Friday, September 29, 2006

Random Friday Thoughts

Fantasy Football: Wow, did the Fantasy Football bug ever bite me this year. Despite starting with a mediocre team I am definitely a junkie right now. Constantly watching the waiver wire. Trading all over the place. It only adds to my enjoyment of the NFL season. Now if only my boys in Cleveland can start putting together some wins...

Ohio State Football: Big matchup tomorrow against Iowa. I'm confident we'll win. That's a hard thing for a Browns fan to say, because I'm used to watching my team find unbelievable ways to lose games. I've just got this sneaking suspicion that this year both Michigan and Ohio State will arrive at The Game undefeated, with the winner playing for the national championship. How awesome will THAT game be! GO BUCKS!!!

TV Blues: I managed to miss BOTH of my favorite shows last night: Smallville and Grey's Anatomy. I simply cannot get the CW to come in on antennae, and other more important things kept me from watching GA. As usual, I'll have to see if I can pick them up...uh, by some other means :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One Man's Trash...

I was just typing away, minding my own business yesterday when a co-worker (fellow musician and fan of Campus Pollyeyes) popped around the cubicle wall and offered me this book:

(my apologies for the poor resolution)

He said he found it while cleaning out some stuff at his parents' place, and since he knew I was involved in a barbershop chorus he figured I'd like to have it. Boy, would I ever!

I wouldn't really characterize this book as "rare," but barbershop music is not exactly something you can just go to the local music store or bookstore and pick up. In this case, the front cover states the price as "60 Cents" (not "75 Cents" like the picture above) and has a purchase date on it: 2-15-46. So I got an authentic, 60-year-old piece of classic barbershop literature absolutely free.

Needless to say, I'm like a kid at Christmas :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Palm Pilot Geek Love

Despite having worked in IT for ten years now I have never owned a PDA. I'm not a big fan of the shorthand type of writing needed for many of the previous models of Palm Pilot and I just never saw a need to have one.

Then I got ahold of one a couple months ago.

Because our execs always have to have the latest and greatest, we had shelves of older PDAs just sitting around. When I say "older" I'm speaking in terms of months, not years. We literally have a shelf full of Palm Tungsten C's just sitting there unused thanks to the latest Treo model. So I figured what the heck...I'll ask if I can use one. I could keep it synched with my work calendar and that way I'd always know what meetings I had coming up the next day. Whatever...the excuse was enough since it wasn't gonna cost anything to give me one.

What I like about the Tungsten C is that it has a mini keyboard on it. I don't have to rely on scratching out shorthand with a stylus in order to do anything. It also has built-in 802.11b wireless, so I can connect to our local network and actually check email. The screen is nice and bright, and it's easy to read. In fact, reading is what I've been using it for a lot lately.

While I was out looking for nifty things to put on the PDA, I started looking for eBooks. I was amazed at how many free books there are out there. Eventually I made my way to, which has a HUGE selection of free eBooks in numerous formats. When all was said and done, I downloaded over 250 eBooks just from the Religion section. I now have large collections of works from Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, Piper, Knox, Pink, Calvin's Institutes and Commentaries, Henry's Commentaries....probably more than I'll ever be able to read. I just finished John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a classic book I've been meaning to read for a long time but never got around to picking up. I also have some non-Christian literary classics waiting to be read, including Frankenstein, The Brothers Karamazov, Jane Eyre and Crime & Punishment (both of which I read in high school and enjoyed), and Paradise Lost. I also downloaded the 2006 NFL Schedule, and I've transferred the charts for several barbershop tags as well.

So after years of avoidance I finally have a PDA...and I'm loving every minute of it!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Couch to 5K? Count me in!

I used to love to run. There was a time in my life when I could (and did) wolf down a steak dinner and then go out and run 8-10 miles. Being a naturally competitive person, I enjoyed running races, but I also enjoyed just running with a walkman and an open road.

Ten years, three kids and 50 lbs later, I can no longer just take off down the road like I used to. I've tried probably at least a half dozen times to start running again, but I always end up doing too much too soon and quitting because of shin splints or some other issue preventing me from continuing.

Well, thanks to a website my wife came upon I now have a plan. The website is and the program is called The Couch-to-5K Running Plan. In a nutshell, it will "transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months." The plan has three workouts per week of about 30 minutes each. It starts out with alternating intervals of jogging and walking and gradually increases the time you are running until it's a non-stop run. The important thing for me in this plan is easing into it. Because of the way the intervals work, I am not killing my legs with a two mile run right off the bat. So far it's going very well. I actually repeated the first week just to give my legs the extra time to deal with the change. I'm nearing the end of Week 2 and I feel really good. I'm attempting to change my diet as well in the hopes of eventually getting back into a shape other than "round."

The weekend before I started I participated in the Dennis Donahue Memorial 5K and walked the 5K race. Just the fall atmosphere, the crowd at the starting line, and the day as a whole got me hungry. My goal is firmly in my mind now:

I want to run the Medina Twin Sizzler 5k, the Dennis Donahue Memorial 5k, and the Race for the Cure 5k next year...all under 20 minutes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?

OK, just about everywhere I've been today the topic of conversation has been "Where were you five years ago when the planes hit?" I figure I might as well post it here and point everybody to it rather than keep rehashing it over and over.

At that time I was working as a contractor at the Owens Corning world headquarters in Toledo, OH. Though not a smoker I would frequently walk out with my friends to "the bridge" (there was no smoking permitted on OC property so smokers had to go out to the bridge that served as the entrance from downtown to the OC parking lot). As we came back in one of my coworkers had up on his screen and I could make out a picture of a skyscraper with some smoke. He said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and the impression everybody had was that it was just a small private plane or something. Then word quickly spread that another had hit and that it was a terrorist attack. Many of us congregated in one of the meeting rooms with a large screen television and tuned in to the coverage. They were just getting the first playbacks of the second plane hitting at that point. We were all stunned. I sat watching for quite awhile, unsure what to make of it. I ran to my desk to call my wife just to make sure she knew what was going on and that she was not too shaken up. I went back to the conference room and continued watching, and saw live as each of the towers fell. The rest of the day is mostly a blur. I remember going to lunch and congregating in the common area outside to pray with several others. I remember telling my supervisor that I might leave soon to head to the Red Cross and donate blood in anticipation of a shortage caused by such a disaster. I definitely remember it being many days before I could shake the constant nagging of the images I saw at the back of my mind. One other thing that I will never forget is the looks on the faces of the Middle-Eastern contractors we had working there at that time. Of all those standing there watching those buildings fall, nobody's face was as distraught or devastated as one of them in particular, who was a great guy. Another one of them, Mandeep, wore a blue turban as part of his religious position. For many weeks after that, he wore a blue baseball cap instead and was very afraid of the anti-Muslim backlash he feared would result from the attacks.

There are two major events that I remember vividly...two "JFK" moments my generation has: January 28, 1986 (the Challenger Disaster) and September 11, 2001. Those two are quite enough to last me a lifetime.

JAD Western Division Champions ... The Voices of Harmony!!

What's that? Oh, I guess I did forget to mention that I am a member of a barbershop chorus called The Voices of Harmony. Given the fact that I'm the webmaster for the site, I don't know why I haven't mentioned it sooner.

Anyway, this past weekend was a tremendous first time performing on stage in almost 9 years and my very first competitive barbershop event. We've put in a great deal of hard work over the past nine months and to win our very first competition was a wonderful reward. But we also have a lot of work ahead of us to take things to that next level, and I'm looking forward to making as much of a positive contribution as I can.

I'm relatively new to barbershop. I had a small exposure to it during my year with America's Finest Singing Machine, the Bowling Green State University Men's Chorus, which has a reputation for churning out numerous collegiate and international medalists over the years. My first real exposure came with the seven months I spent with the Alliance Chorus in Columbus while working on a contract there and making preparations to move to the area. Though it was ultimately God's will that my family and I remain in Northwest Ohio (which I count a tremendous blessing), the time I spent was very rewarding and it was very difficult to depart from a chorus with the quality level and dedication they have. That experience gave me "the bug"...that addiction to barbershop that once gotten will never go away. So when a good friend of mine called to inform me that my former director at BGSU, RD Mathey, was going to be the director of a new barbershop chorus being formed in Northwest Ohio, I was ecstatic. While events surrounding the construction of our new home prevented me from joining the launch chorus, there was no doubt in my mind that I was definitely going to be joining the chorus, whose stated purpose is to sing at an "A level" and be competitive on the world stage.

In the months since I've begun to develop some great friendships with my brothers in song and have even joined with a few of them to start a new quartet (my first ever!). This weekend was a great time...from hanging out before the competition, to performing, to impromptu singing at the hotel afterwards. I am very much looking forward to sharing time and the stage with my VofH brothers for years to come!

Oh, and I absolutely must thank my wife for supporting me in my new hobby. She was one of Rick Roberts' students in high school and as such had exposure to barbershop (and RD!) long before I did, so she understood the draw this has. Thank you, sweetheart!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Iran and Israel

This cartoon pretty much sums up Iran's intentions....

There IS evil in this world, folks.