Friday, December 11, 2009

The only way to get lost in pictures

For the most part, I wouldn't call myself “artsy”. After my first (and only) year of architecture school, I realized that I have an engineering mind, rather than an art mind. Even though I'm convinced that I am all-left-brained, I seem to have this emotional connection with some art forms (music & photos). I actually like to look at pictures more than I like to make them. I wouldn't quite call myself a photo connoisseur, more of an enthusiast. I have a ritual that I like to go through every so often: I put on some trance music & stare at hundreds of photos. It sounds so trivial, but it's so much more! You'd be surprised at the emotions that can be triggered with this awesome combination. I'll briefly break it down:
Why trance music?
  1. Simply put, trance music doesn't distract. It tunes out the world so you can really look at the pictures as if you had blinders on.
  2. It's simple. You're not going to find yourself singing along, possibly looking up the lyrics because you forgot that particular line. Most of the time, there are no words to sing along to.
  3. It's energetic. You're not going to find yourself falling asleep or bored. I betcha you'll be tapping your foot before you know it.
Why photography?
  1. I enjoy photographs more than any other art-form, aside from music. One simple picture can tell a whole story.
  2. It's not a video. Pictures don't have to hold your hand. Video takes your hand & leads you down a path for up to 4hrs! A photograph can tell its story in a measly 2-5 seconds, with the same, or greater impact.
  3. High consumption rate. Because of the 2-5 second rule (above), you can experience hundreds of pictures in a matter of a few minutes.

Where can you go to find an endless supply of pictures? There are quite a few sites that have zillions of pics, but I have to say, I prefer Flickr's interface. I especially like their slideshow feature. There's a little bit of up-front work to finding what you like, but it's worth it.
Photo preparation: To do this proper, you should create an account. Take a few days to browse around and find photographers that you like, and add them as a contact. This concludes the prerequisite work.
Music preparation: There are several ways to get good trance music these days. For me, the easiest way is to subscribe to the Trance Around the World podcast on iTunes. There you can download the latest episode for free. (You could also listen live on, but to me, that's too much trouble.) There's minimal talking, and it's 2 hours long -­ plenty of time to get lost in some pictures. A State of Trance is another weekly show that's pretty good. There's also a couple dance/trance internet radio stations that are options, Digitally Imported is an oldy & goody.

So, now go. Put on some music, and look at some awesome pics. It's a great experience.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Uh-oh: LA 2009: Subaru Impreza WRX STI Special Edition is sportier, less expensive

LA 2009: Subaru Impreza WRX STI Special Edition is sportier, less expensive: "

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2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Special Edition - Click above for high-res image gallery

So often, the tag of 'Special Edition' comes with a not-so-special price increase. Fortunately for Subaru fans, the newly-introduced Impreza WRX STI Special Edition is actually less costly. At $32,995 it's actually $2,000 cheaper than the base price of the standard STI.

Of course, buyers of the Special Edition will have to go without certain features, namely HID headlights, premium audio, and automatic climate control. It's not just a de-contented package, though, as the car also comes with the suspension from the spec C model in Japan that includes a thicker rear stabilizer bar, stiffer bushings and stiffer springs.

Initially, each car will be painted in Aspen white with the charcoal-colored 14-spoke wheels also cribbed from the spec C. Just 125 examples will be built in the first quarter of 2010, although Subaru says that more will be available later in the year in additional colors. High-res gallery below, pricing press release available after the jump.

Photos copyright (C)2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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Comic: 2009-12-01

Comic: 2009-12-01: "


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sell No: Why You Don’t Need A New Car [New Cars]

Sell No: Why You Don’t Need A New Car [New Cars]: "

According to recent reports, new-car sales in this country are slowly climbing out of the toilet. We love you, Driving America, so we have some advice: Stop it.

We know what you're thinking: The American economy is barely alive. Detroit is busily attempting to reverse decades of bad choices. Speed has never been cheaper, interest rates are still in the gutter, and everyone and their brother — hello, Black Friday — wants you to buy, buy, buy. It looks like an easy call.

We're here to tell you to hold off. If you can stomach it, we suggest you do something radical: If it has wheels, don't buy it new. Period. Sound like sacrilege? Maybe, but there's more to it than you might think.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Argument One: Cost

As obvious as it seems, the money bit can't be overlooked. Sure, you lose a hefty chunk of change the moment you drive your new snazzmobile off the lot, but that old saw rarely stops people. And yeah, interest rates are low, and the guy in the nice tweed suit is going to talk to his boss and almost lose his job so you can save a few bucks. It's tempting. But it's also a game for suckers.

Look at it this way: Yes, there's never been a better time to buy a new car. But by the same token, there's also never been a better time to save your money and buy something older and a heck of a lot cheaper. The same economy that made that brand-new Porsche 911 seem affordable also trashcanned the values of every used car on the planet. Never has so much fun been available for so little, and the tradeoffs are relatively benign. (In the case of the 911, a good used 996 Carrera will be almost as fast, half as expensive, and just as much fun to fling into a fencepost ass-first.) And if you're worried about repair costs, don't — unless you buy in the rain, at night, and while drunk, a year's worth of fix-it bills will rarely outweigh the heft of twelve car payments.

Take the cash you saved and go on vacation. Invest it. Hell, for that matter, just use it to — wait for it — buy a second car. (What can we say? Jalopnik wants you to roll.) The possibilities are endless.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Argument Two: The Environment

It doesn't matter what you buy, how old it is, or how much it says "hybrid" on the trunk — if you're buying a new car, you're consuming resources. Great strides have been made in the field of automotive recycling, and for the most part, large-scale manufacturing is cleaner than it's ever been. But you can't negate the laws of physics: If it already exists, then you don't have to make it. Creating things takes work, and work, by definition, makes something happen by using up something else.

A few years ago, a company called CNW Market Research created a 'dust to dust' study that examined the net environmental impact of a host of new cars. The study received a lot of press, largely because it claimed that a Jeep Wrangler used less energy from cradle to grave than a Toyota Prius. The firm's methods have since been the subject of a great deal of controversy, but the argument they make is valid: Things aren't always what they seem, and planetary harm has a lot more to do with sustainable design than with tailpipe emissions.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Argument Three: Safety

This is the bit that comes with a caveat: No matter what you drive, the newer it is, the less likely it is to kill you in an accident. Vehicle safety standards are like the laundry — they never rest, and the only thing you can do is try to keep up. That said, thanks to Ralph Nader (I can't believe I just typed that), the curve isn't linear.

By and large, things are much better than they were fifty years ago. Your dad's '61 Cadillac may have killed him if he so much as looked at it funny, but anything built since the first Bush administration is going to be safe enough that you shouldn't feel terrorized by traffic. When in doubt, err on the side of newer, more airbags, and more crush space. Just because it's older doesn't mean that it wants you dead.

Argument Four: Fun

If you regularly read car magazines, the following may come as a shock: New cars aren't always more fun. Here at Los Jalops Con Carne, we've driven everything on the market, and most of what's out there simply isn't that special. Thanks to ever-increasing safety, emissions, and comfort standards, the average new car is a lumpy pile of bloated meh. There are exceptions — a lot of them, thankfully — but they aren't available for beer money, and most of them are either wildly impractical or more expensive than a small house. Buy older, and you get access to the once-costly fun stuff at cut-rate prices; you also get lighter curb weights, better steering feel, and more seat-of-the-pants Kickass.

The Caveat: Sometimes…

OK, we give — none of this is set in stone. There are obviously exceptions to each and every one of these arguments, and sometimes a new car is simply the best answer. We feel your pain. But if you remember nothing else, remember this:

Save the old cars. Please. Don't let your children grow up thinking that 4000-pound sport sedans with foot-thick doors are the way of the future. Help us, before it's too late. This is Jalopnik, signing off from the future. You have been warned.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joy revisited

Finding joy has been one of those things that I've struggled with for a long time. Not really knowing what it looks like makes it all the more difficult to know it when I have it. I've always known it's more than just “being happy”. This weekend, God has blessed me with just a taste of what His joy can be. I can only imagine what His joy can look like at its full glory!

There's no doubt about it, the warm sunny weather did a good deal to improve my attitude this weekend. Saturday was a busy day. The morning was packed with Cheer-Off for the OMYFA. It's always chaotic, but usually worth it in the end. Carly's team got 3rd place out of 10ish teams, & the Chargers managed to get the Sportsmanship award (the whole team, football & cheer). It was so wonderful to see the girls enjoy themselves.
From then it was a nice wedding of a friend, followed by a monster truck show for PJ & I. None of these event were all that special. I don't really know how else to explain it, other than “it came from God.”

Sunday got even better. There was a short section of our church service where people could share their testimonies. I'm not averse to offering mine, but most of the time, I have nothing to share. This day was different. I felt lead to share that I had found just a little bit of joy. Ever since, I'd been on a high.
After church I sat in the sun watching as a bunch of kids (neighborhood, church, & ours) played in the leaves, laughed out loud, & chased each other around the house. The Sunday ended with a nice trip to the cider mill & a dinner out.

The funny thing is, it was so similar to weekends past, yet this one had so much more peace & love. It probably sounds a bit cheesy to the outsider, but very authentic to me; and it's clear as to where these feelings are stemming from.

Soon to be debt free(ish)!

Come this December 2nd, the Nielsens will be debt-free!  Well, for the credit card anyway.  We've been credit card debt-free before, but I actually think it'll stick this time.  We've made some mindset changes that has enabled both Laura & I to stop using the credit card, but use the bank card instead.  We still have a little more to go (some weeks we run out of money - oops!), but for the most part it's working out.  The next step is budgeting.  I have a feeling that is going on the New Year's resolution blog entry; stay tuned.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windows 7 is out! (But I can't have it)

I took advantage of Microsoft's pre-order promotion a few months ago.  If you pre-order W7, you can get a huge ($50-$100) discount; so I did.   I placed my order through Amazon.  This will be my last pre-order from Amazon.

Today's the today M$ officially releases Windows 7.  The last few times I've pre-ordered something from Amazon, I have received the item a few days after the release date.  Typically they'll ship on the release date.  (which, to me, seems kind of stupid)  Wondering if they've shipped my copy, I check my account status.  This is what I see:

I know I'm bitching about only a few days, but come on!  4 days, really?!  I'm tired of being treated like this, and I'm putting my foot down.  No more (pre-)orders from me...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sprained Ankle - I don't recommend it at all!

Late last month I sprained my ankle. I don't recall ever feeling that kind of pain before. I'm on my road to recovery, but it's been a difficult journey.

The weekend of September 12th didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I had been struggling with feelings of being a less-than-stellar father. Monday morning, I had been brainstorming with the wife on how I can be a better dad.

At 6:30pm the kids & I were discussing what we could do for the evening. All three of them voted to play video games. Given my recent propensity to do the right thing, I vetoed all their votes and stipulated that if we go out on a bike ride to the park, they can do something “fun” when we get back. (Assuming we would indeed have fun at the park)

Just after 7:00pm we arrive at the park, approximately ¾ miles away. There was a soccer practice going on, but the play structure was empty, so we decided to play tag on the structure. During one of my escape maneuvers, I proceeded to walk down a 3-step stairway. On the first step, my foot turned sideways, and I heard a loud “pop” sound, followed by a “crunch”. An immediate surge of pain brought me to my knees on the wood-chip covered ground. Rolling around, in a futile attempt to get away from the pain in my ankle, I manage to drag myself, only using my hands, to the edge of the wood-chip area. At first my kids thought I was being funny. It wasn't until they noticed I wasn't addressing them at all that they realized I was indeed not being funny.

Laura had a PTA meeting to go to and was over at the school at this time. She had been there only 15 minutes when she received a phone call from our oldest daughter (I was in too much pain to hold a conversation) saying she had to come pick up her husband. I laid there a good 20 minutes, before she pulled up to the park. We attempted to hop the ~50' to the curb, but it was a no-go. I made her drive up onto the park lawn so I could crawl up into the van's backseat. She drove me home while the kids rode their bikes back home. (Luckily a neighbor saw what was going on, and volunteered to keep my bike along the side of their house until we could pick it up.)

Since it was now the kids' bedtime, Laura called my mom to take me to the hospital. It was at least 9:30 before I actually saw a doctor. X-rays showed no break, but a “severe sprain”. They gave me crutches, a “4-layer wrap” (sounds like a Taco Bell meal), and an air-cast. We got home at 11:30pm.

I figured I'd be back to work in a couple of days. My instructions were to wait until the swelling went down. 14 days , and 2 doctors visits later, I went back to work. (That whole situation is for another day). Me and my paycheck didn't get along for the following 2 weeks.

Recovery has probably been on-track, but my perception is that it's slow. I literally stayed off my feet for 16 days. I used crutches for an additional 5 days. I am now using the air-cast exclusively, and keep it on all day. It's saved my ankle from re-injury more than a few times. I have scheduled to keep it on until the beginning of November. I do manage to walk around, albeit slowly.

The orthopedic doctor gave me a statistic that is looming over my head. He told me that about 10% of people re-sprain their ankles. He added a side note saying that given the amount of people that sprain their ankles, that's a lot of re-sprains.

I've had to refuse playing outdoor sports with my son a few times. It pains me to see him say, “Okay dad.” and move on. I can't help but think I'm letting him down.

The moral of this story is this: if the kids want to play video games, don't argue. You just might sprain your ankle. (Alternately the moral could be this: You don't have to play on a play structure to be a good dad; video games will do fine.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I’ve decided to postpone buying a new car until I have more cash to put down. I’m 80% sure I’ve decided on a model, but there are a few things I still need to nail down (color, options, etc). Waiting also throws a monkey wrench into the options of “good” APRs, as well as being able to write-off in sales tax on my taxes… I still figure that if I can put more money down (and get a lower payment), it’s the best decision.

How to pay off my student loans

"Slow & steady payments..."

How I did it: It took several years, but what it really boils down to is just keep making the payments, use the standard payment plan, & make extra payments when you can afford to.

Lessons & tips: Make sure you're not on the extended pay-off plan.  While in the beginning, this may seem like an attractive option, it really makes the burden of payments seem to last forever.

It took me 10 years.

It made me Ecstatic

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Intelligentsia in the Morning

Intelligentsia in the Morning, originally uploaded by AmateurX.

I forgot to mention our awesome trip to Chicago the week of July 31st. This was Laura's birthday. We made sure to see Jersey Boys while we were there. Here's one pick from that week. Can't wait to go back.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday FAIL

Ask any parent and they'll tell you that at one point within the last week or two they've felt like a failure. Well, Sunday was the day for me. We woke up Sunday morning, and decided to ditch church. This happens on occasion, usually to do family activities, but this time, we had no agenda. (mistake number 1). We decided to go out for a walk, then on to the mall for some school shopping. (mistake numbers 2, & 3). Laura couldn't find the proper shoes for trail walking, & The Somerset Collection always makes me crabby. (I may tackle this in another post). When we got back, Laura & I did some housework, while the kids played with their friends inside, and out.

I should note that having the neighborhood over to play usually ends up with the Laura & I cleaning the shambles that our house becomes. To nip this in the bud, we decided to force the children to go outside and play. While discussing this preemptive action with the wife, it was at this time that I realized that we were both snippy, and probably should have taken naps. On, we trotted.

Fast-forward. The neighborhood kids have left, we are getting in the van to go to a group meeting, and there is stuff all over the yard, my truck, and the driveway. I don't like stuff strewn about the yard, especially while we're gone. I manage to bite the heads off all three kids to pick up their stuff, all within a couple of minutes. It struck me as a pretty-shitty-thing-to-do when I watched my once, chipper daughter, mope her way back to the van after reluctantly walking in the house to put away a water bottle. I had broken her spirit.

Laura has brought to my attention that this is one thing she wants to avoid: breaking their spirits. I agree with her. It's a line that's difficult to see while you're trying to shoehorn your children into being “responsible”. Once you cross it though, you see that joy escape from their eyes. Seeing that rips a hole in my heart.

I am realizing these last few months that, with regard to parent/child relationships, no amount of apologizing can take away the damage that's been done. You might be forgiven, but the only way to escape damaging your children, is to avoid the damage in the first place. It's in this, that I realize I am unable to do this on my own. The only way I can parent properly is to have God by my side.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where the heck does all the time go?

I want to start a magazine called American Christian Father. It would have tips on time management, specifically how to work in everything that all Christian dads should be doing on a daily basis; praying, working out, eating healthy, playing with the kids, mentoring, serving the community, reading the Bible, proper budgeting, fixing the car, fixing the house, taking the kids to football practice, helping with homework, proper child rearing & discipline, etc. I just know that I'm not the only dad in America that is constantly struggling with proper time management. Trying to cram all these things into the post-work 5hrs seems nearly impossible.

It occurred to me this morning that even if I had the motivation to actually start a workout routine, I wouldn't have the time. With kids' extra-curriculars, bedtime routine, (and everything else listed above) it's no wonder why we Americans are fat (and lazy). I'm headed right down that path. The hour or two that I'm actually commitment-free usually borders my bedtime. That, obviously, rules out many of the above To-Dos.

Some would argue that the woman of the house's list is even longer. As I'm sure that's true, I am unable to adequately represent that point of view, so I won't.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Decisions, decisions...not to buy

I've sadly decided to wait until the spring to by my WRX. I had originally planned to by an '09 on “sale” but I haven't saved up enough loot to be at the payment I want (even with the auspicious 0%). I also figure, why should I buy a new car in the winter, so it can sit in the garage? (I have an S-10 beater that I plan to drive this winter). It pains me to not have this fine piece of machinery! But I know in my gut that this is the right decision. By stashing money this winter, I estimate I'll be able to put down nearly 40% on a 2010 next spring (tax return included). As much as my heart aches, I think it's the right decision. :(

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Safety is awesome, but adventure is better.

I often replace God with other things in my life. In the words of Britney, “I am a slaaaave for you”; with “you” being money, children, finances, household responsibilities, etc.

Two nights ago, I thought, “maybe tomorrow I'll actually read some scripture.” Did I? No. I thought about it twice throughout the day, but I failed. The sad thing is, I have a bible sitting here on my desk. Heck, I set my phone on it every day. I'm burying God's Word underneath my daily crap!

I've been praying for safety, and comfort for years, and God has answered those prayers. I knew could lead to a boring life, but I was willing to take that chance. I am now struggling with complacency, feel an itch to expand. Yes, I desire a stable home, job, healthy family. But, where's the joy, the adventure?

I am a very cognitive person, & consider myself aware of my surroundings. I love movies; and I know it's because I can live vicariously through the characters on the screen. It allows me to feel that thrill of adventure, pain & joy of love and family. We as humans hunger for joy & love! The cool thing is, God can provide! You just have to believe.

I can speak it, but living it is considerably harder. I was told recently that I am afraid to ask the tough questions to God. “...Break me, use me...” It's true. I can superficially ask God to use me, but since I'm not asking with my heart, I don't see anything happening. 

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Where does all the time go?

Taking 30 seconds to reflect on all that's happened since my last update, I've determined that I'm way behind!  Oops.  Here's all the things we've been up to:
  • Bought a pop-up camper, and drove it to Kentucky for a family reuinion.  It was hot!
  • Replaced the struts in my car (by myself), had the car alignment done, twice, and it still pulls to the left.  Arg!
  • Determined that our marriage seems to do better when the kids aren't around.
  • Decided to put all our kids in public school this fall (for the first time), both of us are nervous.
There's a few other things but they're even less interesting.  I think I'll make a few more entries this month for old-times sake.  I'll be sure to include pictures.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The all-elusive Joy

Real Joy by Technowannabe

Joy for me is so difficult to get a-hold of. Some days I can walk throughout my day, arms wide, eyes closed, basking in God's awesomeness. Most days though, I feel stuffed in the box that is my life. Such is the working stiff. I can find joy in my kids (when they're being nice to each other), and nature, even the city in the early morning. Other days I feel like I wouldn't know joy if it kicked me in the face.

For the cognitive soul that I am, “joy” is difficult to wrap my head around. What does it mean to be joyful? What does that look like?

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pain – Mind over matter

Photo by Jake Liefer

This past Monday I took some time after work to work on the garden. We decided after pulling entirely too much grass & weeds, on Saturday, that we needed to build a garden “platform”. So, I bought a bunch of gardening timbers and was assembling the box Monday evening. I had borrowed my father-in-law's sledge hammer to drive the rebar through the timbers into the ground to stabilize the contraption. I had two hammers I was using, and frequently switching between the two. Being the lazy, fat-ass that I am, I didn't feel like bending over to pick up the sledge. Instead, I attempted to use my foot to flip up the handle to a vertical position so I could, then, pick it up. My suave move quickly turned inept, when the handle whacked my knee, hard. Acute pain entered my knee. I immediately started to limp toward the back door so I could lay down on the couch in agony. Halfway to the door I felt a little lightheaded. My thoughts turned from “OMG, this hurts!” to “seriously, lightheadedness? This is bull-crap!” I decided then, & there that I wasn't going to let the pain over-take my body. I turned around and limped back to the garden. I concentrated on ignoring the throbbing pain. A few minutes later, I was fine. A bump on the knee, but fine nonetheless.

It occurred to me that I could probably use this same technique for other things, like tattoos. I'm sure birthing women use a similar technique during labor. It's like a door has opened to a new world. I'm laying it on a little thick, but you get my point. I'm going to stop being a wimp, and suck it up, from now on.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Tessa loves Battleship. We played 5 games last night, and at 9 this morning, she comes barging in our bedroom begging to play more. I never would have thought she would have liked this game quite this much. It sure beats video games, which she tends to have an addiction. Kids always amaze. Make sure you take note of my awesome ship placement!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Buying American ignorance


I saw a bumper sticker on a car on the way home from work today. It said, “Please don't put my flag on your foreign car.” Living in the Detroit area I see this one all the time, “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign!” I am SO SICK of all those stupid, ignorant stickers, and therefore, viewpoints. Have these people thought of where all their other crap comes from? Where are your clothes made? Where is your new Playstation3 made? What about your FLAG STICKER? I suppose there are a few things still made in the States, but when it really boils down to it, no one cares until it affects their selfish asses. No one seemed to give a shit where their textiles were made, and the Carolinas had a tough time when all the textiles moved out of the US.

I grew up with a father working for GM for over 25 years. He made a moderate income and had the luxury of borrowing cars from GM on occasion. I was brainwashed as a child to think GM made the best cars in the world... and when it came time for me to buy my first new car, I didn't hesitate. I went on over to the Pontiac dealer and bought a Grand Am. I really wanted a stick-shift, but it wasn't offered. I needed a car, as I had recently totaled mine. I reluctantly bought the car, even though I KNEW I was just 'settling'. When it came time to purchase my next new vehicle, a van, I was already aware of the quality problems the big 3 had with their minivans, and drove right past. I bought a Honda. My dad was “disappointed” to say the least. It was then and there that I decided I am a “consumer”. I am not forced to buy a particular brand.

I'm nearly ready to buy my next new car. This one to replace my Grand Am. The big 3 don't make a car that I like. Why should I settle all over again? I refuse.

I am a person that likes to drive. I love the feeling of a stick shift in my hand. It's like the car & I are one. (It's a little cheesy, but that's ok) I guess this is where I differ from the average American. I guess you could call me an enthusiast; I have certain expectations that I guess many other people don't.

The lines of “American made” are becoming more blurry. Many “foreign” cars are either assembled here, or have a large American content. And conversely, many “American” cars are made of a large number of foreign parts. What about the foreign car companies that are owned by American car companies; are those foreign, or domestic? These are all things that people don't consider when making ignorant accusations.


I saw a lawn sign today that read “OUTSOURCING: Just say NO” on it. (It actually referred to a school district, but this is often a hot-button topic for manufacturers as well.) I laughed a little. Not all outsourcing is bad. If there were no outsourcing, I'd be out of a job. We don't design any of the parts we make. We build to our customers' designs. Our customers want to be able to take the part out of the package and place it in the assembly. Frankly, in many cases, we make a better-quality part than what they can make themselves. In addition, large companies don't have the time or resources to manage a considerable amount of small parts. It's sure easier (read: cheaper) to track/control a part number than it is to control the design and manufacture of that item.

I'm just tired of listening to all the whining about job losses due to a many-year history of falling quality, and design. The Big 3 have dug their own hole. Why should I jump in it? I expect to buy another new car in about 5-10 years. Perhaps by then the American car companies will earn the respect they desire, and I will buy one of their cars.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

God's cool.


Every once in a while I realize how special I am to God. So far, today is one of those days. I started off in a funk. My heart felt lead to read the Bible a bit here at work, but it wasn't the reading of the Bible, but the “tug” I felt. (I'm also checking out Youversion by recommendation of a friend) I'm actually getting to experience what I hear others so frequently talk about.

A while back I asked God to show me what it meant to give Him my pain/anguish/frustration/anger... Slowly, but surely, I'm starting to figure that out. He's really taking the lead on this, as I am still unable to explain it. I get this peace, sometimes happiness, wash over me following said pain/frustration/etc. I am unbelievably thankful for God's patience with me. With every struggle in my gut, I feel reassurance in my heart. How cool!

I hear it's going to be 65°F today; it's my birthday (read: I am alive one more year); there's a bunch of people coming over tonight to help me celebrate; I received a zillion (10) messages on my Facebook wall wishing me a happy birthday.

It's now 4pm & this has been a difficult day. The potential for anger & frustration is there, but doesn't come to fruition. He keeps my heart open and peaceful. I'm looking forward to the blue sky, some green beer, some friends over, and a bunch of love in the air. Thank you Jesus.

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Friday, February 27, 2009



I'm an engineer by profession. My brain has always had a difficult time using its right side. In fact, that's the main reason why I dropped out of architecture school; I couldn't figure out my professors. I thought they were all quacks. In my old age, although I'm still applying logic to art, I'm starting to understand art better; I think.

I was listening to This Week in Photography again, and Fred is interviewing one of the most popular photographers on flickr, Rebekka. She made a comment that struck me. Basically she was saying it doesn't matter how the image is created. It only matters how you feel when you look at it. (I'm paraphrasing). Generally I find that I'm in the camp of "you must get the image correct out of the camera" rather, "only a little post-processing should be required." But I realize now that it really doesn't matter. How do you feel when you look at that image?

Logically, this also applies to music. Who cares if it was written by a team of writers, and the singer is only so-so, but looks good? How do you feel when you listen to it? I still have a lot more respect for vocalists & bands that can write their own material. Similarly, I have a lot of respect for those that can do it all in the camera. I figure this is because I have some idea of how hard it is to get it right, right out of the camera.

Art is cool.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

15 Albums

Below are the 15 albums that have made a significant impact on my life (in no particular order):

  1. Master of Puppets - Metallica. This was my first introduction to speed metal at the age of 12ish. I was complaining to a friend at summer camp that my ZZ Top wasn't cutting it anymore. He had this and a Megadeth album. The Megadeth album made a bit nervous due to the name of the band. So I chose Metallica. I was quite surprised at its genious.
  2. (black) - Metallica. Even though I was an avid Metallica fan, I didn't buy this album until a year after it was released. I saw them in concert (for this tour) twice, and was awestruck at their musical-ness (don't judge me for my lack of vocabulary). The contrast between this and their previous albums was significant. They were able to produce music that the masses could take in...
  3. Thriller - Michael Jackson. I used to lie on my livingroom floor, staring at the album sleeve whilst listening to the awesomeness that is Thriller. (First real intro to pop)
  4. Automatic for the People - REM. For most this was just another good REM album. For me it was the foot in the door of all things REM and more. I had avoided REM for many years, as I didn't want to be a part of "that" crowd. I liked my hair metal.
  5. IV - Led Zeppelin. I don't think I really need to say anything about this. If you don't know this album, shame on you.
  6. (?) - Colgate 13 from Colgate University circa 1991. This album was entirely accapella. 13 guys singing an assortment of rearranged songs, all in perfect pitch. This, I thought, was talent.
  7. Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins. I bought this CD on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised. Every song contrasts the other; melodic sweetness.
  8. Villains - Verve Pipe. One of those "college CDs" that I have fond memories about. This one in particular reminds me of Laura & I when we lived together at CMU.
  9. With Teeth - Nine Inch Nails. Now, you may have expected me to say Pretty Hate Machine, or Downward Spiral, but no. Although Laura owns both of those, With Teeth was really the album that showed me how cool NIN is now (then). From there I watched Beside You in Time and was blown away. I then went back to Downward Spiral and listened as if I had never heard it before (at least the non-radio tracks). I now call myself a NIN fan, and am still pissed I've never seen them in concert.
  10. In Search of Sunrise 3 - DJ Tiesto. This album really opened the doors of Trance to me. From here I went on to explore Armin van Burren, Above & Beyond (my current favorite), Paul van Dyk, etc. You can't help but dance when listening to this album.
  11. Static & Silence - The Sundays. I listened to this album walking back & forth to class everyday back in '98. Since Laura had already graduated and was living back at home, the georgous voice of Harriet Wheeler reminded me of Laura. (Awwww...) I think this is The Sudays' best album, although many think differently.
  12. (himself) - Eddie Murphy. Back in 7th grade my buddy & I would wait until his parents went to sleep, and would listen to this album with the volume as quiet as we could stand it, shoving our faces in pillows to lessen our hysterical lafter. It's not music, but it opened up my world to comedy in the audio form.
  13. Glo - Delerious?. This was the first Christian CD that that I found cool i.e., the first time I learned Christian music could be cool.
  14. Can You Hear Us? - David Crowder Band. The most identifiable lyrics evar!
  15. Morning View - Incubus. Even though this is not my favorite Incubus album, nor is it the first I've owned, it's the album that I was listening to heavily when I proclaimed my first favorite artist/band: Incubus. This is quite significant because, until that time I had never had a favorite. In fact it's still difficult to determine a favorite even today.

This list was surprisingly more difficult to generate than I thought. I've listened to so many different styles of music, let alone artists, that have had some sort of impact. In fact, music alone has an emotional impact. That's why humans identify with it so much. This is one gift that God has granted us that I appreciate above many others. It's easy for me to be move to tears by tonality alone.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Friday, January 23, 2009

Amt Farm

Ant Farm2
Ant Farm1

Thursday, January 22, 2009

25 Things you probably don't know (or care to know) about me


  1. My first car accident was when I was 16 & 2 weeks old.  I was hit by a drunk driver whilst "borrowing" my mother's car to cruise around with my girlfriend.  It scared the crap out of me.
  2. My first job was working in a pizza place.  I lasted 2 months.  I learned a lot: don't work in the food business, & don't complain about everything.
  3. I can't decide what my favorite color is.  Sometimes it's blue, sometimes it's green.
  4. When I was a kid I longed to work at Lego.  It was my dream job, and I really thought I had the "stuff" to do it.  I later came to the realization that I really wasn't that good. :)
  5. When I was 16 I skipped out on the family tradition of going to our church's Christmas Eve service (which I really did enjoy).  Instead I went to my girlfriend's family party (yes, the same one in #1).  It was then that I learned how much my then-girlfriend enjoyed the bottle & the pipe (if you know what I mean).  I vowed to never skip Christmas Eve service again.
  6. I love dance music.  About 8-9 years ago my friend played me some Detroit Techno.  I then went to explore other types of electronic music and finally settled on dance (house, club, euro-trance, etc).  Internet radio has been my saving grace in this regard.  I've blogged about many-a-time.
  7. I really, really, really, want to travel to Europe and see a huge, spectacular DJ show like Sensation White, Armin Only, Mayday, etc.  See #6.
  8. My first car was a 1979 Chevrolet Nova; maroon, inline 6, automatic.  The trunk was rusted shut and the valve cover gasket leaked oil like a gunshot victim on blood thinners.
  9. The first time I went to Canada I was 19, dumb, and asked too many questions.  I tried to make chit-chat with the Canadian border patrol.  When they were searching my car (the Nova), they found a couple of my girlfriend's feminine hygiene products in the glove compartment.  They asked me whose it was since she wasn't with me.  I said, "My girlfriend's".  They asked me to open the trunk.  I said I couldn't; it's rusted shut.  I showed the officer and that was good enough for her.  Obviously this was well before 9/11.
  10. My first time having a beer cooler was during my trip to Canada (see #9).
  11. I've always thought that my life would make a good movie.
  12. I’ve lived my entire life in Michigan.  Although some days in the winter I’d like to move someplace warm, I don’t think I’ll ever leave.
  13. I married the girl I took to my high school senior prom:
  14. Prom_1992
  15. When I was a kid (<12), whenever I fell off my bike, I made sure to get up quickly & not make much fuss, because I felt like an idiot when the neighbors would come out to “rescue” me.
  16. When I was 13, my friend & I would sneak into a quiet place in the house and listen to Eddie Murphy tapes.
  17. About 4 years ago I spent a week in Amsterdam on a short-term mission trip assisting a local church called Zolder50.  Although we were there doing God’s work, it didn’t really feel like we accomplished much.  I loved the city, and want need to take my wife there.
  18. I have a serious problem with authority, namely cops.  I have a feeling this is an inherited trait, which strangely, makes me proud.
  19. I’m constantly intrigued by people and society.  I often wonder how people cope with their individual life struggles, and who their friends are.
  20. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I am often jealous of people that are really good at things I am interested in, e.g. photography, Guitar (Hero), home improvement, parenting, etc.
  21. I changed my own oil in every car I’ve owned.
  22. I love cars like I love dance music (see #6).  I just can’t afford to own anything new(ish).
  23. My first computer was a 386 DX20 with a 40MiB HDD.  It was a Christmas present in 1989, & cost about $3400.  When I installed a copy of Windows 3.1, it was 20 floppy discs, & I had to use a Stacker program to bring my HDD to 80MiB.
  24. I always complain about not having any friends, but I’m not willing to do all the work to obtain/maintain them.  What to 2 married men talk about anyway, their wives?
  25. When I was quite young (<6) I would sometimes play doctor with the girl down the street (per her request).  One day my buddy got busted by her mother for playing the same game, and was banned from seeing her again.  I was too little to really understand what was going on or its ramifications.  I even, often, felt uncomfortable playing that “game” but didn’t have any idea about how to express my feelings.  She & I eventually stopped playing each other when she moved on to Jr. High (she was a few years older than I).
  26. Although I’m not a fanatic, I do love movies.  I prefer dramas, but I’m also a sucker for those sappy romantic comedies. 
  27. (Bonus) I have 2 tattoos.  One on each arm.

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