Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chinese New Year


Today begins the Chinese New Year. We are now entering the Year of the Horse. Football fans: draw your own portentous conclusions. But know that there is no Year of the Bird (unless you count the rooster, which is the closest you’ll come to a seahawk).

In recognition of the Chinese New Year, the seven of us in the office today ordered Chinese food. One of my coworkers, Frank, who was born in China, prayed for our meal in Chinese. That was pretty cool.

Frank had taken a gift to the Chinese workers at the restaurant. They gave him a dessert they had made just for themselves (not to put out on the buffet). It was very sticky, with nuts in it. I had several pieces. It was unlike anything I’ve had before, and quite good.

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In Singapore, you can order mashed potatoes from a vending machine. Put in your money, hit some numbers, and hot water pours into some instant mashed potatoes. This goes on my short list of disgusting food items.

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The Biebs Report


Over 100,000 people have signed a petition on the White House’s citizen portal asking that Justin Bieber be deported. That’s the number, 100,000 sigs, which requires the White House to respond. By the same token, a signature drive could reach 100,000 persons asking that Justin Bieber be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, or that Vermont be renamed Bieberstan. So don’t take this petition thing too seriously.

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Thou Shalt Not Live by FoxNews Alone

A guy named John Haggerty wrote a great piece for Salon. He spent a month watching three hours of FoxNews every day, and not consuming news from any other source. Only Fox. He knew that FoxNews was very influential, and wanted to see the affect of relying solely on FoxNews for your view of the world, as is the case with many people.

He watched three shows every day: Fox & Friends, Shepherd Smith, and O’Reilly. That’s a pretty balanced selection from the schedule. He did this during October. His observations were quite interesting.

FoxNews creates an alternate reality for its viewers, who tend to reject any other news sources as the “liberal media.” Only Fox can be trusted. As a result of Fox’s selective coverage, showing only what fits a conservative agenda, viewers come to believe that only certain issues are important. (It’s well-known how Roger Ailes puts out an “agenda” every morning, detailing subjects he wants shows to talk about through the day. That’s why every show in the schedule pretty much hits the same points and in the same lingo.)

For instance, Haggerty found almost no coverage of the negative affects of the government shutdown. In fact, Fox referred to it as a government “slimdown,” and booked guests who tried to explain how the shutdown was actually a good thing. By watching only FoxNews, you wouldn’t realize the terrible impact it had on everyday people.

Haggerty found that FoxNews generates very little news. It’s mostly just commentary, primarily about the damage Obama and Democrats in general are causing the country.

Two major things FoxNews didn’t talk about: poverty, and foreign affairs. When the poor were mentioned, it was in a disparaging way (parasites, etc.). Fox rarely does foreign reporting.

It was alarming to hear Haggerty say that of the three Fox & Friends hosts, Steve Doocy “seems to be the brains of the three.”

He grew tired of the FoxNews outrage. “There is a constant barrage of stories of righteous people wronged by the forces of evil, usually in the form of government…the list of abuses perpetrated on the hardworking patriots of this country seems never-ending.”

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Guns in the Overhead Bins

These stats are interesting. I had no idea so many firearms were being discovered at airports.

Last year, 1813 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. That’s up 17% from the 1556 firearms found in 2012. We’re talking five guns intercepted every day. Of those, 81% are loaded.

Firearms were intercepted at 205 different airports. The leaders are all in the West:

  • Atlanta – 111 Guns discovered
  • Dallas-Fort Worth – 96 gGuns discovered
  • Houston – 68 Guns discovered
  • Phoenix – 66 Guns discovered
  • Denver – 51 Guns discovered
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Cold Now, but a Heat Wave is Coming


While America endures a terrible cold spell, Australia is experiencing drought and record heat. Neither situation proves or disproves anything about climate change. The universal climate system is a very complicated thing. Some climate scientists say climate change is not so much “global warming” as “global weirding.” That’s kind of what the world is experiencing.

This year, 2014–despite our current cold spell–will probably be another very hot one. It’s an El Nino year, which comes around every four years, and that always brings extra heat. Four of the six hottest years on record (since 1880) were all El Nino years–2010, 1998, 2002, 2006. So we have that to look forward to this summer.

The earth is definitely warming, and doing so very rapidly, as opposed to naturally-occurring increases which occur over a period of hundreds of years. The ten warmest years on record (since 1880) have all occurred since 1998.

  1. 2010
  2. 2005
  3. 1998
  4. 2003
  5. 2002
  6. 2006
  7. 2009
  8. 2007
  9. 2004
  10. 2012
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Don’t Tell Me What’s NOT Right

This morning I came across an article titled, “Five Ways to Teach Your Children to Hate the Ministry.”

This is a very popular article format–putting something in a negative, as a way to explain what SHOULD happen. But I’ve come to dislike it. It’s gimmicky, cliche, uncreative. And it comes from a negative mindset. We shouldn’t look at ourselves from a negative viewpoint, always pointing what Christians do wrong.

  • “Ten Ways to Kill Your Youth Group.”
  • “How to Turn Off Unbelievers.”
  • “Five Behaviors That Will Destroy Your Church.”
  • “Seven Principles of Highly Ineffective Pastors.”

When I come across this type of article, I pass. There may be great content, but I’m not interested in reading yet another article about what we Christians do wrong. The media is filled with so much negative stuff. We don’t need to add to it, especially when talking about our life-giving faith. Let’s try to start from a positive.

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History of the Bell

Taco Bell was started in 1946 by a former Marine named Glen Bell. His first location was called Bell’s Drive-In, and it sold hot dogs.

About six years later he began experimenting with tacos, and eventually opened three stands he called Taco Tias. He rebranded it as “Taco Bell” in 1962. By 1967, there were 100 Taco Bells.

The question is: why do I care? I never eat there.

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A Wasted Afternoon in a Snowdrift

Made a quick trip to Times Corners this afternoon, a couple miles from my home. Roads are very slick. Coming back on Covington, I knew the uphill grade at the Hadley intersection could be very slick and you don’t want to come to a complete stop. But a car ahead of me was spinning tires, and I had to stop…and couldn’t get going again. I slipped into the snowbank, with no chance of extracting myself. Wheels spinning on ice.

I helped the other vehicle get unstuck, then some guys came to help me…but MY DOOR WAS LOCKED. Autolock kicked on? I sure don’t remember hitting the lock. No way to get in.

I had to leave my Dodge Dakota running on the side of the road, with cars creeping and slip-sliding past. A guy took me home (about a mile), and I called Pam, who had the only other key. She left work (clear on the other side of town), picked me up, and we drove to my pickup, which had now been idling for nearly an hour.

The road was a sheet of ice. In face, a police car was spinning its wheels and had to give up trying to get thru the intersection and just turn around. I expected other cars to have slipped into my stationery truck, but none had, fortunately. Amazing.

As I approached my truck, a guy in an SUV behind it said, “Steve, you need me to pull you out?” It was my neighbor. He attached a strap and pulled me out fairly easily.

Not a fun afternoon, but everything worked out.

While waiting for Pam at home, I had a nice prayer time. I asked God to somehow protect my truck, and to provide a way for me to get my truck out of the drift. Check, and check. When I saw my neighbor there, it was like God saying, “How’s this for an answer?” God is good.

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Five Movies Worth Seeing

We watched five movies in theaters over the holidays. All good ones. Finished with “47 Ronin”  (it was the weakest of the five, yet still enjoyable). Here’s the full list, in the order we saw them.

  1. Thor: the Dark World. The second Thor movie (or third, if you count the Avengers movie). Marvel is doing a very good job with their superhero franchises–except for the Hulk movies.
  2. Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The second of four movies (derived from a book trilogy).
  3. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. The second of three movies (derived from a single book). Added a number of things not in the book (“The Hobbit”), but I’m not a purist. They were good additions. They got pretty much to the end of “The Hobbit.” Not a whole lot left for the third movie.
  4. Saving Mr. Banks. An original screenplay, based on a true story–about the woman who created the Mary Poppins character, and Walt Disney’s efforts to get her approval for the movie. She was a VERY difficult person. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks were superb as the main characters. Great acting all around.
  5. 47 Ronin. A Keanu Reeves movie, based on a Japanese legend. “Ronin” are masterless Samaria. It’s a love story and an action movie.
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