November 29, 2004

Philanthropic TV

We're not huge TV watchers (who has time?), but we've enjoyed watching the popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for some time now. Yeah, it's neat to see the change from the old house to the new house, but the best thing is seeing the crew meet--and exceed--the needs of the recipients of the home makeover.

It's not the vain manipulation of cellulite, teeth, and bone of the human makeover show. This is making people's lives better. Doing for them what they can't do for themselves. And while I doubt that the main crew members are Bible-believing Christians, the show does carry Christian themes. Compassion (toward the helpless), love, and hope come to mind immediately.

I don't know the show's finances (nor Sears, a major contributor), but I imagine they're doing quite well. That's something else to like; I'd much rather see a positive show and its sponsors succeed than the typical mindless fare on the tube. It's nice to think that Americans are seeing the positive themes of the home makeovers and responding by patronizing the show's sponsors.

Now if the recipients would stop taking the Lord's name in vain during the "reveal."

Posted by JRC at 11:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

His & hers turkeys


Thought I'd share some photos of the turkeys that we made for Thanksgiving...our favorite holiday.

The one on the left is what Darla made. Well, there was a whole brood of them, actually. She got the idea from a catalog. Her turkeys were spice cake cupcakes with caramel icing. The tail feathers were Fruit Rollups, the necks were Nutter Butter cookies, and the eyes were dried cherries "glued" on with caramel icing. And of course a candy corn beak. The turkeys looked good when it mattered, but the moistness of the cake soon ruined the tail feathers and the necks.

The one on the right is the real turkey (foreground) that I (background, so you're not confused) smoked on my grill. This was the second year that I smoked my own turkey (with hickory wood). It's really the only way to extension of my father's famous smoked turkeys of years past. But with my job in VA, we haven't been able to get down to SC for Thanksgiving, so my parents (and this year, my brother) came up for the holiday.

The smoked turkey is on the grill for most of the day on Thursday. It went on before 8 a.m. -- thanks to Darla (but that's a story for another post) and it came off around 4 p.m. Just right, too!

Posted by JRC at 07:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

I'm annoyed...

... but not surprised by news stories such as this.

First of all, "separation of church and state" doesn't exist in the founding documents. "ESTABLISHMENT of religion" is prohibited, if I'm not mistaken. There's a difference.

Second--and I'm opening a can of worms with this rhetorical question--how come the military bases are prohibited from hosting Boy Scout troops because of the BSA's mention of God when there are military officers (known as chaplains) whose role in the military is to give religious instruction and guidance?

Posted by JRC at 11:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tweaking under the hood

Thanks to the gracious chief guru and host, we have a new tool to combat blog spammers. I've made one minor change to the underlying code, thanks to Ben (of whom I must be a friend), that will now require any person leaving a comment to preview what they've written before submitting.

This, in addition to some other features already in place and some apparently on the way, should cut down on the trash that gets put in comments every few days on e-ink.

I've done my best to quickly remove blog spam when it comes in, but my apologies if you've come across any of it.

Here's my thanks to Ben for his work. Thanks, Ben!

[I'm JRC and I approved this message.]

Posted by JRC at 11:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 14, 2004

Rolling along


This afternoon, my 1996 VW Jetta GL reached a milestone. At 4:50 p.m., the gold sedan added a digit on the odometer as the digital reading "rolled" from 99999 to 100000.

That's about 64,000 miles since I bought the car used at the now-defunct Greenville Mitsubishi Used Car lot on Woodruff Road in November 1999.

Here's to many more miles on the trusty little car.

Posted by JRC at 09:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Nothing to come home to


A man in our county lost his house in a Saturday night blaze but escaped unhurt. He was looking forward to hosting his grown kids from Florida--they'd lost their home during the hurricanes--on Sunday.

As firefighters dismantled much of the remains to fully extinguish the fire, the man came over to me with the charred remains of a .22 rifle that he'd been planning to give to his 7-year-old grandson today. It had been chrome-plated, but now everything was blackened.

Located well outside of town, the fire gained a hold on the house as firefighters responded. The fire department needed 10-15 minutes of driving to reach the scene, and that's what led to the man's loss.

The fire struck shortly after 10 p.m. on a night with temperatures in the 20s. (I had to scrape frost off my windows before leaving home.)

Two engines and a tanker responded down a gravel road that was just wide enough for a private vehicle and a fire rig. When the FD needed more water, they had to back up a long distance before they could turn around to drive to the river for more water.

I was back in bed by 12:15.

Posted by JRC at 09:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

A happy experiment

In effort to create the unparalleled Chipotle burrito experience without driving 3-4 hours round trip, we tried to make our own last night. Surprisingly, we came pretty close--closer than Chipotle knockoffs like Qdoba Mexican Grill.

Now, when I cook--which I do occasionally--I rarely follow a recipe. It's all by sight or experimentation. That's what we did last night. Darla cooked safron rice with cilantro while I grilled porkchops.

When the pork was done, we cut it into strips. We took the tortillas, added sour cream, shoepeg corn, salsa, monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses, Texas Pete and Tabasco Chipotle hot sauces to the rice and pork and had nice burritos. I added fried onion topping to mine for a little onion flavor.

We didn't make them as big as the 1 1/2-pound Chipotle burritos, nor did we have the fancy tortillas they had, but the taste was really close. We're still looking for good South American beans like Chipotle has--not the Taco Bell frijoles.

Obviously we didn't satisfy our year-long addiction to Chipotle, 'cause we're gonna hit one Saturday when I go to cover the Virginia high school state cross country meet.

Posted by JRC at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2004

I'm a wacko...

...because I voted for Bush. I'm a Christian--whether a fundamentalist or evangelical, the media will never know--who believes Bush's stand on moral issues is stronger than Senator Kerry's. As we've seen the liberal national media are surprised that their candidate lost. And they know it's because Christians turned out in large numbers to vote for a God-fearing incumbent president. That has them perplexed; the country may not actually believe like the media says they do.

I don't believe Bush is the perfect candidate, but he's about as good as we can hope for. That being said, it's frustrating and funny at the same time that liberals think that Bush is in bed with fundamentalists. This brand-new book exposes that story. Check out the cover! (Thanks to my brother for tipping me off on this one.) I have not read the book, but just look at the reviews on Amazon. What can I say...the double standards that liberals have amaze me.

I'm also wacko because I believe in a six-day Creation. The world was created--with age--as described in Genesis. That's so easy to believe. And there's good science that supports such a belief. So many evolution proofs have been shown to be hoaxes or lacking in logic. Nonetheless, National Geographic continues to heap glowing praise on Darwin and his theories while criticizing those who believe the biblical account of creation.

Here's some of what the magazine says (beyond what they show on the website) and my thoughts:

[Darwin] was right about evolution, that is. He wasn't right about everything. Being a restless explainer, Darwin floated a number of theoretical notions during his long working life, some of which were mistaken and illusory. He was wrong about what causes variation within a specific species. He was wrong about a famous geologic mystery, the parallel shelves along a Scottish valley called Glen Roy. Most notably, his theory of inheritance--which he labeled pangenis and cherished despite its poor reception among his biologist colleagues--turned out to be dead wrong. Fortunately for Darwin, the correctness of his most famous good idea stood independent of that particular bad idea. Evolution by natural selection represented Darwin at his best--which is to say, scientific observation and careful thinking at its best.

Note: Emphasis mine, in bold.

..."stood independent of that particular bad idea." It does? How?

The article goes on to explain how by looking at fossils, we can see the stages of evolution. The author tells about a paleontologist who has a "trait that's valuable in a scientist: a willingness to admit when he's wrong." The paleontologist has been collecting whale fossils from the Middle East. As he collected the fossils, he started to see a progression in whale types that suggested they came "from a group of carnivorous Eocene mammals known as mesonychids."

Just a bit more evidence, he thought, would confirm that relationship. By the end of the 1990s, most paleontologists agreed.

Meanwhile molecular biologists had explored the same question and arrived at a different answer. No, the match to those Eocene carnivores might be close, but not close enough. DNA hybridization and other tests suggested that whales had descended from artiodactyls (that is, even-toed herbivores, such as antelopes and hippos), not from meat-eating mesonychids.

In the year 2000 Gingerich chose a new field site in Pakistan, where one of his students found a single piece of fossil that changed the prevailing view in paleontology. It was half of a pulley-shaped anklebone, known as an astragalus, belonging to another new species of whale. A Pakistani colleague found the fragment's other half. When Gingerich fitted the two pieces together, he had a moment of humbling recognition: The molecular biologists were right. Here was an anklebone, from a four-legged whale dating back 47 million years, that closely resembled the homologous anklebone in an artiodactyl. Suddenly he realized how closely whales are related to antelopes.

The article continues, getting even better, adding some serious science.

This is how science is supposed to work. Ideas come and go, but the fittest survive. Downstairs in his office Phil Gingerich opened a specimen drawer, showing me some of the actual fossils from which the display skeletons upstairs were modeled. He put a small lump of petrified bone, no larger than a lug nut, into my hand. It was the famous astragalus, from the species he had eventually named Artiocetus clavis. It felt solid and heavy as truth.

I wondered what that was supposed to mean for a while. Then it hit me. It's just like being in a junkyard and finding a spark plug. Holding that spark plug, you know it's just like the spark plug in your Ford Focus. But then you realize...this isn't a Focus spark plug, it's a from a Dodge Ram full-size pickup (with a HEMI). You can tell because there's a HEMI tag on the ground nearby. Hold the spark plug. It's real. And solid and heavy as truth.

Too bad it's from an outboard motor.

The article closes with the disclosure that the paleontologist himself grew up in a conservative Midwest church. He, too, needs to see the intermediate steps of evolution. And now that's what he's doing.

He's not satisfied until he sees solid data. That's what excites him so much about pulling whale fossils out of the ground. In 30 years, he has seen enough to be satisfied. [Don't forget the spark plug.] For him, Gingerich said, it's "a spiritual experience."

"The evidence is there," he added. "It's buried in the rocks of ages."

So, it does come down to faith. I'll keep my faith in the Rock of Ages, not rocks of ages. If this is what it's like to be wacko, I'll take it.

Posted by JRC at 05:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gotta read this!

With God on Their Side

Check out the cover! (Thanks to my brother for tipping me off on this one.)

Posted by JRC at 05:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 03, 2004

Election results online

Last night I was interested in the constantly-updating Election Results page on YahooNews tracking the presidential returns. Each state was also linked, so that one could track major state races as well.

USA Today ran a map in the Nov. 3 edition that shows how each county (or parish) in the country voted in the presidential election. Sure is an incredible amount of red on the map. The only place I know it's available is on Sean Hannity's website. Check the right side of his homepage (you might have to scroll) or try this link.

In an effort to help us vote yesterday, Google had an index to help find polling places. It was the 50 states, eached linked to a state electoral page. I tried finding my polling place for all three residencies I've had in my voting years. It didn't work for any but my first residence. Oh well.

Posted by JRC at 10:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Newspapers and the election

It's been interesting to see how various newspapers handled the election in their papers today. Once again, Newseum's collection of front pages is an interesting study of what different papers did. Some of my favorites that I found on Newseum were posted on in the post "That Election Thing." And Charles Apple, Graphics Director for The Virginian-Pilot gave his comments on a few of them as well for the American Press Institute.

Almost all papers refused to declare a winner.

Some went with a more tentative route such as "Bush leads," "Too close to call," or "Down to the wire." Several played with "deja vu" with "Deja Who?" or "Deja Vote." Many referred to Ohio or waiting for the final count. And a few tried to play it safe, saying Kerry wouldn't concede. They got burned a few hours after publication. Some skirted the issue by giving more attention to more localized races.

Yahoo News had a list of 20 newspapers and their presidential endorsements. It would be interesting--and I'm not taking the time to do so for all of them--to see what their Nov. 3 front pages were. And for that matter, to see how the vote went in their geographic area.

Below are links to a few front pages that caught my eye.

Detroit Free Press: Still waiting for some copy when sent to Newseum.
The Globe and Mail (Canada): Somewhat humorous front page.
Staunton (Virginia) Newsleader: I love the photo (although The Virginian-Pilot's Apple doesn't).
Anniston (Alabama) Star: The photo and headline are great together.
New York Sun: I don't know, I just like it. Kinda retro.
Chicago Sun-Times: Not a fan of tabloid papers, but this is well-done graphically. Clever too.
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN): Same photo as Staunton's paper, nice white space.
The Forum (Fargo, North Dakota): Are they making the call?
The Express Times (Bethlehem, PA edition): Not ready to make the call.
The Express Times (New Jersey edition): Different edition of the above paper; one of the few to declare a winner.
The Times (Munster, Indiana): One of the few papers to declare a winner?

Posted by JRC at 09:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack