Monday, April 30, 2007

Carnival of The Storytellers 8th Edition

Hey there Storytellers and Storyreaders-

It's time for edition number 8 at the old Carnival of the Storytellers, and this issue is sure, it's actually not sure to do anything.

I must admit I was a bit disappointed with the number and content of the submissions. Am I being too negative? I don't think so...just brutally and non-diplomatically honest.

Here we go....


From here on out, whenever I have a bad day and think it can’t get worse, I will come back to my blog and read this post by Kara-Leah Masina. Although it ends in a better place than it started, she hasn’t yet reached the happy ending. Check out How to survive near-drowning in an ocean of tears posted at K-L Masina.

Hueina Su presents Life Balance Lessons: 7 Keys to Avoid Burnout posted at Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul, saying, "Burnout could greatly impact a person's physical & emotional health, relationships, work, and everyone related to him/her. When you are burned out, you can't function at your best, and everyone you care about suffer with you. It's not difficult to see that there is much at stake. Here are some proactive steps you can take today to prevent (or overcome) Nurturing Burnout."

Corner Scribe writes about her earliest recollection of writing a story. I remember mine- I was in fourth grade and I started a book called “The Band” about four childhood friends that made it big in a rock band. Coincidentally, about that time I had discovered and fell-in love with The Beatles. Hmm. Read Write about your FIRST TIME posted at

This really should be classified under Humor- very funny. Stephanie bares all about when she bared all for a recent massage. Fortunately for her the massage therapist didn’t gasp or cry out. That would have been a bit embarrassing. Can relaxation and embarrassment coexist? posted at Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.

I must admit- once on a dare I spent an entire evening at a club in Chicago with my friend Achim sporting a British accent. I was amazed at how I was treated. It probably helped that the people I was talking to were a bit altered by adult beverages. Arun goes WAY further than I did and almost gets sucked in to living a lie. He presents Arun Hangs Out With/Cons the Real World/Road Rules Cast posted at Arun is bringing you...Your Daily Remedy, saying, "My Fun yet deceiving encounter with the cast of MTV's "Road Rules" last weekend!"

I have never been a big Ernest Hemmingway fan. In fact, I’m not even a little Hemmingway fan. I tried to read one of his books years ago in school, and the last thing I remember was poking a hot iron in my eye to get out of having to read it and write a report. Al Nye gives us a work of fiction by Hemmingway I thoroughly enjoyed. A first. He presents Greatest Short Story Ever Written -- Just 6 Words posted at Al Nye The Lawyer Guy.

I really struggled with the introduction to this next submission. I tried hard. Really hard. I want to say something nice here but I just can’t find the words, and Jorge seems like such a nice guy and a dedicated father. But, alas, I must honestly give my opinion. This is the worst children’s story I have ever read in my entire life. It was so bad, it was actually fun to read. Sort of. Sorry Jorge. Cowie the Dog posted at Stories From Papi, saying, "The adventure of losing a dog."


That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the storytellers using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Frank Sinatra on Tivo

Michelle Tivo'd an old Sinatra film- Pal Joey. I asked her why, and she said she didnt know exactly. She just wanted to.

It is a horrible movie, but we can't stop watching it. He is just so smooth, even though his character, his lines, the plot, the acting and about everything else is horrible. But his singing parts are amazing. He just sucks you in with that swanky voice and moody stare.

Watching it now, so a short post.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nice Coach, Mean Coach

Saturday is softball day. All four of my girls play on four different teams, so each Saturday I am on the field from morning until late afternoon.

Today first game was 10-11:30AM, then 12-1PM, another 1-2:30PM and the final game 3-4:30PM. A mighty long day indeed. In the past I have head-coached one of my girls team while assisting on the other one or two. This is the first year I have all four playing so I had to step out of the head coaching slot and am assisting on all four teams.

Not having the pressure of being a head coach has allowed me to observe more and what I see is very interesting to me. I think there are 3 kinds of coaches.

The first is the kindly super-nice coach that never yells, is always encouraging, but doesn’t really step up and push the girls or help develop core skills. To them, it’s all about having fun.

The second kind of coach is more focused on the basic skills and pushes the girls to learn and develop, for the most part is soft spoken but can belt out a yell when necessary to get a girls attention.

The third kind? Old fashioned yelling spit-fire, kick-in-the-ass, we-gotta-win, do your best or you’re sitting the bench kind of coach. These kinds drill the girls, blast them loud and clear when they make a mistake, praise them loudly when they get it right, and REFUSE to accept anything but the best the girls have in them.

While that third kind of coach can at times cause some of the girls to have hurt feelings, sometimes even cry, the consistent application of harsh critique (based on a belief the girl can do SO much better if they try harder) and lavish praise when something is executed exceptionally well has an amazing effect on the girls over time.

Half-way through the season the differences between how the teams play and act starts to become evident, and by the end of the regular season and the start of the tournaments it is out there for everyone to clearly see.

Girls with a Type 1 coach still struggle with basic rules of the game. They don’t really know what to do in complex situations and they often freeze or make irrational moves (like playing first base, getting a grounder and throwing it to home when there’s no one on base). They don’t have much team spirit, they don’t talk much or encourage their teammates, and they seem to not mind losing a game in the slightest. They don’t seem to have much fun after all, and they don’t appear to feel one way or the other about their coach.

Girls with a Type 2 coach are great teams. They work hard, play hard, learn the game and have a bunch of fun playing. They are starting to exhibit some good skills and can often make exceptional plays. They are engaged throughout the game, and are really looking for the win.

Girls with a Type 3 coach are a wonder to watch. They have a blast. They are totally engaged in the game. They are constantly talking to their teammates, encouraging them when they make a mistake, praising them when the make a good play. They move to a rhythm and give everything they’ve got all the time. They no longer cry when the coach yells at them for a bone-headed play. They nod in agreement, recognize their mistake and promise themselves they won’t make the same mistake again. The fear they had for their coach in the first weeks of the season is long gone. Now they love him/her deeply and want to do an excellent job all the time to secure the win- for themselves, for their coach, and for their team.

Interesting to think about how softball coaching and parenting intersect. In either one I am not advocating constant yelling and screaming- by no means. What I love is the focus on learning, getting the basics down pat, focusing on consistency and excellence, and demanding the BEST out of the kids.

It was a good day.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Me Man

There are times when I feel like a real man. I know that being a real man is to be a man of integrity, purpose, to devote oneself to God and others, to defend what is right and good, to love and provide for one’s family. Those are all good things no doubt…but the things that REALLY make me feel like a man are sometimes less noble than those.

Building things out of wood, sitting around a campfire with buddies and smoking cigars and drinking beer, playing poker with friends, fixing broken things, and other assorted manly things do the trick for me.

This past week I had such an event- something that almost made me pound my chest and say “” One of my favorite scenes in a movie is when Tom Hanks pounds his chest in victory when he gets a roaring fire started in Castaway. That’s how I felt when I fixed my lawn mower this week by myself without having it picked up by Franklin Kubota for servicing (probably saved $200).

To be honest though, I needed my wife to help me, but I’m not really going to dwell much on that part.

The mower broke down as I was bringing it in for a landing after a 3 hour bout with the lawn. Only 10 minutes or so to go and on the outskirts of my land-mass some coil-thingy broke and the mower blades stopped running. Fortunately the engine still worked and I was able to drive it back to the garage. When these types of things happen to complicated mechanical devices I usually whip out the handy cell phone and call for professional service. This time I decided to tackle it on my own.

I called Franklin Kubota and explained what happened. They needed more detail to understand, but I didn’t know how to explain it… “Well, the spring-thingy, like a coil thing, broke. Its under the mower. It kind of stretches and connects to these round move-y things.”

After some time for the mechanic to translate my poor attempt to speak ‘mow-ese,’ he told me the name of the part, confirmed I would be able to repair it myself, and told me the total for the part- $9.02. Yes. I headed out to pick up the part and came back home excited to save the $100 in fees for picking up and dropping off my mower, plus $75+ in labor and parts, and a weeks time.

As I started the repair the problem became evident very quickly. I needed to stretch this amazingly thick and tightly wound metal spring from its current 8 inch length to about 2 feet to connect the two things it connected to (still not quite sure what those thingies are called). After struggling for some time with it, I came up with a solution- connect one end, and string a thick rope through the other, plant my butt on the ground and my feet against the mower tires and pull with all my might. It worked, although the first time I tried it, after exerting all my strength to pull the spring back, I realized I needed another person to reach inside the mower and actually attach the spring to the other connector-thing. That’s where Michelle came in.

It was done. I know it sounds a bit silly, but I felt like a man. A real man. A man that needed his wife to help.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

5000 And Counting

Probably of no interest to DigitalRichDaily readers at all, but very interesting to me. I am amazed at the vast number of different people from different places that stumble into my blog. Last night my visitor site meter hit number 5000. And wouldn’t you know that visitor #5000 is a friend, former co-worker, and fellow blogger The Eccentric Blonde.

She win’s a special prize- my sincere and heartfelt recommendation that you visit her site and explore her great writing.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Facing The Giants

Last night A’s Franklin Girls Softball team played a team from Spring Hill/Heritage.

A is 8 years old and plays in the 7/8 year old girls slow-pitch league. At this age, girls are just starting to understand the game and once in a while a shimmer of future greatness shows itself. In the game right before ours, the pitcher caught a pop-fly, ran to third base and got the runner out that had started off to home plate without tagging-up, and then threw the ball to first base to get the runner there out before she got back- a triple play.

As for hitting, these young girls are slowly developing speed in their swing, and once in awhile are able to manage a double or triple- sometimes a homerun, mainly because the grounder they hit rolls right towards a hole in the defense and continues its journey harmlessly into the outfield while several nearby defenders draw murals in the dirt or watch butterflies.

When A’s team met their opponent last night we all noticed the rather significant difference in size between the two groups of girls. I must admit that my first thought was that the team mom or the head-coach must be slipping steroids into their juice-boxes. These were large, large 7-8 year olds.

It was all fun and games until they started batting. The speeding grounders and line-drives started, and A’s team was stunned. Batter after batter nailed balls so hard that the girls barely had time to respond, and it looked like a shooting gallery. The inevitable happened- one of the girls on the other team, probably twice the height of our smaller girls, hit a line drive 2 feet off the ground right at our pitcher. Little AG didn’t move at all- she had no time. The ball struck her in the thigh with a smack so loud it quieted the stands. The crying began immediately- and so did the 4-inch round bruise- that started blossoming before the coaches got to the field to check on her.

The next inning a line-drive went 2 feet over our pitchers head traveling at about 40MPH, again no response from our pitcher until the ball was well past her. It was a frightening night.

Our team lost. But they lived through it.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Great Race

Occasionally Michelle and I will have to take two cars as we run errands or head out for the day, usually because of some unusual circumstance. Sometimes its Sunday morning at church when I have a meeting somewhere right after service, sometimes its out on errands because I need to swing by Home Depot and she has something earth-shatteringly important to get at Kohls after we see a movie.

Tonight, it was really unusual. Our van has taken ill. The transmission is bad, and a $3000+ repair bill awaits us at the end of the week. We headed out for softball games tonight all in one car (the 6 DigitalRich crew members), and planned on hooking up with my parents at the second game. They each drove their car to the game, and then gave one of them to Michelle to use for the week.

As we departed the last of two games around 9PM, Michelle was directly in front of me, and we kept it that way until we got to downtown Franklin. From there several routes are possible to reach our home, and often when these situations present themselves Michelle and I know exactly what to do. We race.

She takes one route; I take another, and most of the time I win. And I did again tonight. Sort of.

Michelle, pure and white as the wind-driven snow, always accuses me of secretly speeding when we are out of site of each other. She claims to always drive the speed limit. I believed her until tonight. Tonight I made a point of driving reasonably close to the limit. As I made my way through the side streets I hit each light just right, came to two stop signs with no other traffic, and made record time through town. I knew without a doubt I would win the great race.

As we made it through town and had to stop at the last light between us and home, Michelle was nowhere in site, and unless she took an obscure route, had to end up coming up behind me at some point. As we sat at the light and the cross traffic was moving through the intersection I felt the familiar warmth of assured victory flowing through my veins. The light turned yellow for cross-traffic, and readied to turn green for me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a speed demon probably hitting just shy of 50MPH on the 30MPH street. As the car blew through the intersection, the light facing it turned red and mine turned green. I recognized the car- it was my dad’s Ford F150 being driven by my wife Michelle. She had beaten me. And she was speeding like a mad woman.

I turned through the intersection and took my humble second place position behind her for the remaining 8 miles of rural road before we got home. R, my 5 year old, was coming up with all sorts of solutions to help us still beat her. She wanted me to pass her over a double-yellow line. Then she suggested tearing through the grass in our yard when we got to our driveway (its 500 feet long). I told the girls it was over. We lost.

As we turned into our driveway behind Michelle a grinchy idea came to me. We circled around the front of the house and around the back to our garages in single-file, Michelle in the lead. When Michelle hit her garage door opener (she had taken it out of her van when we dropped it off at the shop), I hit mine too. And then I hit her button on my controller as well. Her door stopped halfway as mine opened all the way up. It took her too long to figure out what was happening. She thought something was wrong with the door, and sat 2 feet in front of it as I pulled in. It is well understood in our family that to win, you must pull INTO the garage all the way and turn the car off.

Victory is sweet.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Carnival of Family Life #51

Welcome to the 51st edition of the Carnival of Family Life. My second shot at hosting- and I want to try something different in how this weeks posts are presented. Different often results in more time than planned. Proved that right again.

Enjoy! You might want to try reading to the tune of Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star... (you have noticed that TTLS and Now I Know My A-B-Cs are the same tune right? For lots of fun, sing one or the other with your kids, and then without warning them, in the middle of the song switch to the other lyrics. A bowl full of confusing fun).

A is for asinine.
And those that support the concept of removing competition and the concept of winning or losing from our kids world are just that. Erica Douglas says it all with a bit more tact than I. Check out Competition - Is it really such a bad thing? posted at Littlemummy.Com

…and also for adventures. The ‘about me’ section of this blog makes my head spin. Every time I start to think my life is packed and hectic, I run across someone that makes me realize we are all in this together. Laura presents truth and consequences posted at Adventures in Juggling.

B is for bad news.
It is the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. The unexpected knock on the door. One day everyone will get that call. Whether it is a very close loved one, a dear friend, or a neighbor- life throws us bad news, and it’s a matter of time for each of us. Life is what happens while we’re busy doing other things, and peace is what sustains us through all of it- good and bad. alfaking presents Upset posted at Alfa King Memories.

…and also for baby. Dana presents Welcome to the world, little Peanut! posted at Principled Discovery.

C is for chill-out.
Are there a million items on your to-do list? More? We all wear different hats and are have different roles in our lives. And each generates its own set of responsibilities and items to get done. To me, the mystery of the Holy Trinity is not that mysterious at all. As for me- I am a Husband, a Father, and a Son in one person. With each comes responsibilities. On top of those- there are another 30 or so hats. How about you? Hueina Su presents Life Balance Lessons: 7 Keys to Avoid Burnout posted at Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul.

…and also for coincidence. Lill Hawkins presents The Lattice of Coincidence posted at News from Hawkhill Acres.

D is for dog.
A nice little photo-journal. Laurie Bluedorn presents Schutzhund Training posted at Trivium Pursuit.

…and also for dugout. I haven’t been to a baseball game in many years. I sort of miss it, but with my 4 young girls playing softball, and being an assistant coach on all four, I don’t think I can go near a baseball or softball field beyond the 8 games a week we are enduring right now. Matthew Paulson presents Budget Baseball: Enjoy Watching America’s Past-Time with Less Money posted at Getting Green.

E is for entertaining.
Not the kind where you have people over and let them have at your food and drink while spilling food on the carpet or breaking a wine glass or three. This is the kind where you get to sit-back and have your little one put on a show. Always worth the price of admission, and more often than not priceless. Whymommy presents The Evolution of Storytelling posted at Toddler Planet.

…and also embarrassment. And that’s what the little boy in this post will feel in a few years when he is older and his friends find this post. And they will. The internet and all the content on it will last to the end of days. Sara presents If He Were a Dog, and She Were a Hydrant, I Would Totally Get It posted at Suburban Oblivion.

F is for freak.
Hey- I’m not name calling- she describes herself as one. Who am I to disagree? Summer presents Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children posted at Wired For Noise.

…and also for fish. Another nice lady named Summer presents Other than blogging, what do you do all day? posted at Mom Is Teaching.

G is for girl’s night out.
So…I don’t mind when my wife heads out with a friend or her sister, but when the announcement is followed immediately by “you need to make dinner” or “dinner is on your own” I immediately turn into a 1950’s suburban husband. Yikes. therapydoc presents I can hear you breathe posted at Everyone Needs Therapy.

H is for hooray!
Ah…the day the pacifiers go away for real. That day is usually preceded by a few false starts and sleepless nights, but some get luck and score a touchdown right away. This is usually done by the parents that work at a great game plan before the big day. Csara presents Weaning from the pacifier posted at Baby Talkers. For a related story, check out my friends related story ‘no more papi’ at My Life.

…and also for huh? Watch out for all those ear buds, headphones, and other connections to your kids music and gaming devices. They can mean big trouble. Kevin presents iPods and Hearing Loss posted at More4kids Childrens Health.

I is for intuition.
Karen has it. My wife Michelle has it. Pretty much every woman has it. As for men, if we take the time to stop doing the urgent we can probably dredge it up too. Karen presents Breathing Easier posted at Write From Karen, and describes that feeling- that inkling that makes mom know without a doubt that something is not quite right.

…and also for inspiring.Holly Schwendiman presents My Favorite Mommy Moments posted at Holly's Corner Blog.

J is for junk-drawer.
That's where all of our unmatched socks and gloves end up. This author has taken a dramatically different route to solving the problem. DeputyHeadmistrss presents Cutting Our Losses posted at The Common Room.

K is for Kailani.
Our Carnival of Family Life Matriarch has posted a lovely all-girls photo. I have four girls, and these types of photos are all too common in our home. Michelle and the girls pose, daddy takes the picture, and seems to never get in any pics. Kailani presents A Special Mom Moment posted at An Island Life.

L is for limerick.
Madeleine Begun Kane gives us a lovely limerick Sleepless In Geekdom posted at MAD KANE'S HUMOR BLOG, and manages to avoid even a double-entendre. A clean limerick is hard to find.

…and also for loss. Dr. Hal presents Seung-Hui Cho and the Power of Perception posted at North Star Mental Fitness Blog.

M is for Montana.
One of my favorite states in the union. When the big pay-off happens, we will immediately buy a few hundred acres and move the crew to a nice spot on the range, near the mountains, with a nice river running through it. Someday. GP presents Innkeeping Innspirations posted at Fish Creek House - INNside Innkeeping.

N is for New England.
And new men. Learn about a group dedicated to helping men learn to be men of value, of purpose, and integrity. Erek Ostrowski presents The New England Legacy Discovery, May 18-20, 2007 posted at Verve Coaching.

…and also for neurosis. Which is exactly what this lady has gifted her cat with. Poor Max will never be the same. GrannyJ presents The Balloons Look Down posted at Walking Prescott.

O is for oh my gosh!
Hey Expat Chef- will you please invite us to your place for dinner? Please? Check out The Expatriate's Kitchen: Taute Cuisine 8: Vegetable Feast posted at The Expatriate's Kitchen.

P is for poop.
Need I say more? Mike presents Post Potty Training posted at Be A Good Dad.

…and also for protecting. Check out these great tips for protecting your child from misused guns. Christine presents Protect Your Child From A Shooting - Read posted at Everyday Disasters. By the way, I touched on this subject as well in an article I wrote for GNM Parents titled ‘Five Simple Ways To Keep Your Child Safe.

Q is for Queen.
The Wise Queen and The Princess discuss potential future princes in this tale of mom and daughter navigating love and technology. Anna presents LOVE, LIES & CELL PHONES « On The Ponderosa posted at On The Ponderosa.

R is for ripped.
Here’s a mom that is losing weight, adding muscle mass, and loving her baby. Jordan presents Yeah, I’ve been working out… posted at MamaBlogga.

…and also for relationships. Kate Baggott presents Dealing With a “Tempermental Baby”? Strong Relationship Helps posted at Babylune.

S is for synonym.
These are important- the right word conveys the right message, and one of my favorite choices is fatigued versus tired. Michelle chooses frugal over cheap in Used Hockey Skates? Priceless. posted at scribbit.

…and also for Superchick! How cool is this? Kerri presents The Safe Side: Stranger Safety posted at Play Library. Coincidentally enough I had the distinct pleasure and honor of helping to launch this company, and this wonderful video. I am so glad Kerri has found it useful. You can learn more about this video and what it teaches by reading these two posts: 1) ‘The Postman Always Passes Twice’ and 2) ‘Five Simple Ways To Keep Your Child Safe.

T is for toddler.
My wife and I are now 3+ years passed the toddler years. Our fourth is now 5 years old. We just had friends over for dinner along with their 2 year old and it brought back such wonderful memories. So did Lorri’s post A Toddler in the House posted at The Mac and Cheese Chronicles.

…and also for tragedy. Dr. Mike presents TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT TRAGEDY posted at PediaScribe Blog.

U is for uncle.
Anthony’s uncle recently passed away, and it prompted a dig through old family photos. Check out his post Photographs And Memories at The Lives and Times... of Anthony McCune.

V is for vacation.
Like Michelle’s use of frugal versus cheap, Stephanie shouts out a few tips on how to save money on your next vacation. 6 people on vacation for a week with a $1000 budget? I like it. She presents Vacation on a Budget posted at Stop the Ride!.

W is for walking.
This sort of sounds interesting, but I’m not sure. I’m such a goal-oriented person that when I read about this activity the first thing that pops in my mind is “why?” Mother Road presents Take a Hike -- Volksmarch! posted at Kid Trippin'.

…and also for words. Megan Bayliss struggles for words, and so do so many other people. Perhaps when we need them most…or perhaps not. She presents Words to Explain Feelings Following Virginia Tech Shootings. posted at Child protection: serious business..

X is for xyst.
Yes, I did have to think long and hard, search far and wide, to find a tie-in for the letter X. This works, but man is it obscure. Xyst is defined as a covered portico, promenade or a a garden walk planted with trees. Karen Lynch presents Daffodil posted at LivethePower, commenting on a magnificent garden of Daffodil covering 5 acres.

Y is for yes.
I love the first line of her post- if no makes us human, yes makes us like God. As someone who believes thoroughly we are made in His image, this really rings true. Rachel Starr Thomson presents Yes and Amen: The Magnificent Power of "Yes" posted at Inklings.

Z is for Zircon.
Ha! Bet you thought I couldn’t do a Z, huh? Well, I found a certain gem called a Zircon, that according to some wacky website about the healing powers of gems attributes the following to this certain rare stone: Strengthens the mind. Aids bowel problems. Balances pituitary and pineal glands. Aligns subtle bodies. Emotional balance, self-esteem. Aids sleep. Similar properties as diamond and quartz crystal. All around healer. And, with the segue-way complete, off we go to the post…Megan Bayliss presents Gem Sifting posted at Home Schooling Aspergers..

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Is Christ The Only Way To God?

The pastor of our church, Rick White, started a new teaching series a few weeks ago called “Tough Questions: Biblical Answers To Life’s Difficult Questions.” Part 1 was about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Last week was about heaven. This week was a key teaching- Is Jesus Christ the only way to God?

It was an awesome teaching, and Rick laid it all out. I started to type out all the notes, but I think that it is best to watch him talk through the information. If you are so inclined, and you have some time to spare, click the link below to watch the video. If you want to fast-forward directly to the message, go to 35:50 on your media player's timecount.

Is Christ The Only Way To God?

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Slaughter On The Softball Field

K is 13 years old and has been playing softball since she was 5 years old. The team she is on- made up of 13 and 14 year old girls, have for the most part been playing about as long, and many of them have played on the same team most of those years.

They are a brutal winning machine. Even the umpires have mentioned that they have never seen such a bunch of girls appear to so effortlessly lay to waste any and all who dare play them.

There are 14 girls on the team. We dont have 1 home-run hitter. We dont even have 2. Or 3. We have like 10.

The first three games this season have all been wins (they have only lost 1 game in the last 3 years) with scores like 25-0, 22-0 and 15-4. It's just amazing to behold.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Jennifer and Ian and the Spinach Queso

Yesterday I had a client in town from London. They run a digital music and video store that sells content via mobile phones (as they are from the UK, please honor them by pronouncing it mow-bile, not mow-bull).

Between meetings I took them to a favorite lunch spot in Nashville- J. Alexander’s. I know there are now J Alexander’s in other cities around the country- but they started here in 1991 and we think of them as ours and no one else’s. The food is outrageously good. Not that the dishes are particularly unique or one of a kind, its just that it is just plain great tasting. Sort of like how I picture heaven. We see through a glass darkly here in earth, and everything will be clearer, more beautiful, more awesome in heaven. At J. Alexander’s, the food just tastes better than anywhere else. I just can’t explain it any better.

Jennifer and Ian, my clients, seemed to agree. When we got started, the waiter asked the requisite question at J. Alexander’s- “Would you like to start of with some spinach queso?”

I asked Jennifer and Ian if they would like to try it. They agreed to give it a shot, but they had never heard of queso and didn’t know what to expect. When it was brought to the table (giant bowl of melted cheese with spinach, tomatoes and various spices) along with tortilla chips, Jennifer asked what to do with it. I explained that using the large spoon provided, one heaps a blob of the queso on a small plate, grabs a few tortilla chips, and then dips and chomps away.

It was a big hit with the Brits.

When our entrees were delivered, Jennifer looked at her Salmon Caesar Salad (with a gorgeous and sizeable hunk of grilled salmon on top), and then up at the waiter and asked if she could get seconds on the queso. The waiter said he could bring more of the queso and chips, but he would have to charge us for another order. She agreed, but told him to hold the chips.

Shortly afterwards the Salmon Caesar Salad turned into a new creation- The Salmon Spinach Queso Caesar Salad. They really liked the queso. Jennifer asked if we could return for dinner or lunch the next day.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007


In the fall of 1996 I took my first business trip with the CEO of my company. I had just recently been promoted to VP and he and I headed to NYC to meet with a new record label Sony Music had launched called Harmony Records.

I had started to report to the CEO just weeks before, and we didn’t know each other all that well. Despite a cash crunch our company was undergoing, he decided this trip was important and we needed to go- we just needed to make it a quick overnight trip and keep expenses down.

The trip went extremely well until checkout time. As we stood together at the front desk of our hotel and I received the news of the total bill for my overnight stay, my life flashed before my eyes. I was doomed.

I have always been a gadget guy. I dig all the latest and greatest technology tools to add music, video, and efficiency to my life. I struck up good relationships with our corporate IT folks so I had no trouble getting hold of the coolest new gear and getting them to look the other way when gadgets ran afoul of official IT policies. I had recently got a killer new laptop that I brought on the trip, and I planned on getting some email done after our day of meetings as well as put the finishing touches on a presentation I was working on for a future meeting.

That year a new internet company launched named PointCast. It was supposed to change the world. They touted a new concept called “Push Technology” where the software that resided on your machine would be set to automatically connect to the internet and pull down the latest news, stock prices, weather and more. It worked great at the office and at home. Not so much in a pricey hotel in NYC.

We arrived at LaGuardia at 9:30AM, and were at our hotel by 10AM. Fortunately our rooms were ready so we had about 30 minutes to freshen up before our 11AM meeting. I got to my room, unpacked a few things, and decided to check email. In those days before wireless broadband in hotels I needed to configure my auto-dialer on the external modem to navigate the various required key strokes to dial out of a hotel- 9, then a series of commas for pauses, and the area code and number to connect to our company server to fetch email. All went well, and I had my email downloaded in a few minutes. I headed out the door.

The meeting went well- we wrapped up by 2PM, then headed across town for another meeting, then a third meeting, and then a dinner together at one of his favorite restaurants. The meal was wonderful, and we got back to our hotel rooms by about 10PM. I was asleep by 10:10PM. Too much good food and wine to do the work I wanted to get done that night.

I awoke at 6AM when the wake-up call came in, jumped in the shower and was changed and ready to head out the door for our ride to the airport. I went to pack up my laptop and noticed that it was connected to the server at the office pulling down emails. I also noticed that PointCast was connected and letting me know it was cold and rainy outside. I turned off the laptop, packed it up, and headed out the door.

Bill walked up as I was checking out and said good morning. Right then the front desk clerk handed me my receipt and noted the total- $1,300. Yes- one.thousand.three.hundred.dollars.

I laughed nervously as Bill exclaimed “what?” and I told the clerk there must be some kind of mistake. The clerk checked the printed receipt and said that it looked like I had a rather large number of long distance phone calls- $1.50 for the first minute, $1 for each additional minute. It turns out my laptop that I had left connected to the phone line in my room had constantly been dialing in by itself to check email and get ‘pushed’ all the latest and greatest news from It was basically connected every minute it was set up in my room- from 10AM the day before to about 5 minutes before I walked up to the counter. I laughed nervously again.

Bill was not amused.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

For Me, The Ocean = Boat Rental

Anytime we vacation near the ocean I am compelled by some inner-force to rent a boat and take it out on the ocean.

I know this sounds corny, but whenever I hear the song “Cool Change” by Little River Band (which isn’t often), it rings true to my soul:

If there's one thing in my life that's missing, It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
There's lots of those friendly people, showing me ways to go
And I never want to lose your inspiration

Time for, a cool change, I know that it's time for a cool change
Now that my life, is so pre-arranged, I know that it's time, for a cool change

Well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best
The albatross and the whales they are my brothers
It's kind of a special feeling, When you're out on the sea alone
Starin' at the full moon like a lover

Time for, a cool change, I know that it's time for a cool change
Now that my life, is so prearranged, I know that it's time, for a cool change

Well I've never been romantic, and sometimes I don't care
I know it may sound selfish, but let me breathe the air

If there's one thing in my life that's missing, It's the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
It's kind of a special feeling, out on the sea alone
Staring at the full moon like a lover

Time for, a cool change, I know that it's time for a cool change
Now that my life is so prearranged, I know that it's time
for a cool change

Sorry- the cornymeter is pinging red.

I was in fact born in the sign of water (Pisces) though I recognize no power in the goofyness of the whole zodiac thing.

There is a kind of a special feeling I have when I am out on the sea alone- though I prefer to be out there with Michelle and the girls. The last time I was out on the sea alone, I had rented a 15 foot speed boat and taken it out on the Gulf of Mexico, leaving from Tampa. I was about 10 miles out when a squall developed and I was completely surrounded by thick fog. Now that was an interesting feeling. I slowed down, turned around in the captain’s chair and stared at a spot in the water directly behind me, and tried to turn the boat around and head in the direction I came. After a few minutes I was out of the fog and could see land.

Probably the most amazing experience I have ever had out on the ocean was a few years ago when Michelle, my girls K, L and A, any my sister Carla and B-I-L Josh went out with me on a boat I rented in Newport Beach CA. The seas were a bit rough (about 5-8 foot swells) which makes it THE BEST. At full cruising speed the boat soared through the air as it crested the larger swells and the experience was intense and full of life.

It is common on my jaunts out on the ocean to spot all sorts of sea-life. Sharks, seals, dolphins and so many other fascinating creatures. On this particular trip we did spot a dolphin in the distance and headed towards it. As we approached we noticed that a large part of the water surface ahead was teaming with movement just below the surface.

We got closer and realized we had entered the midst of a massive colony of dolphins- perhaps 100 or more. It was an amazing experience. They looked at us, swam by us, and as we started to move again they raced along with us altering their course to race us, move ahead, slip behind, swim alongside and stare at us. We were able to reach over the boat and touch any number of them. A once-in-a-lifetime experience I suspect.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Time: Who Are Your Dependants?

I am mailing my taxes in today, and accompanying the paperwork are two nice sized checks for the US Congress, and their leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, to divvy up and spend. This is the first year since 2000 I have mailed my taxes in. I have used TurboTax Online in the past and sent in my return electronically so that I can quickly get my refund. This is the first year I will owe taxes ever in my life, so why hurry up the process?

As I filled out the 2007 1040-ES (I now have to pay estimated taxes for 2007 due to the start of my own business, so had the pleasure of filling out two tax packages this spring) I pondered the lines regarding dependants. Who are my dependants? The form allows me to claim myself, my spouse and my children. The underlying concept is that the government is kind enough to allow me to list all those that are sustained by my earnings and list them in order to shelter some of my income from taxes.

If you really think about it, the number I should be allowed to place there is far greater than the 6 I am allowed. Allow me to point out two related stories:

1. The top 50% of earners in the US pay 96.54% of all Federal Income Tax. N-I-N-E-T-Y S-I-X percent. Look around you. The other person you see is not paying taxes. YOU are.

2. According to a news story released yesterday, economist Gary Shilling’s recent research showed that slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs.

Interesting…funny how those numbers seem to be related somehow.

So, by my figuring, I should be able to list somewhere around 150,000,000 dependants. So, my deductions for dependants should be about $450 billion dollars. Using that figure, I estimate the US Government owes me a refund of about $449+ billion dollars. Stupid? So is the tax code. And so are the politicians that run congress that are at this very moment planning the largest tax increases in the history of the country.

Hold on to your britches. Your pants are about to be ripped off.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Carnival of The Storytellers 7th Edition

Welcome to the 7th edition of The Carnival of the Storytellers. I am starting out this morning writing the editorial introductions to these fine posts on a cold spring morning. Global Warming is failing us here in the South. Late frost this year has ruined some of our vegetation, cancelled softball games, and yesterday it was snowing on the way to church. On April 15th! In Nashville!

There is a fine batch of reading this week and I am hopeful you will spend some time perusing this editions offerings. Enjoy.


I greatly enjoy stories that center on a character’s tipping point. That point when the character recognizes that conflict is inevitable, and sets their mind and body to action determined to overcome. Beverly Robertson presents Orange Aid posted at murmuring trees, saying, "This story won the First Friday contest over at Wildbird on the Fly. It is loosely based on fact."

A great post by Karen Shanley! A glimpse into a personal relationship that has implications for us all. It reminded me of something I heard yesterday- a woman was explaining how a friend had recently visited and while chatting over coffee talked about how she is so sad and depressed. After listening to her friend go on and on the woman realized that her friend had said “I” about a hundred times. I am sad. I am depressed. I feel this way. I feel that way. I am lacking direction. I am lacking fulfillment. I. I. I. In Argue for Your Limitations and They?re Yours, Karen lives out exactly what this woman I heard yesterday said is necessary to avoid “I” problems. Dive in and pour yourself into somebody. Serve them. Help them. Teach them. Care for them. By doing this, you end up serving, helping, teaching and caring for yourself in the end.

Elvis D is back to his old self. 3 submissions, 2 banned for sex and language (C’mon Elvis! Get creative! Try to express yourself and tell great stories without them.). One story made it in. Congrats. It is a fairly interesting read about a young boy that dies at the age of 3 and is able to keep an eye on his living family. Check out 365Fiction » Beyond posted at 365fiction.

Don West presents Tale of a 10-Year Old Sniper posted at Idle Minutes, saying, "Bravery, challenge, drama, you'll find it all in this humorous, real-life account a boy soldier in 1968." I have decided to break my own rule. Some minor language issues here, so you kids out there (especially mine) skip this one. Everyone else- fun reading. Memories of my own childhood soldiering came to mind immediately.

Madeleine Begun Kane doesn’t fail us- a funny story awaits you called False Alarm posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog. It brought back a long lost memory for me of getting stranded at a vacation spot.

This next post reinforced one of the reasons I blog. I have always loved the concept of journaling- in fact, I have quite a collection of journals. Nice leather bound books with luscious paper awaiting the careful and methodical application of a fine fountain pen pouring out thoughts, ideas and memories. Problem is I never get around to writing in them. But they sure look nice on my bookshelf. My blog has become my true journal. Something that has the potential to last until the final days of the world. What an amazing concept. Damaria Senne presents Tell me a story about my past posted at African tales in progress, saying, "This article is about how stories about past childhood antics give children a sense of history and stronger appreciation of their parents/grandparents. As an African, feel it's important that Africans their own stories in their own words, rather than letting others say who they are and where they fit in the global community."

A fine family story brought to life by Jasia. She presents First Time Driving posted at Creative Gene, saying, "This is a true story of Lucy's first attempt at driving. She got much better with time ;-)"

Wow. One of parents greatest fears come to life. I can’t imagine what I would feel if this happened to me, but I know what I would do- exactly what Jenny Blackburn did in Absolutely Bananas: Scary posted at Absolutely Bananas, saying, "Sometimes life provides the most intense drama; this is my story."

hellojed presents It's never too late posted at It Had Better Be Good, saying, "How I finally took the step from dreaming of being a writer to actually starting my novel."

Interesting. Walks The Edge presents Summer of Dragonflies posted at, and in it she proclaims two very unconventional thoughts. One- she has learned a great deal from a dragonfly. Two- she is her own savior. As for number one, I tend to want to learn from thinking, caring and loving beings- not insects. As for number two, I wonder how she would have fared as her own savior should she have been the one to encounter the trouble Jenny Blackburn did in her story above.

Dizzy. I figured out that’s what I really feel after reading a post from TherapyDoc. In the past I had said that I couldn’t understand half of what she wrote, and that maybe I was too stupid to get it. I realize now that the problem is that I have lived too long in the south. I used to think and speak fast as a northerner. I have been in Nashville for 12 years now and my mind and tongue have slowed to Nashville speed. TherapyDoc thinks and talks/writes too fast for me. I cant keep up, and after I read a post from her I feel dizzy. Check out When the Little Things Go Wrong posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist, saying, "When your kids grow up and leave home, then come back, life can be really challenging. Therapydoc recommends staying relativistic, pardon the pun." See? Even her description of the post she wrote makes me dizzy.

This is a new section added to the Carnival of the Storytellers. It’s for those posts that are in no way a story, nor could they be confused for one, but that somehow I still find mildly interesting.
Alvaro Fernandez presents Brain Essay Contest for High School Students posted at SharpBrains, saying, "Let's spread the word of this Essay Contest on Learning and the Brain for high-school students!"
Alex Shalman presents How To Rebound Your Goals posted at Self Help.
PicktheBrain presents How to Write Something Worth Reading posted at Pick the Brain.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the storytellers using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Land For Sale

Hey- So a couple days ago I wrote that one of my obsessive thoughts is to acquire more land to add to my 11 acre mini-nation here at DigitalRichLand. A lovely 39 acre lot with a 100 year old tobacco barn and gently slopping pastures just went up for sale yesterday next door. Is that timing or what? I could annex the site and instanty increase the size of my retreat 3X.

I have put the call into my realtor. I want to at least imagine I can afford it for the couple of days it will take for him to get back to me.

I get about 30-50 visitors a day here at DigitalRich (that I can see- the ones that have cookies turned on and allow SiteMeter to peek at them and visit directly versus blog readers). If each one of you were to donate, say, about $20,000, I could easily buy the land.

I'm thinking about adding a PayPal donation button to get things started. Let me know if you're in. Even like $5,000 would be welcome.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Amateur Musician

Over 4 million views on YouTube. I might be one of the last to see this... unless you haven't either. Enjoy.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My Top 5 Obsessive Thoughts

My blogquaintance MsQ has tagged me to write about my top 5 obsessive thoughts. I can’t imagine too many people would find them interesting. I recommend you skip DigitalRichDaily today and come back tomorrow! See ya.

Top 5 Obsessive Thoughts

Number 5 is LAND
For years I have dreamed of owning massive tracts of land. It's not a money or status thing- I just want to have a few thousand acres someday to call my own. I want to walk it, ride it (ATV/4x4), feel it, smell it, and pass it on to my kids. Weird, isn’t it?

Number 4 is THREATS
I think it’s a man/dad thing. I think about those things that could/might threaten my family. I keep an eye out for situations and people that might threaten us. Reading the book ‘Protecting The Gift’ really supported and explained these thoughts to me. Protecting The Gift is about recognizing, nurturing and understanding our natural ability to sense fear and threat. Fear is totally different than worry. Fear is the gift to protect.

Number 3 is JUSTICE & MERCY
I want justice for those that hurt children. I want justice for those that threaten the helpless. I am thankful for mercy so that we may get, if we accept it, what we don’t deserve.

Number 2 is PROVISIONS
Again, a man/dad thing. I want to provide for my wife and children. Love, support, encouragement, shelter, food, security, leadership, and so much more.

Number 1 is HEAVEN
What will it be like? I am learning the importance of thinking about heaven- about eternal things.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth "thrown in": aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
-C.S. Lewis

And now I shall tag a few others:
The Eccentric Blonde
The Glamourous Life
Liza's Eye View
Of Magic and Sensibility

I know I'm supposed to tag 5 others, but unfortunately I just don't know too many other bloggers well. Not sure if that is good or bad.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


Most people that know me relatively well- even those that know me very well- probably wouldn’t know that I have a serious problem with revenge. Not the dime store kind. The kind that takes offense easily, hold grudges, looks to get back at everybody all the time. I don’t do that at all. In fact, my wife thinks I look too often for the possibility that those that wrong us or others didn’t really mean it or understand the impact of their actions or words.

What I do have a problem with is taking revenge on those who wrong others (especially kids) and leave no doubt they know exactly what they are doing. When people are downright mean and nasty. I know the bible is clear about revenge- it's not mine to take. It robs God of his place. It basically is telling God that I know better than him and will right the universe and make sure good triumphs over evil.

I can't help myself sometimes. Two examples…

A couple years ago we were on vacation in California. Michelle, K, L, A and I (our youngest R was too little and stayed home with my parents). We were in line at some attraction or other in downtown LA and Michelle and I witnessed a boy of about 8 years old absolutely torturing his younger brother (probably 4 or so). He was hitting, kicking, punching and pinching him and there was nothing funny or lighthearted about it. He was being cruel and mean. The 4 year old was defenseless and every time he cried out or whimpered his parents would turn around and either scold or smack him while the 8 year old put on an act of innocence. After 20 minutes in line I couldn’t take it anymore. As they passed by us in the weaving velvet roped line I ‘accidentally’ planted an elbow into the forehead of the 8 year old. He winced with pain and looked at me. I gave him my absolute meanest ‘I’m gonna kill you boy’ look and wiggled my finger at him while quietly whispering ‘stop bothering your brother.’ That ended it.

One gorgeous evening in Disney World I was quickly walking from one side of the park to the other. My family was in line at Splash Mountain and I had been on the other side of the park meeting for a few minutes with some people from work (we were there for Night of Joy and several of our artists were performing in the park). As I made my way to the edge of Frontierland, I noticed a pack of teenagers walking in front of me goofing off and laughing hard. It was dark and hard to see what they were doing, but after a minute or two I noticed one in the group was shielding himself behind a couple of his friends and winging pennies at people walking towards them. When I say winging, I mean FULL-ON high speed throwing. You know how you hold a coin by its edges and whip it through the air? That’s what he was doing- hitting people in the chest as hard as he could. When he would hit someone, he would duck down behind his friends as they all kept walking. The victim would be in pain, confused, look around and not see anything suspicious. Sometimes they would stand there for a few seconds looking around trying to figure out what and who hit them. The teenagers would burst out laughing and get ready for the next victim. I observed them do this 3 times when an idea came to me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a quarter (a good 2-3x the size and mass of their puny pennies) and got closer to the group. As they continued to walk and the perp sized up his next victim, he cocked his arm back for the shot. I let loose with a 50MPH speed ball right at the back of his head. WHOMP. It struck true. King David himself would have been impressed. The teenage boy let out a whelp and dropped to his knees. His friends turned around and asked what happened. The boy said “I don’t know! Something hit me in the head! Who did it?” As I walked past him, I looked down at the nearly crying boy (he looked to be 16 or 17) and said “I did,” smiled at him and kept walking.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bus Ride

My brother-in-law Nathan is a fine fellow. He endured a few years of torture and teasing from me while I dated his older sister (and my future wife Michelle), and sometimes I think back at the practical jokes I pulled with a bit of regret. A very little bit.

I never had a brother of my own, so I took out years of little brother treatment on him. Sometimes I had to manufacture scenarios and situations to tease him about, sometimes they landed in my lap like manna from heaven.

We all used to live in Gaithersburg Maryland, and one of the things our community was most proud about was their public transportation system. Ride-On busses were everywhere, and almost anyone in the town or it’s outskirts could walk out their front door, and be at a Ride-On bus stop in a couple minutes. The network of routes could take you almost anywhere. For students it was ideal- if you missed your school bus, you could hop on a Ride-On and still make it to school on time. Each route was 2-way, every bus stop had an identical sign or shelter across the street. One side took you in one direction, the other side in exactly the opposite.

One day Nathan missed his school bus. He checked to make sure he had 50 cents, and waited for the Ride On. The bus pulled up, Nathan climbed on board, paid his money and had a seat. As the bus started to roll Nathan asked the bus driver “this bus does go to Seneca Valley High School, right?”

The bus driver said- “This route does have a stop at the school, but your headed the wrong direction. You have to go to the other side.”

Nathan said thank you, then stood up and walked the two steps to the other side of the bus and sat down.

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