We've had our necessary holiday reprieve and are feeling quite rested and well fed. Except for the last 48 hours or so, in which there's been little sleep thanks to a delayed red-eye back to JFK, getting in around 9:30am this morning. Not to mention the husky, huffy, hurried German couple sitting in my row that practically stood on my shoulders as we waited to get off the plane. But let's back up a little...

Got in early Christmas morning, cleaned up some leftovers, hit the sack.

Christmas on a Sunday sucks. You've got church in the morning then the meal in the afternoon then rushing to get presents opened then off to church again to see little bro play the offertory, then over to some friends-of-the-family's place that you've never been to, and there's no one your age around and after one rum and coke you're ready to go home and throw a movie in (Road to Perdition). But the food was pretty good.

Then its Monday. We slept in, hung out with the grandparents for a bit before they went back home, then all took off to check out the lighthouse at Point Reyes (pictured, from the crapcam) - a little north of San Fran. I took my camera all the way home and didn't take it out once. Typical. Ended the day with a long hunt for a good seafood dinner that was finally found, where I first suggested we look, coincidentally.

Tuesday we kicked around for a bit then went to see Munich. Despite some seemingly gratuitous content, you have to respect Spielberg's theatrical talent. Especially considering that the story is basically one person's interpretation of events that we know happened, but have precious little detail on. There's a fascinating Time Magazine article the original event, and if you're up for the long read, there's the more authoritative Israeli Response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre and the Development of Independent Covert Action Teams (thanks much to MeFi). As some have pointed out, the film did seem a bit sympathetic to the Palestinian side of things, but...que sera.

Wednesday the fam went to see Narnia and I ended up sneaking out to catch King Kong. Or King Long. Nice CG effects and whatnot, but there was about an hour of movie in there that could have been left on the editing room floor and it still would have been a great (better?) movie. And Jack Black trying to play a serious character is pretty hard to take. Then we hit Mac Grill for another great night out - lots of wine and food and good times.

I was originally supposed to fly back Weds night / Thurs morn, but being the dolt that I am I decided to go ahead and extend my stay a few days since I completely forgot that Danielle and her cousin were going to be up in the city to see her new nephew and hang out with the Daves. So, yeah, totally missed her. Did some shopping on Thurs and ended up flying back all this morning - flight was delayed til about a 1:20am departure. I watched ESPN as long as I could manage before pounding a couple of the mini Jacks and tried to close my eyes for an hour or so, then spent the last hour or so of the flight desperately wishing it would be over.

Home by midday, and shortly after that Anna and her friend showed up, I dropped them at the PATH, and haven't heard from them since - but they're staying here tonight so I'm waiting around for them to get back, as I forgot to give them keys. Tomorrow they take off then Margy and one of her boys and maybe another friend or something are showing up - crashing here after whatever New Years' event they end up at. Me - I may end up with them, maybe at a party on the UWS, who knows. I'm avoiding the whole $150 club scene this year.

I'm still on CA time tonight and kind of wished I had gone out, but its a little late to get started at this point. Suffice to say, next year, I am getting home in plenty of time to make it to the authoritative New Year's Eve Eve event (as the Hulk). Bummed I missed that.

So there's your big long boring update. Here's some more links to make up for it:

Self-proclaimed top 25 most interesting webcams of 2005. None of these cams have crap on the Otter cam.

Good guide for ripping your CD's to mp3s.

Not sure how completely un-biased and accurate Gwynne Dyer's 2005 Year-Ender is, but its an interesting read.

A belated but still heartfelt Christmas carol from Napoleon and friends.

Find which movie you should sneak into after the one you actually paid for ends.

Missed my chance (again) on getting something submitted for the Paraclete Fiction Award (technically its not deadline yet, but I have nothing even close to that length that could be edited in time). I don't really do fiction but I need to make some attempts to at least round out my rudimentary skills.

I didn't really check this out, the title just struck me as funny - what better state to abandon?

Let's invade Canada. No, seriously.

There's more, but we'll have to save it for later - I need to get back to unpacking and hammering out my thoughts on my latest attempt at something resembling a well- thought-out article.


He did not wait till the world was ready
Till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
And prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
Turned water into wine. He did not wait

Till hearts were pure. In joy he came
To a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
He came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
To heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
The Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
To raise our songs with joyful voice,
For to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
- Madeleine L'Engle


Oh yeah...I guess I haven't mentioned it, but I'm flying home to Cali for a few days... actually I'm sitting in JFK right now - flight was delayed about an hour. So instead of getting into Sacto with a full 15 minutes of Christmas Eve left, I get in with an hour of Christmas day already burned. So...yeah.

Thankfully it looks like they got Slogger working for the new Firefox 1.5, so I can catch up on a bunch of my online reading I've been meaning to do. In the meantime I'm just sitting here surfing / people watching / actively listening for flight announcements / making new friends. Liz is from near Sundance in Utah and is going home for the holidays. We had a nice conversation after she came over to plug her cell phone in the same outlet I'm using to keep the puter going. Its the only one I was able to find in this terminal, and its not that close to my gate, so I need to disconnect now and go see what's going on at this point - they've been quiet for a while.

So I'll be back next Thursday morning (unless you are a robber, reading this, in which case I am home right now cleaning my gun collection). Still not sure if the sis is staying with me for New Years but I guess I'll figure that out this week. No idea about New Years plans yet - kind of procrastinating that til the extremely last minute.

A Merry Christmas to you all and I'll blog next week as available.


Ok first of all congrats to me for finally making a Friday post. Secondly, there will be a new profile pic come 06, it just needs to happen at this point. There's about a bajillion updates to this blog I need to make, but that is one that is going to happen.

Christmas Eve eve is a tough scene to find. It is out there, oh yes - in years past I have found it and enjoyed it in full. But finding it is no easy task. Made no easier this year by the fact that Christmas Eve is on a Saturday. You would think that this would actually make it easier to find, but you would be wrong.

I'm pretty sure it was downtown tonight, and since we started on the UES and ended up in Hell's Kitchen, we were pretty much doomed from the start. After our 3rd unsuccessful fly-by, I called off - I have a big day of packing and flying and football watching tomorrow. Which...by the way...it already is - tomorrow.

Happy Christmas Eve. And I wasted a hot new shirt on no scene this morning. Bah humbug.


Weak links. Weak in nature and number. What did you expect? I'm having trouble even getting a post up these last few days, let alone finding time to surf.

I might mention I've been suffering from the very real effects of Acute Internet Withdrawal Syndrome (AIWS). Its painful and debilitating. I can practically hear the net moving on without me. I can't take 8 weeks back in that ugly building without a connection of some sort. I have to figure something out. The situation has grown dire.

What do you care...you're here to get your links.

Cool Firefox Extension for bloggers.

World RPS Society - didn't make the championships this fall, but I'm going to try my darndest to get there next year.

One of the guys who started the internet has started a blog.

Ebert picks the top 10 movies of the year. I liked Crash and really want to see both Syriana and Munich...but how do you leave out Narnia? Especially when you put King Kong in...

Engadget gives a cool how-to on streaming almost anything via VLC.

Google news of the week is...interesting. Oh and the Google link of the week is the release of the 2005 Zeitgeist - these things just keep getting better and better.

How much do I love the internet? Well, its a wonderful internet (be sure to click all over the pictures and use the sliders to get the full effect).


Have you ever been in line at the grocery store when the person in front of you pulled out food stamps to pay for their food? I have. Its a strange experience. The clerk has usually seen the stamps before, and has to do the normal formalities with them. But in the meantime, what are the people in line doing? That's right - looking at this person's grocery selections and judging. Name-brand diapers... pre-shredded cheese...microwave dinners. People can't help it - what was, just a minute ago, a normal selection of groceries has instantly become a standard by which to judge a stranger.

She's usually the young single mom type. I live in an interesting neighborhood - one where the line between the rich dink wasps and the struggling Puerto Rican teenage mother is all too visible. But it doesn't matter who he or she is. To pull out those stamps and subject yourself to the judgment of the strangers gathered around you must be a humbling experience.

My inclination is to wish there was something I could do for the person in front of me with no real money for food for their family...but in that situation, you can only make matters worse for the person by doing anything but keeping your peace.

Most of us will never know what that feeling is like. We'll never know the shame of not having, the humility of needing. And that, I believe, hinders us perhaps more than we'll ever know. We're the very people Christ was talking about when he talked about a camel passing through the eye of a needle. We live in the richest country on the planet, we have more than anyone in history ever did. And still, our main drive is to get more.

I believe this has spiritual implications. Not knowing any sense of real physical need, its near impossible to experience the severe spiritual destitution we exist in. Not impossible... but very, very hard to comprehend the desperation of our need.

This Christmas I'm praying that although we may have given much already this year, we'll still use this holiday season as an opportunity to give so much more to those who truly will be in need. Every year we have a holiday where we give gifts in plenty to those we love - and there's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with the fact that every year, there are still so many who need so much, and go without.

Give until way beyond it hurts. Its not like you'll be using food stamps in January.

(This was supposed to be my Tuesday post, which obviously didn't happen. Work on the new project has been a little nuts, combined with the fact that I'm trying to get on a new sleeping / working out schedule. More on this later...)


Another Friday no-post. Bush-league. 2 in a row...sad.

Eh its this new party lifestyle I've picked up - its no good. Especially considering that I have to coach early Friday evening before I run home to shower, change, and head out - makes for a big night at the end of the long week. I need to go back to my normal Friday crash, and just stick with the Saturday night insanity.

Saturday was work, nap, then over to Ko's to watch the games and play poker. Ko, Moody, Keller, Buller, Keegs, and myself. I cleaned up pretty good til it was just me and Keller, then he started slowly taking all my chips. I quit while I was still up, but I had been a lot more up. Sunday was the Christmas service, then the Jr. High X-mas party (I did carols on the guitar), then out to Chevy's and a Narnia showing with the Sr. Highers. Worked all evening.

I'm on a project at work, again. Still Business Development, still not chargeable. And...its in the building I left last March with no desire to ever return. That's right - I'm back at Macy's. I feel like the traded player walking back into his ex-home-stadium, with a slight chip on his shoulder to show up the old team with a record-breaking performance.

It is weird.

But not all bad - I'm not on the shoddy floors I used to be on with the merchants - instead I'm in the plush exec offices working with the directors of marketing. At this point I can't really get into what I'm doing with them, at least not in this venue. Suffice to say I'll be there through Feb at this point, and we're hoping it turns into chargeable work at some point.

What else. Oh, I'm going to the championship game in my fantasy football pool. More word later in the week on what team I'll be starting exactly, but the guy I'm going up against has LT...so that will be interesting - especially since I'm hurting at RB right now.

Oh and a big "hi" to new reader Mrs. Gasiewicz - glad you found a Knowles out on the net. Oh...and to all my visitors from Gridskipper - who linked to lil' ol' me today.


So...what's new on the net this week...

My homeboy Garland recently had an article about his fight with cancer published on Relevant.

The end of paying for directory assistance?

Google Video can help you do useful things, like watching a couple hours of ping pong practice.

Google Music Search (slightly more useful).

I Will Knot! (via Lifehacker)

When will you be debt free? I didn't have to use the tool - the answer is "not soon."

I've started listening to Air Traffic Control live feeds - namely JFK approach - pretty cool.

RandomProxy! would be cool if it worked.

JibJab on Jay Leno tonight - big break for them. (via CNET News - notice the actual address when you get there, which also points out that Wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica)

I've contributed to Metafilter a couple more times recently, with relatively more success than the first time.


You've got the age-old FireFox dilemma: you love using the latest version of FireFox available, but you hate having to sit around and wait for all of your can't-live-without-em extensions to be updated for use in your shiny new FireFox version.

When I recently got FF version 1.5, I found that it automatically found updates for roughly half of my innumerable extensions. While I could live without some of these extensions that didn't update, there were a precious few that have become too much a part of my net surfing experience to live without.

Lifehacker recently pointed out one way to hack FF to get some of your extensions working, but if you're a slightly-less- than-super-user like myself, you too are a little leery of playing around with my "about:config" menu (which, while possibly enabling some extensions, has the potential to hinder others). Instead, I prefer to play around with the individual extension files themselves and see if I can't get them to work that way...and here's how to do it yourself, in less than 5 minutes:

1. In FF, click "Tools" on the main menu, then select "Extensions". This brings up your Extensions menu and shows you which ones didn't update (they're the shaded ones).

2. Mosey over to Mozilla's Extensions Site, and search keywords until you find that not-yet-updated extension. Right click on the download link and save the file to your desktop (do not install!).

3. Right click the file on your desktop, then select "Open with" and choose WinZip or whatever compression program you use (you can get WinZip here).

4. Find the file "install.rdf" and extract this file (and only this file) to your desktop. Right click the install.rdf file on your desktop, and select "Open with" and use WordPad or NotePad to view the file.

5. Scroll down through the jargon until you find the lines that start with "em:minVersion" and "em:maxVersion" (they'll have the normal "<" signs around them). For maxVersion, change the "1.0" to "1.6" in the text file and save it over the old version on your desktop.

6. Open up the WinZip (or other program) window, then drag the new "install.rdf" file from your desktop into that window (make sure you choose "Add and Replace" so that the file is replaced. Close the WinZip window.

7. Now open up FireFox, and simply drag the new extension file from your desktop onto FF - anywhere on FF will work - like over this very page for example.

8. Watch it install, restart FF, and check to see if it worked for you.

I've used this method to update a few extensions so far, like Scribe for example, but please don't hold me accountable if it doesn't seem to work for your particular extension.


You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
- Ps. 51

More reflections on David's psalm. Here he hits on a problem with the difference between religion and spirituality that we still deal with today.

Starting out, he realizes that God isn't concerned with the things that we do so much as the state of the heart. But one short verse later, he returns to extolling the virtues of doing the very things that he just claimed God didn't place much value in.

So...which is it?

Well, as David realized, both. But in a new way. For all of history, men have been doing things for God in order to get something from him. Cain and Able, the pharisees in Jesus' day, and the religiously overt people we see in our day and age, doing the same "good things" to please God. The problem is with the motive - most times we are doing our good works to not in fact please God so much as to get something we want from Him. Like David realized, God isn't looking for that.

But God can still delight in these very works, when they are done for a different motive. When committed with 'a broken and contrite heart,' these "good things" take on a new motive - one that wants to please God because of who God is and what He has already done and promised to us.

One method seeks to get something, while the other seeks to give out of joy - a joy that comes from knowing and resting in what we already have been given. Giving in this way is the truest form of love, and even the smallest offering given in this spirit is sure to delight.

It is so far from being true that [salvation by grace alone] makes us remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it we would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore, it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful; for we...speak of a faith which is called in Scripture a '‘faith working through love,'’ which excites us to the practice of those works which God has commanded in His Word.... [Otherwise] we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be continually vexed if they relied not on the merits of our Savior. - The Belgic Confession (1561) Chapter 24


Saturday came and we got on the road a few hours late, so GCC was out of the question. We rolled into Margy's place at about 9pm, where her quasi-Christmas party was getting started. I call it quasi because the plan was for everyone to head out to various drinking establishments later that evening. Dave, Margy, I and a few others ended up at what is probably one of the nicest places in Pittsburgh, which was pretty average by NYC standards. All in all it fit the bill, we drank and danced the night away.

Sunday Dave and I met James and Beth for breakfast, then headed for the game. Pre- gamed it up, caught kick-off, and proceeded to enjoy an awesome game. I played the Bus this week in my fantasy pool and he went in for a touch T.W.I.C.E. Thanks to that, I'll make the playoffs in the 4th spot in my fantasy pool, so there's still a shot at decent money. By the third quarter the snow was dumping hard-core, and anything that wasn't covered by a thick layer of waterproof down-insulation was quickly very cold, and very wet. But it was an awesome game. Did I mention that?

Back to Margy's place to thaw out, then we took her to dinner at one of Shady Side's finer establishments. Its weird to go to one of the nicest places in one of the nicest neighborhoods, and still not spend very much money. If only I could break free of the city and move to suburbia. Anyway she took off to study for a final, and we hung for a while. My buddy Seth showed up and we caught up for a while.

Crashed that night at Margy's then D and I got on the road this morning. Man, there was a lot of snow there this weekend. Caught a flat about 120 miles outside of the city, but that was kind of fun. Dave dropped me off in the city for a check-up at my derma. I might mention that she's done quite an incredible job at helping me with my recurring winter condition. Still waiting for her to deliver on her talk about introducing me to Miss USA.

Headed home, unpacked...and now I'm just plain tired.


So now I'm a basketball coach. Well, assistant coach. Kinder talked me into whipping this group of kids into shape, and man...are we starting practice way too close to our first game. Anyway, should be good times.

Before that I saw Narnia this afternoon. The. Hotness.

I see a fair number of movies in the theater, but there's only been a very few that I needed to see a second time in the theater - Saving Private Ryan, the Matrix, CTHD, LOTR, that's really about it. This is now one of those movies.

Dave and I are getting in the car tomorrow and heading for Pittsburgh. We're stopping in the Grove to visit my brother Jonny for dinner, then down to Margy's place in the city. Plan is to head out on the city with lots of her young single friends. Going there is always fun because you can party like a rock-star and its still cheaper than partying like a loser in NYC.

Sunday is the Bears @ the Steelers, and we are sitting first level. Who knows what after that...then Monday the long drive back. Talk at you then.


Its like almost 2am. I just got home. And I left the bar/ lounge/ whatever it was EARLY. So its quality over quantity this week when it comes to links. Ok well...better put, its just not quantity this week. I haven't had time to surf, so you just deal with what you get, ok?

As a man who would go to fairly great lengths for cheese, I can't really frown on this.

Pirates rule.

This is pretty cool, if you're a total nerd, like me. Er...I mean...not me.

Ok so watching a few minutes of Mario re-enactment isn't your thing. Well I've got just what the doctor ordered, in that case: an hour and fifty minutes of ping pong.

This person apparently feels the same way about dolphins as I do about squirrels. (language warning)

Serious link of the week. My buddy Dave's mom was on Nightline last night (Dave's dad is the pastor of our church), talking about Narnia. She used to correspond with C.S. Lewis back when he was alive - yes, she is the coolest older lady I know (after my mom, of course). See clips here.

That's all. Come back tomorrow if you want more. Maybe there will be some, who knows.


My initial impression from the bits of news I've caught so far today - the Air Marshals completed their jobs with precision and professionalism. Its a shame some one had to die. But before you say they shouldn't have killed the man, put yourself on that plane and watch a man running by you with a bag screaming that he has a bomb. And as far as shooting to disable - Air Marshals do not have that luxury, based on the environment they have the duty to protect, and therefore are never trained to do so in the first place. That means they shot him in the head, although they won't tell you that on the news.


Ever wonder if Ebert gets paid off? I do. Point of fact I wonder if old Siskel found out that his "friend" Roger was lining his pockets behind the scenes, and threatened to rat the pudgy scum-bag out. But Roger, being the evil one, knew just what to do - all it took was one quick phone call to the powers that be in Hollywood, and Siskel got the big thumbs down, if you know what I mean...

So, yeah...I need to update my sidebar with like the *year* of movies I've netflixed. Not to mention the fact that A Very Special Christmas has topped the music list long enough to be seasonal again. I feel like one of those trailer park folk that never bother to take the lights down. Shame.

Iiiiiiiiin the meantime, I've been to the theater a few times lately.

Aeon Flux - Could a movie with my beloved Char be bad? No. But the plot development could be a little weak. This is clearly the type of movie that you already have to have some affinity for the subject matter or at the very least genre to safely assume you'll appreciate it. Yes, I appreciated (yes, I am a tool).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Is it just me or do these Harry Potter movies keep getting successively more and more fantastic? If they make the next one in similar fashion, they'll have to hand out chin-straps at the door to keep people's jaws from dropping any further. I'm talking strictly visuals, by the way. The story is basically the same every time. Big problem, how will Harry save the day, gets some help from his friends, and aren't we glad everything is OK. Oh and dark days lie ahead, Harry.

Jarhead - already talked about this one, but it was pretty good. About what I expected. Jamie Foxx's character could have been better developed.

A History of Violence - no surprise, there was some pretty violent violence in this movie. Some other gratuity as well, if you will, but on a whole, quite a movie. Felt long, but still pretty intriguing.

I know there's some others I've been to but I can't think of any more at the moment. I'm too excited about Narnia.


Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I've been studying the 51st Psalm, which David wrote after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then ordered the death of her husband Uriah. This Psalm is one of the so-called "prayers of penitence," and as such it deals primarily with the extent of David's sin and the profound need for repentance that he knew.

One thing in particular struck me recently, the word 'create.' The Hebrew word David used was the same word used in Genesis to describe God's creation of the world. Why is this striking? Because of the very nature that a psalm about sin and repentance - it leads us to focus on ourselves and our separation from God. Sin is something we do, as is repentance, an act we commit to counter the sin we wish we hadn't done.

But when David asks for a pure heart, he realizes that the repentance that he needs in his life is not one that he can accomplish, not a gift he can bring before God. He knew that he needed God to recreate his heart, the very center of his being. Only then could he live the life of repentance he so passionately desired.

David had to look forward to this new creation of his heart expectantly, trusting in a work of God that he did not yet know. While he had symbols of what such a re-creation would involve, he perhaps didn't comprehend the fullest implications of what he was asking. But we know the story of Christ in its completed state. The more we understand the implications of his work on the cross, the more our hearts can be re-created to bring about the change that we know we need, but cannot work out on our own.
True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair. - Westminister Confession of Faith, 17.4

One of the really surprising things about the present bewilderment of humanity is that the Christian Church now finds herself called upon to proclaim the old and hated doctrine of sin as a gospel of cheer and encouragement. The final tendency of the modern philosophies has been that the influences of heredity and environment, of glandular make-up Â…the unconsciousÂ…and the mechanisms of biological development bind us fast in the chains of an iron determinism. The dreadful conclusion is that, while we are not responsible for evil, we cannot alter it. If we could really be persuaded that we are miserable sinners—that the trouble is not outside us but inside us, and that therefore, by the grace of God, we can do something to put it right, we should receive that message as the most hopeful and heartening thing that can be imagined. -– Dorothy Sayers



It finally got here. Crept up on me in the dark this year, can't remember it doing that in a long time. I'm getting old. I was asleep when it arrived. But it was a great surprise to wake up to on Sunday morning. And we're getting a few more inches tonight, and I seem to be the only person I've talked to that is disappointed that it will only be a few inches. People are weird.

No Friday post. Shameful. Not even a late Saturday post, or a make up Sunday post. Nothing. Nada. And there won't be much tonight, either. I've actually got a new writing endeavor to embark on that I've been needing to do for a long time, and am finally getting around to kicking off tonight. So that's going to take a while to set up and get started. And it makes me feel not so bad about Friday

Weekend recappery follows, skip this paragraph to avoid the drivel of my Fri-Sun life. Friday was spent in the office, got the flu shot, met Cregan for our new lesson-prep hour on Friday evening, headed to C&M's place and put Titus down while they went out to dinner with a friend. Had to turn down the masses desiring my presence in the city that evening and instead saw the late show of Aeon Flux with Dave. Saturday was cleaning and loosely watching some of the games. That night was dinner in the city then back to the boken for Cregan and Mindi's annual party. Earlier than normal this year as M is large with child, due on the 20th. Crowd was slightly more sparse than usual, but still a great time, port tasting and all. Sunday was morning service, high school group, and a stop on the UWS to help Sonja get a massive tree into her place. Spent the evening folding laundry and hating folding laundry.

This week is some local-market-lead development work out of the New York office (I've been having to head in to the main office, which is a pain, compared to the laid-back -style of the West Village Avanade office). And on the side I'll be continuing the push to get placed with Home Depot, which we just sold in Atlanta. That's about the perfect commute for me, if I have to travel - not to far, and to a destination that's not likely to see a lot of crippling winter storms.

With the arrival of snow comes my annual NEED for getting on a mountain. This year the snow is still pretty light in the north-east, so its likely another season started during my Christmas trip home, which is fine. I like starting my year back on my mountains. But its going to be a long three weeks.


Video link: the voice-over guys.

Although this has to be fake, its almost scary that someone would write it that seriously.

18 tips to teach your body. In all my years of running I never heard the one about exhaling on the left step. And it works!

Great writing style on the anger of NYC.

PC World's 100 Best Products of 2005. 1 and 2 are right on.

PBS has been airing pre-taped concerts from The Celtic Woman (really women). The music is incredible, and they're in NYC in March, but the tickets are mad spendy. Early birthday / late Christmas present, anyone?

Speaking of FireFox, Google is now actually paying people to get their friends and whomever else they can to convert to FireFox - $1 per person. Think its a joke? Its not. (Button should appear on my blog by tomorrow)

Today I was trying to find out if that rumor I've heard about Hoboken having more bars per capita than any other US city is true or not. I haven't found conclusive proof either way yet. But Hoboken's Wiki is pretty interesting nonetheless.

OpenStreetMap looks like kinda a mash-up of Google Maps and Wikipedia. Cool.


Traffic update time. Its been an interesting year, and as you can see, in overall site visits, I'm definitely seeing a slow upward trend. Now, as I've said time and again, I'm really writing this blog just to be writing, to exercise the muscles, so really, traffic doesn't concern me. However, I have seen the highest amounts of traffic at those times that I've written something that a lot of people end up reading. Primary examples of that include my post here on this blog about my first ImprovEverywhere experience. Thanks to their link I'm still getting random hits from their site - those readers helped push May past 500 unique visitors*, first month to accomplish that fact. An even better example came along in August, when RelevantMagazine.com ran an article of mine - that helped to push August over the 1000 unique visitors mark, nearly doubling May. Of course I also hosted Christian Carnival (still far and away my longest blog post ever) in August, so that brought a good deal of traffic too.

Point being, the more I write good, readable pieces, the more traffic I get, so I'm glad about the upward scale I'm seeing. And hopefully that will continue - I'm putting together a piece with the guys at Thrillist - don't know that I'll get direct blog traffic from that, but at least it will be out there. Also, I've started posting at Metafilter, after being a long-time reader. And commenting on sites like Metafilter and Lifehacker brings some traffic to boot. And I still need to get more stuff over to Dawn at Relevant...sheesh I've been meaning to do that like, forever.

So what else...referrers - not a lot of change here. In order of referrals, the top 5 go:

(thanks to the Next Blog button up top)
Hotel California (still hanging onto #5 Dan, congrats)

I should point out that my blog is now making the top 10 results when you Google my first and last name, so I've started to see a number of hits for people searching for that - some from California.gov domains, ironically. Not sure if those people are putting 2 and 2 together on who I am, or am not, for that matter. Also, Googling the blog's name also gets about a top-5 result.

Still have repeat visitors out there, although more than 90% of my traffic is fresh blood. You regular readers know who you are - suffice to say the "Over 100 Visits" title is no longer given to one person only, and we're seeing a good deal of growth in the "26 to 100 Visits" category.

That's about it. You can stop being fascinated now.

* by "unique visitors" we mean new, first time clicks to my blog. Repeat views skews the overall numbers a good deal higher.


Ever been in church and had to listen to someone - the priest or minister, or some person of some sort, over-pray? I mean, they're praying, but it goes so long that you find your mind wandering, more than once, to who-knows- what? I sure have. I find I have to repetitively chastise my mind for wondering if the Steelers will start the Bus this week while meanwhile the prayer drones on. And I don't think I'm alone. I think suffering from Overprayer syndrome is a common malady.

You go to church enough times in enough places, you're bound to run into this. There's lots of different styles. There's the Biblical Knowledge Overprayer-er: the guy who's praying about maybe one or two coherent, actual issues, but there's so much scriptural rhetoric laced in that you can hardly tell what you're praying about in the first place. "Therefore, Father, as the Apostle taught us, 'we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands...' and 'if we have any encouragement from being united in Christ,' we ask that etc etc etc...". Half the time I wonder if this guy is just reading highlighted passages.

There's the ever-popular Current Events Update Overprayer-er: this guy can actually save you from having to buy the Sunday Times on your way home. You start out praying for the peace of the world but two seconds later its the war in Iraq and the unrest in the Middle East and the earthquakes in Pakistan and India and the continuing recovery from the Tsunami and the relief efforts in New Orleans and our leaders in Washington and our leaders in the city and the poor people in our midst and those still struggling with losses from 9-11 and everyone who's died from Avian Flu and the mad cows and the UN's referendum on the price of grain in...you get my point. These overprayers have a tendency to be quite depressing, if you really listen to what they're saying - too often the focus on what's wrong in the world, and not God's redemptive work and power to heal.

Then there's the Preachy Overprayer-er. Preachers are often prone to this, for obvious reasons, but really anyone with an agenda can get rolling in this fashion. This prayer is the one that can many times go political in a hurry, and for this reason I suspect would be dangerous, if not for the very problem I'm addressing here - most of the listeners get lost in the verbosity of it all. Where they're probably most dangerous is when they are yielded on matters internal to the church itself.

Perhaps one of the hardest for me to criticize is the Passionate Overprayer-er. This person means well, with all his or her heart, 100%, all the way. But MAN. These can go longer than any of the aforementioned, and many times involve snippets of any or all of them, as well. By its very nature, the Passionate Overprayer is one that often lacks any real structure, and therefore becomes verbose for the sake of just plain old praying to pray. Its easily identified by how far it strays from what a conversation with another person should look like. What do I mean? Well, imagine you're asking your earthly father for something:
"Dad, I think I need to get an oil change."

"Well, how many miles has it been since your last one?"

"Not sure, really - they didn't give me that sticker on the corner of the windshield."

"Can you guess, at least?"

"Maybe 3000 miles? I don't know, had to be at least 8 months ago."

Now this is how the Passionate Overprayer-er would ask his earthly father, if he asked the same way he prayed:

"O Father, in your wisdom, give us guidance over this oil change, Father."

"Well, how many miles has it been since your last one?"

"Only you, great and merciful Father, know the day and the hour, Father."

"Can you guess, at least?"

"Father, O merciful Father, we can only wonder and marvel..."

See what I mean? Talk to your dad like that and he'd smack you upside the head.

I'm sure there are plenty of other types of over-prayers, but I suppose I've already offended at least a few people with certain prayer preferences just plenty. Yeah, scripture has a lot to say on prayer, and I'm paraphrasing here, with some humor interspersed, to boot. "Pray without ceasing," I know, but I think that we often mis-interpret that phrase. When the disciples asked Christ to teach them how to pray, he used roughly 60 words, total (depending on your translation). Perhaps "pray without ceasing" refers more to being in a constant state of prayer?

Like pausing to say a quick "Thank you" when your elevator goes straight to the floor you work on without stopping, or when you remember to wash the dishes so that your roommate won't have to do them (again). Or starting the morning with a quick request for enough to get you through the day. Or ending the day with some thoughts for someone else, rather than yourself. These all can be prayers in the 2 to 20 word range that put you in a state of mind that doesn't have to fight the tendency to wander. I'm not saying the public prayer doesn't have its place, when done well, on occasion. Its just that prayer is a rather personal thing, and when done by one, on behalf of the many, without being reigned in - seems to often lose its value for the sake of quantity.


Black Monday, or whatever they're calling it - apparently the day everyone gets back to work and starts their Christmas shopping on the internet. Why anyone would bother shopping anywhere else is beyond me - I don't plan on shopping anywhere else. Shopping online, I never have to leave the house, look for parking, navigate crowds, search endlessly for something they already sold out of, wait in line, wait in line again to get wrapped, forget where I parked, sit in traffic, and so on and so forth. Of course as I'm describing this arduous process that so many women seem to find worth the trouble to spend time shopping...its about the same thing I'll go through to watch a football game live. Not to mention that I'm driving to Pittsburgh to do that in a couple weeks.

My brother Jonny caught a ride back to college yesterday afternoon. We had a great week and a couple days together. He spent a few days tooling around the city on his own, we caught the G. Love show, saw the parade from the church offices...

...had dinner with the Cooke's, saw the Moma (this is Jonny and Matt appreciating one of the multitudes of boobs present there)...

...and the Met, saw Harry Potter, hit the Statue of Liberty...

...and even played poker with the guys Saturday night (I went big, tripled up on my buy in by night's end). Caught church on Sunday then put him on the road, came back and watched the games over at Ko's. I won my week in the pool and I think that means I clinch a playoff spot but the stupid Yahoo thing hasn't updated yet. Hard to see the 'burgh go down like that, especially with another tough game just 6 days out.

Never did get to those Friday links like I promised, so here's a couple or three bonus Monday links to make up for it...

The coolest clock ever.

Cool interview with the guys behind Homestarrunner.

For everyone who's ever hated not being able to get through to a real person when they need some customer service. Which is really like saying, "For everyone."


We might have learned, even from the poets, that Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. He has often rebuked us and condemned us but he has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us. We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child an artist may not take much trouble. But over the [magnum opus] of his life—the work which he loves—he will take endless trouble—and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way it is natural for us to wish that God had designed us for a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less. You asked for a loving God; you have one. Not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way…but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as an artist’s love for his work. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring. We should not ask that God’s love should reconcile itself to our present impurities—not more than the beggar maid could wish that the King should be content with her rags and dirt. What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not in the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall [finally] be happy. – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain


Thanks- giving.

Woke up early and went to the church offices with Jonny, Cisco, and the Cooke family to watch the parade - right on Broadway and 36th - good times all around. Came home and went straight back to bed for a couple hours before heading over to C&M's for a fabulous dinner. Still stuffed.

I've drummed on it a number of times in the recent past, but its been indelibly placed on my heart through the last few years: we have so much.

We've been born to incredible days - convenience, speed, and quality are paramount in everything we have - from travel to food to health care to entertainment. We have a peace and safety that, comparatively speaking, outweighs most all of the former eras in history. Our living standards continue to rise, and yet it seems like our drive to serve self rises in lock-step.

This holiday, I'd encourage you to consider giving charity rather than gifts. Having worked for corporations like Macy's in the past, I know only to well how much their fiscal year depends on the consumers coming out in droves to drop their savings on material purchases of things they feel they need. If we only knew the real meaning of the word 'need,' perhaps we'd seek to stimulate the economy in a way that actually helps those who do know real need.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. - Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation


Tonight I went to see G. Love and the Special Sauce with my brother Jonny, who's spending the week with me for his first Thanksgiving vacation from college (he's a freshman at my alma mater). Also with us was my buddy Cisco (same guy who lost the camera with the pictures of Dave Barry and me on it), who came up to crash at our place tonight and go see the parade in the morning. Which I'm still trying to figure a way out of, but haven't yet. Ah well...it will be bittersweet, seeing the parade but not being in it, for the first time.

Anyhow, G. Love was great. We were about 3 people deep from the stage, and at one pause between songs, I DEMANDED Rodeo Clowns, and G heard me, and told me he knew what he was doing up there. It was the next song he played. G is the man one of the most underrated musical geniuses (geniui?) of our generation. Also tonight I was surprised to learn how little known Jack Johnson is in NYC. Which, I guess, makes sense, but is strange all the same.

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'll try to find some time to throw up a decent evening post, but links will be a Friday event, this week.

Be thankful...


NPR runs a weekly column/ feature called This I Believe. To find out more about it, you can read on their site. This past week featured a bold essay from Penn Jillette, entitled "There is No God." My initial ripostes, in all their un-edited glory:

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do.
Jillette makes an important point here, right off the bat. Unfortunately, he also ostracizes the rest of the God-denying community by claiming he's reached some higher understanding than the majority of the simpleton un-believers. He then proceeds to use the same circular argument that Atheists themselves use to entrench their position. He just uses an elephant instead of the oft-used Santa Claus illustration.

Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
He gets down to the marrow of the issue by the end of his opening paragraph: he has 'personal, heartfelt definition's for reality and all that it contains, and, simply for the fact that these definitions are his own, they therefore must be right and true. He creates an absolute, exclusive position that you must accept if you are open-minded. More on this in a minute...

...some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."
He accomplished his goal - making the biggest leap of faith a person can make in this life.

I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough... Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven.
So he has love...but he doesn't have forgiveness:

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories.
How can you have love, but not really have any form of true forgiveness? Isn't that what the ultimate form of love is? Loving something that is perfect is easy - there's nothing to not love about it. Loving the imperfect - taking something with all its flaws and weaknesses, and loving it even more for the gaps in perfection that it bears - that is the essence of real, true love.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong.
And we're back to creating those exclusive points of view that we must be open-minded enough to accept. Jillette's problem is that he's so open-minded that his brains fall out. He makes the essential argument of the relativist movement itself - he claims to be able to be open to all kinds of different views, to say that what he believes is his own truth and what anybody else believes is their own truth, and everyone should agree that this is reality.

Except that can't be reality. To make that claim, that truth is relative, is to make an exclusive claim in and of itself. It necessarily says that my (David Knowles') view, an exclusive belief of a single God and single truth in this life, is wrong, because it doesn't accept other views. So the view that accepts all views must deny the views that won't accept all views - and so it defeats itself.

So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Ironic. I doubt he's very open to learning about my separate reality that believes in God. Because that would prove him wrong, and that's always fun.

No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Now, even for a guy like Jillette, this is idiotic. There's one thing everyone in the entire course of human history shares - we're all going to break down and die at some point. Suffering has, relatively speaking, remained a constant throughout history. There's no getting around suffering in this life - with or without God. But, without God, there is certainly no getting around suffering in the next life.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
His last statement leads me to clarify the over-arching attitude of my response - I'm not angered or upset by what he says so much as I am, simply, saddened. To think that he, and others, truly believe that beauty, sex, and Jell-o are as good as things will ever get. To look at what's wrong in this world and shrug your shoulders and "make the best" of this life? That's an astoundingly flippant response to this life.

But that's how you have to look at the gift of life if you can't accept the reality of the One that gives the gift.

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God...'" - Ps. 14:1


So yeah...last Monday we were talking about what I did last Saturday, which happened to be jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Finally got the pictures back.

Best view I've ever had of the planet.

Best view I've ever had of a plane.

Looking for terra firma.

Hey, there it is - way down there.

Ooh, I think I see Canada.

This is what you call a "life changing experience," caught on film.

This winter will be like any other - I'll get in as much time on the side of a snow-covered mountain as I possibly can. But for the first time - ever - summer won't find me yearning for the next snowfall - I'll be too busy doing this.


Smallest Lord's Prayer

Risk via Google Maps (yeah I know, I'm catching up on old links at this point)

This dude beats all when it comes to those transparent monitor shots.

Things You Never Knew Existed : Faucet Light

Dontclick.it is verrrry interesting...

Not even Google knows this one.

Mania TV is like crappy MTV, basically...but its still where television is going, mark my words.

VHEMT: scary.

Greatest Internet Moments

Finally found that awesome hurricane surfing ad from Powerade (plus some other cool ones).

The Weather Channel finally realized they needed to make it interesting to get people to watch.

One Red Paper Clip

Bill Watterson's interesting commencement address at Kenyon College.

Could it be?

Festoon lets you see your instant messager buddies.

Kazakhstan threatens "Borat" with court.

Microsoft's end user license.

Here's hoping they bring Phoneswarm to NYC. Maybe I can help...


Fun Friday morning linkery for you - last night went a little late for me, ended up going out to see Jarhead... movie- making genius - one of those movies that makes you feel like you are there, like you are beginning to understand the situation for the first time. Which isn't an easy or pleasant experience, but seemingly necessary, at the same time.

So, that's why I forgot to blog. Double dose of links today to make up for it, here's the first:

The Dialectizer - courtesy of Anna... reading the NY Times in Swedish Chef makes it so much more enjoyable.

Google Analytics is the Google link of the week. Haven't installed it yet on my site, but I'm sure that will happen before the weekend is out. Lots of Google Maps goodies this week too...

MashMap - someone finally mashed movie theaters and Google maps together.

Canada's finally catching on to the magic of Google Maps.

Wayfaring appears to be a cleaner, more user friendly, COMPLETE RIP OFF of gmap pedometer, which was developed by a friend of a friend who happens to live in Hoboken.

Map Sex Offenders - useful but kinda scary Google Maps hack.

Thrillist looks like it should be helpful in finding those speak-easy NYC insider secrets that I seek after like a crack addict. Like this place, which I had read about but only stumbled upon last Friday (sadly without reservations).

del.icio.us' import function has been down lately so I haven't been able to get my favorites uploaded even though I finally found the time this week. So instead I squandered the spare minutes on their popular media files lists: mp3, mpeg, wav, etc...

All the water and all the air - hard to believe.

Volvo Ocean Race 2005 - 2006... I want to do this.

Village Voice hits the nail on the head when it comes to one of my most regular reads - Metafilter.

Hopefully you can find a working link to the video this guy talks about - its freakin awesome.

Factbites is supposedly "Where results make sense," but I haven't played around with it to verify that yet.

FlightAware is cool. Too bad the terrorists have internet access.

More to come this evening...when and if my day ever comes to an end. Brother Jonny gets in tonight to spend the week with me, so there should be plenty of watching Anchorman and whatnot...


In the course of my regular internets trolling, I recently came across the Harry Potter Legal Age Countdown Clock. Why anyone would be so obsessed with that pasty-white bad-haired pansy is beyond me. But it got me thinking. Why isn't there an Hermione Granger countdown clock?

Now before you chastise me for pedophilia, I strongly suggest you see the movie Beautiful Girls. Ok, that just didn't sound...right, but seriously, see the movie. In it you have the 30-ish Timothy Hutton beerily toying with the idea of waiting around for a few years to pursue a relationship with the 15-ish (and incredibly astute for her age) Natalie Portman. Me, I'm not even close to 30 yet, and Emma, she's like...what, 15? So...yeah. Frown on it now, but its not such a bad thing when I'm 45 and she's 30, right? Not even close to Larry King proportions.

And so, Keira Knightly, the gauntlet is thrown down. You have approximately 880 days to wed me, otherwise I bequeath the honor to Emma, who, while debateably of slightly lesser beauty than yourself, will always be younger than you.


"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

The commandment to observe a day of rest was quite the revolutionary commandment for the Israelite people. There was no prior mandate in existence that commanded anyone to rest on any given day of the week. In essence, God was commanding the nation of Israel to cut their economic productivity by a full 1/7th when compared with the nations around them. Egypt, Babylon, Assyria - none of these nations had any limits on the number of days they could work in a week. Israel was forced to trust in God to provide where they had cut back in order to honor Him.

Perhaps just as revolutionary - ever notice how the verses go out of their way to repeat the fact that slaves should not work? No longer were the wealthy and powerful the only people in society that had the privilege of rest. The rest taken by the slaves would prove to be a regular reminder to the people that they were freed from slavery in a place where no rest was given. Here too the Israelite nation would have to trust in God to provide in those areas that they sought to honor Him by limiting their ability to produce.

We face the same dilemmas in today's day and age, they just have a different face. We have to learn not to work through the weekend because the client proposal is due first thing Monday morning. We need to be able to miss the 7:00pm meeting if it means not seeing our wife and kids in the evening. We must learn to say "no" to the opportunities to work hard enough to keep our performance level on pace with those who choose not to place limits on their work. And this means developing the deep faith and trust in God that he will provide in the areas that we limit our careers in order to properly honor Him.

Our lives are centered around our work - what we do for a living defines who we are. And so we are forced to ask ourselves the question: do we trust in ourselves and our own ability to work hard and long enough, or can we see our need for help, and rely fully on Him who is able to do "exceedingly more than we ask or imagine?"

7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture, is called the LordÂ’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs before-hand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. - from The Westminister Confession of Faith, chapter 21


So, umm, yeah. I had a weekend. Not just any weekend. Probably the best weekend I can remember in my adult life. Had a nice dinner in SoHo with a work pal when I finally got out of the office. Freeman's was a 2 hour wait, tried getting into La Esquina without reservations, ended up at their cafe around the corner. A very nice night.

Saturday I had to be up early. We had to drive upstate to do what we were going to do. Which happened to be jumping out of an airplane. Which happened to be a land-mark day for my life. From an email to a friend about the jump:
...when you're outside the plane, its not like falling, its like flying. the ground is so far away and you have no frame of reference up there to make you feel like you're falling. you can see the curvature of the earth - its a hazy blue line where the horizon just kind of fades away. the mixture of the adrenaline and the rushing air and the complete freedom is like NOTHING i've ever felt before. it was really a life-changing experience for me, there's no way to put it into words. all i knew when i finally hit the ground was that i want to do it again, and often. the next thought was disappointment that i waited this long in my life to get started skydiving. and i'm a person who tries really hard to not have regrets.

The picture above says it best, click on it to see the bigger version. I got it captured on DVD and the stills are being developed, so more pic's to follow. I have a lot on my own camera which I may get around to uploading and linking to at some point.

When the adrenaline dissipates in your system, you come down a bit, and I was quite tired, but couldn't find time to sleep Saturday evening before heading into the UWS for a party with Keller...where I was way to tired to get any kind of groove on.

Sunday was church, youth group, and hanging with Dave to watch the games and catch evening service.

Then I crashed, which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.


Its Veteran's Day - hopefully you can find a way to honor those who have fought and died for your freedom today.

Here's a good read to remind you why you should. Good luck getting through it with dry eyes.

Freakin late nights in the office are killer. So, Thursday linkery is brief, so I can get back to work, now that I'm home. Yay.

We have a theme this week, for a change - this week is cool stuff to do, or about, NYC. Nice theme description, I know, right? This is by no means a complete list, just a couple quick things I could drum up in a few minutes of NYC browsing. But some of these will lead you to many more places... Anyway there's lots of other links this week, so tomorrow will be a general links post to boot.

Thanks to work I didn't get to go to the Vendy Awards tonight. Not that I had anyone to go with.

Hoping to catch Yo La Tengo this year for one of their annual Chanukah shows here in the 'boken. Need to find company for that too.

400 links about NYC, from MUG.

My wonderful sister recently sent me the link to listen to my favorite radio station from my days in Pittsburgh (this station is still 10 times as good as anything in NYC). Ok so this one isn't about NY. But at least you can listen to it here.

Overheard in New York
...can be fun but use at your own risk.

HopStop - Subway/Bus directions for the city.

Menupages rivals Citysearch when it comes to tools to use to find your next location for an evening out on the town.

Top of the Rock is now open.

Oh and Ask Metafilter's recent best question/answers on how to assimilate to NY (disclaimer - haven't been able to finish reading it yet myself).


My buddy Dave and I are headed to Pittsburgh for the weekend of December 10th-11th to see the Steelers host the Chicago Bears (and to meet lots of my sister's young cute friends, but primarily for the game). I found some tickets for us over Craigslist, and the guy who's selling them asked that I have someone meet him in person to exchange cash for tickets. He happened to want to meet right around the same part of town that one of my best college friends, James, lives, so I asked James to handle the exchange for me...and in the course of our Google Talk conversation, the topic of manliness was raised, one way or another...

David: well...to your point...i probably have the honor of being the only man who works in the west village to EVER buy steelers tickets...

James: a fair point, but you do LIVE in Hoboken.

David: you can lord that over me when you finally move to Manhattan. until then you still live in pittsburgh.

James: and have never bought Steeler's tickets...what does that say? There is an LSAT logic problem in there some where...If David lives in Hoboken but works in the West Village and buys Steelers' tickets is he more or less manly than James who lives in Ben Avon and works in Pittsburgh but has never bought Steelers' tickets.
Since David and James, both go by David and James instead of Dave and Jim, they are probably both not very manly.

David: classic.

Not much more than that for tonight, but I can say that Thursday links is going to be a plethora. I may have to start limiting links to only those of highest quality. I just found a lot of time to surf in between huge spurts of work this week...its been weird. Not finding time for much outside of work as I have to be in the office ridiculous hours...but I seem to find at least some personal time on my hands while I'm there...to be used selectively...

To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground...

I've said it before and I still stand by it - work is a punishment from God for our sin. Its one of the very first punishments God laid on us, for our very first sin. Most times work isn't so bad that I resolve myself to a bitter and negative evaluation of work, but then when its going on midnight and you're still in the office...it gets tough. You begin to despise the punishment the same way a child forced to do some chore in return for his disobedience loathes the castigation itself.

I remember stacking cords of wood as a child, out in the cold and wet, by my self, stacking wood higher than my own head. Normally it wouldn't have been such a bad thing - just another chore. But in this particular instance I was out there stacking on my lonesome as a retribution for some wrong I committed and cannot begin to recall. And I was full of hate. Not at God, or even at my parents - I knew what I had done was wrong and that I deserved the punishment. No...I hated the wood. I hated the trees and forests that it came from, I hated the cold that necessitated our buying and stacking and burning of it in the first place. I even hated the dump truck that brought the wood for leaving it in such a mangled pile, so far from the barn.

But this isn't the attitude towards work that Paul calls us to:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

My pastor has touched a few times lately on how the Jews, when in captivity, were called upon by God, through his prophets, not to rebel against their captivity, but rather to embrace the city to which they were taken captive - to engage in it and work for its prosperity and peace. They were called not to maintain as much distance as possible, but to become deeply involved in the city and to work for its betterment...to be prosperous in their punishment.

We're all going to have to work in some form or another, sooner or later. And, as a punishment for sin, we don't necessarily have to 'like' the punishment...but we do have to find the balance that still causes us to do our work with all our heart. We never have any excuse to do anything but our very best in the work that we are called into, because even though our labor is a punishment, it is one from a God who has ordained His divine purposes, even in our condemnation.