Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I used to be an angry individual. I'm not saying that I no longer get irrationally angry, but with a lot of work, prayer, support from a patient wife, and some counseling I'm much better than I used to be. With the change that has come I also see anger in others and its effect on their life more clearly. I don't boast in my lack of anger because I know I could very easily be them.
I believe anger to be one of the more destructive emotions when handled improperly. It has creates the same internal damage that worry and despair do, but it has the added bonus of coming out in actions and words which damages other people.
In the last few days I've watched anger in play. Deep anger and worry that comes from wounds I will never fathom. Irrational anger that lashes out and causes chaos and discord whereever it goes. And I think to myself that only by the grace of God am I not that person. I can only pray for peace in these situations and hope that they receive the same peace that has been given to me.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
C.J. Mahaney has written a good piece on his blog about procrastination and how some of us are more prone than others to lean towards it. I'm definitely a procrastinator. In the past I always felt I did my best work under a deadline. I've been out of the scholastic environment for ten years now, nothing drives me. Sure I have deadlines at work and I have a good habit of meeting or beating them, but once the work is over I'm back to my lazy, self-centered lifestyle. I know deep down inside part of me feels like I deserve a break after 5:00, but a lack of diligence outside the office has put me in a precarious position. I have to "cram" now so I can be prepared to make a job change if necessary. My options are limited because I haven't taken advantage of the opportunities that I have been given.
Outside of that I don't want to be in a corporate environment all of my life. I want to utilize my knowledge of technology to reach out and make a difference in the world. The way I see it though, if I can't take the time for the things I "want" to do on a regular basis then I'm really going to have a hard time with the things I'm called to do as a believer.
I'm not saying I need to be a workaholic, studyholic, evangelholic 24/7/365. That is a road of deception that leads away from God as well. I am saying I need to work, and work hard, to strike a balance.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Chance are if you are reading this and you are in America you own a computer, you live in a house, you ate some food today, and you're probably going to a job tomorrow. In short you have it better than some 95% of the rest of the world.
I'm not here to make you feel guilty, I'm here to make you think. The government has many programs to help people here and abroad meet their needs on a daily basis. However the same government has run up a 10 trillion dollar national debt. As much as we would like to look to the government and multi-national corporations to do their part in saving the world, true change will not happen unless we are involved as well.
If you are a Christian this is more than a good idea, it is to be a part of who you are. There are at least 2000 references to poverty and children in the Bible. We are created in the image of God. God has a lot to say about poverty, how He handles it, and by example how we should handle it as well.
Today I would like to highlight some opportunities for you to help out and contribute. First off is Compassion International. Your monthly donation will help a child and the community the child lives in. Compassion goes further than just taking care of the physical needs of the child, they also help to educate each child so they have hope for the future. If you cannot give you money, please consider giving your time. If you have a blog, please take a look at Compassion Bloggers.
Another option is to join up with Advent Conspiracy. Each year Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas every year. Let me repeat that last part. 450. BILLION. EVERY. YEAR. I know what you're thinking, it's October 15th and its too early to start talking about Christmas. It isn't. Christmas will be here before you know it. Did you know that lack of clean drinking water kills more people than anything. It is estimated that 10 billion dollars could provide clean drinking water for everyone in the world. The idea is to spend less this Christmas season. Spend more time socializing with friends and family. Give more time to those who need it. Make memories. Consumerism has run rampant for too long now. Have we not learned from the past few weeks that more stuff doesn't equal happiness? And while you aren't spending on gifts that will probably be forgotten, you can be giving some of that to help out the world.
A similar idea is behind Blood Water Mission. Founded by Dan Haseltine to help provide clean water and clean blood to villages in Africa. They are currently 340 wells into a 1000 wells project and could use any and all help you can give. According to their website 1 dollar will fund clean water for one African for a whole year.
These organizations, as well as many others, need your help. It is my hope that what has happened in the world around us has given you pause to meditate and see the blessings in your life.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I am sanctified by the blood of Christ. I am made righteous in the eyes of God. I have to start living that life.
As with many proclamations I have made here I have no idea what or how I'm going to go about that. I need to pray more and focus on listening more and to that end I would ask that you pray for me also in this time.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Patient: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint(according to Merriam-Webster)
Patient: A lost art that apparently no-one, including myself, is in a hurry to find.
The windstorm of possibly the century hit Louisville in the past week. 3/4 of the city was without power and the estimates for getting everyone back online was grim. 24 hours had not passed yet and people were complaining about the inconvenience. I've heard several stories of crews being harassed and cursed by people they have come to help. I know it was a massive inconvenience. We lost all of the food we had in our refrigerator and freezer. The day pretty much ended at sundown as reading by candlelight was not happening. We were blessed to get our power back in 36 hours, but even if it had taken all week we would have understood. Patience is key in these times. We've become too used to instant gratification. Buy now, pay later. 500 channels, video on demand. "Instant" messaging. High speed internet.
I'm convinced the election isn't about what is good for the nation. The candidate that wins will be the one that can convince the voters he will lower gas prices, taxes, and save the economy in the first quarter in office. We don't look to the big picture anymore. We've got to open up more drilling even though it will take 5-7 years to bring said oil to market. We've got to cut taxes and provide more spending money even though we've just reported the highest national debt ever. We've got to bail out the failing financial market, the same market that tried to shortcut its way to a bigger payday.
I'm not immune. I used to be the poster boy for compulsive outbursts. My lack of patience is what got us into so much debt. My lack of patience is what keeps me from sticking to what I start. I'm actually quite amazed I've stuck with writing for as long as I have.
Tomorrow I celebrate eight years of being married to a wonderful and beautiful woman. She has taught me more about patience in that time that I ever thought possible and I thank God for her each and everyday.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
Friday, September 12, 2008
- For whatever reason I felt it was a good time to rent an acoustic guitar and try to learn some music. I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea. I have this insatiable need to create. That is why I write. That is why I put podcasts together. More than likely it is also the foundation for the amount of music I listen to and/or buy. The desire is there, the talent may not be so much. I know what I'm good at. I understand systems very well. God graced me with the ability to see the big picture, very well at times. I am tenacious when it comes to solving problems. I'm also a good facilitator. I know how to ask the right questions. I'm not saying this out of arrogance. I'm saying it because these are my strengths.
I haven't written here in awhile and it is killing me not to write. I don't know who said it originally, but Wil Wheaton passed on this bit of advice: "Don't be afraid to suck."
I'm not afraid to suck at writing in view of the internet. I may not be the most interesting, I may never find the voice. Right now I can't find the inspiration. I want to write, I don't know what to write.
- Gas prices shot up overnight on speculation hurricane Ike will cause major disruption in Gulf oil production. After watching the news tonight I feel it is time for me to add my voice and send out a reminder. If you cause a run on gas, the price will definitely go up. Gas, as with most things, is driven by a little thing we call supply and demand. Supply is not down, oil is selling at less than $100 a barrel as of market close today. Refined gas supplies may go down briefly with this hurricane. However, everyone panicking because they've "heard" prices are going up will drive supply down which will drive prices up.
Repeat after me: The news is anything but the news. The news hasn't been real reporting in probably 20 years. The media, whether intentionally or not, is very good at manipulating your emotions. Panic isn't going to help any of us and will probably cause the government, which is another issue altogether, to gain more control. Breath deep and remember things are probably not as bad as they seem to be.
- Have I mentioned I have no idea why I rented a guitar?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
On the off chance my voice comes back in the next 24 hours I'm going to try and revive my podcasts this weekend, although as with everything the best laid plans . . .
Monday, August 18, 2008
Samantha Crain - "The Confiscation EP"
Imagine Feist or Yael Naim singing the songs of Neko Case and you'll have a pretty good approximation of the sound for this album. If that description puts you off, don't let it. Give this EP a chance to grow on you and you'll see an up and coming star in the making. A native of Oklahoma this first release shows a maturity well beyond her years. The folk songstress blends age old guitar and rhythm with strong and inventive lyrics. Plus her sounds fits right in with her label mates:
The Avett Brothers - "The Second Gleam"
There is much to be said about the Avett Brothers, but I covered most of it here. This is not necesarily the Avett Brothers album to start out with. "The Second Gleam" follows in the footsteps of "The Gleam" with ballads taking the lead. The first single, "Murder in the City," sets the tone with the lines like "If I get murdered in the city, don't go revenging in my name." The song continues exploring the meaning of life, death, relationships, and what is truly important. The whole EP tackles these themes in a laid back folk/acoustic manner. The Avetts prove that sometimes it is better to leave the rowdy at home and take time to ponder and savor life in all of its glory.
Jars of Clay - "Closer(EP)"
Jars of Clay are back and if this EP is any indication of what is to come, I can't wait for the full album. "Closer" starts off with a pop rock sound that wouldn't sound out of place on the "Good Monsters" album. The ballad "Safe to Land" follows. Its a good song, but it really doesn't break any new ground. After that are two re-recordings "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" and "Flood(New Rain)." I'm already a fan of both songs and "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" manages to capture the beauty of the original with a slightly updated feel. However "Flood(New Rain)" did not work for me. The original version was a breakout hit for Jars and the addition of some vocals and a guitar track just doesn't feel quite right this time around. The EP ends with another ballad "Prisoner of Hope." Again it is a fairly standard sound, but lyrically it captures an unexplainable feeling that makes the song stand out. Jars of Clay have started releasing on their own label, presumably so they can make music on their own terms. After hearing this EP I can't wait to hear what they do next.
Monday, August 04, 2008
In an attempt to get some money saved and some debt paid off I'm combing through books and CDs to sell. I have a bookcase full of computer books that at one time were intended to help further my career. The problem is that I have no focus. There are books for network certifications, security studies, programming, graphics design, and web design. I hated programming when I graduated with my degree. I knew I was going into network administration. I took a few of the Microsoft tests, but never followed through. In the late 90's I knew computer security would be the next big thing so I started buying books on it. My prognostication proved to be true, but less than helpful since I never actually applied myself to the study.
Now I'm looking at web design. I'm trying very hard to take the advice of one of my friends and focus on only a few key programming methods. I get distracted though. I surf the web too much, I listen to music too much, I spend more time doing nothing and avoiding real work than I do actual study.
I like where I am in my life for the most part. I like the job I do, but I'm also afraid of what will happen when it eventually runs out.
Everyday I hear God telling me to let go. Let go of the job. Let go of the stuff. Let go of my life. Let go of my plans. I want to let go and fall into His plan and lean on His strength. I want to believe that when the chips are down I will have a stronger faith than what I feel I have now.
There is a whole school of thought regarding 'delayed adolescence' in young men today. Men in their twenties are staying at home with the parents, not worrying about studying or getting jobs, just concentrating on having fun. It isn't anything I really had to deal with. I lived with my parents through the first part of college and moved out when I was 22. With the exception of six months after a nasty eviction, I haven't lived with my parents since. I worked through college, got my degree in Computer Information Systems, and had a job at a computer support contracting firm one month after graduating. For the longest time I thought I had it all together.
This year I've learned a lot about myself, my faith, my relationship with my wife, and my lack of maturity. I'm praying for maturity and wisdom. I'm praying for change in my life.
So now I'm a music review and psychological sounding board. It must be a blog.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Now he is poised to release his first new solo album since 2004 and his first for the Shout! Factory label. "Sunshine Lies" is due out on August 26th, 2008. If you have followed Mr. Sweet's career to this point you will find this album to be a culmination of his talent. If this is a first time experience for you, get ready for a treat.
This album is his most consistent release since "Girlfriend." The songs, even the ballads, are catchy and the lyrics are witty. The album simultaneously starts a new chapter in his career while paying homage to his past career. "Time Machine" kicks the album off with a pop fullness while the lyrics paint a wistful picture. "Room to Rock" speeds out of the gate in a manner similar to "Dinosaur Act" from "Altered Beast." The third track, "Byrdgirl," sounds straight off of "Under the Covers Vol. 1" with a late 60's/early 70's rock feel. He then punches out on the fourth track, "Flying," with a classic rock feel and gravely vocals. The song has a real Neil Young vibe and it stayed in my head long after the album had ended. Track five is the deceptively smooth "Feel Fear." Track six, "Let's Love," is the other real standout track on the album. Again he invokes a similar style to Neil Young on the verses, but the chorus leans more towards the Who with its rocking rhythm and lead guitar work. The title track "Sunshine Lies" is up next. Again Sweet, along with his wife and Susanna Hoffs, sings a laid-back, psychedelic track that could have been pulled straight out of the 60's. Track seven is another slow ballad entitled "Pleasure is Mine." If I had to pick a weak track on the album, it would be this one. It isn't necesarily a bad track, but on a disc of memorable tracks this one doesn't stick out. Track eight, "Daisychain," again showcases Sweet's homage to the music that influenced him. It has a 60's rock feel that would not feel out of place on a Beach Boy's album. Track nine brings back the rock with "Sunrise Eyes." This track points back to his success in the 90's, but has an edge of experience that could only come with time. Track ten is the ballad "Around You Now." I couldn't help but hear echoes of "Nothing Lasts" from "Girlfriend" when I listened this track. They both share themes of inevitable change. Track eleven, "Burn Through Love," is the second weakest track on the album. Again the track isn't bad, it just comes off as mediocre alterna-pop compared to other tracks. The album ends with "Back of My Mind." The track starts off as a slow ballad that builds into a powerful chorus only to drop off into a slow ballad again. It is the perfect cap for an album that deftly rode the line between 90's alternative, 60's psychedelic, and flat out rock and roll.
All in all this is the best Matthew Sweet in some time and well worth the wait. Next week I'll be reviewing a couple of new releases from Ramseur Records.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On first listen it would be easy to compare this album to the later work of Explosions in the Sky. However on repeated listening one discovers the little details in the sound that sets this band apart from other melodic rock bands.
The first track, "Inception", slowly meanders along and fades right into the second track, "Millie Rode to Heaven on the Back of an Orca." In this track it sounds as if a guitar is used to mimic whale sounds. It didn't stand out on first listen. I happened to be passively listening through headphones and I just picked on it. From there the album flows on. Drum beats and guitar loops are expertly merged with guitar melodies. From the drawn out synthesizer in "Lost in a Daydream" to crunchy guitar loop that fades to cleaner version on "Night Noise" the album seamlessly melds together for just under an hour taking the listener on a sonic journey. For me the stand out is a ten minute epic titled "We Were Fed Poisoned Bread," a breathtakingly complete story in melody alone. The album is a soundtrack that is waiting for an accompanying movie.
As good as the recorded music is I have heard it plays even better live. Jamey's brother Jessie does a video projection for the entire show that is supposed to really draw the audience into the music. There is enhanced content on the disc that gives a taste of the full experience and adds an additional layer to the music.
These songs will remain in my rotation for quite some time. This is a band that shows great promise and potential. This disc will definitely appeal to fans of melodic rock, but I would recommend that everyone give it a listen. The music is that good and I hope we will be hearing more from The Photographic in the years to come.
"Pictures of a Changing World" was released through Galaxia records and is available through Amazon, ITunes, and Emusic. My recommendation is to buy a copy today.
Next week I'll have a review of Matthew Sweet's new solo album, "Sunshine Lies."
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Writing is like a marathon for the brain, it is intense and it takes a lot of fitness if you want to have a chance at succeeding. Apparently my brain is in the same shape as my body which is to say I shouldn't be running a marathon unless I want to induce a heart attack. Obviously I don't have the same regard for my brain.
I've been learning PHP programming this week in my spare time. It is going slow, but I'm definitely catching onto the basic principles without a problem. I did learn that while setting up Apache and MySQL runs about the same from version to version, the same is not true for PHP. It took me half a day to find out why I couldn't get the "phpinfo" to work on my system. That mystery solved it has been relatively smooth sailing since.
I've got a lot on my plate coming up, I just hope I can keep the momentum going forward.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
To that end I could use your help. If you can spare the money please visit my donations page and make a donation.
Monday, July 07, 2008
In my mind the 30 day challenge was neither a completely success nor a complete failure. I would have liked to been able to get some writing done each day. The real challenge is getting out quality writing. In the end I made the compromise to only post when I felt there was some quality to my posting.
I still want to pursue a career in writing, if only on the side. To that end I'm trying to manage my time better so I will have the option of writing each day.
Right now I'm dealing with a lot of personal stuff. I'm caught up in trying to narrow down which paths I'm going to pursue and which paths I'm going to let fall to the side. If I've learned nothing else in the past few weeks, I have learned that I need to sharpen my focus. I'm very prone to 'chasing the rabbits' so to speak and while that isn't always bad, I still need to stick to the path if I'm going to reach the destination.
I'm very frustrated with myself right now.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
What is causing this?
Fuel prices are going up. This impacts the transportation of food to the people that need it as well as the production of food at factories that use the fuel to run. Competition between countries that are growing industrially and countries that are well entrenched in their fuel use are only going to drive the prices higher.
Food production is down. Natural disasters including flooding, hurricanes, and earth quakes have devastated crops.
Populations are growing which causes greater demand.
Interest in developing biofuel diverts crop resources.
We Need You
We have opportunities to help. Earlier this year I wrote about the price I wasn't paying to be a follower of Christ. At that time I started looking into Compassion International and the work they are doing to help children and their families around the world. They offer opportunities to sponsor children in some of the poorest areas of the world. The money goes to meet the practical needs of the children in food, clothing, and education.
Now they are setting up a fund to help fend off the coming global food crisis. This is a great opportunity to help out of your wealth. Perhaps you feel you cannot afford to sponsor a child right now, but you can help out in with smaller donations. This is a great opportunity for you. The money donated to this fund will go to buy food vouchers for children in the hardest hit areas of the world. It will go to buy seeds and tools for local families so they can grow food for themselves as well as food to sell so they can earn more money. It will go to supplement nutritional requirements at Compassion centers around the world. These centers are already serving children and in some case are the only source of food for these children.
Compassion has also set aside tomorrow, June 25th 2008 as a day of fasting and prayer. If you cannot give money, please consider joining in with others to pray for the upcoming food crisis and the impact we can have in the lives of people all over the world.
We sometimes forget that serving and loving others is more than providing just the Gospel, we have to meet the physical and practical needs of the world as well.
For more information on sponsoring a child: http://www.compassion.com
For more information on the coming crisis: http://www.compassion.com
For more information on or to contribute to the fund: https://www.compassion.com
For more information on the day of fasting and prayer: http://blog.compassion.com/a
This a little bit of change from what I normally write, but it is important. There will be future posts on this organization as well as other organizations in the future.
Coming Soon: My thoughts on the 30 day challenge.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
It feels more like late August than early June outside. I'm not a big fan of heat. I produce more than enough of my own, so adding on outside heat is just a recipe for being uncomfortable.
I learned two things about music criticism this week. The first points directly to the band Weezer. They just released their latest album, the third self titled album dubbed the 'Red' album, this past Tuesday. Reviews of the album seem to be divided with a few more positive reviews than negative. The one universal of criticizing Weezer is: Does it have the 'Weezer' sound? Which really means: Does it sound like their first two albums? The heaviest negative reviews are of their last three albums before 'Red.' Most cite cliche lyrics, pop tendencies, and over all non-creative writing. I picked up those albums('Green,' 'Maladroit,' and 'Make Believe') and I don't see it. They aren't the 'Blue' album or 'Pinkerton,' but I thought they were pretty decent.
This leads to my second point. I guess I just don't have the discerning tastes I thought I had.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Oh wait, we have the Great American Dog where reality television goes to the dogs.
I really need to turn the television off.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I commented that I was glad my parents never forced me into anything I wasn't interested in doing. My mother commented that they wouldn't have been able to afford a whole lot if I had been interested and noted, half jokingly/half seriously, that they had to scrimp a little to pay for me to go to musical kindergarten.
It kind of dawned at me right then that I've always had a thing for music, even as a child. Music has always fascinated me, probably more so than computers. When I was in elementary school, around the fourth grade, they brought in an outside group to teach a quasi-orchestra of the school children. It wasn't purely extra-curricular in nature. I remember wanting to play saxophone or clarinet, but because of my braces and the overbite that they were trying to correct I was not allowed. I ended up playing the snare drum which was fun, but to this day I wish I had been able to play another instrument.
Even now I would like to learn piano or guitar, but I don't feel like I have the time to devote to it. So I live vicariously through bands and music of all kinds. I volunteer to do sound at church so I can learn the techniques of mixing and train my ears to critically hear music. The aforementioned book I am going to write is all about music and the effect it has had in my life and faith.
I think that epiphany of looking back across my life has opened up whole new avenues for my future and I can say that I'm really excited to see where the next chapter of life takes me.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
It has been a wonderfully restful weekend. Brood XIV has hatched and was loudly announcing itself outside of our windows today. I haven't seen that many of them, certainly not as many as others have seen in town, but I did have to get one out of the house yesterday. That was interesting to say the least. I'm not a big fan of any insect, but one to one and a half inch bugs that are just plain ugly and can fly really don't do anything for me. It could be a remnant memory of bicycling through a swarm when I was a kid. I do find myself fascinated and horrified by them at the same time.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So for all of you coffee lovers out there I have found a pretty decent way of making iced coffee. It does involved about 12 hours of prep time though. Generally speaking you make the coffee in your preferred method and add sugar to taste while it is hot. Then you place it in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours. Once it is cool mix it with milk over ice for a cool caffeine fix on those hot summer days. By pre-cooling the coffee you eliminate the watering down that happens when you pour hot coffee over ice.
Just a little tip from the Matman.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The weekend is in full swing. I had intended to kick it off with a fine cigar, but the weather has looked too iffy as if a torrential down pour could start at any moment. That and I really don't enjoy the humidity. I do enjoy a good cup of coffee though.
Here's another unsolicited endorsement. If you are in the Louisville area check out Sunergos. They are a locale coffee shop with some of the best coffee I've ever had. They roast their beans on site which you can come in and check out. Plus the staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and they pull their own espresso shots which makes them that much better. I'm currently enjoying a white mocha as I was not in the mood for a regular coffee.
I don't have any big plans for the weekend, except to enjoy relaxation. I took care of the majority of the yard work yesterday. I may or may not start cleaning out my office, but I'll most definitely work on getting my main computer back online.
Of course grilling will happen at some point as well.
I was reading in the tech news that Britain is trying to pass legislation to keep an archive of all email and phone conversations for everyone. I know a lot of people are up in arms about this proposal for all of the right reasons. I think we can all agree we need less government in our lives, not more. Not only that, but the government is starting down a track record of incompetency in regards to the computerized storage of data. Do we really want to trust them with even more? The only real glimmer of hope is the rate at which government works. If it somehow made it past all legislation, I still think it would take them another decade to implement the system in any effective capacity. Still this has to stop now.
They work for us.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I've written three entries and deleted each of them because I don't feel they adequately express my voice or my heart. Hopefully I'll have something better in this space tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Now for a new feature that I will hopefully make a regular feature.
Album/CD you need to listen to #1
The Avett Brothers - 'Emotionalism'
Alt-country, grunge-grass, and punk-country are all adjectives often used to try and describe the Avett Brothers. Seth and Scott Avett seamlessly combine americana instrumentation and harmonies with a punk spirit that takes the listener on one heck of a ride. 'Emotionalism' is my first exposure to the Avetts and I can't stop listening.
The opening track, 'Die Die Die,' with its upbeat banjo and tight harmonies are just the tip of the iceberg. Forewarning the album is all over the board, but I find that to be part of its charm. When they aren't throwing down laid back country, 'Paranoia in B-Flat Major,' 'I Would Be Sad,' and 'Go To Sleep,' they mix it up with some ballads, 'The Ballad of Love & Hate,' 'Shame,' and 'Hand-Me-Down-Tune.' Throw into that mix some upbeat bluegrashish music in 'Die Die Die,' 'Will You Return,' and 'Pretty Girl from San Diego.'
Even within songs they throw some curve balls. 'Salina' starts out slow, changes up to an up tempo country piece, and then ends on another slow note. 'Pretty Girl from Chile' makes at least two, if not three style changes throughout.
This isn't a band or an album that can be easily categorized. Many reviewers are quick to point out this is their most polished album. I've only heard two of their other albums. I'm not sure I would call those albums unpolished as much as I would point out each album has its own vibe built around some similar, basic themes.
All in all it isn't an album for everyone, but it is an album you should listen to at least once.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Having said that it has been a good evening. If you are in the Louisville area I highly recommend the Homemade Pie and Ice Cream Kitchen.
Other than that is has been a quiet day both at work and at home. This is the hard part, I'm not sure I can come up with thirty things to make interesting. I think I'll be posting an album review tomorrow.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I'm off of a weeks of vacation and back in the real world as of today. Vacation went pretty good. I detached myself from the computer for almost a full week, only checking personal email once in that time period. I picked up a new Moleskine notebook and started to do some writing in my free time. The net result is one and a half articles and the beginnings of a book in mind. I hope that by writing here on a regular basis I'll be able to stir up my creative side and get more ideas going.
Other high points from last weeks:
-We took some time and saw 'Iron Man' this past weekend.
-I got to visit with my best friend Saturday night.
-I lost a round of mini-golf.
-We got to stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast with a very personable hostess.
-I picked up Casino Royale and the first season of This American Life used on DVD for good prices.
I also learned that no matter how I try to rationalize liking my job, it doesn't make it necesarily true. I have plenty of good days, but I was unconsciously stressed out yesterday knowing that I would be going to work today. As I stated in my last entry I feel like I have no direction at the moment. I don't know if I need to stay in computers, look to start a writing career, find a job in radio/music/music production, or look to a completely different direction. It's very frustrating and it is causing me a large amount of heart burn both figuratively and literally.
Strange days indeed.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I announced that I wanted to start working towards writing for a living. Then I promptly quit writing.
What have we learned?
I'm not sure yet, but if you learned a valuable lesson please pass it on to me.
I plan on making a concerted effort to write a new post everyday for a month, but I'm not starting quite yet. In the past two weeks I've had two flat tires(making a total of four for the year so far) and a computer crash. Next week I will be out of town in Pennsylvania. I'm not going to say that it will start immediately when I get back, but definitely by June 1st. I'm also make no guarantee of quality of post either, but you should be used to that by now.
Other than the above things have been going well. Since my attempts to exercise on a regular basis have fallen into the abyss, I've decided to make dietary changes for the time being. I'm trying to eat healthier now. More vegetables, fruits, and in general healthy foods, less processed garbage and fast food. It has made a difference. I'm guessing I've lost a half to a full inch off of my waist. I don't have to resort to contortionist practices to get my jeans to button anymore. In general I feel better overall. Part of this change is due to my reading 'The Omnivores Dilemma" which is forever changing my perspective on food and the food industry. I was planning on reading the follow-up "In Defense of Food," but I think I want to take a break and read some fiction instead.
I've also put in a few hours of study in my current profession of tech support/software administration. If I don't aggressively pursue the writing path, I think I will aggressively pursue web development.
My real problem right now is not knowing. Ten years in the same job, almost a lifetime dedicated to the study of computers and I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. Broad strokes involved having kids, losing weight, and continuing to serve God and find ways to bring God to others, not necesarily in the order stated. At a micro level of the next year, two years, or five years I don't have a clue. Everything I read points to finding your passion and pursuing it. I know the talents that God has given me, I know what I enjoy doing, but I don't know how to mesh both of those with supporting a family.
Getting out of debt would probably open up some options though.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I. . .WE gave it all up to follow you and for what?
Trapped in a town far away from home. Condemned as outcasts. Our own people won't even accept us. You were our hope. You promised a new kingdom. You said it was here, now. Why aren't we planning the revolution? You had the people. You had the passion. We would have died for you, for freedom, but you are the one laying in the grave.
We're scared and alone.
We should have known. The past week has been a blur. They welcomed you with open arms, laid down palm branches in your path. Caesar marched his army in the same day and didn't get the same praise and adoration.
Then the temple incident, the fig tree, and the passover meal. It all seems so surreal. Then that night in the garden. Peter reached out to defend you and you rebuked him. You REBUKED him.
Peter said the trial was a sham.
WHY DIDN'T YOU SPEAK UP?!?
You had the power to stop it. And Pilate up there all high and mighty. "I wash my hands" indeed. He knew and he did nothing to stop it.
Why the beatings? Why the degradation? Why the cross? Why? Why? WHY?!?
What are we supposed to do? We gave it all up and now . . . now we have nothing. NOTHING!
What have we done?
Monday, March 10, 2008
Writer's block, very annoying. I'm stuck. Not just with writing, but with life in general. I churned out a podcast earlier tonight, but now I feel like it wasn't up to par and I shouldn't have posted it.
I want to write, but I have no idea what to write about.
Although the 'American Living' commercial that just came on reminds me that I want to write up a review of the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss album. I did a verbal review in the aforementioned podcast, but I feel that it too was lacking.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
This is part one of an ongoing series. I have many passions in my life. Behind God and my wife is music. Part of my writing is exploring the music that makes up the soundtrack to my life.
"Big Log" by Robert Plant
I don't know where I was when I first heard this song. I can only think it was late one night sometime in high school, but it could go back further than that. It is because of that I associate this song with night. Every time I hear it, no matter what time of day, it transports me somewhere. It is the perfect song for driving down the highway on a cool summer night, cool breeze circulating through the car. I don't know if it is the guitar or if it is the mournfulness of the lyrics. It is a song for when I'm alone. It doesn't work the same when I'm with a group of people.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
When Jesus called the disciples to put down their nets and follow him it was a big deal. I don’t think we see that impact it had on their lives. Fishing was their livelihood. They weren’t out having a relaxing day on the lake, they were out trying to earn money and food so they could live. More than likely they were doing what their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers did. There wasn’t a world of opportunities like we have today.
They gave it all up on the word of a man they had never seen before.
I had trouble giving up cable TV a year ago so we could put the money towards our debt.
Now before you get the wrong idea, I'm not trying to beat anyone, least of all myself, up over this question. I don't have all of the answers. It comes down to where is God leading your heart. Our focus shouldn't be how much money and stuff we have. If you have a lot or if you have nothing I don't necesarily think it speaks to how God's blessings. Either way you go you take the risk making a God out of your focus. If you make good money, live in a big house, drive a nice car, etc. it can become God to you. If you give it all away, that very act can become God to you.
It all comes down to obedience to God. Obedience to giving time and money or obedience to giving up your self and your plans to take on a better plan.
Is it costing me? Yes, I'm sure I could have a better life in terms of every magazine cover and every television ad. I'm sure we could have a bigger house and newer cars, but that would be a bigger cost.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
We give to our church on a regular basis. We hold around $35,000 in nothing but consumer debt. That debt could be paid of faster if we didn’t give at all, but I know the money is going to support other church plants in other cities that need to hear God’s word. I know that the money is going overseas to missionaries and funds to help people that truly know poverty. I wish we could give more.
I wish we were financially able to support a child through Compassion International. We just paid our last car payment and after a month or two I think we’ll be in a place to do just that.
There are people who are dying around the world because of poverty. I live in a country where I can run up $35,000 in CONSUMER DEBT in the blink of an eye. I have a few, or more than a few, extra pounds so I’m obviously not starving. For all of my complaint about the amount of pay I make or don’t make, not having had a raise in 3 years, I’m still making out pretty well. So well in fact that I can afford $20 a month for music, not to mention the used books and games I occasionally buy.
Yeah, I’m paying a huge cost.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Last week our pastor challenged us with a simple question: What is it costing you to follow Jesus? The idea is simple. When we choose to follow Jesus there should be some kind of cost involved. Now before you get the wrong idea I’m not saying we have to pay for salvation. Salvation is a gift given to us through loving grace. However, in accepting the gift you become overwhelmed with the need to serve, give, preach, teach, etc. no matter the cost to yourself.
Or you should to some degree. I’ve been mulling the question of cost over in my head for a few days now and I still don’t have all the answers. Honestly I DON’T see where there is a cost involved in my life.
I sacrifice sleep on Sunday mornings to help get things setup and occasionally run sound. I don’t see that as a cost. I enjoy it. It was and is part of what I’ve felt a calling to do for awhile now. Two or three years ago I was in the same boat as 80% of people who go to church. I would show up on Sunday, socialize with some friends, study the Bible some, and then go warm a pew seat while I listened to the sermon. I was a consumer Christian.
Then we did a study on our God given talents and how we could use them to serve the Church and local community. That was followed by a study on taking risks and getting out of the mindset of playing it safe. I was charged and motivated, but I had no outlet. I tried and tried to get involved and never could quite find any needs to fulfill. So I went back to warming the pew.
God kept calling. It was an insistent call that I was wasting away spiritually. It was time for a change. Fortunately my wife was hearing the same call so we visited another church. The church was also a solid, Bible based church that also happened to need a congregation that was willing to serve to keep things going. So here we are today still serving and still enjoying it.
But does that count as a cost?
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I wanted to let you know about Sphere of Hip-Hop's radio show. I dig their website and the radio show is fresh too. Would you consider checking it out? This Saturday night at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific they are doing a special 1 Year Anniversary show and it's a 3 hour Top 50 countdown. Lots of dope music! Hit up their Myspace profile at Myspace.com/XMRadioShow to get more info on the show and to listen to an exclusive commercial featuring emcee Braille.Simply visit the XM Radio Online trial page and fill out the information to receive your online trial subscription. If you dig the online version, a standalone XM Radio Online subscription costs just a few bucks per month. Then you can catch the Sphere of Hip-Hop show every Saturday night!
Get more information on Sphere of Hip-Hop at any of their websites including:* Sphereofhiphop.com (online magazine)
* SphereofhiphopMP3.com (download some tunes)
* SphereofhiphopTV.com (watch videos and live performances)
* SphereofhiphopStore.com (online hip-hop shop with CDs, vinyl records, downloads and some other stuff)
* Myspace.com/Sphereofhiphop (add the main Sphere profile as a friend)
I'm writing here more often because I want to exercise my writing muscles. I guess you can add me to the ever growing list of people who want to write for a living. I don't quite have my voice yet and I'm not sure exactly what I want to write. To that end I hope to add different kinds of writings to this blog. Look for reviews, story snip-its, and anything else I can come up with as well as the usual.
If you haven't taken the chance to use the Compassion International widget in the sidebar, please do so now. Each one of the tabs on the bottom will bring up links to blogs, pictures, and videos taken in Uganda this week and the impact that Compassion is having on lives there. The stories are very moving and will really put your life in perspective if you let them.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I'm one of those people who doesn't necesarily understand the full scope of the situation until after it passes. 5:20 Tuesday afternoon I'm driving home as usual. I'm a little over a mile from my exit and I decide to pass a semi as we are starting up an incline. As soon as I switched lanes and started accelerating I knew something was wrong.
My first thought was that I had hit the airflow coming off of the truck. My steering wheel went to jello, but I was able to complete my manuver and catch my exit ramp a few minutes later. As the car started to decelerate I could feel the thump-thump-thump of a flat tire. So I pulled over to a parking lot at the top of the ramp and changed the tire, with some assistance from a kind passer-by. I couldn't find anything wrong with the tire, it didn't appear that I had run over anything. I threw the flat in the trunk and went on my way.
Later on in the night I sent an email to my boss to let her know I would be late arriving to work as I needed to get the tire fixed or replaced. It finally occured to me that my tire spontaneously went flat. . .AT 70 MILES PER HOUR.
Here I thought I was blessed with 60 degree weather when I was changing the flat.
Somewhat anti-climactically it turns out the valve stem on the tire had failed and I had to replace the tire. Fortunately the tire was covered with a road hazard warranty so the replacement didn't cost much more than it would have to fix the flat.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Shaun Groves struck a chord, no pun intended, with me in this blog entry. He wrote about how an incident early in his life has had a lasting impact on his view of himself and his continual drive to do better. I think we all face the same problem. I've met plenty of confident people in my life and everyone of them deals with insecurity in the face of their perceived significance. Now some people deal with it better than others, but we all deal with it.
I personally feel as though I have to live up to the expectations of my friends and family. I see myself as just average. After reading this blog you may see me as below average. I keep striving to do more and do better so people won't see me for the fraud I am. In the past year, maybe two, I've managed to come to some peace with those feelings. In the past few weeks there have been a couple of times that I feel like I'm living up to the hype.
It isn't up to me though. My worth shouldn't be planted in how other see me or how I see myself. Jesus died for me and that makes all of the difference. That takes all of the expectations away. I didn't start this post with the intent of bringing God into it. It just happens. The changes in my esteem coincide with other changes that have happened in my life, my marriage, and my relationship with Jesus and the Church in the past year. It is this continual growth that will allow me to reach the potential and plans that God has for my life. It is liberating, so liberating.
I know in the days and weeks to come I will inevitably chide myself for not doing my best or my all whether I have or not. I will get mad that I've slacked or I've done just enough to get the job done. I will convince myself that I'm not as smart or clever as others think I am. Even as I write this entry I consider that it may very well be self congratulating blather. I'll say that I don't care what others think, but I do. I'll re-read it and harshly criticize it in my mind. I'm my own worst enemy in this way and in those really dark times when I've shut myself down I have to remember what God through Jesus has done for me.
Check out Shaun's blog when you get a chance. The Compassion International widget on the right hand side originated from there. He has some wonderful insights, but most of all he's down to earth and personally I feel his writing blows mine out of the water. Have I ever steered you wrong?
Thursday, January 31, 2008
I was checking a friend's blog when I noticed he had run into circumstances similar to what I had run into a week or two ago. We both faced what seemed to be insurmountable problems with the structure of our homes. In his case he lost electricity because, to generalize the problem, the breaker box was fried,. In my case our bathroom flooded because the main drainage pipe out of our house was clogged with a tree root. Two major problems that happen to two guys unexpectedly. Both problems presumably come with a high price to resolve.
I would like to say that we both reacted the same way, but I can't lie even on the internet. As I read his story I saw grace and patience in abundance. I read has he put his money where his mouth is and had faith that God would take care of him and his family. I marveled as he saw God's hand working through the whole problem, even when I'm sure he was getting frustrated. Then I wondered why I didn't have that same faith and insight.
It isn't as though I couldn't have had it. I'm getting ahead of myself though. Journey back to last Labor Day. My sister-in-law and her family were coming to town to visit and stay with us. Not an hour after they got here we started having problems with water in the bathroom floor. My wife had taken a shower and when she got out there was two inches of water in the floor. We didn't think anything of it until we ran the load of towels we used to clean up that mess and another one appeared. Our plumbing wasn't at a total loss, we could still use sinks and the toilet. However the shower and laundry were out. My sister-in-law's family checked into a hotel and we made due for the weekend. We were fortunate to find a plumber to come out on Labor Day and take a look at the problem. He ran a snake down our drain vent and cleared the line. We thought it might have been a tree root, but we weren't sure where the line ran through the yard and the plumber was confident we wouldn't have any problems for awhile. Two weeks ago it happened again. So I called the plumber and worked from home while he ran the snake through the line again. Three days later it happened again. The plumber was pretty sure the line would have to be replaced, but he had me call MSD(Metropolitan Sewer District) to make sure the problem was not on their end of the line. They came out, marked the line as being under our driveway, and told me the problem was around 35 feet in, but they only handle the first 25 feet. So I called the plumber, he came out and cut through the driveway. That was Monday.
Tuesday the plumber returned with a Bobcat and an assistant and started digging straight down. Turns out the line that was there was our water line. So the plumber called to have the rest of the utilities marked in our yard. Wednesday he came out and started digging across the front of our yard parallel to the public sidewalk until he found the line, then he dug back down the line, and replaced the clay pipe with PVC. Twice after that we had some additional issues that cause out bathroom to flood both times. The problem has been fixed on a long term yet temporary basis for now.
Two years ago, maybe even as recent as a year ago this would have been devastating. There would have been much stress and many arguments throughout the week this was happening. There was still stress and still arguments, but not as many. The point is despite the fact I can work from home during these emergencies and despite that I knew God was in control of the situation, I didn't rely on Him as much as I could have. I had so much to be grateful for in this trial. I have a house, someone was there to help us with the bill, and there is no extensive damage as a result of the flooding. If I would've prayed more and focused on the blessings I had, much like my friend is doing, the arguments and stress could have been avoided.
Having said that I'm not trying to beat myself up over the situation. It's reading stories like this that inspire me. It gives me hope that as I continually walk with God, He will change my heart so that in the future I will stop and know that He is Lord.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
35 years have passed since the crucial case of Roe vs. Wade was decided by Supreme Court. I listened to the radio news report of the many groups of Pro-Life advocates that marched in D.C. against legalized abortion. It made me stop and think about that decision and how I do or should react to it. I realized my brain tried so hard to make the issue black and white in the same way the most ardent proponents on both sides of the issue try to make it black and white. I think as Christians we especially polarize the issue as if to say it is the lynch pin to our salvation. It is something I think about a lot and I have my conclusions, but those conclusions don't gel with generally accepted conclusions.
I am Pro-Life and so is my wife. We will not have an abortion. I know the arguments against and the ramifications of that statement. It is something I've prayed about, it is something I have faith about, and if we don't share that faith, I may not be able to explain it to you to your satisfaction. That is just the way it is. The sticking point is where my belief intersects with the rest of the world.
I don't feel comfortable imposing my choice in the matter on every other person on the planet. I don't see this as an issue that the court should have ever decided one way or the other. I feel that if abortions were made illegal, it won't stop them from happening. I realize it will slow down the rate at which they will happen. I realize it will cause a lot of women to think twice about what they are doing. I also realize that many more women will be harmed because the choose to have the abortion anyway in an unsafe environment. I think that Planned Parenthood and other Pro-Choice organizations are bending the truth when they argue for the woman's right to abort, especially when they reportedly won't allow an eleventh hour change of heart. I think that many Christian organizations are over-the-top in their zeal to stop abortion and condemn those who perform or have abortions.
I find the dark irony that many Pro-Life advocates want to save the baby, but have no problem ending the life of the criminal. I find the sad irony that so much energy, money, and time is spent trying to save the unborn at the expense of those who are already born and are starving in third world countries. It is my belief that the Church, while certainly working under good intentions, has dropped the ball in so many ways.
I think that for every Pro-Choice counseling center there should be a Pro-Life counseling center to offer an alternative. I feel that if a woman changes her mind at the last minute, she should be allowed to walk away and have the baby. I feel like a woman's choice isn't limited to the time period after sex has happened and a baby can just as easily be avoided by abstaining or at least using birth control. I get tired of hearing about the medical cases and the rape victims, not because I don't believe they exist, but because they form such a small percentage of the argument. Most of all I get tired of hearing about the woman's right to choose when eight times out of ten that right is clearly reflective of our selfish society.
I think that as the Church we need to have more faith in God to change the heart of people. I think we need to quit using the government as a mechanism to enforce our morality on everyone else. It doesn't work. Its our job to go out and love the world. It is our job to care for the sick, the poor, and the hurting. When we depend on the government to do that job, we get lazy.
We need to look at our motivations and ask ourselves if this is truly furthering the kingdom of God.
Monday, January 21, 2008
So I was looking at my server today trying to salvage a couple of sites I had setup. I recently replaced my router with one that is a bit faster and easier to secure, but it uses a totally different IP scheme and I lost all of my router mappings. I think I have everything re-mapped correctly, but I'm still having issues getting the domain name to resolve to the server. Should I keep trying to has this out or should I scrap the current server, upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu, and rebuild everything?
On the one hand I don't really feel like doing all of the legwork to get the problems resolved, on the other hand I don't really feel like reloading everything either.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Well, maybe not so much the end as of yet, but it is nearing. With all endings there must be new beginnings. Sometime in the next few months I will stop blogging here and setup my own wordpress blog on my own server so I can maintain control of my own content.
Maybe I'll be switching careers this year, although this seems less certain. I'm really burned out with working in the computer industry professionally. At least I am burned out with the parts I have been working with. I'm thinking of switching to web design as one of my options. However, I also think this might be a time to look for something completely different. I just don't know what yet.
Welcome to 2008, here is to new beginnings and brighter days.