Monthly Archives: May 2009

Other Ramblings

A few other quick posts rolled into one.

Letter to National Karate

Interesting Church Service

Today’s church service was, at least from the perspective of the tech booth and to some extent the worship team, very interesting. Anyone who also follows me on FaceBook probably already knows more or less what I’m talking about.

Last night’s service — the first of three marginally identical services — went pretty well. Most of the kinks were worked out and service itself ran smoothly. The only problem was that they didn’t clear the house between the service and the comedy show afterwards, so I didn’t have time to check a graphics fix with the cameras until this morning.

This morning, I showed up at 7:00, the crew call time as far as I know. The only other person in the entire building (the building with the worship center and the offices, I don’t know about the buildings with the school functions) was the staff person who has been newly moved to full time and in charge of the media services, who was setting up the stage. Since he was also playing bass this weekend, he was also the only representative of the worship team at 7:00.

Over the next twenty minutes or so, the worship team started drifting in. I noticed that we had a different person coming in to lead — from the back. We were also missing a person to run sound. This was when I sent my first prayer request out on FaceBook (I have friends there from Wheaton Bible, including Tech Crew and Worship Team people who would 100% understand the need for prayer if they saw the message — I have very few followers on Twitter, and Live Journal is too difficult to quickly from my phone). We made it through the worship set by not touching much on the mix, and having the tech director/bass player run back and forth adjusting the monitor mix and to some extent the house mix. I had to adjust the bass, since he couldn’t — for obvious reasons — really hear the mix with the bas in it. The morning sound check and rehearsal ran long, ending about 10 minutes or less before service was supposed to start.

It was during this break that I made my second FaceBook posting. I was about half way through when partial relief came in the form of someone drafted to do what she could — which mostly amounted to watching the mute groups that were out of my reach. During first service, I had to set so that my left hand was on the computer providing the lyrics feed and my right hand was where I could adjust the mix. I didn’t do a lot of adjustment, mostly pushing the flute during one song where her sound needed it, and then pushing the flute, electric guitar and bass during the final song.

Between services, about a forty minute break, I got a roll and a diet coke from the food stand outside — I was unusually hungry this morning at that point, and I often avail my self of a snack. Once I returned to the booth and made a couple of adjustments and got ready for the next service, preparing myself to cover one and a half positions again. Fortunately, before the service one of the people who had observed the service the night before came by, and I briefed him on what he might have to do with the sound board (where the mute groups were, what the cues were, etc.). I was then informed by one of the other church staff people — I have the impression that she may be the pastor’s assistant, but I’m not sure, at any rate she was singing and providing some direction to the worship team from the booth this morning — that someone was on their way, but might not be there in time to start. That was when I sent my final FaceBook posting, thanking people who had (I hope) been praying.

Third service ran much smoother since I could focus on my job. On the other hand, to get the service done on time, I was having to get edits on nearly every song (which actually made one of them shorter than needed, and brought the rest to a reasonable number of repeats) and so missed a couple of cues.

I definitely think that there was some grace involved in this. First, I was able to get the verse order into Media Shout — at least for the first service — before services, so that I could mostly hit the space bar at the right time, which is a much easier task than trying to click on a single little button on the screen. This allowed me to split my focus between the computer and the sound board. Second, we at least had the tech director in the house to so I wasn’t having to try to figure out where the monitor sends were. Third, the board was left set up from last night, with the basic mix in tact.

But the biggest grace of all may have happened in the middle of last week. After some stuff got messed up during the kids program the week before, the desk in the booth was rearranged for the purpose of putting a computer used to record the sermon for the website onto the desk, rather than the floor. This resulted in the arangement here:
image below

My Political Rant

Or a rant in the form, at least initially, of a question: What is the State of California spending its money on?

robot_grrl and I just got our license plate renewals, which in California, include a vehicle property tax. On my two-year-old car, this tax, plus the plate fees, smog fees etc., adds up to over $400.00. For Tara’s six or seven-year-old car, it is less than half, but still more than what we paid in Illinois, including the village fee. Similarly, we pay considerably more than the 3% Illinois state income tax here, and our sales taxes are comparable. Property taxes are, if I remember correctly, generally less for the value of the property, but most of the property is worth at least a bit more — I’m not sure about the assessed value though — so that may offset the total property tax revenue.

However, The State of California is suffering a horrendous budget crisis. There is a gap of billions of dollars, and growing daily. The Governator, or at least his staff, is now talking about making deep cuts in School and health care budgets, and even shutting down State Parks to try to close the gap (I’ll say more on that in a moment).

So, it looks like things that everyone — or at least everyone except for the most dedicated libertarians — consider basic services from a US State or local Government (Schools, Health Care, natural and historic parks) are being cut to save money. The message coming from Sacramento is that there is no other place to cut the budget. So, my question remains, where is the money getting spent?

On the parks issue, it sounds like the Governor’s staff is trying to make sure that they select parks that will cause the most outrage for being closed. In San Diego County, among the parks slated for possible closure are all of Torrey Pines — both the reserve and the very popular beach — two or three other popular state beaches, and both the Anza-Borrego and Cuymaca parks which are draws for both local, semi-local and out of town visitors. The only major state park that I’m at least somewhat familiar with that isn’t on the list to be closed is Old Town, which may actually make money thanks to its restaurants and other shops.

I think that putting the Del Mar fairgrounds on the list of properties that might be sold is a similar move, since if anyone other than the County (or City) of San Diego were to buy the fairgrounds, the fair and its historic and popular race meet — not to mention the events that keep it busy the rest of the year — would either be shut down or have to relocate, or pay rent to the new owners which would end up costing more.

Temporary or Interim Soultion

This evening, after the second time of not being able to face returning to the karate school after the pointless and torturous belt test, I decided that at least as a work around I could at least get a free-standing heavy bag and practice my kicks and punches against it. So, I headed out in search of one. After stopping at 3 stores — not counting the side trip to PetCo for cat food — I found one that I could trust at the newly opened Dick’s. (The Sports Authority didn’t have any free-standing bags, and Big 5 had no prices nor anyone to ask). I also picked up a mat so that I can do things like sit ups and push ups on our very hard floor. In time, I may also pick up some padded tiles to go under, or at least around, the bag so I can move more comfortably on the concrete patio.

Tonight, I was tired and bored after about 20 minutes — so I’ll need to work on ways to keep myself motivated. I did a quick warm up of Mister Masney’s 30-30-30 (squats, push-ups and sit-ups) and did several minutes of punches before lowering the bag for kicks and some punch-kick combinations. I also did not nearly enough slow hook-round-side kick combinations, using Ms. Langley’s “slingshot of fun.”

I also want to add in some other traditional activities (form, marching). I won’t be able to practice any of National Karate’s self defense since none of my potential partners would be safe, and I won’t do a throw without much better padding than I have.

U.S. Reporting Bias/Question

Over the years I’ve have noticed at least one clear bias in the reporting across all U.S. media outlets: a bias (or perhaps blind spot) about things not altogether familiar to Americans.

The current case of this is that all of the reporting from U.S. based media about what GM is considering doing with its various divisions has only mentioned the divisions that sell cars in the U.S. Only from reading BBC sources do I know that Opal and Vauxhall are on the market (along with Hummer, Saturn and possibly Saab). For that matter, I’m not sure that most Americans even know that GM owns brands not sold in the U.S.

This leads to the question I haven’t been able to get answered: does anyone know what is up with Holden? If Opal and Vauxhall are on the market, I’d expect Holden to be, but I’ve seen no mention in The Sydney Morning Herald, nor did the wikipedia article show anything in my quick skimming of it.

On the other hand, at least 10 years ago, Holden had a pretty good market share in Australia, probably higher than GM has across all of its brands in the U.S. So, it may be still a solid enough business that GM doesn’t want to get rid of it.

This Morning’s Dream Idea

Once again, I awoke with a weird idea, only this one is almost practical: A home freeze-dry unit.

I could see such a thing being both nearly feasible and almost useful. If I remember my physics right, the temperatures involved are comparable with those of a household freezer, so the vacuum would be the tricky part.

In addition to the fun for geeks experimenting, I could see this being sold to people as a way to make their own backpacking food (just freeze dry your own creations), make their own instant coffee or tea, or even as an emergency flood recovery for books.

If such a thing were available and well within the toy budget, I might get one to play with.

Of course I don’t think I’d make what I was dreaming about: freeze dried red wine. (I’m pretty sure that the triple point of alcohol is different than water, and might well be hit first depending on exactly which variable was moved first. So I’m not sure you could actually freeze dry wine and get something that would come back, even if you added both enough water and Everclear. And, since I don’t drink wine, it wouldn’t do me much good.)

Day At The Park

In this case, the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Today, robot_grrl, Derrick and I spent most of the day at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We did a lot, but not quite everything. I did shoot 3 rolls of film using ancient technology, and these photos are available on Picasa at http://picasaweb.google.com/ronboakes/WildAnimalPark20090525?feat=directlink. {I’m mildly impressed that Google automatically mapped “San Diego Wild Animal Park” correctly as the location of the photos in the folder}

We had a pretty good time, and saw a lot of animals and perhaps too many people, and a bit too much sun (even through the sun screen and hats).

A Minolta SLR Doing a seat of my pants calculation, with what I spent on 3 rolls of film and processing, I probably could afford a decent digital SLR body for somewhere in the 10-12 day (30-36 roll) range. Before Australia next year, I’ll have to decide if it is worth it.

{Interestingly, in 1999, I got my first digital camera mostly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to carry the SLR to Australia. Now I’m thinking that I may want to get a digital SLR before going to Australia next year because I don’t like the pictures our digital point-and-shoot take for things like scenery and animals.}

One other thing I decided today is that if I want to be taking good, or at least better, pictures at places like the Wild Animal Park, I’m going to need a better zoom. What I have now is the lens that came with the camera, which is a typical hybrid mostly wild angle and it just could not zoom in well on all of the animals — especially from the driving tour.

Webcam Washout

We’ve been continuing to have minor incursions onto our property (OK, the landlord’s property, but I think we legally have similar rights while we hold a lease) by the neighborhood kids (or “neighbor hoods” as I’m starting to think of some of them). Nothing serous, mostly ringing the doorbell and then running away, knocking over the landscape lights and, we suspect, having their dogs do their doggy business on obscure corners of the front lawn. To see if I could catch some of this action, I attempted to rig the inexpensive webcam I have up to shoot out one of the font windows.

This, alas, turned out to be a failure. At least with the software that came with the camera, it cannot handle the sunlight, and produces nothing more than a white image. I hope I don’t have to pay for a more expensive system just to see if we have neighbors who are just a bit beyond polite. On the other hand, it would be nice to actually have proof if they do something worse. (Derrick claims one pointed a BB gun at him, and we did see what Derrick thought was a BB in the driveway the other day — although I’ve only ever seen brass ones, and this BB sized ball was bright green. So worse isn’t entirely out of the question.)

I hope that once we sell the Bartlett house (Anyone need a house in Bartlett? It might even be a nice ready-to-rent if you can at least offer us enough to make it worth it to us), we’ll end up someplace where there are nice kids. Alas, the cynic in me wonders if there are any neighborhoods with nice kids left in this country.

Two Unrelated Musical Observations

I’ve encountered a couple of things connected by being related, at least a bit, to music.

Interesting Guitar Player

Karate Belt Test

This evening, I tested for, and received my yellow (gold?) belt at the local Karate School.

At National Karate, I always came home from a belt test tired, but encouraged. This time, I’m exhausted and a bit discouraged.

borderline rant