By Your Side

Just to prove how eclectic is the song in my head, I woke up with Sade‘s (sha-Day) “By Your Side” this morning. It’s a very peaceful song with which to wake. Sade’s (shah-Dey) voice is quite mellow and rich and serene.

Not like Chris Isaak’s voice, which, by the way, I woke up to again yesterday. Same song too. Apparently the voices like that particular song.

“By Your Side” was also the second song to come up on Pandora this morning. Love it when the song in my head matches up with the song on the radio. It’s like getting what you want when being told to “Go Fish”.

Waiting On A Woman

The mind radio was all over the place this morning. I’m pretty sure, with relative accuracy, that Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ on a Woman” was the first song to come in tune.

I don’t know the logic behind the songs in my mind. I am becoming convinced that I am picking up some kind of ethereal radio signal from somewhere.

Kind of like Gilligan. You remember that episode? The Professor filled some cavities and suddenly Gilligan could pick up radio signals that could be selected by twisting his ears. That’s how I feel.

Because, even though Brad Paisley was first, the internal tuner  quickly moved to the other end of the spectrum. Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Go figure. Some days, I wonder how I get out of bed at all.

I’ll spare you the Motley Crue.  If you want to see the actual polished video, there’s a good one of Paisley with Andy Griffith. Embedding has been disabled for that version, however.  Because of this, I leave you with the version below.

I think I’ll dedicate this one to mom, seeing as how she was always the last one out the door whenever we had anywhere to be.

Come to think of it, maybe I should dedicate this one to Pop instead.

Back To You

It’s been a few nights since I posted the song in my head. It’s not because I wake up with no song in my head. It’s just that I don’t always remember what it is later in the day. Once I get in the car to drive to work, the song usually leaves me. If it isn’t a song that I like or can name, it’s sometimes difficult for me to recapture it later in the day.

Or, sometimes, the song simply has no name. Yesterday morning I awoke to what I am convinced is a tune of my own contrivance. I couldn’t hum the tune to you now or sing a single lyric to you, but the song was there. I couldn’t even understand the lyrics as I was waking. But there was a tune and it was like singing. Just not in any human language. It was weird.

That was yesterday morning. This morning, I awoke to a much different and much more recognizable tune. This morning was John Mayer’s “Back to You”.

I have to admit that, as a grown man, John Mayer is highly uncool. C and I went to see him a few years back when Counting Crows opened for him in Charlotte. Ostensibly, we were there for the Crows and, if you ask me, the Crows put on the better show. You couldn’t tell that to the bazillion 14 year-old girls, however. As soon as Mayer took the stage, they all went berserk and threw their training bras on stage. It was insane.

Since that time, I have formed a grudging appreciation for Mayer. I have come to enjoy quite a few of his songs and he’s become a guilty pleasure.

Kind of like Journey or REO Speedwagon. Admit it. You like them and you sing along to every song. Don’t try to lie to me, cause I know you and I know when you’re lying.

Anyway, “Back to You” has become one of my favorite Mayer songs. As Mayer describes it, it’s a song about eighth and ninth and tenth chances. It has a  special meaning to me as it makes me think of a particular person in my life, someone who keeps popping up again and again.

She and I have had one of those relationships of which God will just not let go. For all the chances we’ve had, I’m eternally grateful, even if we fell one chance shy of for keeps.

This one is for you, C, wherever you are.

In The Order Of Melchizedek

The meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek. (Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67)
The meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek. (Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67)

Another late night here. I’m just getting in from bible study (a.k.a “small group”). I have to figure out a way to get home sooner most nights of the week. It seems that I get home in just enough time to unwind for half-an-hour before heading to bed. It’s not enough time to spend with myself, especially when I want to update the blog.

Tonight’s bible study topic was the book of Hebrews, covering chapters 6 and 7 in particular. It was interesting to me on several levels. Chapter 6  is an exhortation to the audience to keep the faith and deals specifically with apostasy, a subject covered in brief previously on this blog.

The big question, theologically speaking, is whether or not a true Christian can ever be truly lost or permanently separated from God. Is Christ’s sacrifice efficacious in the forgiveness of sins only once or is does that sacrifice cover a true repentant, even if they’ve fallen away from Christianity previously?

I’m sure these questions have been debated in greater and more philosophical ways than I’m prepared to delve in this space at this time so I’ll give you a link to an interesting article I found whilst preparing for the discussion. The gist is that, even while Christ’s sacrifice remains effective for those who repent and seek him in humility, the warning against “falling away” cannot be wholly discounted. If it could be wholly discounted, it need not have been made in the first place.

While I find that interesting, the more interesting part of the study to me dealt with Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6: 20 declares that Jesus “has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” and chapter 7 goes on to tell about Melchizedek and his relationship to Abram and the Aaronic priesthood.

Many people probably know little to nothing about Melchizedek and, if you don’t, the whole subject is fascinating. Melchizedek is the high priest of God in the time of Abraham an, according to various and sundry traditions, is either a.) Shem, son of Noah, aged 500 years, b.) the son of Noah’s brother (presumably equally aged), c.) without genealogy entirely  or d.) Jesus.

I read through the article on Wikipedia and can recommend it highly to anyone with an interest in biblical subject matter. You can see the various traditions grow from the relatively mundane to the almost wholly mystical. My personal favorite is the take from the Dead Sea Scrolls:

In this […] text Melchizedek is seen as a divine being and Hebrew titles [such] as Elohim are applied to him. According to this text Melchizedek will proclaim the “Day of Atonement” and he will atone for the people who are predestined to him. He also will judge the peoples.

Sounds a lot like Jesus to me.

You should go read the article. Even the Mormons have a take on Melchizedek. Who knew?

The other interesting point from tonight’s discussion revolved around the “certainty of God’s promise”. As any Christian will tell you, God is ever faithful and keeps His promises to us. The question becomes, then, what have we been promised? As heirs of the blessing of Abraham, what can we expect from God?

Obviously we can’t expect a life full of happiness and sunshine from beginning until end. What we can expect is that God’s son Jesus will be present in us and will share with us all life’s joys and sorrows. He will be our ready support through all that comes our way and, if we bear with Him faithfully, we will come to the place that He has prepared for us in His Father’s house.

Other than that, God’s promises to each of us are hard to discern. I do believe that God promises each of us things in this life and the next. We just have to take it as a matter of faith that God is active in our lives and that He can and will keep the promises made.

Until then, we lay hold to the hope set before us and, like Abraham, patiently endure

Review: Flip Burger Boutique

Flip Burger Boutique
Flip Burger Boutique

Just got in from dinner with my buddy Jimminy (a.ka. “Jiminez“). He just got back from New York with the Missus and it’s been a while since we caught up so we decided to hit up the fashionable new burger place off Howell Mill, Flip Burger Boutique. I read about it a few weeks ago on Chow Down Atlanta and have been wanting to try it out ever since. A group of us tried to go weekend before last but we’re unable to brave the two hour wait to get a table.

My initial impression? As fads go, this too shall pass.  It’s a unique concept that is well done but …I expected to be knocked out by the burger and I was mildly underwhelmed. I’ll go again but won’t brave a huge crowd, even though the tables turned over pretty quickly.

Our wait tonight was about 20 to 30 minutes, if that tells you anything. Tuesday night at 8 o’clock and the place was hoppin’. We bellied up to the bar to have a beer before dinner. The first point of judgment came from there. I always judge a place on the selection of beers they have on offer.

I can’t say this place was Brick Store Pub or The Porter, but they had some notable beers. The beer list wasn’t huge but it was decently select.  They have one of my favorite beers, Three Philosophers, in a bottle. Good way to score points, that, but I’ve noticed Three Philosophers popping up in more and more places these days. God forbid, I think it’s becoming trendy. Ditto for Allagash White, the beer of the night. I forewent the Three Philosophers on the theory that a lighter, crisper beer would provide better accompaniment to a heavy burger.

As it turned out, by the time we were seated, we’d pretty much decided to move away from beer and over to the house milkshakes. Flavors run from “Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow” to “Pistachio and White Truffle” to, get this, Foie Gras. I kid you not. They have an actual Foie Gras milkshake. They swore up and down that it was surprisingly good. For $9 dollars, it should be. But I just couldn’t imagine drinking any kind of duck liver milk shake.

I can vouch for the Nutella and Marshmallow shake, however. I’m sure it was at least a thousand calories, but it was great.  Ditto for the “Krispy Kreme” milkshake.  I didn’t try it but have it on Jimmy’s good authority that it tasted like several Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in ice cream. In other words, it was no kind of bad.

What turned me lukewarm on the place was the burger. They had some really interesting burgers on the menu and they certainly are crafted with attention to detail. But they weren’t all that great, honestly. They were good, but not wait-thirty-minutes-on-a-Tuesday-night great.  The meat was fresh and of the choicest cuts. The ingredients were interesting and a good mix of the traditional and non-traditional. The sides were unique and everything was well presented but…the burger itself left me wanting a little more.  I guess the burger just didn’t live up to the hype.

That’s why I think the place will simmer down to normal crowds in a few more months. Trendy is great but people will soon move on to the next big thing. When that happens, I’ll go back again. It was a good atmosphere and there are several more burgers I’d like to try. And I just have to find out what that Foie Gras milkshake is all about.

How to Make Snow Cream

As keeper of a blog, I’m a little obsessive about how many people are reading what I write. I check several stat compilers several times a day to figure out who’s coming from where to read what. I don’t know why, exactly. I get maybe 20 people here a day. But it’s nice to know that people are reading what I write.

It makes me wish I had something more worthwhile to say, but what are you gonna’ do, right?

Anyway, I’ve been impressed with the number of international visitors. I had no idea. I apparently have a regular reader in Okinawa. (Konichiwa and thanks for stopping by.) I have readers come from England, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Israel…It’s weird. I truly feel I have so very little to say or, at least, have said very little so far. I suspect people knew me from my previous blog. They probably think I’m my brother, come to that.

I did have a visitor come from a Yahoo search on “how to make snowcrean“. Apparently neither they nor I know how to spell or how to type “snow cream”. I’ll have to correct that typo at some point, I suppose.

Seeing that coming to my site was going to get them no closer to making actual snow cream, I thought I’d help them out by asking Pop for his snow cream recipe. This is his answer:

Hey Choo.[One of my nicknames from Mom and Pop.] We have about three inches snow. Snow cream is probably best when made with condensed milk. Snow cream and cool aid and sugar and milk MAKES A GOOD ONE, Vanilla flavoring or chocalate is good with the condensed milk. I always experimented woth the portions=of milk, sugar and snow. Hope you make a good one, S** E**** and O**** were without heat for a few hours this morning. Goof luck with the snow cream.

I feel better now that I know poor typing is genetic and not something for which I am responsible. I also realize that the paragraph above gets your average searcher for snowcrean no closer to making it. Measuring, like typing, is not one of my father’s strong suits.

Because of this, I did a little searching of my own and found a few recipes for snow cream. One that sounds a bit like what Pop describes reads:

Sweetened Condensed Milk
Pure Vanilla Extract
Cut Mile with Real Milk or Water
Sugar
In a separate bowl, mix condensed milk, sugar and vanilla

Be forewarned. If you attempt to make snow cream, you too could lose your ability to type and spell.I assume that “Cut Mile” above means “Cut (Condensed) Milk”. It’s only an assumption, however.

BTW, I suspect the above recipe requires some amount of snow as well. Authentic snow cream usually does.

I remember that, on the rare occasions it snowed to any depth, we used to go out to the farthest reaches of the yard with a bucket to collect the freshest, most pristine snow we could find. We would do our best to keep our footprints out of the snow as long as possible, just so we’d have clean snow for snow cream. Inevitably one of my friends would come along and tramp through the yard to have us come out and play and, inevitably, we’d yell at them for messing up the yard.

They probably came down just for the snow cream. As far as I know, Pop was the only father in my circle of friends that made snow cream. One of these days, I hope to be able to pass the tradition along to my own kids.

Until then, If you find yourself snowed in and looking for snow cream recipes, I hope the recipes above come in handy. Just remember the one important piece of advice my father always passed along when it was time to make snow cream:

“Watch out for the yellow snow!”

Leaving Windows Behind

I have been watching my personal laptop die a slow and agonising death for some while now. I bought my laptop way back in 2004 because I needed it for graduate school and it has been showing its age of late. It has become increasingly slow and plodding. Booting the thing has become a chore that requires at least 15 minutes and it seems to get worse with every Windows update.

Microsoft loves to stuff new services and executable files into every “fix” and these slowly pile one on top of the other to destroy PC performance. It’s Microsoft’s way of convincing you to upgrade to the latest hardware and the latest Windows operating system. Planned obsolescence, in other words.

I am not ready for my computer to be obsolete, however. I am squirreling away money and paying down debts and do not want to spend a thousand dollars on a new laptop just yet. Plus, there are several new technologies on the horizon that will be worth an upgrade (Windows 7, USB 3.0 and solid-state hard drives to name a few).

I decided to live with the slowness. I have a work laptop as well and could really do without my personal laptop if it came down to it. All I ever really do with my personal laptop any more is surf the web and play the occasional game. It has become more of a storage device for my music than anything else.

Sadly, my laptop just didn’t have another year to give. My hard drive began to show signs of imminent failure just about two weeks ago. My weekly antivirus scan took three times longer than normal and a disk check threw off innumerable errors in about 12 hours of running. I’m grateful that the drive lasted long enough for me to back up all my files before finally giving up the ghost.

Give up the ghost it did, though. Yesterday, no matter how I coaxed and cajoled, the disk simply refused to boot. It would cycle from start to loading Windows, cough, sputter and try again, all without success.

Rather than replace my computer, I decided to do a little refurb on my own. Since I had some warning of the impending demise of my hard drive, I ordered a replacement from Amazon.com. As luck would have it, I got it two days before the final failure of the old one. Good timing, that. I spent half-an-hour yesterday morning plucking out the old drive and installing the new.

I also installed Ubuntu rather than reinstalling Windows XP. I have been test driving it ever since. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed, impressed enough to question whether I’ll ever run Windows again.

The install process was simple, my machine boots in under thirty seconds and the operating system updated and patched itself in about 10 minutes after the initial install. I realise that some of the performance gain comes from having a new, faster hard drive but I’m sure not having a bloated operating system helps a great deal. I can’t imagine having to patch the my older version of XP again. It would take hours just to download all the patches, much less get them installed. That doesn’t even cover the time it would take to reinstall the various applications that make XP useful.

Ubuntu comes with a wide assortment of useful applications that I didn’t have to go dig up. It made it easy to find additional apps that I wanted and installing them was as easy as a click of a button and a few minutes.

I do have two gripes about Ubuntu thus far. The biggest by far, and it’s a biggie, is that I have no sound. Apparently there’s a bug in the native sound handling program in the latest release of the OS. I am sure that I could get it working with a little applied effort but no OS should ever be released with a bug this glaring. (Think Windows Vista, known for not recognizing a wide range of hardware.)

I do not want to spend time digging in the guts of the system to figure this kind of stuff fresh out of the box, and I’m perfectly comfortable doing so. If Canonical ever wants to compete with Microsoft, it has to be able to appeal to someone other than your average geek. Amateurish releases like this aren’t going to cut it.

Worse, out of 249 applied updates yesterday, the bug remains. I have no sound. Checking out the support forums tells me that I am by no means an isolated case. A quick Google search brings up a new solution for every search result. I tried a few of the proposed solutions with no luck. I will continue to research but it is a major knock against the OS.

The other gripe I have against the OS is nit-picking. It doesn’t have the fonts I’m used to seeing. All the fonts are freely licensed rather than the copyrighted versions in Windows. It makes things look different. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but it feels alien right now. I like my routine, folks.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on the subject in the future but, for now, I’m quite pleased. I feel like I have a new laptop and I only spent $40 bucks. I have another 1 GB of memory on the way and, when that’s installed, the laptop, she should be humming.

Assuming I can get the sound to work, that is.

Break It Down Again

I have been listening to a lot of 80s music on Pandora over the last few days. I blame that pattern of listening for the song with which I awoke this morning. Tears for Fears‘ “Break It Down Again“.

Tears for Fears was one of my favorite bands back in the early 80s. I have memories of summer camp and “Songs From The Big Chair“. “Shout” was huge. I have karaoked “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” several times. “Head Over Heels” was one of my favorite tunes and always reminded me of…well, several girlfriends at this point.

At least one of those young ladies is my Facebook friend after many years. You know who you are, probably. Maybe not.

“Break It Down Again” was their comeback song, I think. They had at least one comeback and maybe two. I don’t think it ever took, really. Tears for Fears never were quite as cool as they were back in 1985.

Then again, neither am I.

Since all of the Tears for Fears videos seem to have embedding disabled, I leave you with the “literal” version of “Head Over Heels”. I think it captures the spirit of the 80s pretty well.