It's simple. Jesus Christ was born into this earth so he could grow up 100% man and 100% God, so that He could then die on the cross as our Savior - rise on the 3rd day alive, wiping away the sins of those who believe He is God. Christmas is the celebration of Christ being born into our world. Christmas means life, on many levels.
Now I don't know what is a better example of life than these photos.
Friday, December 29, 2006
It's simple. Jesus Christ was born into this earth so he could grow up 100% man and 100% God, so that He could then die on the cross as our Savior - rise on the 3rd day alive, wiping away the sins of those who believe He is God. Christmas is the celebration of Christ being born into our world. Christmas means life, on many levels.
Posted by Ryan at 10:43 AM
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
So I know it is still early, but both of us here in the Smith household have experienced what we are dubbing "Wii Arm."
On Sunday we were able to purchase a Nintendo Wii (the new console from Nintendo). It is quite the revolutionary console, in that almost all of the controls are done by waving the "Wiimote" around in the air. For example in a baseball game, if you are the pitcher you simulate throwing a baseball, and you character throws a baseball. If you are the batter, you swing the wiimote like a bat and your character on the screen swings his bat. Well after we spent a few hours playing tennis, bowling, boxing, baseball, and golf we both woke up the next morning with "Wii Arm."
It is probably best described as tennis elbow on the inside of your elbow instead of the outside.
I have experienced controller thumb before, but I can honestly say this is the first time my body was "sore" from playing a video game, and we both went to bed physically exhausted from playing the video game... but that isn't a bad thing!
I applaud Nintendo for getting kids up off the couch (and adults too!) and being physically active while they play their video games, lets just hope "Wii Arm" doesn't become the new debilitating illness that people start claiming disability for!
Posted by Ryan at 4:24 PM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Here’s a shocker. I love Wal-Mart. I know it’s almost always on the receiving end of bad press. It ruins neighborhoods. It puts small businesses out of business. It wrecks the balance of trade. It pays its workers poorly and treats them mean. It makes overseas workers into slaves. That's what the news says. The truth is that Wal-Mart is a major blessing for most Americans who live close enough to one to shop there and for the people who work at them. My smart friend C.L. Werner in Omaha made the point really clearly. When a Wal-Mart opens in a town, he said, it's as if everyone in the town got a raise. That's because the stuff at Wal-Mart is so much cheaper than that same merchandise was anywhere else. This is not a trivial thing. Now, don't get me wrong. Target and Sears and K-Mart and J.C. Penney and Brooks Brothers also sell good stuff usually at bargain prices, but they do not have the same reach of stores, the same astounding prices that Wal-Mart offers every day. This makes the people who shop there richer. Price matters a lot to most people.
I am sure Wal-Mart is stiff competition for the stores and supermarkets across America. I feel bad for the people who lose their stores because of Wal-Mart. But not everyone is a store owner. Everyone is a consumer, and Wal-Mart is about as good a friend as the consumer ever had. Is Wal-Mart ruining the balance of trade? Well, let me put it like this: I buy American whenever I can find it.
But there are a lot of things that are just not usually made in the USA any longer. Toasters. Hot pots. Color televisions. Underwear. Since the goods are almost always made overseas, why not buy them at the best possible price? By the way, if someone knows of a good American made toaster, please stand up and shout.
Is Wal-Mart wrecking small towns? Not the ones I see, which are mostly in North Idaho. Those towns are booming. And the closest you get to a town square is the Wal-Mart, where neighbors visit with neighbors in the aisles all day and all night, in air conditioning, out of the rain.
Is Wal-Mart impoverishing third world workers in sweat shops? Heck, no. Conditions in those places are far from ideal. But they are far better than working on the farm or begging in the streets or selling themselves into prostitution or whatever they were doing before they came to work for foreign suppliers of US stores. The gains in prosperity in the developing countries because their people can sell to America through Wal-Mart are astounding. As to the people who work at Wal-Mart, they seem to me to be bright, alert men and women who work there because it's the best they can do in their town or at their age. Plus, they seem happy. The usual clerk at Wal-Mart gives a lot better service than the clerk at Tiffany. I would like it if they were paid more, but they are in a competitive labor market. And what about those greedy stockholders? A lot of them are those same Wal-Mart clerks, many of whom got rich from their stock.
In the real world, Wal-Mart is as much of a boon to the American shopper as the Sears catalogue was long ago.
Jeer at it all you want, all you cool people, but, it's progress, big time.
That was an article written by Ben Stein (yes THAT Ben Stein) that I found to echo my feelings on Wal-Mart pretty much spot on. I recommend you check out Ben's site and click on "Stuff Ben Wrote" as a lot of his articles are really good.
Posted by Ryan at 1:59 PM
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Nearsightedness is something we deal with here at the Smith home. Shalisa has been wearing glasses since the 9th grade, and though Ryan owns glasses, trying to remember where they were placed last tends to be a bit of a hassle to wear them regularly.
Shalisa used to wear contacts quite religiously, but over the years finds them to get too foggy or irritating. She likes wearing glasses for the fashion of it too, so the simplicity of just throwing on a pair of glasses doesn't bother her too much, but it would be nice to be free of it. Especially on the beach or snow, as both activities are more of a glasses free zone, but contacts lend it's own set of problems. Once while in Rome one contact became so uncomfortable that Shalisa took it out and held it in her mouth for some time before popping it back in hoping to resolve the pain it was causing, all accomplished while standing in a line to climb the dome at St. Peter's...talk about inconvenient!
So, it's time for an eye exam, and Shalisa was doing a bit of research to find an alternative to her current contact lenses. She's thinking about daily lenses, and has tossed around the idea of LASIK. LASIK seems to be out - something about an eye forcibly pried open while an optician who went to a training seminar cuts a flap in the cornea and shoots it with a laser seems a bit too much like a horror film for her. There was an alternative out there though that had never been presented before, and seems a bit appealing to Shalisa - Orthokeratology, otherwise known as Ortho-K or OK. Basically it's a hard lens that is fitted to the eye for nighttime wear. This lens reshapes the cornea, and after a small amount of time should offer perfect or near perfect vision without the use of glasses or contacts. It has minimal side effects, and is reversible (should one decide it's not the option they want.) The lenses would need to be worn each night to reshape the cornea, or perhaps only every other night. But waking up in the morning and popping out a lens and not worrying about it for the rest of the day - or couple days - sounds inviting. Just something interesting, and a LASIK alternative for those of you out there with a bit of Myopia.
Posted by Ryan at 1:36 PM
Monday, November 06, 2006
So I have been playing an online nation simulator for almost 8 months now, and I absolutely love. I figured I might as well drop a link in here to cybernations and tell you guys how much fun it is (if you are in to the whole, online nation simulator game).
If you do decide to join up, message me in game at Diskord of Sheltonians, I can give you some foreign aid to help get your nation off the ground, plus point you to some great alliances for protection, if you are so interested.
Anyway, check it out at: www.cybernations.net
It is great fun, only takes about 10 minutes a day (unless you really get into the politics and stuff, then you can spend hours and hours each day dealing with that, but that isn't a requirement to still have fun).
Posted by Ryan at 3:51 PM
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Today is Halloween. Not a big "holiday" at the Smith home, but we love to make our own carved pumpkins and let them rot on the front porch as much as any family on the block. And though us bigger Smith's are a bit out of the whole dress up like a pirate and princess stage of life...not that there is anything wrong with adults dressing up for Halloween, we just don't have much opportunity...the little Smith now has the chance to look totally cute in the costume of the year. So...celebrate this Harvest Season! Here's some cuties to make your day brighter (little Smith is on the far right)
Posted by Ryan at 3:55 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I didn't realize that I had moderate comments turned on (but I hadn't typed in an email notification address to send me a notification that comments needed to be approved) so I thought that no one loved me, only to find out today that people do love me!
So I apologize to everyone that has tried to make a comment that never appeared, comment moderation is retarded because I love to allow people to speak their minds without edit.
Now on to my post, I have had off and on people as me what I do for my job, which is a tough question to answer. I work with databases, I work on programing for both web sites and applications, I work with mainting servers both with software and hardware, I work with the electrical grid and monitoring and controlling it. It a nutshell, I wear many hats, most of them dealing with computers.
So on that point, if you don't think this is one of the coolest things ever, well then you obviously don't have my job:
Edited to remove annoying autoplay movie
Posted by Ryan at 9:56 AM
Friday, October 20, 2006
So I have decided that I want to make a request to you my reader, a plea as it were.
I would like to request that as I write on topics, be they absestos-induced disease cancer lawyers and their damage claim lawsuits or illness and allergies at the home or my latest recommendations in podcasts and movies, I would like to hear what you think.
Perhaps I am over estimating the size of my readership, perhaps my wife and 2 other people read this page once every other week but I sincerely hope that there are more of you out there.
If there are, this is like I said above a plea, but I think I should restate it more as "an encouragement" from you to please leave any comments that you might have in the comments section. It not only encourages me to write more (maybe this is why you HAVEN'T been leaving comments) but it also at times sparks new and different ideas in my head when I have discussion. Essentially you are not only encouraging me to write, but you are helping my writing proccess.
So thanks for reading this site for however long you have been reading, and if you have requests or comments to make about topics I may discuss or should discuss, I would love to hear them.
Posted by Ryan at 11:00 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
So I got an iPod for Christmas last year and have been pretty much loving it ever since I got it.
I honestly carry either it or my Macbook pretty much everywhere I go (including taking it with us as we went trapesing across Europe last spring).
One of the things that I really got into early on in my iPod life was podcasts. I have gone through quite a few different podcasts trying different ones out until I found a list of podcasts that I really enjoy. I know the frustration of trying to find a good podcast and wading through some bad recommendations from friends (I am looking at you ze_Frank) so I thought I would post a list of some of the podcasts that I enjoy for you either to ignore or for you to try, up to you (but I highly recommend at least giving a few of these a shot).
My top rated podcast is the infamous EscapePod a science fiction podcast. If you don't enjoy Sci-Fi you might want to avoid this, but even if you don't but enjoy just flat out GREAT short fiction I would strongly suggest you at least give a few episodes a shot, you will be happy you did.
My 2nd favorite podcast is actually a pod-rebroadcast of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell me radio show. If you have never listened to the radio show you don't know what you are missing. It is a great way to get caught up on all the happenings of the week as well as laugh yourself silly.
My 3rd recommendation is actually one of the newer podcasts that I have started listening to called Decoder Ring Theatre. It is very similar to those old time radio broadcasts your grandparents probably grew up listening to. They have 2 story lines that run side by side, one is "Red Panda Adventures" which is a superhero adventure type story, and the 2nd is "Black Jack Justice" which is a 20's type crime/mystery drama. I like Black Jack Justice a bit more than Red Panda, but both are good.
My 4th and final recommendation (for today) is actually the newest addition to my podcast list. I added it last night and have already consumed the first 5 episodes and I think it is great (although looking at the release schedule new episodes could take longer than the above 3 shows). It is called "How to Succeed in Evil" and is sort of a "anti-superhero" type adventure, with TONS of comedy thrown in as well. It is well very done and I have high hopes for future episodes (except in the last episode I listened to their sound effect for a golf cart was more annoying than anything I have ever heard before).
Lastly, I downloaded my first podiobook ever last night (I actually downloaded 2). I downloaded Scott Sigler's "The Rookie" and "Infection." They have been recommended a few times by Steve Ely of EscapePod, and since I highly enjoy the stories he picks out for EscapePod I thought I would give these a trial run, I will post here in a week or so when I have finished Infection to give you my review.
Posted by Ryan at 5:00 PM
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
*sneeze* *sniffle* *cough*
That would be the sounds I have been making this last weekend since I decided to mow the lawn. UGH. And the worse part about all of this, as soon as my allergies start to calm down, we will be headed right into cold season. If there is one thing I hate it is a runny nose. These last few days my nose has been dripping like a leaky faucet and it is driving me crazy! The other problem is that I will use allergy medication to fix the issue, but then I spend the entire next day with this horrible hangover, no fun :(
On a lighter note Shalisa and I got to play some Settlers of Catan over this last weekend with our good friends the Holzgrove's. I love Settlers, it is like one of the perfect games in that it combines strategy with trade/bartering skills, both things I absolute love. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but another reason I may have enjoyed playing Settlers this weekend is that I won both games we played and if you don't know my motto I will share it with you: I play games for fun, and it is only fun when you win.
Okay, I am not quite THAT bad, but I am pretty hyper-competitive which I am hoping won't be to my detriment as our children start to grow up. I know some of my competitiveness comes from my parents, and I think it is a healthy amount (although there are times when playing Boggle that my wife might disagree.)
Posted by Ryan at 6:21 PM
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I have written like a sentence to start off about 3 different topics that I had in mind to post about today, but writers block seems to have struck as I couldn't really couldn't anything to say. Heck even getting a 2nd sentence out on this post is painful as I keep deleting stuff and rewriting what I am trying to say.
I guess the gist of all this is, there isn't much to say today, hopefully tomorrow I will have more to say. I suppose this is why I am not a professional journalist or anything, as on days like this I suppose they have to forge ahead and come up with something interesting to write about. Granted as they curse at their computer that just blue screened for reasons they can't fathom they figure that is why they didn't go into the computer field, so I guess it all balances out.
My hopes to push cancer related content in Adsense seem to, for the most part, have been partially successful. I will say it is kinda fun to watch the ads that appear on my blog as I make different posts to see what Google thinks are "relevant targeted ads."
In the last week I think I have seen ads that range from some strange herbal diet tea crap to info on finding a lawyer if you suffer from absestos inhalation (although that was kind of on purpose, sort of).
I had a good talk with Brian earlier about how targeted ads work on the internet and as we were talking about it with both came to kind of the same realization. That whitelisting certain ad sources (we both agree that adsense, for the most part is unintrusive and relatively clean) so that the ads appear when viewing sites is actually kind of nice. That way if you visit a site that has content that you really like and you want to support the site, you could click on one of their ads to show your support for the site.
I promise this will be my last post about adsense (I didn't even mean to go there, this is just kinda a meandering post that is going everywhere) at least, I promise for the next week or so, you never know when some strange development will arise that makes you want to talk about something.
Anyway, hopefully I will have something more interesting for my peeps tomorrow.
Posted by Ryan at 12:21 PM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Now I know what you are thinking, what the heck is Mesothelioma. Well it is a form of lung cancer that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles.
Well that is fine and all Ryan, but why are you posting a blog post about Mesothelioma. Well the main reason I am is because I want a new UPS for the Maybe.Net server that I host. This server provides hosting for such sites as the SiR Forum, the Maybe Gallery, Holzgrove.com, Riverinme.com, CameronTondre.com, and of course MaddieSmith.com.
In case you haven't noticed, recently I started running Google Adsense on my blog page (as well as a few other sites) in hopes of making a few bucks. I have to say thanks to Justin for pointing me to the idea.
Well today while I was chatting with Brian Dickman (our server admin) and he pointed me to this article. What it talks about is basically there are a bunch of lawyers out there that are basically ambulance chasers looking for new victims of asbestos inhalation who want to sue people. I think this is part of the problem in America, we are a sue happy people. Now I am not saying that these people who were potentially harmed by asbestos inhalation don't need assistance, but if the companies they were working for did not know of the hazards of asbestos then why should they be held liable for the pain and suffering of their employees now. You could use the same argument that the employees are the ones at fault since they showed up for work, they had the same knowledge of harm that their employers did. Now if some business was knowingly sending their employees into harms way, that is a different story, but I tend to believe those cases are few and far between.
So basically this whole article is my way of "sticking it to the man" where the man in this case is the lawyers out there looking to take advantage of suffering indivuals out there (because honestly, the lawyer will more than likely see more of the settlement in attorney fees that the actual individual will).
So if the ads that show up on my page are related to asbestos induced cancer, I encourage you to follow the links and check out these individuals who are looking to make a buck off of other people's pain and suffering (not only that, but you will help put bucks in my pocket).
Posted by Ryan at 11:48 AM
Monday, October 09, 2006
Well we at the Smith home had a pretty eventful weekend, but it was well worth it.
On friday night we drove up to grandma and grandpa Tondre's house and spent the night there. On Saturday the entire family including uncle Cameron went out to the pumpkin patch and picked out some carving pumpkins. We went back to the Tondre's and carved our Halloween pumpkins and ate some roasted pumpkin seeds. We drove home later that night so that we could be ready for the big day on Sunday.
Then on Sunday morning my parents (grandma and grandpa Smith) drove up and met us at church, and grandma and grandpa drove down and met us at church as well. During the church service we had Maddie dedicated to the Lord along with Judah Holzgrove and Landon Hansen.
After church we went home and had lunch, and then at two o'clock people came over for cake and ice cream. We all had a great time, the only down side was that the diet took a bit of a hit, but hopefully by the end of the week I will be back on track to reach my goal.
The only downer was that Sunday night I started to feel pretty icky, I think it was a combination of allergies and a cold all at once, but it hit me like a freight train and after 2 Benadryl I was out like a light. I am still feeling a bit hung over this morning, but the foggy haze is slowly lifting.
Posted by Ryan at 9:49 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
So now the "super big (not so) secret" secret is being let out of bag. I am on a diet. Okay, so like everyone and their mom probably knew I was on a diet, but hey, maybe those of you that live in say, Portland, ME didn't know. Anyway the exciting part is that I am now officially half way to my first goal. Okay I know that doesn't make sense but let me explain.
A couple of weeks ago I my parents called and offered to pay for the entire Smith family to take a trip to Maui. Well this sounded like a good deal to me, but during Shalisa's pregnancy I gained a bit o weight. So I decided that before we leave for Muai I would lose 50 pounds. The 50 pounds isn't my final goal, I would like to lose more weight than that, but that seemed like a reasonable and attainable goal to set that I could reach before we left for Hawaii. Well today when I stepped on the scale I had officially crossed the halfway point, I was 25.5 pounds lighter than when I started! Yay!
The funny thing is, for me losing weight has never been a huge problem, it actually comes pretty easily for me, the real challenge will be keeping it off once I have lost it. There is a line from my favorite movie of all time there is a great quote (okay there is a billion great quotes, but only one I am applying here): "In auto-parts, you're either growing our you're dying. There ain't no third direction." Well it applies very well to my dieting. In Dieting, I am either growing or shrinking, there ain't no third direction. The issue is there is a third direction "maintaining" but for some reason it is easier for me to lose weight than it is for me to maintain my weight, so I suppose that will be my next big challenge but I have a few months before I need to start worrying about that.
Posted by Ryan at 8:21 AM
Monday, October 02, 2006
Well I am feeling marginally better, my nose is still running like a broken faucet and I am a bit achy, but how can you feel bad when THE TWINS WIN THE DIVISION!
Thats right, in the most improbable of all events this year, the Twins, who at one point were 8 games under .500 and 12.5 games out of first behind 2 teams somehow came back to not only make the playoffs but to win the AL Central Division. This means instead of playing the evil Yankees, they get the Oakland A's in the first round, at home in the dome!
So with that, and the overtime thrilling touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to Santana Moss I am feeling better, maybe not physically, but hey at least "sportsally" I am feeling better.
In other news I am really bummed out because I just found out about this super cool new small group starting up at our church, but I don't think Shalisa and I will be able to attend since it falls on the same night as our current small group. It is kinda a bummer since the new small group is targeted at young marrieds (and a lot of have newborns) but at the same time I don't want to abandon our current small group as I think they need us and they were definitely there for us when we first started attending 1bc.
So I guess Shalisa and I will just need to pray for God to guide us where he wants us. Hopefully I will physically start to feel better soon, as I took some Nyquil last night and my head is still swimming even now in the middle of the day. I also think some of this has to do with something else going on in my life, but I will talk about that later in the week, so there is a surprise to keep people comming back :p
Posted by Ryan at 1:10 PM
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Well sadly everyone in the Smith Home is currently sick. It started a few days ago with Maddie having a really runny nose and really fussy. The symptoms all seemed very similar to how she was about a month ago when her 2 front teeth came in, so we assumed that it was teeth once again. Well yesterday Shalisa started to feel pretty icky, her nose was running, she had a cough, and I think just felt all around icky, so it looked like the on set of a cold. I was at work, and I felt okay, I was a little tired but attributed that mostly to the fact that I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before. Well come last night while we were at the theatre I started to feel a tickle at the back of my throat, and sure enough I woke up this morning feeling pretty icky.
So everyone is now spending the day resting and trying to recoup our strength, which isn't all bad but it isn't exactly what I wanted to accomplish this weekend.
Hopefully by tomorrow everyone will be feeling better but for now we will all go back to sleep.
Posted by Ryan at 2:40 PM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Just wanted to talk about our sweet little munchkin, love of our lives. She's not been feeling the best as of late. New teeth coming in, and her nose runs, and she gets fussy while sleeping cause there just isn't as much fun stuff going to to keep her mind off the pain in her mouth. I have to hand it to babies, as I remember the soreness of my wisdom teeth popping thru...and 20 teeth in 2 years seems pretty cruel, but - no pain no steak.
Posted by Ryan at 3:59 PM
Of course anyone that knows me is now nodding their heads in unison, but let me explain what I mean.
I am, what I would consider, a pretty social person. I really like people, I can talk for hours about nothing and I just like being around people. That being said, there are several social situations which are like totally normal situations that for one reason or another I just don't know how to handle. I don't know if it was a lack of training as a child or something in my brain is just wired weird. Here are some examples:
This one happened a lot as a child, and only occurs infrequently with my wife nowadays, but it does still happen. Someone will get angry/disappointed with me, very angry but at the same time disappointed with me, it used to be my mom and now on a rare occasion it is my wife. For some reason I don't know how to handle that. I can handle anger fairly well, sometimes not "correctly" (I lash out back in anger at times, other times I am humble and accept responsibility) so I think my issue is more with the disappointment factor, although if someone is just disappointed in me, I find it uncomfortable, but I don't laugh. That's right, if someone is really angry and disappointed in me, for some reason I laugh. I don't mean to laugh, I don't find the situation the LEAST bit funny, but for whatever reason my brain doesn't know how to handle the anger and disappointment at the same time, so as a defense mechanism it laughs. This used to drive my mom nuts (she would only get MORE angry) and until I sat down and talked with my wife about it, it used to drive her nuts. I explained it to her, and although she doesn't understand it, she accepts it for what it is, and actually she says her brother has a similar reaction, so maybe I am not alone in the world in this.
On a more widespread scale in terms of issues and my weirdness is the issue of gifts. I like gifts, I love Christmas, I love giving them and I love receiving them. On my birthday same thing, no problem at all. BUT when someone gives me a gift, like a friend is just trying to be nice and on some random day gives me a gift, I get all weirded out. It isn't that I don't appreciate it, in fact it is quite the opposite. I am so blown away by the fact that someone gave me a gift for just being me and being my friend and being nice to me I don't know how to respond. I will end up saying thank you like a thousand times, look and feel really awkward the whole time, and leave feeling somewhat depressed because I didn't get them any sort of gift. It is the weirdest thing, someone is being nice to me and wants to just give me a gift, and somehow my brain leaves the situation feeling depressed because somehow I feel like a failure because I wasn't able to properly express my gratitude.
So like I said I am weird. The only solace I can take in all of this is knowing that everyone else out there is weird, just in their own unique ways.
So if you are ever feeling awkward and completely out of place, just take comfort in knowing that you probably are but so is everyone else around you.
Posted by Ryan at 2:21 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
With my brother getting more and more involved in his church plant in Maine and Shalisa and I getting more and more involved in our local church (Shelton First Baptist) I find myself becoming more and more aware of my Christianity and where I stand in it.
When I was a child I embraced my parents religion. I was taught from a very young age the power of Jesus and the cross and became a follower of Christ through my parents instruction and upbringing. It saddens me to say, but I honestly believe that my "purest" form of faith was at this time, as I think it is for many individuals. I didn't understand or argue over issues of doctrine and theology, my theology was the most basic and childish (in a good way) of theologies. It consisted of the fact that I new God loved me and in turn I loved God.
As I grew older I started asking questions about my faith (both to my pastors, my teachers, and myself) and begin to want to have a deeper understanding of God and what he had done for me and why he had done it for me. This journey, which I know will last the rest of my life is unfortunately both a blessing and a curse. As one begins to understand the larger issues in Christianity (free will, irresistibility of grace, security of salvation) one begins to encounter opposing sides in Christianity.
This portion of my Christian journey began before I left for college, but was really cultivated and explored while I attended Western Baptist college (now Corbin College. I begin to encounter individuals who had differing opinions than those of my parents, teachers who provided different perspectives than those of my Sunday school teachers. I didn't question the foundation of my faith, but I did begin to question the issues surrounding my faith. I came to a point in my life where I no longer believed what I believed because others such as my parents or teachers told me to believe, but because I had studied these thing for my own and formed my own opinions on issues from research and experience.
Now as Shalisa and I have moved out of college and are growing roots in our local church I am entering yet a third phase of my Christian walk. I am now taking my belief structure and how I perceive things to be done and applying them in my local church. This is essentially where "the rubber meets the road" in my Christian walk. I have this head knowledge and now I have to apply it to my life around me. And this is actually where I have been struggling lately. The question centers around "How do I make my religion relevant to my peers?"
My faith is based on a very firm foundation and I know where I stand, but I also realize that Christianity, for good and for bad; is steeped in tradition. As I look at the church today I see a church that meets my needs as a strong believer, and I see it meeting the needs of my parents and their parents, by how would I rate the church in respect to meeting the needs of peers? In that respect, if I am honest, I have to say the church is neglecting my peers.
Some people mistake the argument as one of presentation. They believe that if we change how church is presented we can recapture that age group. They say things like "If we offer more 'hip' music we can draw those people in." "We need to have more sermons that address the needs of this generation discussing issues like homosexuality and alternative culture." These are not bad ideas that have no merit, in fact quite opposite they are good ideas that have merit, but the problem is they are the right answer to the wrong question. The church is saying how can we keep these individuals inside the doors of the church, how can we make it so these people enjoy their worship service. The changes they want to make do indeed address those issues (there are obviously more issues and things that can be done, I was just using some examples) but unfortunately I think that is like trying to fix a flat tire on your car after you just got into a head on collision. Sure your tire is flat, but there is a MUCH bigger problem that you are turning a blind eye to.
And the question is not how do we keep these individuals in church, but instead the question that all churches should be asking is "How do we get these individuals into the church?" Often today church leadership mistakes their position inside the community, they view themselves as morally right and just and a beacon of light into their community. The problem with that view is often that is not how the community views the church. They often now view the church as bigoted and outdated. A religion for my parents but one that hasn't been modernized.
The struggle now is how to modernize Christianity so that we can appeal to our generation, without compromising the tenants of our faith. This is the struggle that is currently going on in the church and has both good points and bad. I point you to a paper my brother has written addressing some of the problems that can arise when you try to modernize the church but are willing to compromise your beliefs. You can read the paper at his website www.riverinme.com.
The church is now at a crossroads as we move into the 21st century and we are beginning to see what is classified as the emergent church. The emergent church has connotations both good and bad in today's religious culture, so for a perspective that I think best sums up the current emergent church movement I would like to point you to a recent paper written by pastor Mark Driscoll entitled "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church. I do NOT embrace such wingnuts who want to change Christianity into some Universalistic religion that is all tolerant of all beliefs. At the same time the current church is incredibly dogmatic and legalistic which causes outsiders to view us as bigoted hate mongers. The key to succesfully moving forward is balance.
For now I will work in the church however God chooses to use me, and I will be praying for my church leadership that God can guide them and direct them to his ultimate goal. Thankfully though whatever issues I may have with how the church is being run, I can rest assured in knowing that God is all powerful and ultimately it will be his will that is done.
I would like to end with a quote by Mark Driscoll that I find especiallly fitting:
Christianity is supposed to be a two-handed religion. In the closed hand of unchanging certainty are to be such things as a high view of the Bible and literalism, commitment to the Trinity, belief in original sin, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, creation by God, literal hermeneutic, heaven and hell, clear gender roles, and loving humility. In the open hand of less certainty are to be issues that are of a secondary nature that we can disagree and debate over without dividing. They would include such things as age of the earth, perspectives on predestination and election, view of the rapture, worship styles, church government forms, and mode of baptism. These secondary matters are not unimportant, but simply less important than the primary matters that belong in the closed hand of certainty.
Posted by Ryan at 3:31 PM
So yesterday my coworker Yvonne took the rest of the office out to lunch at the Little Creek Casino Seafood Bar. First of all, let me just say, that was complete Yum!
I ended up having a pound of king crab legs, and Joel had the same, I think Yvonne and Janet both had a half pound of shrimp each. The prices are super cheap (I think the shrimp was $7, and the crab legs were $18, although if we had gone with a pound of dungeoness crab it would have only been $9). So if you are every in the area, I highly recommend it.
While on the way to the casino we got stopped by the train in the middle of downtown Shelton. Now I used to get stopped by the train pretty much on a daily basis when I lived on the other side of Shelton, but now living in Lake Limerick I can't think of the last time I had to stop for the train... until yesterday.
I HATE sitting and waiting in the car, it is pointless and I feel like I am wasting valuable seconds in my life accomplishing absolutely nothing. So while sitting in the car I begin to get antsy (big surprise there) and started playing with the headrests in the car. I was pulling them out, swapping them around, and in general just being my usual pesky self. Well Janet made some comment about making me run around the car, and Yvonne offered up a dollar to anyone that got out of the car and ran around it. I don't think she had even finished her sentence before I had the door open and was sprinting around the car. I have to say, my lap time around the car was pretty quick and fellow motorists who were also waiting at the train all had a strange look on their face as I went zooming by. Well I got back in the car, refused the dollar Yvonne had offered up (I did it mainly because running around the car and getting a laugh out of everyone seemed to be more worthwhile than sitting in the car and staring at the back of Janet's head). As I entered back into the car I honestly felt that there was a strong possiblity of Janet and/or Yvonne losing control of their bladder at any moment.
We then sat for another minute or so (some laughing histerically, others of us calmy sitting there wondering what was so funny), the train rolled through, and we were off to the casino.
And that was the longest 2 minutes of my life (or at least Janet and Yvonne seem to think so otherwise why would one run around a car?). That was really like a normal 2 minutes on an average day in my life. A long 2 minutes would be when I am sitting at work with my boss over my shoulder as the SQL servers are crashing in flames... thats a long 2 minutes.
Posted by Ryan at 8:48 AM
Thursday, September 21, 2006
So a coworker of mine the other day informed me that they had signed up for Netflix. They have seen quite a few movies and were wondering if I could recommend some movies for them to watch. I always find recommending a movie really hard to do, because my movie tastes really range quite far and wide and I don't want to recommend a movie that doesn't fit the requesters taste. Usually I ask the requester to give me some movies they like, and then from that I will make my recommendation. Unfortunately via the blog, that is a bit harder to do (ask someone what movies they like) so I thought I would post some of my favorite movies that I have watched. The key here is I am going to try and avoid big name movies that say, 50% of you have seen. My goal is to recommend movies that less than 50% of my readership has seen, but are still awesome, awesome movies. Here are 5.
#1 - Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain [French](English title is just Amélie)
This one is probably the easiest, because like no one has ever seen this movie (which is a real shame) but it is an awesome movie. There is nothing "controversial" about this film, and I just looked in imdb, and it is rated R [it says for sexual content] but I for the life of me can't think why it isn't rated G (and neither could my coworker who I recommended it to). Needless to say, parents may want to preview the movie before showing it to their kids and not taking my word for it, but I think it is acceptable by anyone.
#2 - Memento
This is was the "breakout" movie by Christopher Nolan (of Batman Begins fame, another great [but too popular for my list] movie). This is a true Film Noir movie. The movie follows a man trying to find his wife's killer, but he has no ability to form long term memory. If you enjoy Memento and want to see more of Christopher Nolan's work, I also highly recommend Following but not his movie Insomnia with Robin Williams, that was pretty bad. Memento is probably the closest to 50% I am going to get of readership viewing, but it is just too good not to put on this list. The movie is fairly violent and isn't suitable for young kids.
#3 - Lola rennt [German](English title is Run Lola Run)
This is a short (81 minutes) film about how life's smallest choices (or even accidents) can have far reaching effects not only in our own lives, but the lives of others as well. It is rated R, but mainly just for language (so if your kids can't read well just turn subtitles on and watch it in the native German :p)
#4 - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels [British]
This was the breakout film by Guy Ritchie (he of marrying Madonna fame). Guy Ritchie's next movie after this one "Snatch" was very similar but starred Brad Pitt and was wildly successful. If you liked Snatch, LSTSB was a funnier more indy version of that film. It does have a pretty explicit nudity scene when the guys go to a strip club, so just a warning there. There is also a fair amount of violence.
#5 - Ying xiong [Chinese] (English title is Hero)
I decided the list was missing some nice Chinese/Kung Fu action on it. It is in the same vein as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but I think is a more visually stunning film, and has a better story line. It is rated PG-13 for "martial arts violence", so you can decide if it is appropriate for your 10 year old boy or not.
So there you go, 5 movies that some of you (hopefully a majority of you or this list is a failure) have never seen. These are all a bit "older" with Hero being the newest (2002) so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them at your local movie store for cheap, or my preferred method, Netflix. If you like any of these movies, I would love to see a comment (or if you don't, would love to see a comment that way as well) and if you would like more movie recommendations I LOVE giving them, so let me know and maybe I can do themed recommendations (Action, Comedy, whatever) for my next list.
Posted by Ryan at 9:18 AM
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Well I just needed to rant about my Twins for a moment. I love baseball, always have, always will. As I was growing up I watched the Minnesota Twins win 2 World Series titles from my living room floor. In fact I would say they are my second favorite sports teams (behind of course my beloved Portland Trailblazers).
Well the last 3 years I have seen 3 major injuries to 2 great, potential hall of fame players, and 1 good player. It started in 2004 with Joe Mauer. If you don't know who Joe Mauer is, well you obviously don't like baseball. The guy is arguably the best catcher in all of baseball and he is only 23 years old. The Twins signed him as the 1st pick of the 1st round of the draft so expectations were high to begin with, and I think Joe has lived up to all those expectations. Well during one fo the first games of the season he was chasing after a foul ball when his catchers gear got caught on a SPRINKLER HEAD on the field, and he ended up pretty much destroying his knee. It was a freak accident, and you could argue it cost the Twins the ability to go to the World Series in 2004, as they spent the rest of the year with Henry Blanco and company behind the plate.
Then in 2005 rookie Jason Kubel got called up by the Twins. The guys was absolutely MASHING the ball, crushing it to all fields, chasing down balls in the outfield, and was generally regarded as a very good hitter that could be an everday player for the Twins for years to come. Then, in another freak injury while playing in an Arizona Fall League he completely destroyed HIS knee. He ended up missing all of the 2005 season and has been slowly working himself back into the lineup this year, but hasn't been quite the same player.
That brings us to 2006 and Francisco "The Franchise" Liriano. He is a rookie pitcher for the Minnesota Twins who got put into the rotation at the end of May. Since becomming a starting pitcher he won 12 games, lost 1, and had an era of under 3 while striking out 150 or so batters. At the rate he was going he would have easily been rookie of the year, and the ONLY pitcher who had equal numbers to Liriano was his teammate and front runner for the Cy Young award (given to the best pitcher in the league every year) Johan Santana. Then on August 7th he had to leave a game because of elbow pain. That is bad. That is VERY bad for a pitcher. The Twins let him rest and rehab for 6 weeks and on this last wednesday Liriano made his return to the Twins lineup. He pitched through 2 innings and was absolute destroying the batters, he hadn't given up a hit and hadn't looked like he lost a single step. Then in the 3rd he threw a pitch, winced mightly and rolled his shoulder as he walked off the mound. And that will be the last we see of Francisco Liriano this year, and potentially we won't see him until opening day 2008. There has been lots of speculation around Liriano's injury, wether or not he will need Tommy John ligament replacement surgery or if rest over the rest of this season and the off season will correct the problem.
Either way, this has dealt a crushing blow to the Twins World Series hopes once again. I still think the Twins will make the playoffs, but if they had Liriano and Santana in the playoffs there was a VERY real chance the Twins would have gone into the playoffs as the world series favorites.
Anyway, this has left me incredible disappointed. Here is to hoping that Liriano's injury isn't a worse case scenario and he can return for the 2007 season. Sorry for all of you who hate sports, but I just needed to rant on this frustrating turn of events. 3 potential rookie of the year candidates all injured in 3 consecutive years for the Twins... unbelievable. At least so far Mauer and Kubel have rebounded, and if Liriano rebounds as well, the Twins have a VERY VERY VERY good young core of players that can propel the Twins in the future.
Posted by Ryan at 11:59 AM
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Well I am writing this post from a hotel down in Florence, OR. Shalisa and I have been spending the last few days down on the Oregon coast. Yesterday we drove over from Silverton and spent the day in Lincoln City. We hung out there for a bit and then today we made the drive down to Florence. Tomorrow we will hang out down here for a bit, visit the dunes, go for a hike or 2, and then head over to I-5 and stop in Silverton to spend the night. Then Tuesday we plan on visiting the Oregon Zoo with Eric, Jamie and Taylor. This will be Maddies first trip to the zoo but I am pretty excited about it because Maddie really seems to enjoy any animals she sees, so this could be a really fun day.
I talked with Justin a bit this morning, it sounded like things at church with the launch of the small group locator online tool went well so that is really good. It also sounds like Justin has a long list of items for me to work on. I am kinda excited about that though, as it gives me an opportunity to donate some of my time and energy back to God and the church, something I have been lacking for the last few years to some extent.
This vacation, although definitely not one of our "bigger" vacations has been a real blessing. I think I needed some time to just step away from some of the craziness in my life the last few weeks. The only downside to this whole vacation is that it has been somewhat of a negative impact on my diet plans. About 2 weeks ago I decided I needed to get on a diet, my goal is to drop 70 pounds, which is quite a lot, but I think doable (assuming Shalisa doesn't get pregnant again anytime soon, that is what killed the last one). I actually was doing really well, I had already lost 12 pounds and was progressing along nicely, and then we went on vacation. It is a lot tougher to "diet" when you are eating out, so my hope for the vacation is just to maintain my current weight, then when I get back to town I can get back into eating a bit healthier.
Posted by Ryan at 8:56 PM
Monday, September 04, 2006
Well, we had quite the Laborious Labor Day weekend up here.
After roofing on Saturday (which I have already covered) I was able to get Shalisa her raised beds built this morning and then went and continued roofing this afternoon.
I am really excited about the raised beds, they were pretty simple to put together (a wood box [with no top or bottom] isn't the most complex of word wooking accomplishments) and they look really nice. Shalisa is going to try and seal them with a water sealer tomorrow, and I hope to start getting dirt as well tomorrow. I figure it is going to take about 3 loads of dirt to fill the 3 boxes, so if I can get the dirt at lunch time, and then empty it in the evening I can have all 3 boxes done before we head down to Oregon this weekend.
While I was working on the raised beds I also started looking at our septic system. As I got to looking at it I realized I could cut off about a foot to a foot and a half on the end caps of each of our septic lines. So I got a saw out of the garage, too the caps off the end to see how far down I could cut, puked at the sight/smell of the awful poop mold, and begin cutting. By the time I got done all of the end caps had gone from being these 2 foot high lawn monstrosities to just an above ground end cap and that was about it. I think with me cutting down the pipes and with the new raised beds going in the front lawn will look really nice next year.
The other thing I am going to work on with these beds is I want to connect them all together via an irrigation system. The idea I have is to have a quick connect hose connector on the end of the box nearest the house, then have interchangable heads inside the box (drip heads vs spray heads, depending on what you are growing) and then have them all daisy chanined together. The idea is that then Shalisa (or even I before work) can hook up the hose, turn it on, and water all of the garden quickly and easily. With Maddie around Shalisa hasn't had much time to water, and since we want more children I think ideas like this, that can reduce the amount of time doing a repetitive task can really pay off. Well that was our busy, but fun, weekend. I hope everyone else had a great weekend, now it's off to bed so my body can halfway recouperate to go to work tomorrow.... sigh.
Posted by Ryan at 10:19 PM
So sad news in the world today, Steve Irwin, better known as the Crocodile Hunter died in a freak stingray accident. Even though I am not a huge enviornmentalist or conservationist, I do believe that Steve was a very influencial figure in promoting children to learn about the enviornment around them, and made it an enjoyable experience. He is survived by his wife and 2 children (an 8 year old daughter and a 3 year old son). I don't know anything about where Steve stood in a walk with the Lord, but I know his family could use prayers.
In other, less depressing news, I thought I would update you on how I am doing. I decided that daily updates of how I was doing with being motivated were kind of fruitless, in that a lot of my projects are multi-day long affairs and rehashing the same stuff over and over wouldn't be all that exciting to read. So I will try and update weekly, and I would like to also start throwing up other blog posts throughout the week as well.
So, I didn't quite finish the sharing database project that I wanted to finish BUT it HAS to be finished by noon tomorrow (I have today off) so there will be a bit of stress Tuesday morning to get everything done, but I am confident that I can get it done. I also go 8 out of the 9 substations that I needed to survey done, so that was exciting. I also finished, I would say about 90% of what I needed to do for FBC small group stuff, you can see the page (although depending on when you visit, remember it is still partially under construction) at www.sheltonfbc.org/smallgroup.
I also had a good (well, relatively good) time on Saturday. I went over to the Bennett's house at about 8:00 in the morning and begin the process of tearing their old roof off. We removed cedar shakes and 2 layers of composite roofing material that had been laid across the top of the shakes. After spending all morning removing the roof, we broke for lunch around noon. When we broke for lunch the temperature was already 90 degree's outside! By the time we got BACK on the roof, around 1:00 the thermometer read 100 degrees! Jan pointed out though that the thermometer was in the sun so in the shade... oh wait.... WE WERE ON THE ROOF! We got all of the OSB put up by the end of the day so it was a good day of work. I left around 5 when everyone was finished working, and I think they were planning on going back to roofing today.
I told John that I would try and come help, which I hope I can do. But I promised Shalisa like 3 weeks ago that I would build her some garden boxes over labor day weekend, so that is my big project for today. I am going to go to Lumberman's here soon and pick up the lumber I need for the boxes. I think I am going to make them out of 2 - 2x6's 8 footers on the sides and 4 footers on the ends. They are going to be pretty simple, since I will just get a 4x4 as well that I can cut into 1 foot sections to use as corner posts.
Well I suppose that is it for today, I better get to work. I will make a post tomorrow morning from work on what I am going to do this week at work.
Posted by Ryan at 8:55 AM
Monday, August 28, 2006
So it took me a bit to log in to Blogger and get everything setup, but I actually tried earlier, but it looks like Blogger was adding Google account log in stuff or something, since it was down. But it is up now!
So, things I need to work on today, and this week.
I need to finish the sharing project at work. This project has been going on for months, and really isn't that hard, I just need to get my butt in gear and finish it off. I need to finish off the Add New/Edit page, finish off the search page, and that is about it. I will post tomorrow how I am doing on this one. I also need to setup a time to travel around the county to each of our substations. I am working on SCADA and my first project is to map out how the substations are currently connected so we can develop a plan on upgrading the network. This will be a week long (possibly even 2 weeks) so it will be slow going for a bit. Lastly I need to work on getting the SCADA screens for the gensite finished. I suppose the first step on this is figuring out HOW to even generate the screens off of the SQL server there. Need to do some research on that as well.
I need to uninstall PHP5 from the church webserver and install PHP4. I want to get this done today and test it out, it is what I plan on doing for lunch. I also will be doing my fantasy football draft tonight, so that will take up some time today. Lastly I need to do lawn care tonight and tomorrow night, I need to water and fertilize tonight and then mow tommorrow, since we are having our BBQ on Wednesday.
That looks like a pretty good list of things to do, so we will see how I do, but at least I have it up there.
Also, on the TicTacToe thing. I have always been interested in artificial intelligence programming and the like and when I was in hischool I wrote a tictactoe program that had different difficulty levels. On the hardest level, the computer never lost. But this was all done by me programming in the "perfect" move for each situation for the computer. What I want to do with this new project is write a web app interface for tictactoe that would allow people to visit the page, and play games against the computer. The computer will have no preset moves or even concepts of how the game works, but through playing the game it will "learn" the rules and how to progress towards playing the perfect game. This actually solves 2 goals I have at once. 1) I really want to get back into programming for fun, and playing on the computer for fun. In the last few years I felt like I have lost some of my "geek" factor and I want to recapture that. 2) I really want to learn web 2.0 concepts like DOM, AJAX and the like, and this is a perfect opportunity to write a cool, interactive program that is pretty much PERFECT for web 2.0 type interfaces. The sad thing is I probably won't be able to get to this project until like the end of September, first I need to get the Youth server up, and then after that get the small group database for church up. Oh well.
Back to work I go.
Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Wow, what a great morning!
First of all, and most importantly the Twins won last night in a thrilling, 11 inning game over the evil White Sox, so that of course is great.
Also I just found this great little app for my Macbook, it is called QuickTunes and it puts up a little notification window when songs change (some people might not like this) but most importantly, it provides quick access to iTunes controls off of the top menu bar, including the basics like play,forward, rewind, etc as well as extra's like rating, play other by this artist, play other on this cd, and play other in this genre.
It is pretty much provides everything I have wanted in a while in a menubar iTunes controller, and it works greats, and best of all it's free.
So if you have a Mac, and listen to iTunes frequently, I HIGHLY recommend it.
Note to self for later today/tomorrow(and the rest of you to try and decipher): TicTacToe-AI
Posted by Ryan at 10:01 AM
First read the preceding post before reading this.
I just got back from putting Maddie back to sleep :)
I was a really easy night, took me less than 5 minutes, but still... I feel somewhat vindicated. Hey, if I am going to share my failures on my blog, I am sure as heck going to post the few times I am right as well.
Posted by Ryan at 12:10 AM
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Well it is late Saturday night (bet you couldn't guess that from the title!) and I am sitting in bed, sorta waiting for Maddie. Here is the deal, for some reason Maddie as of late has decided that right around whenever we go to bed (and honestly, the time doesn't matter, it is 10:00 some days, 11:00 others and even 12:00 like tonight) but whatever the time it is that Shalisa and I both actually crawl into bed, that is the time for her to wake up. It is actually pretty impressive, I have no idea how she is doing it, I am just convinced she is either EXTREMELY intelligent and torturing us, or perhaps she has some paranormal abilities.
Anyway, I am lying in bed waiting for Shalisa to finish up in the bathroom so that once Shalisa climbs into bed, I can then go up and put Maddie back to sleep. And as I type this, the baby monitor just clicked, indicating that she is stirring, I haven't heard any crying yet, but Shalisa is still putzing around. This is actually pretty scary/impressive, as I am typing this the exact events that I have laid out are actually happening. Scary.
Well while I have a few more minutes before Shalisa reaches the bed/Maddie wakes up I guess I will write about what I originally got on to write about.
I am thinking that Monday morning, I am going to change the start page of my work computer to my blog. This is step 1 of my master plan. Then each day I am going to try and make a blog post, it will contain pretty much some random stream of consciousness thought, similar to this post or whatever else I feel like blogging about. But the IMPORTANT part of all this is, I am going to also post what I need to work on, both in terms of work and personal life, for all to read. I figure you can't get much more accountable than potentially the entire world. This will serve 2 purposes. 1) It will help me keep track of what exactly I need to be working on (shocking I know to most of you, but my short term memory isn't the greatest) and 2) This will provide me some accountability for how I spend my time (or at least how I spend my time in regards to what my priorities/obligations are).
Honestly this idea scares me a bit, because I know that some days I am much less productive than others, but I have been thinking about how God sees all that we do, there is nothing that we can hide from him and he is the ultimate judge. My goal in life should be to live my life to please him, and in doing so I will also please those around me (at least most of the time :p). So since I can't hide from God, and my ultimate goal is to please him then if I am living by his commandments offering my life up as an open book should be no problem... right? Obviously I am going to sin, sin, and sin again, I have no delusions there. But I know often I think to myself that what I do in private, that no one knows about, goes unnoticed but the simple fact of the matter is that that just isn't true, God knows all and sees all. Lets just be thankful that we all have the opportunity to accept Christ's merciful covering over our sins.
So anyway, that is my master plan. If for some reason you don't see a blog post sometime Monday morning, and you happen to bump into me, remind me!
Well Shalisa is getting ready to get into bed now, I told her of my theory on Maddie, but she has assured me that no, tonight Maddie is going to sleep all through the night. I am at least proud of my wife, she sometimes has a problem being optimistic... and I think with the track record here this is pretty blind optimism... but we will see.
Posted by Ryan at 11:46 PM
Monday, August 21, 2006
It sure has been a while since I made a post over here, but in my myspace blog I said I wanted to start blogging again and pointed people over here, so I suppose if I am going to do that I need to actually have some blog posts for people to read!
So this past weekend we went down to grandma and grandpa Smith's down in Oregon and had a pretty fun time. We were going to go to the zoo on Saturday, and it would have been Maddie's first trip to the zoo but unfortunately we ran out of time since we had to be back in Silverton by 3:30 for a birthday party. We ended up going to the Rose Garden's and the Japanese Garden's and had a lot of fun there. We got quite a few great pictures of Maddie among the flowers which I am sure will be posted on Maddie's website in the next few days by Shalisa. We also had a nice picnic in the park and had a good time.
We also went to the aforementioned birthday party which was held at the Silverton Public Pool and Maddie continued her "water experiences." I am really big on trying to get Maddie acclimated to water, as I love it so much and I want my children to enjoy it as well (instead of being afraid of it like so many kids that I grew up with). Maddie had her first "dunking" which was actually quite scary for me, putting your 6 month old child's head underwater is a pretty scary experience, but we were with a swim teacher there and she said that babies actually do really well with it, their natural instinct is to hold their breath, and if they do sputter when they come back up it is more from the water flowing over their face once they are out of the water than from being in the water. Sure enough Maddie did just great, I could only stand to do it once, but at least she has now put her head completely underwater! She also had a GREAT time just swimming around in the water, I think she is really beginning to enjoy it much more than the first few times we took her in the lake, which I think will have some great long term benefits when it comes time to take her to swim lessons as well.
So enough about this past weekend.
Lately I have had a hard time motivating myself for just about anything, I am not sure why but I really seem to be in this blase mood lately. Hopefully this week I can finish the Youth Church's website, this has been a real thorn in my side, since I have Justin wanting to know when it will be completed, but what needs to be done is pretty much out of my hands for the time being, hopefully once I get the DNS records all straightened out we can get their new site up and running. I also committed myself to working on a small group database for the church, I decided I really want to work more on learning Web 2.0 stuff (for you technical people, DOM, Java and AJAX) and I think this project is a good place to get some practice in. Brian Dickman is such a great friend (and a great resource as well :P) and he said he would be willing to help me, but I know he and Sara are headed off to Las Vegas come Wednesday for a wedding so I might have to push the project back until next week, but as long as I can get it done before September starts, it shouldn't be a big deal.
Also at work I need to finish the Sharing database, granted this needed to be done a while ago but this same blase attitude has been affecting my work life as well. Not sure why either, as lately I have been rewarded with a nice raise at work, so I don't know why I am not more motivated to get things done at work, this attitude has pretty much penetrated my entire life at the moment and I don't know what to do to get out of this funk.
Anyway, I suppose I should head home for lunch, I wouldn't mind some prayer that God would help me with an attitude change (which I am sure will come) and thanks for reading.
Posted by Ryan at 1:10 PM
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Well, really Mom is doing all the typing, but I really just wanted to talk to Daddy since he's been away the last couple days and I don't get to see him till Thursday. I miss him a lot, and want him to see what I've been up to lately.
So, I haven't really learned anything new as of yet. But, I did get to go in my excersaucer, which I'm still a tad too little for, but I really didn't mind, actually I thought it was a ton of FUN! I can't wait till I can go in it again.
Mom is helping me get on a really good schedule. I take naps pretty often, and they are getting longer and longer. Sometimes I wake up and have to fuss a little bit, but I'll go back to sleep after a little bit. The first night time without Dad was okay, but I could tell someone was missing. It will be nice when he's home and I can sleep more soundly-I feel safer with Dad around.
Today we took a walk, and then we took pictures of me and Mr. Piccadilly. I think for the rest of the day I'm going to play and read and maybe take a bath. Then it will be bedtime again!
When I wake up in the morning Uncle Cameron and Grandma T. will be here to visit me. I have to get lots of rest tonight so that they can play with me. We miss you Dad, see you real soon!
Posted by Ryan at 5:06 PM
This weekend was our weekend to visit family and friends in Oregon. With so many people to visit in so short amount of time it can get pretty crazy, but we were able to see most everyone we wanted to see except for cousin Cyndi who has recently graduated. We saw good friends Steph and Matt who gave us a yummy BBQ dinner, and Maddie enjoyed a nap in the papasan chair, just perfect for her!
We enjoyed some good ice cream with Bob and Sue while Maddie enjoyed her fingers.
We met Grandma Arline at the Roadhouse before we went up to meet friends Brian and Sara at the REI sale. And then headed to dinner with the cousins. Good time had by all.
Posted by Ryan at 4:50 PM
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Well we have finally come to the end of our trip. It is a bit sad that this wonderful adventure is comming to a close, but also at the same time we are excited to be back among friends and relatives to share our memories with.
Today we started the day off by visiting probobly Rome's most grand/historic structure of all, the Colosseum. It is approximately the size of the old Kingdome (during gladiator duels the stadium held anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 people!) yet was built 2000 years ago without the help of any gasoline powered heavy machinery. The whole thing was constructed completely using "slave" power, which it turns out is quite effective!
I didn't realize but the actual floor of the colosseum was a raised floor 2 stories off the ground. Beneath the sand (the roman word for this was "arena") was a wood floor and beneath that was 2 stories of substructure that housed elevators for raising and lowering animals and people, the animals and people themselves, and elaborate "sets" that could be changed quickly up above to represent the area that the fight was supposed to be occuring in.
After wandering around the Colosseum for about 2 hours and snapping a ton of pictures we headed across the way to the Roman forum. This was the heart and soul of ancient Rome, where all of their ancient temples to their many gods laid, their senate buildings, and even their halls of justice and a prison. It is pretty amazing to think that what we were walking around in, the broken columns, the half built walls, and even some almost entirely whole structures, had not 150 years ago been buried in over 20 feet of dirt. During the 1800's the entire area was excavated by hand and is still a working archeological dig as the slowly unearth more and more of ancient Rome. The current city of Rome is actually built upon layers and layers of the old city as they continually built their city up. In the forum we saw sights such as the Senate Hall, the columns from the temple of Saturn (the oldest structure I believe we saw, dating from 500 B.C.) and even the remains of the temple of the Vestal Virgins (inside joke, but no joke we actually saw them.)
After walking around on the same stones that the likes of Julias Ceaser, Marc Antony and others wandered on we climbed up the hill to Palantine Hill. This was the hill that the Palaces of all the old Emporer's built their palaces upon. As we wandered around the 150,000 square foot "house" that the remains of still lie here, we realized that our house wasn't really all that big ;) Also from up on Palantine hill we had a view down to where the old Circus Maximus used to be (it is just a lump of earth now). Think the Daytona Race track, circa 1 B.C. This is where they held chariot races ala Ben Hur, 12 times a day, 240 days a year. This race track could hold 250,000 people at a time (much like our Nascar tracks of today) and in fact during one race on of the wooden bleachers failed and in the collapse more than 13,000 people died!
After that we took a short walk up to St. Peter in Chains (where we had to wait around for about 20 minutes because they were on their lunch break when we arrived) but then entered and saw both the chains that supposedly held the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul when they were imprisoned in the Roman prison's as well as the most impressive sculpture I think I have seen this trip. This was a sculpture by Michelangelo that was done for a Pope, but was never completed. It is a sculpture of Moses that was supposed to be part of a sarcophigus for the Pope when he died. It was to have 16 full sized sculptures on it, but I think Michelangelo only was able to complete about 6 before the Pope died, and with his death this "project" was abandon, but still in it's current form it is massively impressive.
After there we took a pretty long walk through the heart of Rome, passing some military cerimony which we believe to be the Italian version of the changing of the color guard (we just randomly ended up practically in the middle of it). After waiting a few minutes for the ceremony to complete we arrived at the Trevi Fountain. This was made even MORE impressive by the knowledge that the entire fountain is powered by a gravity water system via the rebuilt ancient aquaducts. We then took a short walk through the very touristy section of Rome (it is hard to tell the difference between it and the rest of Rome, the city as a whole is pretty touristy) and arrived at the Spanish Steps. They were a bit of a dissapointment, I didn't know exactly what to expect, but after the sights we had seen early in the day viewing a large section of 300 year old marble steps, although nice and pretty, kind of paled in comparison for the day.
After that we hopped on the Metro, rode back to our stop, grabbed a bite to eat and took one last wander through the tourist stores before heading back to our room. We are probobly going to try and wander around a bit tonight to find one last bit of gelato (we have honestly had gelato at LEAST once per day, every day this trip, and in the Cinque Terra and other places we were averaging upwards of 2-3 times per day).
Can't wait to see everyone and share some more photo's (if you aren't sick and tired of them already) of our trip. The photo's I have posted throughout have just been whatever I could find quickly, and after reviewing some of them I have noticed I could have picked MUCH better photo's to display, so hopefully this will at least proved SOME incentive to view our vacation photo's (plus for the grandparents we have like 1000 more pictures of Maddie, which they always love to see).
So for the last time from Rome, and I guess from Europe for this trip,
Posted by Ryan at 9:29 AM
Monday, May 22, 2006
Well today we started our first actual touring of Rome... and let me just start off by saying, WOW is it hot here... and the locals all think this is "comfortable" weather and that it really gets hot in July and August... wouldn't want to be here during that time!
Our original plan was to start off the day viewing the Vatican Museum and the Sistine chapel, then working our way over to Saint Peter's and then finishing the day at the Pantheon and maybe spending our evening at Trevi Fountain or the Spanish steps... we quickly realized that our plans weren't going to go exactly as we had hoped, but we still had a great day. We first rode the metro to "near" that Vatican (Rome's metro system is nice, but very limited as every time they dig a hole here in Rome they literally start unearthing much of civilizations history, so digging subway tunnels is a slow process). Anyway, we walked the 2 blocks south from our stop to the Vatican Museum entrance (it was only about 15 minutes after opening time) and saw the line... or at least we THOUGHT we saw the line. It stretch all the way down the block (which was about the size of a football field) and was about 6-8 people wide... In the guide book it said average about 10 minutes per 100 yards of people, so I was thinking this was a long line but it did seem to be moving quickly so I figured it wouldn't be too bad... Shalisa was a bit more skeptical (as is her nature at times.) Well we walked to the corner, rounded it... and stretching before us, as far a we could see the line continued, probobly for another 300 yards or so... we kept walking and walking to get to the back of the line, and after about 15 minutes, and literally nearly a mile of walking we reached the end of the line. At this point we both decided that waiting in THAT long of a line might be a bit crazy, and we shoudl reconsider where to start our day. Lucky for us the end of the line was very near the entrance to St. Peters (about a 3 minute walk or so) and St. Peters had been open for about 2 hours already, so I figured the line there would be a bit smaller. It wasn't just a bit smaller, it was virtually non-existant (at least compared to the previous line) so we quickly jumped in to this line, and within 5 minutes we were ready to start touring St. Peters.
Unfortunatly the NEXT of our days surprised crept up on us. Up until this point Maddie has been an ideal traveler, in fact she has probobly been less fussy than either Shalisa or I for the trip. But I think the heat of Italy (and especially Rome) finally got to Maddie (it had gotten to Shalisa and I about 3 days ago). For the rest of the day she was fairly fussy, we can't complain too much since we had kind of expected her to have a bad day here or there and she hadn't so this wasn't too bad, we just had to make frequent stops to get her out of the carrier, let her lie down somewhere AWAY from our hot bodies and put some water on her forhead to help cool her down. After about 15 minutes or so we were finally able to enter St. Peters and we both stood in amazement.
I am sad to say that we weren't COMPLETELY blown away, as we have been spoiled to be able to travel to a lot of different places and see large cathedrals and what not (like St. Pauls in London) but it was still quite a sight to behold. We walked around the lower part of the church snapping photo's of the massive worship area, the imposibly high dome, and the walls that just seemed to go up forever.
After finishing with the ground floor we decided to climb the dome. This had been one of the highlights to our London trip (climbing the dome of St. Pauls) and I was really looking forward to climbing St. Peters. It was a mighty trek, 320 stairs in all (plus a lift to get us up about 3 stories before the stairs even started) and when we reached the top we were not dissapointed. No building in Rome is allowed to be higher than St. Peters so the views of the city are completely unobstructed from the likes if skyscrapers. After snapping a bunch of photo's from the top of the dome we begin the slow and steady climb back down.
Once we finished there we grabbed some food on the side of the street and, I need to interject here and say that much like pretty much every vacation Ryan had lost his sunglasses yesterday when he had left them in the hotel yesterday when they got kicked under the bed. Shalisa had noticed that they were under the bed and had thought she had told Ryan, but he hadn't heard her so they were left for the cleaning crew or the next lucky traveler who looked under the bed. Anyway, along with grabbing food Ryan had been wanting to "barter" with the street vendors. You can buy geniune Rolexx or Rollex watches, Guicchi bags or Nikke sunglasses. Ryan bartered with the sunglass guy and finally got a pair of geniune "Nike Made in USA" sunglasses for cheaper than any other sunglasses he found in any of the tourist stores.
We then headed over to the Vatican Museum which had a much smaller line by now, only about a 10 minute wait and got right in. We cruised through the museum, stopping to notice some of the significant works but not really inspecting too much of it. At the end of the museum we got to what we had gone through it for, the Sistine Chapel. I don't know what we were expecting, the chapel certainly wasn't what either of us were expecting, but was completely awesome none the less.
After that we hopped on a bus, which I HAVE to share the story about driving in Rome, but I am running out of time as the internet cafe is closing down so I will save that for another post. We rode the bus to the Pantheon where we saw the largest, still in use, complete building from before Christ. The Pantheon was pretty impressive, but we had seen bigger and better a lot of other places, but when you realized that this building was actually built before Christ where as the other churches were relatively newer (only about 500 years old) it was truly impressive.
We rode the bus once again back to the train station, did some quick grocery shopping for tomorrow, and then headed off to the hotel.
I am sorry I don't have time to post pictures, you can rest assured that I will... but the guy is literally hovering behind me to try and motivate me to leave, so I will appease him (techincally the store closed 10 minutes ago).
Ciao for now, but be seeing you real soon.
Posted by Ryan at 12:15 PM
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Shalisa in the Kathe Wolfart store (I spelled that wrong)
Kelly, Shalisa's old roomate who lives in Germany now, with Maddie.
Shalisa with the Nightwatchman and one of our friends we met in Bacharach from Georgia
Us hiking the wall.
The Rothenburg wall, quite impressive as it circles the whole city.
Maddie at the Castle Garden entrance.
Desert with Michele
Us at the world famous engineering disaster, the leaning tower of Pisa (before the train broke down)
Hope everyone has a great day, and we will have TONS of great pictures from the Vatican for you tomorrow.
Posted by Ryan at 11:40 AM
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Well we managed to find an internet connection even here. The internet truly is available everywhere. We rode the train from Venice to Riomagiore yesterday, it took about 5 hours or so and wasn't NEARLY as beautiful as the train from Germany to Venice through the Alps.
Once we arrived we found our apartment and dropped our bags off. Once we had the room settled Ryan grabbed his swimsuit and we headed out for a walk around town. We found the beach trail and hiked along that for a while. It finally ended at a "breach" and I use that term lightly, it was more like a less rocky area. There were a few people lying around on the rocks sunbathing, and Ryan decided to take a swim! He changed discretely on the beach and then took off swiming in the water. The water temperature wasn't too bad, not quite as nice as Hawaii but certainantly much warmer than back home. Ryan swam for about 10 minutes or so and then got off and took a quick shower.
We headed out for dinner, had some great pizza, and or course picked up some home made gelato for desert (we asked the girl behind the counter to recommend a flavor, and she recommended cherry, WOW, was it good).
Today we took out for a hike, thinking we would hike from Riomagiore to Monerola. That was a quick hike and so we decided to continue on to Cornegla and that was a bit tougher, but after eating a bit of foccacia and grabbing some water we decided to hike on. From there we took the hike into Vernazza and wow, it was a tough hike (took about 2 hours just for that part) but was completly worth it for the views we saw. From Vernazza we gave up on the hiking (the last part to Monterosa is supposed to be the hardest, not the longest, but definitely the hardest) and so we cheated out at the end and took the train. All in all we figured we hiked about 5 miles on some steep and rugged terrain, so we should sleep well tonight!
After we finish up here we are going to take the train back to Riomagiore, there is a place that sells cheeseburgers across from our apartment and we both decided that a cheeseburger actually sounds like a nice change from pizza and pasta. Once we take off tomorrow morning we have a quick 2 hour stop in Pisa to see the leaning tower, and then it is on to our final destination Roma! I think we are both a bit sad that we are closing in on the home stretch of what has been a wonderful trip, but getting home and sleeping in our own bed and not living out of a suitcase (especially with Maddie) will be nice as well.
I hope everyone is doing well at home, and we can't wait to see you all, Ciao!
Posted by Ryan at 8:24 AM
Thursday, May 18, 2006
So we found a NEW internet Cafe, and it has 2 great features, 1 no more Mr. Sniffles the sicky and 2, it actually has a decent (read non Windows 95) computers that I can plug my camera into. So make sure you read the post below for what we have been up to, this will just be pictures and a short description.
The Grand Canal
St. Mark's Square
Us on St. Mark's
The Bridge of Sighs
Maddie and Emma
Posted by Ryan at 10:58 AM