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A little song we wrote...

So, as of right now the ATL Braves are 5GB of the NYMets (I hate the Mets.) and 5GB in the wild card race and seemingly losing ground with every pitch. They've gone 4-6 on their current road trip and have lost some heart-breakers lately. All this comes with Luke's Cubs *barely* staying afloat of the surging Cards and the sinking Brewers!

But do they have a catchy little ditty for their mid-season pickups? (What, no love for Craig Monroe?) If you're a Braves fan or a baseball fan in general, this is definitely worth three minutes of your life.

I'll admit, the division race is looking like a long shot. There're two more series with the Mets and Phillies that'll determine where the Braves will stand. And the WC race is almost as bleak with the way San Diego's playing lately. But hey, we got Tex, right? (now if we could just find some pitchers to fill out the rotation...)

(ht David)

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Pretty much the Babe Ruth of guitars

So this is a bit overdue (in my opinion - and in Dan's opinion, too.), but I just have to share some exciting news. Our family has a new baby!

No, not Noah (who, by the way, is beginning to creep closer and closer to sleeping through the night!). I'd like to introduce you to my new Taylor 714ce.

It's pretty much the Babe Ruth of guitars. (ht Luke).

I've been saving for quite a while; honestly, since our house fire two years ago. Three weeks ago, I went to Atlanta to help my brother move and decided that was my opportunity - right here at the end of the summer, just as I head back into the new school year. (I'm 27 and my life still revolves around the school-year calendar.)

I went to Maple Street Guitars, where I had visited before and received tremendous customer service, which is why I went back. Now, I didn't set out for this particular guitar. I had looked around and played around some and had decided it was going to be a Taylor. I liked the way the 400's looked but actually liked the way the 300's sounded better. I also wanted to look at a 500, just so I could say I had considered it. But thought I was settled on a 310ce. One of the salespeople mentioned this 700 they'd had in the store for two weeks or so... "Sure, I'll look at it," thinking to myself, "I'm wasting my time and his time with this thing. It's out of my league. But at least it'll be fun to play for a few minutes." We carried on a bit of conversation about it, and it turns out it was a total Bob Barker moment - the price was right!

Short story is I got a great deal on this guitar. I was able to get much more guitar for little more money. And I couldn't be happier with it right now. The guitar sounds so good. Great balance; it's got a nice bright sound, the mid-ranges sing out on picking up and down the neck, and the bottom end really comes through with overpowering the whole sound. The Taylor ES doesn't dominate the look, but does tremendous things for preserving the acoustic tone when the guitar is plugged in. Notice the wood inlay around the sound hole (which I think gives a certain elegance and calm to the instrument), as opposed to the abalone inlay in the model shown on the Taylor website. It plays so easy and ... well, at this point I'm just gushing, so I'll stop this and just go play it for a while. Bye...

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Pathways Wrap-Up

Earlier in the summer, I shared that I would be helping to lead a youth leadership workshop at the SouGaConf's Pathways to a Healthy Church event in WarnerRobins this past weekend. Jim and I began some initial brainstorming online and then collaborated via email and cellphones to put the finishing touches on things. I didn't want to leave you all wondering what ever became of that (because I know you were all on the edge of your seats with anticipation and anxiety...)

So, last Saturday Jim and I did, in fact, lead the youth leadership workshop and it went well. Our basic outline for the three 1hr15min blocks was this:

I. Principles of Servant Leadership
Learning activities (which involved throwing balls and spinning in triangles and such) which were followed with reflection and instruction, pulling out lessons of communication, teamwork, sharing of authority, etc... (There was a good flow of 'loopiness'!)Then a scripture study on John13 (when Jesus washed his disciples' feet).

II. Discovering your S.H.A.P.E.
We worked through the acronym S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences) as a way to consider how God has uniquely shaped us to serve in ministry (yes, from Doug Fields). This included a Spiritual Gifts inventory (which I always have mixed emotions about) and a personality evaluation (we chose to use a True Colors eval rather than Myers-Briggs - for time and 'fun' level for the teens). It was quite the beast to tackle in the given time, but worked out to be something the guys and girls were really into. We actually carried this over to the first half of the last block.

III. Discipleship
We based this whole workshop on the principle that any call into ministry begins, and is grounded in, our call to discipleship. This third block focused primarily on that call, as a disciple. Jim taught on the spiritual discipline of prayer, and I on reading/studying scripture. The day closed with Q-&-A / open discussion on leadership within their particular youth ministries and local churches.

All in all, I thought the day went well. I enjoyed the collaboration with Jim and thought we 'bounced' well with one another. I still have the feeling that we filled the time with SOO much information and could maybe have accomplished a little more by doing a little less, but felt the workshop was definitely something worthwhile for the youth and adults involved. They all seemed very 'into it' and several stuck around afterward to talk about further questions and concerns. So, I thought it was good.

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Little something for my friends up north....

And I don't even know how they figure "heat index", but that's even hotter!

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I'm not so sure this turned out to be all that good for me. I mean, is that me? Really?!?

If that's suppose to be me, it looks like I would either be some creepy neighbor that lives there in Springfield who Homer would roll his eyes about when I came strolling into Moe's or I'd be a goofy substitute teacher who'd be a push-over with Bart and his disrespectful antics and end up in some sordid story line with Ms. Krabappel, culminating in being fired by Seymour Skinner. [...sigh...]

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Four words for you...

Let me start with a few qualifiers:
-I do own an Apple iBookG4 and an iPod Nano and am very happy with both. Prefer them, even.
-I never seriously looked at the Zune. (and honestly don't think I've ever taken it seriously, either.)
-At my work I use a Dell Inspiron, so I'm not a total Mac snob.
-I don't think Steve Jobs is the end-all-be-all guru of the universe.
-Steve Ballmer is the CEO of Microsoft. (Has been since 2000 when Gates stepped down from that position.)

All that said, this is really pretty funny:

Especially if you've ever seen this from a Microsoft employee convention:

(Is it just me or does he look like he's about to have a heart attack there near the end of this clip? Oh yeah, and notice the pit stains. Nice.)

Ballmer's obviously pretty passionate. There's quite a bit to be said for passion. I hope to be known as a person who is passionate about stuff. But there's also something to be said for.. um.. normal.

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