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Monthly Archives: March 2009

This past weekend, we threw a party at our house to celebrate my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary. Doris and Bill, along with a good assemblage of friends and family, gathered with us to enjoy some good food and share memories of their 60-year journey together.

Doris and Bill

We live in an age where too many things are deemed to be disposable. The list ranges from costly, but not important items like household appliances, to significant, and life-impacting things like marriages and unborn infants (I do not aim to trivialize marriage and abortion by lumping them with appliances; just describing the gamut). From some parts of our society, we still hear folks decrying the erosion of values and the lack of respect for time-honored and God-ordained institutions. It’s really not hard to figure out why these institutions are not valued: the assault on marriage, and the family, and life itself marches on with the help of a corrosive, self-idolizing pop culture and deranged liberal judiciary. Enough with the soapbox.

Doris and Bill have provided a great example to children and grandchildren that marriage can last, but there’s work involved. Whether persevering through tough times and setbacks, or savoring the good times, working together with your spouse makes the journey survivable, enjoyable, and blessed.

the picture is from their wedding in 1949

My family is fortunate to have two of these lasting-marriage examples; my parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary later this year. Here’s to folks that make commitments and keep them.

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Note: Don’t get the idea that I subscribe to everything on this site – some of the half-baked psycho-babble about how conservatives destroyed the economy and society in general is looney – I just liked this particular piece.

Have you ever wondered what one trillion dollars looks like? With all the talk about bailouts and stimulus packages – a million here, a billion there – it’s pretty easy to lose track of exactly how MUCH money they’re talking about. [via deliveriesgalore]

$100

Let’s start with a simple $100 bill – nearly everyone has seen one, and most have used one at some point: Ahh, hello Mr. Franklin…

Read on:

Interesting piece on WSJ Online about micro- and craft-brewers.

In Lean Times, a Stout Dream – WSJ.com

By DAVID KESMODEL

The economic crisis has stifled entrepreneurial activity in many industries. But it’s done little to dent the ambitions of those who dream of brewing their own beer and offering it to the world.

Surprisingly large numbers of entrepreneurs — some let go from corporate jobs in recent years — have been starting microbreweries or brewpubs. Schools that teach brewing are being showered with applications from people interested in getting into the business. At the same time, enthusiasm for interesting new beers remains strong; BeerAdvocate.com, a Web site for beer enthusiasts, says its traffic has reached one million unique visitors a month, and is rising as much as 12% each month.

via In Lean Times, a Stout Dream – WSJ.com.

Update: The folks at American Thinker think BO’s pledge campaign has some disturbing historical precedents.

This is an excerpt from BO’s web page for his newly announced “pledge project.” Sounds like our dear leader wants everyone to pledge their undying loyalty to his agenda for hope ‘n change, and then get their neighbors and friends to sign on. Makes me wonder when they’re going to start keeping track of who doesn’t sign the pledge. (My comments in italics):

President Obama’s plan will rebuild and renew America by creating jobs and investing in the three areas most critical to our future:

* Energy — Transforming America’s economy to run on clean and renewable energy in order to create new American jobs and industries (Can you say cap and trade? It will take massive government subsidies to make wind and solar power economically viable)

* Health care — Comprehensively reforming health care so that families, businesses, and government are relieved from the crushing costs that impede economic growth and prosperity (and, when we get it fine-tuned, like England or Canada, it’ll be great – oh wait: they have to wait 16 weeks on average to see a specialist, and some government functionary decides whether you’re too old to get those cancer meds. I guess that aspect of it isn’t so attractive. The thing they don’t talk about it is the crushing load of taxes that they’re going to lay on the 50% of us that are actually pay them)

* Education — Reforming and investing in America’s education system so that citizens are prepared to compete in a global economy (I haven’t figured out how pouring more money – billions more – into a system that hasn’t worked so far will suddenly produce amazing new results. And, they want to start offering “free” pre-K education for all chidren – so most kids will get another two or three years of indoctrination – I mean, “educational opportunity”. BO is giving lip service to reform, but the teacher’s unions will make sure he doesn’t go too far down that road.)

* I support President Obama’s bold approach for renewing America’s economy

* I will ask friends, family, and neighbors to pledge their support for this plan

First name: *

Last name: *

Email: *

Zip: *

(Video will continue to play.)

Optional: Enter your full address so that we can accurately track support in your area: (what if you don’t support his plan – do they want to know where you are then?)

Address:

City:

State:

(Video will continue to play.)

How are you willing to build support for the President’s economic blueprint?

Calling potential supporters from your own home

Attending and making calls at a phonebank

Hosting a phonebank

Going door-to-door in your neighborhood

Organizing a door-to-door canvass in your neighborhood (yeah, I can see doing this in my neighborhood – not)

Hosting a house meeting

Attending an Organizing for America training

Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper

Optional: Tell us in your own words why you support the President’s blueprint:

* = required field.

Your first name, city/state, and optional personal message will appear publicly in a powerful display of support for our agenda.

via Organizing for America | Organizing for America Pledge Project.

Interesting piece on WSJ Online about micro- and craft-brewers.

In Lean Times, a Stout Dream – WSJ.com

By DAVID KESMODEL

The economic crisis has stifled entrepreneurial activity in many industries. But it’s done little to dent the ambitions of those who dream of brewing their own beer and offering it to the world.

Surprisingly large numbers of entrepreneurs — some let go from corporate jobs in recent years — have been starting microbreweries or brewpubs. Schools that teach brewing are being showered with applications from people interested in getting into the business. At the same time, enthusiasm for interesting new beers remains strong; BeerAdvocate.com, a Web site for beer enthusiasts, says its traffic has reached one million unique visitors a month, and is rising as much as 12% each month.

via In Lean Times, a Stout Dream – WSJ.com.




Debbie and I are participating in a series of recording sessions to make a CD from “The Master’s Plan.” This is a production that my church’s Music and Fine Arts Ministry did for a long time, but stopped about 10 years ago. They used to perform it at the Carpenter Center and the Mosque (now called the Landmark Theater), and thousands of people saw it every year. The entire sanctuary choir and members of the cast of the production are participating in the process. It involves converting our choir rehearsal room into a large recording studio, and trying to get about 130 people to sing the same notes, timing, cutoffs, rests, intonation and tonal qualities. There are also separate recordings in our regular (very small) recording studio to capture the solos, duets, and other ensembles.

Preparation involved individual work with the music and practice tracks on CD that had been cut for the purpose. Then, we assembled for rehearsals to do the music together, and get schooled by our director, Bob Laughlin, in how to sing for this kind of music recording. Our choir has done this several times before, so there are some folks who are well-versed in what to do to achieve high quality in a recording. Debbie and I, however, have somehow managed to miss the previous opportunities for one reason or another – so this is our first experience. While there are physical things that must be observed about singing this kind of choral music, I feel like the hardest part of it is mental: you must be focused on the music, listening to your surroundings, and constantly aware of what’s coming, so you don’t make stupid mistakes. In this setting, stupid mistakes mean about 130 people have to go back and do it over.

We did our first choir session last night. We were scheduled for 6:00 to 10:00 PM, but we were able to complete the night’s work in about three hours. Thank goodness. I find it to be exhausting work. Because we are trying to capture only the choir vocals, and not the accompanying orchestra music (captured at separate times), we have the practice, or “guide” tracks broadcast to the choir over an FM radio signal. Every member of the choir has an FM radio and a set of headphones, so we can hear the music. Because the recording equipment is in another room physically from the choir, only the director can hear the instruction of the recording engineer (Pat Bragg). So the drill is: hear the music, start singing, and keep singing until the music stops, or Bob cuts you off. If we’re good or lucky, we make it eight or sixteen measures before we stop. At which point the recording engineer informs Bob that it was good or one of the aforementioned mistakes was committed. The recording equipment they use shows physical graphs (I’m not a recording engineer, so forgive the inexact description) of what is being sung, so they can tell if someone fell into a rest, or the pitch went sharp or flat, or there was too much background noise. Plenty of times, someone did commit one of these mistakes, so we go back and sing it until it is perfect (or tolerably close to perfect). Taking all of that into account, we spent three hours recording the choral tracks for four or five songs (I forget now).

We have another session on Wednesday to finish up the rest of the music. I will do one of the individual sessions to record the part of Pontius Pilate in a song called “Crucify Him”. I’ve been in the recording studio before, but always as a part of a group, so I’m a little nervous about it. I know the song very well, but I also know Bob and Pat are striving to get the best quality possible from folks, so it makes me a little more tense than singing in the shower. And, tense doesn’t add up to good for me. Ultimately, we will end up producing a good product, if their previous efforts are any indication. I’m looking forward to hearing the finished product, and performing the whole concert on Good Friday. We’ll also be singing parts of it on Palm Sunday and Easter.