"Use the spell, fool."
- Michael Scott, The Face In The Frost
If you haven't read this short little wonder by John Bellairs, go, buy it, read it. It is wonderful. I read it to the kids out loud last year and they were enrapt and completely "got it". Tonight I promised my very cynical 22 year old $5 if she would read it (about two hours worth of effort for her) and be able to tell me what the punchline of the book was. You get to know, first.
But really - read it.
The above punchline, even known in advance, will hit you upside the head and make you laugh out loud when you stumble upon it.
[And Aaron, Mack is totally ready for this book.]
Monday, June 30, 2008
"Use the spell, fool."
Sunday, June 29, 2008
We went tonight. Erin wanted to go, and I am cool with that. So we went. Lots of "Well, hello, stranger!" comments, but it was OK and the people were welcoming. But boy, did I feel disconnected and out of place. I spent pretty much the whole service detached and observing, even as I was tapped to do one of the three readings.
At one point the pastor (actually both were there tonight - I am talking about the senior pastor, who is actually the younger one and...never mind - it only makes sense in a formal church setting) said "I have read much of your stuff, you're not as out there as you think", or something to that extent. Which leads me to believe he only read the early stuff, not the later, because trust me, for "my" denomination I am out there. As in - I question its very reason and right for existence. Along with tithing, professional clergy, sermons and whatnot. If I were participating in Jeff's thread, I'd rant more, but I am in an anti-theology phase right now, so this is all personal, visceral - not theory.
Veni, Vidi, WTF?
[Warning: A bit of geek-speak/nerding out in this post.]
I own a lot of music CDs. A lot. Somewhere around 800, maybe more (it's been a while since I've counted, and we've bought since then).
I long ago gave up playing them as CDs, per se, except in the truck on road trips. I have my server (the house has eight, soon to be nine computers in it - of course we have a server) hooked up to the stereo, and the stereo has speakers upstairs and down, so that's how we listen to most music. Even when I had a 300 CD changer it was just way too slow and clunky to use - we ended up donating it to the church. Plus, it only held 300 CDs! How could you decide which 3/8 of your music library to listen to? So now it's all on the computer with real shuffle play and saved playlists and genres and album art and all. Better living through technology.
Except when it isn't.
About four years ago - maybe even longer, I converted my entire computerized music library to MP3pro format. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Disk space was cheap but it wasn't that cheap, and one thing you should probably know about me is when it comes to some things I am a cheap bastard (and yet on other things I am like naval personnel in port on payday - go figure). The promise of MP3pro was that through a clever encoding trick they could get about double the quality out of a given bit rate. So, for example, at the top MP3pro encoding rate of 96kbps you were getting the effective quality of 192kbps, which is very good (unless you're a dog or an audio snob).
Why was this important? Because bit rate determines the resulting file size. So by choosing 96kbps MP3pro encoding instead of the MP3 "CD quality" 128kbps I was saving 25% on disk space but actually getting close to the acoustic quality of 192kbps. Doubleplus good! I quickly converted my entire library over to that, and every time I ripped a new CD it went in as MP3pro.
And then MP3pro died. Support for it is virtually impossible to get running under Linux, and even the MP3pro support that was there in various Windows software is going away. And here's the bad news - while MP3pro gives 192kbps quality when played through MP3pro software, it only gives 96kbps quality when played through normal MP3 software. And the difference is enough that it is noticeable, especially if you are listening with headphones.
So about three weeks ago I decided disk space is cheap now and started the long process of re-ripping all my CDs in high quality MP3 format. One of the primary motivators is that I am back to listening to my iPod a lot at work, and Les is listening to hers as she studies, so we might as well have good sounding music to listen to. It is a slow process, especially because I am OCD (really) when it comes to tagging and organizing my music library. But hopefully it will be worth it.
The moral of the story? Don't get locked into proprietary formats if you can help it.
The other moral? Disk space is cheap. I bought two external USB drives yesterday to replace the two I currently use for backups (they rotate, and one goes off-site when it is not in active use), and I paid $99 apiece for two 500GB drives, or a terabyte of space for 20 cents/gigabyte. That is just astounding.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
- Show #470 - Marie Knight and the tribute to Reverend Gary Davis.
- Show #469 - Lee Rocker & Meg Hutchinson (a good show, but I was really taken by the host's cover of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction at the start of the show - ranks up there with Devo's take on it for informing a completely different take on the tune).
I am a big fan of the blues, and gospel as well. So the Reverend Gary Davis was close to perfection to me. Tonight we were listening to Woodsongs after Prairie Home Companion (the second excellent Woodsongs show in a row - I have a blog post on hold about the other one until their podcasts catch up with last week's show). Anyway, tonight was completely dedicated to Marie Knight and her new tribute album to Gary Davis.
That CD will be in this house in under a week. If only for I'll Fly Away, a song I love to sing (I can naturally find the bass vocal for it in any arrangement I hear). Larry Campbell on guitar. Tonight, former Gary Davis pupil Janis Ian (yes, that Janis Ian) was playing bass. M.C. Records owner Mark Carpentieri on drums. What a show. What great praise-filled, heartfelt music.
Let Us Get Together, by roots music publisher M.C. Records. Joe Bob sez "Check it out." Really. And if you don't know the work of Reverend Gary Davis, now is the time to fix that.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Dan posted his work history today. I'll bite, even though I don't have some grand finale to cap it with like ending up in the ministry. :o) All dates are rough estimates, since I want to go to bed soon.
Boulder, Colorado - round 1 (ca. 1970s)
- Mowing yards - from probably 11 to 15, so 1971 to 1975. We lived in a trailer court full of mostly old people, so I charged $3 to mow, $5 to mow and trim (with hand clippers!)
- Ideal Feed and Supply - part-time job in ninth grade as a result of "career day" internships at Casey Junior High. My W-2s and Social Security history start from here. I was not quite 16 yet. Learned that 60 lb. bags of feed are heavy.
- Senor Miguels - dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant 100 yards from our trailer court. Great chile rellenos.
- [dropped out of high school right about here - parents said "Get a job or leave", so I got a job - actually a series of jobs. ca. spring/summer of 1976. Disco is reigning.]
- Old Chicago - dishwasher at the first Old Chicago in Boulder, began working there before it had even opened. Started by three broke hippies, at least one of them (Frank Day) is still running a national restaurant business that includes the Old Chicago, Rock Bottom, Chop House and other restaurant franchises.
- Brandts - dishwasher at a French (more towards the peasant/Provencal style) restaurant run by a great chef but a terrible businessman (note: never let staff drink at the bar for free after closing every single night). Besides learning cooking from my mom at home this was probably the greatest influence on teaching me how to cook and convincing me it was worth learning.
- Holiday Twin Drive-In - popcorn technician. Shit pay, but free movie passes to all theaters in town. I held out for mnths before going to the original Star Wars because I refused to pay for a ticket and waited for free passes.
- [Returned for senior year of high school about here, so about the summer of 1977.]
- Nickerson Conoco - pumped gas at a full-service gas station at Folsom & Pine. Gas was 55 cents/gallon. About 10 blocks down Pine Street from where the exteriors for Mork and Mindy's house were filmed, so got asked directions to that about once a day.
- McDonalds - I lasted three days.
- K-Mart - ditto. Busted smoking pot in the bathroom, a career-limiting option in the Kreskge chain of companies.
- Best Western - Maintenance man at motel where my girlfriend had gotten hired as a housekeeper.
- Northern Window Cleaning - janitor for my friend Mike's dad while I lived in their house, ending a summer-long homeless period that started when my folks moved to Missouri in the summer of 1978 and I decided to stay in Boulder. Bob Skinkard was one tough but great boss. I've known Mike since third grade (1968), and he is still one of my best friends. All this brings us to December, 1978. I am all of 18.
- United States Air Force - six weeks in basic training and then an honorable discharge for flat feet (really). Released sometime in January, 1979.
- K-Mart - garden shop "manager". Blue laws were still in effect in Missouri at that time, so got to learn how to explain to someone why they could buy flowers but not the trowel to plant them with on a Sunday. Met my first wife working here.
- JC Penneys - I vaguely remember working at a Penneys as a maintenance man for a few days somewhere in here.
- Clow Chemical - worked in a factory making PVC water main pipe. To date, my shittiest job. Nothing compares in suckitude before or since.
- Schultes IGA - stocker at an old grocery store.
- Kansas City Star - independent contractor delivering newspapers in Columbia, MO, at o-dark-thirty in the morning. Still one of the best jobs I've ever had (driving around buzzed with the tunes cranked, throwing papers in the early morning hours). I am 20 with a newborn daughter right about...here.
- State of Missouri - computer operator. My first job "in computers", which I stumbled upon and then used to get me through college, working full time in the evenings while going to school full-time during the day, all the while supporting a wife and kid. Met Leslie while going to college during this time. Ongoing friends Jim and Calvin date from this period as well.
- Farmland Industries - last stint as a computer operator, making 1.5x what I had been making in JC, which was good since I needed the money to support my (first) ex and kids.
- DST Systems - my first programming job! Also my first systems programming job. Decided my first career goal (systems programming - the mainframe term for "system admin") was not all it was cracked up to be.
- Trecom - my first (real) consulting job.
- Mutual Benefit Life - "Senior Programmer/Analyst" and the first job I had supervising others. Friend Cal (see above) got me this job.
- Lee Corp. (as in, Lee Jeans) - worked there two whole weeks before jumping to...
- MicroDecisionware, Inc. - my first "software engineer" position. I gained tons of experience and almost more friends than I can count (literally) from this one job. Bitched about it constantly at the time, but really, a golden era in my career. I was 31-34.
- Sybase - when Sybase bought MDI, I decided to transfer to "the Bay" as a senior software engineer. One of the best career moves I ever made in terms of salary and opportunity increases. Met Ken there, still a close friend.
- Scopus - followed a manager (Paul) over from Sybase. Moved back to Colorado during this time, the start of six years of telecommuting, minus the year at NEON, er, New Era, below.
- StarQuest - followed Ken from Sybase to here after the manager I followed to Scopus left Scopus (got that?) StarQuest was located in Berkeley, but I was working from Lakewood, Colorado. Actually led a project developing software that Microsoft bundled and distributed with their SNA Server product.
- Dullroar Enterprises - self-employed consultant for about six months. I still own the domain name, but it's a vanity thing now. Primary customer was the former CTO from Scopus, who became semi-independently wealthy after Siebel bought Scopus.
- Richter Systems - my primary client at Dullroar became CTO at Richter, so I got my first "chief architect" position through him. A total, unmitigated disaster. Trying to remotely be the architect for a medium-sized firm undergoing a transition in business models is Not A Good Idea. Hired Mark, who continues to be a close, valued friend.
- NEON, er, New Era of Networks (they lost the ability to call themselves NEON due to a lawsuit after I left, then got absorbed by Sybase) - fled Richter and 40% of my salary (and 60% of the stress) to return to being a plain old "principal software engineer" at New Era. Lasted a year. Met Aaron, another one of my bestest friends, here, along with another group of people whose ongoing friendship rivals MDI's in terms of influence and longevity in my life.
- Essentus - Returned to working for the second reincarnation of Richter (they're on their third now, at least). Worked for Mark, who had previously worked for me. Moved back to Jeff City in this period to start a new life journey with Les.
- ScienceXchange - my first real startup, my second "chief architect" position. Worked for my late friend John, who I met at MDI. What I had dreamed of for the last ten years was to get to "f--- things up from scratch" in a real startup. Joined right before the "dot com" era "dot bombed". The company lasted nine whole months. Brought on my friend Jim from the State of Missouri days only to get to feel responsible for him getting laid off, too.
- Clear Technology - thanks to spamming my resume via automated technologies to over 400 firms in the last two months at SciX (really), I started at Clear as a "solution architect" the Monday after the Friday when SciX closed its doors. My first real road job in professional services as a consultant. Great people, many of whom I am still friends with. Terrible product. Three and a half years and 15 trips to England later (plus projects in Cleveland, Raleigh, Tulsa and other places) my family and I were ready to be done with it. So, I moved on to...
- FCS Financial - "Director of Application Development". Fancy title, less than fancy duties. My current drudgery. As David Byrne says, "Good points. Bad points."
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I propose a new term for has-been bands - they are"tapped", as in "Spinal Tap". In the movie this was portrayed by their playing at an Air Force officer's club. Here are other equivalents:
- Playing at any casino - a radio ad for such an event actually motivating this post (Foghat plays at the Isle of Capri in Boonville, Missouri, pop. 8,202, on July 18).
- Playing at "resorts" or amusement parks anywhere in the Midwest - for a lot of examples check out the Lake of the Ozark's Toad Cove's lineup this summer for bands you thought were dead. If you are in a band and wake up in some morning realizing you're in the middle of nowhere and are playing at the Horny Toad that night, it's time to realize the dream is dead.
- Playing at any small Midwestern city's Fourth of July celebration - a la Starship, which will be playing here on July 4 (Jefferson City puts the "Jefferson" back into "Jefferson Starship", I guess).
- Playing at any county fair in the Midwest - if a band is still playing at state fairs (at least to the grandstand) they can still claim some sort of popularity, although if they're not playing C&W the slide towards Tapdom has already begun. For a perfect example of county fair has beens, Blue Öyster Cult (still with the gratuitous umlaut), will be playing at our illustrious Cole County Fair this summer.
So, what bands have you seen or heard about being tapped?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
[I promise one of these days I'll post something of substance...
Or maybe not.]
So, today was my day off, and the smoked brisket came out good if I do say so myself - and I didn't even get to taste it! The cook just "knows", and I took it off the smoker at eleven hours (exactly - I am a software engineer, after all) and it looked and smelled perfect. It was delivered to my folks 15 minutes after it came off the smoker. The joys of living in a small town.
Then I came back and made homemade strawberry ice cream that then sat in the freezer while I grilled/smoked some sirloins, let some potatoes bake (served with fresh chives out of the garden) and boiled some fresh sweet corn. Yum.
I love summer, if only for the food.
So...What did you eat today?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Web pages have to employ scannable text, usingHonestly, I have some way to go, but I'm working on it.
- highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
- meaningful sub-headings (not "clever" ones)
- bulleted lists
- one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
- the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
- half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
[h.t. Michael Agger via my friend Kim.]
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I have been teaching the 10-year-old son-unit binary arithmetic (only because he figured out how to get to the "scientific" mode of the calculator on Windows and wanted to know how/what the Bin, Oct and Hex representations were doing). He's picking it up, although it's still at the pattern recognition stage. OTOH, he's calculating numbers up to three (decimal) digits and doing simple arithmetic. So he's basically at where I was at as a freshman in college.
It's never too young to get yer geek on.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So, the Samaritan Center is really struggling to keep enough food going to its clients. They have just come off their two biggest annual food drives (the Boy Scouts and the USPS letter carriers) and while both together netted about 18 tons of food, that was down by a lot over previous years when times are better:
Letter Carrier Food Drive
- 2006 - 27,099 lbs.
- 2008 - 18,000+ lbs. (two thirds the 2006 level)
- 2006 - 21,002 lbs.
- 2008 - 17,419 lbs. (83% the 2006 level)
- 2006 - 48,101 lbs.
- 2008 - 35,419 lbs. (74% the 2006 level)
In the same time period the Sam Center has lost a three-year dairy grant that allowed it to be quite generous with fresh milk and other dairy products (now we give away one gallon per family per month, and that is being bought directly out of the center's operating budget). All while more families are showing up needing assistance. The center has had to give up on helping with gas vouchers and a lot of other services to concentrate on food, and even so is struggling to meet the demand (according to the latest newsletter, about 1,600 families a month).
While the above donations are still impressive in terms of the generosity and hard work for gathering it all together, it has reminded me that it is easy to be giving when times are good, but it's harder when times are tight. Even as we downshift to watching how much fuel costs are eating into our budgets and how much food prices are driving us to be careful around shopping (for the first time in decades for me), I can't imagine how much harder it is on the truly needy.
This town makes it easy to give - there's a Sam Center drive at the grocery store I frequent right now, where you can just put one of the pre-made grocery bags full of commodities in your cart, either a $5 or $10 bag. The last few years I would put one in my cart every day (I shop for groceries every day). Now I find I am putting one in a week. How chintzy is that? We are tight, we've had a few financial scrapes lately, but God loves a willing giver and to me that does not mean tithing to the institutional church, but good, old-fashioned giving to the poor. I am shamed that I am letting my own concerns about our financial needs get in the way of doing something I did in the past with little thought other than some pleasure in being able to help somebody I didn't even know. "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" and all that.
My point today is simple - times are tight, but for most of us in the blogoverse they're not that tight (if it was really hard, you wouldn't be paying $30-$60/month for broadband - that's week's gas). So now is the time to really pay attention to the poor, when it is hard for you to do so. Because it is much harder for them to make it than you can even imagine.
So yes, watch your gas mileage. Put off those unnecessary purchases. And when you're buying house brands again for the first time in a long time, make sure you take some of that savings and put a few more of those cans in the cart to give to your local food pantry.
Someone, somewhere in your town, will praise God for that food - and that will be your reward.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Today brought forth yet another example of why I love my wife, Leslie. She called me in complete tears because one of her favorite patients just died. It was not unexpected - in fact, Les spent one of her days off staying with this lady at the facility and then in the hospital a few weeks ago when it looked like she was going to go then. Les drove in today (another day off) and helped do the post-mortem care of her body, because she had to say goodbye and wanted to make sure it was done right, and with love.
One of the many reasons that Leslie is in RN school now is to get out of the career ghetto that is long-term care, one of the few options left for LPNs. There are lots of problems that are universal in the long-term care "industry" (and just using the word "industry" shows what most of those problems are), and after 10+ years at it she is ready for a change. But what makes her a excellent nurse now and will continue to make her a great nurse after she's an RN is just how much she cares for and loves her patients. We've talked in the past about how lucky she is - her job is mission.
It would probably be easier for her to just stay detached, especially in a nursing home where so many leave only by dying. But she can't stop caring - it's just who she is. She takes care of the grandparents and parents of others as if they were her own. It amazes me, actually - I don't have that in me, but she does and the love and care just flows from her.
And so while I feel sorry for Les and her grief today, I wouldn't want her any other way. I love her because of her great big heart.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
So, tonight was the last night the young adults that are here for training for Kids Across America were volunteering at the Sam Center. They will be going to the camp in Branson to work as counselors starting next week. We will miss their sunny attitudes and smiles and fresh energy.
I talked with the one I had mentioned last week who I had overheard wanting to go to seminary because it would be "more practical" and it turns out he is double majoring in psychology and physical fitness at the University of North Carolina. He then wants to take a one year masters program in ministry offered by Kids Across America before going on and getting a PhD in social work. All I could do was nod and say, "Sounds great!" (and mean it) and admire him.
It is wonderful to see young people with such big goals and dreams.
I wonder where mine went?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
They're out and about in Missouri now. We spent some time chasing them after a cook out and home made ice cream with my parents over tonight.
We didn't have fireflies when I was growing up in Boulder, Colorado (cicadas, neither). Morgann didn't have them in Houston, either.
They are cool.
That is all.
Maybe it's time to de-stuff-ify:
I find this intriguing, if only for myself (there is no way I could get the other five people in the house to go along). It sort of fits in with when I "the Compact" of not buying anything new for six months (I wanted it to be a year - I cracked).
Excess consumption is practically an American religion. But as anyone with a filled-to-the-gills closet knows, the things we accumulate can become oppressive. With all this stuff piling up and never quite getting put away, we're no longer huddled masses yearning to breathe free; we're huddled masses yearning to free up space on a countertop. Which is why people are so intrigued by the 100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items.
"Stuff starts to overwhelm you," says Dave Bruno, 37, an online entrepreneur who looked around his San Diego home one day last summer and realized how much his family's belongings were weighing him down. Thus began what he calls the 100 Thing Challenge. (Apparently, Bruno is so averse to excess he can't refer to 100 things in the plural.) In a country where clutter has given rise not only to professional organizers but also to professional organizers with their own reality series (TLC's Clean Sweep), Bruno's online musings about his slow and steady purge have developed something of a cult following online, inspiring others to launch their own countdown to clutter-free living.
Bruno keeps a running tally on his blog, guynameddave.com of what he has decided to hold on to and what he is preparing to sell or donate. For instance, as of early June, he was down to five dress shirts and one necktie but uncertain about parting with one of his three pairs of jeans. "Are two pairs of jeans enough?!," he asked in a recent posting.
That's not the only dilemma faced by this new wave of goal-oriented minimalists. One of the trickier questions is what counts as an item. Bruno considers a pair of shoes to be a single entity, which seems sensible but still pretty hard-core when you're trying to jettison all but 100 personal possessions. Cait Simmons, 27, a waitress in Chicago, takes a different approach. Although she has pared down her footwear collection from 35 to 20 pairs, she says, "All my shoes count as one item."
Thinking hard about this one.
[h.t. Marginal Revolution]
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I am rather obsessive-compulsive about my music library (800+ CDs makes you that way, I guess). I have recently been re-tagging my MP3s due to a software package
[expletive deleted] messing up all the album art and other tags carefully collected over the years. To get back to a decent baseline I am using MusicBrainz Picard, which may be worth a whole post by itself at some point. It's an interesting technology (it works by figuring out the "acoustic fingerprint" of each song as opposed to relying on possibly corrupted file names or tag contents). But here's the rub - as with cddb and freedb and all the other sites that collect tagging information from all us out here on the web of the wide world - for all the "wisdom of crowds" - the genres assigned to the various albums and songs in MusicBrainz by the seven billion monkeys hammering away at their computers are...$#!+. I mean, really, really $#!+. But some of them are fun just for the names of genres people come up with.
For example, last night, I saw the following genre attached to a song in Picard - "If my life was a movie this would be the soundtrack". What a great genre name! I could do a long, detailed post about it, but I won't. Instead, I will simply rip the following right out of my Blogger profile and post these bands (Individual songs? Ha! That would be impossible!) as at least some sizable percentage of "the soundtrack of my life".
- 10,000 Maniacs
- Alabama 3
- Alison Krauss
- Anne McCue
- Benny Goodman
- Bill Monroe
- Blue Mountain
- Bob Dylan
- Chris Isaak
- Count Basie
- Cowboy Junkies
- Dave Brubeck
- Dave Matthews
- Donald Fagen
- Duke Ellington
- Galaxie 500
- Gillian Welch
- Janis Joplin
- John Mark McMillan
- Led Zeppelin
- Liz Phair
- Matthew Sweet
- Michelle Shocked
- Neil Young
- Paul Simon
- Ralph Stanley
- Ramsey Lewis
- Sarah McLachlan
- Talking Heads
- Velvet Underground
- Wake Ooloo
So...What's the soundtrack of your life?
Monday, June 16, 2008
So, after dinner, we just spent 26 minutes listening (have I told you the whole household are fans of Prairie Home Companion? Raising 'em right - imagination doesn't need the visual channel) to one of my favorite comedy routines of all time - Bill Cosby's To Russell My Brother, Whom I Slept With. There were six people in the room, aged 47, 43, 22, 12, 10, 10, and we were all laughing. It was one of my favorite comedy routines as a child (when my parents introduced me to it), and it remains one of the best pieces of American storytelling - up there with Twain and Keillor - ever. EVER.
It was a Good Time.
"I love you Dad and I would never fib to you - the man came in through the window...."
Share something funny with your kids - now. The best part of being a father is getting to pass along your sense of humor. It is the true reward, when one of your kids cracks a truly funny joke.
Go. Be funny. Tuck 'em in with a joke.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
So I had to mow the yard. Until Jon's a little older, who else is going to do it? I got it done before it got too hot.
I got to decide what flavor of homemade ice cream went in the ice cream maker tonight (vanilla with double the vanilla, so then we could put on chocolate sauce and pecans per each person's whims and it was damned TASTY).
And I got to decide what dead animal went on the grill (raise a pleasing odor to the Lord!) For the record it was four pieces of chicken with KC BBQ sauce and four with teriyaki sauce. I woulda bought rib eyes for everyone, but at $6.99/lb. on sale that was still too much. But I will be buying another ten pound sirloin roast and slicing it up into 3-5 dinners' worth of steaks and meat, because at $2.99/lb. it is cheaper than ground beef.
And everyone seemed happy with the dinner choices. We has a good time around the dinner table, and Morgann and Gloria had a Good Time cleaning the ice cream components off two hours before dinner. :o)
So yes, it was a Happy Father's Day.
How was yours?
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Tomorrow is Father's Day. It's also my brother-in-law's birthday. Will he be celebrating both by being out camping with the family unit as planned? No. He will be spending it doing what the National Guard does - helping deal with the flooding (in fact, on the way to the same family event today both he and I had to make a detour from our planned route due to a highway closure because of flooding).
At least we here in Missouri are not getting anything nearly as bad as in Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana. My heart and prayers go out to all the people affected by the flooding in those states and other areas.
But still, while it's not a tragedy, I do still feel sorry for my brother-in-law, who doesn't get to spend enough time with his family as it is. Sorry about that, Matt! Hang in there - two more years until retirement!
Friday, June 13, 2008
I just wanted to pass the following along - some of the pastors that read here may enjoy it.
Yesterday afternoon I was at my weekly volunteer session at the Samaritan Center. We had plenty of help for once because for three weeks a group of young adults training to become camp counselors for Kids Across America are in town, staying at Lincoln University and volunteering at the Sam Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Habitat, etc. I have to say they're a delightful group of people and the past two weeks have been a joy having them around. We get their services for one more week, and then it will be back to just us old fogeys filling the orders and carrying out the food in the summer heat.
Anyway, it wasn't very busy at one point and so we're all hanging around talking and I hear one of them telling another about what he is majoring in at college (I didn't catch it) and then I hear him say, "But I am thinking of going to seminary because it would be more practical." Right then we had an order come up and got busy but it left me with a smile on my face and wondering all night what is he taking now that would make seminary seem practical? Don't get me wrong - I am not knocking people who choose that career path. But by all accounts for most it is not a choice they made because clergy is one of the hot growth careers of the 21st century.
Anyway, I thought it was amusing.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
[Note the heavy irony of the hyperlinks.]
This is going to sound Luddite, but hey, I've never said I am an unabashed techie.
You know the one problem with having on-demand video plus a complete video library and a Netflix account? With streaming Internet music that lets you listen to an artist or genre at whim? With having everything you like to listen to or watch loaded on to your iPod?
Nothing's special any more.
This is certainly not an original idea. But in my lifetime (and I am still less than 50 years old), getting whatever music you wanted to listen to or movies you wanted to watch whenever and wherever you wanted has gone from non-existence to ubiquitousness. Sure, you had your album collection of 45s and LPs, but other than a few ill-conceived record players for the car, you were pretty much stuck listening to those at home. Away from the house you listened to whatever was on the radio. There were no video tapes when I was young, nor cable TV. If you wanted to see a movie you either went to the theater or more likely just watched whatever was on one of the three or four TV channels. The idea of watching a movie on demand, of watching it in your hand or in your car, was science fiction.
So stumbling across one of your favorite songs on the radio or movies on TV was a lucky event. It was special. It would put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. "Oh, man! I heard I'd Love to Change the World today! I hadn't heard that in like, forever!"
I was reminded of this the other night. I had ordered The Year of Living Dangerously, a film I hadn't seen in two decades and that Les had never seen. There's a scene in it where Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver's characters are driving through the night, they run a roadblock and get shot at, and all the while they are passionately kissing while a very haunting theme by Michael Jarre plays. I love the music and it is also one of the sexiest yet non-explicit scenes ever filmed. Back when it first came out (by which point I did have cable) I'd watch it sometimes on HBO late at night just to see that scene and hear the music. Once it was out of the regular schedule for HBO, both were gone from my experience and memory until this week. But I immediately remembered how special both were when I stumbled across the movie. Now I can watch it any time I want - I don't think it will remain as special now.
Weirdly enough, some of the songs that were "special" to me back in the day get played more now on the radio than they did then, because now they're considered "classic rock" (a term I hate and a genre I typically only listen to a few times a year), whereas then they were just some of the music floating around, ya know? Think you can pick 2038's "classic" music from what's on the radio right now? I can't. Anyway...there was Hey, Hey, What Can I Do? by Led Zeppelin, which was only released as a B-side to the single for Immigrant Song (And what kind of decade was the 70s where Immigrant Song was considered a single? I still have my copy.) It wasn't re-released on any media until the CD boxed sets in the 1990s. Lennon's #9 Dream (and while we're on the subject of ex-Beatles, how 'bout George Harrison's Dark Horse? Or McCartney's Junior's Farm?) The longer songs by Neil Young and Pink Floyd that radio stations would only play after midnight.
On TV you had to wait all year to see Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (we still make the kids wait all year for the single showing we allow each Christmas season, which we watch as a family). There was Forbidden Planet to look for once I was an adolescent into 1950s sci-fi on late-night weekend TV. And Harold and Maude to go see at the midnight movie when I was a long-haired high school dropout. Now I own all of those, and probably see them less and enjoy them less than when they were "rare".
So, what used to be really special for you to catch by happenstance, that now is just on your iPod or in your DVD rack? Is it still as special?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
So, has the recent spike in gas prices caused you to drive differently? I am. For the first time in a long time I actually notice how much gasoline is when I fill up. For years it just wasn't an issue. Now it is. One day last week Les and I both filled up on the same day and our fuel costs for the day were $108(!).
So there's a lot less "pleasure" driving happening in our house. Trips for running errands tend to be getting planned out a bit more to avoid the need of yet another run into town. And following a conversation with some other volunteers at the Sam Center a few weeks ago, I've started driving slower. Remember 55MPH? Well, you don't have to wait for the government to impose it on you again - you can do it yourself. I've shaved about 3-5 MPH off my normal speeds and have noticed about a 0.7 MPG increase. Which isn't a lot, but every little bit helps (and actually, it's about a five percent increase in gas mileage for my truck, so that's noticeable).
Are you driving differently yet?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Of course I'll vote. The one year I didn't ("What difference could it possibly make?") Dubya got elected. That'll teach me.
But it won't matter, since I'll vote Libertarian. Of course, it's Bob Barr this year, which sucks, but hey, he claims to have had a conversion experience. Whatever.
Sure, I could vote for Obama, but in the end I am for less government. Less Republican government as well as less Democratic government. And I am going to keep voting "No" to both major parties until something else comes along worth voting for.
Of course, I expect Christ's second coming before I expect to see that happen.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
The following is a list of all the concerts (at least, of artists who have had albums released) that I've seen in my life (so far). While this is not an official "meme", if you feel moved to I'd be interested in reading about your concert/live-music experiences. It doesn't have to be as detailed as the following. :o) Consider it an excuse to take a fun walk down memory lane.
Note: I am bad with dates, so until the shows started getting recent enough to accurately carbon date with Google, all dates are approximate.
Note: The best live shows with music that I've ever seen, in any venue, in any format, remain the five Cirque du Soleil shows I've seen (Quidam three times, Dralion once, Delirium once. But for this post I am talking about "pure" musical artists/bands.
- random kid in Romper Room
- Elvin Bishop - ca. 1976-7 in Denver's McNichols arena, opening for E.L.O. I wasn't a fan, especially not of Fooled Around and Fell in Love, although I remember I Strut My Stuff from the concert favorably.
- E.L.O. - ca. 1976-7 in Denver's McNichols arena. What can I say? I was into "progressive/art rock" in the 1970s. I got better. :o) I, uh, actually don't have very many memories of this concert, because, um (looks sideways), um...never mind. It was the middle '70s in Colorado, OK?
- Ramsey Lewis - ca. 1977-8 in Ft. Collins with my folks. It was cool. I grew up hearing a lot of music in the house; my parents actually have a pretty wide spectrum of tastes in music (part of where I get it from). Anyway, Ramsey Lewis was on the "hi-fi console" "playlist" a lot, and we got to see him live as a family and it was good.
- Firefall - ca. 1977-8, opening for Fleetwood Mac in CU's Folsom Field. They're from Boulder. I grew up in Boulder and came of age at their peak, but at the time I thought they sucked. I still think so, actually. Bring out Fleetwood Mac!
- Bob Seger - I was reminded by a thread on Facebook that the Fleetwood Mac concert also had Bob Seger as an opener. You can determine my feelings about Bob Seger then and now by the fact that I had forgotten that I'd seen him live.
- Fleetwood Mac - ca. 1977-8, CU's Folsom Field. During the second "white album" (Rumours) tour (actually, the third white album, if you count 'em like I do). It was great. It started to rain and given the general admission on the field, I actually ended up right up at the stage while they continued to play (they were under cover - we were not). While at the time the 17-year-old me lusted for Stevie Nicks, I've since come to really appreciate the incarnation of the band from that era for Christine McVie's voice and of course Lindsey Buckingham's pop craftsmanship.
- Leon Redbone - got to see the great crooner of songs of times past at M.U.'s Jesse Hall ca. 1982 or so.
- Dave Brubeck - OK, so my earliest musical memory ever (five? younger?) is the still-awesome Time Out album, which my parents listened to, a lot. Got to see Brubeck with them at Jesse Hall ca. 1982-3.
- Canadian Brass - saw them with my folks at M.U.'s Jesse Hall sometime in the early-to-mid 1980s.
- 3 - got dragged to this undead reincarnation of E.L.P. around 1988 in KC by my then sister-in-law. It was dreadful. Luckily, someone found a stake and drove it through their hearts.
- John McCutcheon - Saw him play at the KC Unitarian Church in the late 1980's/early 1990's. [this entry added 6/29/2008]
- The Millions (x2) - this band you've never heard of was out of Nebraska and was popular in the club scene in KC at the turn of the '90s. Saw them open for Pylon (below) and then saw them in an illegal show (they'd call it a rave now) in an abandoned warehouse in the industrial bottoms of KC - until the cops came and closed the thing down. Loved the band's atmospheric sound. Very much a sound of the times.
- Pylon - saw them in a club in KC around 1990. R.E.M. had this to say about them on their cover of Pylon's "Crazy" (on Dead Letter Office) - "I remember hearing their version on the radio the day that Chronic Town came out and being suddenly depressed by how much better it was than our record." Hey, if R.E.M. says that about somebody, you have to go see them, yes? Good band.
- Neil Young - one of my long-time favorite artists. Saw him at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS, in January, 1989, with my Dad (another forever fan) and Gabe. He did an acoustic set and then came on with "the Restless" (Frank Sampedro, Ben Keith, Rick Rosas, Chad Cromwell) and rocked the house. There was a dude about two rows behind us passed out for the entire concert who woke up during the final encores clapping and yelling.
- Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - opened for R.E.M. at the Kemper arena on March 4, 1989 (hey, I can date this one!). This was the So You Think You're In Love era. Whatever.
- R.E.M. - Kemper arena, 3/4/1989. The Green tour. They opened with Pop Song 89 ("Hello, how are you" - big "Hello" projected on the screen). Went with my friend Gabe and my dad (really).
- Feelies - absolutely one of my favorite bands. I am listening to them now as I type. I was introduced to them by my friend Gabe in anticipation of this concert at Memorial Hall in KC, KS on April 10, 1991. They did a great cover of Neil Young's Sedan Delivery.
- Lou Reed - Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS, 4/10/1991, for the New York tour. Great show. My ears rang for days.
- Kathy Mattea - opened for Clint Black at the Missouri State Fair about 1990. Much better than Mr. Black. She introduced the song Harley during this tour.
- Clint Black - dragged to this event at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia around 1990. I do not like mainstream country (roots country - Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, yes. Alternatwang, yes. Commercial country, no.) It sucked. What really pissed me off was for an encore he and his band did a great blues number and I remembered thinking, "You could have done that? And instead you gave us an hour of that shit-kicking cracker music?")
- Joey Skidmore - my brush with greatness, 'cause he's my friend Calvin's stepbrother (and taught me to drink Stingers). Yes, the Joey Skidmore. Creator of Buttsteak. Saw him in a club in KC for the Welcome to Humansville album release party.
- Emmy Lou Harris - saw her at a free outdoor concert at Crown Center sometime in 1990-91.
- Chris Isaak (x2) - what a great performer! All the women love him; all the men want to be him. Puts on a great show, has a great voice. Saw him first in Boulder in the early 1990s at the Fox on the Hill. Then at Sybase's 10th anniversary Christmas party in 1995 (really).
- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown - opened for Taj Mahal and Michelle Shocked at Macky Auditorium sometime in the early 1990s. First time I'd ever heard of him (sorry), but he put on a good gig. Too bad I was distracting waiting for the next two acts.
- Taj Mahal - I've liked Taj since I was a teenager, so getting to see him and Michelle Shocked in one evening (and even play together during an encore) was most excellent!
- Michelle Shocked - I've loved Michelle ever since I heard the Texas Campfire Tapes. Considering her opening acts and that Alison Brown was in her band at the time and the fact this was at the height of her albums (the tour was in support of Arkansas Traveler, if I recall correctly), all I can say is, great show! Too bad you weren't there.
- Joe Sample - I had never heard of this jazz pianist until my friend Guido dragged Gregg and I to his show at Yoshi's in 1995. Excellent venue, excellent sushi, excellent seats, excellent friends, excellent music.
- Brian Ferry - what a suave m-----f-----. Great voice, too. See comments about Chris Isaak, above. Saw him at Macky in Boulder sometime in the late 1990s. They did Avalon, that was enough.
- Elton John - saw him with Billy Joel in 2001. Good show. They did a set with both bands on stage, then each did a solo set (and each covered one of the other's songs), and then they did a finale set with both bands on stage again. Fun. While I am not an ongoing fan, his greatest hits (first volume) was one of the first LPs I ever bought with my own money. The stuff up until he split from Bernie Taupin still stands on its own.
- Billy Joel (x2) - my lovely wife has been a Billy Joel fan forever, and I have taken her to his concerts twice now. First at Kemper in KC in April, 2001 for the Face to Face tour with Elton John. Then this past winter we saw him at the Sprint Center in KC (11th row back! I was a Good Husband). I have to admit that while I am not the world's greatest Billy Joel fan, I do enjoy his concerts as well as seeing him talk about his craft on Actors Studio.
- Alabama 3 (x2) - saw them in Norwich, England around 2003 because some co-workers convinced me and then saw them again at London's Astoria on December 14, 2004 (there's a remote possibility you'd see me somewhere in the crowd during that movie - I haven't seen it yet). All I can say about them is "Wow". You know A3 (if you know them at all) as the band that did the theme songfor The Sopranos (Woke Up This Morning) But they are so much more (and so much weirder) than that. One great review I read about them once said it was like they had taken all sorts of American blues, country, roots rock, religion, Elvis and whatnot and without any cultural context had put it all in a blender set on "High", mixed it up and then poured it out. Exactly. Along with the Feelies, probably my favorite band in this list.
- Anne McCue - Les and I love (love, love, love) Anne McCue. She's an awesome songwriter and a great guitarist. I got to see her in a small venue in NYC on August 9, 2010, and she even signed a CD for Les, who was very jealous for not getting to go.
- Sarah Jaffe - Sarah played at the Living Room before Anne McCue (she didn't "open" for Anne - the club doesn't work that way). I had never heard (of) her before, but am a fan after listening to her set. If you like singer-songwriters (and I do), then you'll like Sarah.
- Interpol - opening act for U2. Good from what we heard, although their "sound" got a bit repetitious by the end of the set. Maybe it was just me.
- U2 - finally got to see them during their 360° tour at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Now Les and I can scratch that off our respective bucket lists. Awesome show, even if it was freakin' HOT (90+ degrees in the shade, even after 9:00pm).
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Now I can come out.
Because Brant has said it all for me.
Go read the whole thing. It's as if it were me talking (without even the coolness of running a second trip overseas to help Compassion). Then check out the title of this blog. I chose it for a reason.
You know that feeling, when God is right there, thisclose, and you can just feel His loving arms around you, and you can literally hear His voice, whispering in your ear, telling you how much He loves you?
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." I'm not sure what that means. But I think Dallas Willard was the one writing about how "Blessed are the poor in spirit" really means, "Good news! In MY Kingdom, even the spiritually bankrupt get invites!"
Oh, man, I hope he's right. That would be great news for me. Because I'm not very spiritual. Never have been. I've tried. And I'll keep trying. But I'm just not. I don't feel much of anything a lot of the time. I'm sorry.
I know; I probably won't be writing old-school hymns: "And He walks with me, I think, and He talks with me, probably in some way, and He tells me I am His own, but generally not through an audible voice that I hear, at least in a non-metaphorical sense, and none other has ever known just how awkward it even is for me to talk about my faith, personally, and I know I should feel bad about that, too."
Lord, I'm trying. And I sure hope it is, "Happy are the spiritually bankrupt".
Because otherwise? I'm doomed.
"She's dead to me."
- Tony Soprano
Well, because I kept reading about Twitter on the blogs I follow, I gave it a shot, even though I really didn't understand. And after trying it for a bit over a week...I still don't understand. I saw absolutely nothing I could do with Twitter that I couldn't do somewhere else. Like with Facebook. Or LinkedIn. Or my blogs. Or email. Or Jott. Oh, sure, I could update my Facebook status from Twitter. But, um, I can update my Facebook status from Facebook, too. Twitter's just one more damned account to keep track of, update, follow, etc. And it really does end up with most posts (mine and others) being of the "I'm going to the store now" quality. No thanks, my life is banal enough.
I think what makes Twitter even less attractive to me is I use Flock (and I like it a lot, if you're curious - if it had LinkedIn support it would be about perfect). And with Flock I get all my friends (that are on Facebook) status updates in the People sidebar, just as if they were tweets. And I can update my Facebook status from the People sidebar, too. Sure, I get the updates of other Twits I follow in Flock, too, but it's just one more damned thing pay attention to, or choose to ignore. I don't even want to take the energy to decide to ignore them. And while I was following a few people just 'cause they're from this area and so I was curious what the locals were doing, in the end my actual friends are few on Twitter, and don't update much.
Plus, just like everyone else complains about it - it's down or flaky all the damned time.
Ironically, I will probably keep the account. It may come in handy if/when I go to the Microsoft PDC later this year. In fact, arranging public meet-ups with people you don't know seems to be about the only real world use I have seen of Twitter. But contrary to what I've read over and over, it didn't quickly become part of my indispensable Web-based toolkit. In the end, it still remains, "The CB radio of the Naughties."
Catch ya on the flip side, good buddy.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Sam posts about Grace Car Care, a service offered by his church to people in need. When I am at the Samaritan Center every week I see the dire need for people to keep their cars just plain running, let alone to have a car at all. Sometimes there are six (or more!) people from two or three households crammed into a run-down car to share a ride to and from the center, and I worry whether they'll even make it out of the parking lot.
I wish I had more mechanical skills, but I do not. At all. This seems like such a good idea, and could be put in place anywhere.
Thanks for the info, Sam!
[Wow. This is blog post 400! Who knew I'd stick with it this long?]
I have been looking at it all wrong. For years I have thought of denominations as this top-down, hierarchical control of the Message. And it's true - they are top-down, hierarchical structures, just like a corporation (which they in fact are, just as each church is a corporation). But corporations need customers to survive and hence they move to fill various niches to get those customers. It's a two-way street.
If we think of what denominations are closest to in capitalist corporation terms, it is big media companies (the other thought I had is they're like political parties - but really, with big media being the mouthpiece for the parties any more, it's all the same). They are like television and radio networks. Like those, the denomination sets the editorial tone and and to some extent the content (especially in a lectionary-driven denomination) of what the "talent" (in this case the pastoral staff) will deliver during their show(s) on Sunday. It also certifies the talent. And there's lots of cross-sell (ooh, a pun! :o) opportunities - books and videos to buy from the denomination's publishing house, for example. Branded Bibles, branded programs, branded missionary efforts, branded food pantries, branded summer camps for the kids.
So, what's the big insight I've had about that? It's that the customers, consumers, viewers, um, I mean the churchgoers prefer it that way. Most people like having denominations because once they've identified the one where they fit they know that no one will say anything controversial or that makes them uncomfortable. People choose a denomination like they choose Fox News vs. MSNBC - because they want to hear their point of view comfortably reiterated and not be challenged - and certainly not challenged every Sunday. You go to a church of a given denomination because you know what they're going to say before they even say it. It's safe.
Add in to that the cult of personality that arises around many of the talent ("We should go check out a service at the First Church of St. Elvis the Divine, I hear they have a really good new pastor!") and you're basically talking not just about church as entertainment, which we all know is what the current model is built around, but mirroring the worldly media even in how the flock chooses its channel, oops!, shepherd. Gives a whole new meaning to the term "corporate worship", eh?
That isn't to say that sometimes the individual talent can't get out of hand and cause discomfort - perhaps preaching a sermon that casts the glare of true self-examination into the pews. But if that happens too often
busybodies within the church church bodies are pretty good at casting out the offending parson and bringing in someone more in tune with maintaining the party line. I've seen it happen with my own eyes when I was a teen. Nor is it to say that some of the channels denominations don't offer a weekly dose of guilt and damnation to scare you into redemption. But here's the deal - just like some people like scary movies (I do not), some people like scary theology. As weird as it sounds they are "comfortable" with that.
Long-time readers know I am not a big fan of denominations, just like I am not a big fan of political parties. They remove the responsibility to make your own decisions by giving a platform or catechism with everything all conveniently pre-decided for you. It's a cheat card for the test. It's an excuse to not have to think out all the hard issues for yourself. Worse, it then creates an "us vs. them" mentality, "my party right or wrong", "our denomination or you're going to hell". That seems completely opposite of the Kingdom view.
Denominations - don't just change the channel. Turn the damned thing off.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
So here's a question - does fretting about mortality make you a bad Christian? 'cause it's been on my mind a lot over the past few months.
[The following provided with apologies to Mr. Breathed. If he would offer up his cartoon archives in a searchable format like some cartoonists we know so I could've directed you to links on his site so he could have served your eyeballs some ads while I still got to show you what I was talking about, I would have. Click on images to enlarge.]
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Les and the kids just got back from swimming at her folks, who live a whopping two blocks from here. That's the third time since last Friday the family unit in one configuration or another has been over there to swim. The water temp has been in the high 70s, which is a good range - not too cold but also not that tepid spit temperature it will achieve later in the summer, when it actually feels more refreshing when you get out than when you're in.
Les's parents put up the pool (a large above-ground unit) about three years ago. From what I can figure its purpose is to serve as a grandchild magnet. It worked.
Been swimming yet?
Monday, June 2, 2008
Nothing to see here...Move along...
You ever get to the point where life just sorta makes everyone nattering about abstract shit seem...inconsequential? That's me, now. I am skimming a lot of my reader, and marking as read whole swaths of posts sight unseen. No offense. Just where I am at right now.
- Blog posts I am reading - kids, summer, art, crime in the 'hood, deciding what type of weed eater to buy.
- Blog posts I am skipping - theology, "what should we be doing?", talking instead of doing.
Not a judgment. Just where I am lately. About me, too. I want life. Not some pale discussion of it.
Don't look for any Jack Handey deep thoughts from here for a while. Sorry about that. I am done with talking. I want to try. I want to do. I want to fail. I want to live. I want to read about other people trying, doing, failing, living. "Just" living.
Save the theory. Blog about life. That goes for me, too.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The local dairy has been running an incredible ice cream shop forever (Les and my first off-campus meet was over ice cream cones there in 1982-3 - the ice cream parlor was already in at least its third decade of business at that time). they make a cinnamon ice cream that is fabulous - it has shaken me away from my "mint chocolate chip" stasis I've been in since I was a youth. I've always characterized the flavor of their cinnamon ice cream as "what's left in the bottom of the plate when you have apple pie ala mode - delicate, not overpowering".
Here's my take on it. Iit works.
- 1 qt whipping cream
- 1 qt half and half
- 2 cups sugar
- 1.5 tbs vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp salt
Mix and refrigerate for at least half an hour (I let it sit in the fridge all day).
Put the mixture in your ice cream maker and freeze according to your manufacturer's directions (it took 40 minutes exactly in ours). Let chill and firm up for at least one additional hour (if you can wait that long). Grill something tasty and summery in the meantime ("Raise a pleasing odor to the Lord"). Eat supper as a family unit. Discuss the day. Feast.
Then...Eat cinnamon ice cream until you're stuffed.
Life is good.