Sunday, March 23, 2008

How many countries can you name in 5 min?

No cheating on this one. I didn't!! Note: "stampeding cattle through the Vatican" would not work here, they're looking for "Vatican City" and not "the Vatican" or even "Vatican."

How many colors can you name in 5 minutes?

I won't tell you which ones I got, then you'd know what to type in. ;o) But yes, I'm a straight male and I got mauve, and ochre. LOL

Is Technology Good?

This is a question I've struggled with at times. Is technology good? Obviously, conveniences make our lives easier. Technology can make manual and repetitive tasks easy to automate. Technology can lower the costs of goods (such as the automobile). But is it good?

I've thought for a long time that the digital distribution of goods (TV, video, music, books, etc) is the way to go. Hypothetically, costs should be cheaper since there is no packaging or shipping costs. There are bandwidth costs, but those should be very small shared among hundreds, or thousands, or millions (or... billions). One such product I thought might make a difference is the e-book. We've talked about it for years. You carry one device around, and load one or several books in electronic books on it. Certain e-book readers can store many many books. Imagine carrying around the entire Library of Congress with you. And all of your favorite songs. Incredible.

Amazon has been marketing one such e-book reader. Priced at $400 (eek!), the Kindle looks very similar to a book and appears to be easy on the eyes, another complaint of e-book readers. One huge benefit is that the Kindle communicates with Amazon via Sprint's EVDO cell phone service, enabling you to purchase and download books literally anywhere you have service. You're on a long car ride, forgot a book. Oh, just login and buy one! Zap, there it is.

But then the coolness fades... First, the Kindle is $400. $400!! That is before you actually buy any books to read on it. You can buy 100 $4 books for that price! Even more if you get cheap used books. Which brings up another disadvantage. With the Kindle, you cannot buy a 'used book.' There's no such thing! Any book you buy will be at whatever price Amazon sets. You can't trade with a friend, or pickup an old classic in a half-price book store.

This last point is one beef I have with digital downloads. There is no secondary market for used goods, no 'online garage sales' if you will. Why not? According to Amazon, Apple iTunes, Sony, and others, you are not purchasing a product (the book, song, movie, whatever). You are purchasing a license to use the product. In other words, you are paying $10 to read their book, but it still remains their book, not yours. You cannot sell it, rent it, loan it, or tear it up and burn it in your fireplace. You do not own it!

I'm told in more knowledgeable circles that this is called the doctrine of first sale. Computer software fought (and is still fighting) this fight. Technically, when you purchase most any software program for your computer, you are forced to agree to a license stating how you can use the software, and what you can/can't do with it. If I buy Intuit Quicken, decide I don't like it, uninstall it and sell it to a friend, there's nothing Intuit can do about that. However, you can be sure that corporations would rather each person purchase their own copy, increasing revenues.

Is technology good? I think it can be, but sometimes it can severely restrict us in ways we may not even think of!

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Life in the fast lane

Life have been crazy the past several weeks or so. I went to St. Louis for the first time, I got to sing in Tulsa, I have the stress of moving in just over a week (and even had the potential of even that being up in the air).

Sometimes I wonder if getting sick is God's way of nicely telling us to slow down. Something like... "hey buddy, you're moving a little too fast for your own good, and since you won't slow down, maybe you should lie in bed and stare at your ceiling for a few days, rest and be still."

Okay, so maybe not. I spent the weekend (well Saturday night and Sunday) a week ago recovering from Tulsa. I felt a little funny this past Saturday (I said goodbye to Guitar Hero III for my Wii. I decided to take the Activision refund deal. You can't beat them sending you a check for $132. I'll save it towards a PS3 or Xbox when the time comes. But I digress...). I woke up this Sunday not feeling better, and my throat was pretty sore. I wondered if that was the onset of the ickiness. I've felt progressively worse. I needed to discuss some things with my boss on Monday, but he was out sick. Today I had some other things to attend to, so I went. By the end of today, I was coughing my head off. And still am. I've got some throat spray, the last of my 4/$5 32oz Gatorade, some cold medicine,
ibuprofen, and my comfy pillow.

Oh and a laptop. Very crucial. LOL.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Praise and Harmony Weekend

I got home tonight about 5:45p from Keith Lancaster's Praise and Harmony Holy God CD recording in Tulsa. W..o....w. I don't know what to say. That was the most awesome time of worshiping God I've ever been privileged to be a part of.

I have to admit, when I first heard about the material, I was hoping for more of the "newer" newer songs.

(Slight digression: I categorize church songs in three, distinct categories:
  • Old hymns, anything written before Bobby Richardson caught Willie McCovey's line drive to end the 7th game of the World Series (look that one up),
  • Newer songs, anything written between number 1 and when I started college in 1998, and
  • The "newer" newer songs.
But I digress...)

Okay where was I... ah yes. I was hoping for material closer to Awesome God or Glorious God. It's not that I don't enjoy the older hymns, I do. But I enjoy learning new music as well.

Something I learned from the Covenant Chorale was that you can breathe new life into old hymns and make them sound new again. Dr. Rodney Bell's arrangement of "By Christ Redeemed" or "'Tis Midnight and on Olive's Brow" or even "Night With Wings of Darkness"... all of them them will stir my heart even though I have heard those words all my life. What I discovered was that some of those other top 40 songs (as Ken Jowell liked to call them) can be made new again. I think my favorite song in Holy God is a very simple song.

The Lord is in His holy temple
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence, keep silence, keep silence before Him.
-- Habakkuk 2:20
It's a very simple message. I love the tenor line, it is a different arrangement that I remember learning previously. It just sorta floats in the air and can sound very pleasing if it's not pushed.

That was something else that struck me during this recording. Dynamics. The training music we had didn't include any dynamics. When you have such a large group, the dynamics in a song really make it honey in your ears. Without all the gooey mess.

I might blog again about this. It was a very wonderful experience and I hope to be invited back again. Next time, maybe I won't wear my KU Jayhawks t-shirt. Maybe they won't make me stand up. LOL.

Last item, here's the picture of our Overland Park Church of Christ group with Keith:

op holy god

Can you find me?

Can you find me? (Rock Chalk)

Monday, March 3, 2008

St. Louis, corvettes, hockey, Chevy's and computer programmers

It's been a few days! I have a few posts working. But I wanted to post something to make sure you know I'm alive, both of you. LOL. (a special shout-out to those of you reading on facebook).

I got a crazy idea (no comments, pul-ease) a few weeks ago about going and seeing the Sharks and the St. Louis Blues when the Sharks came to town. I'd never been to St. Louis before, but figured it wouldn't be too bad, even if I drove there Saturday, then drove back. It's about a 4-5 hour drive from my pad. I talked to a friend of mine from OP, see if he might be interested in going. He sounded pretty interested, and after getting the OK, I bought us tickets online for the game, and he picked up the tab on gas. It was a nice family deal, the four of us driving down together, spent the night at his parents, and Saturday the two of us were off to St. Louis!

Saturday morning I snapped this pic of a county sheriff in a Corvette:

corvette cop

Click to see a larger picture. The right bumper reads, "This car was seized from a drug dealer." Awesome.

We headed to Busch Stadium II, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a blast. I hope to upload some photos of the ballpark tour soon. We'll see.

That afternoon, we visited the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. You may have never heard of it. But you've probably heard of the St. Louis arch! Ok well that's the same thing. I got a lot of pictures there too, some of which would ... uh... look really good here. When I post them!

After catching a movie (Vantage Point, great flick!!), almost losing my camera's SDHC card, eating at Chevy's for dinner (HOORAY CHEVY'S!), and finding my camera's memory card, we headed to the Scottrade Center, a.k.a. the Kiel Center, a.k.a. the Savvis Center. Those of you San Francisco fans feel this pain (Candlestick Park, 3Com Park, Monster Park, Pacific Bell Park, SBC Park, AT&T Park, etc). The arena was a bit different. I've been to San Jose's HP Pavilion twice (and really... I do love that name!), there is one concourse, lower arena fans exit the concourse downward to their seats, and upper arena fans exit upward to their seats. There are two decks, one main concourse. Easy! In St. Louis, there are three decks, and two concourses. It makes things a little difficult for getting around. As a result, our seats were a bit higher than I thought they would be. But for $25 (plus $7 in fees), they weren't exactly terrible.

I got some great pictures of the action, including the King-Shelley fight. It was a good game, but the Blues were simply no match for the Sharks. Mike Grier's short-handed goal off a turnover sealed the deal, and the Sharks went home 2-0 winners.

Sunday was not as exciting, got up, went to church in Owensville, MO, then drove home. The weather was in the upper 70s, that's something to cheer about! Later that day it dipped down into the 30s, so much for that. One last funny thing. I get into my car to head home (my friends drove), and there's a place that displays the date. Hyundai must have had a bright programmer. My date read "Feb 31". I thought it was some strange fluke. Today (the Thurs after) it read "Feb 35". So much for good help. I want to see how high it eventually goes!