Friday, February 22, 2008

I Was Looney

I called a friend of mine Monday to see if he was up for photographing the lunar eclipse on Wednesday night, and sure enough, he was. I told him I'd be over at his place at 6:00pm, which should give us time for dinner, and get out to a good viewing spot before the event started at 7:43pm.

We did so, and braving the very cold temps (about 15 F or -9.4 C) to get some good moon shots. We went down to a park southwest of his house (he's about 25 mi southeast of me). We got some good shots of the early partial eclipse. Here's one that I took:


Because of some nasty cloud cover, we ended up bolting north about 20 mi and getting some decent pictures of totality:



All in all, it was a good night, and we had a good time. We stopped off at McDonalds and got some hot chocolate for the ride back home (and my even longer drive home).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Are you up for the 30-day challenge?

I have to give some props to the Relevant Church in the Tampa Bay area. You might have heard of this church lately, this past Sunday they started what they call the 30-day challenge. Specifically, they are calling on married couples to join with them in having sex every day for 30 days. In addition, they ask couples to spend some time together each day going through a study guide. Each day, the couple answers a question or two together on paper, and then read a scripture.

Single people aren't left with a cold shoulder. The church is also calling singles to abstain from sex during the 30 days. By turning the study guide upside down, singles have their own questions to answer and scripture to read.

The premise of this challenge is to strengthen relationships by fostering closer intimacy. If you boil it down, that's what every relationship parter craves, right? I think a lot of hangups form in relationships that hinder that intimacy, and these hangups can at best limit the relationship and at worst... well can destroy it completely.

I don't know anything about this church beyond what they have on their website. They seem to be a community-type church, and while there are a lot of things I don't agree with, I think this is a cool idea. The young married life group that I go to did a section on sex and intimacy for several weeks. Although I can't say I made very many of our meetings, I think it's a great idea.

What do you think? Would you take up the 30-day challenge?

Reply to this post at:

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!"

Well, maybe not straight to the moon. I don't think there will be any bangs or zooms either. But Wed, Feb 20rd 2008 will be a total lunar eclipse for central/eastern North America, South America, western Europe and Africa, and also a partial lunar eclipse for China, Japan, eastern Russia, southeast Asia, Australia, and Antarctica (map coverage, thanks to NASA). The partial eclipse starts at 7:43pm CST, the total eclipse beginning at 9:01pm CST and ends at 9:51pm CST, with the entire event ending at 11:09pm CST.

I'm thinking I will brave the brutal cold, stake out some spot out in the country, and snap some pictures of it. The National Weather Service is forecasting a low temp of 14 F that night, so I'll have to bundle up!! I will need to also pick up a tripod. I don't have one as yet, but it's been something I've been meaning to buy to compliment my shiny Nikon D40x DSLR. (ooooh shiny) This looks to be the best lunar eclipse until Dec 21 2010 (which may or may not be colder out than Wed night).

Shameless plug for my photos.

If you'd like more information check out these links:
NASA's page on the eclipse
How to photograph an eclipse
NASA's Lunar Eclipse Explorer
Google's Moon Map

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bunco? (or... am I going nuts)

I went to worship this morning, my ritual life group, and then was invited to lunch and afternoon games with my dear friends. They had never seen Wii before or Guitar Hero. I luckily still had both in my car from Friday night. I showed them how to play it by battling Lou on medium (I've yet to polish off the 8th set on hard, "One" and "Raining Blood" manage to kick my butt). I also showed them Through the Fire and Flames on medium because, well I have yet to get through about 10% on hard. Yet another butt-kicking, that song. They had several turns at it, one of them (first song ever) did "One" on easy. I was impressed! I had to show them what expert looked like, so I polished off "Story of My Life" and showed them "Holiday in Cambodia." The intro to that song on expert just eats my lunch. I've heard after that it's much easier. One of my other friends showed them Zelda Twilight Princess (he's actually gotten farther than I have, and I'm the one who owns the game). But I digress.

Where was I.... oh yes. So after that, we turned to more traditional games. I was introduced to the game of Bunco. I'd heard of ladies out here in the Midwest having these huge Bunco nights. I had never heard of it before. I thought it was some card game or something. I enjoyed my first Bunco experience, although it was different rolling dice with my left hand in order to keep score with my right. I did get two Buncos, but I had a problem keeping the dice close to my hand to re-roll. The table surface made them easy to keep sliding all around.

Next we played Hearts. Hearts is a fun game, I'm a little partial to Pinochle, but Hearts is close enough. We played with five, and pulling two 2's out of the deck so we had an even 10 cards each. I did ok, but I did get stuck with the mean Queenie twice.

It's 9pm and I feel like it's 11pm. I'm glad I have a holiday tomorrow. I hope to catch up on some things I've been neglecting. I cleaned, did laundry on Saturday, so it'll be all paperwork tomorrow. Stay home, keep warm. Hopefully Spring comes soon...

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I know, I'm a few days behind on this topic. I've had a busy couple of days and didn't get my thoughts out on paper... or keyboard.

I friend of mine sent me a link to an article titled "My first V-Day after divorce." I thought it was rather good. I totally forgot about the "holiday." I scheduled a time to drop off papers with my tax preparer, almost scheduled a meeting with a client, and it didn't hit me until later of the significance. I heard someone make a comment when I was out and about, talking about V-Day and that to some it was just another frozen-pizza night. I ended up treating myself to a brisket BBQ sandwich, but I know the feeling.

Anyway, the article's writer talked about being separated through the holidays. I feel her pain. "Winter Wonderland" takes on a whole new meaning when you hear: "He'll say, 'Are you married?' We'll say, 'No man!'" It's no longer just a bunch of words you sing to your neighbors over hot cocoa. :o)

I read another article on MSN about one guy's divorce survival. The article mentioned two concepts that I'm taking to heart. I am not The Divorced Guy, I am the guy who used to be married. When I think of it that way, some of the negative connotations of the "D" word lose their sting. I don't walk around with a big fat mark on my forehead. The second thought, one I've known for a while, but it bears repeating: I can do whatever I want. If I want to get up and take a trip on the spur of the moment, I can. If I want frozen pizzas every night, I can. If I want to stay up until midnight watching hockey, I can. If I want to blast Guitar Hero III and rock out, I can. If I want to make my bed once a week, I can. What married guy (or even someone seriously dating) has that freedom?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This Fragile Vessel

I had a meeting with a potential client tonight after work, and it was handy that I scheduled it on a Wednesday so I wouldn't be far from church. I've been going to a singing class. It's nothing like a choir or the chorale, but... well I see it as a way that I can use my talents for God. I get to practice, to rehearse, learn new songs, and there's a side benefit for me that I'm hugely uplifted spiritually by singing. I can't describe it. Music does something to me. Well, anyway, I was hoping I could head over to the singing class after meeting with my potential client. The meeting went well, and then I hurried off to church. I was a few minutes late, but let me tell you, it was good that I was there. I got to sing with my buddy Justin, I really enjoy singing with him.

We got a packet of some new music, much of it from the Zoe Group (which I really enjoy singing). One piece, we didn't sing it tonight, but I'm listening to it now. It's a beautiful piece, it'd be good for a choral group. It's not difficult to sing, but the chords are very full, rich, and a little unlike a lot of songs. The song is called "This Fragile Vessel" written by Maire Brennan and Kieth Getty, and arranged by a Nashville worship minister, Randy Gill (hear a sample from Zoe's website):

This fragile vessel You have made, no hand on earth can fill.
For the waters of this world have failed and I am thirsty still.
We can be worth of His love, wisdom and mercy.
Take this bread and wine as we share His cross and crown.
Receive the grace sent down.

I see the treasures of Your love, it's not that far to see.
I heard a melody above; a gift from You to me.
We can be worth of His love, wisdom and mercy.
Take this bread and wine as we share His cross and crown.
Receive the grace sent down.

To save what's lost from heav'n He came, His presence still remain.
Open our eyes to His precious blood, because it's not in vain.
We can be worth of His love, wisdom and mercy.
Take this bread and wine as we share His cross and crown.
Receive the grace sent down.
This is a very beautiful, and Zoe does it wonderfully. This song is on their "Closer" album, they sell it on their website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

School budget cuts

Check out my cute second-grade niece! She speaks to her school board at 1:58 into this video.

American Idle

I'm watchin' the latest American Idol on FOX 4, as I am auditioning for my favorite show, American Idle. I have to admit, I'd make the cut.

This show must torment really musically-talented people. I think the show is less of music and more of attitude, but... I dunno. I don't have the best of pitch matching, but one guy flatted several notes (with a band, mind you) and he got voted in.

I played more Guitar Hero tonight. I'm at the wall where I need to get better in order to continue. I've been going back and re-doing songs to get better scores, or 5-star them, or gold star some of them.

Sharks come on in 30 minutes, I have something to stay up for! And they're even in HD!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend Update

The One-A-Chord program for Alice Jean and Ed went well. It is just awesome to get to sing with Jim, Bob, Barry, Davian, and Rodney again. These men are dedicated to learning, practicing and singing beautiful music to our God and it's such a pleasure to sing with them.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see several former Covenant Chorale members, especially two altos that stood next to me (no, I am not an alto, although I occasionally sing it), Kayla and Joan. I miss them, they were so much fun to be around, especially when standing up, rehearsing, and goofing off. :o)

I did ask Ray to record the program on the digital recorder, and I hope to be able to make it available in some form. I've had several requests for a CD copy, and I have exactly two blank CD-Rs. I'll figure out something, I still have some mixing and maybe a little editing to do (like the time in Hold On! when I made up my own note, then promptly came in too early. In fact, I remember standing up there next to Jim, and hearing that note, wondering if it came out of my mouth. Yep, I was right). I haven't talked to anyone about this, but I wonder if we could get together and run through a few songs and record it. I think mixing for projecting sound in a room and mixing to record onto a CD is two different types of mixing, and recording a "live" session sometimes doesn't produce the best results.

Our program included:
  • Just a Little Talk With Jesus
  • My Wild Irish Rose
  • Look to the Light
  • We Are Not Alone
  • Hold On!
  • Near to the Heart of God
  • Wade in the Water
  • Soon and Very Soon
  • Heaven (We Won't Have to Say Goodbye)
  • View That Holy City
  • Irish Blessing

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I have a very wide taste in music. I grew up listening to late-80s and early-90s rock/pop. For a short (short) while, I listened to country, and then was introduced to Christian rock in the mid-90s. I enjoyed listening to good music from groups like DC Talk, Jars of Clay, the Newsboys, Michael W. Smith, Audio Adrenaline and so much more.

I was never exposed to any a capella music (music sung without the accompaniment of instruments) except in church every Sunday (and Wednesday). While a lot of hymns have a great message, I never understood them. Plus, we joked about having a "Top 40" of hymns that we'd sing regularly.

I don't remember when I first heard good a capella music. I remember getting a CD for Christmas of the group Acappella, it was called The Collection. Wow, I thought it was very very good. I sang along. It more fun singing along to it then some of my other music. I liked some of their hymn arrangements, such as "He Leadeth Me." It was quite different than the hymn, and the message came through clearly. One year at Sierra Bible Camp, I (somehow) got a chance to sing with some of the counselors, the college reps, and a tenor with a great voice.

We practiced several days and sang twice during the week at campfire. I'll never forget one practice, we were looking up potential songs to sing and I suggested a song I thought would be good with a group, "Poor, Wayfaring Stranger." I asked my tenor friend if he knew it. Someone else mentioned that not only did he know it, but he (Kevin Percival) had already recorded a jazzy arrangement of it for his singing group, Sweet Deliverance.

Anyway, I say all that because today is a big day. The quartet I was a part of for a year, One A Chord, is putting on a program today for Alice Jean and Ed's 60th wedding anniversary party at Overland Park Church of Christ. We've been revisiting our old music the past month or so, and it's not half bad! We've also added two new songs for this special occasion. I'm very excited. It's such a blessing to be able to sing again, even though it's only for one program. Even just rehearsing has filled my spirit.

I ran out this morning to Lawrence, and picked up a new dress shirt for the occasion (a nice maroon long-sleeve shirt with a tie for under $20 at Kohls!). I was hoping to pick up a green dress shirt, but the only one I could find was a minty green (I'm not cool enough to pull that one off yet), or a nice deep green that was a little too small. Actually it was a fitted shirt, which means.... well it didn't fit in my midsection very well. :o)

Well, I'm going to get ready to go. I just heard the quote of the day by new Texas Tech head men's basketball coach, Pat Knight: "That's like putting an elevator in an outhouse."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cooking (or lack thereof)

I remember cooking for two people was always difficult. You end up with odd amounts of leftovers (one, occasionally two or three other meals), and if you cook more than 2-3 nights a week, you just have a gob of food leftover.

I hate leftovers. I do, I loathe them. I can tolerate them the day after they've been made, but much after that, I just really can't stand the thought of eating them. I've battled with this, and I don't know why I feel this way. I think it's the poor reheating that a microwave does (although I've discovered that I can help cook things more evenly and without losing as much moisture by putting a wet paper towel over the food).

I've been intrigued by the idea of the pre-assembled frozen meal companies. Around here, I know of one called Let's Dish and I know there are others. Basically, the idea is that they give you ingredients that are mixed together, you freeze them, and when you're ready to make that meal, you follow the instructions. If I can split those up into individual meals, I'd be set. I wouldn't mind making a meal and taking it the next day to work for lunch. Eating out gets too expensive, I'm trying to cut back on that.

I've also investigated Weight Watchers online for men. They have this cool little Flash app that keeps track of your meals, activities, etc. It might help inspire me to shed a few pounds and get back into some routine exercise.

Now playing in Winamp: Dragonforce - Through The Fire And Flames

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Foggy Super Bowl

Well the Super Bowl itself wasn't foggy, being indoors and all, but my drive home sure was foggy! I love fog. Absolutely love it. I know, it causes massive pile-ups, kills countless people (including my friend Steve's wife) but it's awesome. It's eerie. It's cool. I think the number reason why I love fog is because it reminds me of Vallejo.

Growing up, I remember the fog being so think some mornings that I couldn't see my street past this one bend in the road. I grew up in a house on the west side of a hill overlooking the San Pablo/Napa sloughs, but with so much fog, you couldn't even see my elementary school just down the hill. My high school was located right next to an inlet right off the Carquinez Strait, and as a result fog would blow off the water, and was so think you could barely see 50 feet.

I remember baseball games at Candlestick, the fog blowing in over our heads in section 6 upper box. One night, the fog was so bad I don't think we could see the other side of the stadium.

I remember my junior year prom was at His Lordships on the Berkeley marina, another night that you could watch the fog roll in through the majestic Golden Gate.

Fog makes me think of a song by a nice 80s rock band...
When the lights go down in the City
And the sun shines on the bay
I want to be there in my City
Ooh, ooh

So you think you're lonely
Well my friend I'm lonley too
I want to go back to my City by the bay
Ooh, ooh

When the lights go down in the City
And the sun shines on the bay
I want to be there in my City
Ooh, ooh

It's sad, oh there's been mornings
Out on the road without you
Without your charms,
Ooh, my, my, my

When the lights go down in the City
And the sun shines on the bay
I want to be there in my City
Ooh, ooh

-- "Lights" by Journey

I can't help but think this would be a wonderful song to dance to with someone special someday. Journey had some great rock ballads, but this one.. mmm mmm mmm. The song doesn't mention fog, or even San Francisco, but I'm sure that's what they meant. And if not... oh well don't ruin my dream!! :o)

Some quick things, I had a great weekend. I did laundry all day Saturday, I now have clean clothes. However, I put them all away. That's gotta be a first or something for me. I had several sports games on all day, KSU@MU, KU@CU, and the Chicago Blackhawks at the San Jose Sharks. All games worked out well for the teams I rooted for.

Today I went out to lunch with some friends from church at Texas Roadhouse. I saw a gentleman walk past our table from the bathrooms who looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. Then I realized it was a local lead TV meterologist! I didn't want to ruin his lunch by saying hi, but I thought it was cool. Evidently he has been spotted there more than once. I went to a Super Bowl party with some of the same friends, I took a few pictures, I may post them here, we'll see. Too late tonight!