaven before us. I often recall King David's words after the death of his infant son: "I will go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). This truth has become even more precious to me since the death of my dear wife, Ruth, a year and a half ago.

And, yes, there will be a vast number of people in heaven, for every person through the ages who has trusted Christ for their salvation will be there. The Bible says that because of Christ's death for us, heaven will be filled with "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb (Christ)" (Revelation 7:9).

But you shouldn't worry about getting lost, or never finding your loved ones in heaven - not at all. If God brought you together on this earth - out of all the billions of people who live here now - will He be able to bring you together in heaven? Of course.

Never forget: Heaven is a place of supreme joy - and one of its joys will be our reunion with our loved ones. But heaven's greatest joy will be our reunion with Christ, our Savior and Lord. Is your hope and trust in Him?

The person that answered this question is Billy Graham.