Archive for the 'Personal' Category

12
Nov
09

Jasmine in Pride and Prejudice

Jasmine is playing Louisa Hurst in an all-original play production of Pride and Prejudice. I am so proud of her and her commitment to theatre! This is an almost 2 week run that ends on Saturday (I am attending 3 times). Well I bought a ticket tonight just so I could film this one scene. Enjoy!

19
Oct
09

Delirious? Testimony

Okay, obviously Delirious? is amazing. Read this testimony someone wrote in to the band on their History Makers blog. It will show you how much God really cares for each and every one of us, and also what an act of obedience (on the band’s part and on this friend’s part) can do. It can save a life. Literally:

“A few years ago I went to the delirious? gig in Liverpool on the World Service Tour. During Every Little Thing, Martin asked us to ring a friend and let them listen to the song. A friend of mine had been unable to make the gig, I rung him, let him listen to the chorus a couple of times and hung up – didn’t want to waste my credit! That Sunday at church he gave the following testimony: A couple of months back he had started to slip away from God. He had been having problems at home and these were getting him down. He started to hang around with the wrong crowd and get involved in drink and drugs. Things got so bad that he decided to end his own life. He went into the bathroom and picked up some razor blades ready to slash his wrists and kill himself. Just then his phone rang and it was me saying “Mate,we are at a delirious concert, listen to this …”Every Little things, Gonna Be Alright””. Thesong and more importantly the timing of it, gave him hope for the future. He obviously didn’t take his own life and still alive and well today! When I heard this testimony I just went numb. What I did, as a fun thing at a d: gig, saved someones life.I just want to thank God, for working the whole timing out – it was amazing how they played the song, just at the right time. I also want to honour Martin and delirious for being faithful, for listening to God and for making a difference. – Andrew”

This photo is Martin reading scripture at the show we went to Saturday night. Their last show in America.
Mart Smith at last Delirious? gig in America

16
Jun
09

Cities and Knights House Rules

Okay, I really don’t know why it has taken me so long to post something (anything really) about Settlers of Catan seeing as how we’re totally into this incredible board game.  For those of you who know nothing about Settlers this post is going to be confusing to you, so I suggest a two step resolution to your lack: Step 1: go to either Hobby Lobby or It’s Your Move in the mall and buy the basic version of the game as soon as you possibly can and Step 2: get 2 or 3 of your friends together immediately and learn the game.  If a step 3 exists it might be 12 additional ones because you had to join a program for breaking your obsession with this game.  🙂

catan

Okay now for all you Catanians out there who not only have mastered the basic game but have advanced past the Seafarers expansion and now have discovered the wonderful world of Cities and Knights:

CandK

You may have noticed that the game is a bit slow, and it bogs down some.  Turns take a really long time, and if you are playing with 6 people you might be in for a seriously long night.  For guys that’s cool, but if you have some gals along for the ride (including wives), maybe you will really appreciate the house rules we play with on a regular basis.  I give props to Kirby Thompson for most of these rule modifications.

Here is the best Settlers scenario and the one we play 90% of the time:

1. 5-6 player Cities and Knights expansion (you need that extra building phase!)

2. Combined with Seafarers expansion

3. House rules

4. Only 5 players (we just somehow figured out that odd numbers of players make the best games)

5. Build custom boards/scenarios

This combo makes for a rocking good time.  Here’s the house rules:

#1. In normal C&K you get a 1 commodity & 1 resource when a city produces – new rule: take the 2 resources you’d get for a city in regular Catan and ALSO take the 1 commodity when your city produces.  (YESSSSSS!  This is amazing.  The first time you do it you’ll think we’re crazy, but trust me, when you all can build faster and progress early in the game you’ll be super stoked.)  This means that when wheat and brick produce, you get 3 of those (since there is no associated commodity).  To be clear, if you hypothetically had a city on all 3 corners of a hex that produced you would gain 9 total cards in one shot.

#2. Change the 7 card rule to 9 (the benefit of this is that you can hold more cards and not get slammed by the 7 roll as much i.e. get rid of half your cards if you have more than 7 – yes if you build all 3 city walls you are now protected up to 15 cards!)

#3. We never count a roll of 7 by the very first player rolling in the game.  (They get a “do over.”  Rolling a 7 right out of the gate is lame and allowing this do over builds morale.)

#4. The first time the barbarians attack doesn’t count (allows people to build roads, cities, etc. without having to concentrate on building knights early in the game)

Two more things that are not house rules but may help add to the fun:

#1. Play with the Harbormaster card from the Traders & Barbarians expansion and you will add more ways to win  – make sure you add that extra point required for victory though (i.e. victory is now achieved at 16 points).

#2. Set up your own scenario: this is optional but very, very fun and how we play almost every time now.  We build crazy big boards.  A suggestion if you want to try the multi-expansion thing is to do “Through the Desert” scenario as set up in the 5-6 Seafarers expansion and combine with C&K.  That one is particularly awesome in the radical combo action.

Bonus comment: Don’t let anyone get away with not following the rule that longest trade route must have ships and roads linked by a settlement (or city).  This is important and has thwarted many a possible win.

Now if you think these rules somehow cheapen the game, all I’ll say is try it.  I’ve heard people say that C&K is a bad expansion but that may only be because they don’t play with these house rules.  We played regular rules C&K several times before we discovered these modifications, and while the game was quite intense, it wasn’t as good of a social game anymore. That said, do these house rules, combine with Seafarers, play with 5 people, and trust me, it’s extremely cutthroat. The game still averages 90 minutes but we have had game as short as an hour, and just 2 days ago we had a game last 2 1/2 hours.  To be fair, we had added in the rivers expansion as well as Seafarers and C&K.  See pic below, snapped just as we were tearing down the game.

Have fun!

catan setup

24
May
09

The Dark (K)night – part 2

Last year I posted on the subject of the state of our culture and this was motivated by the brouhaha related to what at the time was a blockbuster new movie, the latest in the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight.  This post eventually has become the 5th most popular ever on this blog and stirred up a lot of feedback from people (on and off line).  I had not seen the movie when I wrote my original thoughts.  A few weeks ago I actually saw The Dark Night and I wrote a reply to my own original post as an update.  Read on…

I was recently on a trip and a friend loaned me “The Dark Knight” to watch on the plane. Having written this post several months back but never seeing the movie, my curiosity was piqued. I decided to pop it in and watch it on my laptop.

I had to stop the movie since the flight was over and normally I would not have finished it because I wasn’t really enjoying it that much. But then I recalled that this original posting got a lot of traffic and lots of conversation, and honestly, some people were a little upset at me. I decided to watch it to it’s conclusion so I could post this follow up.

My first impression as I watched is that the movie wasn’t as sadistic as it was originally reported to have been. Yes, the Joker was quite disturbing. They did a fine job with his makeup and Heath Ledger did a fantastic job acting quite insane, psychopathic, intelligent, and maniacal. But were elements of this movie “heinous” as I mentioned in my original post? Was this really “Saw-light?” (I will say parenthetically that the comparison to “Saw” is not unfair since the morality choice/murder/sicko-methodology combo thing would not be in The Dark Knight if it were not for that series of very popular films.)

I’ll start with positives and a cool-factor. As mentioned before, Heath Ledger did a fine job acting. And the Harvey Dent/Two face character was also well done. Honestly, the Two Face situation was a welcome surprise in the movie even if I felt that just because they *could* show us graphically how disturbing he became, I wondered why they really needed to (back to the whole should-have-been-rated-R discussion). How can you ever really go wrong with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman? And Christian Bale is an acceptable Batman, really the best the franchise history I suppose. And the cell-phone radar thing was a really cool special effect and an idea that worked.

Fast forward to the end of the movie; my first impression had changed. I had witnessed a man cut open and a cell phone/detonation device sewn into his stomach, then blown up remotely killing everyone in the jail/police station with him. I had seen people given a moral choice in pulling a trigger and killing hundreds of men, women, and children on a ferry boat before the people on the other boat made the same choice to kill them (yes, they didn’t do it, but I will point out that the vote taken was overwhelmingly in favor of doing it). We saw a hospital blown to smithereens room by room and during that time we do not know if the patients are in their rooms or not. And yes, there are the multiple times when the Joker takes his knife and slices open people’s faces just like was apparently done to him (though we never really know how or who did it, another dangling plot line). On this last point I heard people say “yeah but you didn’t see it on screen” which basically blows me away. In my most “duh” statement I have ever written on this blog: just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t know it was done. Do you really need to see it for it to be corrupt or if it’s off screen do we somehow place it in a redemptive category? I vote not since our minds can fill in the blanks.

I didn’t like things about this movie that I guess others either a) overlook or b) somehow expect in a superhero movie: the plot line is thin and strays, I think the hero (Batman) is 2 dimensional, people pop up when you least expect with no explanation of how they got there, villains make silly choices, guys who should know better don’t, the police chief is always made out to be bumbling, Batman’s mysterious code of honor is cloaked in mysterious dialogue of mush, most of the action sequences are too dark to understand what is actually happening, and dangling plots abound. Normal fare for a superhero movie unless it’s named “Spiderman.”

There are movies I have seen that delve into the depravity of the human condition and have sparked interest in discussing redemption. Batman did not do any of that but only left lasting impressions of gross images.

In the end, I walked away with a “whatever” personal experience. The movie was not that good and the really bad guy (the Joker) didn’t get what he deserved, the really good guy (Harvey Dent) didn’t get what he deserved, and the “good” guy (Batman) didn’t get what he deserved (which is somehow where people come off calling him a “Christ figure”). But maybe America got what it deserved which was another movie with a bunch of Satan in it since we seem to love it so much.

Some say Heath Ledger went insane portraying the Joker and his death was the result of the role. It seems Mr. Ledger got so close to the devil it likely killed him. I ask you to ask yourself and the Holy Spirit why you would get close to anything that has that potential? Kind of sounds like the forbidden fruit conundrum.

28
Apr
09

Mac haters

Okay, I have a mac. A MacBook Pro to be specific.  I bought it in November.  I bought it because I have been exploring new audio platforms to use for recording in the studio and macs have a great reputation for stability.  I wasn’t ready to make the jump from my beloved Sonar-based Windows x64 (Vista Ultimate) setup but I was in the market for a new laptop.  So I figured that I would get the laptop and learn the whole mac world so if I ever did make the leap over to something like Logic or ProTools for my audio recording, I would only have one learning curve (the software) not two (the software + the system).  So far I have been very happy with my decision.  The initial learning curve was a bit steep but once I learned a few things, I can say I love my mac.  My experiment has worked and I am happy I made the decision that I did.  

I have discovered something interesting along the journey.  The world is full of mac haters.  Since getting the mac, I have been in a variety of settings with it: church meetings, business meetings, client meetings, interviews, Starbuck’s, my friends house, my studio, etc.  In most, if not all of these settings I get a myriad of interesting comments.  These comments come out right about the time I pull my shiny silver macbook out of my backpack.  They all are some variety of “oh, a mac guy.”  It is said with derision and disdain.  It is said with a smirk.  It is said with a knowing sarcasm that implies “here a guy who thinks he is better than all of us.”  The most interesting comments come from IT guys.  They utter “oh, a mac guy” but this is said with a tenor of “you just made my job harder you jerk.”

Funny thing is, having a mac has made my life easier and more productive.  Compatibility with all systems, networks, wifis, etc has been a breeze.  Case and point: I needed to print some stuff at church and I just unplugged the USB cable from the printer and plugged it into my mac and no sooner than you could say “oh, a mac guy” the driver had loaded and I was printing lead sheets for the worship team.  I was so impressed with this I started plugging into printers in every home and office I visited for about a week.  It worked every time, like a really neat magic trick.

(Here is a good place to address the 3rd category of people which are other mac users who utter some version of “oh, a mac guy!” with delight and a sense of “I’ve got a friend in the world” – call it instant-community – kind of like when you find out your boss is a believer.)

I have never had a problem connecting a peripheral, or to a wifi network or LAN, opening up a Microsoft document or Microsoft formatted file.  On top of that I never shut the thing down, it’s “always on” so startup and shutdown takes as long as it takes me to open or close the lid, screen management for projection is a no brainer, the battery lasts like 4 1/2 hours, the blue screen of death is non-existent, everything is super fast, and Office:Mac actually works.

I have come to a conclusion.  The reason mac people love macs is for all the reasons above and more, but I figured out that the thing works so well you never actually learn anything about your computer.  I am serious.  I think the reason mac users love macs is because they don’t have to know squat about a computer to make it work, they just don’t know this, but wouldn’t really care even if they did because they are more productive than you.  

That said, people who use Windows based computers have to actually know how a computer works.  Here’s the rub for mac users, if something goes wrong on your PC, you can actually fix it yourself – for cheap.  I have built more PC’s from scratch than I can remember and all of them are still in play in someone’s home (or recording studio) today.  And it’s easy to upgrade and modify.  For mac users, if something goes wrong, it’s a trip to the Mac store and I hope you paid $349 for the extended warranty.

So it’s funny, the mac haters hate macs for reasons that are not based in reality and the mac lovers love macs for reasons that would actually make the Windows people happy.

Okay you weigh in, do I have a point?  🙂

17
Apr
09

Snowy Day

Okay I don’t know what it looks like at your house today, but here’s our place.  I snapped this shot a few minutes ago.  I just got off the snowplow after almost 2 hours of plowing.  Let me just say that the very fact that I own a snowplow is hilarious to me since I am from the California coastal region.  Anyway, welcome to my world.  Ho ho ho…Merry April.

snowy day

08
Dec
08

O Christmas Tree

The annual putting up of the Christmas tree usually happens in our house right after Thanksgiving.  Some years we have even been so busy, we didn’t get it up until Christmas Eve (no joke).  Well, this year we thought it would be a good idea to go with a kind of themed tree.  See we have a tradition annually of buying a dated Christmas ornament in the after-Christmas sales.  (As you can see we are not too concerned with pagan tradition and we just go with the whole tree thing.  Seriously now, no tree is going to shake my faith in Christ.)  So we have lots of those ornaments and others that we normally decorate our tree with.  But this year we thought it would be cool to go all one color (change of tradition kind of goes with the recent unexpected change in our life).  So Jasmine put up the tree and Julian put on all the lights, but then we discovered that our old lights didn’t work.  So we took then all off, and tried to fix them.  That didn’t work.  So we thought we may as well just go buy new lights.  Dina and I went to the store and decided to get colored lights.  We have always used all white and we like all white lights, but here was yet another fateful decision in the tree saga of 08 (the first being not testing the original lights before we put them on).  We also decided to go all red bulbs so I also bought all red garland.  We came home, put all the lights on, put the garland on, put the red bulbs on, and basically ended up with a tree that was so dark it was kind of pointless.  Ugh.  We need some happiness in the home right now and this was a bit dreary.  So we thought “what if we changed from all red bulbs to all gold bulbs?”  So Jasmine and I took all the red bulbs off, repackaged them and returned them to the store and bought all gold bulbs.  We redecorated the tree…again.  It was at that point that we realized the main challenge we had with our tree was the fact that we had gone with colored lights instead of all white.  Dina vetoed the colored lights.  So she went to the store and bought all white lights.  Then Julian and I took all the gold bulbs off the tree.  We took all the colored lights off the tree.  We put the all white lights on the tree.  We put the ribbon back on (the red garland having been jettisoned 2 rounds earlier) and finally, put all the gold bulbs back on.  Now finally after 4 rounds we love our tree and it looks like a department store display which is pretty unique for us since we have several years of 4th grade ornaments and freebies we usually put on it.  Ha ha.  I wondered if there was some great Biblical correlation in all this so we could be spiritual and all, and I thought of the Joseph story.  In Genesis 45 Joseph gave his bothers a change of clothing; but he gave Benjamin (his brother by Rachel) five changes of clothing and 300 pieces of silver.  Well we had four changes and 50 gold bulbs.  Maybe our redemption is coming in some way?  🙂  Anyway, here is our tree.  Merry Christmas.

o christmas tree




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