Wednesday, May 28, 2008


There is sooooo much amazing music out there and soooo many talented people and soooo much of it is findable because of the web. It feels almost impossible to keep track of it all.

Real World Records has a really cool thing associated with one of their websites. You can download the raw files of a number of their recordings which can then be manipulated, mixed, and posted as "new" work on the website. A few years ago they had a competition to remix Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey." The last few days I've been listening to a number of the remixes again. Some are just amazing.

Here is a link to the original video of Peter Gabriel's recording of the song in case you need a reminder of what it sounds like (sorry youtube won't allow me to embed the video).

and here is one of my favorite remixes... "The Ballad of Enos" Remix by Loveshadow

Pretty amazing isn't it?

Monday, May 26, 2008

fledglings 2

The fledglings died. It struck me more than I expected.

The other morning I went out back and found them in the corner. One was dead and the other curled up next to it. I removed the dead body and put it in a hollow spot in the church park. A few hours later the second had died.

The parents continued to watch over their bodies fr the rest of the day and whenever anyone approached they would scold. Even now, a few days later, they still yell at me when I go out the back door.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I had a friend who did street ministry. Kevin heard every possible story from someone wanting help that you can imagine. His rule was simple - verify, verify, verify. If the story was true, then he helped.

Verify, verify, verify is a good rule for the Internet too. Whenever I get those chain e-mails, I always check them out and then send an e-mail to the sender telling them the truth.

Unfortunately, I haven't been quite as careful about youtube videos etc... evidently the Wii Wii post below was an April Fools joke. Still funny but not real... so if you were planning to purchase Super Pii Pii Brothers, you'll have to wait for someone else to release it.

Wii Wii

We have a saying in our house regarding boy's bathrooms - "boys are happy if they hit something." In large degree that is true for men as well, just check out any gas station's men's room and you'll see what I mean.

It took a Japanese company to look at the technology of the Wii and those facts... and come up with a game...



Crows amaze me. They build strong communities, care for one another, even look after one another's young, form monogamous pairs, and they are committed parents. We have a nest in one of the palm trees in our back yard and on Monday a fledgling fell from the nest. It wasn't injured and quickly made its way into the bougainvillea at the corner of our patio.

We talked to some wildlife people who told us this is a common occurrence at this time of their life cycle and that as long as the fledgling was not injured, the parents would feed it until it was large enough to fly. They also protect it. Walk out our back door and immediately they begin to scold you. Before we knew what would happen, I put on some leather gloves and picked the fledgling up. The entire murder gather in the trees around our back yard - at least 20 crows - all yelling at me to leave the young one alone. When I put him back in the bougainvillea, all left except the parents.

Tuesday morning when I went for my daily walk, the parents followed me, yelling all of the time, for three blocks and then returned to watch over the young crow.

This morning a second fledgling fell from the nest so now we have two young crows in our back yard. It is noisy, but fun to watch them and wait with their parents until they take to the sky.

Friday, May 16, 2008

McCain and Iraq

These words are from a foreign policy speech given by John McCain

By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.

While some of the goals seem wonderful, others are either ridiculous or just wrong. Even if you agree with all of the goals, the rest of the speech gives no indication of any new initiatives to get there. Essentially, he wants to continue the Bush policies in Iraq but somehow will achieve these radically different. It reminds me of the old definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, hoping to get different results.

My only hope is that the American public doesn't elect this man... doing the same thing over yet again, hoping to get different results.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The ants suffer

There is an African aphorism... "when elephants fight, it is the ants who suffer."

All too often we have forgotten the ants in the mess we have caused in Iraq. The government uses words like "collateral damage" to describe the deaths of civilians and never even began counting them let alone stopped counting. We rarely see images or hear stories of the civilians, mostly too poor to escape, left behind. Of course, every dead child is the seeds of an entire family of terrorists yearning for revenge.

In an air attack on Sadr City, 2 year old Ali Hussein was injured as his house fell in on him. He died at the hospital.

The Washington Post published this photo and was castigated by some readers for showing an "anti-war" image and for publishing a photo in poor taste. As Helen Thomas reminded us in her column, "so is war."

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Guitar players can obsess over the smallest details. We worry about which strings will sound best. We are subject to arguments over which cable will transmit the sound best from the guitar to the amp and sometimes are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on each facet of the tone chain. We argue about what type of transistor sounds best in which position in an amplifier. Some of us seek out NOS tubes like junkies looking for a fix. Acoustic players argue over the sound characteristics of different woods and whether currently available Brazilian rosewood sounds as good as wood that was available years ago. One amazing guitarist, Eric Johnson, even claims to be able to hear the difference of different brands of 9 volt batteries in his effects boxes. (Listen to him play - I'm not going to argue!)

Some of us spend huge amounts of money and even more time researching these little details to get our tone just right. Of course, that is time that isn't spent practicing or making music.

DC Guitar Journal has a wonderful post about this with the photo below from the circuit board of a Blackstone Mosfet Overdrive (a great sounding overdrive pedal that I don't own). Jon Blackstone evidently got it right...

stop obsessing and play some music. got that right

Friday, May 09, 2008


The southern part of Santa Barbara county is one of the least affordable places to purchase a home in the United States. The median income is around $69K while the median house price is now down to about $1.1 million. Do the math. The history of the community and the patterns of ownership are complicated but the future is clear. The middle class is rapidly disappearing. Both the private and the public sector have difficulty getting employees because folk cannot afford to live here.

Add to that the fact that Santa Barbara is relatively cut off in every direction. To the south is ocean. There is one road north that goes across the Santa Ynez Mountains. In the valley, there are a number of small towns but the commute across the pass is treacherous and it takes about 45 minutes to get to the closest towns. To the east, there is also one road - the 101. Housing is spotty heading along the coast to Ventura (about 25 miles from Santa Barbara) and traffic is horrendous - remember, one road and much of it is two lanes in either direction. Many workers in the SB area commute from Ventura, Oxnard (the next town to the southeast), and further along this highway. Take 101 west along the coast and then north and the nearest town is Buellton, about 30 miles away with Lompoc about 50 and Santa Maria about 60. Fewer people commute from this direction and there is virtually no development for 30 miles so traffic is very reasonable and prices are more affordable, getting cheaper the further away you travel from Santa Barbara.

Churches in Santa Barbara without parsonages have had a terrible time attracting pastors. Those with parsonages (like Cambridge Drive) can attract pastors but often they don't stay long term. The loss of potential to build equity and the increased taxes that come when one doesn't have a mortgage make their tenures short.

We have lived in a parsonage the last 5.5 years and it has been a good experience. The house is very nice. We enjoy our neighbors. The church folk have been wonderful. Still every year, we have bristled at the size of our taxes, especially as we have watched those dollars fund the war in Iraq. And every year we wonder how not owning property would effect our retirement years. We have looked at the rare "workforce" housing projects in Santa Barbara - projects with restrictions on price, appreciation, and income of the owners. We haven't qualified for any that have opened up while we have been here. Even if we had, there are lotteries for the limited spots.

Recently we learned of some new projects in Buellton and we placed an offer on a condo in a project called Vintage Walk. The prices are still ridiculous compared to much of the country, we'd be giving ourselves a 30 mile commute (+9 more for Cheryl), moving into a smaller space with fewer amenities, and we'd live in a different community than where I do my ministry. The up side is that we could begin to build some equity and if the urban plan for Buellton takes place, we'd be in the middle of a very quaint little walking village. We'd stay put a lot longer than otherwise. Plus... Buellton is in the wine country. Remember Sideways? The condo we've made an offer on is about 3 blocks or so from the motel they stayed in.

Just what we needed to add more stress to our lives and more expense at the same time we're planning a wedding for Alexis. Still it feels good and right. I just heard that our offer has been accepted. We just need to hear back from the mortgage people and forward we go!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oh Tay!

One of my favorite blogs is Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish. Today he had this video up and it brought back such wonderful memories and made me laugh so here it is for my readers...