Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Top 10 Reasons I Like Fall (a.k.a. Autumn)

10. It immediately follows summer.
9. It's the only season with two names.
8. It's a nice change of pace from summer.
7. It isn't winter.
6. It's a season of moderation, not extremes.
5. It's something nice to think about in the middle of winter.
4. It means summer has ended.
3. It's cooler than summer yet warmer than winter.
2. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
1. It isn't summer.

Is it fall yet? :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is your Starbucks closing?

I have a friend in Turlock who works at one of the Starbucks targeted for closing. I didn't realize they'd made the list public yet. Here are two URLs for the list, if you want to see if "your" store survived the cut:

PDF version/download

HTML version

The location I visit nearly every day isn't on the list, which is good news for me. But it's a bummer about the Turlock store.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Time to garden?

I've thought about creating a garden in my back yard to help cut down on food costs. Of course, "thought about" is a wildly different stage from "did something about." Came across this piece on about growing gardens during tough economic times:
    As American families try to stretch their food budgets during the recession, some are turning to the backyard, rather than the grocery store, as the place to look for produce.

    Recession gardens are catching on with many first-time planters who want a healthy meal at an affordable price.

    The gardeners are following seed-strewn paths laid by Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt, both of whom have used the White House lawn to show the value of a garden during tough times.

    The scope of today's trend is shocking even to those in the gardening industry.

    W. Atlee Burpee & Co., the largest seed and gardening supply store in the country, says it has seen a 25 to 30 percent spike in vegetable seed and plant sales this spring compared with last.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Look out for the Cult of Snuggie

I asked for one of these for Christmas but was denied. Just kidding. I don't think I'd ever be caught in public wearing a Snuggie... but some people in San Francisco didn't mind:
    The faithful lined up, two to three deep at the bar, looking like Druids in electric-blue fleece. Tim Jester and Brian Griffiths, two young San Francisco guys in polo shirts, leaned against a railing, surveying the scene.

    They had gone to the Rouge nightclub on Polk Street on a Friday night without any idea that it was the starting point for a 200-person Snuggie pub crawl and were a bit confused.

    "I think they need more colors besides blue," Griffiths said. "It needs more diversity."

    "It looks cultish. Very cultish," Jester said.

    Dedicated wearers of the fleece-blanket-with-sleeves would have a hard time disagreeing with that statement, seeing as many of the hundreds of Facebook fan groups set up to celebrate Snuggies list it as a "religion."

    The Snuggie is not the first product to imbue fleece with robelike properties - figure-obscuring leisure wear has been knocking around catalogs for years - but since hitting the market in October, Snuggies have hit a cultural nerve.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Twitter vs Facebook

I use both Facebook and Twitter, although for very different reasons. Twitter can be a fun immediate tool for finding out what friends are doing, but I have a lot more "friends" on Facebook than "followers" on Twitter.

Anyway, I came across this article on SFGate (website for the SF Chronicle) about the relationship/competition/overlap between the two networks.
    Increasingly, Facebook and Twitter are overlapping, setting the stage for one of the biggest Silicon Valley rivalries over the next few years.

    Both companies want to play a major role in how people communicate online, a potentially lucrative business but one that is hardly settled given the ever-shifting online landscape.

    Although different in their approach, both services enable people to post updates about their lives. Did your baby make a funny face? Did you enjoy "Slumdog Millionaire"?

    The budding rivalry between the two companies heated up last week when Facebook introduced a major redesign that makes it more of a destination for real-time posts, turf that Twitter is famous for.

There's gonna be a strike in Paris.

So, wouldn't you know it? I'm going over to Paris next week with my dad and stepmom, and it turns out that on Thursday there will be a major strike. If you read French, you can go here and see more. My French is about as rusty as a nail that's endured a dozen Minnesota winters. (I don't know how rusty that nail would be, but it sounded like a good analogy.) All I really know is that Thursday, March 19 will be a great day to WALK around Paris instead of using public transit. And who knows what else will be closed for the day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I've returned to "my" Starbucks.

After a multiweek absence, I've resumed using a local Starbucks as my office. A few weeks ago, I decided to turn a vacant room in my house into a home office. Within a few days, a guy at church had asked me about the possibility of renting my empty room. After some words of wisdom from my girlfriend, I decided I would sacrifice the home office. With the new roommate's arrival just a couple weeks away, I figured I should get back into the habit of working from Starbucks.

Apparently, I'm one of the "Norms" for this location. They still remembered the details of the drink I buy (venti unsweetened iced green tea, with 5 splendas), and I feel right at home once again. For three days straight, "my" spot has even been open. Sweet!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I need to buy a CD...

In a few weeks, I'm making an international trip, and I need your help. One of my personal traditions is to buy a CD before a trip overseas and listen to it a LOT during that experience. Then, once I'm home, I've made an emotional/memory attachment between that CD and that trip.

The first attachment was accidental, during my first trip with the fam to Europe back in high school. I only had 2 tapes with me (CDs recorded onto tapes, old-school style), so I listened to those 2 tapes for the entire trip. It's been 20 years since that trip, but anytime I hear either CD, I'm reminded of the experience.

So, I'd like your suggestions on a recent/new CD that I should consider buying for my trip in mid-March. No boundaries, no rules on the suggestions. Maybe I'll pick a suggestion that falls way outside my usually tastes. We'll see!

Blogging from the NYMC.

Apparently I'm part of the "official" group of bloggers from this weekend's National Youth Ministry Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Josh Griffin has the whole list on his blog, where I previously made this short, simple statement:
    Rob C
    i’ll be there but no guarantees on how much blogging or twittering i’ll be doing…
In any case, I'll try to post a few things during the weekend. I'm going to be doing some behind-the-scenes type work, so I don't know how many sessions or workshops I'll be attending. In any case, I'm looking forward to the weekend, seeing a bunch of youth ministry friends, making some new connections, and seeing God do some cool stuff in people's lives.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A cartoon for addicts.

ht to my dad for this cartoon...

Snowy Yosemite.

Yep. A storm came through. That means I must post new pics from the webcams up in Yosemite. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If you Twitter...

Interesting stuff on about some awards given out to top Twitter users. If you're like certain people I know, you'll love this info. And if you're like other people I know, you'll run to the hills to avoid it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

LPP: Language Pet Peeves

OK, this won't be a daily item (I hope), but every now and then I run into personal pet peeves in people's language. I'm pickier about written language than spoken language, and a news article is the source of today's LPP:
    Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints deliberately covered up its financial role in backing Proposition 8 by failing to file timely campaign finance reports as required by California law. Karger said it's possible the church spent millions more than it actually reported.

    "I'm calling this Mormongate," Karger said. "I think there's been a massive cover-up."
My comment has nothing to do with Mormonism or Prop 8 or anything along those lines.

I get annoyed by the use of "-gate" for political scandals. It's one of the most cliched phrases out there. Yes, Watergate was a significant event in American history. But come on. Do we have to slap the "-gate" suffix onto every big scandal? Want to see how bad it's become? Check out this link on wikipedia with a whole long list of the "gate" scandals. Absurd, people. Stop it. Now.

Home values stink.

Found an interesting article online this morning. If you don't like reading about bad economic news, don't read this or follow the link to just a warning.
    More than half (57 percent) of 1,573 homeowners surveyed now believe that their home lost value in 2008. That still lags the reality that 76 percent of all U.S. homes declined in value in 2008, according to Zillow's figures.

    A full quarter of homeowners had the sunny view that their home's value had increased; in reality, 20 percent of homes did increase in value during the year, according to Zillow's reckoning. Another 18 percent insisted their homes' value was the same, while only 4 percent of homes actually kept their value, Zillow said.

    Previous surveys showed homeowners mired deeper in denial, convinced that their own homes were immune to the nationwide plunge in real estate values that started about 2 1/2 years ago. Just six months ago, only 38 percent of people surveyed believed that their homes were declining in value.

Monday, February 09, 2009

AP Stylebook

I bought a new Associated Press Stylebook online today. For those of you who know what the stylebook is, my purchase probably seems odd because I no longer work in the newspaper business. But I need an updated copy because I do freelance for a company that uses AP as the go-to style (not Chicago Manual of Style), so I need a new one readily available.

And for those of you who care, yes, I bought the spiral-bound version.

Is my Starbucks closing?

I've heard a lot of people asking this since the January 29 announcement that Starbucks would be closing 200 stores here in the United States. I found this info today on the company's website.
    Thursday, January 29, 2009
    Statement regarding recent additional store closures announcement

    As part of an ongoing, rigorous evaluation of our global store portfolio, Starbucks announced plans to close approximately 300 additional under-performing company-operated stores in the U.S. and international markets. Approximately 200 of those stores are in the U.S. with the remainder in international markets. We do not at this time have specific details about locations of stores that may be impacted by these announcements. A list will be available once it has been finalized and once all impacted partners have been notified.

This is where I'd like to be today...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day: Post 9

A few memorable and noteworthy phrases from Obama's inaugural address:
  • We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
  • Greatness must be earned.
  • We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.
  • What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them.
  • Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.
  • We are the keepers of this legacy. (NOTE: I think this is the standout phrase of the speech.)
  • We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
  • The world has changed, and we must change with it.
  • Let it be said that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end.

Inauguration Day: Post 8

Humbled. Mindful. Thanks President Bush for his service to the nation.

44 Americans have now taken the presidential oath. Riding tides and still waters. Every so often, gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, carried on not just because of skill and vision but because we the people have remained faithful to the vision of our forebearers.

So it must be with this generation of Americans. Homes lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Each day brings further evidence that the ways we bring energy threaten our adversaries and brings our planet closer to crisis.

Nagging fear that Americas fear is inevitable. Lower its sights. The challenges we face are real. They will not be met easily. They will be met. We gather because we have chosen hope over fear. Worn-out dogmas. Strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but the time has come to set aside childish things. Carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea. The God-given idea that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their measure of happiness.

Greatness must be earned. Not a journey of shortcuts or for the fainthearted. It has been the risktakers, the do-ers, the makers of things. Carried up the long rugged path toward prosperity and freedom. For us, they toiled in sweat shops and settled the west. For us, they fought and died. Time and again, these men and women struggled and worked until their hands were raw.

We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, protecting narrow interests has surely passed. Must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.

Everywhere we look there is work to be done. Foundation for growth. Restore science to its rightful place. Harness the sun and winds. Meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do, all this we will do. Some suggest our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what our country has already done. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them.

The question we ask today is whether our government works. Held to account to spend wisely, end bad habits, do business in the light of day. Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. Cannot favor only the prosperous. The reach of our prosperity, extend to every willing heart. Surest route to our common good.

Reject the choice between our safety and our ideals. Assure the rule of law and the rights of man. We will not give up those ideals. We are ready to lead once more. Earlier generations faced down fascism and communism, not just with missiles and tanks. Our power grows through its prudent use. We are the keepers of this legacy.

We will not apologize for our way of life. Those who seek to use terror, we say our spirit is stronger. We will defeat you. We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are shaped by every language and culture. Because we have tasted the bitter swell of civil war and segregation, we cannot help but believe the old hatreds shall pass. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward. To the people of poor nations, we will work alongside you. We can no longer afford indifference to those outside our borders. The world has changed, and we must change with it.

A willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. It is this spirit that must inhabit us all. It is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people on which our nation relies. Those values upon which our success depends on are old. What is demanded is a return to these truths. A new era of responsibility. Duties we seize gladly. Nothing so satisfying to the spirit than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and promise of citizenship. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed.

Remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. America in the face of our common dangers, let us remember these timeless words. Brave once more the icy currents. Let it be said that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end. Eyes fixed on the horizon, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it to future generations.

Inauguration Day: Post 7

Wow, gotta love Aretha Franklin's voice. She could sing the theme song to Friends and make it into a meaningful, emotional experience. Well, OK, maybe not THAT song...

A close-up of a tear down someones face. So cliche...

Well, Biden has taken his oath of office. 3 minutes until noon EST.

Is John Paul Stevens wearing a bowtie? Cant tell. Does Biden get to pick which associate justice administers his oath?

Its 1 minute before noon. Apparently they ARE running a few minutes behind.

Seriously? Someone is using a blower in my neighbor's yard just as yo yo ma and itzhak perlman are playing music. Horrible timing, folks. Horrible timing.

This music seems so calm and soothing and stirring, right before the oath of office for Obama. Very creative and effective. I could listen to yo yo ma and itzhak perlman all day. Seriously. Let them play whatever they want and it'll be incredible. Not sure who the pianist and clarinetist are but they're good too.

Officially, Obama became president 4 minutes ago. But now time for the official swearing-in ceremony.

"Everyone please stand" is funny because everyone out on the National Mall has been standing for hours.

Oops, some mess-ups on the oath. Underlying tension between John Roberts and Barack Obama?

It's official.

Inauguration Day: Post 6

Just a few minutes left...

Feinstein: This peaceful transition of power. Gather to etch another line in the solid stone of history. The freedom of people to choose its leaders is the root of history. We come here every four years to bestow the power of the presidency on our democratically elected leader. The power of the ballot over the bullet. Our work is not yet finished. But today is a turning point. The dream that once echoed from here has now reached the white house.

Wow she just gave an awesome speech. Wonder if she'll end up running for governor here in California.

Ahh sweet. Rick Warren. Everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. History is your story. The Lord is our God. You are the compassionate and merciful one. Today we rejoice not only in americas peaceful transfer., applause interrupting his prayer. Nice. A land of unequaled opportunities. We know today that Dr King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven. Give him the wisdom, courage, compassion we need. Forgive us. May we never forget that all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife Michelle and daughters into your loving care.

Wow, he used to name of Jesus. Then went into the Lord's prayer. Interesting.

I'm struck by how differently Warren prayed, compared to what we once heard from Billy Graham at such an event. Maybe my memory is fading. But it certainly didn't feel like the kind of prayer Graham would have offered.

Inauguration Day: Post 5

Does the rest of the world really view this day with astonishment? Diane Sawyer just made that comment on ABC. Does the world view the MOMENT that way because of Obama? Or just simply the smooth transition of power every four or eight years?

Nice script/logo in the righthand corner of the screen on NBC.

JFK didn't kiss his wife after being sworn-in in 1961. I'll let you make whatever comments you want.

President George Walker Bush and VP Cheney just walked out onto the platform. Hard to tell or imagine what emotions they feel on a day like this. Last time Bush gets Hail to the Chief played for him.

George H.W. Bush is wearing an ugly hat.

Biden just took the stage.

Wow. All those flags being waved on the National Mall. Remarkable. I'm running out of fresh adjectives.

I can't imagine what's going on inside Obama right now. All the emotions, all the thoughts of what's ahead.

More chants from the crowd. I can't tell how far the crowd stretches beyond the Washington Monument. But lotta people.

Senate and House bigwhigs walking onto the platform.

Barack H. Obama... an interesting choice for the introduction.

It's 8:43AM here. 11:43AM in DC.

A few more comments from Facebook friends:
  • Ashli Greenwood O'Connell reminds her friends who think he's the antichrist that he's just a man; and reminds her friends who drank the Kool-aid that he's just a man. Settle down.
  • Kurt Johnston Hmm...beginning to question Obama's potential for change; the line at Starbucks was just as long as it always is.
  • Erica Abell Huinda is awestruck and wishes she could be in DC today to witness it herself.
  • Michele Bilton finds herself glued to the inauguration coverage.
  • Jeff Deyo is reminded that as Christians our job is NOT to proclaim judgement on this nation - whether we "deserve" it or not - but to cry out for the MERCY of God!!

Inauguration Day: Post 4

Seeing Bush41 and Clinton together really IS like the odd couple (ABC just made that comment). They embraced and genuinely seem to like each other. Kinda weird.

Dangit, I just missed some "unscripted" moment involving Rahm Emanuel. Something happened as he was heading toward his seat.

Standing O's for Carter. Did I miss the announcements for the other former presidents? Oh never mind. There we go. The Clintons. Wait, so I did miss the Bush announcement? Hmmm. Must be some left-wing conspiracy.

Interesting comments from ABC. The constitution designates the oath of office. The 20th amendment says power transfers at noon Eastern time. At that exact moment, Obama is president. If he doesn't take the oath right at noon, who actually is president?

CNN is showing moving vans at the White House.

Bravo is showing episodes of The West Wing. Appropriate.

I think Katie Couric just called Andy Card "Andy Carr." Figures.

Good Day Sacramento is showing some local political kitsch. Interesting collection of inaugural pins and bobbleheads.

The Obama daughters just had beaming smiles. Apparently they enjoyed the Jonas Brothers concert last night. I'm sure we ALL would have enjoyed that concert...

Aretha Franklin is in the house. Or outside the Capitol. Something like that.

If Obama serves two terms, his daughters will still be teenagers when he leaves office.

Chants of "Obama, Obama" from the crowd. Fascinating blend of politician and pop icon in this one man. That can be bad. Or it can be good. Just depends on how he uses it, and the choices he makes.

Huge crowd there on the National Mall.

30 minutes left. Wow...

Inauguration Day: Post 3

Why is today meaningful to me? I don't think I was ever in the camp of people who believed a non-white wouldn't be elected president in my lifetime. My parents didn't raise us in that kind of environment, so I'm not shocked or surprised or overwhelmed or astounded by Obama's election.

But I can appreciate the significance and historicity of the moment. It speaks volumes to the world that truly there are fewer limits to someone in this country compared to most other nations around the world. It's inaccurate to say that ANYONE can become president. But after today, it becomes accurate to say there are FEWER barriers to someone reaching that office. In my lifetime, I expect to see a female president and other non-white presidents.

Of course, ultimately Obama will be judged by the content of his administration, not the color of his skin. It's a remarkable day today. I just pray that Obama is able to become the kind of president we need. I fear our last two presidents (Clinton and Bush43) may have been the kinds of president we DESERVED. I pray for change in many ways.

Interesting notes...
  • A taxi accidentally got in the middle of the motorcade for one of FDR's inaugurations
  • The Senate will be voting (already) on some of Obama's Cabinet nominations this afternoon
  • This is the first time in US history when a Chief Justice will be swear in a president who voted against his nomination (Obama voted against John Roberts' nomination to the High Court)
  • All of the living former presidents are there at the inauguration
Have I mentioned that I don't really like Wolf Blitzer? His voice and halting speaking style bug me. Not spending much time on CNN right now.

The "Biden Blunder" will be fascinating to watch unfold in the weeks ahead.

Who's the public address announcer for the live stuff at the Capitol? He has an awesome voice.

Inauguration Day: Post 2

Some interesting notes and comments among my Facebook friends...
  • Patti Gibbons is grateful that, in America, a new leader taking the reigns of power does not entail a violent coup.
  • Mark Batterson our coffeehouse staff is going to earn an extra crown in heaven today. lines out the door. Buses pulling up. DC is caffeinated.
  • Heather Werle is watching the inauguration on and thinks it's hilarious that there's a Facebook Online Section.
  • Kurt Johnston Truly historic moments don't happen very often but today is a biggie...I love the USA.
  • Marcus M. Huntley is happy that many of his friends were able to make it to DC to witness history in person... Stay safe, stay warm and take it all in!!!
  • Marc Cauthon What a responsibility the President has on his shoulders. So I pray even more for President Obama as he begins.
  • Lisa Marie Jarvis Pyle is remembering that there is "NOTHING'S TO HARD FOR GOD", including bringing America back to its knees and seeking God for who HE TRULY IS, THE ALMIGHTY GOD!!
  • John Nowacki appreciates President Bush's leadership and service over the past eight years.
  • Bill Denton : "GOD, HELP THE UNITED STATES!" - After the swear in on a book (Bible or Koran?), I am committed to praying for Obama, my Commander-in-Chief and boss.
  • Jennifer Bonafonte Rieger is watching the coverage and hopeful that her kids will "let" her watch the actual swearing in.
I'm glad I have friends with such diverse views and such willingness to share them with the (Facebook) world.

Some comments overheard on TV...

Putting the politics aside and relishing the moment: from Tara Wall, a conservative commentator, on CNN.
  • All you can see is a sea of humanity: some guy on Fox News
  • This is not an easy moment for them (the Bushes)...and everyone feels the sacredness of the moment: David Gergen on CNN
  • I think it's a natural comparison (the Kennedys and the Obamas) for people of our generation: anchor Nick Toma on Good Day Sacramento
  • My wife asked how many miles a gallon they're going to get with that car: Charlie Gibson on ABC
  • These days, the US Government doesn't buy anything with cash: George Stephanopolous on ABC
Guess what? Wolf Blitzer just said something dumb. Surprise.

I just learned something from Fox News. Dangit. Apparently the inauguration has only been held on the WEST side of the Capitol since 1981, looking out over the National Mall. Incredible. Didn't realize it took that long to make that move. (It was on the EAST side of the Capitol before that.)

My dad and stepmom won a lottery to get tickets to the inauguration this year, but they opted to not go, in part because of the cold, the lack of real accommodations, and the lack of places to sit for hours. Or something like that. I'm sure Dad will comment on this, if I wasn't quite correct.

Inauguration Day: Post 1

It's 7:25am right now. Obama becomes presidents in 95 minutes. I'd love to be there in DC for the event, but I'll settle for the warmth of my house.

Of course, this means my "eye" on the event will be the TV networks. I'm watching Good Day Sacramento; little different take, compared to the major news networks. So far, just a few stations are going wall-to-wall coverage of the event. I expect lots of the cable channels will show the actual inauguration.

It would be fun if ALL of them had to. Can you picture the coverage that the Food Network would offer? Or the Disney Channel?

I don't know which network I'll watch most. I kinda lean toward ABC (not a CBS fan). I might land on NBC a little, and some CNN. Doubt I'll watch Fox News. We'll see.

More later...

Obama: The Face of the Future

Great post from Brad Boydston on his blog, about the arrival of Barack Obama as the 44th U.S. president.
    On the radio they keep calling him the first African-American president. But they're missing the point. He's not black. He's not white. He's not Island. He is fusion (or as some would say "third culture" -- "all of the above") -- which is the future of America.

    While it is noteworthy that color is entering the White House through the front door, Obama's historical importance has less to do with how far we've come than with where we're going. The old categories (and related polarizations) are losing their significance. Some will find that reality painful -- but in Barak Obama we are seeing the face of the future.

    It's not that we're all just going to get along and live happily ever after (this is not the second coming of Christ). There will still be cultural and ideological conflicts. They're just going to be different in nature than those of the past -- perhaps even more complex.