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Showing posts from October, 2006

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006 - Saturday Morning Session

The Saturday morning sessions at GodBlogCon 2006 was devoted to some small group sessions with practical training.

I attended the session on web design presented by Kevin Wang of Zeit Studios.

Kevin gave some perspective thoughts about blogging that go beyond the design of the page by saying, "Design in not merely ornamentation and bloggers are more than minds."

He said the main goal of the blogger has to be establishing trust with her/his audience. There are three components a person must sense before the trust someone.
(1) They must believe the other person is concerned.
(2) They must believe the other person is competent. i.e. they know what they are doing.
(3) They must believe the other person is capable. i.e. demonstration of ability beyond the theoretical.

God is maximally all of these three things.

As bloggers who are followers of Christ, we need to cultivate those traits in our lives.

In terms of design concepts, Kevin's mantra is: "Share with the rich and sel…

Politics: Cal Ballot Measures - If I Don't Know I Vote No

I confess, I haven't been following the Cal ballots this year. The ads are all over the place but I tune them out. Well, next Tuesday I'll be voting.

My general rule is to vote NO unless given a good reason to vote YES.

Tonight, I'm going to take my first look and give my gut reactions. Hopefully, I'll gather more information before I vote next Tuesday.

The measures that qualified are listed on the Secretary of State web page.

Propositions 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E all look to be money matters. They always have nice sounding names:

Proposition 1A-Transportation Funding Protection. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.
Proposition 1B-Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006
Proposition 1C-Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006.
Proposition 1D-Kindergarten - University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006.
Proposition 1E- Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006.

If we had all the money in the wor…

Science: Hubble Repair Mission Green-lighted

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Today, NASA announced that they will devote one (Spring 2008) of the remaining Space Shuttle flights to perform repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope!

Due to safety concerns, NASA will stock that flight with 25 days worth of food and supplies and have a second shuttle ready for launch in Florida. Current shuttle flights are devoted to work on the International Space Station and if there were problems, the crew would evacuate to the ISS. However, a Hubble repair mission would not have that option; thus, the extra supplies and the backup shuttle on ready state.

To check out more about the Hubble, go here.

Image source: http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hu/db/2006/46/images/a/formats/print.jpg



Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

Devotional Thoughts: Love thy neighbor even in cyberspace

Have been thinking about the time I spent at GodBlogCon.

For me the bottom line appeared to be, and apparently a thought picked up by others, is the need for us to have no difference between our real life person and our online person.

The 7 virtues (4 classic and 3 Christian) of temperance, prudence, courage, justice, faith, hope, and love are of real value in real life than they must apply to our online life. For in the end, our online life is real too. I'm real at this end of the computer and the person reading at the other end is real too. The only difference is that instead of my words traveling through sound waves, my words travel through electronic digits. In real life I seek to be thoughtful and gracious. I hope I am on the internet as well.

Thus, I must bring my participation in the virtual world under Jesus and under the real world command of Jesus to love my neighbor.

In the past, before the internet, our neighbor was the person next door, the co-worker, family, fri…

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006 - Friday Night Panel

I made it down to God Blog Conference 2006 at Biola University after a 2 hour drive.

The conference was attended by a mix of the speakers who were the high powered big name bloggers, interested smaller time bloggers like myself and the student volunteers of Biola's Torrey Honors Institute.

The evening program was a panel with the title, "The New Media Political Revolution."

Moderating was Hugh Hewitt. On the panel was Senate candidate Allen McCulloch, writer La Shawn Barber and philosophy professor John Mark Reynolds.

Below is my attempt to summarize the fast moving conversation.

Hugh made some introductory remarks to put the progress of the New Media in some context: 10 years ago in 1996 there were no blogs and no one had heard of Al-Qaeda. He asked the panel to discuss where they think the New Media will take us in terms of the political realm.

McCulloch whose campaign is utilizing New Media extensively felt that the immediacy of the New Media will make campaigns more ope…

Politics: Polling, Voting and Unintended Consequences

Two must read items for political news junkies or those even mildly interested in politics.

First, an item on why polling data is less reliable these days than in the past. Excerpt:At this stage of the campaign, pollsters try to screen their respondents and report only those who answer a series of questions in ways that suggest they are actually going to vote. Many polls find that a higher proportion of Democrats than Republicans pass the screen. .... But pollsters of both parties will admit that polls do a poor job at projecting turnout.
.........
Serious pollsters concede that there are some problems with polling. Americans have fewer landline phones than they used to, and the random digit dialing most pollsters use does not include cell-phone numbers. Larger and larger percentages of those called are declining to be interviewed.[ed. note, emphasis mine]Cell phones technology which makes us more communicative has had the unintended consequence of making people less accessible to polls…

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006 - Kick Off - Baptizing the imagination for Jesus

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After a 2 hour drive from work in Los Angeles to Biola University 30 miles away, I had the opportunity to hear John Mark Reynolds give what was essentially a "State of the Internet and New Media" address.

There were about 40 people in the Metzer Hall conference room of which a few seemed to be live blogging the event. I'm sure many summaries of last night's talk have been posted.

Reynolds began by citing the progress of revolutions from history. Stage 1 is denial, stage 2 is that it is the hottest new thing and stage 3 is the time of settling and shaking it out. The internet revolution, in his view, is at the end of stage 2 and entering stage 3. The technology is starting to be taken for granted.

In recent memory, Hollywood and the movie industry was a revolution which Christians failed to be a part of. Christians decried the potential for abuse of the new medium of movies but weren't at the table in Hollywood's growth in the 20th Century hence, that rea…

Religion: Inspired Text Reliable Text

A little while ago, I wondered about the idea of inspiration. I sensed that the Islamic notion of the inspiration of the Koran was different than the Christian concept of the inspiration of the Bible but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I extended those thoughts in a follow-up post here on what I think is the chain of events from the mind of God to the English Bible on my desk.

I'm a molecular biologist and not a theologian.

Nonetheless, as someone committed to Jesus, I feel the need to wrestle with these ideas.

Dennis Prager recently on his radio show wondered aloud: if you had to pick a religion from scratch, how would you do it?

His advice was the following:
(1) Seriously consider the religion of your family. Study it and see if you think it works.
(2) What he means by "works" for you is that does this belief system provide you with (a) a way to live your life and (b) confidence that it is mostly true
(3) Finally, do you like and admire the people who are tr…

LA Scene: American Museum of Ceramic Arts

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The other weekend had the chance to visit the American Museum of Ceramic Arts.

The current exhibit running until November 4, 2006 is "Color Counts - Gladding McBean - Commercial Pottery 1930-1950."



California had a "golden era" of pottery in the 20th Century and Gladding McBean was the biggest name To read more about the exhibit, check out this page. Excerpts:With the acquisition of Glendale's Tropico Pottery in 1922, the American Encaustic Tiling Company in Vernon and Hermosa Beach in 1933, and Catalina Pottery in 1937, Gladding McBean grew to become the largest ceramic products manufacturer west of Chicago. Today, many historical buildings throughout California can still be found bearing decorative architectural elements cast in terra cotta produced by Gladding McBean. The company's distinctive dinnerware and fine china acquired an impressive following, earning a place in millions of California homes. Gladding McBean was also preferred by the privileged, …

Religion: Can women be pastors?

Previously, I blogged briefly about the question of whether women should be allowed to be pastors.

Here is a longer follow-up post.

From my research to this date, there appears to be a spectrum of views:
(1) Women can teach men and exercise authority in the church and be pastors
(2) Women can teach men and exercise authority in the church and be pastors but must be under the supervision of a male senior pastor
(3) Women can teach men and exercise authority in the church but not be pastors and must be under the supervision of male leadership
(4) Women can teach children and other women but not adult men, exercise a limited amount of authority and of course not be pastors.

Position one is held by the egalitarians and position four is held by the complementarians. Positions #2 and #3 are in between and I'm not sure what they would call themselves.

Both sides claim that Scriptures support their position. The complementarians can add that they have history and tradition on their side in addi…

LA Scene: Surf fishing

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One of my hobbies is fishing. In an earlier blog post, I showed some trout I caught in Yosemite.

Closer to home, I like to do surf fishing. I use light to medium equipment as the fish are usually not that large. My typical rig is a size 8 hook at the end of a 2-3 foot leader of 4 lb. line attached to a swivel. Above the swivel, I thread through a pink bead and above that I slip the line through the eye of a bass casting sinker. I use 3/4 oz. or 1 oz. depending on how vigorous the waves are and which rod I have with me. My 7 foot rod can handle the 1 oz sinker easily. When I use the lighter 6 1/2 footer, I only go as high as 3/4 oz.

I use a 1 1/2 to 3 inch piece of Berkeley's Gulp! Sandworms as bait.

Here are some fish I caught in a recent trip to Venice beach.



My feet are size 7 so this Barred Surf Perch is on the small side.



Here is a mid-sized Barred Surf Perch. They can grow larger! BSPs are known to attack the bait pretty vigorously and put up a decent fight. I'm told …

Devotional Thoughts: Preaching plainly and living life for real

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Taking a look at 1 Thessalonians 2:1-9.

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi ...

Paul and company faced opposition in Philippi back in Acts 16. They moved onto Thessalonica in Acts 17. Eventually, Paul and company had to leave there too!

A modern city stands there today. According to the web page in the previous link, Thessalonica is second largest city in Greece. There are some photos of the excavations in the city over at Bibleplaces.com.


image source: http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Thessalonica_forum_with_arches2_2nd_c_AD_tb_n011301.jpg

... as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we n…

Devotional Thoughts: I believe ...

Today, this morning, a variation on the devotional thoughts.

Some days I write about a particular text I'm looking at. The current series is on 1 Thessalonians.

Most days I also read from the One-Minute Bible 4 Students: With 366 Devotions for Daily Living. I recommend that resource to students and adults alike. It is a simple way to taste the wisdom of the whole Bible as it selects highlights from both the Old and New Testament.

Some days, I contemplate some aspect of the life of faith and devotion to Jesus.

This morning, I find myself thinking about the Bible I have on my desk. How did it get there?

As I see it, there are 4 phases.

I recognize the following are articles of faith. The statements are not devoid of reason but they encompass things beyond what reason can ascertain.

(1) I believe that God desires to communicate to humanity certain things.

If God is truly God then the following must be true: What God knows >>> What God wants us to know! So I ju…

Devotional Thoughts: with the Holy Spirit's power and conviction

Looking at I Thessalonians 1:4-10 this morning.

The Thessalonian letter is believed to be one of the earliest of the New Testament writings dating around A.D. 50-51 . For more on that point, check out this item. By the way, from a Google search, it appears that Peter Kirby is a skeptic. In roaming around his Early Christian Writings web site, there are other NT writings he is doubtful about in terms of authenticity and dating. Additionally, he maintains a few other web sites where his skepticism is quite apparent. However, I will give him credit for pulling together a lot of the current scholarship both supportive and opposed to Christianity. In any case, on 1 Thessalonians, the scholarship, both favorable as well as opposed to Christianity, support Paul's authorship and the early dating.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

Why do p…

Sports: Stick a fork in 'em - Bruins Football

30-20 but it wasn't really that close. The Oregon Duck O-line pushed UCLA's defense around so they could run and pass with impunity.

You don't give up 20 points in one quarter and really expect to win.

Last years Bruin team had a powerful offense which did spot opponents big leads only to roar back. But this year's edition doesn't have the same offensive punch. Twice in the 1st quarter UCLA threatened to score only to come away with a field goal. I suppose if they were down 20-14 instead of down 20-6, the complexion of the game might have been different.

As a side note, Pac10 officiating is continuing to prove itself as completely incompetent. In the final analysis, UCLA wouldn't have won because they were down 27-13 and time was running out. However, Oregon got the benefit of yet another botched call on their home turf.

It was 4th and 1 and Oregon went for it and the initial ruling was a fumble with a UCLA recovery of the ball at their own 32. The play we…

Devotional Thoughts: Faith, Hope & Love and work, labor & endurance

Am looking at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3.

It is a prayer.

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we think of the great Christian virtues, we think of faith, hope and love as mentioned in this prayer.

Certainly, we think of 1 Corinthians 13:13, And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We also may think of the 9 aspects of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

All worthy of striving for in our lives through prayer for ourselves and for each other.

What is interesting to me in the prayer in this passage is that faith, hope and love don't stand alone. Rather something happens as a result of the existence of those virtues in …

Culture: I registered for God Blog Con 2006

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I went online to sign up and dropped the fee in the mail.

I wonder how many people will be there!

Culture: Could a woman coach a boys or mens team?

Previously, I blogged a bit about my perception of the degree to which men would follow the leadership of women in certain contexts.

On that blog post, a comment was posted! Hooray! Thanks for the interesting thoughts.

In brief, the reader proposed a scenario of how a woman might wind up coaching a boys or mens sports team.

I can't say I follow sports news to that high a degree to know if such a female coach exists. I suppose it is possible and perhaps even quite likely that such a woman might be coaching at the high school level perhaps even at a small college level in some particular sports.

I think it might be possible say, for instance, a woman who was a top star in tennis coaching a high school men's tennis team. The boys on the team might feel, wow, she played at Wimbledon!

I find it harder to envision a women who was a standout star in college basketball being able to coach a high school boys basketball team effectively. I suppose it is possible and perhaps there is…

Religion: PC-USA book publisher controversy

Previously, I had a short blog post on the latest controversy to roil the Presbyterian Church USA.

I wondered what PC-USA blogger Mark D. Roberts had to say about it.

When I had checked his blog, I missed the fact that he had tackled the subject already.

He was dismayed about the whole mess and wrote extensively about it. Excerpts:When one of my faithful blog readers sent me a link to an article supposedly published in last Friday's Washington Times, at first I thought it must be some sort of bad joke. Who, I wondered, would have a wicked enough sense of humor to claim that the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, an arm of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, published a book accusing the Bush administration of plotting the attacks of 9/11 in order to go to war to expand the "American empire"?

As it turns out, nobody had such a terrible sense of humor. The story is real. No joke. No laughter here, except perhaps from demons who enjoy seeing the Christian church in…

Life: Two friends doing Marathons for Leukemia Team in Training

I have two terrific friends who are training for marathons.

Leukemia Team in Training helps raise funds to help support individuals fighting this dreaded disease as well as research for cures and treatments.

I had the honor to know Hope DeLemos when she lived in Los Angeles where she worked as a special education teacher. She now works with Children's Association for Maximum Potential in Texas.

To contribute to Hope's efforts go here.

I knew Louis Luangkesorn when I lived in Washington DC. He now works for RAND in Pittsburgh.

To donate to Louis' participation go here.

Non-profit of the month: October 2006 - Intervarsity Christian Fellowship

Going to college is a time of learning. Well, at least it should be!

A lot of the education takes place outside of the class and in matters beyond the books.

Many people examine for the first-time or re-examine for the first-time Christian faith.

One organization that works here in the USA and around the world on the campus is InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Many of the people I know who hold a devotion to Jesus cite their IVCF experience as an important part of their growth.

Because I've seen the fruit of this organization in the lives of dear friends, I gladly support them with the occasional financial contribution and highlight their work with this blog post.

Devotional Thoughts: Paul, Silas and Timothy - a band of brothers

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With the previously concluded devotional thoughts series on Joel, what shall I contemplate next?

I decided to go back to the Christian Scriptures and again select a relatively short book.

So for today's reflections, please go to 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2.

Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.

We have no idea what these guys look like. But I have to say I am always curious how artisans portray people we have no images of.


image source: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/E/el_greco/el_greco_st_paul.jpg.html

As you can see there are two things in St. Paul's hands: a sword and a letter. Makes me think of the adage, "the pen is mightier than the sword." The Apostle Paul is believed to have written 13 of the letters in the Christian Scriptures. These writings have had a major part in shaping Christian theology and morality and Christianity has had its impact on the world. When God guides…

Culture: Would you follow a woman leader?

While browsing the God Blog Conference 2006 web page, I came across this item with the provocative title, "Women Leaders: Against Nature?"

The full post can be found at La Shawn Barber's Column.

What she writes definitely will grate on the ears of those who hold to the politically correct view.

But can we deny what she says?

My guts tells me many, if not a majority of, people feel the same.

UPDATE: In my profession, it is still largely male dominated so I can't really speak from much experience on this point from the work context. In the realm of volunteer organizations both secular and religious, I have in those settings experienced women in leadership. Those settings tend not to be as hard charging and more collaborative. In those cases, if the woman leader is competent and fair-minded, I am fine following.

I don't know what it would be like in a setting where there is a greater authority presence required. In all fairness, I would have my doubts that a woman…

LA Dining: Frying Fish

My latest post is up over at LAFB.

Do you like sushi?

Frying Fish
120 Japanese Village Plaza
Little Tokyo
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-680-0567

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006

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If you lived in the Southern California area, would you go?

I'm thinking about it.

Life: The story of Jody Frankfurt

How would you feel if the love of your life were diagnosed with cancer?

Scott Frankfurt loved his wife Jody.

In March of 2006, they found out she had cancer. After many efforts, she left the bonds of this life to be received into the arms of the Heavenly Father.

To read their story, see their blog.

May God bless Scott and all those whose lives were touched by Jody.

Sports: Big sports day in LA

USC football at the Coliseum at 12:30.

UCLA football at 4pm at the Rose Bowl.

Dodgers baseball at Dodger's Stadium at 4:35 pm.

King's hockey at Staples Center at 7:30 pm.

Traffic in downtown LA will probably be gridlocked with traffic coming and going to these 4 events!

Religion: What should the role of women be in the church? Questions about 1 Timothy 2

A dear friend of mine has been wrestling with 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

The traditional view says women can't teach and exercise authority in church.

Is that what the text really means?

There are other Bible texts that appear to open the door to women doing more in the church.

So what does this text mean exactly? What did it mean to the people who read it? What does it mean for us today?

I don't know.

Most of my years in church life have been under the traditional view. However, I have been in two churches that do not hold that view.

Some theological knots, I make an effort to untie. Sometimes, I feel I reach a fairly firm conclusion and take a view though I remain open to new data. On some issues, I take a view but much more provisionally and I don't hold to it very strongly. Again, I leave it open to further persuasion. And some issues I just throw up my hands and say, I've got a headache!

This is one of those issues!

I'm back at this knot trying to untie it and a…

Relgion: Reality Church

My fellow volunteer in the youth program at my church shared the following item with me.

It describes the 10 stages some people go through in regards to their relationship to their churches.

It funny and it hits home. Check it out.

Religion: What do we reallly mean by inspired?

What do we mean when we say, I was inspired to do X, Y or Z?

What do we mean when we say, religious text A, B or C is inspired?

These questions have been rattling in my mind lately.

With all the news about Islam everywhere, the meaning of inspiration of a religious text is a pertinent question.

From my understanding, Muslims hold a very high view of the Koran. Excerpt:Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the literal word of God (Arabic: Allah) as revealed to Muhammad, over a period of twenty-three years by the angel Gabriel and regard it as God's final revelation to humankind. Muslims also call the Qur'an the "Final Testament", "The Book", "Book of God" and "The Revelation."However, most of us are alarmed by the fruits of some of the followers of Islam.

One has to wonder, is it the Koran itself? Or is it the Islamic notion of inspiration? Or is it a particular interpretation?

As a Christian, I have to ask myself, what do I mean when I say t…

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus is gonna win

Joel 3:17-21 is my reading for today.

After all the thunder and lightening of the previous passages, we get to the end of the story.

It is an idilic picture that draws on the agrarian imagery the Jewish people of that era would know well.

Then you will know that I, the LORD your God,
dwell in Zion, my holy hill.
Jerusalem will be holy;
never again will foreigners invade her.
In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house
and will water the valley of acacias.

This state of peace and plenty occurs after God dwells in Zion (literal Zion or figurative Zion?) and the enemies are gone.

I've always wondered how passages like this would be written if there was a 21st Century Joel in America?

Would they use the same kind of imagery or what it be completely different?

I can't help but feel this kind of passage is descriptive of some future occasion though I suppose some migh…

Music: What I'm listening to - I Won't Back Down

On my iTunes, I have the Johnny Cash version of I won't back down.

The lyrics are about being steadfast against life's difficulties:Well I won't back down, no I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I stand my ground and I won't back down

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down
No I won't back down.I became familiar with this song because Larry Elder uses the song as bumper music at certain points in his radio show.

Devotional Thoughts: More how will it all end stuff?

Am looking at Joel 3:4-16.

One of the unanswered questions about Joel is when in the history of the Jewish people did these events take place. The answer is we don't know. Some OT books will refer to some king and we can place that into some time frame easily. Or there will be a reference to an event large enough that it shows up in current history books or in archeological finds.

We gain some geographic information here about the peoples of that time.

"Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland. "See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own h…

Technology: Cell Phone Photo Blogging - Philadelphia

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Recently got a phone that takes pictures!

Here are some shots I took with it while in Philadelphia recently.


This first picture is of the City Hall building.


I was walking from City Hall to the Convention Center and this was one of the neat walkways.

This walkway was part of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.


This photo was taken from inside the Philadelphia Convention Center!

I was attending the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting.


Near the Convention Center is Chinatown. Most Chinatowns in the USA have Gates.


When in Philadelphia ... one has to have at least one Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich.


I took the subway down to South Philadelphia to Citizen's Bank Ball Park to see the Phillies vs. the Cubs.


I took a little time to visit the National Constitution Center. I was very moved by the multi-media presentation that explained how the Constitution came about and how it is a part of our lives today. For all America's faults, the fact of the Constitution a…