Monthly Archives: December 2009

Blockbuster, I Really Really Loathe You.

Pam and I returned to Blockbuster for the first time since 2002. That’s how long we’ve been doing Netflix. We needed to rent a Playstation game for Cameron, my nephew. Can’t get those with Netflix.

Cameron: I stood in line for 30 minutes! Just to rent a game. Do you appreciate your uncle, or what?

The experience reaffirmed my membership in–and now, I realize, unbridled devotion to–Netflix. For less than $20 a month, we get 3 videos at a time, with a two-day turnaround, which means we could probably watch 30 videos a month, if we really tried. Plus, we can stream scores of other videos directly to our TV or computer.

The experience today reminded me of the insanity that is Blockbuster:

  • Drive to the store, several miles away.
  • Search for a parking spot in the terribly inadequate lot.
  • Browse the shelves, trying to decide what to rent.
  • The number of videos available is a tiny fraction of what you can get on Netflix.
  • You end up selecting something that’s available, whether or not it’s what you really wanted.
  • Stand in line for eons.
  • High rental cost.
  • Drive back to the store to return the videos within 5 days.
  • Late fees (no late fees with Netflix).

Considering the convenience of Netflix, how does Blockbuster even stay in business?

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Blood and Geritol at Kohls

Kohls had lots of great sales going today. So while Pam was working, I was spending.

As I grabbed a shirt near the bottom of a stack, a pin stabbed my thumb. Deep. And then it started bleeding…and bleeding…and wouldn’t stop. I finally found a wastebasket with some of that flimsy paper they wrap within dress shirts. Wrapped it around my thumb, and the bleeding finally stopped.

Then I went to pay for my items.

The checkout girl asked, “Do you qualify for the senior discount?”

A few hours before, I’d had a good workout at the Y. I felt young, vigorous, and hale. But now…just how old did I look?

“It depends,” I responded, “on what age the discount starts.” After all, you can join AARP as soon as you turn 50.

“62,” the gal said.

I’m 53. But to her, I looked like I could be at least 62.

I decided I didn’t like Kohls anymore.

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I’m Being Sold on Ebay!

ArchieBook.jpgA copy of “Tio Archie,” the book I wrote about missionary Archie Cameron, is being sold on ebay for $10. We’re pretty much giving away our excess stock. But this one is signed by Archie Cameron. Maybe I’ll buy it. Not even I have a copy signed by Archie (who passed away a couple years ago).

I’ll be in Honduras in 2 weeks. They hope to release the Spanish edition of “Tio Archie” at that time.

I see a few copies of my Murphy Law cartoon books are also being sold on ebay. Hadn’t noticed that before.

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This Concept Needs a Little More Thought


(Thanks to Kem Meyer for the photo.)

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The Colts Settle for Being 1 of 44. Not Historic.

Colts_vs_Jets.jpgI went to bed last night disgusted with the Colts. I woke up disgusted. And I’m still disgusted. Disgusted that they sacrificed being a potential history-making team, settling instead for being a team of good-enough.

Coach Jim Caldwell said perfection was never their goal. Well, mission accomplished. Quitter.

The Colts have their eye on becoming the 44th team to win the Super Bowl. Big whup. Winning the Super Bowl is the epitome of the season, but not necessarily something historic. Instead of being 1 of 44, the Colts could have been:

  • The 3rd team to end the regular season undefeated.
  • The 2nd team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl.
  • The only team to finish with a 19-0 record.

Instead, they settled for being 1 of 44. Nothing special.

Said center Jeff Saturday, when the Indy fans booed: “I don’t blame them a bit, man. I probably would have booed, too. I don’t blame them. They pay to come see us win games, and we didn’t get it done.”

Former NFL great Chris Carter pointed out on ESPN that momentum is tough to recapture. The Saints had momentum, but lost it to the Cowboys. The very next week they lost again to Tampa Bay, of all teams.

The Colts commanded amazing momentum, but voluntarily gave it up. Decided it wasn’t important. The Colts will probably phone it in this week against the Bills, then have a bye week. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they lose in the first round of the playoffs. The momentum is gone. The extra sense of purpose–of being one of the all-time great teams, a team of destiny–was thrown aside frivolously.

The Patriots went undefeated in 2007 until the Super Bowl. But people will talk about them a long time, as one of only two teams–with the Dolphins–to go undefeated in the regular season. Yes, they lost the final game. But they are still 1 of 2, not 1 of 44. They made history, and they never checked their swing. I hate them, but admire that they went for it.

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi wrote on ESPN:

There aren’t many times in your life when you have a chance to do something that has never been done before. When you are faced with a challenge like that, my feeling is that you embrace it and see if you’ve got what it takes to conquer it.

That’s the way we felt in New England. And yes, we lost the Super Bowl, but let me be clear: We lost the Super Bowl because the New York Giants played better than we did that day. It was not because we were tired and needed more rest….

I always thought the off-season was the time for rest….

Here’s the reality: Some teams don’t just play for championships, they play to be the best there has ever been. Others are just satisfied with doing what’s required. The Colts decided that resting is more important than making a run at history. They are telling us that what they have done up to this point in the season is good enough. They are satisfied with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 19-0? No big deal. History? Didn’t want it.

Should the Indianapolis Colts go on to win the Super Bowl, do you celebrate them or wonder: What if they did want it?

Even if the Colts win the Super Bowl, there will be a damper on the season. They could have been one of the all-time great teams. Instead, they settled for being 1 of 44. Way to be. Enjoy your average, nothing special Super Bowl ring.

I also realize that if a starter or two got injured for the rest of the season in what was a non-essential game, I might be writing something different. And yet, I could admire that.

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Short Life and Death on the Technology Frontier

Macworld published an article called “10 Obsolete Technologies to Kill in 2010.” Number 1 on the list was Fax machines. It pointed out some silliness I hadn’t considered–that FAX documents begin life digitally, get converted to paper, get converted back into digital form for transmission, then get printed out on the receiving end on paper.

For instance: I create a digital Microsoft Word document. I print it out, so I can Fax it. The Fax machine scans the paper, converting it back to digital. It goes over the phone lines, and pops out from a Fax machine as a very low-quality paper document. Someone then types the information from the document back into a computer.

The easier solution: just email it. Keep it digital, and save some trees.

The rest of the list of obsolete technologies:

2. Cigarette lighters in cars. They usually don’t have lighters anymore, but serve as electrical outlets. “Almost nobody smokes in their cars. Almost everybody carries phones and gadgets that need power in their cars.” So replace this relic from the 1920s with a standard electrical outlet or a USB port.

3. WWW. We don’t need those letters at the beginning of web addresses.

4. Business cards. These are becoming obsolete…but not yet.

5. Movie rental stores. Pam and I, as Netflix people, haven’t stood in line at a movie store for 8 years. “Standing lin line? For an electronic file? come on!”

6. Home entertainment remotes. We’ve all got too many of them. The author suggests that apps in mobile phones would work much better.

7. Landline phones. These are obviously on the way out, at least for homes, as people use just their cell phone.

8. Music CDs. They are environmentally unfriendly, fragile, inconvenient, and have no significant advantages over downloaded music files. Everyone should move to an all-digital library.

9. Satellite radio. I didn’t agree with the author, who obviously doesn’t drive much. I wouldn’t want to give up my XM.

10. Redundant registration. You know, providing contact info, username, and password at site after site. People are working on this, but it may be a while.

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Scenes From Our Christmas

Here are a few shots from Christmas Eve at the Dennie home. I’m quite aware that my lovely wife, Pam, is not in any of these photos. Please understand that I did take photos of her, but that none would have passed her quality control.

Click on the photo on the left, and a much larger version will appear in a popup window.

ChristmasTree2009_1000.jpg We’ve had this Christmas tree for around 15 years now.
Fireplace_1200.jpg I finally cranked up our fireplace on Christmas Eve. The big wreath belonged to Pam’s Dad, Chuck, who died two years ago.
Fontanini_1000.jpg I’ve always loved manger scenes. Used to rearrange our manger scene all the time as a kid. Pam and I usually add a couple Fontanini pieces each year (we have around 50), but didn’t find any this year.
Steve_crockpot.JPG Pam got me a new, 6 quart crockpot with a clamp-down lid, perfect for church potlucks. Yes, I put this on my Christmas list.
Jordi_Peppermint1000.jpg Jordi loved the smell of these peppermint candies that Pam got me. As if it were catnip.
Molly_catnip950.jpg Molly, meanwhile, being more discriminating, loved the bona fide catnip which Grandma Barb sent from California. Really perked her up.
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Our Christmas Rook Tournament

1074110.jpgPam and I went over to Mom and Dad’s for lunch, and stayed until 7 p.m. We spent several hours playing Rook–me and Dad against Mom and Pam.

Rook, for the unenlightened, is the “Christian” card game. The one we could all play with clear consciences at Huntington University back in the olden days. I remember playing into the early morning hours with Steve Barber, Brad Carpenter, Ray Faber, and other classmates.

As a young married couple in Huntington, Mom and Dad often played Rook with other young marrieds–Marvin and Grace Ann Price, Jim and Joyce Howald, Bob and Fran Myers, Bob and Agnes Baker, and others. Today, they reminisced about some of those games and who usually partnered with who. I realize that one of those “who”s shoulda been a “whom,” but this is Christmas, so be charitable.

We play to 500 points, and the maximum you can win in a hand is 180 points. Dad and I burst out of the gates with two 180-point hands. Got up to 470 points, and then let up, going set a few times. But we still prevailed, winning the first game.

But in the second game, Dad and I managed to lose a game to 500 points by 800 points. How is that possible? Mom and Pam ended with 635 points, while Dad and I were more than 200 in the hole.

Then Mom and Pam won game 3. And game 4. But Dad and I salvaged game 5, to end the night a respectable 2-3. Still losers, but at least it wasn’t 1-4. That would have been humiliating, as opposed to merely embarrassing.

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Little Red Birds Beat Up Lions


For his birthday, my brother Rick (that’s him above) got tickets to an NFL game–the Arizona Cardinals vs. the Detroit Lions. Rick is a big Cardinals fan. He lived in Phoenix when the Cards moved to Phoenix, and was a season ticketholder for two years. So yeah, he’s a big fan.

Detroit? Maybe not his first choice, but the only one available when his wife Dorene was looking for tickets. But turns out it was a very good game.

Rick wrote about the experience on his blog.

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Christmas Gifts for Anchor


Pam with this year’s Christmas gifts for Anchor (click photo to enlarge).

This morning, December 20, the congregation opened gifts for Anchor Community Church. We put a Christmas tree in the foyer with ornaments containing a gift idea for the church–paper towels, Kleenex, dish soap, coffee, toilet paper, staples, cleaning supplies, trash bags, reams of paper, etc. These are inexpensive, everyday items the church needs. You take an ornament, buy that product, wrap it up, and bring it to church.

All of the gifts lay at the front of the church throughout the service. At the end of today’s service, the children came up and passed out the gifts to adults in the congregation. The adults unwrapped the gifts, and the children brought them back to the altar. That’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s a very festive atmosphere, with Christmas music playing and general gaiety, with children constantly running back and forth.

I enjoy seeing new people get involved. I remember one young couple, fairly new to the church, who brought gifts last year. It warmed my heart, showing me that they were invested in Anchor–that this was their church. This morning, a woman who has been coming for a few months brought her gifts to the front of the church before the service. Warm again. It’s just a cheap gift, maybe only a few dollars, but it’s a tangible way a person says, “I’m part of Anchor and want to support it.”

Plus, it meets an actual financial need for Anchor. These items would otherwise come out of the church budget.

We’ve been doing this for about ten years, though we missed a few years. I actually came up with the idea, but as is usually the case in households where the husband is a lazy bum, the wife does all the work. Pam gathers gift ideas from people at church, runs off labels, sticks them on spongy ornaments she buys at Michael’s, and places them on a tree in the foyer. I  do help with parts of that, but don’t take much credit. It wouldn’t happen without Pam.

Here are some more photos. Click on the thumbnail on the left to enlarge. A lot more photos (taken by me) can be found on the Anchor Community Church Facebook page.

gifts_wrapped1200.jpg The wrapped gifts brought to Anchor today.
gifts_1000.jpg The wrapped gifts for Anchor.
anchorcongregation_1000.jpg We had a great attendance today.
childrengifts_1000.jpg The children bringing gifts back to the front of the church.
nehers_1000.jpg Paul and Sarah Neher with gifts they opened.
pamlisa_1000.jpg Pam and Lisa Sutton, in the sound booth. They wore Santa hats today.
stevepiano_1000.jpg Tom Ayres insisting on taking a photo of some old guy playing the piano with the worship team.
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