Showing posts from July, 2006

Travel: Taste testing camping food

Over the last few months I've been taste testing various freeze-dried backpacking food.

I've tried the following:
Mountain House's Rice and Chicken
Alpine Aire's Sierra Chicken
Backpacker's Pantry Chicken Cashew Curry
Richmoor's Natural High Classic Beef Stroganoff.

All four came in convenient foil pouches that stand up after you add hot water to them.

My very brief reviews:

Rice and Chicken was really salty ... a little too salty. I suppose you could add more water but then it would probably get soupy which I suppose is okay since after a day of hiking it will help you re-hydrate!

Sierra Chicken and Chicken Cashew Curry were both rather bland.

Classic Beef Stroganoff was not bad. It is, after all, just freeze-dried food but this seem to go above bland and offer some taste without crossing over into excessive saltiness.

I'll be trying a few more and reporting back.

Bon Appetite and happy trails!

Sports: Dodgers make some deals

Colletti has pulled the trigger on two deals at the deadline. The biggest is moving Izturis to get Maddux. He also dealt prospects Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza in exchange for Julio Lugo.

The lineup card is going to get juggled a bit with these moves.

Maddux will take a spot in the starting rotation with Penny and Lowe.

The question is who gets moved to the bullpen: Sele, Billingsley or Hendrickson?

Sele has an older arm and got roughed up on his July 17 and 22 starts. He did two innings of relief on July 26. He is slated to start August 1 and will be watched closely. If it appears he is running out of gas he could be moved to middle relief the next go around. He would be joining Beimel, Carrara and Dessens as the middle relief to get to flame throwers Saito, Broxton and Tomko.

Billingsley walks a lot of batters so I'm guessing he won't be moved to the bullpen and the Dodgers may want to keep the youngster as a starter to continue his development.

Hendrickson is the on…

Devotional Thoughts: God is not finished with me yet

Am looking over Philippians 3:17-4:1.

What is today's "three-point" sermon from the Bible passage? 8-)

(1) Learn from the example of godly believers

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

Sometimes people get down on the institutional church. And to be honest, as a person who attends a pretty typical church, there is good reason to get discouraged!

However, having said that, what is the alternative?

If we try to live out our Christian faith on our own, the potential for self-deception is too great. Without other believers to bang heads with, we may get certain ideas into our heads that might have nothing to do with real Christian faith!

Within the community of faith, we are provided with older, wiser and more mature believers for us to learn from. In this setting, we, me too (gasp!), need to set an example of what wrestling with following Christ looks like to believers who are new to the journey.

(2) Watch out fo…

News: 48 hour suspension of air attacks

The latest news is that Israel will suspend air attacks for 48 hours. On Fox cable news, they say some sources are saying it will be a 24 hour suspension.

Fox news analyst Oliver North pointed out that Syria has been resupplying Hezbollah and without the threat of air attacks on supply convoys, this move will be a disadvantage for Israel.

I suppose if recon flights spot convoys moving in, the Israeli air force will be given the green light to attack once again. Of course, you can imagine the Syrians might mix military resupply convoys with humanitarian aid convoys.

Devotional Thoughts: staying on track

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Humbling. Challenging. Exciting.

Those are the three emotions I get reading this passage.

Humbling in that Paul, the great missionary that took the Gospel to so many places and planted so many churches and wrote the letters that comprise much of the Christian Scriptures, recognized he still had a long way to go in following Jesus!

As a side note, I wonder if Paul knew that the letters he wrote would become a major part of the Bible?

Having grown up Jewish, he knew the Hebrew Scriptures well. Did he realize that this letter he was sending to Philippi would one day be bound together with thos…

Devotional Thoughts: For Christ Alone

Am reading over and turning over in my mind Philippians 3:7-11.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

Do I really believe this and live this out?

I want to but I know in my heart that there are things I clutch onto. The total surrender and total focus of the will in this passage is something I aspire to but know I fall short of.

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

As I continue in my journey of faith, I do recognize how my own righteousness is rubbish in comparison to Christ. Periodically, the thought still slips into my mind, I'm not such a bad person, I can stand before God! The thought usually doesn…

At the Movies: Cars

Mater the tow truck (Larry The Cable Guy) and Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) become friends in Pixar's latest film, Cars.

Pixar has the Midas Touch. They haven't had a bomb yet. Their films have all been successful to various degrees with the critics and at the box-office. Their collection of hits is impressive.

My all time favorite so far is The Incredibles. In terms of a creative story line and top notch execution of voice and images, IMHO, that film is their best!

The two Toy Story films would come in a close second.

In my book, Cars doesn't take the checkered flag and but is in good company with the other solid Pixar films.

The visuals of Cars is terrific as always. The story is not quite as compelling and creative as Incredibles and Toy Story. It is a familiar idea: speedy city slicker car Lightning McQueen meets the small town but good hearted cars of Radiator Springs and in time he comes to appreciate them and changes his ways.

The story arc though not an unfamili…

Devotional Thoughts: power of prayer

Spent the evening with our junior high youth group tonight.

It was a time of prayer and it was an uplifting time.

Their desire to follow Jesus and openness about their lives was truly a blessing to me.

As I look back on the evening, two Bible passages leap to mind.

Luke 10:38-42 described Martha and Mary. Martha was busy with household preparations while Mary listened at Jesus feet.Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away f…

Culture: Clearing the Bar

There is a sub-culture in our society who are going through their biggest initiation rite. Law school grads are taking the Bar Exam today, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lord, you are a God of justice and mercy. May you help those aspiring lawyers whether they believe in you or not to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. Amen.

News: Troop proposal for Southern Lebanon

Went to to see the latest news. This item says the current proposal is for 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian troops which eventually would be replaced by another multi-national force of 30,000.

I wonder what Hezbollah will do?

I suppose the "stick" could be, accept this deal or the IDF sweeps into Southern Lebanon with its tank and troops to destroy your rocket launchers and stockpiles.

How confident is Hezbollah in their fighting capability?

If they believe they could run a low level conflict with Israel, they might prefer to that option and count on world pressure to force Israel to stop the offensive and leave Lebanon.

Or does Hezbollah want the mulit-national force in there and give them a bloody nose and drive them out instead of having to drive Israel out?

We shall see how this all unfolds.

For the moment, I'm sure the move to get a multi-national force will take a bit of time to get on track; thus, the IDF will use its time to hunt down more Hezbollah targets.

Books: Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy

I really enjoyed the following book ...

As a life long Dodger fan, it was very informative to read about arguably the most famous Dodger ever.

I was born in 1963 so if my parents had taken me to a game or had the radio on, I would have been too young to remember.

Growing up following the Dodgers, I just knew that Koufax and Drysdale were the dynamic duo of the Dodgers.

The book has plenty of baseball but also a lot of the story of the era that Koufax lived through.

Leavy alternates chapters about the life of Koufax with chapters that recount each inning of the famed perfect game of September 9, 1965.

The first thing that struck me was that initially Koufax wasn't very good. He was wild and Dodger manager Walter Alston really didn't want to use him much. But eventually, Koufax hit his mark and the last six years of his 12 year career, the ball was in his hands a lot.

I had heard his career was cut short because of arm trouble. Little did I realize how bad it was. He essentially …

News: Latest in Lebanon

Took a pretty leisurely Sunday afternoon of napping and seeing a bit of news on cable TV and on the internet and some Wall Street Journal newspapers from last week.

If I had to synthesize what I gathered today, it looks like the Israelis are only doing limited ground operations and would prefer to keep it that way. Their preference appears to be a significant multi-national force (probably lead by NATO) taking up the buffer in South Lebanon rather than having to do it themselves. Israel's previous occupation of South Lebanon was costly in lives, treasure and political good will. However, if the diplomats can only come up with a UN-force (often times ineffectual) then Israel might have no choice but to go in with major ground operations.

Condi Rice is on the scene trying to broker some kind of deal with the "must-have" as a disarmed Hezbollah.

The key partners will be the Islamic nations that fear Iran. These countries will have to exert political pressure to make such a…

News: Around the web on the war in Lebanon

Not surprisingly, the US is sending military aid to Israel. HT: Drudge

Excerpt:WASHINGTON, July 21 - The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was desc…

Devotional Thoughts: Don't listen to the dogs

Am turning to Philippians 3:1-11 for today's reading.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.


There are a handful of words that I think capture the spirit of Christianity. Love for instance. Jesus told us the greatest commandment is love God and love your neighbor.

Another one is joy.

Think about two things:
(1) human beings are lost and dead in sin separated from God
(2) God sent Jesus to forgive us of our sins, grant us righteousness and restore us to Himself.

Is this not a cause for joy?

To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.


In my life, I must have heard hundreds if not thousands of sermons by now. I can't say I remember that many specific sermons but nonetheless, the truths of God in the Scriptures are slowly becoming a part of my life.

We eat every day and it is likely we don't remember what we ate 3 weeks ago. But if we have been eating right, we have the benefits of it.

So it is with the spir…

Reactions: the Middle East crisis

The situation in the Middle East remains fluid.

Here are a few interesting items I found as I moused and clicked around.

Bill Maher had a few positive things to say about Bush in regards to the crisis in Lebanon. HT: Prof. Reynolds. Excerpt:I have to say, watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit. I surrender my credentials as Bush exposer - from the very beginning - to no man, but on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition.One of my favorite guests on the Hugh Hewitt show is Mark Steyn. I don't always catch the radio show but I can always check the blog and Hewitt reported the conversation he had with Steyn. Excerpt:MS: I think this is why the Europeans and the Arabs suddenly…

Devotional Thoughts: Be like Epaphroditus

Am looking at Philippians 2:25-30 this morning.

Sometimes when a group of Christians are getting to know each other, we may often ask each other which Bible character intrigues us. We often mention the "big names" like Paul or Peter or Moses. But sometimes people in the group might mention a lesser known person.

In today's passage, there is Epaphroditus!

A search of the whole Bible reveals his name just three times and all in Philippians and twice in this passage for today.

So if I were to "preach a sermon" on the life of Epaphroditus it would be on: how should we treat those who minister to others?

1. Encourage them by naming the qualities you see in them

Here the Apostle Paul is very open about what it is about Mr. E that he finds so special.

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.

He calls him my brother!

Remember how in the p…

Devotional Thoughts: Be like Paul and Timothy

Philippians 2:19-24 is one of many personal passages in the Letter to the Phippians.

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.

In those days, there was no cell phones, no video conferencing, no internet. News traveled by word of mouth.

Paul, sitting in his jail cell, wondered how are those folks doing back there in Philippi?

He desired to send his trusted apprentice Timothy to them so he can get news about how they are doing.

We see here why Paul trusted Timothy so much.

For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare ...

I know it is very easy for me to get into an I, I, I, me, me, me mindset!

One clear mark of Christian growth is when we began to care about other people and the cause of Christ. Timothy definitely had those qualities.

They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.…

Non-profit of the month: July 2006 - Habitat for Humanity

I go to church in Glendale.

When I heard our youth group was going to volunteer at the latest project that Habitat is running in Glendale, I decided to help out.

I did my first day of volunteering with Habitat back in San Francisco when a group of people from Hands on San Francisco (now Hands on Bay Area) went to help clean up a lot for a construction project.

When I came back to Los Angeles, I did a few projects here and there with San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.

In 2003, I went to Botswana with Habitat.

Our youth group went to the work site today and I joined them. It was broiling out there! Nonetheless, it was good work.

We will be going back there again in August and in September. Hopefully, we will be able encourage some of the other age (older!) groups at our church to join us!

Check out the National Habitat web page to see what kinds of projects are going on in your area!

Culture: Empty pockets?

The other day went out to eat. I try not to eat out too often as it is a bit expensive. Yet, now and then, it is nice to eat out and leave the work to someone else.

On this occasion, I was dining alone and enjoyed the meal.

It came time to pay the bill.

That is when it happened ... reached into my pocket and found a few bills ... not the Jackson kind but the George kind. Grrr ... searched the other pocket and ... gasp ... no wallet!

I thought to myself: I know I had my wallet today! It must have squirmed out of my pocket while I was driving.

I told the food server, I think my wallet is in the car.

I wonder how many times he has heard that explanation?

I left a few items on the chair next to my table as collateral so I could go search my car for the errant wallet.

Indeed, it was there and I paid my bill.

It was a brief moment of anxiety. I wondered what would have happened if my wallet were not there?

Would the police have been called and I would be charged with petty theft?

Would I be sen…

Devotional Thoughts: Sizzle and flash yielding a pleasing aroma

Looking at Philippians 2:12-18 today.

This post is piggybacking on some thoughts I started earlier on Philippians 2:12-16.

The text below is from the paraphrase known as The Message which was prepared by Eugene Peterson. I haven't read any of his other works but I have a copy of the Message on my bookshelf. I sometimes go to it when I want to shake up my reading a bit. The more direct translations are of course more accurate but they often don't carry the emotional content. Peterson's paraphrase gives the text an emotional flavor mixed with the words. Admittedly, doing so is speculative but in many case they are probably reasonable inferences.

The text for today in the Message paraphrase:

What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life…

News: Mid-East Conflict (re-edited)

Foreign ministry staffers around the world are working overtime as the situation in the Middle-East is spinning faster toward chaos.

On one side, you have a nation (Israel) that wants to live in peace.

On the other side you have terrorists (Hamas and Hezbollah) and governments (Syria and Iran) who support them trying to destroy Israel.

It is a little hard to negotiate when one side wants the other side dead.

I suppose it is theoretically possible to believe Israel doesn't deserve a nation but love Jewish people. But in practice those who don't believe the nation of Israel should exist probably don't shed any tears when Jews die.

A bit of history is in order.

In the early 20th century, there was no nation called Israel. However, there was talk of setting up a homeland for the Jewish people for many decades.

A two-state solution was adopted.

On May 15, 1948, Israeli proclaimed itself a nation.

On that day Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq launched a war to destroy Israel.


News: Ted Koppel's Observations on Hezbollah

Caught on KPCC the All Things Considered segment with Ted Koppel where he described his recent visit to Lebanon.

He described that the military leader of Hezbollah is in de facto control of southern Lebanon and that the group desires the extinguishment of the nation of Israel.

He also believes the Iran is the "hidden hand" behind a lot of what is going on. Funding, weapons and training of Hezbollah is largely dependent on Iran. He also noted Iran is supporting Hamas and that Lebanon's government has almost no control over Hezbollah.

Devotional Thoughts: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Am looking at Philippians 2:12-16 tonight.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Okay, I throw up my hands!

This is one of those passages that I can't get my head fully around. On one hand, there is "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" which appears to place a fair amount of responsibility on us. Yet, in the next phrase it says, "God who is at work in you ..." which seems to put a lot of the work in God's lap.

Which is it?

As a fairly typically science minded person, it is always hard for me to accept two ideas at the same time that seem to go against each other.

In physics, there is a classic question of what is light?

Is it a wave or is it a particle?

Well, it is both!

Within the context of the Christian life, somehow it is both. I don'…

News: Another city experiences the horror of terrorists

The news out of India is horrible.

Bombing a commuter train has only one purpose: to kill and terrorize as many people as possible.

As of this writing, 174 are dead with 464 wounded.

Wounded ... such a vague word. It can mean anything from a broken arm to the loss of an arm. It could mean a concussion requiring overnight observation to blindness. It could mean mild burns that will go away in in time to major burns that will never fully heal.

Who would do such a thing?

The prime suspects are Islamic groups.

As usual, I must make the disclaimer, the vast majority of Muslims are horrified by these atrocities. There are estimated 1,000,000,000 Muslims in the world.

However, even if only 1 in 1000 are supportive of terrorist activities, that means 1,000,000 people in the world are cheering for what happened today in Mubai. Of that group, how many would actively participate in perpetrating such horrors? If 1 in 100 would be willing that means there are 10,000 people who would do so.


Devotional Thoughts: Be like Christ, reloaded

Philippians 2:5-11.

I'm revisiting it again. One can spend many a sermon and many a blog post unpacking this little but meaty passage.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God ...

One can make distinctions between "form" and "substance." For instance, in life, someone can have the "form" of having life "altogether" but the substance of that person's life could be entirely different.

Clearly that was not the case with Jesus because the text goes onto say, ... did not consider it robbery to be equal with God ...

Jesus is equal to God. If he wasn't it would be robbery for him to make that claim.

When someone makes an exorbitant claim there are only several possibilities: the claimant is delusional (belief doesn't match reality), a fraud (doesn't believe the claim but makes it to fool others) or truthful.

... but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and …

Devotional Thoughts: Be like Christ

Philippians 2:1-11 is one of the greatest Christological passages in the Scriptures.

Christology is an SAT word for the branch of theology that attempts to describe who Jesus is.

Paul starts off with some practical instruction to the Christians in Philippi.

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

The arguement is a passionate one but structured logically in the classic, "If ... then ..." manner of geometry class!

There definitely is encouragement in Christ, there definitely is consolation, fellowship and affection and compassion. If all of that is true (and it is) then strive for unity at every level - in the mind, in love, in spirit, in purpose!

Not an easy thing for humans. Get two people in one room and there will be two people pulling in d…

Sports: Dodgers vs. Giants

The dreaded Barry Bonds on deck.

Bonds at the plate during Thursday's game which the Giants won 5-4.

In terms of intensity of a sports rivalry, the Giants vs. Dodgers is the biggest one with the exception of Yankees vs. Red Sox.

While the Boston vs. New York contests usually has post-season implications, the Los Angeles vs. San Francisco hasn't had that added dimension.

This year the Wild Wild NL West has all the teams bunched up around the 0.500 mark, every divisional game will be hotly contested.

On Thursday, the Dodgers spotted the Giants a 5-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings. The Dodgers trimmed it to 5-2 in the bottom of the third. 5-3 after 5 innings and 5-4 after 7 innings. Unfortunately, the Dodgers went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth innings. Though the Dodgers lost, they gave it a good effort and it was a beautiful night at Chavez Ravine.

I caught the last few innings of Friday nights game on KFWB radio. The Dodgers won 9-7!

Once again, the Dodger starting pitching (Hend…

Devotional Thoughts: The Fellowship of Suffering

Am looking at Philippians 1:27-30 this AM.

Whatever happens ...

Probably referring to the uncertainty Paul was going through regarding his imprisonment. He might get released. He might not. He might get executed. He might not.

I suppose also, since at that time, Christianity was a religion of a minority of people, there may well have been pressures upon the church community to abandon their faith. When Paul was with them in Acts 16:11-40 he faced opposition. It is likely that continued even after he left.

... conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.

Paul's desire for them is unity. As the saying goes, a house divided cannot stand. When we are alone it is harder to stand firm in the faith. When we are alone it is easy to get dis…

News: World News Roundup

There is a very close election south of the border. As of now, Felipe Calderon holds a slim lead of 384,000 votes.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. According to the article there are still a number of steps before the results are finalized. Excerpt:Election officials said they would not have an official result until Wednesday at the earliest, when local electoral boards in 300 districts will scrutinize and recount the official tallies from each of 130,000 polling places. Those results will be passed on to the state-level election officials, then sent to Federal Electoral Institute headquarters, who in turn will certify them and hand them over to a special electoral court on Sunday for approval.

If one of the candidates contests the results before the tribunal, the legal wrangling over votes could lead to a recount in some districts or the annulment of some voters. Challenges could take weeks, even months. By law, the court must declare a winner by Sept. 6.

LA Dining: Franks and

I've posted two new items over at LAFB.

A brief tidbit about Jane and Michael Stern of and breakfast at Franks on Fairfax.

363 South Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Devotional Thoughts: Best of Both Worlds

Looking over Philippians 1:19-26 tonight.

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

We must remember that the Apostle Paul is under the watchful eye of the palace guards in Rome.

We have a picture in our heads of what a prison is like from the movies and some of them can be very dreadful places. I don't know how dire the conditions of Paul's prison situation was but the photo below would indicate it was probably a pretty cramped place.

Image source: Interior of Mamertine Prison in Rome from

It is likely that the situation described in Acts 28:11-31 would be what he was experiencing while writing the letter to the Philippians. This web page offered some description of what his circumstances migh…