December 29, 2006

Excellent Album Alert

I picked up Jonny Lang's Turn Around today when I was at Best Buy. It is excellent. Listening to it for the second time at the moment. It is rock/jazz/soul/gospel/pop/funk/r&b. Yeah, somehow. Check it out. Maybe a review will be forthcoming. We'll see. Too busy enjoying the tunes at the moment.....

Going Clock-free

For the past few days, I have gone clock-free. I haven't looked at the clock to determine if I was staying up "too late." Nor have I been awakened by the gradually increasing intensity of my alarm. I have barely looked at the thing.

Simple reason: No school work. No work work. It's really nice.

I really need to do this more often. I had honestly forgotten how great days like these are.

Too bad the stars don't align themselves like this more often.

If you ever get the chance to go clock-free, go for it. Or if you can somehow arrange it, do it. I don't know the next time that this may happen for me, but I sure am glad I had it.

December 21, 2006

Word of the Day: Connery

Welcome to a new feature I am introducing to my blog: Word of the Day. Unlike the other Word of the Days out there that give you words that expand your vocabulary, this one utilizes words that already are a part of it. The catch here is that in order for a word to become my Word of the Day, it cannot appear in the dictionary.

con·er·y (KON-uh-ree), noun.
1. swindling
2. persuasion by deception
3. to con

Example: She fell victim to my connery.

December 20, 2006

And at the end of round 1...

As of 3:00 this morning, I have completed my very first semester of my Masters of Divinity. So now, I have a week and a half before it all starts up again. The next few days will be filled with some nice relaxation. Well, the evenings will be, anyway.

Four classes are done: Introduction to the New Testament I and II, Strategic Planning, and Greek Language Tools.

I wish I could tell you that it has been easy thus far, but it really hasn't. No matter how much time I am able to put into school, it feels like I am always behind - readings, lectures, assignments.

Plus, the whole "I'm sorry, I can't go out with you guys because I've got a paper to write/a book to read/a lecture to watch" really gets tiring after a while.

However, markable progress has now been made. The first sign on the road seen. If I move forward with full steam ahead, I have 7 semesters left. Just over two years from completing the degree.

If past years have been any indication, two years from now, I'll be asking "Where has all the time gone?" Although I will say that the past 16 weeks have certainly felt like 16 weeks. I know in the long term, the sacrifices that I make on a daily basis will eventually pay off. It sometimes is just hard to believe it living in the moment. Last week, I really did feel like quitting when it seemed the work that was yet to be completed was insurmountable. But luckily I rebounded quickly.

I have certainly learned a lot. The classes have been interesting thus far. I know they will continue to be in the future. I do wish I could take them in a formal classroom setting, with direct interaction with the professor and fellow students, however, I am happy to settle for what works with my life at this point.

Despite all the stress and sacrifice, all is well. Having the confidence of knowing that you are exactly where you are meant to be in life is truly satisfying. Sometimes when I step back and look at my life, its amazing to see how what I once perceived to be some random event somehow turns out to be the perfect thing.

I am ready for my second semester. But not until I can sleep in on a Sunday, watch more than one football game a week, and 6 hours of sleep will not be classified as a good night. Well, I only have 10 days to live that life. But I sure am going to live it.

December 19, 2006

I love (And John D.)

I just got off the phone with John D. Quite possibly the greatest customer service representative I have ever spoken to.

I recently placed an order on for a Christmas present for my main man. It was delivered, but upon opening the shipping container, I noticed that the product that I purchased was damaged. Or appeared to be damaged. Today is Tuesday. I would need delivery by Friday if I wanted to make it an actual Christmas present.

I sent an email using their site, but was given a canned, standard reply by some individual named Inder B. who clearly hadn't read my message. He just noted that he forwarded my message to their shipping department and that they would work on "making future improvements. My email was a "what should I do if I want to make this a Christmas present" message." However dear old Inder B. didn't make any mention of it. After clicking on a "This did NOT answer my email" link, I got to talk to John D.

I explained to John D. that the clamshell, impossible to open plastic container that held the gift had some dings on it which actually hit the product itself. So while there was contact with the product, I couldn't tell if the marks could just be wiped off, or if they were permanent features. John D. understood my dilemma. I could give my friend the possibly damaged product as a gift. I could open it to find out if it was actually damaged, but thereby voiding any return options if it was damaged and giving my buddy an opened gift if it wasn't. Or I could just not give him the gift altogether and hold out for a replacement post-Christmas.

After a bit of working his system, he was able to arrange for 2-day delivery of a replacement for me. This was outside the standard operating procedure for their replacements. So, it seems, I will be getting a replacement delivered to me in time for Christmas.

Really, what are the odds of that kind of customer service in this day and age. John D. was friendly, empathetic, and extremely cheerful.

I had never had a problem with ever before. Everything I've ever ordered has come to me before their estimated delivery dates. So this was going to be the first blemish on their otherwise spotless record. However, instead of a blemish, it has just added to their shine.

I love (And John D.)

I hate Comcast, continued

Comcast told me they were going to visit me yesterday. They were going to stop by sometime between 11 and 2 to install my new digital cable service with a new DVR. The plan for yesterday was a) get cable installed b) go shopping for stuff around the apartment and c) watch Monday Night Football.

When calling to confirm the appointment on Sunday, I was told that I should be ready to pay for the first month of service, as well as the installation fee. This installation fee was not present when I was setting up the service online, so I asked about it. I was transferred to a customer service agent who told me that "Comcast wouldn't install for free." After some persistence, he said he'd see what he could do, and brought my installation fee down from $24.99 to $9.99.

So yesterday, a couple minutes after 2, after not having my visit, I decided to give them a call. I was informed that the service technician was running late and that he should be at my place in 45 minutes.

At 3:00, after no call and no technician, I called back. I spoke to a gentleman who told me that he was going to try and find out where the cable guy was. In the meantime, he puts me on hold, and I receive another call from a lady from Comcast who tells me the technician was still at the prior job, and would be installing my cable in another 45 minutes. My original guy hangs up on me, and then calls me back with the same news. I tell him that this was unacceptable, and ask him if there was anything they could do to make me "a happy Comcast customer instead of a bitter one." He then offered me $20 off my next bill as a part of their "On time guarantee" program.

I called them again at 4, when I still hadn't heard from them. This time I am told that the technician was nearby, and that he would "be there soon." I was given a time estimate of 30 minutes.

A couple minutes before 5, I called again. I was once again given the 30 minute estimate because we were "next on the list." I asked for some additional compensation for the "pain and suffering." The request was denied, however, since apparently the $20 was the max.

Around 5:45, I called again and the lady who answered told me she was going to call me "right back" with the technicians whereabouts. After waiting about 30 minutes, I called back again, and after the customer service guy tells me that he spoke to the dispatcher, and the technician was "3 lights away" from being at my apartment.

So finally, what seemed to be a "20 lights away" drive, the technician shows up. He starts getting ready for the install, and after showing him where the cable was to go, he realized he had to go out and get more wiring. So he comes back, and finally is able to set up.

A couple minutes before 8:00, digital cable was installed.

Yeah, I still hate Comcast.

(The technician was actually decent. I was working on my 15 page paper, and he saw me spread out with a bunch of books open, and me working busily. He asked me if I was studying the Bible and I told him about my masters program. He asked me what I was planning on doing with the degree, to which he responded. "Man, that's awesome. There really should be more guys like you out there." So that kind of melted all the anger I had built up earlier in the day. But yeah... that Comcast is still a joke...)

December 14, 2006

King of the Internet

It finally happened...

MySpace Takes Throne from Yahoo

Dec. 14, 2006 — An interesting online milestone occurred in November: MySpace overtook Yahoo as the No. 1 most-viewed site on the Internet, according to comScore Media Metrix.

The numbers are staggering: There were 38.7 billion — yes, billion — page views for MySpace versus 38.1 billion for Yahoo, and again, that was just for November.

Here's the rest...

ETA: The original cause for the post was a fight that happened at a local school, triggered by some students fighting over comments each made on their MySpace page. Pepper spray. Knives. Paramedics. Um, yeah. Read about it here.

I hate Comcast

I recently moved to a new place. It has been exactly one week, today.

Among the things which have yet to be set up is television service. Before the move, I had a plan. I had done research and figured out the best deal would be to go with a dish. Costs less than cable for all the channels I wanted. Almost half.

However, last week while signing the lease, I discovered that dishes could not be installed at our new apartment community. We could only get cable. And that service could only be provided by Comcast.

Comcast is a rip-off.

There I said it. They monopolize an entire area, with a willing local government. And then we the consumers are stuck with insanely high cable rates. And all those taxes. Win-Win for The Man.

The last time I paid for cable was a little more than a year ago. My how things have changed. Before, the total bill for cable and internet was around $120. Now, cable alone is pushing $100.

They used to offer incentives at Comcast. I remember when I signed up for the first time, we got six months of a really decent price. Now, the actually do have the $33/$33/$33 offer. However, unfortunately for me, this offer is not available in my new neighborhood.

Verizon now has just (thankfully) been permitted to offer digital tv to allow for some competition and another alternative to cable television. However, the Montgomery County roll-out doesn't include downtown Silver Spring.

With no good options available to me, I must either go with Comcast or rabbit ears.

I wish the whole a la carte cable options happens some day - you know, where you can pick and choose which channels you would like to watch. Unfortunately, the cable industry runs the world, so there is no real hope of that. I would use only a few channels - NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, ESPN2, and Comcast Sports Net. Oh yes, and the NFL Network. (Which just adds another dimension to my dilemma - should I shell out an extra $15/month to upgrade basic cable to digital, for the sake of the NFL Network? I am still working on that.) I don't need the hundreds of channels, or those useless digital music channels.

So. Nearly 90 bucks a month for 11 channels. To an evil monopoly. I don't want to do it. But I'll have to. The rabbit ears don't pick up a thing.

I hate Comcast.

A Blog Import

I'm about to beef up my blog archives. I had been posting occasionally on my MySpace blog during the dark ages of this blog. Next week, I'll transfer those posts over, for your reading enjoyment. Just to keep you in the loop.

December 13, 2006

Please No...

The timing seems right for a Pat Roberton/Jerry Falwell declaration that the stroke was caused by God so the Democrats are unable to control the Senate. Please somebody prove me wrong.

Senator Johnson's Stroke

Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota may have had a stroke earlier today. He is a Democrat, and currently there is a 51-49 split in the Senate. South Dakota has a Republican governor. If Johnson is unable to serve in office, his replacement will be appointed by the governor. This would cause a 50-50 split with Vice President Cheney given the opportunity to break the tie. That's right, the Senate would return to Republican control. This may be huge.

More to come....

December 12, 2006

So Whats New?

So in between the time I revived this blog this morning until now, things have changed. I thought I'd so a simple overhaul of format and then start blogging anew. However, after updating a few links on here I remembered the labor I put forth in creating version 2.0 of this blog with the dark blue background and a homemade (obviously.. using MS paint back when I had Windows) trying to perfectly match the HTML color code. So in honor of those previous efforts, this blog will continue as version 2.1 instead of 3.0. I will slooooowly make changes. Also, because I really don't have time for this (major overhaul) for reasons I'll explain below.

In the year that has passed, I still work full-time for the American Pharmacists Association in Washington, DC. However, now I also am in school full-time. Somehow surviving thus far. My first semester ends this week. And I'll be off for two weeks. I can't wait. My schooling takes place via distance learning through Liberty University. I am working on my Masters of Divinity.

(When rereading old posts, I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized my animosity towards leaders of the religious right were directed at Pat Robertson, and not president of my school, Jerry Falwell.)

So, a preview of version 2.1 of Ears to My Music? I'll probably yap about sports at my alma mater, the University of Maryland where I majored in government and politics. Accordingly, political issues will also be discussed, and threats to vote for my electoral picks made. I live in Maryland, so I'm sure state issues will come up. I love the Washington Redskins, so they'll get some air time. Plenty of assorted rants. Mostly though, I'll probably talk about this two and a half year journey I'm on, through school trying to get some good God stuff in me.

The Links -

The first update I've made to the site is to include links to two blogs that I find to be particularly excellent. One is by a good friend from high school. Another, by this guy who I don't even know, who I sing with all the time. Although, luckily he isn't there when it happens.

The Journey - My friend is launching into a new direction in her life where she wants to become a full time fine artist whose work points people to the Word of God. Her drawings are amazing. She has new stuff regularly, which is nice for a blog... ahem. You can watch her progress right before your eyes.

- Shaun Groves is great. He is a musician, teaches a young adult group at his church, and writes really well. I check out his blog every day when I'm at work. So many different topics. He recently redid his website and moved his blog site. And today he "begged" for links to the new blog because I guess people are still linked up to his old one. The timing worked out well. Check him out. Oh, and he loves me, too, by the way. Check this out.

So yeah, I have this 15 page paper due on Sunday that I need to get started on. Oh yeah, and two exams. And too many lectures and readings to do. And they say school isn't fun...

I'll probably do a "best of" ETMM 1.0/2.0 at some point soon. Or better yet, check out my old posts for yourself. There's plenty of good stuff back there.


I remembered I had a blog. I knew it was here. However, I reverted to the cycle I posted about in my debut post here, but somehow I will still be breaking it. I will not be deleting prior posts. I can't believe it has actually been almost a year since I last posted.

Its ironic that my latest post came about as a Redskins season wrap up last year. This season (un)officially ended this week. Silly me - thinking that this season would finally not be a rebuilding season. It has morphed into the ultimate rebuilding season.

When I logged into Blogger for the first time in ages, I realized that now it has been integrated into Google, the greatest company ever. So I am sure there are new features that need to be explored.

So I will be rebuilding this blog. Hopefully reformat it. Change some colors. Add some pictures.

Stay tuned.

January 17, 2006

Final Thoughts on the 2005 Season

So, the Redskins season has finally ended. It has ended long after most would have thought. Had you asked me last August if I would be disappointed if the Skins would have a 10-6 season, and make it to round two of the playoffs, I would have said "No, of course not!" However, now that that those circumstances actually do exist, I feel disappointed anyway.

This disappointment is not the normal sort of stomach churning, anger inducing disappointment which I had felt in some prior seasons. But this disappointment is more along the lines of the fact that shimmers of greatness were seen this season, and it is just a little upsetting that more weren't seen during the playoffs.

In addition to this redefined disappointment I feel, now there is a new sensation. And that sensation is the feeling of hope. Yes fellow Redskins fans, we have hope going into this off-season. Can you imagine if we had another deep threat, aside from Santana Moss? Maybe rehabilitated in-house David Patten can do it? Or maybe someone can be imported. Regardless of who it might be, the possibility is great. Our defense is obviously insane. We've got a not too shabby Clinton Portis on our side, and an amazing Chris Cooley. The question is not whether or not we can be a competitive team--it is how competitive are we going to be.

This is the first time in recent memory this isn't a "rebuilding year." A decent team has been built. A few modifications need to be made but we don't have an entire board that needs to be scrapped. We do need a long term quarterback, but the situation is obviously not dire.

Am I disappointed that next weekend I won't be able to don my Redskins regalia and glue myself to the TV? I sure am. But this year, going into the dark ages of months without football, I will survive not only because I know football will return on September 7, but because one of the best teams in the NFL will be rearing to go here in Washington.

January 13, 2006

Pat Robertson is insane, continued

Here's why he apologized. Genius fellow this guy is. Check out this article from Time .com: What Was Roberson Thinking.

Here's a clip:
There are plenty of possible reasons for what Robertson's spokeswoman referred to as his "apology". Belated civility, humility and public-relations savvy come to mind. Robertson may also have been heeding criticism back in the States, some of the most scathing from fellow evangelical leaders who suggested that he is now a marginal figure—despite a television audience reported to be 825,000 strong. Richard Land, a key figure in the powerful and conservative Southern Baptist Convention, pronounced himself "appalled."

But equally crucial in jump-starting the preacher's path to apology may have been a sharp response by the Israeli government and the attendant threat to his leadership in a project he has worked hard to realize. Robertson, a leader in the evangelical branch that supports Israel's existence as the fulfillment of biblical prophecies anticipating Christ's return—hence his dismay at its "division"—has many interests there. Most notably, he is collaborating with the Israeli government and a group of evangelicals to build a $50 million Evangelical "heritage center" on the Sea of Galilee. Israel was to provide the land and infrastructure for the project, leaving the funding and the center's details to the evangelicals, of whom Robertson is the best-known. The arrangement is unusual, says Zev Chafets, who is now writing a book about the relationship between Jews, evangelicals and Israel and is a former spokesman for the late premier Menachem Begin. "In the past," he notes, "Israel has been extremely reluctant to turn prime land over to Christian organizations."

January 10, 2006

Pat Robertson is insane

So according to Pat Robertson, Ariel Sharon's stroke was caused by God. Isn't wonderful for God to have a spokesman as wise as Robertson? Sometimes you wonder if he realizes what he is saying when he says it. Or if he ever realizes it.

Anyways, I read a very good blog posting today about this matter. Check it out here.

Here's a clip:

If I were God—which I’m not, but if I were—I would be pretty annoyed that Falwell and Robertson keep blaming me for everything. I would probably start unleashing all sorts of crazy stuff on the world just for spite. I’m talking never-before-seen catastrophes here. Things that would make what I did to Egypt with those ten plagues look like another fun episode of Romper Room. I would bring back Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and give her a lifetime contract, and let her live till 402. I would turn black people into white people and white people into black people, just to shake things up. I would pee on whole cities and not wash my hands, so that whenever the Hand of God worked through your life, it would be the hand that I used to pee and didn’t wash afterwards. And I would turn cherries into little blood capsules, so that Coca Cola had to reprint its Cherry Coke labels and change the name to Coke Blood.

January 9, 2006

Marriage the Equalizer?

Here's an interesting article from USA Today.

Here's the opening:

As a happily married man, I have been troubled by the oft-stated myth that the institution of wedlock has never been central to the African-American heritage.

Unfortunately, this view has permeated the African-American community and society at large. Now, it may be single-handedly holding back blacks in their pursuit of social, economic and educational progress.

According to testimony given last fall to a Senate subcommittee by Ron Haskins of The Brookings Institution, from 1970 to 2001, the overall marriage rate declined 17% but 34% for blacks. The overall rate for out-of-wedlock births is 33% compared with 70% for blacks.

Round 2

Some offensive offense. All I can say is this: Thank you defense! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you sooo much! You guys are amazing! Hopefully Brunell, Moss, Cooley, and Portis can be just as magical in Seattle.

January 6, 2006

Ban the Ban

On Wednesday, the DC Council approved a smoking ban prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars across the city. You can read about it here. It was an 11 to 1 vote, with Carol Schwartz the sole dissenter. The ban would immediately affect restaurants, with bars and clubs to follow next year. Thankfully, Mayor Williams has expressed some hesitation about a ban. This is despite the fact that if he goes ahead with a veto, he can be overruled. But it sure is nice to hear a sane voice every now and then. Schwartz was actually 100% correct.

Schwartz said the issue was personal choice and freedom. "Don't make me out that I like smoking, because I don't," said Schwartz, an ex-smoker. "Bar and restaurant workers have a choice of where to work, and patrons have a choice of where to patronize."

The whole exemption thing is a joke as well.

The longest debate was over whether to exempt the city's eight hookah bars, where people smoke tobacco out of a shared pipe. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) argued that hookah bars should be exempt because tobacco use is the central focus of their business.

Schwartz then jumped on Graham. "If it's all in the guise of protecting worker health, why would you want to kill off the hookah bar workers?" she said to laughs in the packed council chambers. "The hypocrisy is just astounding."

Smoking is a legal activity. I am not suggesting that all of us non-smokers should be forced to sit in clouds of smoke as we try to eat dinner. But what I am saying is that each of us has a choice. Some restaurants have chosen to go smoke free, others haven't. For those of us who have a problem with smoke, we can choose to eat at smoke-free places. For those of us who don't mind sitting in the non-smoking section , can eat at both "types" of restaurants. And if you want to smoke, you can just pick a restaurant that allows it. It is quite simple, actually.

If a restaurant that allows smoke realizes that my crossing over they can make more money, don't you think they'd do it? You bet they would. If each and every restaurant was a smoke-free environment, I wouldn't be too bothered if it was achieved naturally. We just don't need the government coming into areas that, quite honestly, they are completely unneeded.

There are three groups of people whose freedom of choice has been eliminated by the passage of this single bill: the people who eat at restaurants, those who own them, and those who work at them. I think all of us can fit into at least one of these categories. So I guess the government has just made one more choice on all of our behalves. How nice of them. I mean, what else can they spend their time and energy on? I guess everything else in DC is just great.

I truly hope that anybody who believes in personal freedom supports this ban. I mean, if you don't believe in personal freedom, that's completely cool. We are all free (thankfully) to opinion. At a time when Americans are worried about violated liberties with secret monitored telephone calls (which unless you connected with Al-Qaeda so much so that your personal phone number is in their address book and you receive calls from the middle east, you don't really need to worry), here we have the choice of restaurants publicly removed. I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free*.

*except in certain areas including restaurant type

January 2, 2006

Playoff Bound Redskins

What a great (well, outcome anyway) game for the Skins yesterday! I'm ready Saturday's game against the Bucs. Hopefully the team that showed up to beat the Cowboys and the Giants will show up!

Quite the turnaround from last season's 6-10 to this year's 10-6. Joe Gibbs has most definately (once again) done some good in Washington.

Here's an article that talks about yesterday's game. The paragraph that caused me to post it:

The hiring of Gibbs was almost analogous to the traveling salesman coming home to a filthy house and the kids spoon-feeding the family mutt peanut butter. Order needed to be restored. Gibbs returned the way he left -- a stately, bespectacled grandfather, preaching unity, resolve and just plain good sense. He weathered the first prolonged criticism of his career last season, finishing a disappointing 6-10 and raising real doubt over whether a coach in his mid-60s had completely grasped the nuances of the modern game.

Click here to read the rest.