Monday, March 31, 2008

Yet Another Curiosity

Italian Rose BeanHere's an attractive-looking bean for your garden. It is called the Italian Rose bean.

I've always been partial to red and white, which is the colors these are when they are fully ripe. The green and red looks pretty good too.

I'm not sure, but I think I remember reading that the beans inside are just boring old white. I wonder how they taste?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tagged Again...

Linfoong has tagged me again and the rules are different this time. Apparently, I have a lot to learn about this tagging business. Oh well, at least someone wants to plumb the recesses of my psyche to see what witty or revealing answers I will give. Well, Princess, you asked. Here are my answers. (If you want to see Linfoong's answers to 19 of these questions you can see them at her blog.

Here are the rules to this tag:

Remove 1 question from below and add in your personal question, make it a total of 20 questions, then tag 8 people in your list, list them out at the end of this post.

1. At what age do you wish to marry?
When God says the time is right.

2. What do you do when you feel really emotional?
I usually yell a lot and throw things...

3. What do you have in your mind now?
Three dollars and some change.

4.Where is the place that you want to go most?
I'm with Linfoong on this one. Heaven! But if you are talking about here on earth probably Ireland. (The Irish would probably say, "You already said that when you said 'Heaven!'")

5.If you have one dream to come true, what would it be?
If I only get one dream mine would be to meet God and have Him tell me, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

6. If you could work in any profession at all without having to worry about money what would you do?
That's a tough one. I have a few. I would either teach English (Literature and Rhetoric) and History, I would farm, I would write, I would do short to medium-term missions work, or I would build heirloom quality furniture with my dad.

7.What are you afraid to lose the most right now?

8. What cheers you up for the rest of the day?
Sensing God's pleasure with me.

9.If you met someone you love, would you confess to him/her?

10.List out three good things of the person who tagged you.
Gee, I hardly know you!
#1. Loves God
#2. Enjoys life
#3. Likes to cook

11. What are the traits that you desire in your other half?
I used to have a long list for this one. The list is much shorter now. I don't know what I want or need. The non-negotiables are: female, Christian, wants kids... I'll let God sort the rest of it out.

12.What type of person do you hate the most?
I'm with Linfoong on this. Don't hate anyone. A few I don't like. Have the hardest time with people who think they are smarter than God. Also not a fan of pushy people and selfish people.

13.What would you do if you won a million dollars? Pay off debts for me and my family and figure out who needs the rest of it.

14. What is your ambition?
I want to finish seminary.

15.What would you wanna be after you're dead? An adopted son of God... oh, wait, I already am!

16. If you had the chance, which part of your character would you like to change?
I would like to be more compassionate towards people who are headed to hell. I'm often annoyed at such people. Not the most Christ-like attitude.

17: What is your favorite colour?
Green, no, red! Aaaaagh!

18.What do you think is the most important thing in your life?
God. (I agree with Linfoong on this one again. Rounding out the top slots are family, friends, and church.)

19. If there’s one thing in your life you want to do but yet unable to, what would it be?
I intend to learn to fly airplanes.

20. What would you do if tomorrow was the last day of the world?
Linfoong's answer to this question is great:

eat until i burst. hahahahaha!!! wtc.
oh no wait! get a credit card buy lots and lots of stuff for everyone! wa see im go kind, you all better love me more wtc.

aiya just realise it says end of the world hor, which means everyone also die hor? hmmm... i think maybe randomly call everyone and ask for their forgiveness, ask for forgiveness from God, and esp pray the people I love that are not yet christians will enter heaven? haha, so childish hor.. :S
There's nothing childish about not wanting to see someone you love go to hell. I hope I would spend my last hours trying to convince other folks to come along (to heaven). I honestly can't say that I would do it for sure. I'm a little too self-centered for that right now, but I'm working on it.

So there you have it, for what it's worth. As for my tagee's, I'm going to throw down the gauntlet to anyone reading this blog who dares answer the questions! If you do, you can post a comment letting me know.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jazz At Dixie's

The StillWaters Jazz Band is back in action at Dixie's this Saturday. The time is different than the one shown in the picture, though. This Saturday we'll be playing from 12:00 Noon to 2:00.

I hope that you'll be able to come out. We will be breaking out some new tunes this time around, including the inauguration of my first jazz tune, Dog Days Of Dixie. It was written as a tribute to the namesake of Dixie's coffee shop.

The owners named the coffee house after their pet bloodhound, Dixie. I had the opportunity to see her at our last gig there, and didn't realize that it would be the only time that I would ever see her. Sadly, a couple of weeks after we played there, Dixie died from cancer. It was really sad.

The next time I was in Dixie's I saw a big display of cards and flowers given to the owners by their customers in memory of their pet and found out what had happened. That's when I started thinking, "I should write a song for them." I let the song roll around in my head for a couple weeks, and finally sat down and hammered it out.

Anyway, Dixie's is located at the corner of Centerview Drive and Main Street in China Grove - right at the stoplight. This intersection is kind of like the city square. We'll be there from 12 Noon to 2:00. Come on out! The coffee is great. The prices are good. The decor is inviting. The aroma is fabulous. The music will be pretty good too. And you might even get to meet some of your neighbors! See you there!

Change Coming...

Over the past few months, I have been noticing a change in my attitude and approach toward blogging. Perhaps at the root of this change is the beginning of a blog for my former church (StillWaters) called Conspiracy of Kindness. I suppose partly because the blog was for the church I wanted to avoid anything in that blog that would be negative. So I checked my acerbic critiques at the door when I was posting and moderating comments and content for it.

Slowly that blog became my favorite. (Although you would have a hard time proving it now; I haven't posted there daily in a couple months.) I think that I began to realize that I liked who I was on that blog better than I liked who I was on this one sometimes.

Because of this realization, I have decided that there will be some changes on this blog. I don't think that I will stop decrying things that I find absurd, like global warming, but I do think that the WAY I approach my criticisms of these things will be softening somewhat. I have even already changed part of the byline to be a LITTLE less confrontational. It isn't completely without an "in your face" element, but, hey, Rome wasn't built in a day! Hope you like the change.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

He Places The Lonely In Families...

FriendsI think the greatest benefit of being a Christian here on earth is the beauty of belonging to the world's biggest family. I can go anywhere in the world and find a group of Christians, and the chances are pretty good that we will begin to connect very quickly.

This phenomenon is axiomatic for Christians. It bridges culture, language, race, and even denomination. In fact, I would probably go as far as to say that if this doesn't occur, one of the parties is likely not a Christian.

Now I know that there are people who aren't the easiest people to love - even within the church. ESPECIALLY within the church! But even with EGR people (Extra Grace Required) there are moments of commonality that make being a Christian one of the sweetest things I know.

I was able to experience the sweetness of belonging to the family of God tonight. Ever since StillWaters was euthanised, the music team has continued to meet on our usual practice night. The meetings have changed a little bit, though. Since we don't have the pressure of getting a 5-8 song worship set together we have been exploring some of the other aspects of what having church is really all about.

As a result, we have begun enjoying a meal together, working on some music, spending a little time in the Word (the Bible), and some time in prayer. At times this transition has been a little clumsy, but we have found some wonderful life in it.

Tonight turned out a little different. Three of the families that usually join us weren't able to come for various reasons. So tonight's group boiled down to only the musicians. I prepared my Shepherd's Pie, Sara made a salad and some brownies, and we were set.

What was funny about tonight was that we hardly did any of the religious stuff. We did pray over the meal, but that was the extent of our "churchiness." The rest of the evening, we talked about the future, played some jazz (we didn't even PLAY any "churchy" music!) and listened to some jazz. It was a precious, precious evening.

Can you imagine what Heaven will be like? Can you imagine what life will be like in the New Jerusalem in the presence of Christ Himself? If our fellowship is this sweet in a fallen world with our flawed flesh, what will it be like when our sinful nature is totally removed? It makes me tear up with joy to just think about how wonderful that will be.

I swiped the picture above from a USA Today article that I found using a Google Image search. I really miss having church with a group like that. When I attended Immanuel Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC as a child and later attended King's Park International Church in Durham, NC and Piedmont International Church in Greensboro, NC after college that was my reality. Every race that you could imagine was present, worshiping God. We got along just fine. I so miss that.

Unfortunately, things aren't quite as integrated here in my area. It's sad really. I hope that God will move here soon to break down the racial barriers that exist.

The breach in the wall between Salisbury's Old English Cemetery and the Freedman's CemeteryThis correction seems to be something that is on the Lord's heart for Salisbury. A couple of years ago a very significant event occurred that I believe was prophetic in nature. The city council decided to make a breach in the stone wall between the Old English Cemetery and the Freedman's Cemetery (a cemetery for free black people.)

Of course there was some outcry that a section of the old stone wall was torn down between the cemeteries, but the council did it intentionally to signify a breaking down of the wall between the races. Praise God! I guess every once in a while the government does end up doing the right thing! (If you look closely you can see the spire of the First Presbyterian Church through the breach. I thought that it was cool that it was there in the picture.)

But I digress...

The article in USA Today talked about how the generation begun right after Generation X is much more open to the different races than those from Generation X and before. I think that is fantastic. That is so much more encouraging than the racism being displayed in the contest for the Democratic nomination.

I truly hope that we can get beyond the hatred and the nonsense between the races. I would truly love to see that in my lifetime. It won't happen while The Church is used to promote racism, though.

I hate that I was removed from the environment that I knew my first couple years in elementary school. I was in a VERY integrated school and church. I feel certain that such an influence, had it remained, would have been positive.

I guess all of this just goes to say that there is nothing like being a member of the family of God. I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING. It is so wonderful to be able to go anywhere in the world and find BROTHERS and SISTERS, MOTHERS and FATHERS.

Alone and need a family? Come to Jesus, and get plugged in! There's always room for one more!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today's Weird-Looking Vegetable

Bean Royal Burgundy
OK, I'll admit that this one doesn't weird me out as much as the purple carrot did. I'm actually tempted to try to grow this kind.

Unfortunately, they don't keep their color as they cook, but according to the website where I found them the color is a good indicator of how long they need to cook. I suppose that they return to a nice green color once they are cooked. I would think that the color would be a great benefit to picking the beans, though.

The big decider would be how they taste. All snap beans are not created equal. I have tasted some that were just plain nasty. Last year my grandmother grew some that someone had given her that didn't get tender when you cooked them. They stayed kind of crunchy. The general consensus was to NOT grow any more of them.

I still haven't decided for sure if I am going to do the garden. I really think that I'd like to. I guess I'd better get on with making up my mind. It will be planting time in just a couple of weeks. That means I need to get my plot tilled, finish deciding what I want to grow, and figure out all the other details. Who knows? I may even give these beans a try!

Under-educated Neanderthals and Cavemen?

I saw this while plundering around through some blogs tonight and couldn't resist. Who knew that UNC stood for University for Neanderthals and Cavemen?

Of course, this photograph is most-assuredly Photoshopped. There is no way that you would see such a politically incorrect banner in Chapel Hill! I am sure that the folks at UNC have seen the Geico commercials and realize that cavemen are touchy about such crass stereotypes. Heh, heh, heh!

I'll bet he liked the Rathskeller. It is kind of cave-like. I wonder if it is still there. I haven't been to Chapel Hill in a while.

Regardless, I am proud of him for trying to better himself. With a degree from Carolina it is questionable whether he did or not, but I give him credit for trying!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Odd-Looking Vegetables

How the heck did they get a carrot to turn purple? I can kind of see how they would get a yellow carrot or a pink one, but purple? I'm not sure I could eat a purple carrot. It is kind of like that green ketchup that they came out with a few years ago. You'd almost expect it to taste like grape.

Monday, March 24, 2008

So, How Did Your Senator Do?

OK, I know that this is a little on the late side. I think this vote took place probably 2 weeks ago. Perhaps you heard about the amendment to instate a moratorium on earmark spending in the Senate. This amendment was crushed 71 against to 29 for. When I heard that I knew that I simply had to find out who the 29 yeas were. Gladly, I discovered that NC's senators, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr both voted in favor of the moratorium. It is a good thing for them too, because had they not, I would have been voting for their opponents in their next election. Senator McCain also supported the moratorium.

How did your Senators do? You can find out by clicking HERE.

It is really damning when some of the more liberal members of the senate (Senators Clinton, Obama, and Feingold) voted to suspend earmark spending and 25 Republicans voted against it. My annoyance with the impotence of this Congress is reaching epic proportions. The folks in Washington seem to have forgotten what they are in Washington to do. I wish there were a way to send them all back home and start from scratch. This country cannot survive another generation of self-seeking politicians who wallow sideways in the public trough and care nothing for the common good. (Perhaps they would do well to remember the Preamble to the Constitution.) The times are too perilous.

Anyway, check out the list and let your Senators know how you think they did. Regardless of whether they voted yea or nay they need to know that we are watching them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Resurrection Sunday!



This is the really good news. Not only did Jesus die, taking our sins upon Himself, but He rose again, conquering death and the grave. Now we share this hope of our own victory over death through His death and resurrection. And we now have the power to conquer sin in this present age.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Know What These Are?

Believe it or not these are potatoes! I found this picture when I was looking for a picture of ruby queen corn to show you. From what I understand, they even retain some of their color when they are cooked. Can you imagine Calvin eating those?

Friday, March 21, 2008


Ruby Queen Corn
No earth-shaking words from Heaven last night, but I was able to quiet myself down some and get a good night's rest. I'm not sure if I didn't get "unplugged" sufficiently, or if I am just too over-stimulated to quiet myself enough to hear. I had a couple of things bugging me last night. I must say, though, that I got a very encouraging word from my friend Rick this morning regarding the things that had been bothering me. Perhaps God spoke to him for me...

Today has been an interesting day. I spent a few hours running around with my sister and my niece which was fun. I bought some seed and some soil. I even found a new hybrid corn that produces RED ears (on the corn, not on people - at least I hope so). That was too cool-looking to not buy a packet of seed. I also bought two kinds of basil, rosemary, lavender, and white and purple alyssum. This all got me thinking, "Maybe I should grow a garden this year." Of course I know that it is a lot of work. But I do enjoy working in a garden. Hmmm...

This led to me pondering where I would put this proposed garden, and I have a couple of possible locations picked. Next, what should I plant? I guess that will all depend on how big of a garden I make. Wisdom tells me that I had better start small. I could grow a couple kinds of peas, and tomatoes, and beans, and squash, and cucumbers.... I will need to make up my mind pretty soon, because it is time to start preparing the ground now. At least we have had enough rain lately to soften up the ground.

I have terrible soil here. It is what I have heard called 'bull-tallow' around here. Last summer I planted a tree and it was like digging through un-fired brick. (It probably would have been like FIRED brick by the end of the summer. I thought I'd NEVER get that hole dug.

On the website development front, it would seem that I am heading deeper into the rat-hole. I am afraid that there is no way to avoid doing some database work to make the project fly. Something new to learn I guess. My good friend DP joked that I should go ahead and get my Computer Science degree! It looks like I am earning it one step at a time. I did create an auto-responder that actually did what I wanted it to do the first time tonight! Whoo hoo!

I think that the hardest thing to do is keep all of the details about the business straight in my mind. There are 1,000,001 things to keep up with. I'm pretty sure that if I had known what I was getting into when I started with this crazy idea, I would have never started. But I have to say that I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. Now to start making some moolah from it....

I have to set aside some time soon to start learning PHP. I also have to set some time aside to do some reading on that Content Management Bible. I figure I have read about 50 pages, but in a book with over 1000 that's not even scratching the surface.

The most pressing project right now, however, is to finish up my pricing page, finish a couple of marketing letters, and get geared up to make some phone calls to builders and real estate agents. This part of the project shouldn't be taking me as long as it is. I'm afraid that a little procrastination has kicked in because I know that this is the part where we make it or break it. Oh well, "Blast the torpedoes!"

By the way, I would seriously appreciate any links to

One of the fun things about learning this stuff is that it gives me a bigger hammer to use in those times where the computer is being a pain. Makes me kind of feel like Thor...

On to global warming.... Just kiddin' I don't have time to launch into a tirade about that tonight. Although I have accumulated some interesting articles about the subject since I last dedicated a post to the topic. I'll have to get back to it soon. In fact, I have several interesting articles to comment on when I can get a little bit of guilt-free blogging time to write some. We'll tackle big oil, the Congress' failure to restrain themselves, and, of course, global warming. I can feel a few good rants coming on...

I suppose that is all for tonight. I hope that each of you will take some time this weekend to worship and reflect on the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Calling It A Night

Tonight I'm really not in the mood to launch into shrill invective against the global warming kooks. I don't care about politics. I don't feel like talking about the progress on my website. I'm not going to discuss what I'm reading, and I don't have any great spiritual insights to share. I'm not going to talk about jazz or the upcoming concert or any of that stuff. I think that I am going to call it a night and see if I can manage to unplug my ears enough to listen to what God has to say to me. Yeah, He talks to people - when they will listen. So I'm going to go and listen for a bit 'cause I really need to hear from Him. I might even talk to Him some too. Just maybe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Discovered A New Band Today

I discovered a new bluegrass band today. They are called Lo-Fi Breakdown. They have a really old school sound. In fact, they really remind me of someone, but I can't quite place them. They are going to be playing in Greensboro soon and it is relatively inexpensive to go and see them. They are playing a really intimate venue too. I think it is $11 to get in. Anyway, you should check them out.

I am also looking forward to the return of Rhonda Vincent and the Rage to Greensboro very close to my birthday this year. I got to see them a couple of years ago and they were amazing. Hopefully I'll get to see them this year too.

One day I'd like to see Allison Krauss and Union Station. Right now her ticket prices are a little out of reach though! They would be well worth it.

I think one of the best bluegrass concerts that I ever got to see was Nickel Creek with Gillian Welch. They were playing at Regency Park in Cary, NC. That was a great venue and two awesome acts. I wasn't familiar with either group's music before I went, but I thoroughly enjoyed both shows.

Well, that's all I've got. Sorry I don't have anything more penetrating tonight. We'll see if I can't get back on track tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barna Survey Results...

Thanks to Bill Reichart over at Provocative Church who reported about a new survey completed by George Barna's organization.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

"People were more than 50% more likely to say that their church’s congregation is their most significant group than to say that God represents their most important personal connection. That certainly reflects the interpersonal comfort that millions of people have developed at their church, but also indicates that people may have forgotten the ultimate reason for belonging to a Christian church."

The author of more than three-dozen books about faith, culture and lifestyles also noted that most Americans - even a large majority of born again Christians - struggle to think of God as a living partner in their life. "There’s an intellectual and even theological assent to the notion that God is real, He’s alive, He influences their life, and that they owe their eternal security to Him," Barna commented. "But when you get people at ease, rather than in a religious setting or in a theological context, and explore the relationships that define and direct their life, the born again public does not seem to share much intimacy with God. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts Christians could get this Easter is a deeper or renewed sense of connection with God, and a passionate determination to make more of the opportunity they have to know and be known by the living God." (emphases mine)

These are some disturbing and intriguing results. As I stopped to consider how I would have answered that survey, I really wasn't sure. I guess a lot would depend on how the questions were worded. If I thought that God was included in the group that the questioner was asking about, I think that I would have probably pointed to Him as my most vital relationship, but I also think that it would be easy to separate God from consideration in the question.

Personally, there probably isn't anyone that I talk to more than God. I'm really not bragging (trust me, I have no room to brag), but I have found that I have a constant stream headed His direction.

I remember one time I was angry at God and had determined that I wasn't going to talk to Him. Then I caught myself blathering on and on just like always. My mad self reminded my talkative self that we weren't talking to God, to which my talkative self replied, "Says you!"

Still, I understand the disconnect that many born-again, evangelical Christians experience. So often that conversation seems one-sided. So often our experience as born-again evangelicals is vastly different from the experiences of those that we read about in the Bible. Where is the power that we are supposed to have? Why aren't we changing the world? Why does it so often seem like when we pray we are talking to ourselves? WHY DO WE LOOK SO MUCH LIKE THE WORLD?

Oh boy. I'm afraid that the answers to those questions probably won't fit into one sentence - probably not even one blog post... written by someone really clever, who is really in touch with God, and has figured out that whole "walking on water" thing. (Er, in case you were wondering, that's NOT me.)

But where do we start to unravel this puzzle? Perhaps Barna's comment is a good starting place: "the born again public does not seem to share much intimacy with God."

Intimacy with God. That's a tough one. I have been a Christian for 20 years this month (happy birthday to me!) and I have yet to achieve a lasting, utterly fulfilling, truly deep CONSISTENT AND ENDURING friendship with God. I have had moments of it, caught the briefest fragrance of it during different seasons, but it is something that has eluded me. How does someone become a friend of God? How do you achieve that place of deepest intimacy where God speaks with you face to face as He did with Moses and Abraham?

Certainly it must involve spending time with God in prayer and in Bible study. That seems assured, but there are people who do these things religiously and are no more intimate with God than I am with the wife that I don't have. (The Pharisees of Jesus' time come to mind.) There must be more to it than that.

Of course, I have also experienced God by doing acts of charity and evangelism. This also seems a reasonable course, but then again there are many altruistic folks out there who are not in any kind of relationship with God and many evangelistic practitioners that don't seem to have a particular depth of relationship with God.

Perhaps another factor in this whole problem is our culture's addiction to entertainment, materialism, and hedonism. These things seem to cause more distraction than benefit. How many church folks wouldn't dream of missing the ACC basketball tournament, and wouldn't think twice about missing church to go? How many Christians allow work to become so all-consuming that they sacrifice prayer time or devotional or even family time to it? How many believers would rather spend 3 hours watching TV than 1 hour praying and reading the Bible? Our lives are so filled with stuff and activity that there is no time for us to be still enough to hear God's voice in our lives. When we do sit still we either fall asleep or can't focus our thoughts because our minds are over-stimulated.

One other key was also raised by Barna: "people may have forgotten the ultimate reason for belonging to a Christian church." We aren't supposed to go to church to develop business connections. We aren't supposed to go to church to meet boys or girls. We aren't supposed to go to church to do our religious duty for the week. Church is all about worshiping God and experiencing Him through the interactions that we have with each other, the songs that we sing, the prayers that we offer, and the messages that we hear. Yet I fear that worshiping God has taken a back seat to all of the other stuff going on.

Of course, I could push it a little further and suggest that the ultimate reason for being a human, let alone a Christian, at all is to worship God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
(or as brother Piper says, "Man's chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.")

We are saved to set us free from the bondages that keep us from fulfilling our purpose in life. It is time that we took full advantage of the grace afforded to us by Jesus' death and resurrection and pursue the enjoyment of God as we were created to do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Not A Total Loss

Well, it would appear that my alma mater can't play basketball, but we can do some other pretty cool stuff.

I got an email from the university recently that had a very cool article about a process that NC State has developed that makes it possible to turn any fat into any type of fuel. You read that right. You can turn lard into jet fuel.

Sound like alchemy? Maybe, but I am interested!

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a fuel refining process that could revolutionize America's energy industry. But not everything will change. You'll still fill up your car with gasoline, use propane for your barbecue grill and reach your favorite vacation spot in an airliner powered by jet fuel.

The revolution will happen at the molecular level. Simply put, NC State researchers have developed a process that enables them to take virtually any fat source and chemically alter it so that it looks, acts and burns just like petroleum-based fuel.

"The process is flexible enough that we can make any fuel we want," says Dr. Bill Roberts, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "By changing the catalyst, temperature and pressure over time, we can make gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and even jet fuel."

It's not magic, Roberts says, it's chemistry.

Read More

That's what I want to see - my university sticking it to the man.

Of course this won't solve global warming... because it really isn't a problem. Global warming is a hoax perpetrated on us to line the pockets of a few unscrupulous folks. (But that is a rant for another post.) Unfortunately, it also won't solve the air quality issues that we have from petroleum-based propulsion. Perhaps the university can tackle that one next. I am just glad to see someone coming up with an alternative fuel source to the oil companies.

Another new development from my alma mater is the creation of fabrics that actually kill viruses.

Michielsen, a chemist by trade and an associate professor of textiles technology in the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University, was working at DuPont in the mid-1990s when he developed a better way to grease the skids for carpet fibers spinning through machinery at 350 mph. Manufacturers typically soaked the fibers with lubricants that they later washed off. But that meant flushing about 500 million pounds of lubricants into the nation's water system every year. Michielsen found that he could chemically bond a five-nanometer layer of lubricant to the fibers so they could glide through the spinning machinery and wouldn't need a wash later.

DuPont never adopted the technology – Michielsen says the nanocoating attracts other grease, so carpets dull quickly – but he began experimenting to see how other surface properties of fibers could be affected by nanocoatings.

"We could use a number of physical properties of fiber surfaces both to address a commercial problem and learn more about the underlying science," he says, ticking off a list that includes friction, surface tension, adhesion, and electrostatic charge.

The biggest success to date has come by adding anti-microbial agents developed at Emory University to his coating. The combination was initially expected to defeat odors in carpets and clothing, but tests show the light-activated agents work better against viruses than bacteria.

Read More

This stuff is cool. I kind of wish I hadn't been a Liberal Arts major now! Stuff like this would have been really interesting to develop.

So, while you other schools are out there developing your hoops skills, my university is excelling at things that really matter. I don't care about basketball anyway! So there!

I've Been Tagged...

It would appear that I have been tagged. Here are the rules if you are tagged:

The Rules

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
3. Tag eight people at the end of this post and list their names.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

This could be tough, I really don't interact with that many bloggers right now, but I'll see what I can do...

Rule 1.

I've already linked to Princess Linfoong, a med student in Belfast.

Rule 2.

Eight random facts... here goes:

1.) I used to help my grandfather raise bees.

2.) Like Linfoong I had planned to be married by 25. Something went dreadfully wrong with that plan. Still single at 38.

3.) I started college wanting to be an aerospace engineer, changed that to pre-med, and finally settled on English as my major.

4.) I enjoy being on the water, but my true love is the mountains.

5.) I spent 5 months in Dundee, Scotland doing missions work after I graduated from college.

6.) One day I plan to learn how to fly.

7.) I began seminary at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte about 2 years ago. I hope to finish before I die.

8.) I want to visit Belfast in the next 2 years.

There you go. Now I have to figure out who to tag. This may take a little while. I'll tag Wade, Trey (although he probably doesn't have time to do this), aelfeld, David, Patrick, Kelley, Cephas, and Deborah. They are all good blogs regardless of whether they respond or not.


Many commentators are indicting Spitzer mostly for hypocrisy, but aren't we the real hypocrites? We watch and tolerate the most salacious television programs; we produce soft pornography to sell in grocery stores, displaying it on checkout line shelves, we post hardcore porn on the Internet; we feature on magazine covers women who have had babies with sperm donors they call boyfriends, but do not marry them; girls are sexualized at ever-younger ages; we equate shacking up with marriage as equal moral choices and then express shock when members of both political parties behave in ways that emulate what they see the rest of us tacitly approving….

Culture once produced gobs of shame for people who engaged in such activities, but no more. Now the question becomes whether such laws are outmoded and if it should be considered a private matter between Spitzer and his family. This is the legacy of the Bill Clinton years. "It was only sex," cried Clinton's defenders of his tryst with Monica Lewinsky. It was no one else's business, except his family. Each time such behavior is excused, we ensure we will get more of it.

- Cal Thomas (excerpts from "Sex And The Married Governor" in Jewish World Review, March 12, 2008)

I wish that my writing was as consistently cogent as Cal Thomas'. Read the entire article. He hit it on the head.

Don't know if Washington is like NY, but if it is the Gideons may have not been welcome to place their Bibles in his hotel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Wish I Had Had A Band Director Like That...

Tonight I went to the South Rowan High School band concert. I really didn't go with terribly high expectations - after all it was a high school band concert. I expected a good bit of out of tune playing and a few weak sections, but an overall tolerable evening.

I was blown away.

The first part of the concert consisted of a mixed band of freshmen and upperclassmen. I was absolutely surprised by how well they played. Given another month they would be ready for competition. They played March of the Irish Guard arr. by James Ployhar, Norwegian Folk Song Suite by Frank Erickson, and Dorian Rhapsody by Eliot Del Borgo.

For the next movement of the concert, the freshmen left the stage to a skeleton crew of upperclassmen. This crew tackled some really tough pieces. First on the docket was Habanera by E. Chabrier arr. by Albert Davis. It was a very intricate and tricky piece. They followed that with "Sleepers, Wake" from Cantata 140 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. by Philip Sparke. "Ah, Bach..." Need I say more? And they closed this set with the Disney show tune Under the Sea by Alan Menken, arr. by Jerry Nowak. I don't remember ever hearing a band number whose melody was carried for the majority of the song by the baritone horn. I'm not sure the name of the young man who was playing, but he did a fantastic job and had a wonderful tone.

This was all well and good. These bands did a fine job, but the real treat was still to come.

The final set of the evening was performed by the South Rowan Jazz Ensemble. They set the house on fire right out of the gate with William Chase and Richard Marinan's Get It On (arr. by Paul Jennings). They followed that with Sammy Nestico's Orange Sherbet. I just cannot do justice to the job these guys were doing. They totally rocked the house.

That was followed by Jimmy Forrest's Night Train (arr. by John Higgins). The band tore it up. There were extended jazz improv solos!!! My band director never taught ME how to improv! And these kids were GOOD. They were relaxed and having a good time. It was amazing!

The next song in the set was Embraceable You, the George Gershwin tune arr. by Roy Phillippe. That was the only laid back number in the entire set. They were right out of the gate again on the next song - Vehicle (written by James Peterik and arr by Paul Jennings). I'm not sure where I heard that one before, but it had that 70's groove to it.

Then the band turned to swing with the old Glenn Miller standard American Patrol arr. by Paul Lavender. They had a false start with this one, but the band director wisely pulled the plug and started over. Once they got things together they did a fine job with it.

The last song in the set was Sermon by Erik Morales. They hit it out of the park. When the concert was done they received a well-earned standing ovation... and the audience was treated to an encore! They finished up with the Glenn Miller signature In The Mood. It was a great show.

I say all of this to say that this was all brought about by the vision and skill of a 2nd year band director. Never ever ever never have I ever heard of a band program that actually taught the students about music. At least not around here. Justin Dickson has done a STELLAR job with this band.

Many of his students came to him hardly knowing which end of the horn to blow into. Many literally didn't know what a whole note or a quarter rest were. These are the very building blocks of music, and they had managed to get to his band without knowing these things. And he had them playing Bach for crying out loud!

Back in the day I was a pretty good trombone player, but if I had had a band director like Justin Dickson, I might still be playing today. He is teaching these kids how to make music and not just memorize how to play songs. There is a HUGE difference. There is nothing more frustrating than having music inside of you and having an instrument and having absolutely NO IDEA how to get that music out of you through that instrument. Justin has bridged that gap for many of his students.

The sad thing is how long will it last? Every year he has to battle against people who convince his best musicians that they can't afford to "waste" a credit on band. He has to deal with ill-prepared students coming from middle schools in the area. He has to watch as other students are turned off to band because of poor programs in the schools that they have come from. And on top of all of that he has to battle block scheduling which keeps him from being able to have a cohesive band throughout the school year.

Oh my goodness what he could achieve if he had these kids for an entire year. His bands would become LEGENDARY.

Justin, my hat's off to you, buddy. Keep up the excellent work!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Learning and Growing

I have been working on the website for and have made a few improvements. Most of the changes have come to the feature articles for the houses that are being advertised there. I have made the features a little easier to read and it is much easier to see the pictures. I have also added some borders around pictures and have added some background color. I am pleased with the way that the project is beginning to come together.

I have talked with a local builder who has a couple of houses that he may be willing to advertise. I would love to get them because they would help me to be fill in a couple of other categories on the website. I need to begin to take some time to start selling the service now. It is stable enough for me to be able to start doing that.

I do need to develop one more template before I get too far into it though. Not everyone will benefit from a full-blown feature article like I have done for the three homes advertised on the site right now. I need to develop a nicked down version that will include a main picture, the basic details about the property, a short description, and a few thumbnail pictures. It really shouldn't take me that much to do it. I already have most of the raw materials in my existing features.

Doing that will allow me to have some pricing flexibility too.

Today I got my Content Management Bible in the mail. It is a huge book - over 1,000 pages! I have read through the preface and the forward and a couple of other introductory bits and it looks like the book will be very readable and helpful. I hope so. I bought it with the hopes that it would assist me to get a better idea of what I am doing in developing the Joomla site.

In the next day or two I also need to get started on the tutorials for the scripting language PHP. It will allow me to be able to add searches and other functionality to the websites. (It will also help me to understand what the heck I am looking at on my Joomla template.) I hope that there aren't too many more layers that I have to add before I am able to start making good headway on the Joomla site.

One thing is certain though - there is no better teacher than experience. The more I work with this stuff the better I am understanding all of that information that I have crammed into my head. I am beginning to understand when to use different elements and how to put them to work for me. I'm far less frustrated than I was.

The more I work on this project the more I realize just how big a bite I took off. I think that if I had realized what I was getting into I would have been far more likely to write this business off as a crazy dream. It still feels that way sometimes now, but I am beginning to feel more confident that the tide is beginning to turn and I am finally starting to get to a level of competency in my basic knowledge. I am not saying that I am competent to the task yet, but I do feel like I am getting much closer. Of course the new book may bring me back to my senses!

I guess the biggest puzzle that I am dealing with right now is how to get my website to show up in the search engines. I have submitted it to Google and Yahoo!, and have worked on my meta keywords. So far I haven't been able to find my site using the most general key words in the search engine. I definitely need to find a way to get to the front page.

Well, that is all of the shop talk that I will bore you with for now. If you get a chance to check out the site please do. If you want to make suggestions to improve the site feel free to do so. You can email me at the link on the main page. If you know someone in my area who could use my service please let them know (or me.) And if you have the answers to any of my various conundrums please share!

Quote Of The Day

When there is a lack of honor in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned. There is no such thing as a no-man's land between honesty and dishonesty. Our strength lies in spiritual concepts. It lies in public sensitiveness to evil. Our greatest danger is not from invasion by foreign armies. Our dangers are that we may commit suicide from within by complaisance with evil, or by public tolerance of scandalous behavior.
President Herbert Hoover

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For Dixie

Sunday night I sat down and began working on a song for the jazz band. It is a tribute song after a fashion.

Last week I was at Dixie's and noticed a bunch of flowers and cards. When I looked closer it turned out that the owner's dog had died.

I asked him about it, and he confirmed that their dog had in fact died from cancer. It had been kind of hard for him and his wife because the dog was really one of the family. She was more than that too. She was the namesake of the coffee shop.

Dixie was a bloodhound. I had actually seen her once before when we did our first gig at Dixie's. She was a pretty dog. I had no idea that she was so sick.

Anyway, I started thinking about it and decided, "Man, it would be nice if we could do a song for Dixie when we play our next gig."

I had an idea of the pace that I wanted the song to go and an idea of the general feel and how I wanted it to end, but just let the ideas roll around for a couple of days until I could sit down and start putting pen to paper so to speak. I had some time Sunday night and began working on the song. It took me a little while, but by 11:30 I had something that I thought would work.

Last night I took it over to Justin and Sara's and Justin helped me to get it put on paper correctly. The title is Dog Days of Dixie. Unfortunately, we didn't get to run through it last night, but hopefully we will be able to get it ready for our gig at Dixie's on the 29th.

This is a first. It is my first non-church song. Well, I guess it would be possible to put religious lyrics to it, but this is really a gift to the owners of Dixie's. I hope it will brighten their day.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Partner In The Axis Of Evil...

Hugo Chavez and his puppets are laying siege to Columbia. I saw this coming. Hugo Chavez plans to rule all of South and Central America either directly or indirectly. All of his actions have pointed to this.

A few months ago Chavez sent "aid" to the victims of an earthquake in Peru. Printed on the packaging of this aid was propaganda about how the government of Peru had failed the people and how much better Chavez could do. Chavez has also been cozy with Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador.

Several months ago Chavez "magnanimously" offered to help try to negotiate a truce between the terrorist organization FARC and the Columbian government. I knew that it was a mistake for President Uribe to allow that to happen. That agreement was eventually cut short when Chavez overstepped the bounds of his authority in dealing with FARC.

So all of this drama on the border of Columbia all came about because Columbia performed a military action inside of Ecuador against FARC without the permission of the Ecuadorian government. I'm wondering what this has to do with Chavez... oh yes, Ecuador is Chavez's lap dog. So Hugo Chavez, messiah of the downtrodden has rushed to the border with his troops.

I was originally very concerned about this and was hoping that the US was going to back Columbia. I mean, two countries against one (Ecuador and Venezuela vs Columbia) hardly seemed like good odds. According to an article that I read on My Way News the army of Columbia significantly larger than both of these armies combined.

Venezuela and Ecuador have about 172,000 active military troops between them. Colombia's U.S.-equipped, trained and advised military has more than 250,000.

Still, I am a little concerned about who else may be around. I know that Venezuela has been receiving military assistance from China. There is also the FARC to consider.

President Bush has backed President Uribe in this crisis. I am glad to see that. I would hate for us to have to become militarily-involved in South America on a large scale. I am concerned, though, that if something isn't done about Chavez soon, it may be too late to avoid a very costly war with dire consequences.

Since the raid, evidence has been discovered that all but proves that Chavez has been allied with FARC for as long as 10 years. There were also documents that seem to point to some sort of CIA overtures to the terrorists.

References to U.S. diplomatic overtures are scintillating, if vague.

In a Dec. 11 message to the secretariat, Marquez writes: "If you are in agreement, I can receive Jim and Tucker to hear the proposal of the gringos." ...

Writing two days before his death, Reyes tells his secretariat comrades that "the gringos," working through Ecuador's government, are interested "in talking to us on various issues."

"They say the new president of their country will be (Barack) Obama," noting that Obama rejects both the Bush administration's free trade agreement with Colombia and the current military aid program.

Reyes said the response he relayed is that the United States would have to publicly express that desire.

This quote is disturbing to me on so many levels.

First of all, I feel confident that these spooks are not operating under the authority of President Bush. If this supposition is true, then I think that the organization is in dire need of a shake-up. It will probably never happen. There are things you find out sometimes that it would just be better if you didn't know - especially when you have no power to change things. A little ignorance goes a long way to a better night's sleep.

Secondly, the spooks seemed awful confident that Obama will not only win his party's nomination but will also win the general election. Perhaps they were only saying what they thought these terrorists wanted to hear. I hope so. I would really like to believe that it matters who I vote for in November. (And I REALLY hope they are wrong regardless of their motive.)

We live in a very dangerous world.

Update: March 7, 2008 21:50

Apparently the conflict is over - for now.

Check out the cool pictures of coffee art in a post over at the Provocative Church blog. I agree with him, I can't imagine drinking something that looks like that!

Food Fight!

You have to check out this animation called Food Fight. It is very clever!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gone Home...

Perhaps you remember my post a little while ago about Pete? He was a man who came to know Jesus late in a life that had been ravaged by the devil. According to a post on Chris Elrod's blog, Pete got to meet Jesus face to face yesterday.

I think this testimony from an earlier post written by Chris is awesome:

Last week we took a large print Bible to him and he’s been falling asleep with it on his chest every night…he’s been reading it all day…every day. Our visits have mainly consisted of conversations about doctrine, what certain verses mean and what Heaven is going to be like. There was a question he asked me about Scripture that had me stumped…Pete said, “That’s okay…I’ll just ask God in a few weeks when I get there!!!” He’s in a lot of pain…but he still has a joy and sense of humor about him that just lights up the room.

It is astounding to me that God can overcome a life that seems wasted by sin and the destruction of satan and rescue that individual late in life. If that were all it would be shocking. But what is even more amazing to me is that in the very few weeks that this man lived as a Christian, God caused him to even bear fruit.

It is just like Aaron's rod. The stick was completely cut off, identical to all of the other 11 rods, but overnight God caused it to grow leaves, flowers, and almonds. Is there anything God cannot do?

I serve a RADICAL God.

Couldn't Resist!

I just came across this picture on one of the Blogger blogs of note and just had to share it! So true!

And Then There Was One...

Well, it is all but official, John McCain is going to be the next Republican nominee for President. Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race.

I'm a little disappointed that my primary vote in May will be virtually meaningless. I'll still probably vote though. I may still make a protest vote just to let Senator McCain know that he has some bridge building to do and to let it be known that I will be watching very carefully.

It looks like Hillary is done. It isn't official yet, but with her losing Texas, it doesn't look possible for her - even if she wins Ohio as projected. I can't say that I am disappointed, although I tend to think that she would be a more competent president than Senator Obama.

I have been staying away from keeping up with too much of this political stuff this time around. It isn't like anyone will change my mind by anything that they have to say. I WILL be voting Republican. The only things that could change that would be: a) an audible voice from God or b) an angelic visitation from God.

Now I suppose that it is possible that I may not end up voting for Senator McCain. If Mr. Gingrich enters the race I'd vote for him. I don't think that is very likely, though. I will be curious to see if all of those uber-conservative naysayers follow through with their foolish notion to cross lines. That is too bizarre a thought for words.

It will also be interesting to see if either candidate wins the endorsement of the NRA. The NRA has been no friend to Senator McCain since McCain/Feingold.

That's enough politics for now. I don't have much of a stomach for it anymore.

UPDATE: March 5, 2008 10:38 am That'll teach me...

It turns out that the news last night was WRONG. Hillary won both Texas and Ohio. I don't think that it will really change anything, but it does make it more interesting.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I am very pleased to announce that my upgrade to is now live. Hopefully, in the coming days I'll be adding additional properties for people to see. I hope to have something in each property category just as soon as possible.

Now things get really interesting because I need to do some sales, but I also need to do some development to the site so that I'll be able to handle a higher volume of properties. This solution will only work in the short term.

I also need to find a graphic designer to come up with a logo for me. I have some ideas, but for me to make those logos a reality would mean a whole new learning curve, and I'd really rather cut that short for right now.

On top of that I need to talk to an attorney about my terms of use and liability issues. And, and, and... Oh well, I knew it would come to this and that is part of making this whole project a reality. I'm excited about it really.

This has been a very gratifying couple of days. I have been extremely pleased with the progress I have made. Hopefully we will continue to go up from here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gig Update

The StillWaters Jazz Band gig for Dixie's coffee house on March 15th has been postponed until the Saturday after Easter, March 29, 2008 1:00-3:00 PM.

The band is working on some cool new music. We have a new one written by Justin, we are working up Stormy Weather, Deep River Blues, and Bye Bye Blackbird. So hopefully we'll have some new tunes to share with you then!

Hope to see you on the 29th!

What A Day!

Today was great. It was the most productive day that I have had in months. I woke up early and was able to get through my morning routine fairly early. Then I got to work.

When I stopped work on Saturday night there were some problematic little buggy things with the website. Today I got almost all of these problems sorted out and created a lot of content.

The last thing left to do before I can go live with the new design is to fix the feature article that has been up there for the property at 105 O'Hara Drive. I don't think that it will take me that long to get it worked out. I am also going to add a couple amenities to the feature articles too. I am going to add a Mapquest link and a couple of other things.

If you have been keeping up with things here on the site, you may have picked up on the fact that I had been employed as a lift salesman. I cut that short on Friday. I knew that I shouldn't do it when I took the job, but with my situation I didn't feel that I could turn down work.

What I found was that it divided my energy too much. The Bible says that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Well, I was living that. I'd try to get started working on one thing, but felt guilty for not working on the other and I ended up so addled that I didn't do either one. It made for one stressed out fellow.

As soon as I cut the sales job loose, I knew I had done the right thing. Of course, I'm kind of flying without a net again, but I've been doing that for months. So what's new? I really have faith that this is going to work in spite of some of the challenges that are still before me.

I have lots of challenges. I still have to figure out how to handle large numbers of properties being advertised on the website. How can I allow people to search for properties based on their preferences? I'm still turning this one over in my mind.

I do have a real estate program that may allow this to be done out of the box, but I am afraid that I will have trouble configuring it to look the way that I want it to.

I need to learn PHP (a scripting language) so that I can understand what is being done on the template that I am using. I also need to start selling my service. Fun! I can actually get paid for working! How cool is that?

I am finally getting to the fun and exciting parts I think. Yes, I am sure there is probably more headbanging at some time in the future, but I am actually seeing the potential for reward for all of my hard work. Hopefully one day soon I'll have an "Eureka!" moment with Joomla. When I do there will be much rejoicing and you will be among the first to know!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I spent much of today working on an update to my web page. I am trying to simplify the page and get to where I can actually start making some money from it soon. I made pretty good progress and I'm pretty happy with the results of what I have been able to accomplish today. Of course there is always some little annoying thing that isn't working quite right.

For some reason, the numbers don't add up. I am working with a three column layout. Each of the side columns is 25% of 1024 pixels. The center column is 50%. When I try to make the right column 256 pixels wide, the text isn't wrapping in the element correctly.

I have been playing with fixed positioning on my sidebar elements. I like the idea of being able to keep the sidebars in place when someone is scrolling through content, but it doesn't seem to allow you to scroll to see the entire page in a cascading view or in a window that is smaller than 1024 x 640 pixels.

Enough of all of that technical mumbo-jumbo. I am trying to clean up the lines of the web page and make it a little brighter than the original. I am also trimming back from the grand vision of the webzine to focus on real estate for now. That will generate revenue and allow me to develop the Joomla site in the meantime.

Anyway, hopefully we will be live with the new improved website by the middle of the next week. I'll let you know when it is ready. Thanks for reading!