Lord of the Rings: Movie, book, homily

This Tuesday

Sara and I are planning on going to see the Return of the King this Tuesday night at midnight. I think my brother will go, too. If anyone else is interested, give us a call. I've heard that this film is the best of the three. That's what Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood say, at least. My friend Brendan has seen the movie already, you can read about it here.

The Book

Right before each of the first two movies came out I reread the book. Since I'm looking forward to the movie so much, I had decided not to read the book, just so I wouldn't sit there and compare it to the book and be bothered by changes that the writers made. But then I got sick. I was sitting around feeling bored and I didn't have a book to read so I started reading the Return of the King. I didn't even intend to finish it, but I got hooked. This is such a good book. I'm almost finished with it now and I've been close to tears several times. If the movie adaptation is half as good as people say it is and half as good as the book, then we'll be in for a real treat.

Homily

Last weekend we had a retreat to plan church services for the next six months. During the brainstorming stage I mentioned that we could probably have a sermon that uses the Lord of the Rings to illustrate some biblical teachings. We all talked it over for a while and I guess people thought it would work, so I'll be preaching a three week series using the three books/films. I know Tolkien didn't write these stories as an allegory, but I think they'll work great for teaching concepts like the peril of temptation and addiction and the sacrifice that Jesus made to save the world. I'd love to have some more ideas, so if you know of any passages or scenes that I could use, pass them along. The series will start on February 8.Nai haryuvalyë melwa rë!

worst web site ever

My ISP, National Network Services has one of the worst web pages I've ever seen: www.gabs.net. Here's why I think it's terrible.Exhibit A: In the top left they've included their logo. It's totally pixelated and ugly. It takes about 20 seconds to get it at the right size or to use Photoshop to make a better logo.Exhibit B: In the top right there's a jumbled mess of animated icons, some of which are links and some of which are just there to make the page more ugly.Exhibit C: One of the icons in the top left links to the download page for Microsoft Internet Explorer, a crappy browser.Exhibit D: Another of the icons in the top right links to McAfee anti-virus software. This will cost people money ($99). Why not link to AVG Free?Exhibit E: Next there's a warning about the Blaster Worm. It does give decent instructions for installing the update that fixes the problem, but this problem is old. Most people dealt with this about 3 months ago.Exhibit F: The email addresses at the bottom of the page don't work. I tried emailing them to deal with something a few weeks ago and email sent to each of the three addresses was returned. Exhibit G: The phone numbers work, but what you get is an answering service, more often than not. Exhibit H: Look closely at the fine print. The second to last line says "Copyright 1997 CompanyLongName." When this site was designed (probably using something like MS FrontPage) the template said "CompanyLongName" and you're supposed to replace that with the actual name of the company. This is careless site design.All of this adds up to give me a real lack of confidence in my ISP. And I've been getting disconnected more and more recently. Aaaand, this is, I think, the most expensive ISP with a local number in Adrian. The real question is, why am I not switching right now? Any recommendations?

Apple iTunes

I've been looking for a good music player for my computer and I think I've found one. I tried MusicMatch with it's pay-per-download service, but it ran slow on my computer and the library feature didn't work very well. Apple finally released the windows version of iTunes, so I tried that. It's great. It's fast. It's pretty. It's free. It's very useful and powerful. It offers fast cd burning (something MusicMatch makes you pay for.) When you copy one of your cds to your computer it automatically tags it and organizes it. This is also something that MM makes you pay to get. You also have the option of buying tracks for $0.99 each. This is a highly recommended download. Just click on the link above to get it.

Beware the penguin

Hello blogreaders! My latest little project has been to turn my old computer into a Linux machine. I backed up my college papers and pictures of Emma and wrote a Linux partition over my whole hard drive. I installed Debian/GNU Linux and it went well for the most part. I'm having some problems with the graphical interface, so right now I can only type in commands (rather than clicking on pictures with my mouse). Linux purists say this is better anyway, but I say it stinks. Hopefully I can get it fixed.I've also been playing EA's Return of the King on my Playstation 2. It's a very fun game.peace.

I'm better, I think

I've been down and out since Friday with some kind of viral stomach bug. I'll spare you the gory details. Today I was finally able to eat a substantial meal, drink some water and venture out of my house for more than a few minutes.In other news, I got to see my brother over thanksgiving. I've got my new PDA. Watermelon flavored Gatorade tastes like medicine. The Return of the King for Playstation 2 is fun and very difficult. The Extended Edition Two Towers DVD is really L . . O . . .N . . . . . G. I tried watching it while I was sick and Mike was here, but I couldn't make it through. The documentaries on disc 3 are great, though.I'm beginning to hatch plans for a computer stocked with only free software. It would have to use the Linux operating system, since it's the best free OS. More on that later, when I get up the courage to start messing with the hard drive on my old computer.Happy Holidays!

Turkey and gravy flavored soda

You can't make this stuff up:Click me

workshops, worship and wi-fi

First of all, I'm posting from a St. Louis Bread company. Panera is offering free wi-fi at many of its locations (none in KC yet) for free. I'm sitting in what is basically an easy chair with a cupholder and a little table attached. Here's my take on this service so far.The good: Panera is awesome for even trying this. I don't know of any other major retailers who provide free, unlimited access. I tried to download a file to see what kind of speeds I could get and it stayed around 50 KB/second, which is about 10x faster than your typical dial-up. The bad: I couldn't get Mozilla Firebird to work with the wi-fi. In fact, I couldn't get w.bloggar or Star Downloader to work either, so I can only assume that MS Internet explorer is the only thing that will work. The file that I downloaded stopped after 346 KB, and then another file stopped at that size, too, so I guess there is a limit to the size of file you can download. This makes sense, but it is advertised as unlimited, so I was surprised about that. The wi-fi network does not use WEP (a security measure). This makes everything easier, but not really safe. But for checking email and blogging, it's no big deal. If you work for the FBI, you wouldn't want to use this to send secret messages, because the hippie an the next table could intercept it and sell it to the KGB and . . . well, you get the picture.So this is a cool service and I hope many more retailers (and hotels (like the Adam's Mark)) will follow Panera's lead and offer free wi-fi to customers.Anyway, back to non-geek stuff. The trip has been very cool. Sara and Emma rode over with me and they've been doing some fun stuff during the day. Friday they went to the zoo and today they went out to Union Station to do some shopping.I've been learning a lot from the convention. The speakers have really challenged some of my ideas and I'm still trying to figure out what I really think. I've gone to elective seminars on starting out in youth ministry, communicating with jr. high students, ideas that are affecting our culture, etc. At the end of every main session there is a nationally known Christian band that plays. So I've seen the Newsboys, Sanctus Real, Jars of Clay, Third Day, KJ-52 and Grits. They're also loading us up with lots of free stuff to use in youth ministry.We've also got to spend some time with some of our friends here: Tim, Angie, Kevin, Lauren and Andy.

Posting from St. Louis

It's 10:38 pm on Thursday and I just left the late-night concert (KJ-52 and 7th Day Slumber) and I'm writing this from an internet kiosk here in the convention center. We had a great train ride in and I got registered here and then we went out to dinner with some friends here in town. The Adam's Mark is very nice, but I was a little disappointed that they don't have high-speed internet in the rooms. Sara needed it to get some work done. I just printed directions to a Panera that offers free wi-fi. Nice.To all a good night.

latest news

We've passed a little cold around our family for the last week.I had a fish die yesterday.I'm still waiting for my PDA.On Thursday morning we're leaving for the National Youth Workers' Convention in St. Louis. We're taking the train again, Emma's preferred method of travel.

why ebay is cool

I picked up a few books at a library book sale last week. They were fifty cents per hardcover and a quarter for each paperback. I listed a couple on Ebay, just to help defer the cost of my pda. I listed this hardcover book by Robert Heilein for $0.99, thinking that after paying the listing fee I'd make a cool 15 cents. Yesterday the auction closed and the book sold for $26!! Apparently it was a first edition and several collectors wanted it. I have the case and the 256MB Secure Digital card I ordered, but I'm still waiting on my pda.

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