Thursday, December 20, 2007

cloudy day

I finally upgraded my blog to Blogger version 2.whatever, mainly because I went through my entire history and created 'labels' for all my previous posts and I wanted a Label Cloud to show off my organizational skills. So now I'm set with a Label Cloud (see bottom right) and hopefully a more navigable blog.

Say "navigable blog" three times real fast.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the google mapping

Two posts regarding Google in two days... I'm sorry. But this is amazingly fascinating.

Of course everyone knows that Google Maps is the preferred way to view streets and avenues in the online world. A while back Google rolled out a "My Maps" function, a capability allowing users to overlay makers, lines and polygons on top of the existing Google map in order to create their own custom maps. Each element comes with an editable HTML tag and the ability to use the Google "Directions" tool to map directions to and from the element. "My Maps" are stored (publicly or privately) in the users Google profile. It's a really neat tool, but one I didn't fully appreciate until yesterday.

We have some friends coming over for a little Christmas dinner tonight. Since they haven't been to our house before, they asked me to email them directions. We live in a townhome community, and with 300 houses that all looks the same, it can sometimes be confusing to direct people there... so I create a Google "My Map" to help get them there, complete with a little blue line showing where our driveway is, and a marker indicating where our house is. I edited the marker to show our address, some directions on navigating the subdivision, as well as a photo of our house... NEAT!!!

Of course, since I've made this map publicly available on my Google profile, that probably means creepy stalkers from across the country will be staking out my house. Fantastic......

View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

blogger hack

A while back I did an internet-practice overhaul... I switched to Firefox as the browser of choice, and drank the Google cool kool-aid, which has had a profound impact on my life and productivity. Got myself a gmail address - burnsie512 {at} - and I'm off and running...

Well, when I started blogging back in the day, I signed up for a Blogger account under my old Yahoo email address, so when I started using my Google account as my webernet profile of choice, I found myself in this peculiar position of doing everything EXCEPT blogging under my Google identity. I would spend my days browsing around on Firefox, loving my iGoogle page, but when I needed to blog, I would open up crappy old Internet Explorer and do my blogging... all this so I wouldn't have to go through the process of logging out of Google, and then typing usernames and passwords to log into Blogger with my Yahoo address - this had to be done because Google bought Blogger and they were talking to each other, and Blogger isn't able to automatically switch profiles for me. So I was left with quite the conundrum, and it was extremely annoying.

Well, just today, I figured out a hack which proved to be the answer to all my problems, and just in case there's another suffering the weight of two Blogger accounts out there, here is the method of relief:
  1. Log into your existing blogs and send a Contributor invitation to your Gmail account for each of your blogs
  2. Log into Gmail and accept the invitations to contribute
  3. Log back into Blogger using your old account name and switch the permissions of your Google accounts to ADMINISTRATOR
  4. Staying in your old account, remove your old account name from the Contributors list of each of your blogs
  5. And finally, log into Blogger using your Google account, and your set to go - you've effectively made an account swap of your blogs
I'm happy to say that from now on I will be posting from the comfort of Firefox, under the pretext of my Google account.

Monday, December 17, 2007

moleskine junkie

I've become a quick fan of the classy notebook known as the Moleskine, the black bound, hard cover booklet great for jotting notes, brainstorming ideas, and logging travel notes. They're simple with more emphasis placed on providing a quality place to capture your ideas than creating some pretty ornament for your bookshelf.

I actually wasn't familiar with the Moleskine brand until I began to dig into the GTD way of life, but these little books are perfect in so many ways. For my day-to-day To-Do Item capturing I opted for the large square-ruled notebook... I like the graph paper element because it works well with creating list items and sketching quick graphs and diagrams in the course of the work day. And just this weekend I bought myself a second notebook to keep as a journal / sermon notes book. This time I went for the simple ruled-notebook which is much cleaner for pages and pages of text.

A relatively new product in the Moleskine lineup are their "City Notebooks". The small, pocket sized booklets come branded with a certain city (such as Amersterdam, Dublin, Boston, or Seattle), and include such items as a city map, subway maps, and pre-tabbed sections for Food, Drinks, People, & Places. The idea is that it comes with just enough information to get you started in a city, but with plenty of blank space to log your own travels... the end result, you've written your tour guide yourself and have made the trip your own. Pretty cool concept.

Moleskine notebooks - not actually manufactured from the skins of innocent moles, might I add - available at most local bookstores. They're a good buy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

pillow talk

Sometimes when husbands accidently half-wake up their wives from their sleep in the middle of the night, comedy ensues. Such was the case last night...

It was 1AM, and Steph had been sleeping for a couple hours. I couldn't fall asleep, and must have bumped her and she kind of startled awake from a dream or something. As she was falling back to sleep, this is the "conversation" that took place:

Steph (in a groggy, I'm not at all awake sort of voice): "You have to take the horse up and back into there and back...."
Me: "What?"
Steph: "You have to take the horse for and to the back to be up and in the stall....."
Me (in a, this should be good entertainment sort of voice): "What's wrong with the horse?"
Steph: "He's really skinny"
Me: "He's skinny?"
Steph: "The horsey is really skinny"
Me: "Why is the horsey skinny?"
Steph: "Because no one is feeding the horsey"
Me: "They're not - why aren't they feeding the horsey?"
Steph: "I don't know...."
Me: "Does the skinny horsey have a name?"
Steph: "No...."
Me: "Why not?"
Steph: "I don't know"
Me: "You should name the horsey"
Steph: "Huh?"
Me: "Why don't you name the horsey?"
Steph (in a fully alert, realizing she has just been having a ridiculous conversation sort of voice): "YOU'RE NOT A VERY NICE PERSON YOU KNOW THAT!!"

Ah, such good fun....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

how i get things done

This week I'm writing two posts on productivity. This is the second post. The other has already been written.

There is a productivity philosophy called GTD, or "Getting Things Done". Lifehacker is particularly fond of this philosphy. The core concept is this: We have thoughts all day long of things that we need to do but we can't possibly remember them all. To increase efficiency we need to get these "things" out of our mind and recorded so we can concentrate on what actually needs to get done. GTD refines this process of gathering and capturing information by grouping tasks according to context. If you're overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff you have to do every day, you very well may want to give this a thought.

Well, I drank the kool-aid, and have been practicing "my version" of this GTD for a couple months now (everyone has their own personal way they implement GTD). I've gotten my system down pretty well now, so I thought I'd share it. Jon has drank a similar flavor of cool-aid, so if you're interested in reading his thoughts on the subject, check them out here.

So, for purposes of posterity this is my method of how I get things done:

The core of GTD relies on your ability to capture every task you have to do, whether it's big or small, regardless of where you are. It's important that you have as few "capture" points as you can possibly get away with - personally I have three.
  • Digital Capture - This is my email inbox, and I include both my work email and my personal email in this process. As an additional digital capture device I've got my cell phone which I can use to text myself action items directly to my email - helpful when I'm truly on the go.

  • Analog Capture - Aside from the fact that my company is too cheap to buy me a laptop, I need a capture device that I can take with me to meetings, for hallway conversations, and in the car, etc. This is where the handy-dandy Moleskine journal comes into play. I opted for the graph paper version because I'm particularly a fan of symetry and this aids in that endeavor (which in itself may warrant another post... hmm).
With my capture devices I am assured that whenever a task comes to mind that I need to remember I simply write it down.

Next I need to process all of these action items, and there are plenty. I get well in excess of 250 emails per day at work, and this paired with the fact that Outlook is a terrible way to manage tasks made me open to any other project management system that would help me organize.

Enter - an online task/project management system. It's web-based, it's simple and intuitive, and it's free... perfect! Todoist has really changed my life, and has made task management a reality. Since I spend 80% of my time in front of a computer, Todoist really makes sense as my central hub for processing everything I need to do.

As action items come up I determine how long it will take me to do them. If it will take less than 2 minutes, then I do it immediately. Otherwise I enter the item into Todoist. As I'm sent emails and receive phone calls, I log all of my action items into Todoist. If I'm in a meeting and come back to my desk with action items in my Moleskine journal, into Todoist they go.

Todoist allows me to quickly define deadlines, create projects with subtasks, set priorities, and add recurring tasks, all with very quick and simple keyboard shortcuts. It also allows for quick queries of items due today, due in the next seven days, overdue, etc. A web nerd's dream.

To manage all of the tasks hanging out in Todoist I need to be wary of my organization and deadline setting. I have several buckets that I drop tasks into as items are added - Work, Personal, My Website, Long Term. I'm very careful about where things go when they're dropped in.

I'm also careful about my deadline setting. Not every task is as important as the other. In general I do not assign a due date to action items unless it is a priority project or there is an actual defined deadline for the task when it is given to me.

If I am selective about the deadlines I set, I'm not overwhelmed on any one day with tons of projects coming due at the same time. Also, by refraining from setting deadlines I relieve myself of the subconscious burden of living under the pressure of getting so many things done... I focus on today's tasks and then move on.

The oft neglected but so very important part of GTD. Once every few days (and at least once a week) I go through the outstanding task list in Todoist. I make sure that all of the tasks I have are still relevant, and as I review I set deadlines for new projects that need to be completed within the next week. At this point I also make sure my email inbox is clean, and that things are filed and archived away. I used to be a stickler about saving every email I get... but lets face it, like tasks, not every email is as important as the other, so I've become a huge fan of the 'delete' button.

Some other key tools that have become very useful in this whole GTD implementation...

  • I rely on iGoogle more than ever, with my bookmarks, blog feeds, email, and calendar all within one click.

  • Google Calendar has been great, and has been implemented into my iGoogle page. Very good for keeping track of meetings, events, and other activities that occur outside of the 8:30-5:30 workday.
  • Jott is a service I'm liking more and more which allows you the ability to call a number, speak a message, and it will transcribe it for you and send the message to your email. Great for capturing information when you're on the run and don't have time to write something down - for instance, driving in the car in busy traffic and some epic thought crosses your mind.

  • Outlook has the funtionality of essentially post-dating emails... write an email now, press 'Send', but have it delivered later. Say I have an email I need to send to a group of people, but it doesn't need to be sent until four days from now... If I can just write the email now and be done with it and press 'Send', I can tell Outlook to send it in four days. Gets the action off my plate, and I don't have to stress about it in four days. Works for me.

So there you go. That's how I'm getting things done these days. Maybe this was helpful for you, or just further evidence that I am turning into the biggest nerd the world has ever put forth. Ah well.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

the levels of success

My co-worker Jon and I work in digital music, which on the surface seems somewhat glorious what with the greatness of iTunes and all. But underneath it's really pretty chaotic, frantic, and in the words of many, the wild wild west of the music industry. The operational level especially involves a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo and general all around ridiculousness that few people outside of ourselves actually understand.

Given that we live in this constant state of confusion, with brief moments of glory, and the ever present threat of epic disaster, Jon and I developed a tongue-in-cheek "system" by which we denote our current status of success / failure on whatever project we're currently working on, which we dubbed the "Levels Of Success Chart".

We're particularly fond of the downward spiralic progression from Situation to Fiasco, and I'm proud to say that we've actually emerged relatively unscathed from weeks of deep and utter Pandemic. We have yet to achieve anything above a Meta-Solution, but oh, it's coming.

Sometimes the word "problem" just isn't enough... This will end up in a management book someday. Enjoy...

I know we're not the only ones living neck deep in the idiocy of the corporate world, so in the event that you might find this chart helpful, I've provided a link to a downloadable PDF version of the chart here.

Myself, I've got mine printed off and held up on the wall of my office with my Michael Scott magnet that I bought at Target for $.99.

Monday, December 03, 2007

two posts on productivity

This week I'm going to write two posts on productivity, particularly as it applies to me being productive. This is the first post. The second hasn't been written yet. The other has now been written.

I had a revelation within the last two weeks: I constantly struggle to keep myself motivated throughout the day at work, regardless of how much I have going on or how interested / uninterested I am in doing the work I need to do. And it seems that if I start off slow at work, more often than not, the entire day is going to be sluggish and I won't get much accomplished.

But I've found a way to "jumpstart" myself in the mornings when I get to work. I probably could never actually tell an employer that I do this, as they would see it as decidedly unproductive, but I find this little activity helps me put to good use the remaining hours in the day.

And guess what - the activity is blogging. I find that if I spend 20-30 minutes each morning catching up on posts I find interesting, commenting on friend's blogs, and writing something myself, it somehow gets the proverbial "creative juices" flowing. I guess it's kind of like a little mind stretch - a work warm-up, if you will.

So there you go. Not that exciting I guess, but it was an epiphany for me.

Well, it was an ephiphany, but not really an epiphany [Adam].

So if you feel unproductive today, comment on my blog, and then go write something yourself, and tomorrow morning I'll come and read yours.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

best christmas album of 2007

It's not too often I get amped up on a Christmas record. I find a lot of it mundane and most of the time I'm going back to the old stuff that I grew up on.

But if I can just say, Bebo Norman's new record "Christmas From The Realms Of Glory" is likely the best Christmas album of 2007 and has quickly become one of my favorites. There are several reasons why: Musically it's very solid, and Bebo has a great voice, and the arrangements of the songs are surprisingly unique.

But I think the most catching thing about this album is the raw simplicity with which it is delivered. It's very acoustic driven - guitars, piano and Hammond organ, some layered banjo, and dulcimer. Somehow this album seems to capture the true spirit of Christmas for me. A lot of times Christmas music is so overdone - sweeping orchestral arrangements, cliche sleigh bells, dripping with consumerist gloss. But I feel like Bebo brings the focus back - the celebration, the joy, the seriousness, the weightyness that Christmas is, comes together on this album.

A couple highlight tracks...

Joy To The World:
I never really cared for this song all that much before - I always thought it sounded forced - but this is my favorite track on the album. Bebo plays this as though he were walking down the middle of a country road on Christmas morning with snow all around him, just belting this song out to all of his neighbors. He actually sounds happy playing this - you can't help but smile.

The Rebel Jesus:
This is a cover of a song written by Jackson Browne in the early 90's. I have never heard a more honest Christmas song. This lyric cuts deep and forces you to critically think about the way you celebrate Christmas every year...

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
We get the same as the rebel Jesus

Overall it's a solid album, honestly and intentionally done, and you should check it out. If you want to take a listen, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the problem with wikipedia

If you're a reader of this blog you know I have a fascination with Wikipedia. Perhaps a little off color, but I thought this was remarkably insightful (not to mention hilarious)... thanks for the find Jon:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

some thoughts on baptism (part 2)

This is a continuation of my series of posts on Christian baptism, unpacking my thoughts and supporting my reasoning for getting baptized. Specifically I am digging into the 8 statements I made in Part 1. Today, Statement 1...

1. Baptism is not necessary for salvation
There are very few denominations within Christianity that support baptism as a necessity to salvation (most notably the Church Of Christ), so I'm not going to spend too much time digging into this one.

Among some of the verses that are used to support a view of baptismal regeneration include Mark 16:16...
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned."
At first glance it appears that this verse supports the idea that both faith and baptism are required for salvation. But notice the difference in the second half of the verse - while it is indicated that both 'belief' and 'baptism' will lead to salvation, it merely says in the second half that a lack of 'belief' will lead to condemnation. This verse teaches that 'belief' is essential to salvation - it does not teach that 'baptism' is.

One prominent example that comes to mind when considering faith as the critical element of salvation is the conversation had between Jesus and the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). Here Jesus promised a sinful man that he would "be with him in paradise" simply through belief - no opportunity for baptism.

There are a multitude of verses that support the concept of "faith alone" as the requirement of salvation, among them John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 3:28, Romans 11:6, and Ephesians 2:8-10.

While browsing the web for some articles on baptism, I found one particularly interesting which de-constructs the primary verses of baptismal regeneration. If you're interested in reading further, feel free to check it out here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

in defence of bear grylls

Earlier this summer there was a lot talk in the media about Bear Grylls, his Discovery Channel show Man vs. Wild, and the accusation that he staged and faked some, if not most, of the events depicted in the show.

In truth I should have written this post a few months ago to lend my support to Bear, but the media reports kind of blew over, Bear made some statemtents on his own behalf, and so I let it go. Then Jon had to go and get me all worked up over it again last week, so this is for you Bear:

Many who have taken hold of the media reports on the Man vs. Wild point to three primary areas of question, which I'll outline below. But first, those same people often point to a similar Discovery Channel show, Survivorman, as the better and "more pure" alternative to Man vs. Wild, and to that I will say this...

Man vs. Wild and Survivorman are different shows with different intents. I liken it to this analogy: Survivorman is a show about enduring the wild, purposefully, with only the bare essentials - kind of like a road trip without a map. Man vs. Wild on the other hand is like a wilderness "worst case scenario" - like a road trip where your car goes flying off into a ravine, completely destroys everything, and now you have to fumble your way out back into civilization. They're both fine shows, and personal preferences may lead you to watch one over the other, but keeping in mind that the end purpose is different in each, and I think it's a stretch to say one is intrinsically better than the other.

Anyways, the critics of Man vs. Wild have pointed primarily to the following three issues:

  1. Bear Sleeps In Hotels: They say that Bear sets us up to believe that he is surviving in the remote wilderness for a week, but instead sleeps in a cozy luxury hotel and eats blueberry pancakes each morning. However, the show has always stated in the opening sequence that in instances of severe danger or in matters of "life or death" Bear can receive help from his team, producers, or outsiders. If I take that for what it's worth, then yes, there have probably been some pretty extreme nights out in the wilderness, and in the interest of human life someone made an executive decision to get the team out of danger. On the other hand, there have been plenty of documented nights in the wilderness where Bear legitimately set up camp and suffered through the night, and during some pretty rough weather as well. Case in point, Episode 3 - The Coasta Rican Rainforest - downpour all night long, and he was sick as a dog too. These instances of sleeping in hotels every night and eating pancakes are a little over dramatized by an overly-zealous British press.

  2. Bear Can't Make His Own Raft: In one episode Bear escapes from an island using a hand-built raft, but whistleblowers "outed" him by indicating Bear had to be shown how to build the raft first, then it was torn apart and Bear built it again for the camera. I wouldn't call this an earth shattering discovery... It is no secret that in each episode Bear relies on the wisdom of local survival experts at each location he is in, and these survival experts are credited in each show. Furthermore, Bear has indicated that he goes to each location several days early to get a lay of the land, meet with local experts, and confer on particular items that he may encounter while shooting the episode. I liken it to a reporter doing research - Bear does research by engaging with the locale first and then presents his findings during the episode. Bear just happens to be very qualified for this particular genre of research... it's not like they threw Matt Lauer out there.

  3. Bear's Remote Locations Not So Remote: Another aquaintance who is evangelistic on Survivorman being better than Man vs. Wild [what is it about you Surviorman people?] pointed out this YouTube clip. The clip shows a location on a Hawaiian lava field where an episode of Man vs. Wild was filmed, and then pans far to the left to show a road with cars driving on it, implying that Bear's remote wilderness locations are in fact not so remote. We have to remember that Man vs. Wild is a television show, and this particular show is not intended to be a "diary" of a week in the wilderness [Survivorman]. This show is intended to demonstrate survival options - tools to employ if you are ever caught in a similar situation. Secondary to this, I believe, is the idea that Bear is out there on his own trudging through all of this hundreds of miles away from civilization. And so if on certain outings the camera has avoided showing certain roads, or buildings, or telephone lines for dramatic emphasis, then fine - it allows the episode to maintain consistency and keeps us focused on the actual content, which is how to protect your hands by climbing through the lava fields using your socks as gloves.

I'll concede that the nature of the show likely set us up to believe certain things that weren't necessarily 100% true. I've come to the conclusion that this wasn't done with any deliberate malice, but rather was done in the effort to create a captivating and engaging television show to demonstrate "worst case scenario" survival techniques. Since the allegations I believe Bear has been very forthcoming regarding the history of the show, and specifically I would want you to read this very transparent posting from Bear on his personal blog as well as this article in Outside Magazine which clears the air on a lot of the issues above.

So let me end with this... Say what you want about Bear Grylls - call him a panzy, a fake, or the "adventure equivalent of a cheese souffle" for all I care - but first I want you to go visit your local zoo, find a fresh pile of African elephant dung, hold it above your head to squeeze the juice out and take a long hard drink.

... Until then, enjoy Man vs. Wild for what it is as you sit comfortably in your couch watching the Discovery Channel in your warm and heated house, eating pizza and drinking Coke. As for me, it is DEFINITELY time to be getting back to work....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

fresh young turkey

This is our Thanksgiving turkey! We chose him last night:

We're really excited!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

some thoughts on baptism (part 1)

A friend recently asked me about my thoughts on baptism, knowing that I was recently baptized as a step in becoming a member of my church, Grace Community Church. I grew up Methodist, as did he, and like myself was wrestling with some of the implications that went with the Methodist practices of baptism vs. your typical Baptist practices (and of course, the ultimate question includes scripture's view of baptism).

So here are some basic statements regarding these two views of baptism:
  1. Methodist's practice the concept of "infant baptism", which is to say, several months after a child is born within the church the baby is baptized via a public ceremony which generally involves the sprinkling of water over the baby's head and some words of dedication spoken by the pastor.
  2. Baptist's practice the concept of "believer's baptism" and is only viewed as official when the believer is baptized via full immersion
  3. Neither denomination claim that baptism is essential to salvation. Both view it as an important outward sign of dedication to the Christian faith and an integral part of our Christian heritage.
The truth is that I have wanted to fully unpack this subject for quite a while, and I get to rambling on these blog posts so I've decided to break the topic up into a few segments that I will post over the course of the next couple weeks. But to kick things off, below is a quick breakdown of my thoughts on baptism that ultimately led to my decision. I will support these statements in the posts to come...
  1. Baptism is not necessary for salvation
  2. Baptism is a powerful symbolic gesture that publicly indicates faith in Christ
  3. Baptism completely lacks meaning if it is received prior to making a conscious dedication of faith, therefore I fully support the concept of "believer's baptism"
  4. Baptism does nothing to "cleanse" children of original sin
  5. The Methodist standard for baptizing children is misguided and lacks a solid scriptural foundation and fails to capture the spirit for which baptism was originally intended
  6. Baptism is intended to symbolically capture the transformation that happens in salvation - death to oneself, and new life through Christ. Baptism by immersion captures this the best and I find the practice of "sprinkling" or "pouring" particularly lacking
  7. Baptism needs to be understood from a historical perspective - including both foundational Christian and Jewish thought - not just the perspective protestant denominational differences
  8. It is a church's own prerogative whether or not it requires baptism as part of church membership, and this is an acceptable practice
A few years ago, when I first started attending a Baptist church, I was actually offended to hear that I would need to be re-baptized if I intended to join the church as a member... as though my original Methodist baptism as a baby was not good enough. I put it off for a couple years, changed churches in the process, and after a lot of thought came to the conclusion that my theological upbringing had not given me a solid scriptural view of baptism.

Scripture treats baptism as a public declaration of faith, a symbolic gesture of the death of the sinful self and rebirth as a child of God, and the beginning of a life of ministry devoted towards God.

Since I was baptized as a baby I did not have the chance to make a public symbolic declaration of my faith as part of my eventual conversion experience. In retrospect, if I had my say when I was 6 months old I would have held off on my baptism until 10th grade which is when I made my first conscious decision to become a believer. That wasn't the case of course, so I found myself caught in this odd place where I had already been baptized, I had made a public declaration of faith multiple times later in life, and yet my original baptism did not stack up to the standards of Baptist church membership.

Ultimately I came to the personal conclusion that my original baptism lacked the symbolic meaning that I felt it should carry. It was little more than a dedication ceremony involving a handful of water and a few lines of recitation on the part of the congregation. And while my current church "required" that I be baptized according to their standards, I had come to the personal conclusion that those standards were more in line with what God originally intended and therefore I made the decision to be baptized again - as a believer, fully immersed, and grasping the full weight of the symbolic practice.

That's the topic in a nutshell, and I hope to dig into this a little further and explain some of my 8 statements above... it will be good for me personally, and for the purposes of discussion. And if you have any personal thoughts about those 8 statements, feel free to respond and start the discussion... it's certainly an interesting topic.

Monday, October 29, 2007

ok fine... maybe

OK I concede, sometimes my job has its high points... I'm posting this from my new iPod Touch... so ha, suckers!! On wait, I forgot for a moment that I still sit in a cubicle.

Friday, October 26, 2007

autumn in five hundred words or more

Autumn does weird things to me. Autumn is the best season of the year, but I find that I'm generally the most dissatisfied with life during these months. Something about the changing colors of the leaves, the coolness in the air, rainy afternoons, darkness coming earlier. It makes me quiet.

Autumn is the season of time slipping away.I find myself listening to highly emotive music during autumn: Sigur Ros, Fionn Regan, The Frames, the new Radiohead album. This music seems to capture everything I feel, but I can't tell you what those things are. That's just between me and the song.

It's raining right now. I'm sitting at a coffeeshop outside of Chicago. Radiohead's song "Reckoner" sounds like the sun rising.

I wonder if artists ever give thought to the time of year that they release their albums. Music has a season. Well, I should say, that certain types of music remind you of certain seasons of life. Autumn is not the season of pop music. Autumn is for Sigur Ros, Fionn Regan, The Frames, and the new Radiohead album. This is when they should release their album. Matchbox20 should have waited until summer. But labels don't think about that - they just want to get it out in time for Christmas so that their stock price goes up and shareholders are happy.

Work has difficult recently. With so much music, much of it sounding the same and mediocre, it's easy to get jaded. Many of these artists are legit, and they mean what they write, but I'm so far removed from all that that it's often hard to tell the difference. "Can you get me homepage on iTunes?" I don't know... maybe... can you make your album not suck?

I think I'll get some coffee.

I'm not sure what I'm passionate about right now. Some days it's music, some days it's climbing mountains. Some days it's theology, and others it's... well, whatever... I feel mediocre at a lot of things. I hate mediocrity. I have trouble staying focused on things. Time is slipping away with the autumn and I want to keep moving. I do not want to sit in a cubicle anymore.

I'm in Chicago this weekend helping Beau book some gigs with college campuses. I love talking to the college kids, I wish we had more time to do it. That's hands on music industry right there.

If I could make some of these side businesses profitable I could easily get passionate about that. They don't seem to want to be profitable right now. I might be stuck in the cubicle for a while.

I think we should move to Montana, live off the land, and climb mountains.

And study theology.

And write music.

Autumn just makes me feel empty. I'm happy that the colors are changing and that the air is cool, but I don't feel happy. The rain and darkness do not make me feel sad. It's just quiet and quiet equals empty, and I'd rather not talk about it. It's good for a drive, across Indiana - long, flat, boring, endless Indiana, with the rain coming down and Radiohead's song "Reckoner" playing asking the sun to rise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

anniversary weekend recap

So we made it two years! Celebrated our annivesary this weekend in Charleston / Savannah. It was good times and we had a lot fun. This is a week late, and this is probably much too long for a blog, but here's a recap:

To start, somehow Steph and I have this uncanny ability to enter every city we visit via the ghetto. I'm not sure how this happens, or how we continue to put ourselves in danger like this... we're gonna get mugged someday for sure. St. Louis, New Orleans, Tuscaloosa, Pensacola, Columbus, St. Louis, Atlanta - Steph and I can give you narrated tours of the ghetto in each of these fine American cities. This trip was no exception - add Charleston, Savannah, and the 'burbs of Atlanta to the list.

We drove to Conyers, GA, just outside of Atlanta, simply to spend the night and get us halfway to Charleston. Let me tell you - Conyers, GA, yeah, ghetto. Hotel in Conyers, GA? Ghetto. But we're really cheap and we shouldn't have expected anything else when paying $36 for a night.

Drove to Charleston. Checked into hotel in North Charleston. North Charleston = ghetto. North Charleston is definitely the armpit of South Carolina - the stench emanating from the area around our hotel was both incredible and mind boggling. We pinpointed 3 distinct smells, each of which ranked near the top of the list of "worst smells ever in the world". So we didn't spend too much time at the hotel and got ourselves down to Charleston.

Wow. Charleston, amazing city. Vintage and beautiful. Really cool downtown, and very active even at night. I loved the fact that the main streets of town were essentially like a shopping mall turned inside out... you entered all of your typical "mall" stores (Bananna, J-Crew, Pottery Barn, etc.) from the street, so you didn't have to spend half your day walking around stale mall halls with flourescent lights... rather, you spend it walking around the streets of beautiful Charleston.

The Battery was really cool, and the houses just amazing. Really neat park at the end of the penninsula with the old Civil War cannons.

Spent it wandering around Charleston, just relaxing. Went over to
Fort Moultrie in the afternoon, a fort used in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Saw the ocean there, and then drove a little bit farther to an actual beach and watched the ocean for a bit.

Supper was at Joe's Pasta back in Charleston... relatively unmemorable, except for the fact that we had the most forgetful waitress ever... how ironic. Then we spent a relaxing evening at a Starbucks that was converted from an old bank building (large vault included).

Started things off with a very enjoyable breakfast with our good friends Brad and Joy Pitner at the Charleston Cafe (best stuffed french toast ever). Brad and Joy used to work at Gotee and moved to Charleston to start a kitchen store called
The Coastal Cupboard, which is definitely the funnest kitchen store we have ever been to. They've got a great (and unique) thing going - I've never seen so many choices for spatulas - and we're very proud of how well they are doing. They were kind enough to provide us with a few tasty treats for the road - they were great, thanks guys!

Post Coastal Cupboard we headed on down to Savannah and spent the afternoon downtown hanging out under some really cool (what I think are) Cypress Trees, walking amongst really old moss covered buildings. Another fascinating, historic city. Did you know
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist denomination, got his start in America in Savannah? Niether did I. Do you care? Unlikely.

We spent the afternoon at Tybee Island, on the coast again and saw a cool lighthouse and took some pictures on the beach. Apparently the Air Force
lost a nuclear bomb off the coast of Tybee in 1958 and never found it. Oops. We ended the evening with a fantastic dinner at Pearl's Saltwater Grille back in Savannah, which included a marvelous tuna steak for me and the BEST hushpuppies I have ever had in my entire life. Before we left I had the waiter fill up a to-go box with all the hushpuppies he could find and I've been eating them for the last week.

So that's the trip. We drove back Monday, narrowly escaped rush hour in Atlanta, and got home just in time to go to bed. Don't stay in Conyers, GA. Happy Anniversary to us!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

dear radiohead

Thank you for the new album. I was pleased to be able to download it from your website this evening and pay whatever price I desired to purchase it. I happened to spend $5.00, and I hope that's ok with you. You made the purchase process really simple and I was happy to find that the entire process took less than four minutes. So now I'm about to load the tracks onto my iPod and listen to the album for the first time. I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure it will be great.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

the big plunge

For the past year and a half Steph and I have been going to Grace Community Church, an incredible church which we enjoy very much. Pastor Scott is amazing, the music is great, and we've made a lot of great friends (who are actually our age, married, and don't have five kids... not that there's anything wrong with kids).

So we figured, this is the place, so we're going to become members. Well, Grace Community is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Baptists love their dunk tank. That's all fine and well, but for a guy who grew up Methodist (and was baptized as a baby 26 years ago) that's always been a bit of a hurdle for me to get over. I mean, what, was my orginal baptism not good enough? What's the difference if I get baptized as a baby, or if it's actually by immersion?

Well, this Methodist was finally broken. Baptism was originally intended to be a public symbolic act of believing in Christ, once they became a believer. And the death and resurrection of Christ is symbolized through the going-down and coming-up from the water through baptism.

So today I got baptized and became a member of Grace Community Church! A cool experience and worth the 26 year wait. As I was telling someone earlier, the Methodists got me on the Heaven waiting list with infant baptism... glad I've got my reserved seat now though. Thanks Stephanie, Brian and Krista, and Rachel Ray for coming!! Here's a post-dunk picture for ya, note semi-wet hair.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

i'm actually posting about weather...

Finally, a cool enough weekend where we can actually turn off the freakin' air conditioner and open the windows. This summer has been long enough. The hottest on record they say, and I for one want to be done with it.

So, to celebrate, I'm going outside to play.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

update: a new obsession

I just totally got schooled by Josh in ping-pong... Arghudljasdhd!!!

That was tremendously disapointing. Ah, but now I have a new mission in life!! I'm coming for you Josh....

a new obsession

Ping-Pong. Wow, what a marvelous game! My company made the poor and unwise decision to invest in a ping-pong table for our third floor "commons" area. It is certainly where I have been spending all of my free time lately.

Now, I grew up with a ping-pong table at my house... and I played a fair bit, but generally against my grandparents, so no true advancement in skill was made in my early years. Over the years I've played from time to time, and I've gotten quite a bit better. Now, I am certainly nowhere near the skill level of ping-pong extraordinaire Timmy P (and he truly is quite good). Timmy was in Ping-Pong Scouts - had a uniform that he would wear to school all the time. He had these cute little patches that he would sew to the back of his shirt every time he won a tournament. Then in our junior year he decided he wanted to do both Bowling Club and Ping-Pong Scouts, so his ping-pong game started to suffer a bit..... but I digress....

Anyways, so yeah, I've been playing a lot of ping-pong lately. I'm mastering my different service styles. I've pretty much got my spin under control, and am able to return most spins as well. I need to work on my smash, because that usually goes totally out of control. I've been taking on a variety of different people in the building, and am holding my own pretty well. I'm happy to say I've been teaching Jon the art of the ping-pong and he is coming along quite nicely... though he needs to learn discretion as to when not to return the ball. :)

I want to get an EMI Ping-Pong Tournament going... that's my goal for the fall.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I hate doing this, but this is a once in a lifetime experience, so please bear with me as I brag just a little bit. My CEO at EMI was kind enough about four weeks ago to nominate me for a feature being run in Billboard Magazine for their annual “30 Under 30” feature, and believe it or not I was chosen! Yeah, that Billboard Magazine – crazy… way crazy. The article features, as they say “30 young rising executives in the music industry from all aspects of the business….” I don’t know if I’m really “rising executive” material, but it was cool to be placed in this bunch. The feature ran in this week’s edition of Billboard (8/24).

So it features everyone from the CEO of Imeem to one of Live Nation’s head talent agents, to the creator of Facebook. I was chosen specifically because I am the account manager for iTunes while representing the largest Christian music company in the industry, and we’ve done a significant amount of work, specifically at iTunes, getting Christian music to a place where it is quite successful in the digital space. Here’s where I need to throw out the qualifier that this stuff is a team effort and I’m given the chance to take credit for a lot of things I had a lot of help on. But it has been fun being around through the beginning of this whole thing… I was working iTunes over three years ago when hardly anyone knew what an iPod was and it was a struggle every week just to make sure our albums went live.

So, there you go. I really never thought I would be quoted in a national magazine. I got to be a quasi-celebrity for a week. Back to normal tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2007

yayson bourne identity

You need to check this out... seriously.....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

bourne again

On Sunday afternoon I finally got to experience the epic conclusion to the Bourne series, The Bourne Ultimatum, an event that has been five years in the making for me. I'll get in trouble if I call "Bourne" the greatest movies of all time, but they are personal favorites for me... in a Top 6 list, the three movies in the series place within it.

The Bourne movies have been wonderfully constructed, portraying a secret agent in a way that hasn't been done before - heroic within reason, clever beyond imagination, and tortured by his own capabilities. They are paced ever so well with the perfect balance of storyline, suspense, and action - not too much or too little in any respect.

I was so happy with the way Bourne Ultimatum tied things together: First, the overlay of time / events between Supremacy and Ultimatum was clever, and I hadn't expected that... I figured it would pick up right where Supremacy left off, but it actually went back in time and filled in events for six weeks prior. The Bourne movies have become known for their car chase scenes - the first movie pushed an old Mini Cooper to it's limit, and the second absolutely destroyed a Moscow taxi-cab. I like how they did the chases in the third one though - a lot of "foot" chases, with Bourne using clever tactics to elude those who were pursuing him by using his seeminly inborn agent abilities. And towards the end of the movie, seeing him tear up New York City in a cop car was fantastic.

I loved the ending - it was perfect, and I couldn't have hoped for anything better. It filled in just enough gaps to leave you satisfied, yet at the same time kept you wondering a bit... what's next? There's lots of talk about whether or not there will be a 4th movie, and I personally hope there isn't (from an artistic perspective). It ended dramatically answering the big question of whether or not Bourne was alive or dead, and immediatly went to credits with Moby's song "Extreme Ways"... but unlike the other movies, Moby did a remix of the song for this movie that seemed to say "this is the end... Bourne is finished now". Plus the end credits were artistically dramatically different which I felt also indicated a definitive end to the series.

All in all, I am so satisfied and relieved that the directors / producers took such care in executing an artisically brilliant action movie, something that in and of itself rarely happens. The movie I highly recommend (as a theater must-see), and if you're behind on the series as a whole, now is the time to get up to speed!

Today you should listen to:
Moby "Extreme Ways (Bourne's Ultimatum)"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Christian Music Part 3: It's Really All About The Lyrics

I was remiss in getting Part 3 of the Christian music series up quickly on my site... would love for you to check out the entire post!

"We want to look at two different songs, similar in style and intent - one from what we would call a "typical" Christian artist, the other from an artist we feel conveys the message of Christianity in a more compelling way... These two songs (one by Audio Adrenaline the other by The Normals) both tell the story of life, grace, and forgiveness through a song, but they do it in different ways. Stated briefly, Audio Adrenaline's song tells it's story abstractly while The Normals' song uses concrete imagery."

Check out more here....

Friday, July 20, 2007

words i wish i never had to hear again in the context of work

Crossover Potential
5000 Pound Elephant
Value Add
Drill Down
Core Competencies

What annoys me even more is that I find myself using these ridiculous phrases in conversations during meetings.... WHY OH WHY?!? I disappoint myself.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

some things i just don't understand

The thing to drink down here in the South during a hot summer-time meal is "sweet tea". For the Yankees, this would be known as iced tea with sugar. It is truly one of the most fantastic elements brought by Southerners to the world of cuisine. It's addicting, and I could probably drink a gallon of it at a time if left to my own devices. The difference between sweet tea and iced tea with sugar is that the sugar is added to sweet tea immediately after brewing before it is served. For sweetened iced tea, the sugar is added by the drinker after it has been served - this is not sweet tea - this is a waste of time.

In my opinion sweet tea is the one and only way to drink cold tea (with the exception of an iced chai, which is something completely different). Of course the option is always available to you at a Southern restaurant to get unsweetend ice tea, but I believe this to be the most god-forsaken beverage known to man. It does not taste good. There is no redeeming quality to the unsweetend iced tea, and the Southerns know this.

Were you to walk into a restaurant and you wanted good old-fashioned sweet tea, you would simply say, "I'd like some sweet tea", and they would know exactly what you mean, done deal, and your beverage is on the way.

But were you to walk in and say, "I'd like some iced tea", they would immediately know they are dealing with a moron. Next they are forced to ask the question, "Would you like that sweetened or unsweetend?" Each day they set aside a few gallons of their brewed tea and leave it unsweetened for idiots. So you order your "unsweetened iced tea", and what happens next - as soon as it's brought to the table, you start dumping packet after packet of sugar into it. That's just an excercise in foolishness if you ask me. And as for the unsweetend iced tea (left unsweetened)... why in the world would you take a wonderful meal and finish it off with a nice tall glass of crap? Why don't you just blend up some chalk and drink that?

Sweet tea goes particularly well with certain types of food: Burgers, fried chicken, BBQ, catfish, etc.... you know, Southern food. Unsweetend iced tea is good for, oh, I don't know... pouring down the sewer, dumping on your cat... water balloons. Some things I just don't understand, and unsweetend iced tea is one of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Christian Music Part 2: What Can We Do Better?

I mentioned last time I'm partnering with Tim to write a series about the Christian music industry. Here's a bit from our latest post...

"While musically a Christian album is often tolerable, if one were to actually dissect the lyrical content of your average Christian song you'd be left with a pile of feel-good anecdotes, spiritual cliches, interspersed with a healthy dose of "Hallelujahs" and other standard worship words... Reading a Christian song is almost like watching a Brady Bunch episode: Catchy intro, problematic situation, tension, feel-good resolution. These songs are easy to write. It's the same plot line with the characters switched around, and ultimately it cheapens the Gospel."

Check out more here....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Christian Music Part 1: What Makes Good Music?

My friend Tim and I are co-writing a blog series together about the woes of the Christian music industry... me from the perspective of someone in the industry, he from the perspective of a consumer and fellow musician. I invite you to check out the rant, give us your thoughts, and share hateful comments. Here's an excerpt from the first post...

"... We need to remember that it's ultimately God who leads people to Him, and it's with the interaction and relationships of people that He generally uses to bring people towards Him. Music is a tool and a gift for us to use in aiding this process, but it it dangerous to view it as the means. God is the means, and we are often His method - the things we have influence over are merely devices at our disposal... There are undoubtedly people that have become Christians via songs like "Blindman" or "Humble Thyself" or even "Days of Elijah"... but that in itself doesn't deem those good songs. One thing we're tiring of is Christian artists being given an excuse not to write innovative or pioneering songs...."

Check out more here....

Monday, July 09, 2007

pyrokinesis (redemption edition)

I'm happy to say, following my July 4th "fireworks", that I've honed my burger grilling skills somewhat. Thanks to Tim for the helpful tips, I followed his advice and made my burgers "thinner than you would think necessary" and added a splash of Gate's BBQ sauce to "help them hold together". Of course my traditional spice package included Lawry's, paprika, and red pepper flakes.

The key to the whole process I found was to keep the burners on as low as they go and to embrace the flames. Grease fire? Bring it on! You won't terrify me no longer.

So while the end result of the 4th of July was a little to much carbon, the 8th of July were quite likely the most fantastic burgers I have created in quite a long while.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

pyrokinetical fiasco

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without a little bit of fireworks, so in true American fashion Steph and I had Justin and Hannah over for a little pre-evening-celebration hamburger cookout. Steph’s brother, Theo and Joey, are staying with us over the next couple weeks, so we figured we’d go ahead and grill a bunch of hamburgers that they could eat while we’re at work the next couple of days.

So we get the big tub of meat – 4lbs of ground beef. And I’m feeling good that this is going to be a great grilling day… I’ve got my Lawrys, I’ve got my parika, I’ve got my red pepper flakes, and I start making some of the most beautiful hamburger patties I’ve ever seen. Got about 14 of them ready to go, fire up the grill, let it warm up for a bit, and then start just stacking on the most wonderful array of meat ever to lay across a 4th of July grill.

Things are going well. I step inside for a bit to talk and…..

* disaster strikes *

Something happened in the 30 seconds I was in the kitchen, because when I looked out the back porch window moments later, my entire grill was engulfed in smoke. The porch area is filling up quickly with toxic fumes, so I run outside, grab the lid of the grill and throw it open. Flames are spewing forth like a flamethrower. Helplessly I grab my BBQ utensils and start shoving meat around. Smoke has clouded up the porch door now – my family and friends are peering out in stark horror. Even the cat is unsettled. I truly don’t know what I’m doing at this point – something has gone terribly wrong. I do the only thing I can think of and start turning off burners. This doesn’t help. The entire inside of the grill is on fire and every time I touch meat more grease drips off and sets off a new wave of smoke, flames, and chaos. I pull Justin outside with me… not because he can necessarily help, but because I want to be in this together with someone, and when the girls start ridiculing me later and I need him on my side.

I start moving burgers around, stacking them on top of the other, sacrificing the bottom burgers to the raging inferno to give the other burgers a chance. There are no grill burners on now – I’ve got a perpetual conflagration of grease that is going to burn these things to a crisp. Somehow I finally get to the point where I am managing mass chaos and get a system going where I am cycling all the burgers through a warm area of the grill to cook while the rest of the fire burns down. Before each one goes through I have to use the sharp edge of my spatula to chip off charred cow in an attempt to get a decently even cooking experience.

Drama I tell you, drama.

The majority of the burgers turned out fine, save two that ended up looking like charcoal lumps that I literally had to pry away from the grill. Happy 4th of July.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I've officially crossed the line. I'm an internet nerd. Not only do I casually observe the happenings on the marvelous interwebs, I am now one who actually contributes to this massive chaotic giant of tubes, webs, and bits and bats.

I'm speaking of Wikipedia, my favorite website. I love it for it's random wealth of information on anything from
tube socks to the spiritual culture of the Siberian Yupiks. I'll spend hours just cruising away, jumping from one topic to the next, in this random and trivial form of pseudo-education. So fascinating.

I've been obsessed with Wikipedia for a couple years now, but as I said, I've now officially crossed the line. I'm now a Wikipedia Editor, complete with personal
profile (boring) and more importantly, my first article contribution. My first edit is kind of boring, but was the only thing I could think of off the top of my head that I had specific knowledge about that no one else had already written on.

So there ya go. A new hobby to fit into my already busy life... and why the heck not.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

worn and torn

Stephanie and I went to an artisan festival on Sunday - hundreds of painters, potters, photographers, etc. The highlight for me was a photographer named Jack Stoddart. This guy is as old school as they come. Serious about his art and his method. Jack's from the Plateau region of Tennessee, east of Nashville, about halfway to Knoxville. Together he and his wife moved to the area about 35 years ago with the intention of creating a "black and white silver gelatin historical documentation" of the area. The silver gelatin process, which I don't fully understand yet, is a dying art... so much so that the last remaining manufacturer who provided the developing paper needed to reproduce the images recently went out of business, effectively putting Jack out of business. But I won't pretend to speak with authority on things I know nothing about....

Jack's pictures speak for themselves. His vintage method of capturing and re-producing life is striking, and as a result of this developing process you are left with an image that reminds you of the worn oval pictures of your great-great-great-grandparents, hanging on your relatives hallway walls. The silver-gelatin and washing process leaves the picture with this aged and rugged feeling, as though you can feel years through the picture itself, yet the photograph jumps out at you with such a vibrancy and life that it just captivates your attention.

Recently Jack has been honored for his work by being accepted into several museums, not the least of which is the Museum Of American History at the Smithsonian. If you have an appreciation for film photography, check out Jack's online gallery. The resolution online isn't the best and doesn't do the film justice, but you may get the general impression:

Online Gallery:

Saturday, June 16, 2007

so much to do, so little time

So I'm starting something new... at Jon's prompting, I've begun my list of "101 Things To Do in 1001 Days". You can check out the list as it takes shape at

Thursday, June 14, 2007

bear grylls today; a short bed tonight

Was happy to see Bear Grylls featured on the Today show this morning - got to catch a glimpse of the new season and him crossing an Icelandic river at 40 degrees below 0 or something ridiculous like that. They should have had Matt Lauer interview him though... should not have prissy Meredith conversing with Bear... "oh my gosh, is that a worm you're eating!?!? eww!!!!"

So Steph and I were laying in bed last night (don't worry, this is a graphic as it gets), and she says to me, "Of all the blogs and myspace pages out there, I can't believe no one has ranted about this yet... why are beds so short!?" And she has brought up a fine point. 1) We're poor, so we have a full size bed; 2) I'm tall and my feet hang off the end of it; 3) No one has ranted about this before on a blog, so I shall today.

So what the crap? What is it with full size beds and them being so short? It's not just a tall person problem - Steph doesn't like having her head scrunched up against the top of the bed, so she sleeps down a ways as well, and her feet dangle too. I think they're making a bad assumption if they think that tall people and non-head-scrunchers are the only ones that sleep in queen and king size beds. Respect the financially burdened and monetarily squeezed!! We need a bed just like the rest of America, and if we are to be productive in life and earn the money we need to make our eventual bed upgrade, we need to have a good night's rest!! We cannot go through our nights with our feet dangling off the end of the bed while every day the trials of the world dangle our very lives before us!! This is a call to rise up! This is a call to support those who are forced to sleep diagonally each night while their wive's are pushed closer and closer to that dangerous edge! This is a call to wake up for the sleep we all deserve!!!

Call your senator and voice your support for the "Longer Beds For Taller People (and shorter people who want longer beds too)" bill being brought before Congress this week.

Today you should listen to:
Travis "Under The Moonlight"

Monday, May 21, 2007

rearranging the hierarchy

I've been holding off on doing this for some time because, if I were to blog about it, I know it would earn immediate honorary entry into Uncle Tim's "Cats Are Stupid" blog sub-section. I like my cat - I wish him no disrespect. Oh well...

So Steph and I were hanging some pictures the other day... and of course, hauled out the old laser level to provide assistance. Gotta love the laser level - bright red beam shooting out across the wall. At the very least, if you don't get the level setting correct, your pictures will all be hanging in a straight diagonal line going up towards the ceiling.

Linus (the cat) of course caught sight of the laser. We're talking immediate change in life priorities here. There was a time when his ultimate goal was to escape through the front door during the brief few moments that it is open after we come home from work and take off beyond the bushes that inevitably block his path. However, he now intends to capture and hold captive the mysterious red dot which, apparently, lives in cracks in the floor and underneath appliances. This, he surmises, will give him new status in the social ranking and order of the house - maintaining a slave will obviously make him eligible for certain voting rights in the failed socio-political environment he is now an unwilling member of.

Anyways, so we've got the laser level out, we're playing with Linus. Doing all those things you do when you've got a cat and a laser. He's utterly bewildered of course.

My favorite part of the evening: I'm in the kitchen and I've got him spinning around in a tight circle, around and around, chasing this thing - 30 or 40 times around. Deliberately making him dizzy. Then I point the laser off into the living room and he attempts to go chasing after it, after which he immediately crashes into the dishwasher because he's so tipsy. This makes me laugh (loudly) and as a reaction I slap my hand on the counter... this scares him even more, and he takes off across the living room in fear, tail puffy, and dizzy... and runs directly into the TV.

Today you should listen to:
The Hold Steady
"Stuck Between Stations"

Friday, May 18, 2007

statutory trivia

So I was talking to a friend of mine from Louisiana a while back who revealed some interesting state trivia to me... If you're from any of the states mentioned below and did in fact know this already... just let me have my fun:

If you study carefully the map provided to the right you will find a kind baker who has prepared a tasty treat for our national consumption. The state of Iowa provides the baker's head, with his nose at the far right side. His body is provided by Missouri and Arkansas, his boots by Louisiana, and his baker's cap by Minnesota. He holds in his hands a pie - the tin which is Tennessee and the overflow of scrumptious filling which is Kentucky

Kinda lame, I know... I didn't want to have to require thinking today.

Today you should listen to:
Aqualung "Garden Of Love"
* This is, in general, a fantastic album by the way...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

driving me insane

Thank you Tim for your recent comment on my last post. You know I can't do another post until you comment... appreciate that.

So we're doing it again, beginning tonight... the mad crazy drive home to Minnesota to take part in a family event all of which will total more hours on the road than we actually spend with our family.

My brother's graduating. We're going home. It was a last minute decision. I don't want to make the drive, but it will be good to be there with him... unconcious as we may be tomorrow morning at 9:30AM.

Insanity coupled with foolishness, compounded by caffiene.

Today you should listen to:
Arcade Fire "Keep The Car Running"

Monday, April 23, 2007

colorado in seven easy steps

A week after returning from the fantastic state of Colorado, it’s time for a quick blog update. There’s no way to sum up even a short trip to Colorado concisely and effectively… here are some highlights:

It’s impossible to quickly find a place to eat in Denver from the interstate, especially if you’re starving. It took us 30 minutes, but we happened upon this little joint called Rico’s Pizzeria… little hole-in-the-wall shop, family owned by Italians, seating for 12, best calzone I’ve ever eaten. I don’t even know how we got there. But I’m going back next time I’m in the area.

If you intend to spend any time in the mountains, spend the extra dollars and get the upgrade to a Jeep (or similar 4WD vehicle). Originally we planned on getting a mid-size car, but then they ran out of mid-size cars and were about to stick us with a minivan… (I don’t know, don’t ask). We weren’t about to be caught dead in a minivan. Get the Jeep, it was an amazingly wise choice.

We love the mountains, so immediately upon arriving (and consuming a calzone), we headed straight into the mountains. Random advice nugget #2 – get the backroads atlas, and use it diligently. Never take the interstates up into the mountains, because that is for boring old people and families in minivans. If you’ve done like I’ve recommended and gotten the Jeep it will be no problem. We went up Jarre Canyon Road, west out of Denver into the front range of mountains between Colorado Springs and Denver. It was snowing. It was exciting. Minivans had to turn back.

Wives appreciate sentimental things, so we stayed in the mountain lodge where we spent our honeymoon. It was very nice, and made us think, “wow, we should run a lodge up in the mountains someday”. Wives also appreciate bathrooms with big huge whirlpool bathtubs.

When looking for something to do, grab your trusty backroad atlas, randomly pick a spot somewhere off the beaten path, and try to find it. You’ll need the 4WD you rented.

Pikes Peak… I’m not very happy with you Pikes Peak. I understand that it snowed 8 inches on top of your mountain and that for safety reasons you had to close down your road for those who unwisely chose to visit you from the comfort of their suburban housewife approved minivans. But come on – we have a Jeep!! Sadness. We went halfway up but were forced by rangers with guns to turn around.

The reason we went to Colorado in the first place was because we went to Sara’s wedding. It was a very nice wedding Sara – thank you for inviting us! We’re very happy for you.

Colorado weekend a success. Points to remember: Rent a Jeep. Buy a road atlas. Stop at Rico’s Pizzeria.