The Job of Getting a Job

At the end of March 2014 I became a casualty of corporate reductions.  My position was eliminated and I was laid off.  

Over the course of 14 years, I:

  • worked in the same building for 14 years, (The Queen Mary on the Prairie in New Century/Gardner, KS).
  • worked on 2 different floors, two different times, (3rd & 4th).
  • Enjoyed and grew in 2 different roles,  (NMA Admin I & II & Network Security Engineer I & II).
  • made many, many friends.
  • was with a company with 3 different names.  (Sprint, Embarq, & CenturyLink-made up of CenturyTel & Qwest).

I miss my co-worker friends (let’s keep in touch OK) very much. Although I was sad to leave behind very good people, I’m also excited to be moving forward. I had known for awhile that it was time to close the chapter I was unhappy in and write a new chapter.  I had much peace about a tough ending and was excited about a new future.

Change is always hard, but is is almost always better on the other side.

I transitioned into “Job-Seeking mode”.  The intro to “Job-Seeking mode” started off very well, I talked with several different recruiters, some of which were just super fantastic. I was ready to suit up, kill a tree or two from resumes and eager to find a new position within information security. I updated LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed & Dice.  I submitted my resume to several companies.  I even had a few interviews scheduled just a couple of weeks after I was initially laid off!

The momentum was in full swing!

And then the games began!  Phone interviews, face-to-face interviews.  I hadn’t had an interview in 14 years!  After I graduated from college I found entry-level jobs pretty easily.  My neighbor told me about an open position at Sprint.  Sometimes it really is about who you know.  I submitted my resume, went through an interview and obtained my first job that blossomed into a career.  I learned marketable skills along the way and learned how to be more confident and a leader.  I am very grateful for my experiences at Sprint, Embarq & CenturyLink.

I had interviews at many prestigious companies, the Federal Reserve, Federal Home Loan Bank in Topeka, Waddell & Reed, KU Med.  And finally landed a contract-to-hire position with KCP&L within their information security department.  It is new and different and I am learning new things!  It is pretty awesome.

There are lots of opportunities out there, let me know if you want a change in your career. I’m eager to use my skills in the infosec industry. I am encouraged and optimistic! And I am at peace. The only constants in life are change and God, embracing both; I’m trying to do just that. So here’s to that new chapter. How is your chapter going?

I’m Back

Hey friends.  It’s been awhile.  But I’m back.

Lot’s has happened.  Too much to go into detail.  I’m different, grown and changed.  New people in my life.  New hobbies.  A couple years older.  A little more bolder.  A little rhymie, some of the timey.

Let’s dust off the keyboard and get back to writing.

Failed, But not a Failure: Lift Yourself Up Off the Floor (Music Video Edition)

The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible and the authors have attempted to write the scriptures in a straight forward manner.  This is 1 Corinthians 13.  It is the Love Chapter of the Bible.  This passage pretty much provides a biblical definition of Love.

1 Corinthians 13  The Message (MSG)  The Way of Love

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Love Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

I’ve failed.  I violated every one of those lines.  I gave up, on love, on what I want most.  I’ve cared more about me than others.  I’ve hungered, desired, coveted, prayed for what I do not have.  I’ve strutted, well, a little anyway, not much.  I’m sure I’ve had a swelled head.  I tried to force myself on others emotionally and relationally.  I’ve put me first.  Although not very much, I’ve flown off the handle.  I don’t have a notebook with names and sins in it, but, I do know that thing she did to me that tears me up inside and I can’t let it go just yet.  Grovel…hmmm, has anyone groveled to me?  Hmm.  I know what truth is and instead of letting it set me free I embrace the lies and pretend I know better.  I put my foot down and and it got stomped on, crushed really.  I have refused to trust in God, he let me down in a big, big way.  I can’t see the best in this darkness I am in.  My back is to the future and my focus is on the past.  I feel like I am at the end, and my pace has stopped.

Love failed.  Plain and simple.  Not just my love.  Others too.  I feel like God’s love failed me too, but, I know I am in the darkness too deep to see anything, let alone the big picture.

So, when you fall you have a choice:  Stay where you are and give up, or pick yourself up off the floor and move forward.  I was laying down on the job.  I was…curled up in a ball, sucking my thumb, eyes closed tight asking for it to all to just go away.  But, every time I open my eyes I am in the same spot.  I even gave up hope for a bit.  I gave up completely.  Stop the world, I want to get off now.

But, I guess its time to move on.  Love failed.  I failed.  But I do not have to remain a failure.  2012, WORST YEAR EVER.  So far.  There’s 5 months left.

They say it gets better.  What they leave out is that it gets so incredibly worse before it starts to get better.

I am in a prayer group that meets Monday nights.  If you want to look God in the eyes, yell at him, smile at him, converse with him, visit my prayer group.

I am in a Divorce Care group.  And that guy in the video says really awfully painful things to hear.  But, it speaks to exactly what is going on in my lonely life.  The people around me in that class are devastated and heartbroken and in some serious, serious pain.  But that girl that sits next to me is kinda cute. And their stories help me feel like I am not all alone.  They recommend waiting a year for every 4 years you were married to enter into a relationship.  Ha, right.  Well, 3 out of 4 second marriages fail.  4 our of 5 3rd marriages fail. And 9 out of 10 5th marriages fail!  Holy crapola?!

I’m meeting new people.  Men and women.  I’m on one of those dating websites, a couple actually.  No, wait, I’m not meeting guys there!  Sheesh!  I meet them NOT online.  Wait, I’m not “meeting guys”.  OK, I mean I have a few new guy friends that have become my brothers in Christ.  I would die for the guys in my prayer group, take a bullet for them.  So back to the dating sites, I’m not looking for love!  I’m just looking to meet new women.  I am not looking for a replacement wife or to get married.  Just to talk and be healthy.  To try to live again.  And guess what?  I had a date!  First one in almost 20 years!  OK, not a “date”, we just, sat and talked.  But it didn’t suck!  I KNOW RIGHT?  Sigh.  I hate the idea of dating.  I never thought I’d have to start over like this.  But, I have to move on right?

I have hope again.  A little.  Not a lot.  But, it is a start.

I got mad at God, called him names.  Shook my fist.  Cussed. Told him how he let me down.  And he did too.  He didn’t step in and wave his hand and make everything better.  He could have, fiery furnace, lion’s den, Lazarus.  He is letting me feel incredible pain.  Because…we have free will.  Because…we do bad, sinful, evil things.  Because, well, I don’t know why yet.  God isn’t a jerk.  I feel like he is, but I know he isn’t, He loves me.  And it is OK, I serve a BIG GOD that can handle my anger, tantrums and questions.

I think about her and I fall again.  On my knees, facial fluids leaking everywhere.  That’s OK.  Because I get back up.  Why do we fall?  So that we learn to pick ourselves up.  <In my whispering voice:  “I am Batman“!>

I have failed in the past.  But, I refuse to make it my identity.  I have no clue who I am outside of who I was and who I was when I was with her.  But, I know this:  I am not a failure.  Well, I don’t know it yet.  But I hear it, I let the words go into my brain. And that thought rattles around.  And it makes me cock my head and think.  I am not a failure, maybe.

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?
What happens next?

dare you to move
dare you to move
dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
dare you to move
dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Updated Facebook Relationship Status: Heartbroken

One’s new relationship status isn’t complete until it is changed on Facebook and broadcasted to the world. Minnie changed her Facebook status to “single” today. This was my Facebook status update:

Thank you @Minnie Beechner for being my beautiful bride. The past 18 years have been the best years of my life. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my soul mate, helper, lover, teacher and friend. You are my best friend. Thank you for showing me how to worship God in a new way and worshiping with me. Thank you for bearing, gifting and entrusting me with four handsome boys-you are a loving mom-kind, patient, nurturing and protective. Thank you for bringing joy to my life. Thanks be to God for giving me such an incredible, independent, bold and confident woman. I believe God brought us together and bonded us in marriage. I am blessed beyond grace and will be forever grateful for the years we have been husband & wife. I’m sorry for hurting you and loving you so poorly, I regret it every day. Your divorce from me has been finalized. Even though I failed you in the past, with God’s help I am being transformed and becoming a new man.

Well, it WAS the response I posted, but Minnie asked me to untag her, I couldn’t, so I deleted it.  She thinks that I did not mean the things I said…Let me just say I do.  With all my heart I do.

I was served divorce papers on February 13th 2012. The day before Valentine’s Day. I was completely shocked. It was like a 2×4 to the face. The effects were the same too: dazed, confused, pained, wounded, felled to the floor knocked out. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Our marriage counselor looked directly at me and stated that if we didn’t change then the logical conclusion would be divorce. After, I asked Minnie if she thought that was true and she said no. I asked her if she’d let me know if she thought it was getting to that point. Even though she said she would, she never did. I never thought I would be divorced from Minnie. She really was my best friend. There was never a day when I was not in love with her. I’m still in love with her.

For the record: I was faithful to Minnie, I never touched another woman; I never gave my heart away to another. There was no physical abuse. No addiction or substance abuse. I wasn’t a deadbeat. I worked and provided for her and our family. I was quick to apologize when I was wrong-and even if I wasn’t. I don’t know why it is so important to me to communicate that list, but it is. Actually, I do know why.

Although I am not a verbal abuser in general, I was verbally abusive to Minnie the last 6 months of our marriage, before Minnie filed. I was hurt. I was broken. I took a stand. I lashed out. Minnie wilted and died inside. I didn’t know. If I had seen it I would have changed.  I swear I would have.

Minnie had my stuff packed up and I moved out day one. Thanks to Walter & Sean for helping me until I could stand on my own 2 feet. I eventually moved into my own 2-bedroom apartment. It isn’t much, but it is clean & organized, I have it completely furnished for me and my 4 boys. I’ve even done some decorating. I am learning what it means to be independent and a single father. Keegan, one of my 16-yr old twins lives with me. I see Kaleb, Calvin & Corbin for about 12 days out of the month. The boys are handling it very well for now, but I am fearful how it might affect them long-term. To teach them that divorce is an OK out is horrible. The sins of the father…

I refused to sign the divorce decree. Oh, the numbers and parenting time and such were agreeable enough and I signed those documents. The divorce negotiations were never mean or argumentative. But I love my wif, er, I mean, I love Minnie very much. I believe that God brought Minnie and I together, that which God binds in holy matrimony should not be undone by any man. We were married by two pastors. We wrote our own vows. A vow I could not break. There are no biblical grounds for our divorce, like I stated before, I was faithful to Minnie and I was not abusive to her or our boys. I do not believe that we have irreconcilable differences.  So I refused to sign; never a day will come when Minnie will wonder why I agreed to a divorce. I believe that Minnie and I can still work things out and have a marriage that is awesome. I hold onto hope.

I’ve been learning first hand what it means to manage unbearable pain.

I ran to God a couple of hours after I was served the papers and clung onto Him. One of the truly good things that has come from this brutal separation is that I have been reconciled to God, forgiven and on a journey of healing and comfort with my heavenly Father.

I’ve refused to fight or show anger to Minnie. I’m sad as hell and hurt like crazy, but, I can’t see how it would do any good to get angry, mean or fight. Minnie stated that if I hired my own divorce lawyer that we couldn’t be friends, so I didn’t. No legal battle.

The separation in general has been good for Minnie and I. There was even a time when Minnie and I were getting along very well. It was…great! But then she backed off again.

I make good choices and bad. It isn’t easy managing this brutal pain. Sometimes I try to fill the pain with things that aren’t the better option. But I feel like for every bad decision I’ve made, I have made 100 good ones.

I’m not “better off” without my best friend of 18 years. But I am going to be OK.  I guess.  That’s what they say anyway.  I can live without her, if I have to.  I am a better person than I was 5 months ago. I am a better dad. I am a better housekeeper. I am a better cook. I am a better shopper. I am a better money-manager. I am independent. I’m more in love with Minnie today than I ever have been.  I’ve never felt so incomplete.  I miss her every day.

I’m also in mourning. I’ve lost the person that meant the most to me. I lost my best friend. They say it is worse than a death because you have to see the loved one over and over again.

And that’s pretty much where I am. A divorced, broken man. I am trying not to let it become my identity.  I am becoming closer to God. Holding out for a miracle. Trying to manage the overwhelming pain. Trying to be transformed into a better person, for me, for God, for my boys, but especially for my bride. And learning to move on.

But not move on too fast or too far.  I haven’t changed my Facebook status yet.  Facebook automatically deleted the “married to…” part and just changed it to “married”.  The truth is that in my heart I will always be Minnie’s husband.  I love her.  I know that sounds so cliche at best and stalkerish at worst.  I am letting her walk away.  I’m going to move on as best I can.

“Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning”  (Lamentations 5:15).

Thank you to all who have prayed with me and for me.

My 3 Words for 2012

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year resolutions.  I’ve made some in the past and I’ve broken most.  Last year was pretty good.

I’ve been following Chris Brogan’s blog.  Chris Brogan writes:

Every year since around 2006, I’ve been challenging people to forego the idea of a resolution, and instead, to come up with 3 words that will help you define your goals and experiences for the coming year. Resolutions are often too vague, or too directed towards one goal. It might be “quit smoking” or “lose 20 pounds” or “get hired.” These are all fine aspirations, but I challenge you to dig deeper, to find three words that could be used as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words.

Relationships – I will strengthen relationships in 2012.  Most of us have relationships in our lives that are broken or unhealthy that need to be fixed and improved.  I am no exception.  I’m sure there are many, but 4 such relationships come to mind:  my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife and my relationship with my twins, Kaleb & Keegan.  2011 was a year of challenge, struggle and disappointment for me personally.  Bad choices, responding in anger, communicating poorly.  Not just by me.  The Wienerdogs Indecent,  getting in trouble at school, a joy ride that lead to totaling mom’s car.  But that was last year.   These relationships are the most important in my life and I plan to seek reconciliation, peace, healthiness and intimacy.  I only have a few more years with my twins before they become independent, young men and leave home.

Believe it or not, I do have healthy relationships in my life.  My relationship with my little people, Calvin & Corbin, come to mind, relationships with friends and co-workers, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

These relationships are my life support group.  When the challenges of life happen it is relationships that get us through.  I plan to mend the relationships that need fixing and continue to strengthen the healthy relationships.

Regimen – I will create a plan and stick to it in 2012.  A regimen is defined as a systematic plan. Regimens are what I hope to use to achieve my goals.  I plan to read the Bible more consistently, to pray, to spend time with my family.

Regimen is also a synonym of diet. If I were to make one traditional resolution this year it would be to lose weight.  I’m not sure what I am going to do just yet, but I am gonna do something.

Intentionality – I will be intentional in 2012.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of being intentional.  If one does not perform regular maintenance or take the time to make proper preparations or plan for the future then they’re setting themselves up for trouble.  It is an obvious life-lesson that many, many people overlook or ignore.  You can’t just sit back and hope things will all work out.  You have to be proactive.  You have to have a focus.  You have to be intentional.  And do it in all aspects of life.

Which means that I will need to be a little more specific about my regimens.

As with life, this is a work in progress, in process.  I’m just beginning to work on it, but at least I’m working on it.



The Sky’s the Limit: Game Review of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures

I like video games.  I’m not a huge nut nor am I super good, but I enjoy playing video games.  My twins have an XBOX360, my little ones have a Nintendo DS & Nintendo DSi, and we have a Nintendo Wii hooked up in our living room.  For Christmas Aunt Kathy & Uncle Bob gave us all Walmart gift certificates, so the little ones and I combined our cards and purchased a new game, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures.  But Skylanders isn’t just a new game, no, it is a new gaming experience where the sky’s the limit!

Most games merely come with the game itself, the disk or cartridge.  And yeah, that’s usually good enough.  Sometimes a game might come with a collector’s figurine or an action figure to place on a shelf to collect dust and serve as a symbol of geekiness.  Skylanders comes with the game, three action figures and the Portal of Power-all required to play the game.  The action figures are placed on the physical platform; place different action figures on the Portal of Power and they come alive in the game and the game changes as you place different action figures to play different characters.  Different characters unlock different areas of the game.  The game with the portal and 3 action figures cost $70 on all platforms.

Portal of Power

The Portal of Power, the wireless platform that comes with the game, is one of  the first new cool things I’ve seen in recent years-since the Wii Fit balance board.  The Portal of Power platform connects to the game console (XBOX360, PS3, Wii & 3DS, PC) much like a wireless mouse, with a little USB connector. Initial setup was plug and play and completely painless.

Action Figures

Skylanders is one of the first games to take the concept of action figures and collecting to the next level-and they’ve done it brilliantly.  Each game comes with three action figures that become characters in the game.  Up to two action figures can be placed on the portal simultaneously, for cooperative or versus play.  There are 37 action figures in all. Toys R Us even has a couple of different carrying cases!  Individually packaged action figures cost about $8.  3-packs of action figures cost about $20.

Each action figure has a memory chip in the base.   The memory chip  stores progress and since the action figures are not platform-specific, the action figures can be ported to a different system and all progress is portable as well.  For instance, I bought the Wii version of the game which comes with an action figure, Trigger Happy, but I can use Trigger Happy on an XBOX360 (or PS3 or 3DS or PC) and the progress and all the character’s status will follow.

Collect them All?

As stated before, there are 37 action figures in all.  This is where things can get a bit confusing (and expensive).  There are eight different groups or families of characters called Element Classes: Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Magic, Tech, Undead & Water.

Although the game can be beaten with the three characters that come with the game & portal, there are areas of the game that you cannot access unless you have a character from each class.  This is where the marketing guys start to earn their salary! 

So you really only need eight action figures right?  Well…

In other games, any Mario game for instance, you collect free lives as you play the game.  In Skylanders you collect free lives by collecting more action figures!  One character runs out of steam then take him off the portal and replace him with another. Well played Mr. Marketer dude.

There are eight classes with four action figures/characters per class, which is 32 action figures/characters.  There’s a pretty cool full-sized poster of all 32 action figures in between Justin Bieber and The Marvel Superheroes at the poster display.

Although listed as part of the “official” 32 action figures, the Drill Sergeant action figure is exclusively sold at Walmart.  Another point to the Marketing guys!

Ghost Roaster is included exclusively with the Darklight Crypt Adventure Pack (another point for the mad men).

Dark Spyro is not listed among the “official” 32.  The Nintendo 3DS version of the game, portal & figurines comes with Dark Spyro, to my knowledge this is the only way to purchase this action figure-to purchase the Nintendo 3DS version of the game which includes Dark Spyro.  This is where the marketing guys took collecting to the next level!  Dark Spyro is selling for a pretty penny on Ebay. Although Dark Spyro can be played on any of the Portals of Power (any of the game systems) it is only listed in the 3DS packaging.

Toys R Us has three exclusive “legendary” action figures that are also not listed among the “official” 32.  Legendary BashLegendary Chop Chop and Legendary Spyro can only be purchased at Toys R US. More points to the marketing geeks.  When in stock, the exclusive Toys R Us Legendary 3-pack can be purchased through TRU for about $25, or for around $40 on Ebay-again props to the marketing guys for creating a demand for toy collecting.

And last, but not least, according to the Skylander Wiki website there is also a Legendary Trigger Happy that may also be exclusive to TRU,

Legendary Trigger Happy is a rare counterpart of Trigger Happy. Little is currently known about him. He was first


seen in the 3DS version of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, in the list of all 37 Skylanders.

Here is a complete (as of this writing) list of all 37 action figures/characters:

Adventure Packs & Add-Ons

Adventure Packs come with an action figure and a few other object action figures-magic items.  Think of these as expansion packs.  Place a location figure on the Portal of Power and access a whole new chapter! Experience new challenges, menacing enemies and whimsical adventures.  An Action Pack with one action figure and a few object figures cost about $20.  There are four Adventure Packs:

Unreleased Adventure Packs (as of this post)

The Volcanic Vault is an exclusive portal, part of the Wii/360/PS3 Starter Pack when bought at Best Buy. When an action figure is placed on the Portal for the first time, it unlocks the multiplayer Volcanic Arena for play in Battle mode.

Game Play

The portal, action figures and collecting would be worthless if the game itself was boring and bland.  I’m happy to say that it is a fun game!  The game is geared to younger players, but has been getting very positive reviews from adult gamers (including the guy that works at my local Game Stop-he said he and his girlfriend are addicted!).  I’ve been playing it with my eight-year old and we’ve had a blast!  Like many video games there is a story line version that includes hunting and gathering, fighting, puzzles, collecting and powering up.  And like most video games there is a versus version where the characters fight each other in a battle royale, or street fighter  style.  I will say that the story line version of play, although very entertaining (the story was written by the writers of Toy Story), quick and fun is a little bit easy, but we are only about 15% through the game, so maybe I am speaking too soon.  And the key may be leveling up and buying powers.  UPDATE:  I am stuck at 33%…so it isn’t all THAT easy.

Obviously this game is the ultimate in hunting and gathering games!  There are lots of levels, lots of areas to unlock, lots of characters to collect, lots of things to find, lots of powers to buy, etc.

Playing Online

Each action figure comes with collectable cards and a code that can be entered to play the online version of Skylanders-much like Club Penguin (which means the online play is SAFE!). The Skylanders online game site is FREE and anyone can play without purchasing any pieces of the game.  The online version serves as an extension of the game and is completely safe for kids.  I’ve only played for an hour or so, but it seems pretty cool.  Especially designed for the young ones, if, as a parent, you find yourself addicted to the console game, give the keyboard and mouse to you child so you can play with the controller and nun chuck!

Its Not ALL About The Benjamins

One of the negatives of this game is the price.  The initial game, portal and three action figures, although not crazy expensive will cost you $70 on any console (including the 3DS).  Each additional action figure costs $7.00-$9.00 (dependeing on where you buy and if you buy in packs of three).  37 figurines x 8.00 = just under $300!  Plus the expansion packs and carrying cases…UGH!  Yeah, it can add up fast.  Here’s the good news, the game can be completed-without exploring ALL areas of the game-with the initial three action figures that come with the game.  And, if you aren’t into collecting, but want to complete all the areas of the the game, a minimum of eight action figures (about $75) are needed to unlock all of the areas of game play (maybe excluding the chapters introduced by the Adventure Packs).  However, if you really suck, keep purchasing more action figures to get more chances to pass that area you’re stuck on.

In all fairness it sounds like Activision’s marketing geniuses didn’t know that the game would take off.  Game Stop says that production should pick up and characters should flood the market at the end of February.

Overall Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures is an awesome game!

Skylanders Buyer’s Guide


Sonic Boom
Skylanders Spyro's Adventure: Sonic Boom





Legendary Bash

Prism Break
Skylanders Spyro's Adventure: Prism Break








Stealth Elf

Stump Smash



DARK Spyro

Double Trouble




Wrecking Ball


Drill Sergeant


Legendary Trigger Happy
Trigger Happy

Chop Chop


Ghost Roaster


Legendary Chop Chop

Gill Grunt

Slam Bam



3-PACKS Eruptor,
Chop Chop

Wrecking Ball,
Stealth Elf,
Sonic Boom

Double Trouble,
Drill Sergeant

Dino Rang

Stump Smash

Prism Break,

Legendary Spyro
Legendary Chop
Chop Legendary Bash

PACKS(Expansion packs)
Darklight Crypt

Pirate Seas

 Empire of Ice

3 Skylanders


Nintendo 3DS

Playstatuin 3


CASES(To store your Skylanders in!) Zip Case

Tower Case


Love is a Choice

My Love

“Make good choices today.”

This is a speech (short sermon/long toast) I gave at my friends’ wedding reception a month or so back.

Jamie asked me to say a few words and I promise I won’t talk too long.  Jamie was the best man at my wedding 17 years ago.  I’m happy to say that I am still married after all these years.   I am honored to be able to say a few words here today.  Think of my talk today as a cross between a short sermon and a really long best man’s toast!

I want to read a passage from the Bible, I am reading from the Message version of the Bible.  The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible and the authors have attempted to write the scriptures in a straight forward manner.  This is 1 Corinthians 13.  It is the Love Chapter of the Bible.  This passage pretty much provides a biblical definition of Love.

1 Corinthians 13  The Message (MSG)  The Way of Love

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Love Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

I have just a few observations about love and marriage as it relates to this passage.  Here is the main point of my commentary:  Are you ready?  Love is a choice.  It isn’t a feeling or emotion.  It isn’t what you feel when you first realized you were attracted to each other.  It isn’t what you feel after a first kiss.  Love is how you react to feelings and emotions.   Love is a choice and more specifically a series of choices.

Love is dynamic.  The love you have for each other is always changing.  It either grows as you make the choice to love better.  Or it fades as you make selfish choices-the choice to love yourself or an outsider rather than each other.  Love changes with the maturity of choices we make.  It starts with baby choices, to ask someone out, to spend time, energy, and money on another person and grows into much bigger choices, such as exclusive dating, engagement and spending the rest of your lives together in marriage.

Love is a continual choice.  Choices don’t stop with a confession of commitment.  You are going to wake up tomorrow and have to make a conscience choice to love.   Every day you have the choice to deepen in your love for each other.

Finally love is an intentional choice.  It isn’t easy to always make the choice to be patient, or kind, to not get jealous, or to boast or to be proud.  Be careful to intentionally choose to love.  You don’t have to have it your way!  And some days you will make a mistake.  Love also covers a multitude of sins; humble yourself and admit when you are wrong and make the choice to forgive.

Every morning I take my little boys to school.  I have a kindergartener and a 2nd grader.  As I drop them off I kiss them goodbye, give them a big hug, I tell them that I love them and then I whisper into their ears, “Make good choices today.”

So here is my challenge and my “best-man” toast:  Make an intentional choice every day to love each other.  Choose to love each other every day. Big hug, kisses, I love you guys and make good choices.

Protected: What I’ve Learned from Weiner Dogs: I am Too Fat for a Single Pair of Handcuffs

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Getting Old Sucks: Relaying the Message

I look around me and I see old people!  Everywhere I look!  Oh wait, that’s the mirror.  But that’s not me.  That’s some old dude.  Some middle-aged old man.  It can’t be me.

I’m sure our parents and grand parents and other adult friends all feebly explained to us mindless younglings about the weirdness of aging and the meaning of life.  I’m sure we listened politely and nodded while they droned on and on and while we tried to focus and look interested.  And off our minds went while they jabbered on about whatever.  But let’s be honest, they were the OLD PEOPLE!  Dumb old people at that.  Why weren’t they smarter?  They’d lived 1000 years!  How could we possibly relate to these ancients?

Answer:  Wait 20 years.

It is just weird getting old.  It is awkward.  It is frustrating.  It is mind-blowing.

I mean I don’t feel old, I don’t think of myself as old, I don’t act old.  Well, I probably act old, but I don’t intentionally do “old person” stuff.  But guess what?  I’M OLD.  News flash:  you’re old too.  I have a different face, body and hair.  I still have hair but it is quickly turning gray and retreating!

I tell myself that if I could go back with my brain that I would do SO many things differently!  Make better decisions.  Live more fully.  Love life to the fullest.  Treat people better.  Stay in touch.  Learn more.  Take more risks.  Because I’d know what is really important and I’d know what really matters. But you can’t go back.

But, you can try to relay the message to a generation who can learn something from our mistakes and regrets!  So I turn to my twins who are quickly approaching manhood and I get real serious and quiet and I begin to share all these secrets of life.  I’m old, I don’t feel old, but I am, listen to my experience!  I begin to divulge all this profound and amazing gems of information.  “Listen to me sons of mine and you will be happy, you will be successful, you can know what REALLY matters and what it is really like!  You will avoid the pitfalls of life.  You will take chances and live life to the fullest!  You will have healthy relationships.  Here comes the good stuff!”

And my kids, my offspring, my blood, my babies,  they give me this look.  It is a familiar look!  I KNOW THAT LOOK!  And then it hits me:  It is the same look I gave those old folks that were trying to explain all those things that went in one ear and out the other.  And they smile and they nod. And their eyes are unfocussed.  And they are looking into space.  Are they comprehending what I am saying?  Can they even hear me?  Are they even paying attention at all?

And I stop in mid sentence, in the middle of the most important thing they can ever hear.  And I pause.  And my mouth closes.  And I smile as I give up and say, “I can help you if you can just comprehend what I am saying.”

But they can’t, they haven’t lived long enough yet.  And it makes me sad.  And it makes me love them all the more.

Getting Old Sucks: 20-Year High School Reunion

It has been 20 years since I graduated from high school.  Twenty years.  1991-2011. Two decades. It sure doesn’t seem like that long ago.  It really does feel like yesterday.  But on paper it is a lifetime ago.  How do you measure 20 years?

Married with Children

Married with Children

  • Shortly after HS graduation I had my heart brutally broken!  Thanks for that.  Welcome to the journey to adulthood.
  • I started and completed college!  I squeezed a 4-year degree into 5 1/2 years!  That takes talent.
  • I’ve become a husband.  I have been happily married (to the same woman) for over 17 years.  17 of the past 20 years.
  • I’ve become a father.  I have 4 boys.  I have twins who are 15 and who are working at the cafeteria of the college I graduated from.  Weird.  They’re like little adults.  How did that happen so fast?
  • I have built a career.  I have had over 10 different jobs, but only one career.  Even though my career has been in the same building for the past 10 plus years, the company has changed names 3 times.  I’ve moved floors 4 times.
  • I’ve lived in 6 different cities in 3 different states.
  • I’ve gained over 100 pounds!  BUT I was too skinny when I left HS.  BUT now I am overweight!  BUT I’m on a diet.
  • I’ve lost contact with old friends, gained new friends,  and have reconnected with many of those old friends!  (Thank you Facebook)
  • I’ve lost a parent.

Why all the talk of the past 20 years?  Well, because my 20-year high school reunion is in a couple of months and there is chatter on the web and Facebook.


The Start of Something New or “Diet” is a Four-Letter Word

You may remember the 3 dreaded items on my New-Years Resolutions List that were pretty much untouched:

  • #3:  Lose a little weight
  • #4:  Eat a little healthier
  • #7:  Walk more with my wife

They go hand-in-hand right?  Well, I am FINALLY starting a diet.  I asked my doctor for some magical pills to help me lose weight and she prescribed Phentermine.  Remember Phen-Fen?  Phentermine is the safer ingredient.  Even though my doctor was quick to write the prescription she was also just as quick to say that I needed to eat right and exercise-or it simply won’t work.

I didn’t drop off the prescription right away.  I wanted to research it a bit.  However, my wife, who has lost 45 pounds and was VERY excited at the prospect of me losing weight, dropped it off for me.

I didn’t pick up the prescription right away.  I really like food.  But, I finally picked it up on Saturday, April 9th.  And I did do some research.  It is best to only use the drug for a couple of months and to eat right and to exercise.

I didn’t take the prescription right away.  OK, I waited a couple of days.

I popped my first diet pill April 11th, Monday morning.  I had a banana for breakfast.  I had a BUMBLE BEE® Lunch on the Run™ Tuna Salad – Complete Lunch Kit for lunch and I had another banana and apple for a snack later.

No matter how you look at it there are expenses involved in dieting.  Diet Pills aren’t $5.00 at Wally World.  Nice, neatly packaged diet food is gonna cost you.  If you buy all that you need and prepare it and put it together yourself then it is gonna cost less money, but it is gonna cost you in time-time it takes to shop and time it takes to prepare.  Walking takes time.  Planning takes time.  Fine.

I’ve been looking for ways that will help me diet.  Hopefully the pills will help motivate and produce some immediate success.  My wife is pretty exciting and is definitely trying to motivate me.

I have created an entire Android “scene” for my HTC Evo simply named “Diet”.  I have downloaded a bunch of diet applications.  One I am seriously considering is the Diet2go Android App.  It lists many, many different short term (1-8-day) diets, details what to eat for each meal and snack and even produces a handy dandy shopping list.

I am starting my third week and I have been pretty good.  I am eating better, taking the pills during the week and skipping the weekend to get sleep!  A very noticeable side-effect is loss of sleep.  I feel more awake most of the time, not jittery though.  And I feel less hungry!  That is great!

I have lost a few pounds, and I am eating healthier (#3 & #4 check) but more than anything it is a start.  I have walked around the block with my wife once-about 2 miles.  I will add walking more permanently soon.  When I start walking with my wife I plan to try out the CardioTrainer app.  I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

Day 2/365 - New Years Resolution

Ugh. Not yet.

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I have not played Farmville yet this year, nor have I replaced it with Wizard 101!  Woo hoo!

New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
My paperwork was verified.  I can officially add CISSP behind my name!  All I am waiting on now is to receive the actual certificate in the mail!  YAY!

New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
Ugh.  Not yet.

New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
I really like food.  I won’t admit to being addicted, but I do have an emotional attachment.

New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
Apparently 15-year old boys do not wish to spend time with their dad.  HOWEVER, they do wish to gain driving experience.  Power to the dad!  We have also talked about driving around and finding geocaches (look it up).

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
I read one book this year.  Maybe that should count as resolution resolved.

New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
The year is still young-ish.

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
This is an easy one that I am failing to do.  But boss also wishes to do this more, so I think this will be on track shortly.  I missed a great chance at Gardner lake when it was still mostly frozen over-a gaggle of geese!  It was pretty cool.  Seize the day people!

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
How many spaces after the period ending a sentence?  WRONG, only one?  What the heck?  Yeah, I’m not unlearning this one easily.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
More like hobbies, plural.  Photography, security (CISSP CPEs-continuing education), social media management, learning more web page coding (SEO, connecting to a database, shopping cart) blogging.

UPDATE: New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I have not played Farmville yet this year, nor have I replaced it with Wizard 101 (yet).

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
I finished OSC’s Pathfinder and hope to start OSC’s Hidden Empire next.

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
I have taken a couple of photoshoot field trips with my boss.  I have taken a few pics at Erie Miller Nature Park, Shawnee Mission Park, & the Mahhaffie Farmstead.

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
Check, and I started 4 new blogs to promote the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
It seems I am deciding on Social Media Management.

New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

I have never been a fan of New Year resolutions.  I have never consciously made, kept and resolved a New Year’s resolution.  Having said that its good to have goals.

  • New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
  • New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
  • New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
  • New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
  • New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
  • New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
  • New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
  • New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
  • New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
  • New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I wasted way too much time on Facebook’s Farmville last year.  Yeah, I have over 3 million dollars, the largest farm you can get and lots of everything, it is time to move on from the farming version of hunting and gathering.  Of course my end goal is to waste less time, but I am already testing the waters out on Wizard 101.

New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
The hardest part in becoming CISSP certified is over, I passed that blankety, blank exam.  But now I have to jump through a few more hoops.  One is getting my resume updated and detailed to ISC2’s standard.  I am also gonna strive to put together a total of 4 resumes-biographical, technical, project managerial and managerial.   I have always liked playing with different resume styles and layouts.

Healthy Choice Logo
Be Healthier

New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
I can easily stand to lose 100 pounds, but I also am thinking realistic.  So here goes, the goal:  25-50 pounds.

New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
One of the ways I plan to lose 25-50 pounds is to use an (free) Android phone app I got that offers different 3-7-day diets, complete with shopping lists.  I thought that might be a cool and tastey method, instead of holding to just one, long diet.  Another method I may try is just counting calories.  And doing some exercise, maybe with the Wii Fit.

New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
My twins will be 15 in a couple of weeks-they are freshmen in high school, weird.  The time just flies.  I wanted to do so much with them.  I wanted to build them a tree house.  I wanted to have long talks about life lessons.  Play more video games.  Teach them how to drive.  Have deep theological and philosophical discussions with them.  Of course there is still time, but it involves being extremely intentional.

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"

Read More

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
Check.  Minnie gave me a copy of Orson Scott Card’s new book, Pathfinder, for Christmas, I am on page 596 of 662.  Awesome book, by the way.  I just LOVE OSC (start off with Ender’s Game, go, NOW!).  I will do my best to offer reviews as I check the books off the list.

New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
I dread thinking about this one.  I have never been a walker.  I hate the cold.  But, I like the idea of spending quality time with my wife doing something that will be healthy for both of us.  I am also gonna use my Android phone to track miles and calories burned, I love technology!  I love my phone!

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
I have this really great digital camera, a Canon G10.  It has all these dials and settings and it is just a great camera.  It is what professionals use when they just want a simple camera and not a huge, top-of-the-line professional camera to lug around.  And most of the time I have the settings on “auto”.  I’d like to change the settings,  but I don’t know what they mean!  I’d like to learn more about photography and take more cool pics.  I also have this cool phone, have I mentioned that, that makes sharing pics extremely easy.  I also would like to post a video or 2 on Youtube!  I may use MS’s Movie Maker!  Ironically there are tons of youtube videos that teach you how to make youtube videos with Movie Maker.  Come on, that’s just cool.

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
Check.  If I am not posting here it is because I am posting here: I plan to use this blog to hold myself accountable.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
I am hopefully setting myself up for success for this one.  Photography is one, security is another, but I am also getting roped into acting as a social media manager for a woodworking guild, so that may include the learning of what it means to be a social media manager as well as working with wood!  Win-win! 

Powered by ScribeFire.


I found out on December 20th that I actually PASSED the CISSP exam!  I can’t believe it, after a VERY long wait I am pleased to offer an example of an excerpt from an  email from (ISC)² offering congratulations:


I FINALLY passed the CISSP exam

Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have passed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) examination – the first step in becoming certified as a CISSP.

I am still in shock. I was not confident at all that I would pass! The test was pretty darn hard! It was the hardest test I have ever taken actually.  By far.  The wait was excruciating. The results took an abnormally long time. I guess there were a huge amount of people that took the exam on the same test date as I ( November 6, 2010) and it took a long while to grade. Six full weeks! I guess a lot of military personnel and contractors were trying to get certified before the end of the year, so the date became the last one before the end of the year (where one would get the results before the end of the year-although those that took it a week after me received their results before me) and thus was a very popular test date.

It was by far the best Christmas gift I received this year!

Merry Christmas everyone (fourth day of Christmas?)! Happy Holidays, and here’s to a very Happy New Year.

Blessings to you all.

I passed! WOO HOO!

The Door Exam: A CISSP Exam Analogy

Sectional-type overhead garage doors in the st...

The Garage Door Domain has its ups and downs

It has been about 10 days since I took the CISSP exam and still I am dreaming all things security. Literally dreaming, at night while I am trying to get restful sleep. This time I dreamed up an analogy to the whole CISSP preparation and exam that I think can be appreciated and found humorous.

The CISSP exam is like studying for a certification exam on doors.

Not everyone needs to be certified. If you just merely use doors, most likely you don’t need to be certified. But if you install doors-especially unusual doors, or if you wish to design doors-especially with specific purposes in mind, you may want to prepare and pass the door exam and get door certified.

Certification has advantages. Being door certified will tell the world that you are qualified on all things related to doors-hinges, knobs, the door-y part. Just by having the certification good things can happen to you, you may have more opportunities. The certification could open many new and exciting doors.

Experience is essential. Let’s say you’ve been studying one of the bodies of concentration, the garage door domain. Well, if you have installed a garage door before then you will be able to relate and bring something experiential to the exam. If you install garage doors for a living then you probably will have no problems with this domain. If you design garage doors, their installation and write documentation and are in charge of sales, well then you can consider yourself an expert on the garage door domain and you will have very little problems with this subject on the exam. Your experience will help you with questions regarding spring sizes and radio frequencies. You should memorize sizes and frequencies, but there won’t be any questions related to that on the final exam. The question on the final exam will be something like what is the worst type of garage doors opener to use around bombs. You won’t know the answer 100%, but your experience should help you narrow it down to an educated guess.

Some questions are designed to trick you. You have to immerse yourself into the (ISC)2 world. Let’s say you get a question from the farm door domain.


You have to know what color the barn door is supposed to be in the (ISC)2 farm.

The question is what color should a barn door be? You’ve narrowed the answers to “Red” and “Red & White”. Well, in reality a barn door can be whatever color the farmer wishes it to be, but you have to know what color the barn door is supposed to be in the (ISC)2 farm, er, I mean world. The question also may be negatively worded, like: The color of barn doors is essential to the function of the entire farm, not just the barn. Which of the following colors is the worst color to use on a barn door: A Red, B White, C, Black, D Brown. Of course the answer is brown. However, none of the practice tests will explain why the correct answer is most correct and the others are righter, just that D is the best answer. Shon Harris will have had a 3-minute segment on the color of barn doors which starts out, “Now, what is a barn door? We’ve talked about that before. The color of barn doors are essential to the function of the entire farm, not just the barn…” And some smart dude from India submitted the question. If he can get the color right then you should too. Duh. Moron.

Study deep. You may have a clear understanding between the different types of opaque doors used in residential, commercial, industrial and high-security settings both internal and external. You may understand the different types of glass used in internal sliding patio doors, external restaurant drive-thru doors, 1980 computer monitors, the 12-inch by 12 inch glass used in oatmeal factory doors, and the bullet-proof plastic used in jails. You may understand the purpose and the placement of the sticker that states: “THIS DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED DURING BUSINESS HOURS’ and understand the history of why there was no business before the creation of the sticker. But the question on the final exam will be what is the best type of opaque material to use in airplane cockpit sliding doors while flying in areas that are highly populated with penguins. The answer will have to do with cold temperatures, the number of drinks served on a transatlantic flight and how many passengers breath through their nose. However, the answers will reflect this.

I am still waiting for the results of the exam. I feel pretty calm about it. Hopefully I got enough right to pass!


I Believe in EVOlution

It is time to come clean, come out, shout to the heavens.  It has been awhile since I’ve known and I just can’t keep it to myself anymore.  There are folks who have certain preferences and I have recently switched mine.  So here goes.

Of course I am talking about my new Sprint 4G HTC EVO Android phone.  Duh.  I’ve had the phone for about 2 weeks now.  Here is a quick summary:  BEST.  PHONE.  EVER.  PERIOD.  OK, thanks for reading.  Until next time, drive safe, good night, kiss the kids.

More?  OK, you got it.  There is a lot of info, I tried to put it in chunks for you.

Why Such a Fancy Phone?
I am all about taking full advantage of technology that I have access to.  I don’t

I want to use the phone for good!

want to have a super cool phone just to show it off or as a status symbol.  I want to be more productive, better informed, entertained, I want it to do my laundry, and cook etc.  The days of using a mobile phone primarily for verbal conversations are over.  Heck, one-on-one communication isn’t the only thing phones can do, they can take pictures, offer GPS navigation and weather conditions for traveling (not to mention flight and traffic info), even take your heart rate, yep, I’ll get to that in a bit.

Image representing HTC as depicted in CrunchBase

HTC makes great phones.

Switching to the Other Team
I have had a Windows-based Pocket PC phone for years, starting with the PPC 6700 (Qualcomm/UTCStarcom who became HTC) and upgraded to the PPC 6800 (Sprint’s HTC Mogul).  HTC makes great phones.   The new Microsoft Windows Mobile 7.0 is coming out soon; I heard it can sync to XBOX Live, which is kinda cool I guess.  It was a pretty big decision for me to switch from Windows Mobile to Android.  Another switch:  No slide-out keyboard!  I was really worried about giving up a slide-out keyboard, so far it has been pretty good, I changed to a different keyboard program, and I am getting used to it.  I miss it, but I’m adapting. 

The Basics
The HTC EVO Android is a communication powerhouse.  Phone calls, text messaging, and email are the bare basics of any modern phone.  The Evo does all those things perfectly, but then steps it up.  The biggest complaint my wife and boss have about the Palm Pre is that it is difficult to make a call.  In the Evo, phone calls are extremely easy to make.  Contacts automatically integrate with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.  For instance, any of my contacts that were missing pictures acquires the Facebook pic (keys in on matching email address).  It logically combines contact databases from any email account you set up.  Text messaging is a breeze with the on-screen keyboard.  All of this is pretty basic to most modern smart phones.

EVO Evolution
EVO and Android 2.2 Froyo OS is definitely the next evolution in smart phones.  The EVO is the first 4G phone on the market.  HTC has the largest screen on the market (4.3 inches) that some folks may find too big, I love it.  The EVO comes with a front-facing and back-facing camera, that’s right, 2 cameras; only a handful of phones have this-They can be used to video chat with Skype or Qik. The cameras can also be used as a webcam (although I am still working n that).  Although tethering  (Internet through the phone’s data connection) isn’t new the EVO phone will wirelessly tether and serve as a WiFi hotspot (for free if you root the phone).  Android takes a very clever approach to profiles called “scenes”.  Just like you can have profiles on a computer where the icons and backgrounds look and feel completely different, HTC uses scenes.  Say you want to configure your phone so that when you turn it on it has nothing but news and weather apps and widgets or just game apps and widgets, then just create different customizable scenes.  Another cool thing that is unique to the Evo, it has a kick stand that allows the phone to be propped up-in case you just want to stare in awe at the awesomeness of the Evo or I suppose you can watch movies.

Oh Em Gee (Goodness)
The Evo and Android have many super cool things that will make your jaw drop:  pictures, videos, social networking, GPS Navigation, flashlight, FM radio.  The Evo will wirelessly stream HD content to a compatible big-screen TV over WiFi-that’s cool!  One of the first things that I used the phone for was to read QR Codes. QR Codes use a technology that is just taking off:  A QR Code is a bar code that can be scanned using your camera phone and a QR Code Reader (free software installed on phone). You can easily create QR codes that when scanned takes you to a website or movie or asks you if you want to add a contact or displays text or adds a calendar event to your phone and more.  Bar-code readers can also be used to scan products off the shelf at a store to find the cheapest local pricing.  Here are what QR codes look like:

More info:
Here are a couple of QR Code generator sites: &

Proprietary vs. Open-Source Software
I gave up my Windows Mobile phone for the Android-based Evo.  There are other smart phone platforms out there.  Blackberrys or “crackberry’s” have come a long way and are becoming an internationally used phone and are great for business use.  My wife and boss have the Palm Pre that is always connected to the Internet and constantly keeping you up-to-date.  But really, in the smart phone arena Android and iPhone are the 2 major competitors right now fighting for dominance.  The biggest fundamental difference between the iPhone OS (operating system) and the Android OS is the concept of open-source verses proprietary.  The iPhone (and the mobile OS for Mindows Mobile, Blackberry & Palm Pre) uses a proprietary or closed OS; they don’t share their precious source code and they make the public pay to use their software that they worked long and hard to create.  By contrast, Android takes the Unix and Linux approach-the open-source approach:  Make the source code freely available, let anyone develop software, let anyone improve on what has been created before.  If you find a flaw, there is a community to report it to, a community to collaborate with to fix it, and a community to share the results, everyone wins.  Successful example:  Ubantu for Linux.

There’s an Evo App for That
I have a couple of co-workers who have the iPhone AND THEY LOVE IT and are fiercely loyal to Apple (something that Apple has done EXTREMELY well).  And I can understand why, the iPhone looks great, functions VERY intuitively and hey, there really is an app for everything.  Say you’re at a restaurant and you can’t quite remember the name or artist of a song that’s playing overhead, hold your iPhone up and it will listen and give you the info…an app for everything.  Although it is true that there are more apps for the iPhone than there are for Android, keep in mind that the iPhone has had a couple of years head start.  One thing that the Evo will do that the iPhone will not:  Wirelessly sync to iTunes.  Again, the Apple iPhone OS is an example of a closed or proprietary operating system.  If you are a software developer and you want to make an app for the iPhone (or Microsoft Mobile, Blackberry, Palm Pre) first you are only going to have limited access to how the operating system works and second EVERY app has to go through an approval process for the app to be added to iTunes for “legal” distribution.  The Android OS is completely open, transparent and available.  This means that the source code to the OS is not only completely available, it is also free, I easily found the Software Development Kit and found instructions that encourage you to root the phone!  So anyone, anywhere can create an app.  And the USER community decides if it is useful, if it is safe, if it works well, etc.  I have some pretty awesome applications.  I am addicted to the game, Robo Defense.  Here is a short list of other (free) apps worth mentioning:

  • The Weather Channel (Pulls updates from the Internet)
  • Compass & Leveler
  • KeePass for Android (Password keeper)
  • Pandora (Streaming Internet Radio)
  • SkyFire (Internet browser)
  • Youtube, Google, Facebook
  • Barcode Scanner (uses camera to scan bar codes and QR Codes)
  • Navigator (uses GPS to verbally communicate directions)
  • Instant Heart Rate (Uses the camera and measures oxygen saturation change in your blood.  How cool is that?)

Geeky Stats (Deep Breath, There’s Lots)

  • 4.3-inch Touchscreen WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
  • 1 GHz Snapdragon™ processor
  • Access to 4G speeds that are up to 10x faster than 3G
  • Android™ 2.2
  • Dual cameras (8.0 Megapixels on back 1.3 on the front)
  • 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Mobile Hotspot capable
  • Sprint TV®
  • GPS Navigation enabled
  • Digital compass (proximity and motion sensors)
  • HDMI port
  • Web browsing capable
  • Email capable
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB
  • Voice activated dialing
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Supports multiple simultaneous users
  • Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT)
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

More pics:

The Evo comes with a 8GB micro SD card; a bigger card can be used.  It comes with a mini USB cable that plugs into a wall charger.  I have an Otter Box protective shell that the Sprint store sold me,  I love it has a rubber inside and a plastic shell on the outside.  AND it comes with a screen protector.  I have yet to get a carrying case.  A headset or earbuds are needed for the FM radio.

The Bad

There are a few legitimate criticisms.  The battery life is terrible-I have to charge it whenever I am near an outlet, however, unlike the iPhone, the battery is replaceable and there is an extended battery available.  Battery life is MUCH better if you turn off all the extra networks and kill the programs that run in the background.  Although Android 2.1 offered a fix, Android 2.2 Froyo cannot play .wav files (yet), yeah, I don’t get it either.  Some say it is too big, (guffaw) I say there is no such thing!  The 8GB Micro SD card is under the freaking battery…so you have to take the phone out of the case, carefully pry the back off, dig out the battery, unlock the card (whew) and finally pull out the micro SD card.  It is also fair to mention that my boss’s boss is on his 3rd phone, but I keep asking around and that is definitely not the norm.

In Touch with your Inner Geek
Lastly it is worth mentioning that the Android is completely customizable.  This appeals to many user’s inner Geek.  I have mentioned rooting and this is something that advanced users love.  It is sorta like jailbreaking, except it is totally acceptable, folks just need to be more of an advanced user to understand the implications.  If you want to delete apps that come “standard” with the phone you can.  I have already found some ROM sites.  A ROM is a customized “loadset” or image for the phone.  There are tons of advanced geeky stuff that can be done with Android 2.2.  I never thought I’d give up Windows Mobile and a slide-out keyboard, but I’m sure glad I did.  It is the best phone I have ever owned.  It is big enough to not need a slide-out keyboard.  I constantly had to reset my Windows Mobile phone, I have yet to reset my Evo.  Many people won’t be able to handle the full awesomeness of the HTC Evo and Android 2.2-the combination of the hardware and software is a perfect marriage.  The Evo is a HUGE home run for Sprint.


More useful links:

Powered by ScribeFire.

I hope to write more about QR codes in the near future…Stay tuned!

My First High School Football Game

I went to my first high school football game last night.  My twins and I went to the Gardner Edgerton vs. Blue Valley West football game.

A Highschool American Football game

My first high school football game ever.

Catch that:  It was my first high school football game ever.  Yep, ever.

Here comes the understatement:  I hated my high school experience.  It was just…awful and painful.  I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t a jock, I wasn’t a brain, I wasn’t part of the drama club or chorus, I wasn’t an AV nerd, I wasn’t in the chess club.  I wasn’t in to art, cars, pep, hemp, computers, yearbook, newsletter, video games, math, meth, smokes, goth, debate, (deep breath), shop, science, government, cheer, beer, steer (ha, cowboy), dance, history…or anything else high school-related.  I never supported my high school’s sport teams.  Go Cougars, yeah, whatever.

What was I into?  I was into God.  A church geek, a Bible thumper, a Jesus freak, a righteous rocker, a religious retard.  OK, maybe that last one was overstating it a bit.  Although it wasn’t a clique, it was still a persecuted and discriminated group (of one?)  to be in.  I was alienated and ostracized.  I admit I brought some of it on myself.  I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, but I did have a few close buddies.

My high-school years weren’t all bad, like I said, I was a church geek.  When I was at church with my youth-group friends life was perfect.  Our youth group was full of kids, it usually had 30 to 50 teens from several different high schools!  I had friends who looked up to me, friends who loved me and took care of me, friends who helped me grow up, friends who are still the best people in my life.   And leaders that cared about many different aspects of my life.  At church I was popular.  At church I was a drama and chorus geek!  That’s right, I sang and acted-at church!  Heck, I even skateboarded, that counts as a sport right?

My high school years are far, far behind me, but my twins’ high school years have just begun. Four fresh years ahead.   I was very impressed with the “meet the teachers’ night” message and presentations.  There are so many opportunities for students to be successful and prepare for life and college.  And I really want my twins to have better opportunities than me.  A college education without college loans would be a great start.  In addition, an education that develops marketable skills that keep their interest that allow them to give their family better opportunities would be…well, perfect.

Christ is still a most important part of our lives.  We are attending a different Nazarene church that has a thriving youth group.  The twins are making friends, volunteering and hopefully developing a relationship with Christ.

We thought that high school football games would be something we could do together.

My first-ever high school football game was everything I expected it to be, lots of loud rivalry, colorful team spirit, disrespectful kids and, foul-mouthed adults.  I felt incredibly out of place.  But the twins got to hang out and make new friends and fit in.

The #8 Jags fell to the #2 Trailblazers 49-7.

TED Talk: Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world

How I Feel About Swear Words, Goshdarnit.

There is a fine balance, maybe even an art, between professional, appropriate language and emotional, culturally relevant vernacular that communicates with force and clarity. And, heck, sometimes swearing at inappropriate or odd times is funny, it just is!

Parental Advisory: Explicit Semantics!

I swear entirely too much. Most of the time it is when no one is around or when it is somewhat appropriate but totally shocking to hear from me so the attempt is at humor. And sometimes it is with my family when I am mad, frustrated or in a heated argument. When I am around people who I know don’t swear or don’t believe in it I check myself and when I am around people who do swear, I tend to swear more. I suppose it is a bit hypocritical.

I used to take the stand that swear words were totally wrong and unchristian. Although that is mostly true, there are many times in the Bible where a case can be made that the speaker is using the equivalent of swear words-yep, Jesus and Paul cussed! Or at least used very colorful language.

On one hand swear words have become a very common practice within the cultural vernacular. OMG and WTF are used with very little thought-I’m sure because they are abbreviations and the actual inappropriate swear word isn’t spelled out, and therefore much more acceptable. And on the other hand it is an indication that one needs to expand their vocabulary and improve their articulation skills. Some people swear because they just don’t know what better words to use. However, sometimes (on the third hand?) there isn’t a better word to use than an ugly, jarring swear word.

My friend Joe H. made up a swear word! That’s right, he created a brand new vocabulary word! Frell. He says that although some people may assume that it is a combination of a couple of different swear words or assume that he can’t make up his mind as to what swear word he is trying to get his brain to process, that it really doesn’t mean anything but sounds awesome! I mean what the frell?! yeah, I like it.

Powered by Plinky

A Funny Thing Happened to Me on My Way to Resetting a Password

Me: I had originally posted this a couple of years ago.  I took it down and after hem hawing about the “security-ness” of it and after editing I am now posting it again-thus the old, old comments.  It is a funny story!

I hope you can follow this…

Part of my job is resetting user’s passwords for the security system that I support. End users submit a ticket that has basic info in it including an ID that is unique. Users use this ID as their login to the system that I support-as well as many other systems, but my system uses a unique password. Most users that submit a ticket to have their password reset have attempted to log in many, many times and just keep entering the wrong password.  We’ve all been there, we forget it, guess wrong, whatever. No problem.

So I get a ticket across my desk late in the day. When the user was asked for their ID they put something like, “sweet06” or something. Obviously this was their password. Since I didn’t have a clue what the user’s ID was (their login) I had to reject the ticket.  In the notes I stated that I needed their login-not their password.

So she calls into our group. I answer, she explains that she doesn’t understand why the ticket was rejected.   So I say that I need her ID.


“Your login,” I clarify.

Uncomfortable silence.

“Not your password.”

“OHHH,” she says, “You mean the thing on the first line”.

Silently shaking my head while trying to control myself.

“Yes,” I say, “the thing on the first line.”



My Weirdest Pet Peeves

My biggest pet peeves involve toothpaste, bad customer service, waiting, and being late, especially to church.

Pet Peeve

There's two kinds of people in the world, those that squeeze the toothpaste correctly and those that do not. I know what you're thinking, it is similar to the whole toilet paper debate, but you're wrong. You don't use toothpaste on your bottom. Toothpaste tubes are fragile, important, they need to be treated kindly. One doesn't just grab and squeeze. NO! You squeeze from the bottom, FROM THE BOTTOM to the top. Love your toothpaste and it will love you.

When you are standing in a checkout line and the cashier and the bagger (or other server or attendant) are gossiping about their boyfriends or drama with management or WHATEVER while they completely ignore the customer, yeah, that doesn't want me to visit your store again, ever.

I went to a McDonald's years ago. The kid taking orders already had a few trays off to the side with receipts of unfilled orders. He took my order then grabbed a tray, put my receipt on the tray and slid it off to the side. He took another order and started to put the trays on the other side of his cash register. He took a few more orders and ran out of room. As he was looking around for more space I said, "why don't you try filling the orders".

When I tell (not ask) my 4-year old to "come here, please" (or to stop, stay, quiet, etc) and he looks at me, a flash of comprehension crosses his face and then he turns around and walks away, that makes me want to have one less child. It is a conscience choice to make dad mad. Sometimes my wife does it too. And my wiener dogs.

I don't know how weird it is, but one of my biggest pet peeves is being late, especially to church. It isn't because I just can't wait to go to church. It is mostly a frustration when I am involved, in other words I don't care if others are late, but I hate to be late. I look at a worship service as a whole, there is a beginning a middle and an end. I hate missing the first 10 minutes of a movie. It is like that. I hate to be late in general. I hate to keep people waiting. I just don't like to be late. The rest of my family feels differently, they site something about being fashionably late. They make stuff up like that.

I also detest waiting for someone. Not so much because they aren't on time, but because I am waiting. On them. To get there. To meet me. Soon. And they aren't there. I continually get more nervous the longer I have to wait. "Am I early?", "Am I at the wrong location?", "Are they OK?" "Did I get the day wrong?" "Are they already here?" "Am I late?" "Are they watching me make a fool out of myself waiting?" And on and on, all the while getting more fidgety, frustrated and freaked out!

Two, too and to. There and they're. You're and your. Know the proper word people, please. Otherwise it just makes you look dumb, and most of you aren't dumb. However I don't care about its and it's. I know what you mean.

What are your pet peeves?

Powered by Plinky

I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)

I don’t remember many of my dreams.  Dreams as in the movies that play in your brain while you are asleep, not life ambitions.  I don’t know if dreams get weirder or more real as a result of what you eat before bed.  I think popcorn triggers odd dreams for me.  I’m not too sure what I ate last night…pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans…  I did not have Electric Prunes (wink).

Dreams are weird.  One frequently recurring dream I have is about my teeth falling out!  They get loose, I mess with them and OOPS, I pull one out!  Or I make it a little looser than it should and I try to kinda shove it back into place!  I always wake up and check my teeth!  There are lots of theories out there as to the possible meaning of such dreams.  Here are a few offerings from just one of many websites, Dream Moods had these offerings:

…dreams about your teeth reflect your anxieties about your appearance and how others perceive you…”

Another rationalization for these falling teeth dreams may be rooted in your fear of being embarrassed or making a fool of yourself in some situation.”

Teeth are used to bite, tear, chew and gnaw. In this regard, teeth represent power. And the loss of teeth in your dream may be from a sense of powerlessness.

“A scriptural interpretation for bad or falling teeth indicate that you are putting your faith, trust, and beliefs in what man thinks rather than in the word of God. The bible says that God speaks once, yea twice in a dream or a vision in order to hide pride from us, to keep us back from the pit, to open our ears (spiritually) and to instruct and correct us.

Another explanation though is that when I was a kid I lost my teeth pretty late (I was a preemie).  I remember going to an Iowa wresting match and pulling out 3 teeth!  I also have skinny teeth-fragile teeth.  So who knows.

I had a dream once and I remember thinking, “I could make a book or a movie out of this one!”  It had character development, a beginning an action-packed middle and even a great twisted ending!  And it was fairly original!  I woke up, told myself that this could be it!  Smiled, fell back to sleep…and you guessed it, I never could remember it.  They say you should keep a notebook by your bed to write dreams down.

My friend in college had such weird and horrific dreams that he learned how to take control and steer his dreams!  Yeah, pretty Nightmare-on-Elm Street-ish.  I had another friend who practiced Wicca and believed that he could enter into other people’s dreams and ultimately kill them.  He used to walk up to other people and tell them what they dreamed the day before.  Weird.  I have met people (usually guys) who say they have never had a dream that they can remember.  And people (usually gals) who say they have a dream every night that they vividly remember.

My wife has nightmares fairly regularly.  Quite a few years ago she woke up one morning angry as all get out at me!  I mean she was ticked!  When I asked her what was wrong she said, “You know what you did!”  She took a shower, after she was done I asked her again and she hadn’t a clue what I was talking about!  She totally forgot the dream!  One of my twins and also my youngest has nightmares.  Corbin climbed in be last night because he had a bad dream.  I remember talking to my younger twin Keegan about a bad dream many years ago.  He was pretty little and frustratingly described that a giant “square” was chasing him.  I asked him to describe the square…it looked kinda like a mouse and had a long bushy tail…OH, a Squirrel!  Poor guy!

Why all this blogging about dreams?

I had a dream about my dad last night.  It makes me think of the first time I had a dream about my dad after he died.  It was pretty much an ordinary dream, a family visit or whatever, but somewhere in the middle of it I was chatting with my dad, and suddenly I realized that I was having a chat with my dad!  My dad who had died.  He seemed kinda oblivious to it, I mean we were having a chat!  But I knew that I had my dad back for a moment.  I knew I had something special.  And it made me smile.  And so I tired my best to savor it.  That was about the time I woke up.

I miss him much.

What’s in your dreams?


Security Software Review: KeePass Password Safe

Remember when you used to have passwords Post-It noted to your monitor?  Then you got all stealth and hid the sticky notes under your mouse pad?  Then graduated to a notebook locked up in a drawer?  And finally to a spreadsheet that has very little protection other than you have to hunt all over for it when you really need it?  Yeah, been there!  But that was “so 2009”.  We all struggle with password management, but I found an end-all, multi-security-layered solution:  KeePass Password Safe.

So here are the basic features, KeePass is FREE.  It is Open Source and OSI certified.  It is portable so it can be installed on a flash drive.  It uses real security-AES, Rijndael and the Twofish algorithms-to encrypt its password databases.  SHA-256 is used as password hash.  It has an auto-type feature.  It auto locks after a few minutes.  And it has a password generator feature!  Throw this all together and it is pretty sweet!

I installed the portable version on a USB drive and I used double authentication right away.  The program requires a master password (or one per database) and you can also create an encrypted file for the program to authenticate against.  I keep this key file on a different USB drive.  So already one must have both USB drives to use the program, a hacker would  have to brute-force the password and then figure out where the key file is to make the program usable.  I also saved a backup of the database and key file to a third USB drive that does not have the KeePass program on it.  Layered security.

First I simply added a few existing accounts to KeePass.  I use IE & Firefox at work.  I use tabs in each browser and have specific tabs open everyday in each browser.  Some are company Intranet pages and some are Internet websites.  You have to build your database in KeePass, but once you do it is very easy to use, once your mouse is at the login prompt you type a few keys (Ctrl+alt+whatever) and KeePass fires off its auto-login feature, login, tab, password, enter!  And Wham, you are logged in!  The script is customizable as well.  KeePass uses the title of the page to determine what account it should use.  KeePass also works with programs.

Have multiple Facebook accounts (hey, sometimes I just feel like a 14 year-old girl)?  No problem, highlight the account in KeePass and type Ctrl+C and the login and pass for the individual account is automatically used.  (I was kidding about the 14-year-old girl thing…really…)

I was one of the suckers who had a account that got hacked (I used to use it to store eBay pics)  And yep, the login and pass I used was pretty much the same one I used for everything!  To their credit they sent out several emails letting their users know what happened.  About this time I was testing the waters with KeePass, so I decided to step things up a bit.  I used the password-generator feature to not only create a password that was random, but it was whatever length I chose, and I had the option of mixing uppercase, lowercase, digits, underline, minus, space, special, brackets and even high ASCII characters!  How is this for ugly: Ì?:-Ôð?µg¤É;³$®7u?z??Êi¦×á_?Ñ? Or this:  붐>aG»q ?ÜT?ú-©Îç mvÀ/Reí$D?  So now I have a randomly-generated password that is ugly that I couldn’t remember it if I wanted to!  PERFECT!   KeePass saves the password as asterisks, but you can toggle to plain text if you actually wish to see the password.

The next step was to use the program as I signed up for new accounts,,,, etc.  Yeah, I’ve been messing around with online storage and picture sharing lately, but I digress.  I don’t know the passwords to any of these new sites!  But I feel secure that they are safe in KeePass!

A bonus is that you start to get a feel for how secure websites really are. limits passwords to 6 characters and only alphanumeric.  But allows 20-characters and I was able to add brackets and special characters. likes KeePass and wrote this article about KeePass plug-ins.

OK, yep, if I lose the USB drives I am kinda screwed-they are all on the same keyring (not smart).  But only until I get the backup db and file (maybe from a file sharing site?  Yes, after I use the “forgot password” button) and download the program again.  But then I will actually have a neat list of all the passwords that need to be changed, plus a password-generator to assist!

I encourage you to check out KeePass, ease into it and then THINK LAYERED SECURITY!

Kanye West Interrupts Kanye West

Kanye West interrupts CNN:
Kanye West interrupts Kanye West:
Kanye West interrupts ME!:

Here’s how:

Y’know, if you watch the link to Leno (him “interupting” himself above) Kanye sounds very remorseful!  A grown, famous, rich, powerful, man almost brought to tears out of shame and remorse…THAT is something you don’t see everyday!  HATS off to Mr West!!

New Journey and New Blog

I am staring a new journey, so I created a new blog, it just sounded like the right thing to do!

My Boss is asking me to study and pass the CISSP exam.  He is paying for me to take the exam too.  The CISSP certification is a pretty big deal.  It will mean more pay in the long run.  It is every bit as valuable as a 4-year degree.  Three team members in my network security group studied and passed the CISSP exam already.  One was my boss.  I have 10 weeks to prepare.  One week is already over.  To show my commitment, I quit my second job.  Yeah, I know right?

Read more about it here:


Viral Video: JK Wedding Entrance Dance

The wedding…

And the divorce…

The first makes me all misty-eyed every time I watch it.  How fun!  The second just makes me laugh!  HA!


Gainesville Church Displays Anti-Islam Sign-Ask them to take it down

This is a shout out to all my Christian brothers and sisters…please contact and lovingly ask them to take their hateful, anti-Islam signs down.  Spread the word (I posted to Facebook too).  The full news story is below.

What I sent:
I am a New Testament, Charismatic, Nazarene.  Please take your sign down.  The message that you send is that God hates Muslims.  If you really wish to reach out to the world then please also reach out to Muslims.  Love and accept Muslims into your church to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ so that they can be transformed.  Please don’t alienate them.  Please be a seeker of peace and reconciliation.


clipped from

Gainesville Church Displays Anti-Islam Sign

Posted: 7:22 am EDT July 9,
Updated: 7:28 am EDT July 9,

A Gainesville, Florida church has a shocking anti-Islam sign on its front lawn and says it is going to put up more.

The sign at the Dove World Outreach Center reads “Islam is of the devil.”

City code enforcement says the case is still under investigation and the sign does not violate any ordinances. However, residents say they want the sign to come down.

“I think it’s all stereotypical about the whole Iraq war. People think all Muslims are like that and we’re not,” said Gaby Alim, Muslim resident.

Someone tried to spray paint over the sign, but the church quickly fixed it. The church is already making plans to put up even more signs.

  blog it

Plan B

I love listening to NPR’s This American Life.  Here is an expert from an episode I recently listened to entitled Plan B:

There’s the thing you plan to do, and then there’s the thing you end up doing. Most of us start off our lives with some Plan A which we abandon…switching to a Plan B, which becomes our life.

I had a Plan A a very long time ago.  I am not only on Plan B, but C, D and maybe even E, F & G.

My Plan A did NOT include:

  • Working for a local telephone company
  • Having to work a second job
  • Constant and persistent collection calls from the student loan folks
  • Renting instead of buying
  • Having my check garnished


Chad Miller – Losing a Friend

Chad Miller and his brother Chris were kayaking last week on a swollen Brandywine Creek in PA when they went over a 4-ft dam and drowned.  They found Chris’ body the same day, and found Chad’s body a few days later.  It is a great loss.  Chad was a dear friend from my teenage years.  We were in the same youth group at Oakland Church of the Nazarene in Cedar Rapids, IA.  I haven’t talked to him face-to-face in over 15 years and still the loss is great.  It is also a milestone of sorts.  Besides my grandparents and my dad, Chad is the closest loss that I have yet to experience.  It is a milestone I wish I would have never reached.

There are quite a few links to news stories about the accident and links to memorials, but here is a short list:

Oakland Church had a huge youth group.  Karen Phillips was the youth pastor.  Her dad, Gene Phillips, was the Sr. Pastor.  Tom Darland was my Sunday School teacher and is the current youth pastor.  We must have had 75-125 kids go through the youth group during my jr. high and sr. high years.  At any one time the group was about 30-40 teens.  We were a very close-knit family of friends.  We took the church and youth group extremely serious.  We met Sunday mornings, evenings and Wednesday nights-basically whenever the church doors were open.  There were about a half dozen high schools in the area that had kids that met in our youth group.  The youth group was everything to me.  I had a few close friends at school, but for the most part I was a nobody, a social outcast, a bit of a religious geek.  And I didn’t care much about the social scene there.  But at youth group, well that was different!  I had friends, many, many friends.  I was popular.  I was a leader.  I made life-long friends.  We went on youth and mission trips, choir tours and service projects.  Youth group was my life.  Life was good.  And Chad was a big part of that.

I first became friends with Chad very shortly after he joined the youth group.  We found out that we shared a love for Bill Cosby’s old stand up records!  We recited entire sketches together, laughing our butts off!  That was the beginning our our friendship.

Everyone in the youth group loved Chad.  He was smart, funny and crazy!  Even though Chad was a year behind me, we all looked up to him and wanted to be just like Chad.  He skateboarded, we skateboarded.  He did crazy things with his hair, we did crazy things to our hair!  He rebelled, we rebelled!  Chad had blue hair for a bit, and I think Kool-aid red too!  As in he used kool-aid!  I remember one mission trip to a native-American Indian reservation near Wounded Knee.  We were really roughing it, no air-conditioned houses, no running water except for a hose, no hot water.  We stayed in a couple of shacks and tents.  Chad’s sister, Amy, braided Chad’s long hair.  They were long thick braids.  One less thing for Chad to worry about.  On this trip we were able to get away to a community pool to cool off and to clean off.  So we’re standing there, Chad with his crazy hair, and we’re talking and there’s these little kids gathering around Chad and just staring at Chad’s hair.  It was like the world stopped and they were completely enamored with Chad’s head!  So Chad carried on the conversation trying to ignore the kids.  But they just stood there.  So finally Chad changed his attention to the kids-he looked at them, acknowledging them all around.  But they just stood there.  Finally Chad is making eye contact, staring back, but the kids aren’t looking at his eyes, it is that crazy hair!  Finally Chad had to say something to break their gaze and they finally scampered away!  FUNNY, FUNNY STUFF!  We laughed and laughed and laughed.

There was a graveside service and a memorial service yesterday.  I was fortunate to be able to travel up to Iowa and attend.  There were so many people there.  Mostly family-Chad came from a HUGE family.  But there were so many friends there too.  And I got to spend time with a few of them swapping stories and remembering the good ol’ days of youth.  Many laughs and many tears.

The last time I saw Chad face-to-face he seemed like he was still finding himself, still figuring out God and the church and his life.  He didn’t seem to be that close to God at the time.  I can’t tell you how thrilled and blessed I was a few years ago when I first discovered that Chad was a minister!

I miss Chad’s blue hair! I miss his huge smile! I miss his laugh. Many old friends are mourning this great loss. All the stories I read, all the articles, comments and memories, first it’s interesting because they are either from Chad’s point of view or Chris’. Chris was just the younger brother to me, but I do remember that Chad loved Chris very much.  There are many from Chad’s church that offered very kind words and fond memories.

There is a Facebook page that is dedicated to the memory of Chris and Chad.  It has been up for about a week now.  There are over 190  embers.  Most of the members have funny names with funny symbols.  Chris was a teacher at English First International teaching English and International Affairs.  All of these foreign students offering their condolences and memories.  Chris was exciting and fun.  He tried to teach them baseball!  He introduced them to marshmallows.  So there is a pic of him with a marshmallow, he looks like he is in a classroom with his students.  The marshmallow is on fire!  I don’t know if there was a Sterno there or what.  Roasting marshmallows in class with his students.  That is a love for your job right there!  I also read that he made a mean “better than sex Chocolate cake”.  One of the stories that a student tells is of one of the last classes that Chris taught, he was making a case about true love, he was explaining that he had found it.  Chris leaves a wife behind, Nicole.  Nicole and Chris made a 6-week journey down the Mississippi in a home-made boat that he and his dad, Paul, made!  That is a lust for life!

These stories are amazing and they focus on Chad or Chris.  All of the kind words, all of the remembered stories, all of the impacted lives! Chad and Chris made a real impact on their world. A positive impact. An impact for the kingdom of God. They touched lives and were loved by many. Know this: They were blessed. They blessed others. God used Chad & Chris. They lived life. With a purpose! And many, many people miss them both very much. And we are thinking and praying for all of the family.

It is faith that keeps me from falling into depression or dwelling on the sadness of the loss.  I know that one day I will see Chad again.  We’ll catch up.  We’ll recite Bill Cosby!  We’ll ponder theology.

Dear Heavenly Father, please accept Chris and Chad with open arms.  Please keep them until we arrive. Be with Amy and her family, Paul and Ellie, Nicole, extended family, close friends, students and parishioners and all who were touched by Chad and Chris’ life. Let them know that you love them. Give them your peace and your comfort that only you can give those that mourn and weep. Amen.

I am a better person for knowing Chad and the Miller Family.

Two side notes.  One regarding communication.  I was told about the tragedy from my good buddy David who pastors in Iowa-he too grew up in the youth group with Chad.  He had tried to call me but I was unavailable.  He finally broke the news to me through Facebook’s IM (instant message).  I informed our old youth pastor through Facebook email.  There is an “In loving memory…” page for Chad and Chris on Facebook.  I was able to chat with friends and let them know about the tragedy and also let them know how much I appreciated them-all through Facebook.  Also regarding the Internet I was able to track and read most of the articles from a Google search on “Chad Miller” and focusing on the Google search news tab.  There were many, many articles.  I was also able to directly email one of the reporters and share my thoughts and memories of Chad-and he even published a few thoughts.  Instant communication is amazing.  The funeral home posted a video and had a place to offer condolences.

Second is a lesson learned.  Tell your friends you love and appreciate them.  Thanks Dyanna for pointing this out and then practicing it.  Life is too short.  Don’t wait or take your friends for granted.  Yeah, it is a little sappy, but where would we be without our friends?  I’m gonna do this.  I am doing this.  I have looked up a few more friends (mostly by using Facebook-I may be a little addicted) and told them how much I love them and appreciate them and miss them and will always fondly remember the wonderful times I have had with them.

I love you guys and gals!


Proud of My Twins

A few years ago, when Kaleb & Keegan were only 9 or 10 they decided to form their own partnership business!  Minnie and I had settled into a Sunday afternoon nap with our little ones.  We had moved into our duplex out of our apt.  But we did not own a lawnmower-we would borrow the neighbor’s and buy gas.  So while we were sleeping Kaleb & Keegan borrowed the mower and started their own afternoon business! 

When we awoke they had made some money, the lawns were trimmed and there was even weed whacking going on!  We do not own a weed whacker either-they had borrowed that too-it took both of them to use the heavy gas-powered trimmer-but they got the jobs done! They were inspired, motivated and self-sufficient.

I have been trying to get them to do the same every summer since-to start their own lawn care business.  A few weeks ago Keegan confided that he did not know what to charge.  So I asked him how much he wanted to make an hour and how many lawns could he and his brother finish in an hour?  I explained that I make about $10/hour at my part-time job-that if he wanted the same and mowed 2 lawns in an hour that he should charge $5.00/yard.  If he and his brother both wanted $10/hour then they should charge $10/yard.

Motivation is key with teens!  Last weekend they wanted a video game, they rolled out our 2 lawnmowers (one was free off of and canvassed the neighborhood. They came home asking for a ride to Wal-Mart to buy their game!  They not only met their goal and purchased their game, but they also made a couple of regular customers!

I have to say that makes me very proud!  I want them to be creative.  To think outside the box.  To be self-sufficient.  To think of ways to make money on their own.  I don’t want them to have to rely on anyone-not me, not mom, not the government, etc.!  I also want them to learn how to do business!  How to run a business, to count costs, to interact with people, to be fair, to be responsible, to help others, to be independent, etc.  Heck they have even biked up to Wal-Mart on their own.  They are really growing up!  Much too fast.

Later in the evening I asked them if they wanted to step it up a bit and order free business cards from  They did!  And they even ordered cheap t-shirts that had a matching logo and info.

The Twins
Twins for the Price of One
Lawn Care Enthusiasts is a pretty cool site.  They are known for their free (just pay for shipping) business cards; color, on card stock and with their logo on the back.  A few bucks more to remove the logo on the back.  They had lots of other matching stuff such as hats, stationary, post-it notes, return labels and even a cheap but simple matching website for $5/month!  Next time I think we plan to spend just a few more bucks and get a frequent customer print on the back of the card-buy 10 mowings and get a free snow removal free!  Thank goodness we have a snow blower!  250 business cards and 2 t-shirts shipped for under $20!  Not bad!  So they will feel legit, look professional and be more inspired! 

Way to go guys.  I love you guys and am proud of you.  Now go make daddy some money!


Remembering Memorial Day

The topic for the Friday KMBZ Shanin & Parks Show focused on Memorial Day.  They were asking if Americans just thought of it as a holiday away from work and a time to relax and have fun, grill out and camp or if Americans really took time out to remember.  I called in and was the first caller on the subject.

I explained that I was just another person who took a holiday off and didn’t think too much about the meaning.  But that changed on Memorial Day 2005.  I was camping with my family in the back yard of a friend’s house when my father called.  He told me he was on his way to my house and that he should be in town later in the week.  We were all looking very forward to spending time together.  Later that evening I received a phone call from my aunt-she was traveling with my father, they were both recent retirees.  My father was feeling ill and laid down and never awoke.  He had a heart attack.  My father’s passing changed my personal outlook of Memorial Day.  I also went on to explain how blogging has been a great emotional outlet for me; I have blogged about my father’s passing and also about losing a set of fraternal twins to a miscarriage.

They (Shanin & Parks) were very kind to let me go first and let me speak without interruption.  It was a good call.

So on Memorial Day I take time out to remember.  To remember my father most of all.  But to remember those that have passed away-not just military veterans, but friend, family, etc.

I hope your Memorial Day was relaxing, but I also hope you spent time reflecting.


Name Fail

My friend wants to name her child: Gage Iley-Joseph. Or, get ready, G.I. Joe. And she is completely serious.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a House

Y’know when you watch a movie and then you watch it again later and it takes on a new meaning?  I re-watched Fun with Dick and Jane:

An update of the 1977 comedy, Dick and Jane are living the good life. That is until Dick (Jim Carrey) loses his job shortly after getting a promotion that convinced his wife Jane (Téa Leoni) to quit her job. The money is gone, and the house ends up in foreclosure. Dick decides to turn to a hilarious life of crime to pay the bills with his lovely wife by his side. Then together they decide it’s time to steal back what Former CEO Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) had stolen from them.

The first thing to go is their lawn-the sod gets repossessed.  The electricity gets shut off.  They bathe in the neighbor’s sprinkler system.  They downgrade to a POS compact car.  It was a really funny movie a couple of years ago.  Now it is an uncomfortably funny movie.  You don’t have to look too far to see the effects of the current financial crisis.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the financial crisis for a few months now.  Things are getting pretty rough.  I am in the telecom industry and work for a company that can fall apart at any moment.  And I am not alone.  I have many friends and former co-workers that are jobless.  A couple of my friends just got laid off.  A few years ago there were still jobs to be found…now it is somewhat different.

Most people, even though they live paycheck to paycheck, could survive for a few months.  But then they get hungry.  And cold.  Or hot.  And frustrated.  And depressed.  And finally desperate.  Desperate people do desperate things.

Think about it.  I mean really think about it.  What if…What if you lost your job.  Spouse loses theirs.  Interview after interview, resume after resume.  Can’t find a job.  Or worse yet the ONLY job you can find a $10.00-13.00/hr job.  Any job means no unemployment checks.  Or unemployment runs out.  No insurance.  $10.00 per hour times 40 hours a week times 2 (mom & dad) equals…about $40,000 a year.  That’s about 75% to 50% of what most of my friends at Embarq make in a year (with both working).  Could your family make it if you lost 25-50% of your income?  Even those jobs will fade when folks can’t afford to eat out or remodel or whatever.

One of my favorite radio programs, This American Life, on NPR, had an incredible episode a couple of months ago entitled, Bad Bank.  They talked about a hypothetical bank-the smallest in the world, it has the owner’s $10 and a guy’s $90-he earns 3% for storing his money.  Then the bank turns around and loans $100 to a gal at 6% for a doll house.  This is called a balance sheet.  $100 in the bank, $100 being loaned out.  The bank profits 3% interest right?  Except gal loses her job and can’t afford her doll house payments anymore.  Now the bank doesn’t have the guy’s $90 to give back.  The program stated that the top 3 banks in the US have a unbalanced balance sheet-if there was a run on those banks today they would fail.  The banks want the government to know this, but not the average person!  As a friend of mine pointed out, the FDIC insures deposits up to $100,000 right?  Correct, and who pays that?  The government, the taxpayers, you and I.  And so banks are using that argument-give us a bailout now where folks can keep their homes, or bail us out later when we crash and burn and folks are homeless.

I live on a street that is full of duplexes.  The short block has maybe 20-30 families on it.  If half of them lost their jobs to the point where they could not pay their rent/mortgage and got behind to the point where they were getting evicted…if that happened over the period of a few months they would easily get escorted off the property by the authorities-some would get deported.  And what would become of empty houses?  Where would homeless folks go?  Personally I have no family in the area.  I have no friends with extra houses in the back yard.  But what if that happened over the period of a couple of weeks?  And multiply that times the number of neighborhoods around the city.  It is a much different picture.  There would not be enough police to force folks off the properties.   There would be folks who refused to leave.  There would be desperation, theft, anger, violence.  Things could get way out of control very fast.  Evicting squatters would be at the bottom of the list and the least of anyone’s worries.

OK, here it is, here is the heart of my thoughts:  What is the role of the church in these financially stressful times?
Does the church encourage their congregation to uphold the law and keep the peace?  Will churches open their doors to people who are homeless?  Open soup kitchens and clothing pantries?  Offer transportation-carpools?  Treat people with dignity and respect?  Offer training?  Assistance?  Pull their monies together?  Help single moms?  Pay mortgages and rent?  Stock food pantries?  Pay for lights, gas, water, etc?  Or be in a similarly depressing state?  Will churches end up in foreclosures too?

One of my friends has been laid off-for a year.  He paid his bills with credit cards.   He is pretty upset that he did the responsible thing, went into debt and kept current and others are getting bailed out.  And what about those that took out loans that shouldn’t?  The ones that knew they could not afford it?  The ones that depended upon the banks to deny them the loans.  They should get bailed out?  Businesses should be rewarded for failing?  It doesn’t seem fair!  The responsible ones are getting punished.  That all sound reasonable…right up until you lose your job.  And you suddenly become one who shouldn’t have taken out a loan.  You become the irresponsible one.  You become the failure.  And you feel like you have no options.

I work with a guy at Home Depot (most likely a few guys like this), he has a wife and child.  He works full time and he still qualifies for federal assistance.  I mean he is doing things right!  And he still can’t make it!  He is still at poverty level.

Another friend points out that laws are man-made and that we should do what we need to do to take care of our families.  What does that mean?  Squatting?  Stealing?

Another points out that God won’t give us more than we can handle.  But I am afraid that this line of reasoning is “prosperity Gospel” and faulty.  The truth is that God will never let anything happen to us spiritually to cause us to fall from grace-to break our spirit.  I am afraid that money is another matter.  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation-not spiritually guaranteed!  Will my theology friends steer me straight?  Or back me up?

Another says let’s go, the rapture is coming, Big Daddy is gonna take us home.  However, history paints a different picture of suffering and poverty-Christians participate, and are not delivered from it.  The plague, the depression, wars, martyrs.  God’s people are continually delivered from their sins.  Just not from the pains of this world.

And I am sure the list can go on and on.  The economy isn’t really that bad…It is the worst ever.  Tax and spending is the answer or not the answer.  The President is too liberal.  The Republicans are vetoing everything.  But I don’t care about the President or our government or economists.  I care about the church.  What is the church gonna do?

Another one of my friends attends a church who wishes to move from a temporary setting (mobile church-they set up each week in a school or some sort of facility, then tear it all down and store it during the week) to an actual building.  The pastor is continually asking for money for this endeavor.  My friend asks if that is the responsible thing to do?  The pastor is encouraging folks not to get “distracted” by the environment around them.  My friend is a little uneasy about that.  He sees people around him having a rough time.  He doesn’t want them to become a distraction that gets ignored!  He is considering giving to a charity.

What happens when folks stop paying tithe?  Not because they don’t want to, or because they don’t have any money left after paying for food.  But what if they don’t have money.  Any money!  What if they don’t have food?  No place to live?  No gas to travel?

I know it is a depressing and bleak picture.  I hope it is all crazy talk.  On one hand I say that things will never get that bad.  On the other hand I see layoffs and low-paying jobs.

But…what if?  And what will Christ’s church do?  I hope pastors are paying attention.  I hope they are thinking about preparing for a possible crisis.  I hope Christians are thinking outside of their consumer society.  Outside of their immediate family-you might not think you have extra room…but your friends may be eying your garage or basement soon.  Heck, I might be eying your basement!

I would like to know what you think.

Here’s what I think I think:

The church has a real opportunity to be the church.  The real test will be to see Christians taking in other Christians (and non-Christians!).  Families!  Will churches open their doors to the poor?  The homeless?  The filthy?  The non-Christian?  I hope so.

Will Christians do the right thing?  I don’t know what I would do if I was facing eviction.  I don’t know where I would go or what I would do.  I have no family in the area.  I don’t know who I would feel remotely comfortable asking for a place to stay-for a family of 6.  Or a handout.  Or a ride to work.  I would really want to stay and become a squatter in my rented duplex-my landlords have a real nice house…until they need to downgrade to my place.  I hope I embrace legal and peaceful options.  I hope I remember who is my Father.  I hope I remember you, my friends and offer to help you.

Will Cristian landlords reduce rent?  Will Christian business owners take a decrease in pay?  Will Christians continue to sacrificially give?  Will Christian landlord evict families?  Well, these are difficult ones that have no easy answers.

I hope most of these questions will not have to be answered-especially by me.


PS:  Please send pics of your basement.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Although I did not blog a great deal this past year, I have been reading many blogs-mostly my friends’-that have challenged me and have helped me grow.  There are links to those blogs along the sides here, but a special thanks to Pastor Donnie, Pastor Monte Asbury, Joe Kumor, Joe Hays, Dave Brush & Bill Marty (also a shout out to Ben and Irene DeLong).

So here is a quick look back to 2008 and a possible peek at the future.

Looking Back at 2008

2008 was one of the fastest years for me.  It seemed to go by at light speed.  I am sure that working 2 jobs had a lot to do with it.  Minnie and the twins have been in drama classes and performances this past semester and that has also contributed to a very busy schedule.

Transportation was another issue that contributed to business as well as financial strain.  One minivan has had the engine replaced, the other had the transmission rebuilt and also had the head gasket replaced.  And now my minivan needs radiator work.  Fun times.  It is hard for us when we only have one vehicle.

It has been over a year since we entered into the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program.  My check is being garnished to pay off student loan debt, but the amount that is being garnished doesn’t even cover the interest.  Our church now offers online tithing, and we are taking advantage of that-It isn’t even a conscious choice, tithe just automatically gets taken out of our check.  So we are regularly tithing, we feel pretty good about this.

I finally signed up with Facebook this past spring, which is likely a reason for less blogging.  I had never done any of the social networking sites, so it was all new to me.  I have been able to reconnect with friends from college, high school and even elementary school.  I joined a group dedicated to the alumni of my old youth group-that has been especially fun.  I have been able to better stay in touch with close friends and have had some relationships strengthen.  On the down side I am addicted to a couple of the games-Mob Wars in particular.  Join my mob, feed my addiction.

Daycare has been a pretty jolting change this month.  All of our children have been with the same daycare provider-so for over 12 years we have been with the same babysitter.  Earlier this month without notice, our daycare provider announced that she is closing the daycare, is divorcing her husband, moving out of her house and moving in with her lesbian friends.  Not much more to say about that.  We found a new daycare and will start in a few days.

Looking Forward

I kinda agree with my friend Dave B about not going on and on about new year resolutions.  Now having said that, Minnie wanted a Wii Fit and I found one at the very last minute.  I feel fat.  I look fat.  Heck, I probably smell, and sound fat too.  I would really like to lose weight.  Maybe I will this year.  It would be a very healthy move.

Other than that I have no major issues that I wish to address.  Notice I didn’t say that I have no major issues.  I have lots of issues.  I just wish to ignore them.

But that isn’t totally true.  I mean I am at a pretty healthy spot in my life.  Physically, spiritually, economically, relationally and emotionally I am pretty good.  Same thing for the rest of my family.  Of course there is always room to grow, to love better, to worship without barriers, to serve more, to rest more, to eat better, etc.  And I think most of the time my family is progressing on that endless journey.  Joe Kumor is our small group pastor and that has been a very healthy thing for our family.  Love you guys-had a blast ringing in the year on New Years Eve!

Kaleb and Keegan turn 13 this month.  Teenagers.  Yeah, pretty big deal.  They have been practicing their teen attitudes for awhile now.  But overall they are great kids.  They are healthy, doing well in school and have pretty good attitudes most of the time.  They have great friends and they have a zeal for life.  Not to mention that they own the Nintendo Wii and DS Lite.  Love you guys!  Remember the XBOX 360 is mine, so be good or you won’t be able to play Guitar Hero World Tour any more.  Just sayin’.

Calvin turned 5 last month and Corbin turns 3 at the end of this month.  Everyone is growing up.

And that has been the biggest awakening of all during 2008 that I can take into 2009-I am getting older.  We are all getting older.  All my boys are growing up, becoming young boys and on their way to young men.  Kaleb and Keegan will never get that tree house I promised them if we ever bought a house.  Minnie (turns 40 this year) and I are approaching *GULP* MID-LIFE.   And that just seems weird.  Is half of my life really over?  Most likely.

So I suppose that it is time for a mid-life crises.  I am open to suggestions.


And Who is My Neighbor

Brand New Adorable Puppies!

On September 5th 2008 our female, miniature wiener dog, Izzy, gave birth to 6 healthy Puppies, 3 male and 3 female!  YEA!  Everything went perfect and all are doing great.  You can read more about them here:

The puppies should be ready to sell by Christmas.  Let us know if you are interested!

[rockyou id=122769832&w=426&h=319]

New Love

I have a new love.  And this new love is exciting and everything is new and bright and our relationship is smooth and delightful!  And a HUGE shout out to Joe M. for uniting us.  Of course I am talking about my new Sprint Mogul PPC phone from HTC, the HTC 6800.

[rockyou id=122406200&w=500&h=250]

My good buddy Joe works near the marketing group at Sprint.  He receives phones FOR FREE!  I was WAAAY jealous when he first got the Mogul-it is the next version up from my 6700.  We were IMing each other a couple of weeks ago and I asked him if he was still using his Mogul Phone.  He replied that he had moved on and offered the phone to me.  HECK YA!  I didn’t even have to ask or beg (and I would have)!  Thanks Joe!  Really, if you would like my first born, Kaleb is all yours!  Heck I’ll even throw in Keegan for good measure (I’ll still be getting the better deal)!

The HTC 6800 is the next version of the UTStarcom 6700.  Audiovox became UTStarcom who became HTC.  These Pocket PC phones come with a mobile version of Windows which allows them to do just about everything-games, contacts, email, pocket Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access and much, much more.  Here are a couple of my reviews.

The Mogul is not a new phone, it has been out for well over a year, but it has the few features that have become a must for me as it relates to PPC phones: a touch screen, a slide-out keyboard, Windows Mobile which allows one to sync up to email and contacts.  I say this because of the few phones that have entered the market lately (the Touch, I-Phone, Instinct, Blackberrys, etc) they seem to fail in one area or another.

The Mogul phone has all of the features of the 6700:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 (email, contacts, Word, Excel, etc.)
  • Bluetooth (wireless headset/ear piece), Built-in Wifi (with a very handy on/off switch)
  • Voice dialing, picture contacts
  • Internet browser
  • Games, camera, mobile Windows Media, etc

The Mogul is smaller, thinner and more sleek-looking than the PPC 6700.  The screen is also visibly brighter and clearer.  It sounds better (better to play music on).  There are a few more ergonimically-placed buttons that make the phone much easier to use.  The camera is 2.0 Mega Pixels instead of the 1.3 that the 6700 has.  Even though the 6700 was GPS-capable, the manufacturer and the service privider deliberately disabled it and it could not be enabled.  GPS is finally enabled and works great on the 6800.  The battery life is substantially better.

I like to actually use my phone-to take advantage of the features.  I have 3 email accounts on my phone, Yahoo, Hotmail and an email account that syncs up to my corporate email account.  I downloaded and installed (free) Google Maps-it works with the built-in GPS.  HTC has a great (free) today plug-in that allows you use picture contacts and easily check the weather.  I also use a couple of (free) push programs to check news and such-Yahoo Mobile, Avant Go (Movie Habit channel), On Demand, I think Google and MSN may have downloadable apps as well.

Here are a couple of handy sites to download free and not-so-free software:

Many popular websites have also gone mobile!  Here is a small list:

Flash memeory is cheap nowadays.  I purchased a 4GB Micro memory stick at Microcenter for $19!

If I HAD to pick something negative to say about the phone it is the stylus.  It is telescoping and it slides from the bottom up.  HOWEVER, it ALWAYS fits snugly!  I won’t be losing it like I did the other 57 with the other phone.

I will continue to let you know how I am using my phone and how it is performing.  So far I love it!


Getting Older

Here are some signs I know that I am getting older:

  • My pastor is younger than me.
  • My joints and muscles hurt.
  • My bones crack and creek.
  • My hair is turning gray.
  • My tween twins (I have tweens! That is another sign) have mobile phones (with THEIR money!).
  • I have friends younger than me who are divorced. And remarried.
  • I’m not funny. At all. I used to be. I think.
  • Girls don’t flirt with me anymore-including my wife. And when I flirt with them I’m the creepy old guy-even with my wife.
  • I used to be confident and sure of myself.
  • I used to have dreams and ambitions.
  • I get up at least once a night to use the facilities.


New Browser Goodies! ScribeFire, RoamAbout & PicLens

I found a few useful downloads this past week.

First is a tool that is helping me write this very post (as well as my last post-The DK review)! ScribeFire is software that you can install and run in a browser window. It easily edits and publishes your blog entries (pages, and posts with pics, links, etc), even easier that on the blog site itself! It is a pretty cool little tool. Thank you Joe H for posting this on his blog. Check it out!


Next is a pretty cool browser add-on called RoamAbout by Vysr. RoamAbout is supported by Google and is a cool “toolbar” that is added in the lower, right hand corner of your browser window. You wanna Wikipedia a word and not leave the page you are on? Highlight the word, click on the toolbar and then click the “W” / Wikipedia icon and a new window appears over your existing window.

You can do similar things with Youtube, news, music, blogs, pics, etc. I had it installed with IE and with Firefox. I use tabbed browsing with both browsers and it seemed to really eat up the system resources. SO I disabled it in IE and it seems to work MUCH better in just Firefox. It is not easily uninstalled, but the plug-in can be disabled with ease. Check it out!


Last is another Google-supported browser app called piclens (click to get a preview before you download it). This is a gem for looking at internet pics. Google your favorite pics and then view them (merely by clicking on the arrow that appears over the pic) in a window that appears over the browser window. But not just the 10 or 20 pics that appear on the initial Google page, but ALL of them and in a presentation that you can scroll through like with Apple’s I-touch-like a roll-a-dex! It is pretty neat! There seems to be just the tiniest bit of a glitch on my dual monitor setup, but it is well worth checking it out!

All of these were SUPER easy installs that took just a few minutes if not seconds to install, learn and become an integrated part of my browsing world.



The Ups and Downs of Life

It seemed I was a mite of sediment
That waited for the bottom to ferment
So I could catch a bubble in ascent.
I rode up on one till the bubble burst,
And when that left me to sink back reversed
I was no worse off than I was at first.
I’d catch another bubble if I waited.
The thing was to get now and then elated.
—Robert Frost, In a Glass of Cider

The Dark Knight Review-One of the Best Movies EVER



I have seen the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, 3 times now. Saturday of opening week, the following Wednesday on the IMAX and then again last Wednesday night. I don’t normally watch movies more than once, let alone over and over again. But people, please, if you plan on going tonight, invite me along. Yeah, it is THAT good. One of the best movies EVER!

“And I thought my jokes were bad…” I liked the “original” Batman movies of the ’90s. A lot! But after seeing Batman Begins…it makes the old ones look like a joke! And the new ones just take Batman to a whole new level. Less child-like cartoons, and much more comic, graphic-novelesque. It is refreshing and it will mature movies based on comics. The kids will like it (little scary for the wee ones), but adults will LOVE it!

“Why so serious?” I was not one of the people that was caught up in the “Heath Ledger” hype surrounding this movie. I was a little judgmental and thought that it was huge waste to have a life senselessly snuffed out. BUT, as it turns out, Ledger may have ODed on doses of legal and illegal drugs-just by accident. It may have been his best role and performance yet. It is too bad he couldn’t experience the accolades. I heard a story that Jack Nicholson contacted Heath to warn him about the part-saying that it was a tough character to get out of your head. They say that Ledger was taking sleeping pills-struggling with the separation from the dark character. In that case it is just plain sad. I say all of that to say that I’ve wanted to see The Dark Knight-but not merely for the sake of a last performance.

“How about a magic trick?” The movie is fantastic! Christian Bale is back and plays the dualistic characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne superbly! Bruce Wayne is as suave and immature as ever and Batman is everything good and honorable in a superhero! The other supporting actors are just as great; Alfred plays a substantial role, Fox is cleaver and witty and righteous, Commissioner Gordon is human and cares about protecting the people and Harvey Dent, a.k.a Two Face is a man bent on being “fair” (what a great way to explain the “birth” of Two Face!). But Heath Ledger’s Joker steals the show. Hands down…I couldn’t wait to see Joker in the next scene and then the next!

“This town deserves a better class of criminal.” The Dark Knight’s Joker is amazing and perfect! There hasn’t been a bad guy like this in a very long time. The Joker isn’t interested in money, power or fame, he just wants to be an agent of chaos and turn peoples’ plans against them-for fun, for entertainment! He just wants to play with chaos! He wants to laugh! Joker was ruthless but with class, darkly funny but never silly, demented or insane and NEVER out of control. I found myself liking him wanting to see what he would do next! I never found myself despising him! I didn’t want to see him win, but I sure wanted to see him try! What a great character! He was definitely a better class of criminal.

“Now we’re talking.” I can’t say enough about this movie. I couldn’t get enough of The Joker. The action was great and the gadgets are cool, but they didn’t have to carry the movie; the acting and the story carried the audience along at a quick and entertaining pace! The themes were Hollywood and typical to superhero movies: Light shining in the darkness, good over evil, hero over truth, perception of hope over despair. I was disappointed that feelings of safety were more important than the truth-which involves the burden that is placed on Batman.

“What makes you think I want to hear you talk?”

Finally a few random thoughts…

  • Brilliant not to name these movies 1, 2, 3, etc…I mean Spider man 4?!
    Egads! Granted, NONE of the Batman movies were numbered,
  • The Dark Knight is easily in my top 5 movies of all time. It is breaking all kinds of box office records (in part thanks to me!).
  • I’ve been comparing this movie to The Empire Strikes Back for a couple of reasons…the caliber of bad guy and because the Joker kinda sorta wins in the end! The Empire Strikes Back is one of the only movies where the bad guy, Darth Vader, totally wins!
  • This movie will be quoted like The Godfather! Joker had the best quotes (in bold throughout this post).
  • Is Two face really gone? There was a funeral for Harvey Dent…but under false pretenses…so Two Face MAY be back!
  • Did you catch the change of the Semi? The painted red “S” changes the logo from “Laughter is the Best Medicine” to SLaughter is the Best Medicine!
  • Gotham is based on Chicago rather than a Gothic New York City-I liked this-the Gothic-ness shows up in the characters, not the architecture. That was a nice change.
  • Batman is much more human and constantly becoming the superhero!
  • This story continues the progression of the origins of Batman…it isn’t just “business as usual”.  Wayne Manner and the Bat Cave do not exist yet.


Hoobastank -The Reason

I’m not a perfect person
There’s many things I wish I didn’t do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’m sorry that I hurt you
It’s something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why i need you to hear

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is You

and the reason is You [x3]

I’m not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

The Flood of 2008

I received this vivid and emotional email from my very good friend, Dave Phares. Dave and I grew up together in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Dave is now a pastor in Monticello, IA. My mom and step dad also live in Cedar Rapids-they are outside of the flood area. Thank you Dave for sending this out.


I was in downtown Cedar Rapids again yesterday. I’ve never seen anything like it in Iowa before. The other day I was talking to my wife about floods and I mentioned to her that I’m an Iowan, and this means I’m used to flooding and tornados every spring. But this is unreal. A town to the north was destroyed by a tornado. I heard it was a half-mile wide tornado. I didn’t believe the person at first, because we don’t have EF5’s in Iowa. We get little tornados that take a roof or two, and uproot a few trees here and there. Occasionally we’ll lose a couple of buildings. The half-mile wide variety tornados are pretty much reserved for Texas and Oklahoma. But sure enough, it was measured as an EF5. The strongest tornado in Iowa in over 30 years. Now the flood. A couple of weeks ago they were saying we might equal 1993. Then we heard that this might exceed 93 by two feet. Then, when it was supposed to crest on Wednesday at 24 feet (2 above 93) we got a storm (the same system that produced the tornado that killed the scouts, an EF3 they say). That storm hit the brakes over central to eastern Iowa and dumped on us for several hours. All of a sudden we were around 10 feet over the 93 level. All this is to say that things are strange this year.

Back to Cedar Rapids, for those of you who know the town, the water went from 10th street between Mercy Hospital and McKinley Middle School (my Junior High!) to the east, and to the foot of the hill that Kingston Stadium/Vets Memorial stadium sit on to the West. It took my parents house and went about 8 or 9 feet from the ground level. My sister’s house is dry, but she lives only about a half mile from the western edge of the flooding. This flood took out thousands of residences. The smell of the city reminds me of wet cats and dogs who’ve decided to take a roll in their own feces. The A&W on Ellis had sludge all around it, and sadly it had the worst smell I’ve encountered so far. You know it was sewage. Downtown is completely dark except where work crews have lights running via generators. Downtown is likely to be dead for a while. There is talk of the city and county government offices moving into Westdale mall. The city busses are taking up residence at Kingston stadium, the central police station has moved…everything is different. There is no lighted traffic control at all down there. Stop signs have been put up everywhere, and it takes considerably longer to get around. Red cross trucks are all over driving 10 miles an hour, passing out water to anyone who needs it. On Friday the whole town was at work cleaning out the ruined stuff in their houses. Almost everything the flood touched gets tossed. If you’ve ever been into the “bad” neighborhoods in any big city, you know what it looks like when someone’s been evicted: all their stuff sits on the street corner. Imagine that, but with a pile in front of every single building. Even the high rise buildings downtown.

I got to see my parents house on Friday. This isn’t the house we grew up in. It’s the place my parents bought two years ago; small but nice. There’s mold already growing on the kitchen cabinets. Every conceivable peice of wood is warped…the doors, the floors…everything. The carpet that was once a light grey is now dark brown. The whole thing has to be gutted. And that is the story for everyone in their neighborhood, and for everyone in around 4000 houses. Then there’s Iowa City, Waterloo, etc…everyone’s been hit.

But you know what is cool. On Friday I saw the whole town out working. Not a few industrious people, but the whole town. Think of the man hours it took to make those piles in front of the houses. On Friday afternoon there were thousands of people in every neighborhood cleaning up and patching things together. I love being an Iowan. I love being a midwesterner. We may be considered fly over country by those on the coasts, but in the hearts of these people is the same rugged determination that defined the early pioneers. No complaining that the government should do more. No whining about “why me?” Just elbow grease and determination. There ain’t no way the people are going to give up, they’re up for the fight. It was good to see.
-Dave Phares-

Derin Says: I just want to add that many folks who bought new houses in the past 10 years were told that they were way outside of the flood plain and they were not even given the opportunity to buy flood insurance-and now their houses are underwater. FEMA may be able to help some folks. I remember the flood of 93 pretty vividly. Water would pour in over engines and ruin them. People were replacing hot water heaters multiple times. Cattle and other farm animals died. Crops were ruined. My car got stuck in a foot of water (my stupidity to try to drive through it). Branches and trees were down daily. All kinds of flood water and none safe to drink. And on and on. It seemed to never quit raining. And this time it is much worse.

My friend Scott called me last week-another person I grew up with in Iowa. Even though Scott lives in St. Jo with his family, his mom still lives in Cedar Rapids-she’s OK. He told me that this has been quite an emotional experience for him.
Posted by Durk (without Dave’s formal permission)

Corbin’s A. B, C Book

Lost Luggage-When I Grow Up I want to Be an Adult

Our past has a sneaky way of catching up with us. The truth is we all have our own baggage that we would like to permanently misplace somewhere. Throw it out, burn it, leave it behind-lost forever. Most of us deny our past, forget it, pretend like it never happened and we move on. But we don’t move on. Because we don’t know how. We get stuck. Our past effects our today.

My good friend Irene had such an experience. I appreciate her honesty and I hope she embarks on a journey of healing. But it reminded me of my own journey and my own past.

My 4 year old had a very tough time waking up this morning. I didn’t just switch topics… It turns out that even though mom and dad sent him to bed, he didn’t actually go to bed or to sleep. Instead he was caught by my twins playing in his room with his toys with the light on pretty late! Of course HIS version of the story was that our twins barged into his room, turned the lights on and woke him up.

This is what children do: They make bad decisions, they suffer unknown consequences and then they angrily blame someone else later on. But, that’s what kids do! They don’t know any better. When Calvin realizes that it feels better to be awake and happy in the morning then he’ll make better decisions at night. Or he’ll understand that he is the reason why he is cranky and whiny. But today he is 4 and he just doesn’t get it. So it is the responsibility of someone older and wiser to guide him and help him make the right decisions. Someone safe.

What happens when the influence isn’t wiser or safe? What if another guides us in the wrong direction? What if an adult hurts us? Well, then we get a whole lot of 4 year old adults running around.

I have a past too. And so does my spouse. It is ugly stuff. Abuse, hurt, pain…unhealthiness. At one time we were adult children, running around making bad decisions that hurt ourselves and others. We blamed our past and we blamed others. Because we didn’t know how to make good decisions-we just didn’t know what that looked like. We just knew the screwed up past. We had an inkling that our past wasn’t the same past as most of our friends. We hoped that the present wasn’t how things were supposed to be. But we didn’t have the maturity to make the right decisions. We become a wounded adult child. We needed help. We needed another healthy influence to help us grow up. And to help us realize that we are responsible for the choices we make today.

So some of us seek help. I spent the first several years of my marriage in various Christian self-help groups. Christian 12-step programs, learning how to recognize the screwed upness of my present, learning how to set boundaries. Recognizing who caused the pain, identifying the unhealthiness in the past, understanding how it effects my present and finally recognizing that I am the only one to blame for my present. Recognizing my need for Christ and healthy friends. I found safety. I found people who were like me. I found healing. And I was able to break free of my past and be liberated.

I didn’t do it on my own, but I grew up somewhere along the line. I still have my past-I can’t erase it. It isn’t lost luggage. It isn’t stuck in a closet somewhere. But it is no longer the centerpiece of my life. And it no longer controls me. I have learned how to deal with it, to live with it. It is neatly packed and out of the way. Where it belongs. Where it won’t hurt me or others. I don’t have a need for it. Because it is dirty and trashy. But I understand it. I remember it when I need to. And most of all I learn from it. I recognize when I am doing something because of it. And I make a different decision. A healthy decision. And because of that damn dirty, filthy, sinful, painful, abusive, harmful past I am able to help others. I become a wounded healer. That is a miracle and it is grace and mercy all at the same time. Heck, now I am an adult among many 4 year olds! It seems absurd at times. I’m the healthy one! Healthier anyway…

Minnie and I are always keeping an eye out for those around us who are wounded and who we identify with and who might be looking to grow up. We’ve been there. We want to help. The truth is we aren’t the parent/adult that is needed in their lives. Christ is the only healthy adult that can truly transform and heal and restore one to healthiness. Fortunately Minnie and I know that Holy Father. And we would like to facilitate introductions.


Move over Tony Hawk, Here Comes Tiny Hawk

I used to be a skater dude. I wasn’t all that great, but I really enjoyed skateboarding (none of that inline crap!). I wasn’t exactly a poser, I was pretty serious about it, I just wasn’t all that skilled at it. I had a pretty good deck, trucks and wheels. The pinnacle of my skill was the ability to drop in on a ramp that was over 7 feet tall. I couldn’t even ollie nor rail slide. Yeah. Well.

So Tony Hawk was and still is one of the best skateboarders EVER. You could say he is the Michael Jordon of skateboarding. Ever seen a McHawk? Go look up the skateboard vid, Ban This. Or just go to youtube and type in mchawk.

ANYWAY, my buddy Lisa sent this to me:

YEAH! Pretty good! OK, better than I ever dreamed of being. And the video is very well done! Way to go Dad!


For your Viewing & Listening Pleasure-Phil Keaggy & Stanley Jordan

I saw August Rush this weekend, it is a pretty cool movie about a kid musical prodigy. One of the styles the kid plays on guitar is tapping out sounds on the neck of the guitar. Very cool and it reminded me of a couple of musical geniuses!

As many of you know I am a HUGE Phil Keaggy fan. Phil Keaggy is one of the best guitarists in the world-it isn’t just my opinion, the rumor is that Hendrix and Clapton site him as one of the best too. It just so happens that he is also a follower of Christ. I own more than 30 of his CDs, 1 DVD, and have seen him in concert about a half a dozen times (with a band, with his band, Glass Harp and solo). He is INCREDIBLE! You can see some of his videos here, this one is my fav: Salvation Army Band:

One of the things that he does well is work with a digital loop machine and he just builds and builds and it is pretty cool.

While looking for more Keaggy stuff and people who Keaggy had had an influence on I stumbled across Stanley Jordan. When I first saw his stuff I was amazed. But then Chris B. sent me this super incredible clip of Stanley Jordan playing Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven:

That’s right, he plays 2 guitars at the same time! Wow, it doesn’t get much cooler than that-unless you can find some genius to play a patriotic song with his feet or something.

A Great Time to be Alive-Cures for Cancer and Autism

I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate life and modern advancements in medicine. And God’s timing as well.

My friend Cliff has terminal cancer. It is this cancer that is in his chest. The doctors were talking about quality of life and not quantity of life. They were certain that cancer would eventually take his life. They had talked about surgery as a last resort-if Cliff became disabled or had trouble breathing etc. That was before.

Cliff went into surgery a couple of weeks ago-the cancer was pressing against his spine and he couldn’t walk. The surgery was successful. Cliff called me a couple of days after the surgery-he was winded-he was already walking with a walker! He asked me if he had told me that he has a new doctor. He had failed to mention that his old doctor lives a few houses down from another doctor; they shared notes and the new doctor took Cliff’s files with him on vacation and spent about 12 hours looking over the data. He came back and scheduled a consultation with Cliff. This new doctor believes that he can get ALL OF THE CANCER out of Cliff’s body. Amazing. There have been so many cool advances in medicine.

Another very cool advancement: When Cliff was researching his cancer a couple of years ago he discovered that a few doctors were using missle guidance systems to operate on cancer patients. The laser would move along with the patient’s breathing and movements as it targeted cancer! Pretty crazy.

If Cliff hadn’t gotten worse when he did his doctor may have never offered his records to another doctor who seemed to have the miraculous skills and knowledge to eradicate “terminal” cancer. That, my friends, is God’s timing.

Another modern development surrounds Autism. Autism has been in the news lately and rightfully so! The storeis don’t really tell you what is going on behind the scenes that are spawning the stories that you are seeing on TV and hearing on the radio. When children and military personnel receive vaccination shots mercury is used as a preservative. Most folks can naturally excrete the mercury from their system. But some cannot. Remember the Mad Hatter from Alice and Wonderland? The phrase, “Mad as a hatter”, was used many years ago to describe folks who hand-crafted hats. The manufacturing process contained mercury (in the tools I think), eventually these folks display symptoms of anger and madness! Why? Answer: mercury.

Mercury is NOT good for the body. Mercury surrounds nerves and blocks signals. The cool thing is that mercury does not damage the cells and nerves, it just holds them hostage! Most people have a natural ability to excrete mercury from their system. Others, it seems, may not excrete the mercury so easily-they get vaccinations and shots and the mercury settles in the brain and they then develop symptoms of Autism or OCD or mental illness. I do not think that vaccines and shots are preserved with mercury an longer.

So anyway some doctors are taking unprecedented and alternative approaches to helping folks who suffer with Autism and other symptoms such as OCD. The goal is to flush the mercury out of the body! Testing along with medicine, in some folks, has resulted in a HUGE reduction in the symptoms. Dan Marino’s son suffered from autism. He went through the expensive and lengthy process and now his son does not have any signs of autism. One of the bad things is that the process makes symptoms worse before they get better. But a possible cure for Autism-a very little known condition? AMAZING! Now the science is still out there, some folks go through the program and are still autistic. Autism is a very misunderstood condition. Some folks may have Autism “naturally”, while others may have it because their body does not naturally excrete mercury.

Here’s the real story that gets buried: You won’t see drug companies jumping on the bandwagon to offer these “detox” drugs to folks though. They don’t want to admit that their drugs that used mercury as a preservative were harmful in the first place! Can you imagine the money that the drug companies would lose? Well, you don’t have to imagine. Lawsuits have already been filed and won (or settled) by folks to have the big drug companies pay the $75,000 that it costs to go through the mercury detox programs. The programs last about a year. Which means an autistic child MAY be “cured” within a year. THAT is amazing! Extremely amazing.

I work with a gentleman who is going through the program with his daughter. He was in the military and suffers from OCD and his daughter has Autism. They are both pretty brilliant people. They understand that their behavior is not rational. But they don’t have a choice. Maybe advancements in modern medicine will offer a cure.


Working at Home Depot & a Review of

I have come to the conclusion that Home Depot is the worst place on earth to be employed at. Not because of the pay or the people or the policy, all that is pretty good.

I used to work in the food service industry, Hardee’s, Arby’s, campus cafeteria, and as manager at an on-campus snack shack. When you work around food you get hungry. If you want to satisfy your desires you eat. You get full. You go on. And maybe you repeat the next shift.

But at Home Depot I work around stuff. Home improvement, gas grills, appliances, projects, gardening, and the list goes on and on. I get hungry for stuff. This door is on sale, a dryer has been marked down, there is a display of 100 shop vacs, I need a cordless drill, I want to redo my kitchen, I want to grow a new yard! And the list goes on and on. The problem is if I do give in and buy something-anything, there is just more expensive stuff to buy the next time!

Another dumb thing that Home Depot does is restrict technology, let me explain. Home Depot employs a person whose sole responsibility is to create the weekly schedule. Even though they have a paper form that you can fill out to request days off or to detail availability, how much easier would it be just to email the Scheduler? Nope, they have internal email, but not external. OK, so use the many PCs to create a document…NOPE, no such application-no MS Word, no Wordpad, no Notepad! NOTHING! AHH! BUT,

I persevered. And I remembered a really useful website called Now HD is pretty good about filtering out questionable sites (and not-so-questionable), but they let you go to Google and such, and it let me go to You simply add your own subdirectory and type something up, save it and it is on the net! Notes, pics, storage, etc. It is like an online clipboard. Check this out: So I used this nifty website and typed up my availability schedule and submitted a professional-looking, printed page. And then I was asked to fill out a paper form anyway (sigh).