Thursday, December 31, 2009

move it, move it

Then go to Move Your Money to find a local community bank near you with a B rating or higher.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

sing! sing! sing!

I saw two quotes today on Facebook...

the first was posted by Len Sweet - “First we sing. Then we believe.” Abraham Heschel

The second was in a comment on Sweets post. "Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” It is often attributed incorrectly to Plato. More likely, it is a variation on a saying from Andrew Fletcher.

Both quotes have me thinking about the way that what we sing... or even listen to... works its way into our subconsciousness and helps to shape who we are, how we think, and how we see the world around us. In church, it is obvious that the songs we sing are very important in shaping our theology. Few people remember a sermon. None speak it as they do the laundry. Many will find themselves singing a catchy tune that they sang in church later on.

But it is true beyond that. The music we listen to on the radio and sing when we aren't thinking says a lot about the way we see and experience the world. I worry about girls who listen to misogynistic rap music, to African American youth who listen to music that repeatedly calls them "niggers," to young boys who listen to music that objectifies girls as nothing more than sex objects. I'm struck by how important the role of the musician is in any culture but especially in one like ours that is so shaped by media.

I've heard Sweet play with the quote from Psalm 139 - "how can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" asking if maybe the question church musicians should be raising is, "how can we sing a strange song in the Lord's land?" I think musicians of faith should be asking both and framing them in creative ways that both speak to culture and offer the possibility of transformation in and out of the Church. That doesn't mean that as Christians we only sing songs that mention Jesus by name. Instead, it means that we look carefully at the meaning of a song and ask the good questions - is this humanizing? does it push us towards wholeness? does this song communicate something that either makes the world a better place or shines a spotlight on an area where change is needed?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

genius and craziness

Isn't it interesting to consider the fine line between genius and craziness? Or at least between genius and eccentricity?

I came across the below video which is an encounter between classical guitar player, John Williams and builder, Greg Smallman. Clearly Smallman is a genius and maybe a bt eccentric... He has come up with a revolutionary design for the classical guitar. From about 4:05- 5:00, we see the radical changes in the construction of the guitar's top in a Smallman guitar. Many players prefer the sound of the old style of construction, but his designs have clearly changed that way guitars are heard and built and many top builders emulate his style of construction. That said, take a look at the shop (beginning about 3:25). It certainly doesn't have the clean design, perfect tools, and careful arrangement I expect from a world class guitar builder's shop. But the proof is in the product isn't it?

at about 5:00, Williams begins to seriously play the instrument.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

espresso & coffee

About two months ago, my buddy, Hershey, had to be euthanized. Hershey had been very ill and it was clearly time to say goodbye. He had been part of our family for 17 years and was my cat. 7 years prior, his partner, Lynx, had died. A short while after that, we tried to find a new friend to live with Hershey but he wouldn't accept another cat. I became his only buddy. I miss him purring at the back of my neck when I sit on the sofa and still expect to see him when I walk into the house.

Cheryl and I have been talking about another pet or two and decided on two cats. I like dogs but we think our lifestyle would make caring for a dog too difficult. Cats can get by with a bit less attention. And I like cats too. Plus, Cheryl likes things "in their place" so any animals are a problem. We decided, or she acquiesced, to get two cats so they could entertain one another. So... the plan was to go the shelter and find a bonded pair, preferably about a year old. We didn't want to fall in love with a cat only to have it only live for a few years so we didn't want one too old and we didn't want too young because kittens can be crazy.

We seriously looked at a pair of Bengals from a rescue organization in SoCal but ended up deciding to go to the local shelter. I had scouted things out in advance and I was sold on a pair named Fran & Ollie. They were beautiful little cats and were clicker trained which was just adorable. Cheryl and I took them out of the cage and played with them a bit and... nope. It wasn't them. They weren't particularly interested in us. Tried another pair... and one of them hissed at both of us. Not them. A third pair were too timid. We were getting a bit concerned that we wouldn't find a pair. We began to look at the individual cats, thinking we could pick two but every one that seemed to reach out to us had a note on the cage, "does not like other cats." I was getting discouraged.

Next, we went to the area where the younger cats were caged and saw a pair of black and white siblings. They were cute... so we took them out to play with them. One climbed my leg. Ouch. Then, they just went wild. Typical kitten behavior. Took them back. Last chance was another pair of short-haired black kittens who were a little older than the previous pair. We opened the cage and the larger of the two immediately began to purr and wanted to be picked up. The smaller of the two watched for a few seconds and then stood to join in the fun.

We took them to the room to play and they purred the entire time, enjoyed being held, and seemed clearly to have chosen us. The one small issue was their names - Inky & Stinky. New home, new family = new names. We filled out the paper work, paid the adoption fee and home they came.

They traveled in the cat carrier very well and adjusted pretty quickly to their new home. At first it seemed as if the smaller guy was more active than the larger. And their colors are subtly different with bit more red in the smaller guy. The larger guy is closer to real black. Both have gorgeous golden eyes. Names began to present themselves - Espresso, Cacao, Cocoa, Chocolate, Cafe, Coffee, Cadbury, Beans... (see any pattern there?) Our son liked Espresso for the smaller and Coffee for the larger so that looks as if it will be their names. We still have a day or two before the names will be permanent and I'm not 100% sold on them but the rest of the family seems to be happy so... Espresso is on the left and Coffee on the right.

They're home today, by themselves for the work day. I'm a little apprehensive as to what we'll find when we get home but I am so excited about having a new buddy or two. And Cheryl? She spent most of last evening talking baby talk and scratching and petting espresso who fell asleep on her lap.