Thursday, December 27, 2007

Snow at the Lake

Snow at the lake.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two Thousand Seven (Part 3 of 3)

Part III – The Look Ahead

What’s Next? Last year, I had some goals, but in some respects, I think I failed. I didn’t keep up with the list, I failed to post regularly. Part of it was my 15-minutes of fame with Federal Way Graffiti, part of it was the busy-ness of life, but part of it was a lack of clear goals and poor follow-through. So this year, clearer goals, intermediate goals, and scheduled review of my goals. So, what are my goals?
  • A least 1 visit Vancouver/Portland
  • At least 1 overnight stay somewhere (not in California or Yakima or Silverdale)
  • Sponsor 1 more child through World Vision (we sponsor one already - we'll want to sponsor a child born in May, so we may have to wait until the following year if they don't have any children that young)
  • At least 2 visits to Yakima
  • A minimum of 2 visits to Longview
  • 3 new restaurants in Seattle (1 really nice, 1 Cuban – can be same thing)
  • 3 new restaurants (not in Seattle)
  • At least 6 letters to our current sponsored child
  • Visit 6 new parks
  • At least 6 daddy/daughter days
  • At least 12 "120 seconds of literature"
  • Talk to Lori’s dad 12 times (monthly - or at least call and get answering machine)
  • Talk to Lori’s brothers and families 12 times each (monthly - or answering machine)
  • Talk to (or see) Jeff and Hillary 12 times (monthly)
  • Talk to (or see) my parents 12 times (monthly)
  • Talk to (or see) Lori’s mom at least 12 times (monthly - after she moves)
  • Read at least 36 books
  • 52 assessments of how I'm tracking towards my goal
  • 52 legitimate posts about how I’m feeling on this blog
  • Weigh 160 pounds on December 1, 2008
  • Floss 200 times (I stink at this, hoping this will help make it a habit)
  • Be in bed by 11 pm at least 260 days
  • Exercise: walk 500 miles
  • Exercise: 9,150 pushups
  • Exercise: 9,150 situps
  • Exercise: 16,470 minutes riding the exercise bike
  • Exercise: 36,600 jumping jacks
  • Send Christmas cards!
  • Fix car window
  • Spend time in Seattle with Allison
  • Spend time with Lawver family
  • Visit Dentist / get caught up
  • Visit California in September (anyone want to host us?)
  • Santa Train
  • Spend more time with the cats
  • Improve the basement
  • Stop watching reruns (except of shows we purchase on DVD)
  • Stop watching live TV (record/time-shift/delay everything)
How will I work towards these goals?

Some great websites:
And a tracking blog:

Two Thousand Seven (Part 2 of 3)

Part II – A Look Back

I am a little disappointed in my blog posts this year... some months it was difficult to find something actually worth quoting.

Thanks to Allison's suggestion, all of us went to the Olympic Sculpture Garden yesterday with Steve and Liz. It was really a beautiful day, the kind of blue you look at later in photos and think "Wow." I mean, we were there, but to see it in still life is still pretty amazing.
Also in January... Tiny computers ... Spider Boat ... Portland Snow Crash Video ... Chopper Pilot Saves Deer ... Apple TV and iPhone ... More Cake 2 ... Snow

Gray, white, black and tan.
Random flecks arranged in rows.
Gray stands out from otherwise dark carpet.

Long day, all day training.
Informative with several entertaining speakers.
But after eight hours I'm ready to sleep.
Also in February... Death Star ... Cingular Experiment ... Yahoo! Answers ... KLOS ... Superbowl Losers

One day in 2000, I wanted donut holes. It was one of those weird "project days" -- you know the kind, you're walking around, talking to people, going to meetings. Not a sit - at - your - desk - and - stare - at - your - screen - for - hours kind of day. And I wanted some poppers. So I go to my computer, punch in my location, my credit card and within 45 minutes, there's a call from the front desk that I have an order waiting for me. And yet today, in 2007, this isn't possible.

I'm just saying... Stupid dot com bubble.
Also in March... KMZT ... KZLA ... Stranger than Fiction ... Black Dog ... For Your Consideration ... California DMV ... Twitter ... Music & Lyrics ... 5 Guys in a Limo ... New Phones ... Broken Phone ... Experience Economy ... Promotion ... Throw away Richard Jeni ... Have you met TED? ... Larry Gold – dead ... Andy Barker, PI ... Power Outtage

I was recently agreeing that it seemed like March was taking forever. And now I find myself in April already. This weekend was a blur, which was funny because it seemed like it shouldn't have been. It snowed for a few minutes, I spent some time reading and some time trying to veg. I now believe my goal to do nothing is not going to happen any time soon.
Also in April... Caveman’s Crib ... Beauty Pageant for Camels ... Green Celebs ... Home Remedies ... Disney War ... Super Proposal ... Joost ... Google Wishlist

Today feels like a good day for a reset. In the recent past, I abandoned more cake2, I dropped off my book list, I pretty much missed 40 Days of Community by not starting my reading on time and I've been consistently behind in my parenting class, always doing the reading the day before or day of. On the plus side, we made our budget for last month. So today, May 1, seems like a great time to press the reset button.
Also in May... Twittervision ... Immigration ... Armed Forces Day ... New to the Interwebs? ... I get RSS ... Projector in Your Pants ... iGoogle

It's raining outside. It sounds really cool. It doesn't seem like that's worthy of a full blogger post, but Twitter is down again. Actually, I'm standing in the kitchen on the laptop and using the desktop at the same time. Kinda weird. But I have the window open and there's a really refreshing breeze coming in. I have the lights off, the only light coming from the two computer monitors. Makes you forget all your real troubles for a little while. I guess I might as well just keep writing since I've started now.
Also in June... Jott ... Internet Radio Day of Silence ... Numbr ... MixMastah 800 ... Washington Idea Bank ... Sahara ... Suing eHarmony

I know I mentioned this briefly on Twitter and Facebook a few days ago but I never got around to actually detailing what happened. I got called into a conference room for an unscheduled meeting a few weeks ago. We've been in a perpetual state of reorganization for a few weeks now. I thought the dust had settled, but it hadn't. I was now being asked to lead my team as we moved over to a new group. My boss was getting kicked up to a new role. So, I said sure. My boss assured me that he'd take a lot of his meetings with him to the new role and I suspect a lot of the international travel as well, which is fine with me because I'd rather stay home with my family.
Also in July... Delorean ... Harry Potter 7 ... Promotion ... Tacoma Narrows 2 ... Teenage Affluenza ... The Wooden Horse of Troy ... Fiji Water ... Kwik-E-Mart

Wow... my posting for August has been pathetic. I've been swamped with work, obsessed with Weewar, completely consumed by Federal Way Graffiti and getting behind in my chores. I guess I've been doing more on Twitter, but I'm still not exactly sure what the point of Twitter is. It still seems really vain. But what I really don't get is Facebook. I have one and everyone at work keeps adding me to theirs, but I still get the point to it.
Also in August... Havidol ... Hot Fuzz ... Buy It Later ... 15 Minutes of Fame

It's almost 11. My goal was to be in bed by 11, but I'm not sure I'll make it. I'm laying on the bed, but not sure I'll be in bed. My knees are bent and the keyboard is resting on my stomach and my legs. Outside, thunder and loud, loud rain. I can also hear the murmurings of neighbors outside enjoying the rain. Rachel is also laying on the bed, head on my chest. She has, to some degree, been insufferable tonight. Demanding every few minutes to go to the bathroom. Of course, at this stage for her, every request must be honored. I finally decided this was the only way to get her to quiet down was to let her lie here on the bed next to me. She had made her way to where she was lying all the way across me but now she's rolled off and... nope, she's back again, now laying on my wrists making typing difficult. And she's gone again. At least she's quiet. The rain is just coming down like crazy. With large windows on two sides of this room, the sound is just incredible. And there's that smell... the fresh chilled smell of rain. It's just amazing.
Also in September... Panda Express ... Ticket Issuing Buses ... Dunder Mifflin Online

I'm sitting at the edge of the lake. It's been a rough morning. While I waited for my food to microwave, I killed the time by using the blood pressure machine as I do nearly every day. Today was by far the best reading I've had since I started regularly checking it. This was a surprise to me considering the kind of morning I had. It wasn't raining, so I decided I'd bring my food out and eat it by the lake. When I got here, a couple was just leaving and we exchanged hellos. I've seen them before. They left and I stood there looking out over the lake and heard a strange wheezing noise. I thought it was a duck, but as it got closer, I realized it was a dog's head. The dog was swimming as fast as he could but the noise sounded like that of panic. I tried to figure out where the dog even came from. I silently cheered him on... 'You're almost there, buddy!'.
Also in October... Blogger Play ... Balance ... HiDef Last Supper ... California Adventure’s $1B Upgrade ... Carter: Cheney a Disaster ... I’m a Quitter

November 2007
I have absolutely nothing decent this month to look back to and quote. I failed to be introspective, failed to write about what was new in my life.
Also in November... Passing of Evangelical Christianity ... Google Reader ... Writer’s Strike ... #2

When you have kids, you're expected to act like an adult. Or at least you feel like you should. But, I'm sorry. It's snowing big, huge fluffy flakes. And I've had Jingle Bells by the Barenaked Ladies on repeat as I jump up and down like a hyperactive child who found a stash of halloween candy. The good thing is that Rachel is happy to jump up and down with me in pure, sheer joy.
Also in December... Shmap ... Singing Cats ... Simplicity ... The Road ... Children of Men

In the past...
Up Next,,, Part III – The Look Ahead

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Two Thousand Seven (Part 1 of 3)

I’ve heard it often said that ours is a linear culture... once time has passed, you don’t get it back. Live for today and make each day count. But that many other cultures take a more cyclical approach. But I suspect as long as we’ve had an established calendar and a written tradition, we’ve had a cyclical view of some things -- the end of the year being a good opportunity to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year coming. For me, it has been a truly great year. I set out the year with some specific goals. I failed to continue measuring them throughout the year, but despite that, it was a great year. So, without further ado, the 2007 retrospective.

Part I - What I said I’d do in 2007...

I aim to blog more frequently. Yes and no. While the number of posts did increase from 235 to 318, I didn’t actually post introspectively as frequently as I’d have liked, especially as the year went on.

I want to take more artistic photos. Yes and no. We purchased a photo frame that holds five photos in a row. Each month we choose our best photo without people as the focus. Like an art installation or dew on a blade of grass or whatever. We move all the photos up one slot. The ones that get bumped go on my cube wall at work. This way we always have some interesting, changing art in our foyer at home. The last few (colder) months have been pretty lean, it’s been a struggle to find a good photograph.

I plan to do a lot of reading. Check. I posted a book list at the beginning of December 2006 and I’ve been adding to it and checking off books as I go.

I intend to be more social. Yeah, I think I’ve done OK in this regard. It’s really hard work for me, but I’ve worked hard at it.

The diet will return. It did. Limited results.

I will figure out how to be less busy. I believe I’ve pulled this off. In retrospect, I think it’s more about feeling less busy. Part of this I have a great website called Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com) to thank, it’s helped me organize my chores/reminders in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I also recently discovered a trick that’s helped me... after my last car repairs, the clock was off because they had disconnected the battery. I have not reset the clock, I’ve left it on the wrong time. So, now as I drive, I’m not constantly looking at it or being frantic about the time.

I will be a bigger help around the house. I think I’ve accomplished this. I’m going to once again credit RTM for helping me in this regard. I’m also going to credit this house. Because it’s newer and in great shape, there has been far less annoying chores to have to deal with.

Make it to the city (Seattle) each month. I’ve come close, but failed on this one.

Try a new restaurant each month. Failed this one, too.

Eat at the same restaurants less often. Eh. Some new restaurants, but not enough.

Don’t waste time with chores or on the computer while home alone with Rachel. I have not accomplished this one. Lori’s mom’s been living with us, so often I’ve spent time doing chores while Rachel hung out with her grandma.

Find a new home for the dog. Yes. I feel guilty, but Lori’s pretty sure the dog is enjoying life much more in her new home.

Get finances under control. Nearly there. Lori took over the receipting, leaving me with only the bill paying to handle. It’s helped us to stay better on the same page as far as where we are with our finances. At the moment things are a little off due to a big car repair bill last month and Christmas presents this month.

Talk to Lori’s dad at least once a month. Nope, failed miserably. This is where revisiting the list each month would have been helpful.

Talk to Lori’s mom at least twice a month. Yep, pretty much daily right now.

Talk to my parents and brother at least twice a month. Yes on my parents, no on Jeff and Hillary.

Next up... Part II – A Look Back

Children of Men

I've wanted to see the movie "Children of Men" for some time now. Lori's actually requested it from the library (Netflix for the cheap -- a really great service of the King County Library system!) for me two other times... the first time I didn't get around to watching it and the second time she forgot to tell me she had it. Well, we got it a third a time and I finally had a chance to see it. To see it just weeks after reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" was an amazing piece of happenstance that I think added to the viewing.

In "The Road," the world has been decimated by an unexplained event and the world has collapsed. In "Children of Men," it's a "slow-onset" apocalypse -- the last child was born 18 years ago. The collapse is much slower. As the world begins to collapse on itself, people make their way for more "stable" areas of the world, such as Britain only to find out it's not so stable -- refugees and others who don't have documentation proving their citizenship -- "fugees" -- are reguarly rounded up in cages and deported or sent to refugee camps.

So while "The Road" sees a world almost devoid of humans regressed back to the most basic levels of survival, "Children of Men" is a futuristic vision of a slow decay. Red double-decker buses of London feature full motion video advertising on their sides, but you also see tanks, soldiers and misery.

"Children of Men" was also just amazingly shot. I had to keep the subtitles on to understand everything that was going on (it was loud at times and other times there was enough of an accent to make it difficult), but that didn't detract from the movie. As I watched the last part of the movie, I was trying to ride the exercise bike. But it was so compelling that I kept just finding myself sitting there and I'd realize I wasn't riding anymore.

I'm not sure how many times I could actually watch the movie, but it's at least worth seeing once -- on as large a screen as you can.

White Christmas

What a wonderful day. We slept in, got up, had some really neat sticky buns and coffee and opened stockings. Then my parents and grandmother and brother and his wife all came over. As we were opening presents, it started snowing big huge flakes. We had a wonderful meal prepared by Lori and her mom, all of us around the big table. Big windows to the left and right affording great views of the snow continuing to fall and starting to stick. By the time we were having dessert, the snow had turned to rain and by the time everyone left for home, only a little slush remained allowing everyone a safe trip home. Now, we wind down and prepare to return to normal. And I begin to look back and look ahead.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Here's to love, hope, joy and peace.

Two interesting links:
The Star of Bethlehem, When was Jesus Born?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wave Power to Go Commercial in California

NEWS.COM -- This is cool - a wave-based electrical generating system is about to be built in California. The article can explain it better, but it's basically a bouy attached to a piston. As the bouy bobs the piston cranks a turbine, generating electricity. Sounds like minimal risk to environment and massive power generation. More...

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

Dear Children:

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks
were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is my wish list.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year? Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that you -- and I -- love them deeply.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a 'Merry Christmas' that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary -- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no 'Christmas' tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me, and they will make
the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love, and remember I LOVE YOU,

-- Jesus

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Woah.. Housing Woes

MODBEE.COM -- Another foreclosure record was set in November as 1,336 properties were offered to the highest bidder on the courthouse steps in Modesto, Merced and Stockton. Now here's the real surprise: Only 17 of them sold, despite lenders offering deeply discounted prices. More...

Venting

Ok, I need to vent. I am so frustrated right now, I could I don't know what. I cannot think clearly. I certainly don't feel like punching anyone, I'm not one for screaming and quitting my job would be a gigantic overreaction.

But, what the blank? I can't even think clearly enough to actually know what to say here. I mean, I can, but I don't think it's appropriate and I'd just be back here in 30 minutes to erase it and hope no one else had read it yet.

Even the guy at McDonalds gets to say "Sorry, no, we can't make you a burger filled with apple pies and McNuggets." Not that he'd have to. There are boundaries. You are the customer, he is the guy you want to keep happy so he doesn't go in the stockroom, sneeze all over his hands and then come back out and dish up your fries. You don't make demands that show you think he's doing his job wrong. Not only can I not sneeze (not that I'd want to), but people have hopped over the flipping counter and are pouring ketchup in the soft serve machine.

Thank God we're not doing rocket science here.

Santa's Prayer

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconson . The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. 'Who is this?' asked Santa, smiling. 'Your friend? Your sister?'

'Yes, Santa,' he replied. 'My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,' he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

'She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!' the child exclaimed. 'She misses you,' he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted. 'What is it?' Santa asked warmly.

'Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but ...' the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. 'The girl in the photograph ... my granddaughter .... well, you see .. she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays,' she said through tear-filled eyes. 'Is there any way, Santa .... any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.'

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. 'What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,' he thought with a sinking heart, 'this is the least I can do.'

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital. 'Why?' Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face. Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. 'C'mon .... I'll take you there,' Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall. Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day.

A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah. Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, 'Ho, ho, ho!'

'Santa!' shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son -- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering 'thank you' as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands.

Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels. 'Oh, yes, Santa ... I do!' she exclaimed.

'Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, 'he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, 'Silent Night, Holy Night - all is calm, all is bright.' The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

'Now, Sarah,' he said authoritatively, 'you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!' He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he 'had' to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

'Yes, Santa!' Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

'My only child is the same age as Sarah,' he explained quietly. 'This is the least I could do.' They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. 'Hi, Santa! Remember me?!'

'Of course, I do,' Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a 'good' Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the 'only' child in the world at that moment.

'You came to see me in the hospital last year!' Santa's jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. 'Sarah!' he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, 'Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!'

Snopes, Santa Mark

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You're Invited to a Birthday Party!

You are cordially invited to

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!!!


Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ Date: Every day. Traditionally, December 25
but He's always around, so the date is flexible...

Time: Whenever you're ready.
(Please don't be late, though, or you'll miss out on all the fun!)

Place: In your heart.... He'll meet you there.
(You'll hear Him knock.)


Attire: Come as you are... grubbies are okay.
He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about
new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.

Tickets: Admission is free. He's
already paid for everyone...
(He says you wouldn't have been
able to afford it anyway...
it cost Him everything He had. But
you do need to accept the ticket!!

Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a
far-out drink He calls "Living Water,"
followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!

Gift Suggestions: Your life. He's one of those
people who already has everything else.
(He's very generous in return though.
Just wait until you see what He has for you!)

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth,
Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness,
Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power,
Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more!
(All "G" rated, so bring your family and friends.)


R.S.V.P. Very Important! He must know ahead so He can
reserve a spot for you at the table.
Also, He's keeping a list of His friends for future
reference. He calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life."

Party being given by His Kids (that's us!!)!
Hope to see you there! For those of you whom I will
see at the party, share this with someone today!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Compelling

This was something cool my friend wrote in an email recently to a bunch of us. They didn't elect to put it on their blog for reasons of their own, but I think without attribution they wouldn't mind me sharing it.
A recent article in The New York Times Magazine cited experts in the fields of physics and astronomy who concluded that our universe, "is made of only 4 percent of the kind of matter we have always assumed it to be — the material that makes up you and me... and all the planets and stars in our galaxy and in all 125 billion galaxies beyond. The rest — 96 percent of the universe — is ... who knows?" Not only that, but it turns out mankind currently lacks the ability to figure out how to figure out what the remaining 96% of the universe is. My mind is hardly scientific in nature. I do not reason well, and me and logic seldom see eye-to-eye. But it would seem to me that if the world's leading scientists cannot identify 96% of what is out there, then it stands to reason that no scientist could legitimately deny the existence of God. I ask those who have not yet accepted God to take this Christmas season to contemplate the sheer wonder and mystery of the universe... for a moment, don't try to define it of classify it, because you can't. Merely accept that there are things you do not know and will never know, which is as it should be. Accept, if you can, that Jesus is the son of God. Accept, if you can, that this is the season in which we celebrate the life He led and the grace He shared with us all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Map, Schmap

This is cool. Schmap discovered one of our photos on Flickr and included it in their listing. (They asked first.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wasted Day

It's 11:30, and we have to be to church at 8 in the morning because Lori's singing in the choir.

Today was supposed to be visiting Santa in the morning, a quick stop at Babies 'R Us to look at bedding (I announced Friday on the dad2be blog that we've learned Rachel's sibbling-on-the-way will be a boy). Without going into a lot of detail, the Santa at the Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter in Tukwilla sucked. We had been in line for 20-30 minutes when we heard rumors that Santa was going on break at noon. Not from the people working there, but just murmurs making their way down the line. About 20 minutes after that, the surly girl in the elf costume closed the gates and put out a little sign. Sorry, she offered without much of a care. The family at the gate protested and she suggested they could talk to her manager, not really offering to get the manager or anything. Several thoughts come to mind. (1) Publish the hours. Sure, Santa's gotta take lunch. (2) Put the sign out at the end of the line 30 minutes prior and ask that family to carry the sign with them as they move forward, like they do at the grocery store. (3) Have multiple Santas. I couldn't see him, based on the way the line was arranged, but apparently he was also just phoning it in.

So we left, went to Babies 'R Us, looked at some stuff and decided if we were going to try another mall, that we really needed food. I pulled out my Blackberry and looked up Baja Fresh. Hadn't had it in nearly two years since we left California. Truly, a pale imitation. The sign, the checkerboard floor, the microphone and kindly called out "21, please", the cash registers, all the same. The burrito, decent, but not served on a bed of chips. The salsa, not smokey. The chips ($2.50 for a small amount of chips and a big vat of salsa, which we tossed), heavy and greasy. It was like being in a foreign city where Judge Wapner comes on at 4 instead of 4:30. Disorienting. (If you get that reference, a million bonus points.)

And then we went to a different mall. The Santa set was amazing. The part where you sat with Santa looked like the back half of his sleigh, complete with a big bag above it. There were fake trees all around, and every so often, boxes tucked high in the branches spewed out fake snow. The staff were all excellent, the line moved quickly. They hand you a brochure ahead of time where you mark down which package you want. Our copy had the hours, including break times, hand-written on it. There was also a big sign that indicated when Santa would be "feeding his reindeer." They also said that everyone was welcome to visit with Santa, even if they weren't buying photos, noting, though, that you could only take personal photos if you were purchasing at least a minimum package. (Tukwilla said no photos.) The Santa was so cool. When he saw me snapping shots off to the side with my cameraphone, he turned to me and held a smile so I could snap off a shot. When he asked Rachel what she wanted for Christmas and she said a "jack in the box," he made the turning motion with his hand (like turning the crank) while doing the sing-song sound of a jack in the box, until he got to the end, throwing his hands in the air and making a loud whooshing/exploding kind of noise. And then he gracefully transitioned Rachel out, stopping when she asked if she could shake his hand. (She did this with the Santa last year as well.)

By then we had to rush home, get ready and get to a party. And when that was all said and done, there was no more day left. It was a good day, it was a nice day. I just didn't get to any of my plans. Maybe that's selfish. But I feel like it means so much more to do tomorrow.

I have had some time today while riding the exercise bike to read through the posts of the last year. There were some months that were pretty lame as far as what I got around to writing. I've posted plenty of things I found interesting, but rarely about my own life. Perhaps this has been a boring blog to read of late, if you were coming to find out how life was in my neck of the woods.

Well, I must be away. Cats to feed, a catbox to clean and bed to get to. Woo.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Money Quote: Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

The simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. What we meant by that was when you start looking for a problem and it seems really simple with all these simple solutions, you don't really understand the complexity of the problem. And your solutions are way too oversimplified, and they don't work. Then you get into the problem, and you see it's rally complicated. And you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That's sort of the middle, and that's where most people stop, and the solutions tend to work for awhile. But the really great person will keep on going and find, sort of, the key, underlying principle of them problem. And come up with a beautiful elegant solutions that works." -- Jony Ive, Apple (from The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy - a really good book. I think everyone at Microsoft should read it. It kind of makes you feel sad for Microsoft, this book makes Apple's amazingness seem easy. It would require a drastic sea change, but it seems like it would be possible if people had passion.)

Finally!

I almost didn't believe it. After six or seven months, Cingular has finally gotten stuff straightened out to the point where I don't owe a balance on the phone numbers we had for 20 minutes or the phones we had for a week. So long, in fact, that they aren't even the same company that they were when all this mess started. Hooray, the AT&T saga is over.

Suggestion: Instant Messaging Clients

Here's an interesting idea for GTalk, Yahoo! Instant Messenger or Windows Hotmail Live Spaces Instant Messenger 8.054... the ability to customize the "new IM" sound if the IM is a single-word "yes" or "no"

We use Y!IM a lot here in the office for communication. I have to change the sound effect really frequently because after awhile, it gets annoying (because I get a lot of IMs) and I start resenting whoever's IMing me. I've finally settled on the "fwop" sound which sounds like an arrow flying past me. It would be cool if someone replies "yes" or "no" if I could pick a different sound.

Would make me even more productive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

3 A.M. Home Invasion?

MSNBC.COM -- I sat straight up in bed, unsure why, but knowing deep down something was terribly wrong.

"Why am I awake?" I thought to myself. I looked at the clock: 3:10 a.m.

The sudden movement woke my wife.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I heard something," I said.

Before she could ask what, we both heard it again. More...

It Aint Easy Being Green

Funny quote from Forrester... "The bottom line in messaging is it's OK to be green, but don't lean too heavily on it because people are cynical about it. And don't ask people to applaud you for it, because you really should have been doing it all along anyway... In perspective, you're not really that green."

(In that vein, much of what you'll find on this blog is recycled.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Most Amazing Use of the Internet Ever

This is phenomenal. This is exactly the type of thing the internet was made for. I hope this is preserved forever, integrated into Wikipedia, whatever. Just amazing. 13 Seconds in August: The 35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis, produced by the Star Tribune.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Massive Video Games

Playing Tetris using your cell phone and a dorm. Sadly, the neither the guy playing nor the guy holding the video camera are very good. (They're actually planning to do other stuff, but couldn't resist doing the whole mega-video game thing.)



And a Pac-Mac Christmas tree. Very cool until you realize it's kinda lame in that it's not animated, just blinky. Well, actually, Blink's not all that animated either.

Pets on Strike



Who's writing this stuff? Because it's actually clever.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Insane in the Big Rain

We had a little bit of snow on Saturday, we tried to drive to Everett but were forced to turn back because of the snow, including a rather dangerous trek through Seattle get from the 5N to the 5S, and then lots of rain Saturday night and Sunday. But drier Monday and much drier today.

Not so for other parts of the area. My parents had nine inches of snow by Sunday and then amazing rain.

The WSDOT put up this amazing slideshow of the flooding that have hit other nearby areas. Insane.

Religion as a Political Weapon

This is a really interesting read... looks into the history of religion in politics, reminding us that freedom from religion was the whole purpose of founding this country in the first place. More...

Koenigsegg CCX and CCXR


Seriously, why don't they make affordable cars that are cool looking?

2007 Porsche Boxter RS 60 Spyder


Yeah, lots of cars lately. But they are awesome cars.

Cool Commercials

I usually try to avoid commercials. But two of these I saw tonight and one of them someone else had posted. All three are pretty cool, IMHO. Kudos to them for posting on YouTube.

Nissan Tilt



VSP Words



Pilot Light

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bailed Books

I gave up on "The Answer to How is Yes" and "Democratizing Innovation." I could not get my head focussed on either of them. Is there anyone out there who's read either (or both) of these and recommend I give 'em another shot?

No Photos!


Here's a website devoted entirely to cataloging photos taken in places where photos are forbidden. Interesting idea, though right now there seems to be a large number of photos that are just of signs prohibiting photography/cell phones.

Photos of Steve McQueen Bullitt Mustang from Ford

Ironic that Ford had to rely on Warner Bros. for help in figuring out how to get the look just right. And yet? Sadly, still looks like a horse's behind from behind.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Trouble With Kids

When you have kids, you're expected to act like an adult. Or at least you feel like you should. But, I'm sorry. It's snowing big, huge fluffy flakes. And I've had Jingle Bells by the Barenaked Ladies* on repeat as I jump up and down like a hyperactive child who found a stash of halloween candy. The good thing is that Rachel is happy to jump up and down with me in pure, sheer joy.

*Lori picked up "Barenaked for the Holidays" a few weeks ago. I wouldn't have thought to grab it, but it's a great listen.