Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Pumpkins and Podcasts

HalloweenThis evening, we carved the kids Halloween pumpkins. It's an annual tradition for us, following our annual pumpkin hunt, which we did last week. The kids actually design their pumpkin faces, drawing directly on them with a ballpoint pen (fainter lines that make it easier to erase mistakes). My wife cuts the top off and guts the pumpkin, then I do the carving. I'm not the best pumpkin carver in the world, and my kids are kids and design pumpkins like kids (though I think they did quite a job of it this year), so our pumpkins are just simple little pumpkins.

My daughter wanted her pumpkin to look especially happy this year, and I think she achieved her goal.

By the way, to catch my Halloween special episode of The Joe Show from 2007, click here to download now.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Maddy's Cancer Battle

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SOAP: Man's Course In Life

SCRIPTURE: "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." -- Jeremiah 10:23
OBSERVATION: What we do in this life is not for us to determine.
APPLICATION: The past three months or so at work have been chaos. There were times when I was ready to tender an immediate resignation -- times when I would have done so if the situation was right. I've spoken with two prospetive employers during this, as I seriously consider a change. But not once have I actually felt that the decision was mine to make. We had a family prayer before one interview. A simple prayer, really: "Lord, if this be Your will, make it so. We put our faith in You." The Lord has always provided for us, and I have no reason to think He would stop now. My life is His. The path I walk is His path.
PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for Your reliable provision and guidance. As always, I place my faith fully in You. Show me the way.
This is a mobile post.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: Fearless by Robin Parrish

Book ReviewRobin Parrish continues his Dominion trilogy in book two, Fearless. Grant Burrows, having newly discovered himself and his destiny in book one, Relentless, sets out to prove that he isn't what he was designed to be. His makers, and a clandestine group known as the Secretum of Six, claim that Grant is the Bringer of prophecy over 7,000 years old. Grant isn't so certain.

Finding himself newly possessed of an incredible telekinetic strength, Borrows sets out to alter his own destiny, bringing justice and protection to the down-trodden rather than fulfilling the prophecy of the Bringer. But can he rewrite destiny?

Author Parrish weaves an intriguing tale that, while not quite as captivating as the first installment of the trilogy, will hold your interest for the promise of what's to come, as the shocker ending sets the pace for the third and final installment, Merciless. You won't want to miss this one.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Portable Google Chrome

This is too cool. Now I have NO need for Firefox, even. From the Google Operating System blog: started to offer a portable version of Google Chrome for Windows. Due to the licensing terms of Google Chrome, the site offers a small application that downloads Google Chrome's installer, extract its files and installs a portable launcher. Copy the resulting folder to a USB drive and you can launch Chrome on multiple computers without leaving traces.

A much better idea would be to run Chrome using "roaming" profiles and save your settings and data online. Hopefully, Google Browser Sync will return in Google Chrome. There's already an experimental feature thatsynchronizes bookmarks with a Google account.

{ via PortableApps }

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Maddy's Cancer Battle

FREE Robert Rich Download TODAY ONLY!

Magnatune has been putting up some of my favorites as their free downloads this week, and here is another -- especially if you like piano!

Magnatune Song of the Day
for Friday, October 23, 2009

Genre: Ambient
Album: Open Window
Artist: Robert Rich
Song: 2. Past Glances

Listen to the album: hifi lofi


(only available today, Friday)


Today's free song is from the album:

Robert Rich
Open Window

Total time: 64:23
Release date: 8/14/07

Location of artist: CA, USA

This artist has 17 other albums

You will be able to download a high quality version of this artwork when you purchase this album.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Maddy's Cancer Progresses

Our cancer dog just coughed up a piece of flesh. Lung, we think.

Our Annual Fall Pumpkin Hunt (and More)

Pumpkin HuntingEvery October, we take the kids to a local pumpkin patch to pick out the pumpkins they will carve into Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns. Since moving to Indianapolis two years ago, we have had to find a place to do our pumpkin hunting, and I think that this year we have finally found just the place.

Corn MazeThis morning we got the kids up and ready and headed out to Tuttle Orchards, a nearby fruit farm. We got there early enough to avoid the rush of families whose kids our out of school on fall break. Rain threatened, but the temperature was perfect and the sun was not out to bake us, which made for the perfect pumpkin hunting conditions, if the rain would hold off.

Corn MazeAfter checking in and paying the modest admission (a total of $10 for our family of four), we started off in our traditional way: letting my son guide us through the corn maze. Posted throughout the maze -- something that Tuttle Orchards does differently from other places we've gone to in the past -- were signs with short multiple choice apple trivia questions. Choosing the correct answer would point us down the correct path, while choosing the wrong answer would send us off in the wrong direction.

Pumpkin HuntingAfter successfully navigating the corn maze, we grabbed a wagon and headed out into the pumpkin patch to let the children choose their own pumpkins. Sure, we could run over to Meijer, Walmart, or Kroger and get our pumpkins -- and they might even cost less -- but there's just something special about trudging through the tractor tracks to the back of the pumpkin patch and trying to find just the right pumpkin that makes the whole thing worth it.

Pumpkin HuntingWe've picked out our pumpkins this way for every year of my son's young life (except the first, when he would have been only two months old), and have continued the tradition since my daughter was born, and they both look forward to it with great anticipation -- "Are we there yet?" the entire trip from the house to the farm.

Pumpkin HuntingOf course, my daughter is always the first one to select a pumpkin. I don't know if it's because she's better at spotting the perfect pumpkin, less picky than my son, or just more eager to choose her pumpkin and get on with other activities. As she's enjoying her ride in the wagon through the pumpkin patch, she'll suddenly pipe up with "I want that one," and the whole caravan will come to a stop for her to jump out and run to her pumpkin choice.

Pumpkin HuntingOur number one pumpkin hunting rule is that the kids cannot select a pumpkin that is too heavy for them to pick up. It's just that simple. It can sometimes be more of a challenge for my son than my daughter, as she likes the little dainty looking pumpkins and, like most boys, my son wants the biggest one he can wrap his little arms around. So to ensure the rule is followed, they have to heft up their pumpkins and load them into the wagon by themselves. My stubborn son, of course, always finds some way to get the biggest possible pumpkin he can without breaking the rule.

Apple PickingSomething new this year, since we were at an orchard and not just a pumpkin farm, was apple picking. Tuttle Orchards has a large apple orchard with over twenty-two different varieties of apples -- meaning there is almost always something in season. Best of all, they give you a basket and let you head off into the orchard to pick your own apples for just seventy-five cents a pound. Again, at the grocery store you can often find apples for forty-nine cents a pound, but grocery store apples have been picked by someone else, waxed, and shipped around the world to reach the grocery store -- likely picked early and artificially ripened, as well.

Jonathon ApplesAgain, there's just something special about going into the orchard and picking your own apples straight from the tree. We picked Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Ida Red, and Jonathon apples. I ate three apples before even leaving the place, and they were by far some of the most delicious apples I have ever eaten! I only hope we get such delicious apples from the two trees we planted in our yard this year.

Sunflower MazeAfter letting our kids run through the sunflower maze and play in the kids area, and a visit to the farm store (where I picked out some good peanut butter fudge) and the greenhouse, it was finally time to load the kids up and head home.

Thankfully, the rain held off, and we had a wonderful family outing together.

We plan to carve the pumpkins this Sunday, so check back for more pics this weekend.

Your comments?


Maddy's Cancer Battle

FREE William Brooks Download TODAY ONLY!

Magnatune Song of the Day
for Thursday, October 22, 2009

Genre: Folk
Album: Silent Wings
Artist: William Brooks
Song: 5. You barely see me

Listen to the album: hifi lofi


(only available today, Thursday)


Today's free song is from the album:

William Brooks
Silent Wings

Total time: 46:08
Release date: 10/25/04

Location of artist: NY, USA

This artist has 5 other albums

You will be able to download a high quality version of this artwork when you purchase this album.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Peace Prize

FREE William Brooks Download TODAY ONLY!

Magnatune Song of the Day
for Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Genre: Ambient
Album: Deep Life
Artist: Swivel Neck Jones
Song: 5. The Empty Mirror

Listen to the album: hifi lofi


(only available today, Tuesday)


Today's free song is from the album:

Swivel Neck Jones
Deep Life

Total time: 51:12
Release date: 10/31/07

Location of artist: NY, USA

You will be able to download a high quality version of this artwork when you purchase this album.

Friday, October 16, 2009

SOAP: Finding new Strength

SOAP {Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer}:


30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31 [NLT]

I find new strength when I put my trust in the Lord.

The past three months have been hectic at work. My Area Director lost his job when a Senior Vice President visited some stores and wasn't happy with the store conditions. Then a Divisional Vice President came into town and started cracking the whip to get things in shape. He followed that up by sending in a "floating" Area Director, who acts like he has something to prove.

Last week, this floating Area Director decided to start issuing disciplinary write ups to all of the Store Managers -- me included. Now one would expect me to complain and defend myself by saying the write up wasn't warranted, but it's like this: they had to go through four different reasons to write me up before they could find one that would stick, and even then it was bogus. An example? I was written up for a sales measurement when I am number two in the Area!

Today, this Area Director came into the store, made a whirlwind trip around the building, praised many of the things he saw, pointed out several more that he would like us to work on, then asked for the signed copy of my write up. No problem -- I mentioned that it was odd being written up for something I was number two in, then signed it and handed it over.

Shortly after he left to go to the airport, I had lunch and read through Isaiah chapters 40-42 and stumbled upon this verse: 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31 [NLT] It just seemed to hit home for me. Times can be tough sometimes, and many (and I've seen quite of few) will try to bear the burden on their own. Tuesday, I had an interview for a new position with a new company, and I called the family to pray together before I left. Our prayer was simple: "Father, if this is Your will, make it so. We put our faith in You." And then reading this passage today, I was reminded that those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. A truer thing has rarely been stated.

Yes, Father, I put my faith in You, to guide us through this hectic, trying time in my career; to bring us out the other side happier and more capable to serve You. Have Your own way, Lord.

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Maddy's Cancer Fight

Our cancer dog Maddy is coughing up blood again. It's not good.


Just spent some time with Isaiah and BAM! I was hit by Isaiah 40:30-31 just at the right time. I'll journal about it tonight.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: The Well-Behaved Child by John Rosemond

Book ReviewIn a time when many parents refuse to discipline their children, it is refreshing to read the words of Psychologist and author John Rosemond:
I think it is nothing short of tragic that American parents are seeking professional help for child-rearing problems in greater and greater numbers every year, which is not to say that professional help is never warranted. I am convinced, however, that the overwhelming majority of the problems in question could have been resolved ... with proper use of some good, old-fashioned, creative discipline.
Rosemond's recurring theme in The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works! is that far too many children are mis-diagnosed with an alphabet of disorders that he has seen "cured" by the creative use of such discipline tools as
  • Tickets
  • Strikes
  • Report Cards
  • Charts
  • and more... .
By actually getting involved in their children's lives rather than letting them run wild and rule the roost, nearly all of the parents who have contacted John Rosemond for assistance with discipline issues have successfully avoided the diagnoses of ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, etc., and furthermore prevented their children from being put on medicine regimens that would only exacerbate the problem.

As I first dug into Rosemond's The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works!, both my wife and I were concerned that our "strong-willed child" (not a term Rosemond uses, but one of another child expert), I found it refreshing to read some of the many ways Rosemond suggests parents deal with their troubled tots -- from toddler to teen. In fact, without even implementing any of Rosemond's disciplinary methods, our son has already begun to be a better behaved, happier child.

One evening, sitting at the family dinner table and explaining to my wife Rosemond's chart method, my son -- who was sitting at the table with us and within clear earshot -- quickly decided he didn't like what he was hearing. He immediately made it known that he wouldn't like the results of misbehavior that the Chart plan would include, to which I responded that if he behaved he would not have to worry about them. He hasn't become a perfectly-behaved child, of course, but he has certainly dropped many of the undesirable behaviors that drove me to read the book in the first place.

It is my contention -- and the author's as well, it seems -- that by simply reading this book and putting into practice some of the methods he describes, parents might be able to avoid the embarrassing and potentially destructive tragedy of having their child labeled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or one of the many other alphabet soup disorders that today's psychologists are so quick to diagnose. My point: what have you got to lose?

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Maddy's Cancer Battle

Average Joe Audio Blog

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009 4:24 PM

Posted: 13 Oct 2009 09:24 AM PDT

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Relentless by Robin Parrish

Book ReviewYou may have seen my review of Offworld by Robin Parrish, a fascinating tale of travel to the red planet Mars and the shocking discovery that awaits the interplanetary travelers upon their return home. In the 2006 volume of his Dominion trilogy, Relentless, Parrish introduces us to an incredible tale of good versus evil -- one in which we aren't always sure what is good and what is evil.


When loner Collin Boyd gets off the bus on his way to work and sees himself walking down the street, the world as he knows it changes forever. For Collin Boyd is no longer Collin Boyd, but Grant Borrows -- though Collin Boyd lives on independently. Grant has all of the memories of his former self, new talents and skills he has never been taught, and a mysterious ring on his finger that he never put on and cannot take off.

Parrish takes us on an incredible journey from what is to what might be, with the opening to his Dominion trilogy, as we follow Grant Borrows as he discovers that he is not the only person who has been "Shifted" from his former self into someone he doesn't know. As he sets out on a mission to find himself -- or why he is no longer himself -- Borrows discovers that he is part of a plan that was set into motion when he was just a toddler -- possibly even prophesied thousands of years ago. And he quickly learns that some people very close to him may have played a major role in his "Shift."

* * * END OF SPOILERS * * *

But who is Grant Borrows, really? And why has Collin Boyd been thrust into his life? Is he good or evil? A hero, or a villain? Parrish reveals just enough in Relentless (Dominion Trilogy #1) to leave the reader wanting for more, which is why I'm headed out this afternoon to continue the adventure with Fearless (Dominion Trilogy #2).

Take the trip with me. You won't be disappointed.

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Maddy's Cancer Battle

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