Friday, February 29, 2008

Getting Caught Up...

Happy Leap Day!

Coming Soon To...

StillWaters Jazz Band will likely be playing at Dixie's on March 15, 2008. Details will be provided as they are finalized. I hope that you can come out!

Raging In The Storm

A group of my friends got together for church tonight at my sister's house. We had a great time. We enjoyed a very tasty meal, played and sang some songs, spent some time talking about the Bible, and spent some time talking to God. The awesome part about it all was God met us there.

I have to say that has not been the case so much for me lately.

One of the things that I try to do every morning as I am getting rolling is spend some time reading the Bible. I am on a daily plan that will help me to read through the Bible in a year. It is a good discipline, and I often learn things as I read it. I also like to pray, but prayer is one of the disciplines that I struggle with sometimes. My mind tends to wander, and I get off topic, and before I know it, I'm daydreaming about what I have to do that day or about something that I would like to do one day.

Lately I have been struggling to stay awake even to read my Bible. Not good.

It seems like there has been a lot of interference in my connection with God, and the bad thing about that is how I tend to respond to it. I tend to get angry.

One of my favorite poems of all time is The Collar by George Herbert. It is so typical of my life. I probably should have the last lines etched into my tombstone one day:

"But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde
At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Childe:
And I reply’d, My Lord."

I hate to admit it, but I am a rager. It is frankly downright embarrassing to have to admit that I have a huge, glaring fruit of the flesh growing on the vine of my life. And just like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, the more the storm rages, the more I tend to rage as well.

Tonight as we were praying I found a sheltered harbor in the midst of my storm, and I thought of the words that I used for the title of this post. I have been raging in the storm. How foolish! What a waste of time, emotion, and energy - especially when there is a safe place reserved for me in God.

I must make it a priority to find this place in God each day. Without it I get tossed about by every trial and wave that comes my way. I begin to fear and to express that fear I turn to anger. This must change in my life. With God's help it will.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Larry Norman Awakes From The Nightmare

I have some sad (for us) news to share. Larry Norman died early Sunday morning after a period of declining health. According to his website:

Our friend and my wonderful brother Larry passed away at 2:45 Sunday morning. My wife Kristin and I (Larry's brother, Charles) were with him, holding his hands and sitting in bed with him when his heart finally slowed to a stop. We spent this past week laughing, singing, and praying with him, and all the while he had us taking notes on new song ideas and instructions on how to continue his ministry and art.

You may not be familiar with Larry Norman, but most folks that are consider him the father of Christian rock and roll. He was the first. He paved the way for the folks that you hear on Christian radio today, taking the criticism and punishment that always seem to come when someone starts doing something new in the church.

Larry's message was often raw and not religious, but clearly pointed out sin and communicated the truth of the gospel message. It is sad that so few Christian artists today communicate as boldly and clearly as he did.

Larry realized that his death was approaching and dictated this message to us before he died:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I won't be here much longer. I can't do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.


Larry Norman will be missed. I'm not sad for him, though. I'm confident that he is delighting in heaven and enjoying the presence of the God who saved him. One day I'll be there too and will get to meet this brother that I have appreciated for so many years.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Stressful Day

Today has been pretty stressful. I am not exactly sure why. I slept well last night, got in some good time in the Word this morning, and had a tasty breakfast. Yet for some reason, I have felt out of sync all day.

During the course of the day a couple of things went a little haywire too. I couldn't find some resources that I was planning to share with a friend, and had a minor rub with an acquaintance over the web site. That was a little discouraging.

I think that the most stressful part, though has been that I just haven't been able to get very much accomplished today. I have been busy running pretty hard all day it seems, but I don't have a lot to show for it.

Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be better and I'll be able to write something more interesting!

Monday, February 25, 2008

An Extremely Good God...

In my last post I wrote about how God can even forgive a sinner as heinous as an abortionist? Check out this story at Chris Elrod's blog.

Welcome to the family, Pete.


Check out the follow-up to this story on Chris' Blog.

Safe, Legal, and Rare?

I ran across a very disturbing article yesterday that really highlights something that the abortion enthusiasts never talk about. It was a very tragic story of a woman who was pregnant with twins who decided to have an abortion because her boyfriend didn't want the children.

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum."

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day - her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: "I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does."

Not surprisingly, everyone at the hospital is contradicting Ms. Beck's claim. Tragically, she isn't here to argue.

The slogan of America's Planned Parenthood is that they want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. I have talked about this organization's duplicity in another article, citing PP's attempts to thwart laws that would require abortion clinics to adhere to the same cleanliness standards as hospitals. If they truly cared about the safety of these procedures, then they should have been meeting that standard all along.

Of course, it goes without saying that the procedure isn't safe for the child. All of the abortion methods are pretty gruesome at best - others are purely barbaric. So strike two for safety.

Ms. Beck's story points to a third contradiction in the butchers' dishonest claim that they desire that abortions be safe. There are often (I'd dare say always) emotional wounds as a result of a mother's choice to kill her child. Sometimes, as in Ms. Beck's case, the guilt is so great that it even leads to suicide. Strike three.

Let's consider who abortion was safe for in Ms. Beck's case. Was it safe for her twins? No. They are dead. Was it safe for Ms. Beck? Not really. She's dead too as a direct result of having the procedure performed. The doctor's hand didn't kill her, but the abortion did.

So who was the abortion safe for? Oh yes, the doctor. He (or perhaps she) was able to commit murder without having to risk being arrested. But was it safe for the doctor in the long run? No, not even for the doctor. For there is a just King who has declared, "Thou shalt not murder." He is the one who has declared that there is a penalty for murder, and that penalty will be paid one way or the other regardless of what the laws of Great Britain, The United States, China, or all of the countries in the world say.

Morality and justice aren't democratic. If everyone on earth were to decide that it is OK to kill anyone you want (regardless of whether that person was a fetus or a full-grown adult) it still wouldn't make it right. We don't decide what is right and wrong. God does. If all of the humans decide that we won't put a murderer to death for his or her crimes, God still demands justice.

And it doesn't matter whether an abortion is achieved through a surgical procedure or a pill. RU-486 is merely, as another writer has described it, chemical warfare on an unborn child. The penalty for murder is the same regardless of the weapon that you use to carry out the crime.

That's pretty heavy, I know, but it is the truth. Here is the good news. Jesus took the penalty for EVERY sin upon Himself when He died on the cross. When a sinner recognizes his depravity, he can repent of his sin, cry out to Jesus for mercy and receive it. Even abortionists. That is perhaps more gracious than I would be in one of my more outraged moments. God is truly amazing.

There was an article at on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade that I had meant to comment on earlier, but wasn't able to. In the article, Ken Connor wrote:

Since that fateful decision (Roe v. Wade), over 48.5 million children have perished at the hands of abortionists. One out of every four children conceived in America will be killed by an abortionist. In 2003 alone, more children died from abortion than the total number of Americans who died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War combined. Two-thirds of all abortions are performed on single women. Statistically, the womb has become the most dangerous place in America. (Emphases mine.)

It turns out the numbers on the graph I posted around that time needed to be updated even more. I went conservative because I couldn't find reliable numbers. I'm trusting that a nationally-syndicated columnist has his facts straight. This is the way it should have looked:

War On The Unborn (In The United States): (48,500,000+) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have to add 40 additional marks (each representing 25,000 murdered babies) to bring my old table up-to-date. That's a lot of innocent blood, America. It is time to end this slaughter now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Since last night I have been helping my good friend Terry R move. He and his wife have just upgraded into a beautiful new home. I have moved and helped people to move many times. You'd think that after all of these years, it would start to be fun. Not so much. The really good news is that we got about 97% of it done. (And my part is 100% done! Thank you, Jesus!)

I have a feeling that I will be aware of muscles that I forgot that I have tomorrow.

It wasn't all bad. I got to meet some of Terry's family and become reacquainted with the ones that I already knew. I also got to meet a group of great guys that helped with the move. And then there was the free pizza....

Now I think that I'm going to get a nice hot shower, a lovely beverage, pick a movie, and crash on the couch. I seriously doubt I'll see the end of the movie.

Oh yeah. I just remembered. This is my 400th post! Whoo hoo!

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Excerpt From "Live At Dixie's"

Last Saturday the StillWaters Jazz Band played at Dixie's coffee house in China Grove. It was our fourth gig, but was really our first public outing.

When I drove to the grocery store the week before the show I was greeted by this excellent sign in front of the shop. I began to get excited about playing.

I really hadn't played for a secular crowd before, so this was my first time to perform in front of my peers. (When you play in church everyone HAS to be nice to you. It's the rules.)

Of course, I was also somewhat nervous about doing this performance. It was my peers that we were playing for, remember? This whole thing is still pretty new to me. I didn't get that nervous, though. I figured that not too many people would show up.

Boy, was I wrong.

Read the rest of this post at Conspiracy of Kindness...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stupid People Vex Me

They vex me so!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

But What About The Polar Ice Caps?

So I read this brilliant article today about the polar ice caps. Turns out that they didn't move out permanently - they just went on vacation.

Are the world's ice caps melting because of climate change, or are the reports just a lot of scare mongering by the advocates of the global warming theory?

Scare mongering appears to be the case, according to reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that reveal that almost all the allegedly “lost” ice has come back. A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels.

Moreover, a Feb. 18 report in the London Daily Express showed that there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than usual, challenging the global warming crusaders and buttressing arguments of skeptics who deny that the world is undergoing global warming.

The Daily express recalls the photograph of polar bears clinging on to a melting iceberg which has been widely hailed as proof of the need to fight climate change and has been used by former Vice President Al Gore during his "Inconvenient Truth" lectures about mankind’s alleged impact on the global climate.

Gore fails to mention that the photograph was taken in the month of August when melting is normal. Or that the polar bear population has soared in recent years.

Call me smug. Call Gore a liar. AND QUIT INTERFERING WITH MY LIFE AND WASTING MY MONEY WITH YOUR STUPID LEGALIZED EXTORTION SAVE THE WORLD SCHEMES! There is one thing and one thing only that is going to bring about the end of the world: man's sin. PERIOD. Man's sin has created the whole mess.

Every time I turn around there is some new scam being perpetrated on the American people. "Ohmygosh! We're going to burn ourselves up! Global warming! Global warming! Let's make ethanol to save ourselves from ourselves!" "Ohcrap! That made the price of corn go up - and it didn't reduce greenhouse emissions in the first place! (And the oil companies are threatening to take away all that money they give me if I keep pushing this ethanol stuff.)"

I even heard a group of scientists the other day that are ready to suggest that it is actually another Ice Age that we need to fear. Good grief!

I am so utterly sick of the corruption and the lies. They aren't even believable lies anymore. Back in the 70s they told us that we were running out of oil - said that we'd be out by the late 70s or early 80s. Guess what? We still have oil. In fact, every week I keep hearing reports of some huge new oilfield that has been discovered that I should invest in.

There is one reason and one reason only to develop bio-fuels: to provide an alternative to the oil companies' and commodity traders' greed. I firmly believe that the international community's about-face on ethanol has far less to do with corn-driven inflation and far more to do with threats to these spokespeople from the oil industry. Big oil doesn't want any other players on the field, and the politicians don't want to lose that Sugar Daddy. It would be awful hard for Exxon to post those record profits if demand drops by 85%. Yes, I am just cynical enough to believe that. It isn't even a stretch for me.

If I had the money, I'd hire a top-notch team of the brightest, most-creative engineers, chemists, and designers that I could assemble right out of college and I would set them to developing a feasible, cost-effective means of transportation that did not rely on oil for propulsion at all.

While we developed that, I'd have teams of folks scouring the US Patents' Office for any devices created to increase fuel efficiency in petroleum-powered vehicles. I'd set my "Skunk-works" team to improving the ideas that they find and then we'd produce and market those technologies.

I simply don't believe that we have achieved the pinnacle of fuel-efficiency and power that technology can afford. Do I know what I am talking about? No! But neither did Henry Ford. He simply didn't believe his engineers when they told him it was impossible to make an 8-cylinder engine work. Guess who ended up being right? Would it be easy? DUH-HUH! Nothing is EVER easy. I have learned that one the hard way. But then I have digressed, haven't I?

So anyway, the article pointed out just how far it would seem that we are from global warming with the ice caps growing, Chinese houses collapsing under the snow, and young cows dying in Vietnam from the cold weather. If you are interested in more, there was an interesting article published by the Daily Mail that is mocking Gore over this stuff too. Seems like I remember that the Weather Channel guy said that it would turn out like this months ago. If he isn't already mocking the global warming crowd, he should be. I know that I am.

Long Day

It has been a long day, therefore this will be a short post. I spent most of the morning getting caught up from being gone Sunday and Monday. Then I went to take pictures of my sister's home for a feature that will be viewable soon on my web page. The lion's share of the evening has been spent creating a template to use for these feature articles that I am doing, modifying the CSS file to make it work, and writing the text for the feature article.

I think that I am on the verge of getting the feature template working, but I have one less than ideal behavior that I need to figure out how to fix. I have gone away from using relative values in the CSS to help avoid some of the display problems that I have been witnessing across different browsers and different monitors. The problem is that my current configuration gets screwed up on anything other than full-screen view. Everything is still where it is supposed to be, but you have to scroll to the right to see it all. Still not what I want. Grrr.

And trying to find a template that will look like what I want will not be a simple thing. Nothing is ever simple...

Tomorrow I have to put in a long day working on the lift business. I didn't get a thing done for that at all today.

Oh well, I'm not going to worry about it tonight. I need sleep.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Little Different Perspective

It is funny how new information can change an opinion. Take, for instance, yesterday's post. I saw the headline on an RSS feed on a friend's computer today and suddenly realized that with the picture that I had posted and the headline someone might get an entirely different picture of what I was trying to communicate than that which was actually intended! Rrrrowr!

Similarly, I am finding the results to the placeholder page that I posted tend to get an entirely different perspective depending on the browser, monitor size, etc. used by the viewer. I am really not happy at all with the way that the page is being publicly displayed. There are huge gaps in the layout that weren't present when I developed the site and checked it against both IE and Firefox. It would seem that using relative values when doing layout isn't an effective practice.

After I looked at the template for my Joomla site, I began to understand why I was having so many problems. They had created specific CSS fixes for each browser that the template encounters. I don't have time for that. I will probably rummage around in the next day or two and see if I can find a decent template to clean things up until I can get the Joomla site online. I do think that I will attempt to fix the HTML for the real estate feature that I have created for the site. (By the way, that house really is for sale.)

Speaking of the Joomla site. I AM VINDICATED!!!!!! I spent the better part of today working with a developer (who has almost 20 years' professional experience) who was as annoyed and perplexed about how to configure Joomla as I was. (It was nice to find out that no, I'm not an idiot when it comes to Joomla and that yes, Joomla is neither easy nor intuitive.)

Together we were able to come up with a couple changes to the new website, including downloading and configuring a weather module and an RSS news module. I'm pretty happy with the weather module, and the new website will be getting RSS feeds from The Weather Channel. I'm not completely happy with the RSS News module. I may end up grabbing another and seeing if I like it better. We also did some configuration to the layout of the page and discovered a module map for the template. (VERY useful piece of information.) Overall, I am thrilled with the progress that we made today.

One thing seems evident, though: it is time to revisit the Joomla tutorials. I understand enough now to where they should actually be helpful.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Fun

"Hello, Violet! Hey, you look good. That's some dress you got on there."
- George Bailey

I got a nice surprise today. I got to go up to Greensboro and see Lord of the Dance. It was an interesting show: nice costumes, pretty incredible dancing, neat light show, cool set, pretty Irish dancers. Nice.

There were a couple of small bothersome bits. They have this character that plays a tin whistle, but instead of using a recording of a real tin whistle they used a synthesizer that was supposed to sound like a tin whistle. That was a little disappointing. They also had some "taps" pre-recorded into the soundtrack. They could have left them out and I would have liked it just the same - maybe more. Those were really the only problems I had with the show at all. It was a thoroughly fun way to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon.

The show kind of reminded me of another dancing drama called Toymaker's Dream. (I had forgotten but that production changed its name to Toymaker & Son a few years back. I think that it has even changed names again since then to The Masterpiece.) In fact, the storylines were very similar. The original Toymaker's Dream had a character called the Dream Hater and was played best in the original Toymaker's Dream video. The original production had one of the coolest "angel" costumes I have ever seen.

The playbill was a bit of a disappointment. It would have been nice if they had explained the story a little bit better (like, at all) so that you could follow it more easily. There were also no credits for the people that were in the show. It would have been nice to see who they were. I will give it this - I discovered that Celtic Woman will be playing there soon, and so will B.B. King. I wonder how much they pay for blood these days...

So, even though it sounds like I have hardly done anything but complain about the presentation, I really enjoyed it and am very grateful for the opportunity to have seen it today.

UPDATE: Oops! Had to fix the quote. I didn't have it quite right.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Christmas Tree Down

I finally took my Christmas tree down last night. I know it's the middle of February. I really don't feel bad about it at all. It might still be up if it weren't starting to turn brown.

I had decided to leave it up till the end of January anyway, (I didn't put it up until 2 weeks before Christmas) and since then I have been pretty busy between working on developing my website and getting started on my new career(?) as a heavy duty lift salesman.

There's a career that I doubt you will ever hear a kindergartener name when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As I am getting started with it I am really surprised at how big the market is for these things. It is amazing really.

I finished another part of the page last night. It is the feature article about the house whose picture is on the front page. Please feel free to check it out and give me your feedback on it.

Well, I have to run and get ready for my jazz band gig this afternoon. If you are in the area, stop by Dixie's on Main Street in China Grove between 1:00 and 3:00. Dixie's is located on the corner at the main stoplight next to China Grove Hardware. Come on in, check out the StillWaters Jazz Band, drink some coffee, and get to know your neighbors in China Grove's coolest venue!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Final Analysis On the Chicken and Dumplings

Everything worked as advertised. I did end up adding about 6-8 cups of water to dilute the broth after I had removed the chicken from the bones and put the meat back in the pot. I think that after I took the broth out (I took out 4 cups) to make the dumplings I had about 2 cups left over. I added about 1 cup back to the pot and froze the rest.

My dinner guests seemed to enjoy them just fine.

Hope they work well for you too.

Chicken And Dumplings Going Public

Tonight I am starting the process for making my chicken and dumplings again. I have been following the recipe that I posted earlier just to make sure that I got it right.

So far so good. All of the measurements for the preparation of the chicken were spot on. (By the way; I did measure the amount of water that I needed for my stock pot. I used ½ gallon of water to cover the chicken.)

The chicken and dumplings are for a meal to be shared with the people from my worship band. Even though our church has officially shut down, we have decided to continue to practice together and perhaps make our gatherings' activities a bit more diversified. We have talked about having a devotional talk from the Scriptures and also making sure that we pray.

Tonight at Conspiracy of Kindness, another blog that I contribute to, I wrote the following:

Ever since the demise of StillWaters I have been wondering exactly what constitutes having church. What are the key elements? What must be present to have had church, and which elements are optional?

I think that it is an interesting question. How much of what we do on Sunday mornings across the world is required for "church" to happen? Are we really achieving church on Sunday mornings?

If you are interested please feel free to check out the post called, "What Exactly Constitutes 'Church' Anyway?" I do hope that there will be some feedback on the post. My thoughts on the subject are in their early stages. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quote Of The Day

I'm afraid you might be using a hammer when you need a dentist's drill.
- DP (The anonymous friend)

Either way, the cavity still comes out, yeah?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jonathan And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. If I could I would have moved to Australia. But that takes money. Crap.

Yesterday absolutely nothing that I attempted on the computer worked. Nada, nothing, zilch, pthbthbthbthbbbt. As ill as I was, they would have never let me on the plane to Australia anyway. They would have ended up tazing me right there in front of everyone. Grrr.

By the time that I went to bed (which was about 16 hours later than I should have) I was relatively sure that I would not maintain any ounce of sanity that still remained had I been forced to endure another day like that.

I had been working on a page with additional information on the house featured on my website. ( I was sure that I had coded everything correctly, but no matter what I did, it wasn't displaying correctly. I checked the HTML and then I checked the CSS and then I rechecked them over and over, and there was NOTHING wrong with the way I had written the code!

In utter frustration and Vesuvial anger I decided that it was time to step away from the computer and call it a night. When I turned on the computer this morning, the evil thing displayed perfectly. Jerk.

Today went some better. No rage issues. That's good, but the computer is still a fickle mistress. I am utterly perplexed by some of the behaviors that I have witnessed using CSS. I must be misunderstanding some definitions somewhere, because it surely isn't behaving the way that I expect it to most of the time. I'm back to blind squirrel in a field strewn with acorns again.

I am not completely satisfied with the design of the page. I am going to try to see if I can't improve it and make it display a little cleaner. I really hate the way the nav bar is behaving. I am going to have to find a better way to do it.

The thing that is really messing me up is that every browser displays a little bit differently. I had things looking OK on IE and Firefox, but when I looked at the page on a Mac it wasn't right. Hopefully the template that I will be using for the Joomla site will help me to overcome these issues. Please do keep the critiques coming. I have found them to be helpful.

By the way, I discovered that Judith Viorst, the lady who wrote Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has done an online adaptation of the story that can be viewed at the Kennedy Center's website. Hopefully, it will help you out if you find yourself in my position.

I Hate Computers

I hate computers.

That is all.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

SJB Update

Well, the StillWaters Jazz Band had a pretty good outing tonight. We played for about 100 folks and were received very well. We had one song that never really came together tonight, but still had a good time. In fact, I'd say that we are getting better. I guess all of that practice is paying off. (Imagine how it would be if I practiced every day!)

We are starting to mesh better as a group and learning how to communicate better with each other while we are playing. I think that we are also getting to know each other's patterns better so we know what to expect. Finally, I think that we are just getting a much better feel for the music. I can tell a huge difference in my soloing from when we had our first practice together. I actually had one tonight that sounded pretty cool.

So, it is confirmed. We will be playing at Dixie's coffee house on Main Street in China Grove next Saturday at 1:00. I hope that you can come out and hear us. (No cover!)

Happy Birthday, Sis! (And Terry Too...)

Today is my baby sister's 30th birthday! Whoo hoo! It is hard to imagine that I have known her that long. She's a great friend, a super mom, a magnificent interior designer, a loving wife, a Proverbs 31 woman, and one cool chick! Happy Birthday, Sis!

It is also my good friend Terry's birthday today. Terry is a good friend, a prayer warrior, a man of steel and faith and one of my longest-running friends. Thanks for being a great friend, Terry.

I hope you both have an excellent birthday, and a blessed year. You have made my life much richer by being a part of it.

It's Here!

OK, if you have actually been craving an opportunity to see the website I have been talking about you can check it out at There are a few links that aren't connected yet because the pages that they will link to are still under construction. I hope to get them finished in the next 72 hours.

My friend, Rick Carangelo was a huge help this morning, helping me to get everything FTPd up to the server. His keen eye helped me to spot some things that kept the page from displaying correctly. Thanks, Rick!

By the way, the house in the main feature really is for sale by a friend of mine. If you are interested, I can get you more information. (More will be following about it on the web page soon.) I am also really trying to organize an NC State Alumni club for Rowan County, so if you are interested in that let me know too. Finally, if you are from this area and have something that would fit into one of the categories on the site, please feel free to let me know about that as well.

Please offer your critiques on the site. This isn't exactly the way the Joomla site will look, but it is the same general idea. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'll get over it. But I need brutally honest feedback about the look of the site and the navigation of the site to make it the best that it can be. Do the buttons make sense? Would a different color combination be more appealing? Should I vary background colors? Does it display OK on your browser? Etc.

You can either comment on it here or email me at administrator at realsalisbury dot com.

Thanks for your help and thanks for reading!

It's Coming...

Well, I think that I have enough of the placeholder done to publish. I hope to have everything FTPd up there tomorrow some time. I will make an announcement here when it is ready to check.

It is amazing how different things are between browsers. I referred to Mozilla Firefox mostly while building and when I checked things over on IE there were some fairly noticeable differences. I ended up splitting the difference between where I really wanted it on Firefox and where it had to be on IE to keep from stepping on one of the other elements.

I have a couple more files to create to make things work smoothly, but I will probably go ahead and publish as soon as possible - even if everything isn't as functional as I will eventually make it.

I guess that is all I have to say for right now. Hopefully, the FTP will go smoothly tomorrow and I will be able to announce the unveiling of the proof of concept as early as then. We'll see.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Web Design... ugh

Just when I think I have figured out what I am doing, I run into something that makes me realize that I am a blind squirrel in a field strewn with acorns.
- Me

Today was productive after a fashion. I realized that I had kind of bootlegged some stuff to work and set about to do it the right way. This ended up messing something up, and after fiddling with it (the website) for the better part of 8 hours today (while listening to the same CD over and over) I was ready to hurt small furry animals.

So I watched Braveheart. Aye, I did.

Didn't do much for my foul mood, but now I am better informed on how best to hurt said small furry animals. (Dinnae fash y'sel, the wee beasties aer safe enough.)

The page is actually coming together alright. If I am able tomorrow I'll try to finish up the content of the first page and see if I can fix the bloody navigation bar.

I won't bore you with any more details for now! Thanks for reading!


Is it time for baseball season yet? I can tolerate football, but that is finished. Let's just skip basketball and go straight to baseball, OK?

And Then There Were Two

So, Mitt Romney has gracefully bowed out of the Presidential race. I saw that coming before Super Tuesday. So that leaves McCain, Huckabee, and Paul - two candidates (one whole and two halves.) By the time the North Carolina primaries hit in May, there won't be any point going to the polls. It will have been settled long before then.

My prediction? McCain and Obama. Hillary is in deep trouble. I doubt that she can make it to the end of March. She'll never beat Obama between here and the convention without having him killed. (And I wouldn't put it past her. By the way, when does her Senate seat expire?)

I heard another statement by Dr. Dobson today that he will abstain rather than vote for McCain, Clinton, or Obama. I wonder if he would have voted for Romney? I have just found out that he is endorsing Huckabee. I dare say it is too little too late. That endorsement two months ago would have probably gone a long way. It looks like Dr. Dobson won't be voting. How foolish. But the scary thing is that many are actually considering doing just that. Cleta Mitchell, chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation said, "It's a very American privilege not to vote."

Privilege not to vote?! Beg pardon, but those folks that have been dying in the Middle East aren't doing it so that we can pout, take our ball, and go home, leaving our country's leadership to chance. Please don't get me wrong. I have a lot of deep-seated misgivings about McCain, but I would vote for former President Clinton before I would vote for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. I can say that without reservation.

I suppose we will see if anyone but Senator McCain is still in the race in May. If Huckabee is still in, I may vote for him as a protest vote, but it seems pretty certain that the Senator is the Republican's man - officially anyway even though Rush Limbaugh is still blistering McCain on his show. And Michael Reagan (Ronald Reagan's son) even went so far as to say,

"If you are a newcomer to politics and you're undecided on who you are going to vote for, but know you are going to vote for the candidate who gives you substance instead of mere promises, there is no doubt in my mind you are going to vote for the Democrat nominee because that's where the beef is."

"...Unless Republicans start acting like Reagan and quit talking like Reagan, the only place they are going in November is home."

I have to give Mike this, Obama can speak - wow. Seriously, even with the inherent absurdity of some of the things that he was promoting his speech was inspiring.

McCain isn't without his allies though. Senator Bob Dole has sent a letter to Rush Limbaugh in McCain's defense. McCain reached out to conservatives today, but his statements made it clear that he was not willing to go as far as many of the party base want him to.

Tonight, speaking to the CPAC McCain defended his conservative record and his commitment to a conservative platform.

Speaking just hours after Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race, McCain acknowledged he had “the distinction of being the GOP front-runner,” and “intended to keep it.”

As such, he said he had the “responsibility to unite the party, and conceded: “I cannot prevail over the Democrats without conservatives…

“I have defended many positions we share. I am proud to be a conservative … My record is one of a mainstream conservative.”

As a candidate, he promised to “offer a clearly conservative approach to government, and to “stand by my conservative convictions.”

McCain vowed to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax, and protect second-amendment rights. He boasted of his “24-year pro-life record,” and his support of the troop surge in Iraq.

One thing is certain, McCain has a lot of bridge building to do with the conservatives if he has any hope of beating the Democrats in November. The party is too divided right now for him to have a chance.

This consternation should also be as a warning to those in Congress. This conservative angst is running deep. Those in Congress would do well to note the frustration level of their constituents, and represent the party that elected them better. It is high time that they get something done in Washington, lame duck or no. The people of this country won't put up with four more years of this sort of nonsense.

I do hope that whomever eventually wins the nomination will be able to unify the party. The Clinton years were dark years in my memory. I would hate to have to endure even four more years of Democratic leadership.

Give Me A Break!

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on Great Britain to adopt Islamic sharia law. Yes you read that right. No, I'm not kidding; once again proving that common sense isn't.

The Archbishop of Canterbury caused consternation yesterday by calling for Islamic law to be recognised in Britain.

He declared that sharia and Parliamentary law should be given equal legal status so the people could choose which governs their lives.

This raised the prospect of Islamic courts in Britain with full legal powers to approve polygamous marriages, grant easy divorce for men and prevent finance firms from charging interest.

You know, sometimes when I'm around adolescents I can't help but wonder what has happened to their brains. The thing is at least they have an excuse. Their bodies are coursing with extremely elevated levels of hormones that they have never had to deal with before. From the picture I saw of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I believe that he is well beyond that excuse.

How could anyone who is supposed to be the head (or at least second in charge) of the Church of England suggest something so looney? This is the problem that comes with removing and/or ignoring the foundational truths that Western culture has been built upon. If you remove enough threads you end up with something that looks nothing like the original garment. But then I'm advocating another religious law, am I not?

I suppose that I would be curbed by that argument if all religious laws were equal, but they are not. Christian law is built upon the moral law of Judaism with mercy added. It is this law that has given birth to Western Culture; and it is the departure from that law that is threatening its survival, and, I am convinced, is the source of most of the maladies afflicting us including "global warming."


No, I'm not hunting flounder or frogs. I'm talking about playing music.

I'm pretty sure that I have mentioned that I have started playing with a small jazz quartet. We have a trumpet player, a pianist, a bass player, and me on rhythm guitar. Our style is mostly New Orleans Dixieland style jazz. It has been pretty good fun and I am learning a lot and building a good bit of stamina. The thing that seems to have improved the most so far is my soloing. I am getting a better ear and learning how to hide my mistakes (which are abundant!)

My band, The StillWaters Jazz Band will be playing two gigs in the coming weeks. This Saturday evening we will be playing at Troutman Barbecue somewhere off of Highway 601. (I'll provide details when I have them.) Next Saturday we will be playing Dixie's coffee shop here in China Grove starting about 1:00 in the afternoon. It should be fun.

I think that my favorite tune that we are playing right now is "I've Found A New Baby." The Squirrel Nut Zippers covered it a few years ago and did an awesome job. We have also added a Latin number called "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" and that is pretty fun to play. And I love to play the blues. We do "Come Into My Kitchen," "Summertime," and "St. James Infirmary."

Playing in public for non-church folks is really different. Perhaps you may not know that. See, when I play for church, I never really assume that the people are clapping for me. That is totally foreign to my thinking. However, as I have started playing in public, it is weird to have people actually clapping FOR you and enjoying your music and your skill. It is really kind of neat. Not neat enough for me to be packing up for a 6 month international tour - no danger of that - but it is kind of cool to know that people enjoy what you do without having to feel that you must deflect that appreciation towards God.

As I write that, I am perplexed by which attitude is actually wrong. Is it wrong to deflect the appreciation in church or is it wrong to accept the appreciation in public? This is an interesting question. I would certainly appreciate any of your thoughts on this topic. Instead of continuing on with this public rumination, I am going to privately ponder this question. If I have any insight I'll let you know. In the meanwhile, don't be shy about sharing your opinion. I look forward to your thoughts!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Coming Along

Today's web building exercises were productive. I got all of the nav bar linked and created the pages to which they would link. I also added most of the content to the main feature of the front page and also added content on the two sidebars.

I realized mid-afternoon why I was having some trouble manipulating the positioning of some of my elements and began to restructure both my HTML and CSS document. I needed to group some of my divisions together instead of leaving them all as individual elements. I think that will make things work much better. I also re-organized my main CSS document to make it easier to find the various elements. Now I think that I finally have the home page organization figured out.

Tomorrow I hope to create the content for my three remaining main elements and hope to get them configured so that they end up in the right places. That will be a major coup. I will also hopefully complete the remaining elements for the side bars. That will probably be more than enough to keep me busy with the time that I will have for tomorrow.

I'm not completely thrilled with the way the page looks just yet, but I am going to go ahead and get everything laid out and possibly even publish it while I fiddle with making the improvements to the design. I doubt that I'll have it published by the weekend unless I am able to work most of the day tomorrow, but it should be up and running next week.

Thanks for reading!

Boob Alert!

John Kerry blamed the recent round of tornadoes on "global warming."

“[I] don’t want to sort of leap into the larger meaning of, you know, inappropriately, but on the other hand, the weather service has told us we are going to have more and more intense storms,” Kerry said. “And insurance companies are beginning to look at this issue and understand this is related to the intensity of storms that is related to the warming of the earth. And so it goes to global warming and larger issues that we’re not paying attention to. The fact is the hurricanes are more intensive, the storms are more intensive and the rainfall is more intense at certain places at certain times and the weather patterns have changed.”

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I wonder what hotshot drove to the interview in? I'll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that it wasn't "green."

I wonder if he figured out how to blame this on President Bush?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Forward Momentum

Today I managed to move forward on the vaporware project for my website. I have completed 90% of the header. I have also created an "under construction page" and the CSS page to go with it. I am pleased with my progress, considering the lack of sleep that I got last night, the fact that I was on the phone all morning, and that I was interrupted regularly through the afternoon. I should have fewer distractions tomorrow... I hope.

Tomorrow I hope to have linked the nav buttons on the top of the page and created my first main division. I would like to figure out how to do drop down lists on the nav buttons. I guess it will depend on how complicated they are. I would also like to get the content for my second through fourth main divisions completed. Hopefully I will be in a productive frame of mind. If I am, I may even be ready to publish something tomorrow.

Well, I'm exhausted. It has been a rough couple of days. More updates tomorrow, but for now I'm out of here!

Did You Know...?

Did you know that you can eat a roasted peanut shell and all? I didn't until today. I know what you are thinking. It is probably something like, "What? That's weird! The late nights and solitary living have made him mad!"

Well, that is what I thought too when I heard it, but I was in an adventurous mood and decided to give it a shot. It actually wasn't bad. It made the peanut crunchier, but the shell chewed up just fine, just like the rest of the peanut.

I really thought that you would end up with tough, stringy stuff in your mouth, but it just isn't the case. I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU TO TRY IT! Who knows? You may even like it!

Webdesign Update

No, I didn't invent the internet, but I know of someone who thinks that he did...

Work began today on a placeholder page for my web project. I am actually trying to write the HTML and the CSS for this page from scratch. Should be interesting - at the very least it will be a good practice exercise for the big dance that will be coming up when I start trying to configure the Joomla site.

This will be a pretty bare bones version of the ultimate goal, but I hope to be able to make it look the same. It will have very limited functionality. Yet I hope that it will possibly serve as a vaporware version of the final product. One of my good friends has volunteered to be a guinea pig for this proof of concept exercise.

I have spent the better part of (what is now) yesterday converting images to a smaller, more manageable size. It is amazing how much better a 60k jpeg file can be uploaded than a 1.3 M one can. It doesn't look like much has been accomplished, but that is often the way things are at foundational stages, and there is much foundational work going on. Gratefully, the time is coming soon that the structure can begin to go up.

I'll keep you posted on the progress and will let you know when you can check out the vaporware. Thanks for reading!

It Is Finished ... Or Is It?

StillWaters is no more. I am still pretty numb I suppose. It hasn't really hit me yet. I think that it will be a whole lot more real to me this Sunday morning.

I guess that there are some that are rejoicing over the demise of our church today. What a foolish thing to do if they are. Somehow a church of a mere 20 members had enemies - and not just the spiritual kind. What a queer little town I live in.

But that is now water under the bridge. I suppose that if martyrs' blood is the seed of the church, then even a church's demise must count for something - especially if it didn't end by the desire of its congregants. Now begins the long, hard slog to figure out what to do next.

This whole process has revealed some real warriors, though. I have been surprised by the folks that have risen up and wanted to fight on. I had one brother who sent me an email with William Wallace's "What Would You Give" speech from the movie Braveheart. It stirred up the warrior in me too. I am not quitting - not yet, anyway. I cannot.

Today I spent the better part of 8 hours working through pictures I had taken of my home town. It made me remember that this is a great town and reaffirmed my conviction I am just not willing to concede it to the enemy's hand. I'll write more about this as I have direction.

But in the meantime, I will return to StillWaters' last service under that banner:

It was a good service and the band sounded the best that it had in a while - even with a 12 song set. We had one of the guys from the band Baumer sitting in with us on acoustic guitar. Chad Rochester did a great job and we really appreciate his desire to play with our band. (Check out the band's MySpace page.)

I was personally amazed that my hand didn't fall off. I probably played for over 2 hours yesterday but I suffered no ill effects. Well, my carpal flexors DID start trying to cramp at the end of our rehearsal, but by stretching and massaging them I was able to make it through. (I think that there was probably some Divine intervention too.) I think that the thing that I most appreciated about the worship time yesterday was that I had no trouble finding people in the congregation who were actually worshiping. Not a bad way to go out.

There were quite a few guests in attendance - not quite as big as our grand opening, but a nice turn out nonetheless. Several of Cameron's friends came up to support him. (I was glad to see them too!) Cameron delivered a very encouraging message about how the church is sometimes scattered to achieve God's purposes. Fair enough. I don't like it, but when you have lemons...

I have no idea what will happen - there are still many hurdles - but I am sure that God will help us to figure out what is next.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Why Do I Support Alternate Fuel Technology?

Exxon Mobil made history on Friday by reporting the highest quarterly and annual profits ever for a U.S. company, boosted in large part by soaring crude prices.

Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. The company earned $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.

The profit topped Exxon's previous quarterly record of $10.7 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2005, which also was an all-time high for a U.S. corporation....

Exxon also set an annual profit record by earning $40.61 billion last year - or nearly $1,300 per second in 2007. That exceeded its previous record of $39.5 billion in 2006.

Do I mind companies making a profit? Not at all. Do I mind companies making monstrous profits? Not if they EARNED those profits in a FREE MARKET economy.

Some may argue that the oil companies compete in a free market, but the problem is that these companies have both intermarried and have grown increasingly greedy. No one is willing to leave any money on the table (i.e. undercut their competition.) It is only a hunch on my part, but I would be willing to bet that there are some major anti-trust violations taking place between the petroleum providers of the world.

These companies also cry that the cost increases are merely caused by supply and demand.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hit an all-time high of $3.23 in May, according to the motorist organization AAA. The high prices were blamed on strong demand and a series of accidents that shut down refineries in the U.S. But slack demand for gasoline in the latter half of last year kept gas prices from rising as dramatically as crude prices.

That is a load of southbound hay in a northbound bull. These companies are restricting supply to create false scarcity. If demand is so great there should be new refineries or updates made to existing refineries to increase production. And frankly, I'm not buying the whole "we're running out of oil" deal either. At least once a month I hear about some massive new supply of oil that has been discovered somewhere in the world.

I'm not really sure what it is that has spurred it, but it is as if the oil companies have suddenly realized that American consumers really don't have any choices. We don't have the infrastructure for public transportation (not to mention being too busy, independent, and impatient to put up with the hassles of public transportation), we're too spread out to make walking or bicycling a viable option, and auto manufacturers (whom I believe are in league with the oil companies) refuse to produce fuel efficient or alternative fuel cars. They have a captive audience and they know it, and what's more they have their hands so deep in Congress' pockets that they are well aware that they don't have the cahunas, er, wherewithal to bring any serious remedy or action against this out of control industry.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. took a swipe at the two firms, calling on fellow lawmakers to break the country's dependence on foreign oil and rollback unnecessary tax incentives for oil companies.

I would agree with him if (a) I believed that he would actually do something about it and (b) if the oil companies wouldn't penalize us even further and whine about how they had to raise gas prices (again) to make up for losing the government subsidies.

(You have no idea how hard I am trying to keep from swearing.)

The oil companies have shot back with numerous excuses.

ExxonMobil representatives ... stressed the cyclical nature of the business and noted that growing global demand for energy will require companies to heavily invest in future growth. The company said it estimates that global demand will grow by 30 percent by 2030.

We'll see how they invest their money. All I can say is that I hope that a new energy source is discovered that will make this the last time the oil companies post profits like that ever again. As soon as I have an equivalent alternative to petroleum based transportation I will take it.

More On McCain

It would seem that conservatives are fairly divided on McCain. As I reported earlier, Michael Medved is squarely in McCain's corner, but I have since read or heard several absolutely blistering condemnations of him as a candidate only today.

The first that I read was written by Ronald Reagan's son, Michael Reagan, and was entitled John McCain Hates Me. He said in as many words later in the article that the sentiment is echoed back towards the Senator.

The feeling is mutual between McCain and me. I don’t like the way he treats people. You get the impression that he thinks everybody is beneath him. He seems to be saying, “I was a war hero, and you had damn well better treat me as your superior.”

He has contempt for conservatives who he thinks can be duped into thinking he’s one of them, despite such blatantly anti-conservative actions as his support for amnesty for illegal immigrants, his opposition to the Bush tax cuts which got the economy rolling again, and his campaign finance bill which skewed the political process and attacked free speech.

I am appalled by his contempt for the intelligence of his listeners when he flat-out lies and expects them to believe what he says even when the truth is staring them in the face.

So, there you go.

Later I heard Ann Coulter say that she would vote for Hillary Clinton over John McCain. Yes, you heard that right, and she said it with all of the vitriol that she could muster. Sean Hannity wasn't terribly supportive of him either.


Now I see that Dr. Dobson won't support him either. He recently reaffirmed his views which were aired months ago. Well, crap.

It looks like McCain will probably wrap up the support he needs to win the nomination on Super Tuesday. Both Huckabee and Romney are fading fast. It's not looking good for the Republicans in November. If the conservative base balks at McCain there is no way that he will win. That leaves us with Hillary or Obama at the helm. (Excuse me while I shudder uncontrollably.)

So what is the answer? Well, I am still pulling for a Gingrich upset at the convention - but I'm not holding my breath either.

Here is the thing. I just cannot vote for either Obama or Hillary. They have way too many stupid ideas. I will not vote for either of them under any circumstances - barring the sudden appearance of the Antichrist as a candidate.

And sorry, I cannot abstain from voting simply because there aren't any perfect - or even nearly perfect candidates to choose from. To abstain is childish, overly-idealistic, and incredibly irresponsible even if you are Dr. Dobson. There is no way that McCain, Huckabee, or even Romney could be worse than Clinton or Obama. No way at all.

I would rather put in a vote for the best of the bad choices than stick my head in the sand, bitching the whole time, and wait for the inevitable bad choice to be elected so that I can bitch about it some more. Guess what, Republican party: Ronald Reagan isn't running for either party's nomination. Get over it and make the best of what you have to work with or provide a better alternative. And if you find someone better then let me know so that I can vote for him too.