Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Forgotten Birthday

Several years ago on my birthday, my brother called about 10PM. He said, "Hey, sorry I'm late. I imagine I'm the last one to call, but happy birthday." I told him that in fact, he was the first one to call. "Oh, really?" Within 5 minutes after we hung up, the rest of the family called.

My birthday yesterday, everyone forgot. Well, everyone except the hotel I'm staying at.

About 4 p.m., I was on Skype with my niece being interviewed for a school project. The hotel room phone rang. I excused myself to answer. The hotel front desk was calling. "Sir, we would like to wish you a happy birthday! May we bring you a cake?" I told them thank you very much and yes, they could bring me a cake. I finished up the Skype interview after telling her and my brother's family about the call. Not even a "happy birthday," despite me telling them about the birthday cake.

About 5 p.m., there was a knock on the hotel room door. A man in a tuxedo was holding a cake box. He brought it into my room, thanked me for staying at the hotel, and left. I opened the cake and enjoyed a slice of my birthday cake.

It was a good cake. I shared it with my co-workers.

My birthday that even my family forgot. Only the hotel remembered.

My birthday, however, is in April.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Learning the Classics

The hotel I'm staying at occasionally have musicians playing in the lobby. Tonight, the pianist and clarinetist were playing a song I recognized. It took a minute to recall the song.

Yes, I knew the song from my kids watching Sesame Street.

And they say TV is bad!

Here is the original, Con te partirĂ².

Monday, October 9, 2017

Praise the Lord for XBox

The other day my boys were looking for the 2nd remote for the XBox. After much digging through couches and looking in places where it doesn't belong, they found the controller. My 5 year old said "Thank you, Jesus!"
My first reaction was to think "that's silly, it's a remote." But then the words of Paul came back. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. The will of Jesus doesn't seem to exclude giving thanks for finding XBox controllers.

Once again, my 5 year old has proven he understands theology better than I do. Thank you, Jesus, that they found the XBox remote.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Outer Banks, North Carolina

We recently spent a in Duck, North Carolina.

If you drive in on Virginia 168, there is a short toll road that can be from $3 during the week to $8 on the weekends. A short detour avoids this toll road. We had no traffic on the alternate route. Take exit 8B and follow Battlefield BLVD.


We rented a house for a week from Kitty Hawk Vacation Rentals. Things we liked was close to beach (but not on the beach due to price), had a pool and hot tub, and plenty of room for all. Pool was not heated, which didn't bother the kids. Heated pool was about $500 more. Only odd thing was while linens were provided, you had to put the sheets on the bed. Some places do not provide linens.

Food (North to South)
We brought groceries with us. We ate out just a few times, usually for donuts...

Interesting idea. They make donuts in shop, put whatever topping you want, then skewer them. You can also get ice cream. Tried the cinnamon roll, pancake, and tuxedo. Cinnamon roll was better. They do have gluten free, but a limited amount. If you get there late, they might be out for the day. You can pre-order them for the following day.

It's just popcorn, but it's really good popcorn.

Same thing as Donutz on a Stick, minus the stick. Custom made donuts. I think my kids liked these better, but they were just about the same. No gluten free donuts.

For a place that's only claim to fame is that they are powered by the wind, it's pretty good. Had one of their beers, the olsch, and enjoyed it. Ate the flounder for meal, pretty good.

Attractions (North to South)

2 trails here, we took the shorter boardwalk. About ¾ mile each way, with a viewing platform at the end overlooking the sound. Saw birds and heard frogs. Nice short walk. There is 

Currituck Heritage Park
Lots of cool things in the park. Fishing, crabbing, Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Whalehead, and the Currituck Lighthouse

Saw it from the Currituck Heritage Park.

Small neat museum. Has a scavenger hunt for the kids.

Some old inn. You can take tours. We did not.

A boardwalk runs along the sound side of Duck. Lots of shops and nice views of the Sound

Fishing on the Boardwalk
Fishing and crabbing is restricted to one spot, just north of the town park. 
There is a bait and tackle shop (Bob's Bait and Tackle) on the boardwalk. Picked up string and chicken necks and the kids had a blast.

Beach in Duck
There is no public access to the beach. Where ever you stay should have private access. Ours had a boardwalk over the dunes at the end of the street.

First few days we were there, a rainstorm was moving up the East Coast. The "No Swimming" flags were out. We went most days, but never were able to get into the water due to rip currents and high surf.

Spent about 2 or 3 hours here. They have Junior Ranger program. Listened to a Ranger talk, walked to the top of Kill Devil Hill where the monument is, walked to the recreated hangers/workshops, saw where the first flight took place, and checked out the recreated flier with doubles as a playground. 

National Monument to Flight

Where the first flight took off from

Came out to explore the sand dunes and fly kites. Really cool place and the kids had fun.

Drove the seashore from the north to Cape Hatteras. There is no fee to enter.

You can climb the lighthouse

Haulover Day Use Area
Because of high surf and rip tide, we decided to not go to the beach on the ocean side and instead went to the sound side. We found this day area. It was small, but good for small children. Has bathrooms and washoff showers and changing areas. Kids enjoyed playing in the water and sand.

We climbed this lighthouse. It was $8 for adults.

View from the top

Monday, February 20, 2017

That might not be the good news you were looking for

Several years ago I wrote a post called It Is Good! In it, a United Methodist bishop encouraged people to focus on good news in the world and not just the bad. He cited an example of a news commentator when he was young who opened the broadcast with "There is good news tonight!"

Yesterday, I decided to look into that line.

In World War II, there was a radio broadcaster by the name of Gabriel Heatter. One day, the United States Navy sank a Japanese destroyer. He opened his broadcast with "Good evening, everyone—there is good news tonight." It became an instant hit and his signature catch phase.

Probably not the good news the Bishop had in mind.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Following Random Trail Advice

I use to get Backpacker magazine. When I got it, it included cards for trails to hike. One was a trail called the North Skunk River for Des Moines, Iowa. I spent the summer of 2005 living in Des Moines, so I took up this random trail advice and hiked the North Skunk River trail.

I found the photos from the hike this morning. I took about 10 photos along the trail.

Being nearly 11.5 years later, I don't remember much about the hike. I remember I turned down a lunch offer (maybe it was a party on the capital grounds?) to go on the hike. I also remember it was close to I-35 and you could hear the traffic.

This is the card:

Here are the photos of the hike.

I'll caption them as they are written on the backs. I don't remember what they are of other than that.

 Skunk River and Trail

This is labeled Skunk River at Anderson Canoe Access. I believe this is at the southern end of the trail at 150th Street.

These are just labeled Skunk River Trail

These are of the bog along the bog loop the trail mentions.

Seems like it was a nice hike.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Christmas Story

Ross King has an album called The Christmas Stories which surprisingly enough contains Christmas songs. One of the songs is called Song of Gabriel.

I find the song is in the same vein as Host of Angels. A beautiful song telling the life of Christ, each event concluding with a host of Angels reacting.

The song tells the story of Christmas from the perspective of Gabriel. It captures 3 events, the annunciation of the incarnation to Mary, the birth of Jesus, and the announcement to the shepherds.

In the annunciation section, in the Bible in Luke 1:26-38, Gabriel starts with his thoughts on hearing what he is to say to Mary. It is almost as if Gabriel is saying "what? Your plan is to go to earth as a human? You trust humans to hold God in the helpless body of a baby? This plan is insane."

The birth of Jesus, in the Bible in Luke 2:1-7, Gabriel starts with the threat that Satan played while Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem. How vulnerable the Christ is, an unborn child in the womb of Mary, traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The angels in the song served as escorts, protecting Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Once in Bethlehem, the angels all gather to see the newborn child, while a song, unheard to man, is sung in Heaven.

The announcement to the shepherds, in the Bible in Luke 2:8-20, Gabriel recalls the 23rd Psalm, the LORD is my shepherd. He then tells the shepherds of the birth of Christ and how this is what we have all have been created for. All will praise the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

What a beautiful song.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Make coins great again

With the push against physical currency, especially the penny, I for one like our coins, if nothing else than to look at them. And I can give a quarter to my 4 year old and he thinks he's rich. Try giving a 4 year old a satoshi of a bitcoin.

Anyway, I like our coins, but we keep messing with them, and not for the better.

Take the penny. The back has undergone some changes recently.

What on earth is going on here? The face is fine. Fun fact I learned from Who Wants to be a Millionaire, of the penny, nickle, dime, and quarter, only the penny has the president looking to the right. But the backs? The wheat penny, nothing exciting there. When I was a kid, I thought it was a weak penny. I didn't understand it. Still exciting to find in your change though. Lincoln memorial? Now that was good. The cabin? Sure, whatever. Lincoln on a log? Looks like he is going to the bathroom. Who knows what he is even standing in front of in one of them. The half done capital? Celebrate incompleteness? No thanks. The new design with the shield? Atrocious.

Our penny has gone from good with the Lincoln Memorial to bad with the shield.

The nickle.

The Buffalo Nickle. WOW. Probable the MOST AMERICAN COIN EVER. You don't get much better than that.

So of course we changed it.

Not too bad. It isn't the Buffalo Nickle, but not embarrassing.

So of course we changed it. The cause was good, the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The first change with the backs. Nothing too exciting.

The second change included the front. Jefferson is oddly off on the side with a weird close shot. The "liberty" in his own writing is cool. The backs, we brought the buffalo back! But only for half the coins in a year.

The third change. What have we done? Back to the old reverse, but the front... He's oddly staring at me.

That's just creepy.

The dime.

If any coin needed to be redesigned recently, it was the dime. President Roosevelt is fine, he can stay. Even though he has been beheaded compared to Jefferson and Lincoln. But the back? What on earth is this nonsense? As a kid, I thought it was a forest. Now I know it isn't, but still. E pluribus unum is oddly broken apart. Eplu Rib Usu Num. Still sounds Latin though. A random torch is floating between a oak branch and olive branch. Fix this gibberish!

A new back for the dime should reflect something about Roosevelt. I think the flag raising over Iwo Jima would be perfect.

The quarter.

The front is fine.

We use to have George Washington. He looked like this.

We still have George Washington, but made him look a little nicer and moved some things from the back to the front.

The back use to be the Eagle.

Nothing wrong there. Eagle is America.  Good back.

We did change it in 1976 for the bicentennial to the "drummer boy."

That's pretty cool. In middle school, a coach sold blow pops after school for a quarter. If you had a drummer boy, he gave you two.

We then changed the back to allowed each state and territory to make a design.  Pretty cool.

It proved so popular that under the America the Beautiful Act, National Parks are being depicted on the quarters.

The quarter is doing fine. Well done, US Mint.

But everything else is a problem. Return the penny to the Lincoln Memorial reverse. Bring back the original buffalo nickle. Put Iwo Jima on the reverse of the dime.

Let's make US coinage great again.