Sunday, December 31, 2006

3D Pavement Drawings

I love those 3D pavement drawings. If you haven't seen them before, they can be mind blowing. My favorite drawer is Julian Beever. Check out his website. Basically for a 3D drawing you have to assume a viewing from one perspective. If you view from the wrong angle it looks weird and distorted but from the right angle it takes on a 3D appearance. Here is an example or two great looking 3D pavement drawings:

Now here are the same drawings from the wrong angle:


Here is my favorite by Julian Beever:


Sony preps 3rd version of PlayStation 3

OK this is just ridiculous. Sony is completely out of touch with their market. First the scale back on the system itself, then the price point of the PS3, the measly number of units available for the holidays, and the lame games for launch. Now they want a multimedia-oriented version at $1600? I loved my PS2 and was so looking for the next generation. That was over a year ago and things surely have changed. We weren't lulled into buying an overpriced game console why would we be lulled into buying a very overpriced Blue-Ray DVD player. Unless there are some magical specs on this "new" PS3, what could possible justify $1600?

Sony preps 3rd version of PlayStation 3
By Justin Mann,

You'd figure Sony would concentrate on getting their existing two models of PlayStation 3 into peoples homes before developing a third, but that isn't the case. Sony is looking to introduce a multimedia-oriented PlayStation 3 soon, designed to be a multimedia center rather than as a gaming console:

The “media-centric” PlayStation 3 will feature capabilities of consumer electronics devices and will be more focused on digital media content playback, rather than on gaming. Based on claims reportedly made by

executives of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., PC Watch web-site reports that the PlayStation 3 “media-centric”-edition will feature anti-vibration mechanism on the Blu-ray disc drive, 512MB XDR memory, more advanced power supply unit and two HDMI connectors to divide audio and video data.
So what exactly makes this more attractive to someone not looking for a console but a media center instead? I'm not exactly sure, especially since the cost of this unit will be even greater than the existing consoles, and the article estimates it could be sold at $1600 or even higher. Personally, I think Sony should concentrate on other issues before expanding the scope of the already-troubled PS3.


At the Capitol, VIP Roll Call Has Many No-Shows

Apparently being President doesn't mean much to many politicians. President Ford's viewing was less than sparse. A sad reflection on the state of politicians' sense of propriety. As an elected official you represent your constituents and therefore should pay "your" respects in the passing of a President. There were only five living Presidents so your schedule can't be inconvenienced too many times. How many politicians were at annual bowl games?

At the Capitol, VIP Roll Call Has Many No-Shows

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 31, 2006

The military band drilled. Wreaths with white roses hung outside the House and Senate chambers. In the Capitol Rotunda rested the black velvet catafalque that once bore the remains of Abraham Lincoln.

Everything was in place for Gerald R. Ford's state funeral last night

-- everything, that is, but the statesmen.

President Bush sent his regrets; he was cutting cedar and riding his bike on his ranch in Texas. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his deputy, Richard Durbin, couldn't make it, either; they were on a trip to visit Incan ruins. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a pass, too -- as did nearly 500 of the 535 members of Congress.

A 6-to-3 majority of the Supreme Court, including Ford's appointee, John Paul Stevens, ruled against attending. All the nation's governors were invited; few, if any, came. Apparently only two Cabinet members -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez -- accepted the invite.

Congressional staffers and Ford family representatives scrambled to find sufficient greeters and honorary pallbearers to join Vice President Cheney and a score of former lawmakers and Ford administration officials. Organizers had to scratch one name they had circulated Friday as a pallbearer: Elford Albin Cederberg, the former Republican congressman from Michigan, died eight months ago.

Waiting in the Capitol crypt -- the holding place for lawmakers attending the rites for Ford -- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) noted the absence of a quorum. There were only eight congressmen in the room, and a couple of them were watching the Texas-Iowa football game. "What's the score?" one called out.

"Everybody's got to deal with their own schedule," Sensenbrenner, who brought his wife and son to the funeral, said of his absent colleagues. But in his minority view, funerals "are important," he said. "When you're in an official position, it's one of the things that's the right thing to do."

The American people quickly outdid their representatives in respect for the departed president, as several hundred citizens lined up for a late-night public viewing of the casket. But the populace, too, was slow to rally. Capitol police erected barriers to contain thousands, but by mid-afternoon yesterday, only 20 people were in line -- providing a luxurious person-to-portable-toilet ratio of 1:1.

Ford, a onetime college football star, would have understood that New Year's weekend is a difficult time for a funeral. His 6:30 ceremony was tucked in between the 4:30 p.m. Alamo Bowl (Texas vs. Iowa) and the 8 p.m. Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Virginia Tech vs. Georgia). And it was just bad luck that the ceremony would fall on the same day as James Brown's funeral, a Redskins home game and the appearance of photos showing Saddam Hussein in the hangman's noose.

The modest 38th president -- a "Ford, not a Lincoln" was his famous self-description -- probably would not have fretted about the attendance.

His family, reflecting his wishes, dispensed with the horse-drawn caisson, the military flyover and the round-the-clock viewing that accompanied Reagan's rites here in 2004. And high officials will have a chance to improve on their performance when a second ceremony is held for Ford on Tuesday at Washington National Cathedral. Certainly, though, official Washington could have done better by Ford last night.

Had the majority of America's leaders dragged themselves to the Capitol, they would have developed the inevitable lumps in the throat as they felt the percussive pounding of the cannon battery, heard the gentle strains of "America the Beautiful" and viewed the crisp steps of a military guard carrying the flag-draped casket. But, as it happened, there were only 77 chairs put out for mourners in the vast Rotunda; staffers were invited in to pad the crowd and make the room look less empty.

Bob Dole, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and other luminaries from the Ford orbit were there. Chuck Hagel, Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell were among about 10 senators visible in the crowd, and departing Speaker Dennis Hastert and outgoing Senate President Pro Tempore Ted Stevens offered workmanlike eulogies.

Cheney graciously overlooked his old boss's posthumously published view that the Bush administration had made a "big mistake" and should not have gone to war in Iraq. "He answered discourtesy with courtesy," Cheney told the mourners. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an honorary pallbearer, was a no-show -- reportedly the victim of a delayed flight. And if pallbearer James A. Baker III was in attendance, he proved elusive to the cameras.

Democratic attendance was rather more sparse. The official greeters included Rep. John Dingell, former congressman Lee Hamilton and former speaker Tom Foley. Spied in the crowd were Sens. Chuck Schumer, Carl Levin and Byron Dorgan, and incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Conservatives were quick to condemn Reid and Durbin, who proceeded with four other senators on a trip to South America, knowing they would miss the rites in Washington. "He's the incoming Senate majority leader, for crying out loud, and he can't even show a little bit of respect?" commentator Mike Gallagher demanded on Fox News.

But the disregard was bipartisan. The White House sent out a press release from Crawford, Tex., detailing the logistics of last night's service, then added an asterisk: "Please note that President George W. Bush will not be attending this event." He will pay his respects when he comes back to Washington, then go to the other service on Tuesday. Aides pointed out that this was the same thing Bush did for Reagan's funeral, but Bush had a better excuse that time: He was hosting the G-8 summit of world leaders, not clearing brush on the ranch.

Instead, Bush phoned in a eulogy, using his usual Saturday radio address to proclaim Ford a man of "selfless dedication" and saying, "He always put the needs of his country before his own."

It was a rare trait in official Washington last night.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Head Drop Videos


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is it One or Two?

Jerome Murat


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle

On the Church @ Bellair blog Josh asked, "What is one of your all time favorite Christmas presents?" Mine was my Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. Reminiscing about it led me to looking for videos of the "King of the Stunt Men" and wouldn't you know someone has done a video using that same toy stunt cycle. Ahhhh...the memories.

And for those of you who have no idea who Evel Knievel is...shame on you!
Check out the Wikipedia entry or watch the video. The video is from a special on the History channel. I wish the complete show was online but this video covers the Caesar's Palace fountain jump.


Monday, December 04, 2006

F/A-18F Super Hornet Video

Awesome sound barrier cone at the beginning and then at about 2:20, the hornet seems to defy gravity. From the demo "Vapor Trails Video" filmed by Tom Vance, filmed on October 2005 at the California International Airshow 2005 in Salinas, California, USA.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fungus Eats Man's Face

A man develops a rare infection by the parasitic Mucor Fungus. The result of such an infection is usually death. It is worse than the flesh eating virus. The infection was in his sinus cavity and to save his life he had to have both eyes, his nose, his sinus cavity and the upper portion of his mouth. I can't even comprehend such a decision having to be made.

Here's the video

Here's a video on the Mucor Fungus. It shows it infecting ants, killing them and then sprouting from their bodies.


How to Plan a Worship Service

Here is the basic outline of how Granger Community Church puts together a series. These are usually there main themed services and do not occur every week. What should be noted is that they are "specials." In other words, it's not the same ol' Sunday service you are inviting people to attend. It is special and addresses specific issues in an entertaining way.

How to Plan a Worship Service
6 steps to prepare to serve the living water of Christ.
by Mark Beeson

When I was in high school, my father gave me the great opportunity to work for him in the summer for no money. Some of you had a dad like that, interested in building character instead of a bank account. My dad took me to the farm where he was born and grew up.

On one of the hottest days of the summer, we worked when the sun was at its peak. My dad stopped and said, "Hey, Mark, let me show you something." We came to a spot where there were boards on the ground. Dad knelt by the boards and began to move them aside to reveal a hole. When the hole was cleared my father laid on his stomach, with his shoulders and head over the hole. "Mark, this is the spring. When I was your age, after we worked all day, I'd come with my brothers out to this spring." He reached down into the hole and brought up water. He said, "This is the best water I've ever had." I lay on my stomach beside my father, reached down into the hole, and cupped my hands. I drank that same ice-cold water my dad drank years ago, and he was right. It was the best water I've ever had.

In Genesis 26:18, Isaac reopened the wells his father had dug. Isaac went back when he was parched, thirsty, and in need. He went to wells that had satisfied his father, Abraham, and found refreshment.

Our churches aren't trying to create some new thing. When we innovate, we're simply coming back to the same source, the same Jesus, and we're drinking that water. Jesus said, "I'm the living water; come to me, all you who are thirsty." When we plan a worship service, we simply find ways to help people connect with Jesus, the living water.

Here's our six-step planning process for worship services.

1. Select the series
We outline the entire year in blocks, usually from 3 to 6 weeks for each topical series of worship services. Each series has a topic, theme, and agenda. That helps members invite their friends. Your people can tell friends, "We're starting a new series on family (or marriage or finances or parenting or sex)."

Often, the pattern in church is to build up to holidays. But we launch a new series on big holidays, when everyone is here, and say, "Come next week so you can see Part 2." Then we give people a postcard for the important, engaging topic that will be continued the next week. (Related PDF File: Planning process)

2. Determine the themes
About two or three months before we launch a series, our team determines the series name and themes of each service. Themes can tie to a particular church season, such as Christmas or Easter. Or they can be motivated by specific events in the life of the church, such as stewardship campaigns or leadership transitions. Some of the most-popular themes tie to popular culture, such as hit television shows. (Related PDF File: Series outline for "Lost")

3. Pay attention to the titles
About six or eight weeks before we launch a series, our senior leaders brainstorm specific titles for each week's worship service. (Related Video Clip: Senior Management Team Brainstorming Session)

The Arts Team takes what we come up with, and they hold a similar brainstorming meeting without us. They're just as excited as the senior leaders to present Jesus Christ in a relevant way for those who don't go to church. The Arts Team should share the mission, vision, and values of the senior leaders. (Related Video Clip: Arts Team Brainstorming Session)

4. Promote the series
Four weeks before the series starts, a Communications Team designs and produces postcards. The details of the series are featured on our website, our newsletter, and a press release. We mail the cards to neighbors one week in advance. Our congregation receives the cards in the bulletin, and they invite other people. (Related PDF File: Postcard for the "Lost" series)

The media team begins to create video elements, including short teasers on the topic that we promote in the service weeks ahead of time. (Related Video Clip: Sample teaser.)

In your church are high-capacity, talented, and committed people who do things you cannot: create logos, video, media, postcards. If you let people know what you're trying to do, let them use their time and talents for the cause, and give them enough lead time, they can do it.

5. Build and rehearse
Two weeks ahead, we build and rehearse. We build stage sets and rehearse the dramas. The band and vocalists start practicing. We try to keep any set designs covered until the weekend of the event.

Finding elements for the set can be challenging. Our "Lost" series stage design featured a plane crashed on our platform. Someone found a plane, then our stage designer made a trailer to haul the aircraft from Atlanta. (Related Video Clip: Stage design.)

For another series, based on the movie Signs, we transformed the auditorium into a cornfield. The room filled with fog. We bought the movie soundtrack, and positioned lights to penetrate the darkness.

Every week doesn't have to be a huge production, though. Between series, we address specific topics that need only one week, and we rest and build relationships.

6. Launch the series
We emphasize the first week to start strong. When people come, they must feel the series is helpful and that it's more than entertainment. We want to capture and hold people's attention so we can offer people Christ.

(Related Video Clip: How the planning finally comes together.)

I've learned to hand the ball to people. Give them parameters and get out of their way. You don't want under-challenged leaders. If you let them serve without you, you'll be amazed how far they can go.

Start where you are
If you've never had a planning process for your worship services, you can't immediately install a one-year planning process. But start where you are. Take steps in the direction that God is calling you, by building teams and processes to leverage the talents and abilities of God's people. Maximize every gathering, not just to have a great moment or wow experience, but so that people can meet Jesus.

When you lift up Jesus, people will be drawn to him and want to help because they love him. Oswald Chambers explains this in the title of his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. We can't give a little bit of love and devotion to the loftiest mission in the world. We have to live all-out for God because we have only a limited time on earth.

Mark Beeson is the senior and founding pastor of Granger Community Church near South Bend, IN. This article is reprinted with permission from the 2005 Innovative Church Conference, hosted every year by Granger Community Church.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Olivia Newton-John Live at the Florida Theatre

2006-11-29 Olivia Newton-John Concert 132This past Wednesday (8:00pm, November 29, 2006) I saw Olivia Newton-John in concert at the Florida Theatre. The theatre is a great venue for Olivia. It's small and all seats are pretty good. We sat on the far right side, third row. The seats were great except when she went to the far right rear corner of the stage, usually to get a drink. The drummer was set up on our side and blocked our view from that angle. Since she only ventured back there to get a drink a time or two it was not a big deal.
Olivia still sounds great. She doesn't have the pipes to hit those high notes but her backup singers fill in nicely. The blend is so good you don't even notice that Olivia didn't hit the last of the notes. Olivia looks good for being 58 but you can definitely see signs of aging compared to last year when I saw her in concert.
She performed the songs that you came to hear including hits from Grease and Xanadu as well as some songs from her latest album "Grace and Gratitude." There were a few songs missing that I love to hear her sing but since I have seen her in concert so many times it's good to have a little different mix. Her concerts really haven't changed much over the last few years. In fact I would say she needs to revamp the production before it starts getting too stale for her fans. She has been touring a lot and as a fan who goes to see her in concert whenever she is close, I can see how it can get monotonous. I finally took my mother to see her this time. Of all the times I have seen Olivia, I have never taken Mom. Being her first time, she loved it and had a really nice evening. She even got an Olivia T-shirt in the deal.
The only distraction for the evening was security. When I pulled my camera out 45 minutes before the concert, a security guard said politely that no flash was allowed. I promised him no flash which is fine by me. I hate people flashing their cameras and blinding me in a concert. Out of respect for those around me, I never use flash during a concert. I just manually change my camera's setting to shoot without it. No flash, no bother. Once the concert began and I began clicking, another security guard came to me and politely said no photos. I explained that I was not using flash and she said OK. Now the first security guard was still standing 10 feet away. Half way through the concert another guard came up while I was taking a photo. This time in a not so polite way. She bent over me and shook her finger saying NO! I explained to her that I was not using flash, that I had explained this to the security guard still standing 10 feet away and he should be able to confirm that I have not used flash at all. He shook his yes at this and she said OK and left. You would think that would be the end but no. Towards the end of the concert a police officer came up to me and told me no flash. I not only told him I wasn't using flash but showed him by taking a few. He said no flash and left. Actually, he was pretty polite about it. Now mind you, there were flashes going off all over the theatre during the whole concert but none from our section. What erks me is that if they would have just watched me take a few pictures they would have seen that there was no flash. Why places freak out so much over camera's is bizarre to me.
For those interested in seeing the dangerous photos, head over to my Flickr site.

And for those interested in some video of the concert, see below.


You're the One That I Want

Hopelessly Devoted



Have You Never Been Mellow


Please Mr. Please and If You Love Me Let Me Know

Totally Hot and Twist of Fate

Make a Move on Me

A Little More Love

I'm Not Gonna Give Into It