friday randoms

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- last night’s episode (”the Constant”) of Lost was absolutely brilliant. the time-traveling and the ending conversation between Penny and Desmond were very well done. probably the best Lost episode so far this season. One question though: How did “1996 Desmond” know what “Dan at Oxford” looked like in order to find him on campus? the ‘96 Desmond didn’t meet Dan yet, right?

- we recently watched Gone Baby Gone on DVD. The movie raises some interesting points especially about the gray areas between what’s morally right and wrong. and who’s to say what’s better for a child - a life with an uncaring mother or a privileged life with some strangers who would give her the attention that she needs? I still don’t like the fact that Ben Affleck directed the flick but the riveting story overshadows that negative aspect of the movie.

- there are some rumors that my all time favorite musician - Todd Rundgren might be touring the southeast in April after his stint in Japan. it’s unconfirmed but there’s a date in Greenville, SC at the HandleBar which I could probably make but I’m crossing my fingers for an even closer show. please, oh please, oh please.

- speaking of Rundgren, he was on american idol last night. OK, OK, not the man but his song I Saw the Light was covered during the group medley. check out the clip on youtube if you don’t believe me.

- ha! I just noticed a funny search term that was used to get to my blog: diarrhea real liquidy. glad to know that google thinks this blog is worthy of a top ten placement for that particular set of search terms. :P if you want to read the old entry that contains those search terms, here ya go.

- we all know about flipping a house. but have you heard of flipping a blog? selling your domain/blog for profit? hhmmmmm, I wonder how much this old blog is worth…. :P ummm, ten cents, maybe?

- song of the day: Wrap Me In Your Arms by Lisa Gungor

Have a great weekend!

change the world

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It’s so easy to proclaim that we need to change the world. politicians, preachers, musicians and activists have all spoken about “change” for as long as I can remember. and seeing all the chaos, violence, apathy, selfishness and prevalent greed in the world, it’s obvious that “change” is indeed needed. But what’s the course of action? where do we start? how do we do it? that’s the hard part. Obviously we have to start with ourselves. it sounds like a cliche but it’s true. how do we expect to change lives and help others when we can’t change the way we are? it all begins with yourself. a couple of colleagues of mine have recently made some positive changes in their lives using The Sedona Method. It’s simply a way of thinking that helps you let go of negative thoughts and feelings while finding the joy and peace in your life. They swear by the method and have seen positive results in the way they deal with day to day stress as well as being more in tune with themselves. I’m still sorting through my own issues and finding a way to deal stress and negativity. I’m not totally sure what method I’ll be using to work my way through it all but what I do know is that “change” is needed. I really don’t want to continue down this path of negativity and self-loathing. But I’m hopeful and I’m looking forward to the day I can make a positive impact on those around me. hopefully we can all make a difference in our lifetime and be able to witness these positive changes bringing forth a new earth. Have you thought about applying the Sedona Method to your life? Head on over to their website to receive their free CD and DVD.

All I Need is Here

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The new album by the Michael Gungor Band titled All I Need Is Here is probably the best praise and worship album that I’ve heard in the last year or so. Michael Gungor shined bright a few years ago with his debut album Bigger Than My Imagination that featured the P&W favorite “Friend of God”. The debut album was produced by Israel Houghton and had his fingerprints all over the album- from the pristine studio sound to cowriting songs with Gungor. On All I Need is Here, Gungor’s sonic palette has evolved to a more brit-rock-ColdPlay sound that’s just *so ready* to get young worshippers pogo-ing to these songs in their respective churches across the nation. As I’ve said countless of times in the past about praise and worship music, it’s tough to be creative and fresh when you’re working within the boundaries of congregational music. the songs need to be accessible and easy to sing along to but then again, not too bland and by-the-numbers to where people simply lose interest. Gungor succeeds here in creating new music that is simple enough to present in front of a congregation but also interesting enough to also work as a stand-alone listening experience. songs like Heaven’s Song, Be Praised and Never Stop are driving arena-sized anthems that are ready-made to excite all those mega-church-goers to a frenzy. The highlight for me on this CD is the 1-2-3 punch of Ancient Skies/Prodigal/Grace for Me. the songs are heartfelt and the choruses are bigger-than-life. the contrast between the acoustic based Grace for Me and the more dynamic Ancient Skies/Prodigal bring the lyrics to the forefront like: Valleys come and tears are drying, there are things I don’t yet see but I’ll rejoice in spite of hardship, You’ll watch over me, You’re grace for me is all I need and all I need is here… the interesting thing to see here is that Gungor humbly places himself within the band format and keeps the guitar solos to a minimum. I was actually hoping to hear more of his skillful guitar playing on the album but Gungor obviously wants the lyrics and the songs to be the focus here. and that’s truly commendable.
..but if I had to nitpick I’d have to say that the sound mix is a bit disappointing. the album is a step down from the studio quality sound of his debut. The album has “pro-tools” written all over it which is a shame because the songs deserve more. the dynamics are squashed with heavy compression and there are tell-tale signs that the dreaded “auto-tune” was used on some of the vocals. I guess it has more to do with budget limitations than actual artistic choice but fortunately the great songwriting and performances shine through despite the muddy, brick-walled mix.
michael gungor band
TrackList:
1 Be Praised
2 Giving It All
3 Never Stop
4 Ancient Skies
5 Prodigal
6 Grace for Me
7 Fly
8 You Alone
9 Spotless
10 Heaven’s Song
11 Glory Is Here/Song for My Family

Listen to Heaven’s Song by the Michael Gungor Band:

Naked Naturals

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I recently received some samples of a new line of shampoos and conditioners called naked naturals which I tried out this morning and I have to say that the hair products are pretty good. my hair feels cleaner and fuller than before and the lavender scent smells great. the best thing about the new product line is the fact it’s all natural with absolutely no harsh chemicals added that could potentially damage your hair. and they don’t stop there. Naked Naturals never test their products on animals and because of the fact that there aren’t any nasty chemicals in the products, these shampoos and conditioners are environmentally friendly. yup, that’s right, a hair product that’s not only great for your hair but also eco-friendly. but what about your hair, you ask? well, everyone wants stronger, healthier hair, right? Naked Naturals contain a natural plant protein called Keravis that has been clinically proven to increase hair strength as well as boost flexibility and be less prone to breakage. now that’s a product that I’d feel good about. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to try out the new shampoo and I’m already planning on replacing our usual brand with this all natural shampoo. If you’re interested in trying Naked Naturals for yourself, be sure to head on over to their website for more information.


my new shampoo samples

I feel free…

it's all about me!!, ramblings 2 Comments »

whew. I had to present some of my scientific work in front of a group of colleagues this morning. the group included my boss and several other managers and team leaders from two different departments. I’ve been fretting over this thing for the last two weeks. and now it’s over. after the meeting my boss gave me “thumbs up” and said that I did an excellent job. thank God! I’m just so glad this is over. I don’t give oral presentations that often so I get all worked up and nervous whenever I do. so, now I feel so relieved. I feel unburdened and free now…

..free to.. umm, take a nap…

Song of the Day: I Am Free by Sound of the New Breed

..I am free to run, I am free to dance, I am free to live for You
I am free….

My Name is Kim Sam Soon

movies and TV, reviews 5 Comments »

the wife and I had a chance to watch one of the better korean dramas out on DVD called My Lovely Sam-Soon. It’s tough choosing a korean drama to invest your time and money in when there are so many to choose from. the major korean television networks are all cranking them out like they’re mass produced on an assembly line. so what we end up having to do is sift through a lot of badly written soaps that are plagued with melodramatic cliches to find a handful of unique gems. like this one, My Lovely Sam-Soon AKA My Name is Kim Sam Soon. the striking thing about this drama is the well written dialogue along with a strong female lead that’s not your typical korean “plastic-y” beauty. Kim Sam Soon is a slightly overweight 29 year old single girl with no college degree and a troubled love life. She’s basicially a korean version of Bridget Jones. Kim Seon-Ah is terrific in the role and expertly balances the obnoxious tendency of her character with the lovable side. Like most korean dramas, the story sort of drags toward the end of the series but it’s forgivable since the characters are all so well developed. just watch the top-notch opening episode and I guarantee that you’ll be hooked.
kim sam soon

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skin care

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As the years roll by, I’ve been taking a more active role in maintaining my youthful looks. yes, as a “guy” it’s a hard thing to admit but it’s true. In a society where people are so quick to judge you on your appearances alone, we all need to make an effort to at least look decent. Things were a lot easier back when we were all younger but now, as I ease into middle-age, I’ve noticed that it takes more time to keep myself from looking *ahem* “middle-aged”. a lot of it centers around Skin care. wrinkles, dryness and lack of skin elasticity are all inevitable but there are some great products out there that can keep these tell-tale aging signs at bay.
the wife and I have recently been tuning in to the online radio show called Skin Health Today available over at World Talk Radio. Radio host Celeste Hilling along with various skin care experts share tips, advice and the latest info on keeping your skin radiant, vibrant and healthy. one thing that I recently learned is how your diet is intricately tied into how your skin looks. so even with all the creams and expensive lotions, all would be for naught if you regularly eat junk food.
be sure to head on over to skinhealthtoday.com for the weekly radio show schedule as well as helpful skin care tips and the opportunity to sign up for their email list.

randoms…

it's all about me!!, ramblings 1 Comment »

- the mild temperature this past weekend left me with no excuses but to go outside and work in the yard. the wife also got me to put up some of the shutters we repainted a couple weeks ago. hhmmm, a productive weekend? what a novel idea!

- great, my daily coffee habit has turned my teeth a lovely orange-y brown. crest white strips here I come…

- as the kids get older, the family schedule gets a bit more hectic each and every year. I’ve been looking into several “web 2.0″ online calendars to help keep the wife and I up to date on our tasks, appointments, etc. after looking through remember the milk, google calendar and plaxo I think I’m going to go with 30Boxes.com. but I’m open to any other suggestions. let me know.

- watched The Amateurs over the weekend. It has a great premise and with the talented ensemble cast I thought it’d be enjoyable but the lame script made the film sink like a stone. thumbs down.

- I recently added EntreCard to this blog. It’s a great way to “network” with other bloggers. let me know if you’re on EntreCard so that we can exchange ads.

- we recently decided on a “traditional calendar” middle school for our oldest son to attend in the fall even though our middle child will still be under the year round calendar. ugh. not sure how we’re going to handle all the conflicting school breaks. yup, it’s going to be complicated.

Song of the Day: A Complicated Song by Weird Al

I had so much on my mind I thought maybe I’d unwind
Try out that new roller coaster ride and the guide
Said not to stand but that’s a demand that I couldn’t meet
I got on my feet and stood up instead
And knocked off my head, you see, tell me
Why’d I have to go and get myself decapitated?

Clone Wars headed to theaters

movies and TV 2 Comments »

clone wars
man, my kids are so thrilled to learn that the Star Wars saga will continue on with an all new TV series: The Clone Wars. Yes, I know there was an animated series done by Genndy Tartakovsky a couple years ago but this is a whole new series featuring state of the art 3-D CGI animation. The official Star Wars website announced yesterday that the Cartoon Network series will premiere a special movie version in theaters on August 15, 2008. coolness.
- check out the movie trailer at starwars.com.
- a neat behind the scenes look on the series is located here.

oh, and a copy of the above mentioned video clip has landed on youtube. I’m not sure if they got permission to do so but here it is (..watch it before it gets taken down).

mortgages in the U.K.

internet buzz No Comments »

with all the news about the extremely high rate of foreclosure in the past year across the United States, it’s a bit surprising to hear that things aren’t quite as bad over in the U.K. According to The Intermediary Mortgages Lenders Association (IMLA), the number of people going into foreclosure is actually below the expected level at this time. Godfrey Blight, the chairman of IMLA, has been quoted in saying “For all the negative sentiment in the media, unemployment and interest rates remain low and people are taking the wise precaution of cutting back on discretionary expenditure.” in fact, with the recent reduction in interest rates made by the Bank of England, a lot of U.K. residents are taking this time to apply for new mortgage loans or even to Remortgage. it has even been reported that the number of mortgage approvals in the U.K. this past January has risen above the December figures which most folks are taking as a good sign. If you’re in the U.K. and are considering a mortgage loan at this time, I recommend you take heed of what has been happening over in the U.S. this past year and stay away from those adjustable rate mortgage loans no matter how low that initial rate is. there’s simply too much risk involved. focus more on the fixed rate mortgages, if you want my opinion.

recent netflix rentals

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recently viewed by yours truly..

Rocket Science - a teen high school indie film that doesn’t succumb to the teen-flick plot cliches. Jeffrey Blitz does a great job keeping it real with this coming of age flick. there’s no big climactic epiphany and no miraculous changeover from geek to hero here. what the film offers is an honest portrayal of a 15 year old struggling to find his way through his own limitations. I give it a *thumbs up*.

King of California - I enjoyed watching Evan Rachel Wood and Michael Douglas in this modern day twist to the Don Quixote story. I’m not particularly a Michael Douglas fan but he won me over with this role as an eccentric father on a quest for lost treasure. the relationship between father and daughter take center stage here and it’s really fascinating to watch as the story progresses. the ending is a bit too “hollywood” for me but the stellar acting overshadows the flaws. *thumbs up*.

Good Luck Chuck - I think movie studio marketed this movie all wrong. Most folks went into this film expecting a romantic comedy. what they got was an awkward mashup of a rom-com with a good dose of Farrelly Brothers type gross out humor. Since I’m a fan of Farrelly movies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Something About Mary”, I sorta enjoyed the raunchy humor. I was pleasantly surprised with Dane Cook’s performance along with his sidekick buddy played by Dan Fogler. they both did a fantastic job. on the other hand, Jessica Alba didn’t do much in her role. her character could have been played by just about any other twenty something actress in hollywood. it was just too vanilla. overall, the film was a bit too clunky. just simply too hit or miss. some parts were downright funny. other parts just went nowhere. but the best part of the DVD happens to be the sex matrix. ..and that’s all I’m going to say about that. :P *no thumbs in either direction*.

Eastern Promises - absolutely phenomenal. David Cronenberg follows up his superb “History of Violence” and does even better with this gem of a movie. I loved it. it’s fantastic how Cronenberg draws the audience in using Naomi Watts’ character as she tries to find a relative of a newborn baby. and Viggo Mortensen delivers a performance of a lifetime. one would think it’d be tough to top a role like Aragon in the “Lord of the Rings” but he did with his role as a russian mobster. It’s a must see. *thumbs wwwaaayyyy aloft!!*

Extras - The Complete First Season- Since Ricky Gervais won a Golden Globe this year for his role in his HBO series, I thought I’d better check it out. I love the premise as the show focuses on the “background artists” in films and television. As a series, I thought the first season was a bit spotty in terms of genuine laughs. The episode with Kate Winslet was the only one I thought was absolutely spot-on. the rest were generally hit or miss. the DVD highlight for me was watching the Ricky Gervais outtakes. The man had a real hard time keeping a straight face during the filming of these episodes. there are a ton of blown takes because he couldn’t keep from laughing. those outtakes are priceless. funnier than the actual show! *thumbs feeling a bit ambivalent toward the whole series*

The Bourne Ultimatum - best of the whole trilogy. nothing really needs to be said here. an absolute thrill-ride from beginning to end. excellent. *thumbs up!*

express yourself through flowers

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flowersman, time is just zooming by so quickly. Where on earth did January go? and with the temperature being so mild lately around here, one might even mistake it as spring already. so before time slips by any further, I just wanted to remind everyone to get your orders in for valentines day flowers before it’s too late. placing your order online is simpler than ever with a streamlined checkout process that takes just a couple of minutes. There’s a great selection to choose from over at 1800flowers.com. they even offer non-floral gifts like chocolates, teddy bears, fruit baskets and wine. what’s Valentine’s Day without the opportunity to express your love through a lovely bouquet of flowers?

springtime already?

ramblings No Comments »

man, it felt like spring yesterday. I believe it got up to 76 degrees. we took advantage of the warm weather by re-painting the shutters and doing some yard work. we didn’t get to paint our front door like we wanted so we’ll have to save it for another day.
phonecam - playing outside in feb
and while the older two were still in school, our youngest roamed about the yard freely and rode his bike around the cul-de-sac.

..ahh, well, it was great while it lasted. apparently the strong storms that caused problems across Arkansas and Tennessee yesterday will be hitting our area later today. yikes.

warm

ramblings 3 Comments »

warm weather for febyes, you’ve probably heard me whine on and on about how we’re missing out on snow this winter. but hey, you won’t hear me complaining about near 70 degree temps like we had here over the weekend! you heard right. the 70s. and it’s freakin’ February!!!!???!!

I even took two of our three boys (the oldest was over at a friend’s house) over to our local playground. It was perfect playground weather. oh and get this - they’re predicting mid-70 temps for tuesday and wednesday! so get out your shorts and flip-flops, people!!

Song of the Day: Warm

..There is no use in disguising as if we hadn’t been warned
The frigid waters are rising, there’s no escape from a storm
So please keep me warm…

-Warm by the New Cars
phonecam-playgroundfeb08-01

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