Sunday, October 26, 2008


TV shows I currently enjoy:
  1. 30 Rock
  2. Pushing Daisies
  3. Top Gear
And though it's in its fifth season, and I maintain that it peaked in season two, The Office is still entertaining.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The coolest way ever to make popcorn.

Okay. Take a bunch of popcorn kernels and pour them into a small pressure vessel with a lid. Rotate this over a super hot fire for a few minutes, until the steam pressure inside the vessel builds up to dangerous levels. Quickly take the vessel out of the fire, point it into a burlap sack, and pop the lid off. All the popcorn explodes simultaneously. Watch:

As an alternative, you can fill a car-sized bowl with kernels, put it in someone's house, then point a big laser at it from space or from an airplane, and fill the whole house with popcorn. [A gold star for anyone who knows this reference.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Your Debut Album

Surprisingly realistic.
Step 1 — Band Name
Go to The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
Step 2 — Album Name
Go to Random quotations: The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album. (If you want to do this again, you'll hit refresh to generate new quotes, because clicking the quotes link again will just give you the same quotes over and over again.)
Step 3 — Album Cover
Go to flickr's "explore the last seven days" The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.


Fairwood Press
"That We Cannot Do"

1883 in Architecture
"Will Never Be Transcended"
Click here to see the cover; it won't let me link directly.

High-Rise Syndrome
"You'll Never Find It"


I've been raised a republican my whole life. WAIT, WAIT! Bear with me for a moment before you start lecturing me, Mom and Dad. I haven't changed my mind. I already sent in my advance ballot, and it wasn't for Obama.

They say Obama will win the young voters this year. By my super unscientific observations, he will not just win, he will DOMINATE. It seems like all my friends, including the Christian, typically conservative ones, say they're voting for Obama this year. At first, I was aghast. What are they thinking? Obama's going to stifle the economy, let people kill babies, and bring all our troops out of Iraq and let it self-destruct!

I'd listen to them talk about Obama though, and the more I listened, the more they made sense. Obama wants to give middle and low-income Americans a tax break. That's nice. He also wants to fund lots of programs to help raise the quality of life for people who need it — universal health care and such. That's nice, too. Furthermore, helping the poor is biblical; which leads me to my main thought: As a Christian, how should I vote?

I've been reading through "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. It's a truly amazing book. Whether you have been a Christian your whole life, or you know nothing at all about Christianity, you should read it. Actually just everyone should read it. Anyway, Lewis has this to say about a Christian society:

All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls 'busybodies'.

If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned — perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.

And that's what I think about today's political parties in the US. Each of them gets some parts right and other parts wrong: Democrats are on the wrong side of some obviously moral issues like abortion and gay marriage, but republicans largely ignore the poor, and (until recently) the environment (which is a moral issue — read Genesis 1 and 2).

All this is essentially to say that anyone who has been voting republican their entire life, simply because they are a Christian and they oppose abortion, is acting very foolishly. They need to look at ALL the issues in terms of two major factors: First, what is clearly right and wrong. Second, what is practical in the real world. That is, what laws will keep this country afloat.

From my perspective, democrats and republicans are about even on the first criterion. As for the second, well, I am a die-hard free market economist. I think all the financial regulations and redistribution of wealth that democrats support are unnecessary inefficiencies that will slow this country down in the long run. (Also, I am a little libertarian leaning in that I want to preserve the few freedoms we still have, like owning guns and smoking in bars even though I prefer non-smoking ones. Let the market determine what places should be smoke free.)

Disclaimer: This post does not disclose my full decision making process. There are dozens of issues to be evaluated, and both sides of every issue can have serious unintended consequences that must be watched for. This is a sweeping idealistic summary to encourage people to rethink why they vote the way they do. Please understand that, and keep the flaming criticism to a reasonable level.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I remove friends on facebook.

You know, people that I had class with a year ago and haven't seen since. That sort of thing. I still feel like a jerk when I do it. Should I?

Have you made an appointment?

This semester has been my lightest academic schedule of my college career. It has also been my busiest weekend schedule. I have had plans nearly every weekend since the beginning of school.
August 30-31
Labor Day — Return to KC.
September 6-7
Return to KC — Ride bikes with Team Garmin-Chipotle.
September 13-14
Nothing (except the release of the slightly disappointing "Burn After Reading").
September 20-21
September 27-28
Trail Building / Camping at HNMBR (Hart National Mountain Bike Reserve).
October 4-5
Mountain Bike racing in Minnesota.
October 11-12
Mountain Bike racing at HNMBR.
Like I said: a busy schedule, but pretty thoroughly enjoyable. Most of those weekends I completely forgot that I was still in school (fortunately I don't often have homework due on Mondays).

This is my first weekend off in a while. It's been pretty good. Friday night I helped my girlfriend bake pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (from whole pumpkins). Saturday I voted. (If you're voting in Johnson County, you have to vote whether or not to let like 30 different judges keep their jobs. It's crazy. This site makes it a lot easier.) I also watched K-State and the Rays lose.

Today I was supposed to jump out of airplanes again, but it was too damn windy (thanks Kansas). So I learned how to pack parachutes instead, which is cool on several levels:
  1. I don't have to run around the hangar begging people to pack for me.
  2. I know how to pack parachutes. That's just cool to know.
  3. If I die, it's my own damn fault and no one else has to feel responsible.
So, not a bad weekend, but I sort of miss my Friday afternoon to Sunday midnight non-stop weekends. I'll just have to start planning more adventures.

Note: This has been part of my "post-a-day" experiment. Normally I would not have written this, as there is no compelling reason that people should be interested in a digest of my day-to-day activities, but that's all I could think to write. Inspiration is lacking, but I need to keep this blog alive in the meantime.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Not-So-Interesting Life

My last post was September 28th. I sincerely apologize. That's pathetic. What makes it worse is that I haven't forgotten about my blog; I just haven't been able to come up with anything interesting to say. Maybe I should set a goal to do a post a day, even if it's a little micro-post.

What have I done since my last post? Not much of interest. I raced mountain bikes the last two weekends, which was fun, but I was really out of shape and did really bad. Other than that, it's pretty much been the same old school routine during the weekdays.

This weekend is my first weekend without some pre-planned event in as long as I can remember. Hooray.

Ok, so one post a day, no matter how crappy. I can do this.