Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Church signs tick me off

Yeah, I know, this is one of my little quirks. But bear with me as I get up on my soap box. I can't stand messages on church signs!

Not all of them, of course, but most. What really bugs me are the cutsy, light-as-air frothy statements that could just as easily be found on a fortune cookie. You know the type: "Life is more fun if you don't keep score" or "Those who throw dirt, lose ground." Some of them are quasi-spiritual: "Forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them more"; "Seven days without prayer makes one weak"; or "God answers kneemail." But seriously, you can usually find deeper thoughts on Readers' Digest's "Quotable Quotes" page.

The church has -- or should have -- something the world can't get anywhere else. Jesus Christ has the "words of eternal life" (John 6:68), and yet these churches fill their signs with froth. The Bible is God's own Word to us, and there are innumerable words of wisdom that can be drawn from it, words that have the power of God behind them. It amazes me that churches look anywhere else for what to put on their signs.

Okay, I must admit, one sign cracked me up a month or so ago, when the Dallas area was experiencing its gazillionth day in a row of 100+ degree heat. The sign (on a Baptist church in Mesquite) said simply: "You think it's hot here?"

Kudos to for the graphic.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A life in brief

My older son, Brandon, recently created a PowerPoint presentation on Walt Disney for a class (kids and their computer-based school projects these days!!!). Those of you who know me know what Disney fanatics Brandon and I are, and how we have come to hold the man Walt Disney in very high regard.

The most interesting part of Brandon's project to me was where he had to conclude with a 3- or 4- sentence summary of his subject's life. Wow. How do you boil down a life into a handful of sentences, particularly a life so rich and all-encompassing as Walt Disney's? I mean, this is a guy who rose from having very little, and overcame many obstacles and setbacks, to eventually entertain the world. He journeyed from creating a simple cartoon mouse to build a media empire that now includes animation and live action movie studios, television networks, and theme parks around the world. He pioneered many things we now take for granted, such as cartoons with sound, feature-length animation, and themed areas in amusement parks. To this day no one individual has received more Academy Awards.

When it came down to it, though, Walt was a storyteller. By his own admission he wasn't the best animator -- while he created Mickey and friends, other artists did the actual animation (though Walt did Mickey's voice for many years) -- nor was he a financial genius -- he let brother Roy handle most of the business affairs. But Walt had a passion for telling stories, and he loved to find new, creative ways to do that. (To this day, one of the many things that sets Disney theme parks apart from their competitors is that from the moment you enter the property, each area, building, attraction, sight, sound, even smell, is carefully crafted to tell a story.) He never looked down on his audience, and never waivered from his belief that the public deserved the best quality, whatever the product was.

Brandon was able to write those 3 or 4 sentences for his project -- obviously, I'm not as good at being brief. But it does make me think... if someone were assigned to write four sentences about my life, what would they say about me? What would they say about you?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fire-eating revisited

The videos are up and available for viewing! (If you missed the earlier story, these are short, comical videos produced to recruit new members for my church's worship choir.) My fire-eating makes a brief appearance in the first video. Here are the direct links:

Party in the Choir Room

American Idol?

Check your brain...

There's an interesting discussion thread over at Stupid Guest Tricks (slogan: "Check Your Brain at the Gate") concerning people who spend exhorbitant amounts of $$$ to visit Walt Disney World, and then show up with absolutely no idea what to expect. The start of the thread mentions an Italian couple who visit one attraction at Epcot and then are ready to leave, thinking that's all there is to the park! Yikes!

I know this could apply to any vacation, but there is so much information out there about Disney. I just can't understand how anyone could spend so much and not even put in a minimal amount of research to making the vacation better. I've had friends who do that. You can have a good time at Disney just taking what comes, but there is so much to see and do, you'll get so much more out of your money with just a little advance reading. Plus it's a lot of fun!!

Okay, confession time. I did this very thing once, on the first trip I planned myself (I had been to both Disneyland and Epcot before on different choir tours). Becky and I stayed at an offsite hotel, arrived without knowing park schedules or shuttle bus times, and without any specific idea of what we wanted to see or do during our time there. We still had fun, but we probably would have done things differently with a little more advance planning.

But, hey, it was our honeymoon. Our focus wasn't entirely on Disney at the time. (And okay, yes, we did have some specific ideas about what we wanted to do during our time there!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I've watch launches of the space shuttle on television before, but Saturday's was pretty awesome -- for the first time I was able to see it on my parent's new Hi-Definition TV. Absolutely incredible. I know HD-TV still pales in comparison to seeing (and hearing and feeling) it live, but the picture and sound were so crisp and clear. (The only downside to the experience was having to endure my mom's saccharine commentary -- based on the configuration of the curved windows of the flight deck and the two overhead square windows -- that the shuttle was "smiling." Ugh.)

Astronauts fascinate me. We see them in their glory moments as they walk across the gantry, pose for publicity shots, beam back live TV shots from space, but there is so much preparation that goes into these missions that never makes the evening news. The crew aboard the Atlantis now trained for four years for this one mission -- they were slated to be the next mission after Columbia's ill-fated return, so they've been holding as NASA worked on the problems and launched two return-to-flight missions. Their dedication and hard work (and, lest we forget, the risks they take), and that of those who work endless hours with them behind the scenes, deserve our utmost respect.

Oh, and I'd really like an HD-TV of my own, if anyone cares to donate one.

Some great links for space program info:
NASA Space Shuttle home page - great for the latest news and information on current or upcoming missions.
Orbital Tracking - pulls up a java applet which shows you the current location of the International Space Station and any shuttle currently in space. Also contains a great link that will tell you when you can see the shuttle or ISS pass in the night sky.
KSC Video Feeds - Webcams located around Kennedy Space Center.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Commercial tie-ins gone bad

I'd already heard about it on Stupid Guest Tricks, but at the grocery store the other day my boys and I finally saw this with our own eyes: Old Yeller Dog Food.

Is this really the best idea? Do the folks at Disney not remember that the dog died at the end of Old Yeller?

I won't go so far as one of my fellow SGT-ers in suggesting that they offer a free shotgun in every bag... but really, this is pretty ridiculous.