Happy fall, everybody

Fall's officially here, pumpkins and candy and leaves on the ground and chill in the wind and everything else that means fall. Joy.

The reversed curse is still sinking in...took them 86 years to 86 the curse, but they did it. Gotta love OJ's commentary on the Prez + Kerry's responses (last item):

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, who swept the St. Louis Cardinals and won their first World Series since 1918. The Associated Press reports the presidential candidates congratulated the Sox:

The president watched part of the final game Wednesday night as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, completing a four-game sweep to win their first World Series title since 1918, said spokesman Scott McClellan. "This is a long time coming and he shares in their excitement at winning the World Series," McClellan said.

Kerry said, "I've been rooting for this day since I was a kid. . . . This Red Sox team came back against all odds and showed America what heart is. In 2004, the Red Sox are America's team."

In the second presidential debate, Kerry said, "The president, I don't think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment. Now, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's OK. But if you're a president, it's not." Now that the Sox have won the Series, it's fair to say the president is right on environmental issues.

Back in August, Kerry had this to say (link in MP3): "We've been waiting since 1918 for the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, and . . . if I had a choice between the White House and the World Series this year, I'm going to take the White House."

Sox pitcher Curt Schilling disagrees. "Tell everybody to vote," he said today on ABC. "And vote Bush next week."

Still working on the Great Email Purge...here's this morning's goodies.

Apparently people here in NYC think its novel to go upstate to pick apples (they do have them at Gristede's, people). Anyway if that sounds like your cup of tea, go here.

More anti-Moore links just in time for the election...short article and long article. Both good stuff.

If you're in the market for a computer, check out techbargains, ableshopper, or slickdeals. They have other stuff, too. Of course, I still think you're better off building your own, in which case I suggest newegg.

I'm a huge fan of the Cloisters, but I've never been to Wave Hill. Hope to make it soon.

If anyone has $2750 they don't need, please consider sending me to this. Cool idea, at least for us business nerds. In the line of more affordable things to learn about, I've missed the start date for the fall courses, but I'd like to get a refresher on my astronomy by taking the winter "Stars, Constellations, and Legends" course. Via American museum of Natural History, info here (2nd course down) - if you have any interest in joining me, please do.

Added to my reflections doc, thanks to Grace:

The heart of man is his worst part before it is regenerated, and the best afterwards; it is the seat of principles and the foundation of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be, principally fixed upon it... For though grace has, in great measure, rectified the soul, and given it a habitual heavenly temper, yet sin often actually discomposes it again; so that even a gracious heart is like a musical instrument, which though it be exactly tuned, a small matter brings it out of tune again; yea, hand it aside but a little, and it will need setting again before another lesson can be played upon it. -- John Flavel, Keeping the Heart

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there -- that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,
It's how did you fight -- and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?
--Edmund Vance Cooke, How did you die?

More to come...doesn't look like the Purge will end today after all...



Well, the curse is one inning away from being broken. Hard to believe. I really had hoped I wouldn't live to see this day.

On the other hand, I think this day will be a death knell to the essentially ridiculous record of the Yanks...perhaps this will open the door for another A's championship. But then again, word has it that the Yanks are shopping pitchers, and they have bank. Anyway, respect to Boston, here's to changing history.

How a 105-57 team could give it up to a 98-64 team is beyond me. This may have been the most boring world series of my lifetime, frankly.

The Great Email Purge of 04

I've got a few hundred emails in my work inbox, and that needs to change. For about a year now, its been out of control. To many issues that weren't important enough to be dealt with when they first popped up, left by the wayside, but still in need of resolution. Well, the resolution came in the form of a promotion. Now that I'm in a new area, all those little waysiders just kind of faded away. I sent a few of the more important ones to my potential replacement, the trainee in the area, for her information, but for the most part, I'm deleting emails en mass. I'd like to get it down to one screen of Very Important Emails so that I can start all over again in the new area. I figure since I now have about 90 vendors instead of 10, it should only be just under ten times as big a problem as it used to be.

Cluttered in with the minions of pesky emails are some personal bits I've been needing to get back on track with...email to sis, check...make note to buy that book, check...paste that comment to the reflections doc, check...and then some bits to be blogged on.

We commence.

Oldie but goodie, MUG's guide to walking in NY.

The word-of-the-day from my daily emailer on Sept. 8th, 2004 was as follows:

skulduggery, also skullduggery \skul-DUG-uh-ree\, noun:
Devious, dishonest, or unscrupulous behavior or activity;
also: an instance thereof.

And then the inquests, and the coroner's reports, and the
hints of diplomatic cover-ups, and skulduggery in high
--Hilary Mantel, [1]Eight Months on Ghazzah Street

Laptop theft was the third most common electronic
skulduggery, behind viruses (84 percent) and unauthorized
employee use of computers and software (78 percent),
according to the survey by the Computer Security Institute
in San Francisco.
--Michael Cooper, "Low Tech Joins the Fight Against
High-Tech Theft," [2]New York Times, April 23, 1998

For instance, the Federal Trade Commission already goes
after some kinds of Internet skulduggery, like selling
products that promise more than they deliver.
--David Stout, "New Internet Anti-Fraud Center Announced by
Attorney General," [3]New York Times, May 8, 2000

The origin of skulduggery is unknown.


1. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805052038/ref%3Dnosim/lexico
2. http://www.nytimes.com/
3. http://www.nytimes.com/

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation


I personally prefer the latter spelling. I was introduced to this term by Nate "Papa Giorgio" - a buddy from youth work at my church in Pittsburgh. I haven't talked to him in a long time but I need to give him a call, so I'm gonna look him up. Anyway, when I left for New York, one of my most cherished departing gifts was a CD given to me by Papa G, an album by the artist himself (the first album, 3rd Ward Stepper). Apparently the gift was meant to encourage me to promulgate the term wherever I went. Papa G used to use the term in casual conversation (he also had a tendency to refer to everyone, and I mean everyone, as "Bobby"), and insisted that it was closely related to tomfoollery. I always knew he would go down in history for this. The origin of skullduggery is no longer unknown.

A while back one of the prof's from the Alma Mater published this article re: the DaVinci Code (archive list for other articles is found here). I chatted w/ him via email and he recommended this book, which I've added to my "to-be-obtained" reading list. Should be interesting.

New goodies for the ipod nation - Gizmodo continually updates on developments and I continually am strong in my resistance to buy one of the evil white assimilation boxes (I see that they are trying to use U2 to convince me that buying it in black would be OK. PFF.).

Plenty more to come as the GEP of '04 continues. Hopefully we can conclude it by Friday.


Democracy, links, and things left unsaid

I need to catch up on my reflections document. I have a lot of bits to add to it, it just needs a few hours of attention. One I pulled from it today:

I believe in democracy because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people believe in democracy for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind was so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no one can be trusted with unchecked power over others. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves…but I reject slavery because I see no people fit to be masters.

Nevertheless, under the necessary outer covering of legal equality [there is something else.] The one who cannot conceive of a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of that obedience on the other, the one who has never even wanted to kneel or bow…is one whose tap-root to Eden has been cut. But it would be wicked folly to restore this on the legal or external plane. Its proper place is elsewhere. Where we are forbidden to honor kings, we honor millionaires, athletes or film-stars instead—even famous gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison. – C.S. Lewis

Two cool sites I've found recently: TinyURL and Butter (the second one is the kind I'd like more if $ were no object).

And if you've heard anything about the nearly 400 tons of conventional explosives gone missing in Iraq, well, as OJ noted, they've been missing. See the top item here. Key quote:

So after arguing for months that Saddam Hussein posed no threat and had no ties to terrorists, Kerry shifted to claiming that "terrorists could use this material to kill our troops and our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings."


That was a week?

Well, first day on the new job...first impressions...

- Our offices (and for that matter our business at large) could be most accurately compared to a Florida trailer park after the latest storm. Its a total disaster zone and I'll be coming to work in jeans Friday just to have a cleaning/organizing day.

- All the same, I have the feeling that, once the dust settles, I'll be able to blog at a reasonable pace.

- In my limited experience in Corporate America, there are two types of management styles (forget what the books say). The first is the manager who knows what he/she is doing, understands their business, and runs a tight ship. This kind of manager is unable to teach others how to do their job, because it runs the unbearable risk of allowing someone beneath them to make a mistake, and therefore they are unable to properly train those that they manage in the finer points of the business. The second type is the manager who doesn't understand the business, isn't organized, and therefore cannot teach others how to do the job (how they got there in the first place is beyond me). This kind of manager is identifiable by 2 inherent traits: a) they take the credit for the good work done by their subordinates, and b) they blame their subordinates for anything that goes wrong. I am rapidly becoming convinced that there are no other types of management style.

- Generally speaking, if a person is older than you, they know less about computers than you do.

- You will find lazy people wherever you go.

After Monday and Tuesday off, I worked Wednesday thru Friday. Friday was the weird position-transition day, after which I booked over to the church offices to meet up with the youth group for our weekend camp at Young Life's Lake Champion resort, somewhere in New York. We left about on schedule (an hour late) and got in just in time for our meetings, as usual. I had 5 guys in my high school group, and we got the cooking assignment, which kept us out of the miserable pit. A couple of girls would be on assignment with us.

Our numbers were quickly reduced by 1 when, on the way back to the cabin, one of my guys took a spill jumping off a low rock wall, and dislocated his knee. I've seen lots of dislocated joints, but this one was bad. We got him splinted and immobilized on a backboard, then into one of the camp vans. They gave me directions to the hospital and sent J-lo and I off to find it on our own, which was a bit odd. Guess someone has to stay and run ship, though. Spent a few early-morning hours in the hospital, then back to camp with the knee in all in one place again. He got Percoset and went to sleep, I got Nyquil and about 45 minutes tossing and turning before getting up to send my guys off to the kitchen at 5 in the morn.

His dad arrived around lunch time to take him home, and I joined my guys on work crew from there on out (thanks again for covering, Kat). Spent the afternoon playing basketball, taking pictures, and winning a stellar frisbee golf match with AP, Kat, and one of my guys - Nathan. Evening was dinner work crew, then helping the sadly under-staffed dining-room crew set up for the next day. Led a woefully un-prepared cabin time with the high schoolers that actually went fairly well. Played too much dodgeball. Sprained my right hand. Crashed.

Sunday we cooked breakfast then cleaned the kitchen, packed, and hopped on the bus. After all the kids got delivered to all the parents, we mighty band of leaders went off to CPK for eats and then Spring's apartment to hang for a bit (which meant sleep for me). Evening service, still in the Proverb's series, this one was on Lust and was noticeably shortened. Probably because he's already spoke plenty on the topic. AP gave me a ride home and we had some good catching up. Ate. Crashed.

Which brings us to today. We keep ending up here, and can't figure out how.


2 days off

Well, I got sick. The difference between this time and any other time in the years since college is that I decided to actually stay home and rest. I think this is clear evidence that my new career outlook is better for me in at least a physical sense. Anyway the whole flu-shot epidemic is now moot news for me.

Took yesterday and today to sleep in, have lots of fluids and Zinc and focus on not moving as much as possible. Watched the interminable baseball game last night, at least it looks like it might still be a close series.

Tomorrow I'm back in the office to deal with the plethora of emails and other petty issues that are stacking up. Friday afternoon we leave town with the kids for Young Life camp up at Lake Champion (upstate NY). That's part of the reason that I decided to stay at home and kick this flu in the gut - I'm starting the new position soon (Monday?) and I know the weekend won't be incredibly restful. My weekends just aren't during the school year. In a good way.

Stuff I've been looking at recently:

Apparently there's a lot of places hosting John Stewart's lambasting of the Crossfire morons, but the best I've found (read: easiest to actually get to play) is here.

Wooba is pointing out that Google is already subtly offering IM service, via Hello, an IM service that comes under the auspices of Picasa, a photo-indexing program. Hello is what you already use to upload pictures to your blog, if you're a Blogspot user like I am. Its ok, but a bit cumbersome, especially when I'm writing posts with multiple pictures inserted between paragraphs. The only way I've found to do it is to just go through the tedious process of posting one picture at time to the blog, then going into each post, copying the html for the picture, putting it where I want it in my text post, then deleting all the individual picture posts. Yes, annoying and time consuming. But hopefully the guys at Google will work their magic on Hello as it gets more popular. I think this could be the death of AOLIM, if they do it up right. Also, Picasa isn't currently free, as far as I can tell. They'll have to do something about that as well, if they want people to actually use both products.

Hacking is afraid of the suggestions that Amazon purchase Netflix, as am I.

Remember how fun it is to point out classic movie mistakes to people (like the disappearing answering machine in Swingers or the dude in blue jeans in Gladiator)? Well, now its all here. Via Metafilter.

Two cool NYC photoblogs: Joe's NYC (just found recently) and Subtext (known for a bit). I really like Subtext b/c we seem to have some of the same underground peeves - people who leave their trash on the ground, people with their headphones blaring, and loud talkers...to name a few.

Saw an actual MTA poster for this in the 63rd and Lex station on my way to church on Sunday, they're reviving the Miss Subways competition (they've renamed it Ms. Subways in an oh-so-PC fasion). I had heard something about it previously, and only caught a glimpse of the poster, but apparently its for real. Results haven't been released yet, as far as I can tell.


Sports Night and a sore throat

Ok so I'm way behind on reviews of movies/netflix/books etc...but here's a short insight on Sports Night.

Its really good.

Also, in the scenes that you can see a TV screen in the background, 90% of the time it is skiing or snowboarding. Apparently, in the script, every Sports Night show cut to a skiing or snowboarding show. Its really weird. Even on a "unseasonably warm day" in "Denver" they cut to a powder skiing scene. Weird.

But cool. Very cool.

Friday night was working on the lesson and cleaning up the place as we had offered our place to a family that used to live in Hoboken and was back for a visit (they were staying here last night). Saturday morning was cleaning up a park on the UWS with the kids, then a lecture by Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ - one of the leading authorities on C.S. Lewis alive today - entitled "C.S. Lewis and the Case for Apologetics." Home to a house full of people who don't live here, where I grabbed some clothes and headed over to C&M's. Worked on the lesson some more, went to Stone Cold and his wife's place for their house-warming party, then back to C&M's to crash on the couch (they were in PA for the weekend). Today was church, HS group, then home for some football. I'm not gonna win the pool this week but I did ok.

In other news, I have a cold, or the flu, or something. George hooked me up with some of his goods, so I should be able to antibiotic it out of the system in no time, but how rough its going to get before the end remains to be seen. Woke up this morning with a scratchy throat that by now has graduated to just plain raw. The High School lesson was a long one, wrapping up our look at the Holy Spirit, so all that talking didn't help.

We had our highest guy attendance to date, which was pretty cool. Looks like we're developing a pretty decent sized regular crowd. The one thing I can't get over is how cool these kids are. I know I was nowhere near that cool at that age. It makes me afraid I'm not nearly as cool now as they will be when they get to my age. Or something like that. New York just makes these kids grow up so fast, maybe that's the explanation.

Boss is back from vacation this week, which is good b/c it will probably be my last week in my current area before I take on my new assignment in swimwear. There, I got that out there, and there it is. Also, I may need a sick day or two. I never actually take them, but I left it all on the field last week when he wasn't here, and if I'm not going to be working for him anymore, why not take a sick day or two. I've taken, to my recollection, 3 sick days in more than 4 years of employment since college.

The down comforter comes out tonight. Welcome, cold.

Is homosexuality a choice?

(that's Another Linked Title, sheesh I need to find a new template)

The article linked to is one of many put out as opinions written by professors at my alma mater. Its entitled "Answering Bob Schieffer's Big Debate Question" and its author is Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who to my recollection is the director of student counseling or something to that effect. Its a fantastic piece that addresses Schieffer's question in the 3rd debate that addressed the issue of whether or not homosexuality is a choice.

I agree with Throckmorton that Bush's answer was a safer, smarter view of the facts, and also that it could have been better answered (as Throck does at the end of the column).

The question: "Is homosexuality a choice?" seems simple enough but it is cunningly complicated. The two nouns in the query require further reflection. What do we mean by homosexuality? What do we mean by choice?

By homosexuality, are we referring to feelings of attraction to the same sex? Or are we referring to a person who has adopted a gay or lesbian personal identity? Or both? Some people experience same sex attractions to varying degrees but choose not to act on them or to identify themselves as homosexual. For them, the feelings of attraction may not seem like a choice but pursuing same sex relationships and/or adopting a homosexual identity would be a conscious choice.

Choice is also a word that requires clarification. This part of the question is usually code for a related question: "Can a person change his feelings or are they such an innate part of a homosexual’s make up that any choice concerning them is impossible?" For those who have experienced change in their sexual feelings from gay to straight, often known as ex-gays, the concept of choice is especially important. In my research, many ex-gays say they did not choose to initially experience attractions to their own gender but at some point in their lives, they made a conscious choice to pursue change in not only how they perceive themselves but in their affections and attractions.

The very logical point here is that homosexuality (as we commonly understand it) refers to both the feelings that these people have for others of the same sex, and their decisions to engage in relationships of the sort. Society's definition of this word effectively considers engaging in the acts of homosexuality to be part of the term. Switzerland doesn't simply feel neutrality, it acts out its neutrality.

God allows us to face all kinds of temptations. While I've never experienced attraction to the same sex, much less a temptation to act upon it, I can certainly allow room for the possibility that certain people may, for whatever reason, deal with this attraction and temptation. I deal with temptations offered by the opposite sex on a daily basis. They're walking all over the place in this city. But I don't (by grace) act out on them. Mentally, I feel heterosexual attractions, but I do not make the choice to act on them by engaging in sexual relationships.

My point is that adultery, murder, theft, dishonesty, etc. are all choices we make. They are things we choose to do. Sexual acts (homo or hetero) are things we choose to do as well.

God ordained only one sexual act as set apart from the others, one that is not a sin, that being sex with your spouse within the context of marriage. (We herein assume that marriage is still defined as a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman).

That said, I don't believe that God would have created his children with the inability to resist the urge to sin. Kerry apparently doesn't agree with this - his response leads to the logical conclusion that a loving God for some reason forces his children to break his law. This is a stupid position. You can't really say a loving God is going to force you to do things that grieve Him. He created us with the ability to choose to hate Him, and that is what people choose to do, in whatever acts of selfish sin they choose to commit (via commission or omission).

Homosexuality (the feeling) is not a sin - its a temptation. Homosexuality (the sexual engagement) is a sin. Its the choice to act upon your temptation that is wrong, and God doesn't force us to act upon it. I choose to not act on temptations towards inappropriate heterosexual actions every day. That is, I practice abstinence every day. Because I choose to.

To act in a certain manner and then blame God for creating you with an irresistible urge is un-biblical and for that matter just plain unintelligent.

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13


Fall arrives

Its definitely cold out now. I'll be wearing my fleece to work for the first time, likely tomorrow. Very happy about that.

Great weekend, I just wish it lasted more than 6 seconds. Friday night I worked on Sunday's lesson, Saturday morning J gave me a ride to the PATH and I went to the office for a bit, then to Bryant Park to work on my football picks and read some of the new book (see sidebar). I really like it so far.

And I've found the formula for my football picks. Tennessee is up 17-3 in the first and as long as they hang on, I win the pool this week. When I won week 2, I used the same prep method. So we have our strategy for the rest of the year.

Met J-lo, Kat, and one of my freshmen guys, Andrew, for a free tour of Grand Central Station, thanks to Open House New York. It was really interesting, although on the surface felt like a very non-New Yorker thing to do. But it was cool, because OHNY is only in its 2nd year and not a lot of people know about it yet, especially not out-of-towners, so it was mainly city folk.

On the way over to meet two of my other guys, Christian and Nathan, we saw way cool breakdancing in Times Square.

(the guy was holding this position, he lowered himself down further than that, then went right back up)

Then, crossing Times Square, a motorcade of maybe 200-300 bikes, most (all?) custom on their way to the custom bike show on the Intrepid. Loud bikes. Fun.

Saw Shark Tale, the second movie about sharks I've seen this year. I'm so far behind on reviews I ain't even gonna start. I'll just say it was funny and pretty engaging but Dreamworks / Pixar need to be careful in the future that they aren't just throwing together scripts and 30 random pop celebs to put some $ in the pocket, or these movies will become a dime a dozen. The Toy Stories did so well because they were quality writing backed up by quality voices. The first component is key.

Back to the pad to finish Sunday's lesson. Sunday was church, high school group, and then my boy Joel who graduated last year and is now in Boston for college came back to Hoboken with me - he was in town for the holiday weekend. I love that kid, he cracks me up, and he's just a real cool kid. We played Virtua Tennis then I convinced him to go to evening service with me, where he convinced me to introduce him to girls afterwards. Met Eric, the first person I've met thanks expressly to blogging. Sorry I couldn't hang afterwards Eric, call me and we'll grab a brew.

Joel and I went to the gym and then got some Q. Back here to organize for the week.

Boss is on vacation for the week, and you always think that's gonna mean you can come in late and leave early, but what it really always means is that your workload increases and you work a lot longer. Oh well. At least I can use his office and actually feel professional for a change, instead of being crammed on my swarthy excuse for a workstation, with my trainee. Nice girl but hey I need some elbow room.

Have I ever mentioned that I've met Dave Barry? Just thought I should.

Also, check out cool stuff I found today when our systems were down (thank God the net wasn't) for a few hours:

Curbed is an interesting New York blog on neighborhoods/real estate.

Also this video is pretty cool.

The (arguably) complete rules of Shotgun. I personally feel that the driver maintains complete power and can be appealed to by losing parties, who seek an "Overruled" call, but may be smitten with a "Sustained."

And I dig what little bit I've seen here.

Random shout out to Gizmodo, a site every red-blooded man should check often.

Last thing. The apples. I swear these things are going to be used to take over the city. Mark my words. I only hope I can escape when they initiate their first wave attack. They're already strategically positioned all around Manhattan. Most noticeably at the major transportation hubs (Penn Station, Grand Central, and they're all over Port Authority). The rest are all sitting in high-traffic areas. Just awaiting their orders. Mark my words. I will seek to photo-document them here, until the end comes. For posterity's sake (click the picture for other apples - you'll have to sort thru the other misc pix to find the obvious fru-it of the dev-il).


This one matters.

OK. My third post of this evening. But it doesn't matter.

Tonight I was walking from the train to the gym. Typical...beat everyone off the train so you don't have to negotiate the crowd on the sidewalk. Ahhh...aren't you smart? Smoothly glide over the sidewalk anomaly in front of Busters...you player you...walk past the random homeless guy and turn the corner to the gym, so that you can get your back just a little str...

There's a grizzled old-timer on the side street in a doorway. He's not in the middle of the street, he's not getting in your face or heckling the rich suits as they parade by. He's just standing there. Out of your way, but there enough to be seen. He's an older white guy, holds an old, tattered baseball cap, upside down, in his hand, accepting your change. You walk by, but you start thinking...

You start to pray for him, but he's 20 steps behind you now. Did you do anything? You think of your father.

Last time Dad was in town, you went to see the Empire State Building, instead of going to work that day. It was a good day, and you had a good time. You loved your father the way you wish you always could and you both had a good time going to the (now) highest point in NYC. You had a good time standing in line for tickets you realized you could have bought on-line. When you got upstairs you ran into staffers for a major Republican congressional figure who were scouting for a campaign benefit venue.

But on the way there, earlier, when you got off the PATH train from Jersey, you instinctively took the underground walkway towards 34th street. You passed the older black gentleman who's there on occasion, silently asking for help. Dad gave him a couple dollars.

Your whole paradigm shifts, all in one second.

You've never seen Dad give a homeless person cash, directly. You grew up in a suburban area, Dad worked in the capital of the 5th largest economy in the world, and even then, you never saw him take this attitude towards them. He, and therefore the family, always took the attitude that it was the church's responsibility to assist the poor. You pause, noticeably.

"As I get older, I notice the old ones more. The ones who maybe don't have a shot at getting another job. The ones who maybe really need it."

Dad just gave a grizzled old homeless black guy some change.

Paradigm shifts.

You keep walking to the gym, force of habit, but the grizzled old guy is still there.

You start praying. You pray through your workout, and by the end of it, you're determined.

You leave the gym, and you walk back towards the train, instead of the opposite direction, towards home. You round the same corner, in the opposite direction...

But he's gone. Vanished, into the night. You circle the block, but he's not there. You can't ask him if he's hungry. You can't invite him across the street, to get a piece of pizza and get his story. He's gone.

Matt. 25:35 has passed you again.


"The thing is...more people die of breast cancer every year than AIDS, more people die of Diabetes, about twenty times as many die of heart disease but the government doesn't spend as much money researching those. Its not that we shouldn't be trying to cure AIDS, its just that we should be trying to cure everything. And if I'm dying of Leukemia, I might well wonder where my red ribbon is. Why isn't someone throwing me a pajama party at Barbers?" -- Dan Rydell (Josh Charles), Sports Night, Season 1, Episode 9

I really hope Charlie Suisman, the guy who runs MUG, a great New York informative email, reads this.

Favorite Debate 2 Quote

"Need some wood?" - President George W. Bush

I didn't catch the start of the debate but I'm listening to it now, watching parts, as I work on the lesson for this Sunday. I have to say the DASH material is really incredible stuff. I'm learning a lot from it, and its giving great direction for leading these lessons.

DASH is a material format we've received from a church down South that's had great success with it. The name itself comes from the idea of a tombstone. Every tombstone has 2 dates, a date of birth and a date of expiration. These dates are separated with a dash. The question is, what do you do with your dash?

Crazy work week, but I made a point to blog all the same. Boss is out of town next week, so I should be able to clean up some stuff before leaving. I've been moved to a buying position in women's swimwear. At first it was presented to me as an option, something I had a say in. That was good, because I had some obvious issues, and until today I thought I had time to think about it. Today they told me I'm going there. Welcome to corporate America.

I've spent a lot of time in prayer and seeking advice about it, and sharing it with my HFG and Men's Accountability group, and I don't foresee a big issue, but I'll be vocal to move out of there if it does arise.

Sheesh. In response, I'm getting back on the horse with The Search this weekend. That's all I can say here about that.

Tomorrow I'm meeting J-lo and perhaps others for a tour of Grand Central Station as part of Open House New York. Then maybe a movie with some of the kids in the afternoon. Sunday is church then our first meeting in the new church offices, which are NICE. Saw them today with Cregan when I went to get the keys from him.

Yanks up 8-1 in the 7th, Boston with a huge win in extra innings. Stupid sport. Can't wait for Sunday. Bring the pain.


Netflix savings

Inspired by this post over at Hacking Netflix, I decided to look at my savings to date as a Netflix customer.

Total number of movies rented in about 4 years (50 months): 262
Average number of movies per month: 5.24

Cost in Netflix member fees (4-out program): $1,083.69
Average cost per month: $21.67 (including tax*)

Average cost per rental: $4.14

Estimated cost to rent a DVD at local video stores: $4.50 (includes avg. $0.50 late fee per movie, with late-fee estimated at 1/2 of original rental price**)
Savings per rental: $0.36 (not including gas)

Total savings over 4 years (50 months) vs. renting at a video store: $95.31 (262 x $0.36)

Real cost of Netflix after savings: $947.87 or $18.96 per month.

Some considerations:

1) I used a cost of $4.50, assuming that I would be returning a good deal of movies late (as I know I did, before I started using Netflix). Based on the cost of late fees, my estimate is probably low. Hacking Netflix used a straight $4.00. As of today, I would still show a loss against the rental store today, because...

2) I kept my Netflix account open for the better part of a year without turning around any movies. I just let 4 of them sit in a corner. I did this because my roommate at the time had gotten the movie channels, so I didn't need Netflix. But I knew that they were scaling back to their 3-out-at-a-time system and if I cancelled my account I'd be relegated to 3 when I returned. Now that I have a new roommate and am back to watching Netflix, I still have my 4-out plan at the price of the 3-out plan. So with each movie I watch, my savings continue to close the gap that my open-year made. I estimate that before I reach 300 movies, I should be seeing significant savings, getting my average monthly cost after savings down to around $15 (even against a $4.00 rental store estimate).

3) If I were to do the calculations by subtracting out 12 months of payments totaling $260.04 (12 x 21.67), I would get a total cost of $823.65, which is a per-movie of $3.14, a savings against a rental store estimate of $4.00 of $0.86. A total savings against the rental store of $225.32 bringing my actual cost after savings to $858.37.


Good sleepin weather

Found this cool little debate word-search. A couple I tried...

Coalition: Bush 2 / Kerry 6

Freedom: Bush 9 / Kerry 2

Anyway, interesting...and courtesy of Matt Law, who has a pretty cool site. Matt resorted to giving out gmail accounts in exchange for comments. I'm still waiting for a bite on the picture offer (see below), but if nothing turns up, perhaps I'll start offering free yahoo accounts.

Also via Matt is a pretty cool idea for your typical New Yorker (read: rides subway, listening to ipod). I still have not succumbed to the cult.

Via myself, a zip-code locater. You may need to click on the image to get it started, then just type a zip-code. Once you tire of that, you can follow the adventures of a plastic dinosaur, here.

I kind of decided to quit doing hat tips to most of the links that I use in my posts, unless I'm posting more than just the link and feel attribution is due, or I happen to want to point out the main site of the referrer, for its quality. I figure I already link to the main ones I like on the sidebar anyway. If that makes any sense.

Its finally getting cold here in New York and to celebrate I'm seeing how long I can go without a coat. I hope it snows soon. I never sleep very much but I'm always able to sleep better when it gets cold. This morning was the first time since last winter I woke up before my alarm, feeling rested.

We've booked our trip to Whistler this Spring and I am PSYCHED ("we've" being a number of the youth leaders and a couple friends of ours). The penny-pinching begins.

Update: Also from Law, check out this site on an awesome opportunity in New York. I now have Saturday plans (before the movies in the evening with the high schoolers). Sorry for the late notice - I wish I had found it earlier so I could have gone on the Govenor's Island tour.


Just real quick...

Browsed up Vineyard, a church in Olympia, which had this post at the top when I was there. Check it out, and hit the main page while you're there. They have a cool bit about a church-organized "oil change for single mothers" - what a great idea! Guys get to do manly car stuff while helping the community. This is truly the Spirit at work in the church. They also have a cool list of what their church believes. Very solid.

Also, ye olde blogger gave me an idea - to ask readers if there's anything they would like to see. I'll post up to three pictures of reasonable requests. My favorite shoes, my desk (as it really is, or cleaned up, your choice), my roommate, church, whatever. Within reason. Smile. Frankly I'll be surprised if this churns up a single comment.

I've got more to blog on but can't think of it at the moment, and I'd rather get on to the next episode of Sports Night. Hopefully I can get the other stuff up in the morning.


Back to busy

Haven't posted since the debates...hmph...I'm officially back in the NYC-constantly-busy mode. It's OK. Its just how things are here. The break was nice, and well timed. Returned to completely full weeks of work, men's accountability, home fellowship group, youth leader's planning, and youth group.

To recap, Friday was work late, gym, home for some number one and computer games. Saturday I headed out to the Meadowlands in the morning for the practice rounds with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloons. Speaking of which, are you interested in being a balloon handler on my balloon in the parade? If so, let me know by Tuesday of this week. This special, one-time-offer (until next Thanksgiving) goes out exclusively to my blog readers. I've actually already hooked 4 folks up with spots, and the deadline for applications is past, but I'm in good with the girl in charge of stuff so I could probably slide one or two in late.

So, like I was saying, practice rounds in the Meadowlands parking lots, then back to the 'boken to hit the gym, then home for a couple hours to put Sunday's lesson together. Over to C&M's for a ride into the city, where we (Cregan, Kathy, and I) presented all the stuff we've been working on for the youth leaders - this year's strategy, our ministry basis, roles and responsibilities, etc...was supposed to include budget but we didn't have the copies with us. But the church has already given us a pretty solid non-official nod at our first number, so from the sounds of it this should be a huge year for the youth ministry. After the meeting all the kids showed up as we were taking them to the Metrostars game. Let me tell you what, there is a reason Giant's Stadium doesn't have to open up anything but the lower level seating for this soccer team. Whew. There were a couple fights in the game, which made it more interesting, but still... Anyway it was fun being out with the kids. (Click on the picture for more...notice me, wearing my A's hat, in full support of the LAST MEANINGFUL GAME of our season, which we politely gave to the freakin Angels...the long wait to Spring training begins again.)

Today was church, youth group, home for some computer time, evening service here in Hoboken, then groceries.

Figure I owe the blog a solid since I've been so shoddy lately, so I offer you pictures from way back when I was on vacation.

This is Bedford, our tour guide at the Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley, CA. Bedford was an older gentleman but he had a good sense of humor and seemed to know about as much as a fella could know about the history of the mines in the area, and especially the people who ran them. Empire is the oldest and richest gold mine in the Golden State, it began operations in 1850 and closed in 1956. There are approximately 367 miles of tunnel in its system, and during the 106 years of operation, only 26 deaths occurred, very few of which were due to what you might imagine a typical mine accident to be (cave-ins, suffocation, etc.). You'll find a lot of pictures from the estates that sat above the mines (where the rich folk who owned them lived) and a few as well of a massive mine map that the mine used to map out its own tunnels as well as the other major mines in the area (its the dark room with a big metal network behind glass). I thought it was fascinating. They even had info on competitor's mines in the area so the whole thing was kept secret the entire time the mines were operating.

Click on Bedford to see my pictures from my stay in Nevada City (CA) with the grandparents. You'll also find pictures from the Draft Horse Classic in there - just look for the massive horses. Also a couple from the running trail along the canal that I ran on and a couple from the lake my grandparents live near. They're all mixed up, thanks to imagestation's photo-upload "chaos" function, which cannot be adjusted.

That's the mountain that taunts me. Click on it for more Yosemite pix - notice how close you can get to the deer in the morning when they come to feed on the trees near the cabins. Cool, but also sad. A friend at church tonight said the Bison in Yellowstone are the same way. This shot is from early in the morning, the air was cold and clean and tasted good when you breathed it. I love the air in Yosemite, but especially in the morning. Its one of my favorite places in the world, hands down. Side note - ran into a buddy from GCC who was there with his wife - Jeremy...something. I could of sworn he was a year behind me but a brief scan of the Crimson for his year turns up nothing. I'll probably never see him again, but he was always a cool kid, so it was nice to see him.

Well, here's what the deal will be for the rest of the fall. I'll work all week, usually too long, try and get to the gym 3-4 nights a week, the first Monday evening of every month is MCM (leader's ministry at church, where the leaders for the various ministries have a worship/lesson/prayer time), Tuesdays are Men's Accountability, Wednesday's are Home Fellowship Group, and Thursdays are gym and cleaning. Fridays are gym and chinese food and leave me alone, except for the weekends we pack up and head out of town (mainly for Young Life camps upstate with the youth group). Saturdays are the various Saturday cram-ins (including putting lessons together) and Sundays are church-youth group-church.

This will be my third year working with the kids here, and I'm excited. We've got a new set-up, new material, and already it seems like a really good plan. Today's lesson and small groups went really, really well and Jenny and I were both excited about that.

Ok, gotta run. Enjoy the visuals.


Thank you, Jim...

My fellow Americans, you've just witnessed a debate.

In all honesty, I was going to resist the urge to blog.

After a long day's suffering, I met J-lo at the Starbux across the street for a debrief on last Sunday's high school lesson. Turns out my presentation of the lesson took 2 minutes, while the rest of the hour and a half was comprised of analysis of my relational weirdness. Correct...but...whatever. I think we'll be better friends for it. J is a good girl. If she could be less like me, she'd be a lot better.

Lots of talking on the busy sidewalks of NY, then I finally decided to leave my gym bag in the office and rush home for a brief grocery stop and home just in time, literally 5 seconds before the candidates took the stage, for the debates.

Basically a solid 80% of it was on Iraq, with some North Korea and Iran diversion. I liked how civil they were, but I think this was just another mistake in the string of very bad decisions for Kerry. Why, just today, his website listed his preference for mandatory national service. Convenient that the page has been removed.

The one thing that I did notice, throughout the debate...let's put it this way. If, in November, moderator Jim's vote will determine the presidency, John Kerry will win in a landslide. If the public's vote determines, Bush in a landslide. Kerry looked exclusively, directly at Jim for the entirety of the debate, and referred to him by his first name many times over. Bush looked the American people in the eye and stood by his decisions.

God bless Texas.

While I realize that I owe a Netflix review on 1) BOB, 2) Mystic River, and 3) Playmakers, which were all great in their own regard...

I now return to watching my Netflixed copies of Sportsnight, which, eerily, began in '98 (from what I gather) and therefore continues to provide cut scenes of the 2 towers.

You put any red-blooded American in a sound proof room and make him look at pictures of the towers, all lit up with human life. I guarantee you, Bush's margin of approval goes up. Guarantee.

More Of The Same, please.