Ramblings on my way to the Random Dozen

I can usually tell when i am not feeling well.  I have bizarre dreams, like being trapped on a billiard table and something is basically playing nine-ball with me trying to avoid getting knocked around.  Last night i was back in the National Guard and getting deployed somewhere.  The base we arrived at was mostly abandoned, but with all new buildings.  The "barracks" i, and a lot of others, had been assigned to was a single family styled house... but it was like the crazy Lego houses i used to build when i was a kid.  Stairways and doors that go nowhere, passageways way too small, that kind of thing.  I don't have a fever that i know of, but i most definitely have not been getting good nights of sleep lately.  Now that i think about it... i wonder if that dream was related to my blog from yesterday...

Ok, enough about me... it is now time for this week's Random Dozen...

1. Have you ever fired a gun or shot a bow and arrow? ~ Both actually.  When my mother was dating an avid hunter type of fellow (who absolutely LOVED Bluegrass music by the way)we went to a Turkey Shoot one fall day.  While i hadn't ask to, they entered me in the shooting competition.  One shot at a target with a .12 gauge shotgun.  Closest to the center would win.  That thing knocked me off of the stump and on my backside.  I will never forget the ringing in my ears.  While i never went hunting with the fellow, i did appreciate what he did (in trying to include me in his family).  Later on when i joined the Army National Guard i found i had already had some basics when it came to the marksmanship ~ qualified expert on my first go, and that was with a jam that cost me three rounds.

Later, when i tried a game called Dagorhir, i really got into archery.  Of all my youthful hobbies, i regret not practicing this more and carrying it through into my adulthood.  Specifically i prefer the recurve bow over the "stick" design, and much more than the compound variety.

2. Do you  know where your childhood best friends are? ~ From before High School?  I only ever remember one.  Billy "Auto" L.  I've made sporadic attempts at finding him again, but no success.  Probably for the better, i was a real handful back then.  But my High School friends, very much so.  I am still best friends with one.  I refer to him here in my blog as RAM.  Our families still get together at least every other month, and our kids get along really well.  His son and DS2 look a LOT alike.  They are only a month a part in age, and we have had people come up to us and ask if they are twins.  All of my other friends from High School, sans two, i have kept in touch with.

3. Do you usually arrive  early, late, or on time? ~ My preference is to arrive no later then ten minutes prior to whatever it is, sometimes more. When my beloved and i first got married this was a huge "sticky" point between us.  Mostly because of my own issues.  As we have gone through life, and especially in working with trying to get the entire family anywhere, i have loosened up a little.  My preference is still to be early, and i still struggle when we are running late (to anything), but i am not as 'rabid' as i used to be.

4. Are you more of a New York or California  type? ~ I have lived in New York City, and i spent a few summers in California - i would consider myself more of the laid back California type.  This is more based on the stereotypes of both regions than personal experience though. 

5. Do you have a special ring tone? ~ I am not a big ringtone kind of guy, but yes i do. 8)  In the past if it was an incoming call from work my phone would play the Death March, but now i use "Peace on Earth" by Casting Crowns.  I just love that song, and it is quickly becoming a favorite especially around Christmas time.

6. What is your favorite  type of chip? ~ I prefer AMD over Intel.  Not because of quality, quite the contrary.  I like to root for the little guy, and AMD usually has enough umph for what i want/need.  But if i had to go high end, and have the absolute best, i would go with Intel.  Oh, you were talking about like... chips and salsa... um... Baked Lays for just a plain chip, and Tostitos Scoops.

7. Best comedy you've ever seen is .... ~That is a really relative term.  My opinions even vary from "season" to "season".  Maybe my funny-bone is broken, but there is really no one "funniest", although... The Cosby Show was really constantly funny.  Mr. Bill Cosby is always good for a laugh for me.

8. Have you  ever cut your own hair? To quote Dr. Phil, "How'd that work for ya?" ~ All the time.  I use a set of electric clippers and sled #'s 3, 2, 1.  I usually have to have my beloved touch up the neck though.  I haven't paid for a haircut since the mid 90's.

9.  If you were going to have an extreme makeover, would you rather it be  about your house or your personal self? ~ If you were to ask that question of my beloved i am sure there would be a part of her that would say me.  But overall we would probably agree the house.  Not that we don't love our house, but we would just like to get all of the walls painted, and maybe do a little bit more with what there is.

10. Are you allergic to  anything? ~ Life. 8)  Pollen, Dust, and a whatever a Dentist used to put me out when i was seventeen to take my wisdom teeth out.  I was sick as a dog for three days.  All i did was sleep, "purge" the stomach, and use the bathroom.  I sucked on tea bags (Lipton blend) the whole time.  Two days after that i was up and chopping wood to keep myself busy.

11. Why is it so hard to change? ~ Pride.  In my opinion most of the issues "man" has are directly related to pride.  It is in our nature to want what we want when and how we want it.  Why should we change?  Why can't everyone else just get used to the way we (i.e. I) am?  In the end, it is harder to get something to move that is at rest than something that is in motion.

12. One last question  dedicated to February love: CS Lewis said, "To love is to be  vulnerable." Please share one example of that assertion or share any  thought you'd like to about this topic. ~ For me it means admitting that i am wrong, even when my own pride rails against me doing so.  Why?  Because i am hopelessly in love with my beloved.  I am me, and although there are things about me that she is not all that sure about, she loves me.  What hurts the most is when i can tell she is disappointed in me, or she says something that i interpret that i am somehow deficient in some way.  But at the end of the day, i am hers and she is mine.

13. (Bonus Question to make up for the one i didn't make up last week) Can You Taste The Difference Between Pepsi And Coke? ~ Not even close in my opinion.  Some people say, "what does it matter".  it matters.  If i order a Coke at a restaurant and they ask, "is Pepsi OK"?  I say, "no, thank you.  I will have ice tea instead".  Aside from the taste, Pepsi actually gives me a headache.  Although, i once had a really warm Pepsi (picture it sitting in a car for over four hours, in the sun, on a sunny August afternoon), and it was REALLY good.

Linda is a great blogger, and she has the ability to change her layout often.  I confess that i am a little covetous of her ability to both come up with content - not just for her blog, but for the articles she often writes and PUBLISHES.  Even though i do not blog about the same things as she does, or as well as she does it (i've lost count how many times i've cringed at my own writing), she inspires me to improve.  Thanks Linda!


Early influences on my life

A couple of weeks back i woke up in the middle of the night and immediately began thinking about books and movies that influenced my life growing up.  I have no idea why, but it was as clear to me then at three AM as it is me typing it here now.  In order to let myself fall back asleep i had to write down the list pretty much right then.  At least as many of them as i could think of.

My first intention had been to write one blog entry and summarize each and everyone... but after ten or more days of having the intention... i have decided to just plop one (maybe two) down at a time when i am "stuck" for something to blog about.
The first influence on me as a child that i am remembering (and they do not necessarily come back to me in chronological order) was the book House of Stairs by William Sleator.  I remember checking this book out of my school library in the 5th or 6th grade and just devouring it.  I may have even read it twice before returning.

Product Description - from Amazon.com
One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading nowhere —except back to a strange red machine. The five must learn to love the machine and let it rule their lives. But will they let it kill their souls? This chilling, suspenseful indictment of mind control is a classic of science fiction and will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

What i learned from this book is that peer pressure, even pressure from outside influences, is not always a good thing. And i struggle with being a 'Chameleon' which comes from my fear of man.  I want to be accepted and liked by everyone, but when i feel like i am being played i have a tendency to dig my heals in. One of the last sentences in the book really "kicked me in my head".  
"When the street light changed, (the children minus the 'hereos') began to dance."
Throughout the entire book the unseen antagonists are manipulating the children who have been dumped into the experiment with food and/or sleep deprivations.  Basically using both reward and punishments to try and get desired results.  What i saw through that one sentence was that the two heroes, Peter and Lola, were free, they were their own persons, but the others who did not resist the manipulation were trapped into the behavior.

Now, when i first read this i was not immediately transformed into the man i am today.  I essentially rebelled against the "manipulation" i felt was coming from the "system" (i.e. school, authority, etc.).  I am sure i gave my mother fits.  But over time it has really helped me avoid other forms of manipulation by my peers.  Drugs, alcohol, etc.


Music Monday - 20100222 - God is God, and i am not

The past month has pretty much been a blur.  It's been hard for me to get my mind wrapped around anyone subject, etc. (shocker, i know), but the past two weekends our Pastor has been preaching on (essentially) the Awesomeness of God.  It's good to hear Christ centered sermons again, instead of man (or me) centered ones.  At the end of our worship (singing portion) time the worship team sang "God is God" by Steven Curtis Chapman, what a great song.

God is God
by Steven Curtis Chapman
on Declaration (2001)

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know

And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I

Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through
Him and from Him are all things

So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone

Ultimately my relationship with God is not based on what i can achieve, but what He has already achieved.  Like another song i really like, "Not because of who I am, But because of what You've done, Not because of what I've done, But because of who You are". (Casting Crowns, Who am I)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action [1] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  --- (Job 38:1-7, ESV)

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”  --- (Job 40:3-5, ESV)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Dress for action [1] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
“Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below. [2]
Then will I also acknowledge to you
that your own right hand can save you.  --- (Job 40:6-14, ESV)

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent [1] in dust and ashes.”  --- (Job 42:1-6, ESV)


The easy road to rambling

The days are just packed... and in order to get something posted i am using a fellow blogger's "Random Dozen".

1. If you could compete in one Olympic event (not necessarily winter sports) what would it be? ~ I've always had a thing for Archery.  I've never been all that good at it per se, but i love sport of it.  Robin Hood was one of my all time favorite movies as a kid, and i am looking forward to the "modern" vision of it coming out later this year with Russell Crow.  I hear the BBC series is very good.  I have a friend who owns it and has offered to lend it to me... i really need to take them up on that offer.

2. Do remember a specific Olympic moment from the past? ~ For me the one i remember the most is when America won the gold for Hockey back in the early '80's against the Russians.  Lame i know, but i've never really been a avid viewer of the Olympics. 8(

3. Have you ever known anyone who competed in the Olympics? ~ The closest i have ever come is the coach of one of my son's athletic teams was the brother of an Olympian.  I never did meet her though.

4. If everyday activities were Olympic-worthy, which activity would you have a gold medal in? ~ Phuleeze... i am not so good in any one thing so as to think i would even be in the same league as the "best of the best".  God's grace has allowed me to have such a good career, but it is truly not of my own ability or doing.

5. Do you know anything about your ethnic heritage? ~ Yes... i know i am a typical 13th generation American.  I am a mutt!  8)  Some English, French, Spanish or perhaps Native American (there is an empty line for a mother on a birth certificate), etc.

6. Do you enjoy sleeping late? ~ Not really.  I can sleep in some, but once i get to a certain point it, it actually becomes a little uncomfortable.  Unless i am sick... then i sleep pretty much 24x7 until i feel better.

7. Have you ever performed CPR on anyone? Do you know how? ~ Never have, although i have held a certification on two separate occasions.  I still remember the smell and taste of the antiseptic on the rescis-Anne.

8. Name one country you'd like to visit and explain why. ~ I have two actually.  I would love to visit both Ireland and Australia.  Both of these countries spark my imagination greatly.

9. Have you ever fixed up a couple romantically? ~ Nope, and i hesitate to even consider getting in the middle of such a thing.

10. What is the last book you read? ~ Finished?  Hmm... i don't remember.  They are sort of blurring all together... and i in the middle of three books currently.  Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (an really good book IMO), Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology (i have just barely started this one), and to scratch my sci-fi fix - Cadian Blood.

11. Do you enjoy sleeping late? NO, YOU write the question! How's that for random?? Me??? Um... pass...

12. What is your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant? ~ Currently it is the Chicken Fajita Burrito at my favorite local Mexican Restaurant.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.


Music Monday

I know it has been a really long time since i last blogged (well it feels like a long time to me), but between craziness at my job, and the incredible amount of snow that was dumped on the Washington DC area, i have been feeling slightly overwhelmed and had basically just focused on whatever was in front of me.  Anyway... i am back this week... even with more snow in the forecast.

In the spirit of Valentines Day i would like to share the song i choose for my first dance with my Beloved.

I Will Be Here
by Steven Curtis Chapman

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
and the sun does not appear
I will be here
If in the dark, we lose sight of love
Hold my hand, and have no fear
'Cause I will be here

I will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to cryin'
Through the winning, losing and trying
We'll be together
I will be here

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I will be here
Just as sure as seasons were made for change
Our lifetimes were made for these years
So I will be here

I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I will be here
Oh, I will be here.

In closing... i saw this link about a missionary to Japan... and it obviously caught my interest. 8)

Michael Oh from Urbana 09 on Vimeo.


Gaming ramblings

I've known for a while that the Fallout series was going to have another "chapter" (Fallout New Vegas)release sometime later this year, but yesterday the official "Teaser Trailer" came out.

All it is, is something to whet the appetites of those of us diehard Fallout fans something to drool over, all without giving us anything more about the actual game itself.  But that's ok.  For the longtime fan of the Fallout series, i can deal with that.

I bought my first Fallout game when i was on active duty, back in 2002, a full 5 years after it's release.  I played it during the few hours of off time i had and was hooked.  There is just something about role-playing and not having everything just spoon fed to you that us appealing to me.
Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is a post-apocalyptic computer role-playing game that was developed and published by Interplay in 1997 and is the first game in the Fallout series. The game takes place in the year 2161 on the West Coast of what used to be the United States of America, particularly in California.(from the Wikipedia "Vault")

When i completed that game i picked up Fallout 2 from a used computer game store, but i ran out of Active Duty time before i finished that game.  When i got home i just forgot about it.  That is until i heard about Fallout 3! I've since tried to re-install the older two versions, but without very limited success.I do know they have repackaged the first 3 games in the series for around $20, and it plays on Vista.  not sure about Windows 7 though.

How does one describe the Fallout game series?  While the first two were made by a company called Interplay while the second in the series was made by a company known as Black Isle Studios.  There was a Fallout 3 in the works, but was discontinued when Black Isle had to lay a bunch of employees off. At some point later the franchise was purchased by Bethesda Softworks who, of course, released Fallout 3.  While Bethesda was still working on the expansions for Fallout 3 (as well as other games within their inventory) they negotiated with Obsidian Entertainment (an grandchild if you will, of Interplay and Black Isle) who will now be releasing Fallout New Vegas.  The first two games are played in what i believe is called a 3rd person point of view, while Fallout 3 is best done in the 1st person perspective )although you can still play it in the 3rd if you wish).  There is still a lot to come out regarding as to what this new game will be like... but i am anticipating having to possibly upgrade my laptop in the next twleve months or so. 8)


Catch up ramblings

No, i am not talking about Ketchup... with not having blogged for about a week now i am running to catch up... 8)

Last week i taped a segment of Weapon Masters on the Military channel.  It's show where these guys look at some old weapons like atlatl and look for ways to improve them.  This show was on the Japanese sword - the Katana. The first half of the show the pair went to Japan and reviewed what i had seen before on a NOVA show (Secrets of the Samurai Sword), while the second half the guy who was challenged to make a better version of the original visited a man named Howard Clark (he is an American sword-smith).  He owns Morgan Valley Forge.  Mr. Clark makes Japanese-styled swords. That is he does not use the same metals, or forging techniques so the swords he makes are not "authentic".  It was incredibly fascinating to me.  Especially seeing how the newer-style swords hold an edge and how flexible/durable they are.  To be completely honest, if i had the $3,500 plus to spend on something just for myself and nothing else it needed to be spent on... i would seriously consider obtaining one and getting it all shined up.

I have been trying to write up character backgrounds for my "main" story lines for about a week now.  For several days i tried to just fill in the blanks... eye color, hair color, etc. but i just got lost.  So, yesterday i began just writing up short little stories that describe them in a setting.  How they handled themselves, how others were seeing them etc.  So far so good.  What brought this about was that i approached a friend who is an aspiring artist.  Specifically cartoons and/or graphic novels.  I've asked him to draw up some pictures that i can use to illustrate my short stories some.  Not many, and i can't afford to pay him for his work, but in exchange i hope to be sort of an advertisement for his work.  Time will tell. 8)

This Sunday the New Orleans Saints will play in the organization's first ever Super Bowl.  As of this writing the Saints are 6 point underdogs.   I SO want them to pull of this upset.  Not because i have any animosity towards the Indianapolis Colts, or any member of that fine organization, but because i would just LOVE for the Saints to have such a victory in their history.  Although they are division rivals to the Carolina Panthers, i have had a soft spot in my football heart for them.  I like how they are being labeled as this years "America's Team".  Geaux Saints!

Over the weekend i saw a movie is the kind that i would pretty much stop most anything i am doing to watch.  It got me thinking about the movies and books that i've seen and read that influenced me.  I'm not going to name it here because i think it will be a future blog entry... 8)

I have finally completed my Terminator collection.  LOL.  I found Season 2 for the Sarah Connor Chronicles for less than $20.  That along with Terminator Salvation i know have all of them.  I really liked that show, the entire series really. The TV series was especially good IMO.  It held my interest and it was a fresh perspective on the "war against the machines".  Looking forward to the next movie installment.

One last frivolous topic... my flair "addiction" on facebook seems to know no bounds.  LOL.  Ok, that's not true... i do not have any "naughty" flair, but i peruse the "recently popular" flair for anything new. Probably at least twice a week i am sending a piece of flair to someone that i thought of when i saw it, or i am adding a new piece to my "collection".  I now have well over 4800 piece of flair, and 625 pieces of for my own collection, and with very few repetitions of subject matter.  I will even go and delete older ones on a particular subject if i find one that i like better. That, along with my constant "widgets" status updates, my beloved is begging me to come up with something new.  LOL.  Here are three of my recent additions.

Last night my beloved and i met with our new Pastor. We were not sure why he asked to meet with us, but since we were still relatively new we thought it was because he wanted to discuss church membership with us.  It turns out he just wanted to get together to get to know us a little more.  To see how we were doing.  That was cool! Even though we both knew this man and his family from back when we first met (my beloved and i), he wanted to still take the time and get to know us better.  I liked that... a lot.