CNN's GOP Debate recap

As I mentioned in my previous post, the only thing on TV while I was stuck at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport was the GOP Debate on CNN. Since I was stuck watching the debate, I figured it would be a little more enjoyable if I live-tweeted the proceedings.

Fitting that (as I was waiting to get through the security checkpoint) there was an older man in line ahead of me that looked like a crippled version of Herman Cain. I don't believe he stood a chance at winning the candidacy, but these debates would be more entertaining with him around.

What follows are my tweets through the CNN event. Warning, these tweets were more snark than content, so don't expect to learn anything of what is on these candidate's platforms.

- "I'm Wolf Blitzer and I am a robot."
- Instead of Red Rover, Newt is playing a game of Red Romney.
- Apologies to my friends who hate politics. I'm stuck at the airport and the #CNNDebate is the only thing on TV.
- If I'm to be tortured by the #GOPDebate, I thought I'd pass along my observations.
- Santorum keeps mentioning "our friends in Columbia." Which friends? The drug lords?
- UhOh... Romney and Newt caught eachother with their hands in the Freddie/Fannie cookie jar.
- Gentlemen, this fight would be better settled in a sumo match. Strap on the giant diapers.
- Dr Paul sounded like the sanest person on stage until he proposed abolishing the 16th amendment.
- At least crazy old Ron Paul is a humorous individual.
- If they were still in high school Santorum: Mr Congeniality, Newt: Biggest Ego, Romney: Most Likely to Succeed, Dr Paul: Class Clown
(Re-tweet from Carlos Whittaker @loswhit):Watching #TheBachelor on my DVR instead of the GOP debates. Pretty much the same thing.
- Lunar coloney? Novel idea, but what about the poor and needy Americans on earth.
- Please forgive any typos & misspellings. This #GOPDebate is making me dumber. I can feel my IQ dropping.
- Why are we talking about the Panama Canal? McCain isn't running this year.
- I keep waiting for Dr Paul to start quoting Dr Seuss. I'll be disapointed if it doesn't happen.
- After all, Ron Paul looked like he was born in the pages of a Dr Seuss book.

At some point after those Ron Paul related tweets, I got a bit of hate mail love from a Paulite: @niccasey only a coward would bash a 76 year old Dr. You sir are a (f-bomb deleted) moron.
To which I replied: @ericcrane I find him entertaining. You sir have a potty mouth.
Judging from Eric Crane's Twitter profile, saying he's got a potty mouth is an understatement. He's also a hardcore Ronulan and a birther. So I don't feel bad about blocking him.

moving on...

- Lowering corporate taxes? We've been doing that for the past ten years. It hasn't worked yet. Can we please get some new ideas?
- Why are ronulans such horrid people?
- I'd probably like Ron Paul more if it wasn't for his rabid/insane/fanatical followers.
- Funny thing. Ron Paul is a very smart man. Unfortunately, his most passionate supporters are not.
- Potty break. My bladder can't stomach the #GOPDebate as much as my stomach.
- Part of me is suprised that CNN hasn't had to bleep out any of Romney's answers/rebuttals.
- And my phone is dying. Now comes the hunt for a electrical outlet.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) the only working/available outlet was out of view and earshot of the TV so I posted post one last thought with an accompanying picture of my Sudoku book: The #GOPDebate antidote. Time to regain some lost IQ points while waiting on my phone to recharge.

Last word...

- So I missed the last part of the #CNNDebate. Did Ron Paul quote Dr Seuss? No? #bummer


When you're stuck in Phoenix

Getting to Phoenix was easy. I printed my boarding pass from home. Got through security. Made a connection in Seattle. And landed.

However, there was one snag coming into Sky Harbor. The airport in Phoenix is currently limited to one runway due to construction. Because of their diminished capacity, we had to wait in a holding pattern until we got clearance to land. In case you don't know, a holding pattern is a fancy way of saying you're flying in circles for an indefinite period of time.

The return was not so easy. First dilemma: printing the boarding passes. I couldn't print anything from my hotel as I didn't have a computer. I could use my brother's computer, but his hotel's printing system would only let you print documents and would not allow me to print from a webpage. So, instead of printing my boarding pass the day before departure, I decided I'd just get it at the airport.

The second setback: that one measly runway. All flights in and out of Sky Harbor were delayed. The kind lady at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter explained that my PHX to SEA flight was delayed to the point that I would miss my connection to GEG. My scheduled flight into GEG was the last flight into Spokane. If I couldn't make that flight, I wouldn't be able to get home. The ticket agent called a supervisor, trying to find alternate flights through Portland but PDX was also having runway issues and delayed flights. Then the next option was for Alaska to pay for me to stay in a Seattle hotel room and catch a morning flight home.

I explained to the nice lady that I was supposed to be at work at 6am the next morning and I couldn't afford to stay overnight in Seattle.

With a little patience, I got the hookup. The supervisor decided they'd rather pay for me to fly on a different airline than pay for me to stay in a hotel. Thank you Alaska Airlines... you saved the day.

The good news, I would have a direct flight from PHX to GEG. The bad news, it was 5:30 and the new flight wasn't scheduled to start boarding until 9pm.

So, dinner to eat and time to waste. I kinda felt like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Just stuck.

The TV was on at the gate. Unfortunately, it was the GOP Debate on CNN. I could think of no better way to spend the next couple of hours than to live blog the arguing between the candidates. (more on that another time)

When it was over, some thoughts were running through my head. I posted them on Twitter - to the extent that the 140 character limit would allow. But I figured I'd gather them here in complete formation.

I mostly know how I'm going to vote in November. Granted, that decision isn't set in stone and there's still time to change my mind. As I attempted to formulate a witty post-debate tweet, I began to ponder the irrelevance of my vote. Not from the cynical "my vote won't count so why bother" perspective, but from another place entirely.

And it's true. My vote won't matter - at least in Idaho. I could mark my vote down for a D or an R or any other letter and Idaho's four electoral college votes will go to the Republican candidate. However, I still believe that voting matters for the sake of civic duty even if your vote won't count.

My thoughts centered on irrelevance of the vote from a religious stand point.

As Christians, we should believe that God is in control of where our lives go. We should believe that He is on our side and no one can stand against us. We must believe that He will provide for our needs and grant our desires.

Yet it seems that many Christians don't live as if those words were true. It seems that the American dream is of greater importance than God's will. I've heard many believers say that Obama is ruining this nation. I've heard other Christians say that Bush drove our country into the ground and we can't survive another president like him. I tire of hearing Christians who worry about the fate of our nation if the wrong person is elected.

I began thinking that my vote is irrelevant because I don't really care who becomes our next president. I am committed to living out what I believe God has promised and if God is really in control, it shouldn't matter who becomes our next president.

Either you trust that God will take care of your needs or you don't. Either God is in control or you are. There is no middle ground. When you say that your choice in president is the correct choice because the other candidate will destroy America, you are no longer trusting God - you're trusting a political figure. You're trying to control your destiny.

If you say, "God will take care of me but only if so-and-so is president," then your faith is weak and you don't really trust God at all.

I believe that God is on my side. I believe that he will care for my every need. The person that is holding the office of the president does not dictate the scope, the duration, or the depth of God's extravagant love. If Barack Obama is re-elected, God will still love me and all of my needs will be met. If the eventual GOP candidate is elected instead, God will still love me and all of my needs will be met.

The promise that God will love you and care for you should be enough for any Christian - no matter who wins the votes.

Do go out and vote, and vote in the way that you believe God would want you to. But if the other guy wins, do not be afraid. God is still in control.


Hockey and Miracles: a guest post from my brother

The year, 1980. I’m a spry 6+ years old. I hardly knew there was such a thing as Olympics. Heck, I didn’t even know that there was any sport outside of basketball in 1980. However, there was some sport called hockey that everyone was talking about. Not only were they talking about this sport, they were talking about a group of kids beating the Russians. Along with this chatter, people were excited about the call from the play by play guy announcing this apparent huge win. At just barely 6 years old, I didn’t have a clue what the excitement was all about.

Fast forward a few…several years. I didn’t gain a full appreciation of hockey until high school, I believe my senior year. Sure I knew what the sport was, and that Wayne Gretzky was the greatest player on the ice…and that there was a lot of fighting in the sport, but after that, I was a hockey idiot. Thanks to the sister I never had, Brenda, I became hooked on hockey. I learned the significance of that historic day, February 20, 1980. More importantly, I came to appreciate the call that forever changed hockey’s American lexicon, and the phrase that will never get old. “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!?!?!?” Thank you, Al Michaels, for such a wonderful and timeless question in your commentary of the hockey world’s biggest upset.

Today, that simple commentary during a hockey game has been running through my head so many times. So many times, that I can almost hear Al in my head. Every time I hear the call, I simply come back and answer yes. Yes, I believe in miracles. Wait…make that with excitement, YES!

After meeting with Dr. Dickman, having another MRI, then meeting again with Dr. Dickman, he strongly encouraged there be no surgery. Janda and I agreed based on the assessment of how difficult a surgery and the risk involved in the surgery. Along with assessing the risk, we took into account the fact that the mass has significantly decreased in size from August to the MRI done on Monday.

Sure, the biopsy performed by Dr. Beer did cause the mass to get smaller, but not as small as what Dr. Dickman, Janda and I saw. The size difference was so noticeable that Janda and I could see it prior to Dr. Dickman pointing it out. Basically, we saw God’s miracle!

Despite the mass being smaller, there is still a fight to be fighting. I will now be looking for a radiation oncologist. I will now be going through a cyber knife treatment. We will be driving to and from either Denver or Salt Lake City for the treatments. No, we don’t know what this looks like or how long of a process it will be. What I do know is much less than what I don’t know. BUT, I can confirm I will be able to live with the same quality of life as what I am now. Any cyber knife treatment will be just as invasive, but less intensive in the long run. Lastly, we don’t know when this will start.

What a HUGE blessing this news has been and will be. I look forward to getting back home. I look forward to sharing this with those who have not heard. I especially look forward to hugging everyone when I see them. Most importantly, I look forward to asking people the same question Al Michaels asked America back in 1980.



If you're interested in reading through his journey so far, you can check out his caring bridge entries HERE.

such strange plants


Monday Matinée - New Movie Review

Bekah says it's the best movie she's seen in a long time. I concur. You can read my review HERE.


My brother, my hero

Time is sort. In two days, I'll be joining my brother in Phoenix. On Tuesday he faces the first of two surgeries; the second happens on Wednesday. Even if all goes according to plan, my brother's life will be forever changed in a few short days.

I don't talk about Aaron much on this blog. Which is sad because he has been one of the biggest parts of my life. Growing up, he played three roles in my life: big brother, bodyguard, and best friend. I went to his graduation party. His friends had accepted me as their friends. We went to concerts an hockey games together. He got married a few days after my high school graduation and I stood beside him as his wife walked down the isle. But I moved to Boise and he moved to Cheyenne. It's been a dozen years since we lived within minutes of each other. Time and distance has changed our relationship, but it hasn't diminished the love between us.

To be honest, this next week scares the crap out of me. Cancer took my grandpa and I don't want to see it take my brother.

But not to get all somber on you. Some of my best memories are experiences with Aaron. He might not remember these stories, but I do. And they are some of my favorites. These remembrances make me smile and I hope they do the same for you.

By the time I entered kindergarten, Aaron was deemed old enough (he was in 5th grade) to escort me to soccer practice. So he rode his bike as I walked the mile to Liberty Elementary and sat in waiting for my team's practice to end. This was the highlight of my week as I was at the age where Aaron was the coolest person in the world. Only a year earlier, I had killed off his goldfish while he was at summer camp so I was happy he was willing to hang out with me.

After one of those practices, one of my teammates asked me about him. "Is that your dad?"

That would not be the first time someone would mistake him for my father.

One of the other occasions happened at a Nazarene youth event. I was in seventh grade and it was his senior year of high school. It was the one and only year that we were both in the youth group together.

Another church was hosting a concert and teens from dozens of churches across the district gathered for the show. I bumped into a friend that I knew from summer camp. He attended a different church so he didn't know my family.

The church was quiet in the minutes before the show; my brother interpreted the silence as boredom and decided to spice up the atmosphere. Aaron was always a little more daring than I and had no problems purposefully humiliating himself in public.

He and his friend Erik walked to the front of the church sanctuary. They split up - each taking a side of the room. Once they held their positions in front of the stage, Aaron shouted, "Tastes great!" To which Erik shouted the response, "Less Filling!"

They repeated this process until the rest of audience was engaged in the call and response - following the leader standing on their half of the sanctuary. The tagline of a beer commercial chanted in a Nazarene church. Erik and Aaron eventually returned to their seats. I spent most of the show sitting with my brother and when it was over, my friend from camp came up to me and told me, "I wish my dad was as cool as your dad."

"My dad isn't here." I said.

"Oh," he said. "Then who's that?" He was pointing at Aaron.

The Saltbox Tour came through Seattle and Aaron was a big fan of the heal\dlining band - Petra. This was a show that he had to see. He and I were both fans of the two opening bands - Johnny Q Public and Grammatrain. When the doors opened, we were among the first people to flood the floor of the Mercer Arena. We found a pair of seats five rows from the stage.

Grammatrain put on a fabulous show and Johnny Q came on stage after a quick set change. They played a few songs - Aaron and I knew the words to all of them. But we wanted to hear our favorite song: Scream. The had one more song to play and vocalist Dan Fritz began a brief monologue. The whole time he was talking, Aaron and I were shouting, "Scream. Scream." Over and over again. From what Fritz was saying, it sounded like he was introducing their cover of Bob Dylan's Serve Somebody, but we kept shouting our song request. Fritz changed his mind at the last moment. Instead of saying, "Sometimes, you gotta Serve Somebody," he said, "Sometimes, you just gotta Scream." Aaron and I went crazy as their guitarists quickly changed the settings on their effects pedals and started playing the opening riff of our favorite Johnny Q song.

Aaron took me to my first real rock concert as a gift for my 15th birthday. It was the Hardcore '94 tour - Blenderhead and Crashdog with a couple other bands.

The show was in an all ages venue tucked into the backroom of a dive bar off Alaskan Way on the Seattle waterfront. We had to walk through the bar to get to the standing room only concert hall. My eyes were wide open in awe as we passed through. Piercings and tattoos and blue hair everywhere. The performance room was not much different than the clientele in the bar. Ratty leather jackets. Chains. Sewn on Bad Brains and Op Ivy patches. Razor blade necklaces. I went to school with a couple of punk rockers, but I'd never seen such a large mass of hardcore kids in one place.

Aaron and I stood in the back against the wall. The bar's owner came onto the stage and explained some guidelines to the crowd. Moshing was allowed. So was crowd surfing. He didn't care if anyone climbed on stage to dive into the crowd. "But if anyone hits the floor," he said, "the show's over."

The first band came onto the stage and filled that room with screaming and distortion. Aaron and I sat back and watched as the most brutal mosh pit unfolded in front of us. In the years since, I've seen many mosh pits - but as none violent as that one.

Unfortunately, I got nauseous that night. After the third of four bands played I could no longer stand. Instead of making me sit through the last set, Aaron sacrificed his enjoyment to leave early and take me home.

We didn't drive straight back to Marysville though. We stopped at Dick's on the way, which was a traditional stop for us anytime that we were in Seattle.

Our hometown had an annual shindig every summer: The Strawberry Festival. Trike races, talent show, pageant, parade, car show, vendor's market, etc. Because of this festival, Aaron loathes strawberries and shudders at the thought of eating that red fruit. Aaron and I, along with our dad, spent a few years as volunteer staff for the festival. We ran the vendor's market in Comeford Park and worked as parade security.

It was a few exhausting days starting on Thursday, working sunrise to midnight Friday and Saturday, then staying through cleanup on Sunday after the last vendor left. But there were perks. We met many wonderful crafts people and the food vendors often gave us freebies. And we usually received free carnival tickets as a thank you for our labor.

After one late night, we stopped at the Taco Bell a block north of the park before heading home. Aaron and I climbed into a car with two mutual friends and parked in the drive through. We explained that we would be placing four separate orders and each of the four of us placed special orders. Small drinks with no ice or large drinks with extra ice. Taco pizzas with no meat and extra guacamole. Tacos with no tomatoes and extra cheese. Tacos with no cheese and extra tomatoes. We sat in that drive through long enough that the car behind us shut off their engine. That car finally got tired of waiting, started their car up and put it into reverse. Just as they started to back up, we paid for and received the fourth of our four orders and drove away.

In the summer of 96, Aaron and I took one of the most ill fated road trips in human history. Aaron was still driving his first car - a Ford Lemon if memory serves me correctly. Our mom had flown out to Cheyenne stay with her parents for Frontier Days so we drove out to join her, determined to roll into the town of cowboys with gangster rap blasting from the car speakers.

The trip started well. As we started east on I-90, we kept a log of the amount and identity of each piece of roadkill strewn along side the freeway. We tore through Eastern Washington with a brief stop in Ellensburg. Once through Coeur d'Alene, he turned I-90 into a racetrack and straightened out every curve of the road as we rushed up into the Silver Valley. The original plan was to drive straight through to Chyenne, but by the time we reached Billings, Aaron was too tired to continue driving so he paid for a hotel room and we crashed for the night.

Billings was the first mishap in a long string of failures. In the morning, Aaron couldn't find his keys. I accidentally locked them in the car the night before.

After a Billings police officer helped us break into Aaron's car, we continued our journey. We drove the rest of the way with only one stop for gas.

The time we spent in Cheyenne was decent. We were offered tickets to go see Garth Brooks or some other big name country star. We would have gone, but mom wouldn't let us because she knew that we both hated country music and the only reason we wanted to go was so that we could start a mosh pit.

We spent a few days with Grandma and Grandpa Budd. Visited a few of the cousins. Enjoyed a few of the Frontier Days events. We left town taking I-80 west instead of returning the way we came.

We stopped in Meridian and stayed with a family that had gone to college with our dad. When we woke up the next morning, news of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics was all over the news. We still had to get home, so stunned from the news we continued our westward trek.

The drive didn't last long. As we passed Caldwell, Aaron's car started making worrisome noises. Something popped and steam poured from under the hood. We rolled off the freeway at the next exit and the car sputtered to a stop at a no-name town south of Fruitland. Lucky for us, the place where the car died was a mechanic's shop. Unfortunately, it was not the kind of mechanic that had the parts needed to get Aaron's car road-worthy. He made a mickey-mouse fix that would make the car functional - but only for a short distance. The mechanic told us that the quick fix would not hold out long enough for us to reach home. We had to stop in Ontario for a real mechanic that had the parts we needed.

If you've ever been to Ontario, you'd know that it's a hot mess of a town. Even with directions to the better mechanic, we got lost. Once there, we had to wait for the repairs to be completed. And then we got lost again trying to find the freeway.

But the car was back into a healthy driving condition so it was nothing but open road between us and Seattle traffic. Except for one more hitch. As we crossed the Columbia river into Washington, Aaron sped up to make up for lost time. He was clocked doing 96 MPH by a police airplane. The airborne speed trap dispatched a state trooper who handed Aaron a hefty speeding ticket.

Yet with all that went wrong, that was one of the best vacations I ever endured.

Through those times, we never knew where life would bring us. We never imagined the doors that God would open for us. The trials that faced us. Or the joys we'd find in our kids. And we never anticipated that our lives would bring us to a hospital in Phoenix and the unknowns that lay beyond the next few days.

If I could ask one thing, please keep my brother and his family in your prayers through these next few weeks.


Meet my brother, Aaron

In one week I'll be in Phoenix to stand by my brother as he goes into surgery.

My mom and I will be there with Aaron and his wife. This is a scary time for all of us as we don't know how things will turn out. The operation is a known entity, but what happens after that is a big unknown.


Social Media’s Perfect Lie

If all you do is follow my twitter feed, read this blog, and skim through my facebook posts, there are a few things you might come to believe that are only few partial truths.

You might think that my job is more entertaining than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, I have a good job. The company that I work for has been a supportive and challenging and a blessing for the past seven and a half years. My coworkers are a colorful cast of characters, but it’s not the never-ending wellspring of funny and peculiar people. While I find the innards of my job duties fascinating, the tedious details of what I do would bore most normal people. You might see the nerdy pop culture references and rick rolls scribbled on my dry erase board, but you don’t see the Excel formulas and SQL scripting. You’ll read about unfortunate typos I come across or odd comments I overhear, but you probably don’t understand that the moments of office hilarity are an infrequent occasion.

You might think that my kids are among the quirkiest and most well behaved children on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, they have their quirks and they usually maintain decent manners but they are not angels. Friends and coworkers often tell me how much they enjoy reading the “stuff my kids say” tweets. In reality, only a fraction of the funny stuff that comes out of my kids’ mouths makes it to twitter. Yet, for every laugh inducing or mind boggling phrase they speak, they’ll say an equal amount of words that are rude or disrespectful. You might read about JJ’s maniacal laughter after telling me how he is going to sit on my face, how my daughter wants to keep her bowling shoes, or how Christian hoped all the orphans could find a home before Christmas. But you haven’t read a post about them saying “I got the last spear of asparagus - that means you can’t have any more.” You haven’t read about the screaming and the tattling and cries about how life is unfair because one kid got to cuddle and another one didn’t. You might see pictures of them on Sunday morning before we go to church, but you don’t see photos of them on Sunday night when they’ve been wrestling all day and don’t want to go to bed.

You might think I live a intriguing life, that I am infinitely cool, and that my day to day experiences are filled with excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be a captivating person, but I have a healthy self perspective. I'm not that interesting. You might see me post a few Star Wars or Lord of the Rings jokes, but you probably don’t realize that I’m a bigger geek in real life. You might see the #nowplaying hash tags in my twitter feed or read occasional song lyrics in my facebook status updates, but you probably know nothing of the hours I spend organizing my iTunes playlists like I have been clinically diagnosed with OCD. You might read about me playing my guitar, but you can’t hear my clumsy strumming patterns and I’ll probably never admit that I’m really not that good of a player. You’ll see foursquare check ins when I’m at the theater or the bowling alley or the Tillamook Cheese factory, but you won’t ever see a check in for when I’m mowing the lawn and you probably don’t realize that a majority of my time is spent at home or at work. You might know that I play video games, but you probably don’t realize that I play Sudoku or Angry Birds as much as I play Call of Duty or Dead Island. You’ll see me post comments about karate practice, yoga, and brisk evening walks, but I rarely mention that I’m still horribly out of shape. For every witty post that I write online, I say three or four remarks that makes Bekah roll her eyes in a combination of dismay and concern for my sanity. It might seem like I usually look on the bright side of life, but I’m jaded and cynical.

This online world we inhabit creates a abnormal microcosm where appearance is only a filter of what truly exists. We get to share our joy and pains to the extent we wish them to be known. We are given the freedom to mold our image into whatever shape we desire. We can accentuate the best of who we are, exaggerate choice bits of personality, and trim out the parts of our being that we don’t like. We describe events like a highlight reel and pass it off as the definitive history of our life. I use social media to make me look more interesting than I really am.

But here are some truths that I hope don’t get lost in the alternate reality of social media.

I adore my wife. I'll admit that marriage isn't easy but I couldn't imagine a world without her. Through trials and tribulations, she's stood by me. She's given me strength and forced me to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.

My kids are my world. Even in their most aggravating or obnoxious states, they light up my life. They bring me joy and contentment I never understood before they came into existence.

My life is truly blessed. It is complicated. At times it is stressful. I have been broken and downtrodden. Bekah and I have been through hardships that I could never fully describe. Yet through it all, God has taken care of us. (At the risk of sounding cheesy) we've never had everything we've wanted, but we've had everything we needed.

I am thankful for the people in my life. The dad's group that I play poker with once a month: they understand the challenges I face raising a kid with aspergers because they also have kids on the autism spectrum. The kids on my quizzing team: they make me feel young and relevant. My team at work: my boss is committed to my professional growth and my peers match if not outshine my geekiness. My family: in all their eccentricities, they make me me. A few key friendships: they keep me grounded an sane.

It is possible that the above truths get lost or over looked in the lies of social media. It's not really a blatant falsehood; there isn't an intent to deceive. That's what makes it a perfect lie. The story I tell is not complete. It's only a part of my life's narrative - and really it's only the parts I want you to see.

I will continue to tell that perfect lie, these half truths. Because when I'm gone, I'd rather you remember the funny things my kids say. I'd rather you remember the victories I celebrate. I'd rather you remember the best version of myself that I can portray.


Whether the works of God or man

We live in a beautiful world.

Time is Nothing // Around The World Time Lapse from Kien Lam on Vimeo.

After Kien quit his job, he packed up and bought a one way ticket to London. He made a few extra stops along the way. 17 Countries. 343 Days. 6237 Photographs. One incredible journey.

To follow the journey and learn more about each scene visit www.kienlam.net.


State of the Blog 2011

I don’t consider this a high traffic blog, and perhaps I never will. I’m OK with that. So, when I look at Google Analytics, it’s not an exercise in self congratulatory ego-tripping or a lesson in attracting more readers. It’s not about the numbers. Well, it is about the numbers, but mostly from the perspective of pure fascination. The data analyst in me geeks out over the rise and fall of the line graphs. I am amused by the various methods people use to find my blog and by the little orange dots left in their wake - scattered across the map.

Take a look back with me over the past year. Here’s a quick pulse of my little corner of the interwebs.

Where visitors are coming from:
Top 10 nations (other than the United States) that visited RR&RT

1. United Kingdom
2. Canada
3. Philippines
4. Australia
5. Russia (In communist Russia, blog reads you)*
6. India
7. Brazil
8. Indonesia
9. Iraq
10. Germany
Top 5 states that visited RR&RT
1. Idaho (for obvious reasons)
2. Washington
3. Wyoming
4. California
5. New York
Top 5 domestic cities that visited RR&RT (other than C’dA/Hayden/Post Falls)
1. Cheyenne
2. Spokane
3. Oklahoma
4. Seattle
5. Moscow
Top 5 foreign cities that visited RR&RT
1. Makhachkala
2. Manila
3. As Sulaymaniyah
4. London
5. Sydney

How visitors got here:
Top sites that linked to RR&RT
1. Spokesman Review/Huckleberries Online
2. Ragamuffin Soul
3. Live a Life Worthy
4. Absurd Intellectual
5. An Idol Heart
Top 10 queries people googled that led to RR&RT (not including people that searched for my name)
1. Inhaling Dish soap: sniffing cascade, is it bad to snort dishwashing detergent, dangers of inhaling cascade detergent, cascade dishwasher detergent snorted, accidentally inhaled dishwashing powder, etc.**
2. Anything having to do with bricks: wall of bricks, bricks and springs, bricks perspective, old bricks, etc.)
3. Lambang (Malaysian word for “emblem”) or some variation: lambang game, lambang guitar, lambang memories, lambang sulap, etc.***
4. Some combination of Jack Johnson and Pandora
5. Law Abiding Citizen – thoughts about, the sociology, plot points, etc.
6. Ryan Jabaay
7. Instructions or ideas for playing Two Truths and a Lie
8. Reasons to support universal health care
9. Musicphile
10. Men in Black
The oddest search engine queries that led to RR&RT
1. how hegemony is related to the song "my humps"
2. is panda saliva is flammable and explosive
3. rave 90s party how to dress guy
4. the symbol of um
5. what would buddha do to stupid people
Search queries that led to my blog instead of my doppelganger
1. nic casey biologist
2. nic casey uconn
The search query that should be my tagline
1. the greatness of random things

What visitors find:
RR&T's 10 most frequently viewed posts of 2011 (read, but not necessarily written in 2011)
1. Bricks vs. Springs and the Glory of it all
2. The unexpected side effects of inhaling Cascade dishwasher detergent
3. Blogfest's pictorial review
4. RE: the JFAC hearings
5. Five for Friday (restaurants)
6. The good guys dress in black
7. Why I support Universal Health Care
8. The Google needs game
9. Pandora and the ever-present Jack Johnson
10. There is always a story

Other cool stuff from the year:
1. The most trivial thing that I got excited about: David Slack, producer of two of my favorite shows (Person of Interest & Lie To Me) retweeted me. Which tweet? THIS ONE.
2. The most legitimately exciting thing that I got excited about: THIS POST from my sister-in-law.
3. The best blog post I read all year: READ IT

What does 2012 have planned?

* Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
** It disturbs me that more people find my blog because they snorted dish soap (either on purpose or accidentally) than for any other reason.
*** This post is the first time the word “Lambang” has appeared on my blog. I don’t know how so many people find this blog by searching for it.


Monday Movie - new review

You can read my review HERE, but be warned - this is not your typical feelgood holiday movie fare.


Behold, I make everything new

Winter is a time of change. We celebrate the birth of a remarkable child - and the understanding that He was born to be a sacrifice so that we could live. We celebrate the passing of an old year and look forward to the new with hope and yearning that the next one will be better than the last. Snow falls, kids play, and we stand in awe of the beauty of nature. We long for peace and wait for spring, it is a season of renewal.

Winter is my favorite season. Nothing reminds me more of God's grace than a freshly fallen layer of snow. Snow covers without discrimination: grey streets with oil stains and potholes; yards, both unkempt and manicured; homes, both mansions and shacks. The dirtiness of this world, a human creation, is cleansed - renewed - by snow. It is God's reminder that He can do the same in our lives.

Winter helps me understand David's words in Psalms: wash me, and I will be whiter than snow, and later Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. We may wreck our lives. We may come to God in tatters, dirty, and broken. Yet, through the birth of the Christ child, His life, and His ultimate sacrifice, we can be renewed.

So this winter, I will celebrate more than just the manger, but also the cross. I will observe more than a new year, but a new life. I will embrace change and renewal. This season will be a reminder of God's enduring promises: Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; and I am making all things new.

(Originally posted on What's Inside on 12/7/08)