Showing posts from May, 2007

Music: something old, something new

Purists will probably turn over in their graves but I just love it when artists take something old and familiar and making something new out of it.

Check out probably the most famous organ work spiced up with violin, an orchestra and a rockish feel ...

Then there is this item brought to my attention by my NBA fan nephew where a romantic era symphonic work is mixed with hip-hop-rap and pressed into an ad for Nike ...

UPDATE: Here are the lyrics to the Nike ad. I went and downloaded the full track from iTunes. Great music to start you up in the morning. Lyric excerpts:Now say goodbye to the past.(why?)
The future is here at last.(at last)
The second coming.(yea)
The new beginning.(yea)
The truth is speaking.(uh huh)
You should listen.
So glorious.
If you drop, get up and try it again.(uh huh)
If you fall, get up and try it again.(uh huh)
If you drop, get up and try it again
We tired of being runners up.
We coming up. Yup.
We ready for whatever you put in front of us. (Wha…

Politics: The immigration debate

As an American of Chinese ancestry, I have great appreciation for America's welcome of immigrants. I was born in the USA but my ancestors for several generations interacted with the immigration system of the USA. So my number one point is that America is a great nation in part because of its welcome of immigrants and how those immigrants have contributed to the American story.

According to this report (see p. 32), in 2000, the USA naturalized 888,788 individuals as citizens. On p. 33, we find that 42.6% are from other parts of the Americas and 35.1% from Asia. Thus, the USA is accepting around 900,000 new citizen annually through legal channels. This rate of immigration is similar to other countries though I suppose some people might feel it is too many while others feel it isn't enough.

There is of course also illegal immigration. From news reports I hear, of the 300 million living in America today, 12 million are here illegally.

I'm sympathetic to immigration as my an…

Devotional Thoughts: if a then b does not mean if b then a

Am looking at Job 8:8-22 this evening.

Bildad continues his monologue ...

Ask the former generation
and find out what their ancestors learned,
for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
and our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not instruct you and tell you?
Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?

Bildad appealed to human experience. Though our own life might be finite, there is the collective wisdom of the ages. What does Bildad think those years of knowledge tell?

Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?
Can reeds thrive without water?
While still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than grass.
Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.

He used a botanical metaphor: plants die without water. Likewise, people who forget God are in trouble.

Bildad goes on to say why those who forget God are in trouble...

What they trust in is fragile;
what they rely on is a spider's web.
They lean on the web, but it gives…

Sports: the hunt for the illusive corbina and spotfin croaker

Have fished the waters off Southern California for many years but by no means am I an expert fisherman.

Have caught many of the species commonly found in these parts: barred surf perch and other perches, yellowfin croaker, white croaker, jack smelt, mackerel, bonita, opaleye, halibut (but I've never caught one big enough to keep as the law is 22 inches!), sea basses (unfortunately, none have been the required 12 inches to keep - I've never even seen someone catch the rare white sea bass which has a 28 inch limit!).

Have hooked rays and sharks and actually saw them at the end of my line near the surface of the water but in the end they were too large for my gear and broke the line.

I've seen others bring in barracudas (they have teeth!) but I've not tangled with one yet.

The illusive ones on my radar are the corbina and the spotfin croaker. I hear the spotfins are somewhat rare in comparison to its smaller cousins the yellowfin and the white croaker. I haven't seen o…

Culture: 24 - 4 to 6 AM

The season comes to a close!

The Veep orders the exchange of Josh for the component. Doyle is in charge of the hand-off and Jack is in custody to be taken back to CTU to keep him out of the loop. Yeah, right!

Jack uses his phone to enlist the help of Karen back in the White House. Karen calls Bill whose house is being turned upside down looking for evidence since he was ousted for letting Fayed (lack of evidence but Bill is being scape-goated) go sometime in the past. Of the various romantic angles in the story, I think I like the Bill-Karen one the best. I suppose it is because they are older folks like me! Anyway, Karen convinces Bill to help with the "whatever it takes to stop the exchange" non-command command. Karen gets the data for Jack's location and gives it to Bill.

Implausibility: I'm not sure the FBI would let Bill just walk out of the house under the circumstances. What is the hypothetical off-camera conversation?
Bill: I am going to go to 7/11…

Religion: Koran reading, Sura 2

Religions have some features in common. For instance, there is usually some attempt to explain how things got to be where they are now. You might say that is the religion's "cosmology" or "worldview."

Religions vary on the degree to which god (of whatever type) is involved. Even atheism, a world view where there is no god, has a way to explain how things got to be where they are now. Their explanation is that evolution explains everything even religion itself. Am not going to debate the strengths and weaknesses of evolution in this blog post but I will state that atheism necessitates evolution. Simply put, if an atheists does not believe in evolution, then they are stuck with no ability to explain reality.

Aside from attempting to establish some narrative to explain the world as it is today, religions offer rules to live by and the Koran appears to offer that as well in the chapter I've been looking at.

The second chapter of the Koran is pretty long, 286 …

Art: Spirituality in Contemporary Art

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles is hosting an art exhibit with the title: The S-Word: The State of 'Spirituality' in Contemporary Art. It is running from April 21 through August 24, 2007.

Here is the description:
The Cathedral Fine Arts Committee presents 'The S-Word: The State of 'spirituality' in contemporary Art, exhibited at the Cathedral Arts Chapel. Including the works of ten artists: Lynn Aldrich, Sandow Birk, Rob Clayton, Einer & Jamex de la Torre, Daniel M. Diaz, John Frame, Laura Lasworth, Ruth Weisberg and Patty Wickman.

My reaction to contemporary art ranges from: that's profound to that's a pile of junk to what is it!

Contemporary art more so than "traditional" art is context dependent. Thus, items being displayed in a church with an exhibition title as described above provides a context for the art. As such the net result for the observer is now a combination of:
(1) the artist intentions to the degree it is…

Technology: Netflix Movie Rentals - Godfather, Part II and Casino Royale

Image source:

It is a breakthrough business model that combines the old technology with the new technology. New: the web based system of ordering up movies. Old: snailmail to get it to your house.

Unlike traditional brick and mortar rental shops they don't have to have the overhead of brick and mortar stores just places to store all the DVDs and people to fetch them and put them in the mail.

Until on-demand movies via high speed internet gets going, I don't see the Netflix model being defeated.

Anyway, I've now seen Godfather, Part II.

The device of moving forward and backward in time was very well done. It was interesting to hear Coppola in the director's commentary track say that he had the switch backs more frequently but eventually decided to let each period episode run longer so the audience could engage with the characters more. Coppola was on top of his game.

Vito (Brando in part I and DeNiro in part II) is much mo…

Youth: Entertainment Choices and Other Tough Decisions

Am leading the Bible discussion tonight for middle school on this topic.

The Bible part is fairly straightforward. Here is the "three-point" outline I've come up with ...

(1) Life's little instruction book
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Principle: What does the Bible say?

(2) Are you going to eat that?
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Principle: Do not cause others to stumble

(3) Bonum, Veritas, Pulcher = Goodness, Truth, Beauty
Philippians 4:8
Principle: Monitor what we put into our minds

Now, I need to work on the discussion points to lead them into these concepts!

UPDATE: Had three poster boards (red light, yellow light, green light) and had the group jot down things they thought fit into each category. We tied those items to the 3 Biblical principles above.

If so inclined, prayers appreciated!

Art: To be a Neo-Platypist is to love yellow

image source:

This site is kind of funny! I wonder who is behind this web page? The Neo-Platypist Manifesto was interesting. It is hard to tell if the artist was being tongue-in-check or serious!

Non-profit of the month: May 2007 - Joni and Friends

One of my friends is going on an overseas trip to help people in India with their wheelchairs as part of the Wheels for the World effort of the Joni and Friends organization.

The group was founded by Joni Eareckson Tada. Her story ... A diving accident in 1967 left Mrs. Tada a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, Joni re-entered the community with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. “My church made a huge difference in my family’s life as they demonstrated the love of God in practical ways,” says Joni.

Mrs. Tada wrote of her experiences in her international best-selling biography, Joni. Her name is now recognized in countries around the world following the distribution in many languages of her biography and the full-length feature film JONI. She has personally visited over 41 countries.Please consider supporting their efforts.

To see other non-profits this blog has highlighted, click on the label…

Theology: I'm post-modern-emergent??

Very interesting!

Actually, as I look at the numbers, it all kind of makes sense!

I scored 71% on the Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan scale.

This makes sense as I grew up in a Southern Baptist church with Armenian flavor in regards to salvation which I never fully bought the idea but felt it had a lot of good points. I spent four years in a non-denominational church that had several United Methodist trained ministers and was founded by United Methodists to serve the immigrant Chinese population.

I scored 68% on the Reformed Evangelical scale.

I'm currently at at Presbyterian church and as such I've read up a little bit on Calvin's TULIP which I don't fully buy into but believe it has some good points.

I scored 75% on the Emergent/Postmodern scale.

I suppose being a scientist by training and by personality leaning toward the rational side, I have come to see the value of reason but also the limits of reason. As such I tend to hold my beliefs with varying degrees of certainty. …

Theology: I'm Anselm?

I have to say I have heard of the name but know nothing about him!

I guess I'll have to read up about him!!

You scored as Anselm, Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm100%Jonathan Edwards80%Augustine73%Karl Barth73%J├╝rgen Moltmann73%John Calvin67%Friedrich Schleiermacher67%Martin Luther53%Charles Finney53%Paul Tillich47%
Which theologian are you?
created with
HT: Reflecting.

Youth: Lee Eshleman Aug. 28, 1963 - May 17, 2007

I saw the comedy team of Ted and Lee, at the Youth Specialties Conference in Anaheim last year.

Their humorous and thoughtful skit showed how drama can communicate spiritual truth. I saw them at their booth and went to say hello and thanks for their work and engaged in some small talk. I wound up talking to Lee Eshleman for several minutes and found him to be a gentle and somewhat shy soul which I'm told is not uncommon for people who perform on stage.

It was with great sadness that I read over at YSMarko that he took his own life after a life long struggle with depression.Ted & Lee first performed at a ys convention in the mid-1990s, and have been part of our extended family ever since. I don’t use the word “family” lightly here: they’ve been part of who we are, and we part of who they are, for over ten years. we’ve laughed and cried together, shared questions and doubts and encouragement and spiritual journeys.May God's peace and blessing be upon his wife, Reagan, and th…

Devotional Thoughts: In this life or the next

Taking a look at Job 8:1-7.

Reading Job isn't so easy. It is kind of like reading only the bad news parts of the newspaper without ever reading any of the good news or "fun news." But will keep marching through and use it to guide my reflections on life and faith on this blog.

Here, a second friend, Bildad, speaks up.

The message is similar to Eliphaz's in Job 4-5 though Bildad is more direct. Bildad immediately goes after Job ...

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
How long will you say these things,
and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty pervert the right?

Eliphaz said a few nice things about Job in chapter 4 before making essentially the same argument.

Eliphaz talked in general terms about the relationship between innocence and blessing, sin and suffering. Bildad personalized it immediately ...

If your children have sinned against him,
he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.


Travel: Spring Break April 2007 - Kansas!

Thursday April 19

Arrived in Kansas City on a red-eye AA flight from LAX via Dallas-Fort Worth. Got a rental car from Enterprise. It was a Kia Spectra. Had breakfast at McDonalds.

Specifically ...
McDonald's at 1515 S 169 HWY, SMITHVILLE, MO 64089
A Drive-Thru and a Playland or PlayPlace Exists on the Site

Had second breakfast at Waffle House (I'm a hobbit at heart!) located at ...

I then drove to the Truman Museum!

The photo of Truman with the Dewey Wins newspaper is probably the most iconic image of his presidency.

Below is a replica of the Oval Office under Truman.

You got to give Truman a lot of credit for raising to the occasion. He became FDR's Veep in 1944 but was kept out of the loop on pretty much everything. I think I read on one of the displays that he had only talked to FDR twice as VP before he got the phone call telling him he was POTUS. He made the big decisions like using the atomic bombs to end World War II, opting not …

Travel: Spring Break, part II May 2007 - Mammoth Lakes

May 17. 2007

Drove from LA to Mammoth Lakes. We saw our first bear on the roadside to Mary Lake!

The lake still had a bit of ice left on one of the shores.

The blue sky, clear waters and striking mountains are just gorgeous!

Click on image to get a larger view!

We had dinner at Shogun.
452 Old Mammoth Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

May 18. 2007

Got to Crowley Lake at 6AM and were on the water by 6:30 AM.

Peter landed this biggie after the first one broke the line and got away. He used nightcrawlers.

Meanwhile, I just looked colorful!

The wind kicked up at 11:30 AM and we headed back to the dock.

After lunch, a nap and a little shopping at June Lake, we swung by Silver Lake to take some pictures.

The photo just doesn't do justice to the rich green color of the leaves!

Of the lakes in the June Lake loop, I think Silver Lake is the prettiest.

We headed back to Mary Lake to fish a little bit as the sun was going down. Peter caught a small brook trout which he released. I caught a modest…

Travel: Heading for the mountains ...

... to try to outwit these critters ...

Image source:

Devotional Thoughts: Honest to God

Looking at Job 7:12-21 this night.

Am I a sea monster or a dragon
that you must place me under guard?
I think, My bed will comfort me,
and sleep will ease my misery,
but then you shatter me with dreams
and terrify me with visions.
I would rather be strangled -
rather die than suffer like this.
I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.
Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.

Job is continuing to pour out his heart. For those who don't read the Bible often, I wonder how surprised are they when they come across a passage like this?

It sounds sacrilegious to say something like this! The Bible in this regard is as real as the dirt on the ground in sharing the messiness of life.

What are people, that you should make so much of us,
that you should think of us so often?

When David penned Psalm 8, I wonder if he had Job on his mind?

The feeling of deja vu all over again continues ...

For you examine us every morning
and test us every moment.
Why won’t…

Culture: 24 - 3AM to 4AM

24 is at its best with gunfire, running around and Jack involved with generic mayhem.

The Chinese assault team depleted by Jack take Josh away but leave behind a small contingent to keep the CTU team bottled up.

Implausibility alert: I don't think they would have hesitated to kill all of the CTU personnel to keep them from following them.

Anyway, with the short handed Chinese commandos trying to put the lid on the CTU staff, Jack, Nadia and Morris manage to keep the Chinese agents at bay as Doyle and his team storm back in to restore order.

Jack and Doyle and the rest of the gang chase after Chang and his guards and Josh. The running gun battle is nice and lively after the previous hours of political intrigue and interpersonal angst. Josh is rescued by Jack but of course we knew it wouldn't be that simple.

Meanwhile, "super-agent" Lisa Miller finally cracks and tries to kill Bishop. Reminds me of a previous season when another betrayed woman was used to try to get…

Culture: 24 - 2AM to 3AM

I wonder whose idea was it to have the scriptwriters work in a little more the young and the restless soap opera stuff into the series?

I can understand romantic interests for the main character Jack and I suppose once in a while with one of the other characters but the whole Milo-Nadia-Doyle-Morris-Chloe thing is just a little too cute for their own good. Give me some gunfire please!

Anyway, with the reappearance of Marilyn and Josh, you kind figured Grandpa Bauer would make an appearance as well.

In the major implausibility of the episode, I can't believe the President's Chief of Staff is running field ops to sting the Russian spy who is getting information from an unknowing Lisa Miller! Also, sending Lisa Miller back to the informant was bound to lead to trouble. Can you imagine those agents parking a whole block away from the apartment?

Well, my desire for gunfire was finally satisfied when the Chinese invade CTU to capture Josh at the behest of Grandpa Bauer as his price f…

Sports: Dodger Dogs to be struck out?

Don't know if Camille Johnston expected to have to talk about hot dogs when she signed on to be Senior Vice President for Communications with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Alas, that is part of her job these days.

This morning, I was listening to KPCC and they reported that Farmer John, the supplier of hot dogs for Dodger Stadium was being sued for cruel treatment of animals used in the preparation of their hot dogs and other pork products. Additionally, the organization bringing the lawsuit, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, has written a letter to Dodger owner Frank McCourt requesting that the Dodgers end its lengthy relationship with Farmer John. The basic facts of the story were described in this story.

Meanwhile, on the field, the Dodgers are atop the NL West but fans are very nervous as the team isn't scoring many runs and the pitching is showing some signs of strain and it is only May. The question on the minds of followers of the team is whether or not manager Grady Little an…

Travel: Where am I? Answers to post on 7/14/2007

If the flowers don't give it away certainly the photos below will give it away as does this song.

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

Obviously, I'm in San Francisco!

The flower shots were taken at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum (SFBG) in Golden Gate Park.

Click to get a larger view.

Added another ballpark to my list of visited ball parks!

It is ATT Park, home of the Giants!

What do you think these people are doing? 8-)

Fans hoping for a home run ball to drop into McCovey Cove which is beyond the right field Arcade level. Its a pretty short distance but the wind is often working against the hitters on that side of the field and the Arcade is high.

If you know this town, you will know where this is!?

It is Grace Catherdral.

This one should be easy to identify!

Palace of Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park.

The bridge is familiar! But where d…