Monday, August 31, 2009

10 Biblical ways to find a wife

1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her
head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes.Then she's yours.
(Deuteronomy 21:11-13)

2. Find a prostitute and marry her.
Hosea (Hosea 1:1-3)

3. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. Moses (Exodus 2:16-21)

4. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal.
Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)

5. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife.
Benjamites (Judges 21:19-25)

6. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep.
Note: this will cost you a rib. --Adam (Genesis 2:19-24)

7. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman's hand in
marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman.Then,work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That's right. Fourteen years of toil for a woman.
Jacob (Genesis 29:15-30)

8. Cut off 200 foreskins of your future father-in-law's enemies and get his daughter for a wife.
David (I Samuel 18:27)

9. Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow.
(It's not just a good idea, it's the law.)
Onan and Boaz (Deteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)

10. Don't be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity.
Solomon (I Kings 11:1-3)

This is why I drink Tea!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Giving Sandwiches a Quick Zip!

I ran across this recipe in the August edition of Cooking Light magazine, it's so good it's actually got me eating raw celery, something I normally abhor!

1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives.

Mix all of the above together and use it as a spread for sandwiches. I recommend spreading it on a nice baguette and then topping it with cooked chicken breast, sliced roma tomatoes and salad greens.

Delicious and quick!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Compared to an eternity spent wherever you spend eternity, this life is nothing but a short free-fall…..

“Ready…….Ready……wait for it……Green Light!….Go! Go! Go!” The first few moments were a blur of noise as I pushed myself out into the dirty blue nothingness. Tumbling. Falling end over end, limbs flapping wildly in the noisy rush of wind. Panic began to arise in my throat and I grasped desperately at something; anything that could give me a bearing in my ever-shifting surroundings, but of course I found nothing. Oh I knew where ‘down’ was, I had no doubt which way my ultimate demise lay, but was I plummeting headfirst? Feet first? Would I see my end rushing towards me or would it slam into my back – coming as a complete surprise? For all my bravado before I threw myself into nothingness I desperately wanted to know. How long did I have left? Suddenly the length of time before I was embraced by ground zero was all-important, but the dials on my altimeter were spinning so fast it was impossible to get a reading.

Could I slow my descent, postpone the inevitable? I began to claw the sky, trying to swim in the air currents that I was drowning in. As I fell my heart rate rose, my breathing began to race faster; thoughts bombarded my brain echoing my outer turmoil. Could I survive impact? Does anyone? Does it hurt? Will I see it coming? Can I prevent it? Why me? If impact is inevitable why fight? Wouldn’t it be better to tuck my arms in and speed my descent into oblivion?

“There are other options you know”

I spun wildly trying to work out where the voice came from. Was the thought of imminent death sending me insane? As far as I could tell no one else had thrown themselves out of the plane so I was alone in my tumbling.

“I’m right behind you. Can’t you feel the straps?”

I reached up to my shoulders and explored. Two strips of webbing came from the top of my back, over my shoulders and then down tight beneath my armpits. A backpack?

“A Parachute. Everyone automatically gets a parachute before they leave the plane whether they request one or not. Scholars call it prevenient grace, but I just think it is a good idea.”

“But….but…..” I stammered. The difficulty of forming whole sentences while plummeting to your death was compounded by the fact that I was conversing with a talking parachute. “I thought the Eternal Parachute was a myth, most experts who have studied Free-fall claim that you don’t exist”.

“Oh what do those Jump Philosophers know?” the parachute said in a voice that sounded like the rustle of cotton. “They only talk about jumping but they haven’t experienced it themselves so all their talk is just that; talk.”

A sudden down draft sent me spiraling end over end and I felt a wave of nausea wash over me as the parachute suddenly spoke with a stronger, more authoritative voice.

“Right. Let’s stop that spinning; you’ll never be able to think straight if you want to throw up. Spread your arms and legs out and arch your back. Allow your body to stream in the wind. There. That’s better.”

The calm power of the parachute’s voice helped to quell my panic. Coupled with a decrease of fear and a lack of spinning I began to enjoy the fall.

“You know this is kinda fun. It’s almost exhilarating. I can see for miles, everything looks so small.”

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted some movement on the rapidly approaching ground. Without thinking I gestured with my left arm and began a sudden swoop sideways.

“Wow! That was great. Just like flying.”

I began to swoop and dive. I discovered that by moving my arms and legs in different combinations I could execute spins and rolls. This was a lot of fun.

“Excuse me….”

I began to try more complicated maneuvers enjoying the pull of the G forces on my body.

“Excuse me…..”

I shouted aloud in pleasure. I never dreamed that free falling could be so much fun. I never wanted this to end; I could enjoy this feeling forever.


The parachute rustled angrily in my ear.

“I know that from up here the ground seems a relatively small thing, but it is getting larger all the time, so don’t you think that you had better prepare for its arrival?!”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked, slightly angry that the parachute would disturb my fun.

“See that ring that’s attached by a cord to your chest? Just pull that right now and I will take care of everything.”

“Really? That’s all I have to do? You don’t need me to flap or assume a particular position or something else like that?”

“No.” Said the chute. “Just pull that cord, I will open and you can float gently down to ground level..”

“You’ll open? But if you open I won’t be able to swoop and dive anymore will I? What fun will I be able to have then? Can’t I wait just a bit longer?”

I emphasized my point by executing a Triple Barrel Roll. I was getting good at this.

“Trust me.” Said the chute. “I’ve seen millions of people safely through their jump. Now is the time to pull your cord. Don’t put it off.”

“Surely I can wait a little bit, I really don’t want to be restricted by you more than absolutely necessary.”


I decided to try a different track.

“You know,” I said slyly. “Many people say that hitting the ground is an integral part of the free fall experience. I really ought to experience everything that this fall has to offer, after all I only get to do it once you know, it would be a shame to waste it because I was afraid.”


“I’ve also heard it said that the ground is really just an illusion, a transition into another state of serene bliss; but you can only achieve this bliss if you hit the ground full force so you can break through into this new Nirvana.”

“Look I was right about how to stop yourself spinning wasn’t I. Why should I lie to you about this?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you have got ulterior motives or something like that. Maybe you are just a killjoy. How should I know what prompts a parachute to do what it does. I’m not a genius I’m just a jumper who is enjoying himself and doesn’t want the fun to end.”

“Look. I am trying to save your life. PULL YOUR CORD!”

“I don’t know. Let me think about it.”

I thought and I thought and I fell and I fell and I thought and I fell and I swooped and I dived and I thought and I fell and I……….

Monday, August 24, 2009

Music and Lyrics

Who would have though that
three pitches
oscillating at complimentary wavelengths
separated by seven half-steps
could communicate eternity through harmony.

Who would have guessed that
sixteen syllables
grafted onto a melody
forced to conform to rhythm and pitch
could become the voice of the divine.

Parking Outside the Lines

Full marks for creativity,
but the driver does not play well with others.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This was Urinetown

It was over a year ago, but here are some pics from the production of Urinetown that I was in at Houston Community college Southwest last summer. I played Caldwell B. Cladwell and had a great time.

to see more pics click here.

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I'm feeling a bit wistful today.

Wistful, according to Merriam Webster, means full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy. I had just finished my grocery shopping and I decided to have a quick browse at the British Food Aisle. I rarely buy anything because a) the import prices are too expensive and b) they rarely have what I am longing for, but the items on display did start me yearning for things from my past.

So what am I yearning for today?
Barretts Fish and Chips - They aren't the best, but they were my local 'chippie' for all the time I lived in Norwich. It's a familiar comforting taste and smell.

Toffypops - ahh the glorious guilt of eating just one and then discovering you have 'scarfed' down the entire packet.

The Norfolk Coastline - There is a wonderful smell at the coast - a mixture of salt and fish. Combine that with the cry of the sea gulls and a cool breeze and it is just wonderful.

Public Buses - I miss riding on the bus, I miss the noise, the convenience, even the complaining when it doesn't arrive on time. I miss the running late at night to catch the last bus home. I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden the bus in the U.S.

To explain the pic above, it was taken in my hometown of Norwich. Underneath the city there are a large number of Medieval Chalk Mines. The weight of the buses on the Unthank Road over many years caused the road to sink and the bus slid into it. In the U.K. we have a candy bar called a 'Double Decker', their advertising campaign? 'Nothing fills a hole like a double decker'!!!

English Sausages - Just about every butcher had their own blend of meat and spices. American sausage just doesn't taste the same, I like it (esp. in a bacon explosion), it's just different.

Going 'down the city' - Norwich Town Center is like one big open air shopping mall. You can wonder around for hours looking into the shops, browsing the market. Odds are you would run into somebody you would know. Houston does not really have a pedestrianized center, going to the Mall just doesn't feel the same.

Well that's what immediately springs to mind, I'm sure there are a lot more things if I sat and reflected.

Merriam Webster defines 'Homesick' as follows: longing for home and family while absent from them. I don't think I'm homesick, Houston feels like home to me now. I'm not missing family, I do a great job of staying connected to my family in the U.K. and I have a wonderful 'family' here in the U.S. now.

Every item that I've listed above, and the many more that I could name are doorways into memories, doorways that don't see much traffic now that they are no longer easily accessible. But just typing and reflecting has helped oil the hinges, and often the memory of something is better than the real thing....though one of Barretts battered deep fried pineapple rings would be lovely right now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Words of Eternal Life?

"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

John 6:67-68

The above quote is part of a longer discourse about Jesus speaking difficult teachings. Peter's response is one that I have quoted to myself in those dark days when I have wanted to throw in the towel on Christianity and become a practicing Hedonist - or possibly a member of the 'Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster' as I hear they have awesome Potluck Suppers.

But this time was different, instead of hearing an implied 'if you change your interpretation of Christianity you are on a fast track to Hell', this time I heard a simple question. What have been words of Eternal Life for you?

The phrase that immediately came to mind was 'Always remember that you are much loved'. The source of this quote was the series of books 'Duncton Wood' by author William Horwood. The books are an exploration of Faith and the clash of Dogmatism vs Contemplative Life.

I've always been moved by William Horwood's writing, the Duncton Series and his novel Skallagrigg are ones that I never tire of reading. When I moved to the U.S. I made sure I included all of them in my suitcase. But why does a quote from a fictional series about the lives of moles come to mind when I think about words of eternal life?

Remembering we are loved, no matter what messages the world, our circumstances, our past, our self, and even our faith shouts at us is one way that we can bring life into whatever hellish circumstances we may find ourselves in. Many of the interwoven stories in 'Duncton Wood' are brutal, but the moles make it through by remembering that they are loved.

Writer Henri Nouwen's core message was that we are the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God. Nothing is strong enough to take away that identity from us, and that we need to do nothing to claim it, it is interwoven into our very D.N.A.

'Always remember that you are much loved' are words that pour life into me.

What words pour Eternal life into you?
What life giving words have you spoken to others this week?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You know a Gaming Convention is in town when... walk into a restaurant and all the tables are large groups of heavyset men all wearing graphic tee shirts in various shades of black.

... a woman turns up at the hotel free breakfast buffet wearing a kimono, kitten ears and a furry tail and she is carrying a samuri sword (possibly for slicing bagels?)

...conversation overheard on the street #1 "...and then in 1930 he exploded his doomsday device and destroyed all of downtown Chicago"

...conversation overheard on the street #2 "...and it's generally assumed that everyone with psychic abilities has telekinesis." the hotel check-in desk they have Jenga set up 'just to make you feel welcome'

...the man on the airport shuttle bus introduces himself and launches into a discussion on 'The Emergence of Game Mechanics as an aid to the Narrative'

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bacon Explosion

There are some recipes that will always be around, roast chicken, omlettes etc. Then there are others that suddenly become trendy and then dissapear, I remember when every dessert I was served for about 6 months was Tiramasu!

There is a third catagory of recipes, ones that have become urban legends. You may have had them emailed to you, but you don't know many people who have actually made them......

...except me.

5 minute chocolate cake

Dishwasher Lasagna

The Burrito that should never be

and my latest forray into forbidden territory -

The Bacon Explosion (or as Greg named it, the Death Log)

I served the Bacon Explosion with some rather evil mashed potatoes heavily laden with cream and butter, and God saw that it was good - and my Nutritionist shuddered.

So, here is the creation of this wonder meal in all its glory, bon appetite!
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Dona Eis Requiem!

(A page of Mozart's Requiem)

A Requiem is normally a prayer for eternal rest....mine has caused more work :)

I am ecstatic to announce that my Requiem will be performed by the Rice Chorale on 9/11 at 8pm in Stude Concert Hall at Rice University.

This is wonderful news, but has created some extra work. My Requiem has been performed as part of a worship service, however there is a difference between what 'works' in a worship service and what works in a concert hall. I am currently rewriting portions, changing some lyrics and rewriting some of the music. Sections that were performed by chorus are now becoming solos, and extra solos are being written too.

I am also adding other instruments into the mix. I am scoring the work for voices, Piano, Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon. This means instrumental parts have to be assigned, and in some cases new introductions and transitional music are being written.

Imagine taking a wonderful tiled picture, scrambling it up, adding some extra tiles, and recreating an embellished version of the original with a lot greater detail ~ that's what I'm doing, and as rehearsals start at the end of August I have a very tight deadline to get it done.

Throw in the fact that I am away some of next week at Gen Con and you shouldn't be surprised if my blog doesn't get updated as often as usual!

If you have a chance to make the performance, it would be wonderful to see you - it's free :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Lemon Layer Cake

Not for the faint of heart!

Recipe from ‘Behind the Scenes with America’s Test Kitchen’

The filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, but it will become quite stiff; fold it with a rubber spatula to loosen it before spreading it on the cake. Leftover cake can be stored covered in the refrigerator, with the cut side of the cake covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to three days.

Lemon Curd Filling

1 cup juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1½ cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for cake)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and frozen


2¼ cups cake flour, plus extra for the pans
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1¾ cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened but still cool


2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon corn syrup

1. FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Heat the remaining lemon juice, the sugar, and salt in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk the eggs and the yolks in a large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the hot lemon-sugar mixture into the eggs, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer and is thick enough to leave a trail when the spatula is scraped along the pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in the frozen butter until incorporated. Pour the filling through a fine-mesh strainer into a nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9 x2 round cake pans and line with parchment paper. In a 2-cup measure or medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg whites and vanilla.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed. With the mixer running at low speed, add the butter one piece at a time; continue beating until the mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks. Add all but ½ cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 ½ minutes. With the mixer running at low speed, add the remaining ½ cup milk mixture; increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds more. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium and beat for 20 seconds longer. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans; using a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the pan walls and smooth the tops.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pans with a small knife, cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a greased wire rack; peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again; cool completely on the rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. TO ASSEMBLE: Use a serrated knife to cut each cake into 2 even layers. Place the bottom layer of one cake on a cardboard round or cake plate. Using an icing spatula spread 1 cup of the lemon filling evenly on the cake leaving a ½-inch border around the edge, using a cardboard round, gently replace the top layer. Spread 1 cup of filling on top. Using the cardboard round, gently slide the bottom half of the second cake into place. Spread the remaining cup of filling on top. Using the cardboard round, replace the top layer of the second cake. Smooth out any filling that has leaked from the sides of the cake; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the icing.

6. FOR THE ICING: Combine all the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl and set over a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture to a standing fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks from, about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Ice the cake and serve.

'Avenue Q' meets 'Fiddler on the Roof'

Do not watch if easily offended!

Very Inspiring and Moving - worth the time to watch.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Weight Update and Boardgame News

John Michael Montgomery sang 'Life's a Dance you learn as you go, sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow', well weight loss is similar. I've been doing the Two Pound Two Step most of this month, my weight fluctuating more than a freshman's GPA. I've finished the month 3 lbs higher than where I finished last month...and I'm o.k. with that. I said in my last update that I find myself obsessing about weight loss and so I took the last week off, well that mini vacation somehow morphed into a month long hiatus. I've been watching my input, but I haven't been exercising so my weight has not declined.

I will get back into exercising again, I think some of it is the hotter weather, I don't like getting hot and sweaty, I'm a little bored with my work out dvd and it's too hot to go out walking.

Anyway enough excuses, onto the games played this last month.

I set a new personal best this month - 38 games played, and 20 different games.

(Maybe all this game playing is why I haven't been exercising.)

Dominion is still top with 7 games played. It's appeal hasn't dimmed yet and as the first expansion is now available I don't see its charms dwindling anytime soon.

Chains of Fenrir makes a surprise appearance. It's a quick abstract game that uses lots of glass beads. You can learn it in just a few minutes but it has some interesting challenges to it. It reminds me a little bit of the game of Nim that we used to play with coins or stones when I was a child.

Travel Blokus also made its first appearance of the year and garnered 5 plays.

Back in May I finally entered a new level of geekdom by ordering 2 games from a small publisher in Germany. This marked the first time I paid international shipping simply to purchase a game! The company was a delight to work with, I cannot say the same for the U.S. postal service however. The package was shipped DHL to the U.S, but as DHL no longer make domestic U.S. deliveries it was transferred to the local postal service who promptly managed to 'mislay' the package and then demanded extra postage for delivery purposes even though they didn't deliver it! I eventually tracked it down at the local post office, paid the extra money and obtained the games. I notified the German company just so that they would know that there are problems with their U.S. shipping.

They immediately apologized and sent me a refund equal to the extra amount of shipping I had to pay - plus a little bit extra for my trouble! How's that for customer service!!!

So what was this mysterious game?

Well the game I wanted was Die Aufsteiger

It's a very interesting race to climb as high as possible up an ever shifting tower. We've had three plays so far and I really like it. It's pleasing to play and looks great. I can't wait to play in public somewhere and see what kind of crowd it draws.

The game is solid wood so the shipping was heavy! I didn't want to pay shipping on just one game so I also ordered Neue Heimat from the same company. This is a real estate development game, again with wonderful wooden pieces. We've only played it once so far and I don't think we've given it a fair enough crack of the whip yet.

One of the draw backs of having so many games, is that we get very good at learning new games, but not so good at developing strategies for existing games. We've tried combating that by having a 'Game of the Month' - one game that we were guaranteed to play every week in the midst of all the others, but that kind of fell by the wayside.

I think that's why Dominion has proven so popular. We are able to play it quickly and have gotten good at formulating different strategies very quickly, and there always seem to be time for just one more round where we can try a different tactic.

August is going to be an interesting month for games. Steve and I are off to Gen Con in Indianapolis, so I should get a lot of gaming in and hopefully get exposed to a lot more new games to add to my collection (and then only play once every few months!)