Thursday, November 30, 2006

Things you may have missed this week

A weekly roundup of posts... loads to read in your free time. What was your favorite?

Happy Christmas
Horse Sense: After the Thumping
Today's Christmas gift ideas
Love Dodge Ball?
Unique marketing
Cooking show or your favorite eatery?
YouTube helps boost old-tube networks
Get paid to advertise in your yard
Stock music for projects
Quote of the day
healthy fast food
Get paid to help people get high?
Church Synergy Podcast
A long day
Grow your own loofa
Tips for bloggers
More DIY holiday gift ideas
Writing Rockin’ Content for Your Church Website
Exercise those eyes
Free Derek Webb ends Dec. 1
No iPods for you
DIY Bookends
Austin Street Update
What is more amazing?
A camera that sees through clothes
DIY Poisoning
Poll on immigration
Does this ager anyone else?
This e-mail will self destruct
Caption This
Create photo frames from jewel cases
Make your own t's
Build your own photo booth
Send a mosaic in the mail

Send a mosaic in the mail

Photojojo has a link to create your own mosaic that you can send to a friend through snail mail.
What better way to say "I think you're swell" then with a postcard a day that turns into a giant picture of you that takes up an entire wall?

Make your own T-shirts

I told Laurie tat with Kristy’s simple and cheap tutorial on how to turn a full-color photo into a one-color screen print I could make her a great Christmas gift - A t-shirt with my pic on it.
But for some reason she wasn't too interested. Hmmm. Maybe she'd prefer a canvas tote bag instead.
Hat tip to Photojojo for the link.

Build your own photo booth

Seriously, everyone needs a photo booth and shows you just how to make one.
Maybe I should build one for my wedding reception. It would save on paying a photographer and everyone can take their photos home with them.

Create photo frames from jewel cases

CD Photo Frames shows how you can turn ordinary CD Jewel cases into really hip looking photo frames.

Caption This

This e-mail will self destruct

This is from a longer tech column I wrote for the WDL this week. It should appear in Friday or Sunday's paper.
If you’re getting tired of giving out your e-mail address just to register for a website or online service, get a self-destructing e-mail address from
The site automatically creates an e-mail address that can be accessed from the website.
After 10 minutes of use, the address self-destructs, giving you plenty of time to respond to verification e-mails but not enough time for your e-mail box to get inundated with loads of spam and junk mail.
10minutemail’s developer, Devon Hillard, said the idea for the site came while he was trying to learn SEAM, a new software framework from Jboss.
“I always learn things more easily when I'm actually building something new, versus simply reading a manual,” Hillard said. “The idea for the application itself occurred to me when I noticed how much spam I was getting -- several thousand a day, although most get handled by spamassassin and other tools -- and how often I had to provide my e-mail address to a site that I really didn't trust not to sell it, just to be able to reply to a topic on a forum for instance.”
The website went live on Satuday, Nov. 25 and after sending a couple e-mails to friends the site took off.
“So far the site has served about 150,000 e-mail addresses,” Hillard said. “The counter got reset during a server bounce and the site has had 1.2 million hits.”
Not bad for a program put together just to learn a new software framework.
10 Minute Mail:

Does this anger anyone else?

A friend forwarded this e-mail to me that makes me pretty upset. It's from the American Family Association's founder and chairman, Donald E. Wildmon:
November 29, 2006
Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
A first for America...The Koran replaces the Bible at swearing-in oath
What book will America base it's values on, the Bible or the Koran?

Please take a moment to read the following column by Dennis Prager, who is a Jew. After reading the column, take the suggest action at the bottom of this email. After you have read it, please forward it to your friends and family.
America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on
By Dennis Prager - Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.
He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.
First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.
Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.
Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?
Of course, Ellison's defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either. Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.
So why are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done -- choose his own most revered book for his oath?
The answer is obvious -- Ellison is a Muslim. And whoever decides these matters, not to mention virtually every editorial page in America, is not going to offend a Muslim. In fact, many of these people argue it will be a good thing because Muslims around the world will see what an open society America is and how much Americans honor Muslims and the Koran.
This argument appeals to all those who believe that one of the greatest goals of America is to be loved by the world, and especially by Muslims because then fewer Muslims will hate us (and therefore fewer will bomb us).
But these naive people do not appreciate that America will not change the attitude of a single American-hating Muslim by allowing Ellison to substitute the Koran for the Bible. In fact, the opposite is more likely: Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America.
When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble. (End Commentary)
Take Action
1. Send an email asking your U.S. Representative and Senators to pass a law making the Bible the book used in the swearing-in ceremony of Representatives and Senators.
2. Forward this email to your friends and family today!
Write your Representative and Senators Now!
American Family Filter - Protect your children from trash on the Internet.
If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.
Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association
P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!
Who says anyone has to swear their allegiance to anything on a Bible. If I'm not mistaken I do believe Scripture tells us not to swear on anything at all - "simply let your yes be yes and your no be no." Just because its a tradition in America that people swear on a Bible why should Keith Ellison be forced to? America is not a theocracy and I pray it never becomes one. When we start forcing people to accept our religious beliefs, what gives us any right to judge the Taliban for doing the same thing?
I'm quite certain this is the exact reason Jefferson encouraged separation of church and state. The government has no right to tell anyone what they can and can't believe when it comes to faith.
I don't care how many Jews or Mormons have sworn on the Bible before, Ellison has the right to swear on anything he chooses.
When you take an oath of office you are taking an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States - not an official (or unofficial) religion of America.
Here's what Wikipedia says about oaths in the United States:
In the United States, the oath of office for the President of the United States is specified in the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1):
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The oath may be sworn or affirmed. Although not present in the text of the Constitution, it has been conventional for Presidents to add "so help me God" at the end of the oath. George Washington did this at his inauguration in 1789. [1]
The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (emphasis added)
Here's the oath for representatives and senators:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
This is from another source on the web:
Oathtaking is not rocket science. If the framers wanted Presidents to invoke God when taking the oath of office they could have worded the oath to accomplish that objective. Instead, the constitutional oath of office contains no reference to God, need not be administered on the Bible, and need not even be considered an oath. Contrary to the accommodationist argument, Article II, section 1 is evidence that the framers intended the federal government to be secular in its operation...
Presidents and other federal officials may swear on the Bible and say the words "so help me God," but this does not make the Constitution any less secular. The Constitution requires nothing of federal officers in the way of religion. The framers saw no need to refer to God in the oath of office, and explicitly provided an alternative to the oath that guaranteed secularity.
Well enough of my rambling... I want to hear what you think... especially those of you across the pond.

Latest WDL poll on immigration

From the Waxahachie Daily Light online poll:
Immigration is among the issues facing Texas legislators when they convene in January. Should Texas lead an effort to bar babies of illegal immigrants from receiving automatic citizenship if born on U.S. soil?
yes: 70.8%
no: 19.5%
not sure: 3.5%
this is a federal issue: 6.2%

Total Votes: 113

What do you think?

DIY Poisoning

Radioactive poison for sale on Net--legally
From CNet:
Polonium-210, which has recently become well-known as one of the deadliest substances in the world--is available for purchase on the Web.
Trace amounts of the radioactive substance--about 100 billion times as deadly as cyanide--are for sale for $69 on a site run by a physicist and flying-saucer enthusiast, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. It will then be conveniently delivered to your doorstep via the U.S. Postal Service or United Parcel Service.
I feel so much safer. I can't take a liquid over 3.4 ounces on an airplane but someone can ship Polonium-210 through the mail to me.
Thanks but no thanks.

A camera that sees through clothes

CNET reports that a new X-Ray camera will allow users to see through clothing and other materials.
Researchers at Northrop-Grumman are developing a technology that purportedly will enable small cameras to look through clothing and other materials, according to a report in EE Times.
It is being designed for security officials so they can detect weapons or other items at airports. This technology, known as passive millimeter-wave (PMMW) technology, can also peer through clouds.
They could save a lot of money by just saving up bubble gum wrappers. They'll send you a pair of X-Ray glasses with like 20 bubble yum wrappers and a couple bucks.

What is more amazing?

Michael poses this question on his blog today:
The human race has achieved tremendous technological advances over the centuries, but has not show even slight progress in overcoming the broken and corrupt human heart which motivates people to betray and hate their neighbors, resulting in a world that sees war more often than it does peace.
Persons from all walks of life turn daily to God whom they cannot see or touch, yet abandon their own wills to His?
Any thoughts? Love me some grace. What about you?

Austin Street update

From marni:
For a little while now, Brit and I have been thinking about how to get hot coffee to the shelter to hand that out on the cold days as everyone is standing outside waiting to get in. Britney found a solution (I so knew she would!) so this Sunday, we are setting up our own liquid lounge :)
Britney has a means of making the coffee from her truck :) but we need containers to keep the coffee hot. We were thinking of the large thermos-like containers that either pour or have the push down spout. If any of you have access to something like that we can borrow for the day, we would put it to good use. I think between us right now, we have 3 thermoses, so that's a good start.
We're bringing cups, creamer and sugar. Budget permitting, I think Dane and I will get some reading glasses at Dollar Tree because we haven't taken those out in a while and people are starting to ask for them. Britney brought home-made goodies last week and they were a hit, so Peyton and I are going to do some baking this weekend and take it Sunday to hand out with the coffee.
We'd love for you guys to come too on Sunday. If you have email addresses for anyone else who may want to come as well, pass this along or send me the email addresses and I'll make sure they get the info.
See you guys Sunday...
If you're interested in helping out financially or by coming on Sunday zip me an e-mail. I'll get you the info you need.

DIY bookends

From Lifehacker:
DIY site Instructables shows how to turn those ubiquitous slim CD cases into rather stylish-looking bookends.

No iPods for you!

A co-worker e-mailed this...
From CNN and AP:
The Bush administration wants North Korea's attention, so like a scolding parent, it's trying to make it tougher for that country's eccentric leader to buy iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters.
The U.S. government's first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run his communist nation.
Kim, who engineered a secret nuclear weapons program, has other options for obtaining the high-end consumer electronics and other items he wants.
At least he can still have his soup.

Time's running out for Free Derek Webb

You have until Dec. 1 to download Derek Webb's album Mockingbird - for free.
Don't let it pass you by.

Exercise those eyes

A co-worker was asking about eye strain today and getting an anti-glare screen for his computer.ex
After a little research I found some interesting exercises on the net.
But here's the best part of the instructions in my opinion:
When doing these exercises, make sure that you're not facing anybody, or that they know you're doing eye exercises. Otherwise they might think you've gone nuts.

Writing Rockin’ Content for Your Church Website

From Cory Miller at :
Writing effectively for your rockin’ church website is drastically different than writing for printed publications.
Here are some tips for producing effective web text:
  • Avoid Christian-ese
  • Avoid marketing-ese
  • First things first
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Write headlines with gravitational pull
  • Break up long articles
  • Spotlight key words and phrases
  • Scrub your copy clean
  • Great tips anyone have other suggestions for making a great church website?

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    More DIY holiday gift ideas

    Lifehacker has some more great DIY holiday gift ideas.
    Again I'm fearful of just passing these links to everyone because I might chose to use some of the ideas... so you'll have to click the link if you're really interested.

    Tips for bloggers

    Church Communications Pro has some links and hints to improve your blogging and/or website...
  • How the Top 100 Blogs Do It
  • Report: Websites Face 4-Second Cutoff
  • How to Blog Like a Pro
  • Top Ten Tips for Top Ten Lists
  • Controlling Your Visitors Eyes
  • Copyright Primer for Designers
  • 7 Tricks to Viral Web Marketing
  • How to Write Great Headline
    Good stuff. If you're not reading this blog you're missing out on a lot.
  • Grow your own loofa

    Husbands, tell your wives to quit buying all those loofahs and go grow their own. has all the tips and guidelines for growing this back scrubbing vegetable.

    A long day

    It's been a long day for sure. I got to work today to discover my computer didn't like me any more and wouldn't start.
    Fun times. After an hour or so of diagnosing it was determined that the hard drive was toast.
    Yeah. Enjoyable.
    So I've spent most of the day - and $100 - getting a new drive, installing it and trying to get my system back to normal.
    Granted - I've lost most of my data files. Hopefully a friend can get the data off the old drive before I really start crying.
    I've also had to revert back to an older version of Office so I decided to tryout Mozilla Thunderbird and Firefox in the interim for e-mail and web browsing.
    So far, not to bad. Thunderbird is not near as heavy on the system as Outlook but I've also grown accustom to Outlook's look, feel and features. We'll see how it goes.
    Also, if you don't use or have a Plaxo account and have it integrated with your e-mail client.. do it now.
    Plaxo saved me by backing up all my e-mail addresses. I simply reinstalled the Plaxo software and everything was restored. Amazing.
    Well I'm worn out so I've got a couple posts and then I'm off to bed.
    BTW - check out Laurie's latest posts for some helpful tidbits and an entry on masquerade masks.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    healthy fast food

    I just realized all I've had to eat today is a burrito from Taco Bell on my way back from an assignment.
    I need to eat. Any ideas on healthy fast food that's available at 12:45 in the morning?

    Church Synergy Podcast

    Here's a great podcast you should be listening to...
    The Church Synergy Podcast (link opens in iTunes)

    Take 30 minutes and listen to their latest one with an interview from one of the guys with Church Marketing Sucks.
    “If churches would get branding and marketing right they would reach more people for Jesus.”
    “We’re not competing against other churches, we’re competing against the world.”
    “We’re competing for the attention of people that need Jesus.”
    “The church (needs to) realize we can be the meaning makers in a culture that is searching for meaning.”

    Get paid to help people get high?

    The Marijuana Policy Project is seeking a seasoned professional to fill the position of Director of State Policies in MPP’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
    The Director of State Policies manages MPP's grassroots and direct lobbying efforts in all state legislatures. This position is an excellent opportunity to play an integral role in a fast-paced, well-respected lobbying organization.
    The Director of State Policies must have the vision and the energy to proactively plan out and execute aggressive lobbying and grassroots activism campaigns in a number of states simultaneously -- oftentimes in the face of adversity and ennui on the part of government officials.
    I wonder what the office Christmas party is like. And do you have to pass a drug test before applying?
    And while we're on the topic... what do you think about legalizing marijuana or other drugs?
    Let's here from any and all Libertarians out there too.

    Quote of the day

    I have always encouraged racial diversity and openness to other cultures, religions and backgrounds. I always strive to love my neighbor as myself and I am saddened by those who would choose to do otherwise.

    Stock music for projects

    Need music for your church video? Don’t have the legal rights you need? Search tons of music for every mood and tempo and download the song, with full rights for $7 at

    Get paid to advertise in your yard

    As part of a grassroots marketing effort, the AARP will pay you $60 to put a sign in your yard advertising a new website,
    Now I really wish I had a lawn.

    YouTube helps boost old-tube networks

    From CNet:
    New studies claim that online video is driving viewers away from broadcast television. But at least one network thinks it may have found a way to reverse that trend.
    CBS inked a deal with YouTube in October, and since then has uploaded more than 300 clips. Those clips have been viewed 29.2 million times, the companies said in a press release.
    But what may be more important to CBS is a related spike in ratings for the broadcast versions of the shows. "Late Show with David Letterman" has added 200,000 new viewers, and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" has gained 100,000 viewers, since the YouTube postings started.
    "Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialogue between established media players and a new set of viewers. We believe this inflection point is the precursor to many exciting developments as we continue to build bridges rather than construct walls," Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said in a release.
    It's so much more enjoyable to watch David Letterman and Craig Ferguson on YouTube than trying to navigate around the Comedy Central Website to view Daily Show clips - and I'd usually much rather watch Daily Show Clips.

    Cooking show or your favorite eatery?

    Should church be a cooking show or a restaurant?
    Thomas has a link from a friend of his who writes that church feels too much like a cooking show.
    We’re being told how to put all the ingredients in to make a good life but we don’t actually get to experience it and enjoy it with others.
    What do you think?
    Which do you prefer?

    Unique marketing

    From Treehugger:
    We have written so much about the greening of Chicago recently; its green roofs programs, bicycle plans, etc.
    However it is hard to ride a bike if you can't breathe, and soot isn't good in the garden.
    The American Lung Association of Chicago and Advertising students from Columbia college are once again doing power wash graffiti to get the message out- 17,000 tons of pollution spew out of Chicago's two old coal fired power plants.
    "We're not painting the sidewalks, we're selectively cleaning off the dirt, much of which came from these two plants," Kevin Tynan, Director of Marketing for the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, said. "The Fisk and Crawford plants are responsible for thousands of asthma attacks, hundreds of ER visits and dozens of premature deaths every year and they need to be cleaned up."

    Read more at: or watch a video at: Youtube.
    Here's another great idea for church marketing. Get out and clean off a side of a building or sidewalk and ad your message.
    Of course be sure and ask permission from any property owners before you just start cleaning off any filth on their buildings.

    Love Dodge Ball?

    I found this interesting ad on Craigslist over the weekend...

    Dodgeball Game XXXX
    Who: You and your friends, or your enemies
    When: Saturday, December 2nd, 2006
    Where: Mesquite, Texas - Dunford Community Center (near 30 and LBJ about a mile down the road from Trophy Nissan) 1015 Green Canyon Dr, Mesquite Texas 75150
    Time: 3 PM - 5 PM
    Bring: Athletic wear and a sportsmanlike attitude.
    Cost: $5

    I think this is a great example of how the web is changing how people create community. I wonder how many people show up for this event for each game. How useful could/would this be for churches? After all Craigslist is free. Anyone using Craigslist to publicize your events to the public? Why keep your events all to yourself? Let everyone know.
    Another useful tool is Google Calendars which now allows everyone to search your public events.
    You can add events to your calendar and mark them as public and everyone can search for events in their area.
    For example, I have encounter's worship services listed on my Google calendar and a search of Waxahachie will pop the event up on every Sunday. Tag it with a website in the description and who knows who might find your church because of it.

    Today's Christmas gift ideas

    It's a couple minutes late, but before I head home for the night here's Monday's Christmas gift ideas.
    Today's theme: Fair Trade
    Fair trade is an organized social movement which promotes equitable standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to the production of FairTrade labeled and unlabelled goods, which may range from handcrafts to agricultural commodities. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.
    Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

    Under $10
    Handmade candle holders from Pakistan
    A great conversational piece

    Under $20
    Family Circle Ornament
    This marvelous handmade, fair trade ornament embodies a loving family message. Sculptured in soapstone by Kisii craftspeople using only simple tools. As each item is individually hand-carved from natural material, colors and dimensions will vary. Made in Kenya.

    Under $50
    Handmade woven baskets
    Who doesn't have a place for cool handmade woven baskets?

    Under $100
    Coffee Aficionado Gift Box
    Probably not a great gift for my fiance, her roommate or others who should avoid caffeine, but for the rest of us the Coffee Aficionado Gift Box is a great way to test the wits and expand the palate of discriminating coffee lovers. They have paired our six most popular origin coffees with Coffee Smarts trivia cards and a Grounds for Change logo mug.

    Over $100
    Coiled Wall Hanging
    Tree of Life design has religious and cultural significance, showing how all living things are related. Artisan rolls different colors of dyed wool from Andean sheep into long strands. Then this tapestry is woven on a wooden loom, using cotton for the warp and coiled wool for the weft. Each wall hanging is woven by a single artisan, requiring two days.

    Horse Sense: After the Thumping

    On November 7th, voters nationwide gave the Republican Party a “thumping” according to President Bush. Although a thrashing might be more accurate, I suppose a thumping will do—or should. For those of us concerned about flagging voter turnout, we should at least be heartened. The turnout was well above that of recent midterm elections, in some races motivating 60 to 70 % of registered voters to participate. While the margins of victory from race to race were not spectacular between Republicans and Democrats, the cumulative effect of Democratic victories in case after case certainly was, and the undeniable conclusion is that there was a national wave that washed across the political scene in 2006—and it was a Democratic wave. Analysis reveals that whereas, some Republicans switched sides in the General Election or stayed home; and whereas, the Democrat Party’s Get Out The Vote (GOTV) phase of its campaign was more successful than in recent years, the margins of victory (10% or less) came from Independent voters. These same voters who broke for Republicans 50-50 in 2004 went 2 to 1 against them in 2006. Moreover, fully one-third of white Evangelical Christians (core of the so-called ‘rightwing religious base’ of the Republican Party) voted for Democrats.
    After the thumping, Republicans had lost the House and the Senate. Democrats picked up 29 seats in the House for a majority in that chamber; and 6 Senate seats for a 51-49 majority there. This was clearly not a very good election day for Republicans. They were supposed to have a “firewall” in the Senate—no way they would lose it. To lose the Senate, why they would have to lose practically everything under any contest, including staunchly Republican “Red States” like Montana and Virginia! Republican West; Republican Southland: standard bearers of the Grand Old Party. Yet it happened. In addition, Democrats picked up 6 Governorships for a 28-22 “advantage” in states, which means less now than later when you’re gauging likely outcomes in the 2008 presidential race. Political analyst Mark Shields opined that the election was not a Democratic victory so much as a Republican defeat. Howard Dean, Democrat Party chairman, explained what happened in similar terms. Grinning from ear to ear, he explained the president had helped Democrats “a lot.”
    Issues affecting the votes varied. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that corruption and ethics topped the list for many going to the polls, even more than terrorism or the war in Iraq. Of course war was on everyone’s mind too, and no one claimed to be pleased with the current situation. One of the most encouraging notes I received before the election was from a fellow conservative attempting to motivate the Republican base, advising everyone to just “hold your nose and vote All Republican.” I figured things weren’t going to go too well, if that was the best we could do. Indeed, Democrats deserve a little credit. They didn’t trot out the Ted Kennedy model, at least not in prime time. Liberal and conservative labels got a little mixed up if you ask me. John Kerry’s pitiful “botched joke” gave us all cause for a guffaw, but anyone with a lick of sense knew it was never intended to insult the troops. People can be forgiven for catching media clips and losing context, but the president knew better and still played it for coarse political advantage.
    Maybe that’s all that was left. Indeed, I was amazed how vapid and vacuous had become the rhetoric from self-styled conservatives facing moderates for the first time in years. If God and guns were removed from the panoply of political discussion, Republicans seemed lost, possessing no original or thoughtful idea on virtually anything else. Howard Dean got this much right: part of their problem was that they were conjoined with the president! And sadly, he really could have used the oversight and constructive criticism from within his party for a long time—he needed it in fact, but never got it. Instead, the president bought into fallacious neo-conservative foreign policy assumptions and most in Congress followed merrily along. The president continued to combine the wars in Iraq and on terrorism as if they were the same things, without drawing distinctions, without offering meaningful explanation, without detailed strategic discussion; and he got a bye from his party that the people refused to give Republican candidates. Worst of all, the president said it was cool to be a Big Government Conservative, especially in time of war, and Republicans tripped over themselves to get “with it.” Since 2004, Republican government has resembled the animals at the end of Animal Farm, looking and acting like the people they replaced; or in this case, Republicans dancing around and behaving like Democrats. After twelve years (1994-2006) of Congressional domination, Republicans proved they could spend more for guns and butter at the same time than LBJ. Instead of inflation, they just added debt. Republicans proved they could govern as arrogantly as FDR and Nixon put together, flippantly dismissing dissent and criticism, failing to address valid concerns with current policies, as well as concern over issues not being addressed, such as immigration. Always, always, however, considering a self-ascribed holy cause to be the Republicans’ inoculation from legal or constitutional strictures, and even from meddlesome, unpatriotic questioning.
    In addition, this government’s management competence came under question after Katrina, and quite frankly remains there. If the government were competent, for instance, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would have left easily, in good graces after the 2004 elections, and not after the thumping. Certainly by summer this year he should have gone, when it was clear how the war was going, clear we needed “fresh eyes” in terms of strategy, clear even as to how the outlines of this election were shaping up. Robert Gates replacing Rumsfeld helps put realism back into American foreign policy and clears the way for a course correction in both the wars on terrorism and in Iraq. Likewise, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group’s ongoing work, as well as the Democrats’ choice of Steny Hoyer (MD) over John Murtha (PA) as their new Majority Leader, bodes well for serious reassessment, for prudence and bipartisanship in the road ahead out of a difficult and challenging situation. For many of us, I’m sure it was hard to take the thumping; but it was even harder perhaps, to realize for the first time in twelve years, that the good of the nation does not always follow the political fortunes of a single political party.
    Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary. Email:

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Happy Christmas

    It's that time of year. Lights are up around town. The malls and mega-stores are packed and there's that feeling of Christmas in the air again.
    To celebrate, OrangeNoiseRadio will bring you a two hour Christmas special on Dec. 1.
    If you'd like to be a part of the celebration or would like to wish a special Christmas greeting to someone give us a call at toll free: 888-727-5890 or in the DFW Metroplex: 817-886-0678.
    Leave your requests or holiday shout-outs and we'll do our best to get them all on the air.
    Merry Christmas and God bless!

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Today's daily Christmas gift ideas

    I'm going to try out a new feature here - Daily Christmas gift ideas. I'll see if I can do this once a day between now and Christmas. I'll have a category for under $10, $20, $50, $100, and over $100.

    Under $10:
    One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God

    Under $20:
    Darth Vadar Transformer.
    Seriously? My two favorite things together? Transformers and Star Wars - awesome.

    Under $50:
    West Wing Season 4 on DVD
    Aaron Sorkin's last season with the show. A must have for any West Wing fan.

    Under $100:
    Sonicare Advance 4100 Electric Toothbrush
    Laurie swears by her Sonicare toothbrush.

    Over $100:
    Microsoft Zune MP3 Player - Black

    Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

    For Thomas and Laurie

    Yahoo News/Tech Webb is reporting a new hack for OS X has been discovered. The hack works through Mac's Safari Internet Browser and allows outsiders to crash an OS X system.
    On Monday, the "Month of Kernel Bugs" project, a month-long disclosure of operating system flaws, announced that a bug in Mac OS X's processing of DMG files -- disk images typically used to distribute software for the Mac -- could be exploited to crash a target machine. There was also the possibility that attackers could introduce additional malicious code to the compromised system to, for example, snatch control from its legitimate user.
    Also on NPR I heard today that there's only two things you should ever buy extended warranties on - large rear projection TVs and Appl computers. Both have such high priced repair costs that its actually beneficial to buy and extended warranty. Otherwise - forget it. Don't waste your time or money.

    Cellphones to be used on multiple carriers

    Thanks to a new ruling by the Library of Congress, cellphones can now be moved from one network to another and the companies can't stop you.
    For example, if you got a cellphone from Sprint that you absolutely love you can switch that phone over to Cingular's network legally.
    Now why you wouldn't just update your phone and get a new free phone with your new contract is beyond me -- but for those of you who really love your old phones -- the option is now there.

    Speaking of...the Pink Motorola Razr is available from Verizon and Wal-Mart for less than $29! Just in time for Christmas. USA, USA, LLC

    Erin Rigsby in Baptist Standard

    UMHB Alumni Erin Rigsby (2000) was quoted in a recent article for the Baptist Standard. She was at UMHB for their mission conference and spoke about her work in Jos, Nigeria.
    Erin was not in Jos the same time we were, she was on furlough but I did see her at the wrap up banquet for our trip.
    Erin Rigsby, a 2000 UMHB nursing school graduate, had a goal in returning to her alma mater.
    “God changed my life at UMHB,” said Rigsby, now a missionary in Jos, Nigeria. “He made it clear I needed to learn to love people who are different from me. That led to my desire to serve oversees.”
    The 2000 graduate hopes to pass on to other students “to learn to love those that are unloveable and to learn to embrace the differences in others.”
    I've been posting updates and prayer requests from Erin on my Nigeria Blog. Be sure to keep her and the work in Nigeria as well as missionaries around the world in your prayers.

    Design a photo wall on a wire has great instructions for building a photo wall on wire.

    Homemade Christmas gift ideas

    I'm not sure if I should post this on here or not. I thought it would be a great gift idea for me to give this Christmas. Wouldn't want someone to think I'm giving it to them and them not get it, or have someone not be surprised when they see it. Of course judging by their reaction it might also be a great way to tell if folks really read my blog like they say they do. ;-). Either way Lifehacker links to a great "photo in a box frame" DIY. All you need is an interesting looking book, a few of your favorite photos and an Exacto knife or razor and you're set.
    Click here to view the DIY.

    The art of regifting

    If you're looking for the perfect gift this year, why not just regift what you were given last year. From Lifehacker:
    Share stories of regifting disasters, learn to regift properly, and win Seinfeld DVDs at
    The site already includes several dozen regifting stories--including one about a Cracker Barrel gift card with only 38 cents left on it--and invites you to share your own. The three top-rated stories will win various prizes.
    The site also provides regifting guidelines so you don't end up the subject of one of these bad-regifter stories. Don't want to regift? You can whip up pretty, printable gift certificates for any kind of "personal" gift.

    Welcome to foot..... ball

    Brandi has a great post on her new found passion - football. Ok, passion may be a bit of an exageration but she has learned to enjoy the sport and her Dallas Cowboys.
    Football wasn’t a very big part of my life growing up. Even though I went to a large high school in Texas with a good team and lived with a Dallas Cowboys loving dad, I never got into it. It was too complicated, the games were too long, there were better things to do.
    I knew going into it that being with Aaron was going to add a lot more football to my life. His dad was a coach, all three boys played in high school and his brother played in college. It’s not just a passive hobby in their house. It’s a lifestyle.

    Not much happening today

    I head into work in a few minutes, but otherwise nothing major happening today.
    We had a great Thanksgiving yesterday at my parents and then with Laurie's family in the afternoon and evening.
    I think the highlight of the evening revolved around my mom taking the smallest sip ever of my glass of wine and then dropping her coffee on the floor as she recoiled from the "horrible taste."
    Then a short time later we watched my granddad enjoy a glass of that same wine - the same man we never imagined would drink a glass of wine.
    My mom does not like wine. Guess that will never change. And sometimes your family can surprise you no matter how well you think you know them.
    I also had a great time getting to know more members of Laurie's family and giving her nephew Jake a hard time.
    He's going to be a fun addition to my new extended family - whether he likes it or not.
    Well I better head in to the office but if you're skipping out on the stores and looking for gifts online here are some great deals from Apple today (available exclusively online:
  • iMac - Save $101.00 on the ultimate all-in-one desktop. Starting at $999.00.
  • MacBook - Save $101.00 on the superfast, do-everything notebook. Starting at $1,099.00.
  • iPod nano - Save up to $21 plus free laser engraving. Starting at $149.00.
  • iPod 30GB and 80GB - Save up to $31 plus free laser engraving. Starting at $249.00.
  • iPod Hi-Fi. Save $51.00.
  • Apple wireless Mighty Mouse. Save $11.00.
    Click the link below for these and other savings:
    Apple Store
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Black Friday Sale

    Apple is holding a number of specials online this Friday.
    If you're looking for an iPod or Mac product for that someone special this year, check the Apple website for great deals this Friday. From Apple:
    For ONE DAY ONLY, this Friday November 24th, the Apple Store will have a special Black Friday shopping event. Historically Black Friday has been a big day for us here at The Apple Store – and we want you to join in the fun!
    Apple StoreApple Store

    Kitchen substitute

    If you're having trouble finding a rare jar of Fish Sauce this holiday season or maybe buckwheat flour you can either (A) find a better supermarket, or (B) visit: gives you substitutions for loads of "special" ingredients.
    Check it out.
    Oh and by the way, a decent substitute for Fish Sauce is Soy Sauce - but of course you loose all the fishiness.

    Meaty Thanksgiving download

    Lifehacker has put together a great PC Rescue Kit for all of us who tend to spend more than a few hours during the holidays fixing computers for family members - not that there's anything wrong with that...
    Next week here in the U.S. many of us will be heading home to see family, share a turkey feast, watch some football.... and help out our less technically-inclined relatives. The pumpkin pie might not even be on the table before you get that inevitable request: "Can you take a look at my computer? It's been really slow lately."
    Last year we covered how to how to fix Mom and Dad's computer when you head home for the holidays. This year, we'll save you the trouble of chasing down half a dozen PC fix-it tools in the midst of your post-turkey coma. Instead we've put together everything you'll need to right your famliy's borked computer into one meaty Thanksgiving download.
    Introducing Lifehacker's Thanksgiving PC Rescue Kit
    After a large dose of turkey and tryptophan, the last thing you want to do is cruise around the interwebs downloading this, that and the other to get the folks' PC in order. So we've gone ahead and done the work for you. Right-click the following link and choose "Save As:"
    Lifehacker's Thanksgiving PC Rescue Kit (17MB)
    This zip file contains half a dozen free tools we recommend to scan and clean and protect a malware-laden PC. Either download right now and save to your thumb drive, or bookmark this page for next week's tech support session. The entire file is less than 17 megabytes, which will leave room on your USB drive for those Neil Diamond tracks Mom asked you to download for her.
    Also, don't forget to run Windows updater to be sure the system software is up to date and run a scan disk and disk deframenter as well.
    And if you really want to have fun, change your parent's browser from Internet Explorer to Firefox. That might save you some headaches in the future.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Payin' da bills

    What a deal! Check this out...
    JVC GRD347US Mini DV Camcorder 28x Optical Zoom 800x Digital Zoom
    $198.74 USA, LLC
    Support the advertisers who support this site.

    Rich Young Ruler

    This reminds me a lot about Austin Street:
    poverty is so hard to see
    when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
    where we’re all living so good
    that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
    where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
    from going through our trash
    he says, more than just your cash and coin
    i want your time, i want your voice
    i want the things you just can’t give me

    so what must we do
    here in the west we want to follow you
    we speak the language and we keep all the rules
    even a few we made up
    come on and follow me
    but sell your house, sell your suv
    sell your stocks, sell your security
    and give it to the poor
    what is this, hey what’s the deal
    i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
    i want the things you just can’t give me

    because what you do to the least of these
    my brother’s, you have done it to me
    because i want the things you just can’t give me

    - Derek Webb
    download the album for free at:

    San Antonio pastor using Myspace

    Love this:
    Robert Emmitt had seen TV reports of sexual predators preying on teens on, figuring, like many parents, it amounted to a Pandora's box of danger.
    Not something to espouse as the senior pastor of one of the city's largest congregations, Community Bible Church.
    But that was before a 26-year-old techie on his church staff suggested he join the MySpace craze to illustrate a sermon series on setting healthy personal boundaries.
    Now Emmitt spends about a half-hour per week swapping messages with the 240-plus cyberspace friends he collected in just four weeks as a MySpace user…
    To Kevin Hendricks, chief blogger for Church Marketing Sucks, these Christian alternatives created "yet another Christian ghetto" — just like art, music and books made to respond to secular originals.
    "When we as Christians see something cool, we say, 'Well that involves interaction with the secular world, and that's scary. It might get dirty and ugly.' But what happens is you lose this interaction (with the public) if you're only talking to people in your church."
    Anyone else know of pastor's using Myspace? What about you? Have you joined the Christian alternative sites or are you sticking with "the original" or are you avoiding it all like the plague?

    Fellowship of Cowboy Churches points to continued growth

    This group is based here in Waxahachie...
    From The Baptist Press:
    Pastors and western-heritage church leaders who believe God must be a cowboy at heart voted to ramp up the growth of the cowboy church movement at the Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches 2006 Annual Cowboy Gathering, prior to the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting.
    Fellowship members voted to increase their current budget of $120,000 to $290,500, hire two staff members, double church planting school funds from $4,800 to $10,000, double ranch house school funding to $8,000 and quadruple event funding.
    The BGCT 2007 budget, approved by messengers to the annual meeting, increased funding for the fellowship fourfold—earmarking $25,500 for western-heritage churches.

    Can evangelicals change the face of enviromentalism

    The Baptist Standard writes about a new film that suggests that traditionally right-wing Republican evangelicals could have a big part in key enviromental reform:
    A Canadian film team has released in United States theatres The Great Warming, a movie about climate change and the initiatives aimed at reversing its trend toward permanent ecologic damage.
    Unlike other recent environmental movies, like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, The Great Warming portrays evangelicals as a group with the potential to push governmental policies toward sustainable living.
    It also has hearty endorsements from the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life, all of which have urged churches to host screenings and discussion groups about the movie...
    Historically, evangelicals haven’t cared much for talk about climate change. Cizik said that’s because “environmentalism has a sort of a ‘left-wing tilt.’” Plus, many pastors never have preached about caring for creation. Once church members begin hearing sermons about the environment, he said, they’ll realize it’s an important issue.
    The response will become significant when evangelicals change not only their lifestyles but their votes. Evangelicals comprise between 40 percent and 50 percent of the Republican base. Cizik said he believes if the largest group in the Republican coalition would demand its leaders work on climate change, clean air and pure water, then GOP leaders would listen.
    I wrote about this somewhat a while back after reading Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis.When we think about creation, remember that God calls it "good."
    The word is used throughout the Creation narrative to say that God perceives his creation as "good."

    "The God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The next verse is significant: The land produced vegetation. Notice it doesn't say, 'God produced vegetation.'"

    God empowered creation to do something.
    We are empowered with loads of potential. All of creation is.
    And this is for all you "tree-huggin-haters" :-) (who I admit, I used to be one of you):

    "God then makes people whom he puts right in the middle of all this loaded creation, commanding them to care for creation, to manage it, to lovingly use it, to creatively order it... They are in intimate relationship with their enviroment. They are enviromentalists. Being deeply connected with their enviroment is who they are. For them to be anything else or to deny their divine responsibility to care for all that God has made would be to deny something that is at the core of their existence.
    That is why litter and polution are spiritual issues.
    And until that last sentence makes perfect sense, we haven't fully grasped what it means to be human and live in God's world."

    Clean out your inbox

    This one may be best for my dad. He typically has several hundred emails in his inbox at any given time.
    Grant Robinson has several ideas for keeping that e-mail inbox clear of messages to save you time thoughout the day.
    I did a little house keeping myself and managed to get my inbox down to two messages that I've left in there simply as a reminder to respond to. I've set up other folders in Outlook along with rules to automatically sort my e-mail as it comes in.
    I have one for Laurie, Family (immediate, extended and future), daily newsletters/emails and several others. It's kept my inbox clutter free all day. Now I don't sit sorting through as much e-mail. I only look at and respond to e-mails in particular categories, rather than sorting through a lot of other stuff that's not important.

    Payin' da bills

    The Wine Messenger

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Blog rundown

    With 10 posts or so in the last two hours, I'm sure you all wish you were reading this blog with an RSS reader, so you didn't have to search through a bunch of stuff you don't like.
    But since the majority of my readers don't use an RSS reader here's a quick rundown of all the posts over the last couple days for quick and easy access:
  • Wes Riddle's weekly column: Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
  • Solar powered cellphones
  • More efficient home building
  • UMHB advances in the DIII playoffs
  • encounter's weekly podcast is up
  • Modern day temples to consumerism
  • Xians should show the world what we're for
  • I will walk through the valley if you want me to
  • Update on Austin Stret
  • It's Sunday night and I should be in bed
  • Orange Noise's current Top 10 requests
  • Internet hits the road
    While you've got some extra time, why don't you subscribe to our RSS feed? Or if you prefer, feel free to get stranger in a strange land delivered straight to your e-mail inbox by entering your e-mail address in the box on the left hand column.

    payin' da bills:
    Apple Store
    Apple iTunesApple iTunes
  • Horse Sense: Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

    “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalms 116: 17). To conceive of giving thanks as a sacrifice sounds strange. Particularly in this day and age when sacrifice is the last thing in the world we should want to do, why give thanks? In the Muslim East, they fast for a month during Ramadan. Muslims will give up food and water and sensual pleasures during daylight hours, in order to purify themselves spiritually and reinvigorate a sense of gratitude for the daily blessings God bestows. In theory, they give up something but gain something else of greater value. Sacrifice is defined as a giving up or foregoing of some valued thing for the sake of something of greater value or having more pressing claim. Giving thanks is a bit more esoteric than, say, giving up a camel steak and saffron rice till the sun goes down. But when we do give thanks, it is indeed for the sake of something of greater value. Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude and appreciation, an acknowledgment of kindness or favor; and when we give thanks, the giving of it results in a conjunction of spirit twixt man and God. The thing we gain of greater value is a special harmony and atonement, or if you prefer, the experience of at onement with Him. So if you’ve struggled finding that perfect gift ‘for the Man who has everything,’ try a little thanks and praise. His response is fabulous. And all you’ve given up or foregone is the selfish sense of who you are, the nagging needs and imperfect conditions that surround you, for a moment or on a day like Thanksgiving. We avail ourselves of what we have in the instant we give thanks.
    When I consulted a children’s dictionary to see what it said about Thanksgiving, it said only this: ‘a national holiday celebrated the fourth Thursday in November.’ Other than mentioning that the word was a noun, there was no indication of the substance in the word itself. It reminded me of the hollowness about so many words these days like Republic, Constitution and liberty. And all the words are related, you see, because Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. commemorates the first harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony (Massachusetts) in 1621, when Pilgrims celebrated their survival with a feast. This nation grew from their modest, humble start. And the constancy of faith and heritage that makes the Pilgrims part of who we are today, which partially knits the fabric of what it means to be an American, has always included a regular resort to thanksgiving. No holiday is more uniquely American in fact, though other nations have emulated our example. No activity is more patriotic moreover, than observing together this special Day, as one nation under God, giving thanks for our many blessings. For even in times of war and the sacrifice of blood and treasure, there is reason for the additional sacrifice of thanksgiving. In the darkest days of the War Between the States, Lincoln nevertheless proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. When war raged about the globe and the specter of fascism threatened, Congress by joint resolution in 1941 decreed Thanksgiving Day should be the fourth Thursday of every November.
    So if this is why and what we do, what shall you say? As I imagine, there are many who find themselves too hardened or bruised, perhaps too cynical to be easily thankful. Yet say at least as much as possible. I am grateful for life, even in diminished quality; and for love in any measure—mine or someone else’s. I am grateful for friendships long enduring, and others freshly new. I am grateful for family far and near, imperfect and oft times mistaken, precious always nonetheless; for home and a place that’s real, for the better home here in my heart and in my mind’s eye; and for the one that waits, fashioned without hands eternal in the heavens. I am grateful for freedom and those who defend it, though relative and constrained at times, peer pressured and overregulated, it is subject still to the will of the people and to political redress. I am grateful for plenty in this land, for the challenge of pushing away the pumpkin pie rather than scratching the earth for kernels. I am grateful for thought and the ability to reason, to be sentient, to consider, reflect, mull it over and realize, yea even with all the human limitations, open to wonder and awe. I am grateful too for music, and for the butterfly I saw upon a rose.
    Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary. Email:

    Solar powered cell phones

    From Treehugger and T3 gadget mag:
    Japanese celphone juggernaut Docomo is prototyping this "hybrid mobile phone with solar panels." It looks small enough for Derek Zoolander, and as British gadget mag T3 says, "Powered solely by the beating rays of our closest star, it means you’ll never run out of natter-juice, and puts an end to travel chargers and emergency batteries."

    payin' da bills:
    Smarthome, Inc.