A Quick Trip Through Addis Ababa

On our way back from Obe Kale Haywet center in the city of Obe, I turned on the camera as soon as we entered the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Our bus driver kept one hand on the wheel and the other on the horn. We were all tired of the honking and the somewhat erratic driving (although, it doesn’t seem to have been out of order for the region) by the time we got back to the hotel.

Why I Hate Guitar Hero

I am terrible at Guitar Hero and I don’t really care. I have played it a few times and find it to be an affront to my intellect. Simply: Guitar Hero is a blight on society.

I know. It’s shocking that somebody of my superior mental prowess may be insulted by a game. Let me explain why. 

  1. I can rock like Slash without any real skills. No longer is hard work, frustration, and aching fingers required! I can be a complete slacker and as soon as I strap on that awesome midget plastic guitar, I am as good as somebody who has labored for years. It’s a metaphor for how many of our society approach life. It’s teaching our young ‘uns that there’s no value to working hard. Just sit at home and stare at the screen. Good things will come to you. Guitar Hero is breeding litter of non-thinking, no skill empty-heads.
  2. I’m better at fake-rocking than you are! Fork out another $60 and you can have two midget plastic guitars and compete against your friends or family for the crown of the slacker kingdom.
  3. Guitar players are heroes. Um, no. If you want to be a hero, save somebody’s life, become a mentor, or just spend time talking with a kid (maybe even your own, gasp). Fake midget plastic guitar playing TV zombies are not heroes. Heroes destroy zombies!
  4. It’s not even a real guitar!

If you want to enjoy an instrument that has 5 chords, play Ukulele!

Mark Warfel takes a mud bath

From the footage taken in Ethiopia, September 2007:

After I had to jump over a muddy area on our path, I had a feeling that somebody was going to eat it, so I turned on my camera and waited for the magic to take place. Low and behold, Mr. Mark Warfel, M.C. at Creation Festivals, missed his take-off and splashed the very silty mud all over himself. Like the great guy he is, he took it in stride and we were able to laugh about it.

Pfefferkuchen Recipe

This is an old family recipe that originated in Germany. I remember my grandma and my mom baking this cookie every Christmas. It’s somewhat akin to gingerbread, but with a licorice flavor (derived from the anise). Don’t expect to make this cookie in secret; the aroma will fill the entire house! But, it’s a good smell. It’s the smell of Christmas.

1 lb brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
2 1/4 c. shortening
1 T nutmeg
2 eggs
1 tsp cloves
1 qt dark Karo syrup
1 tsp allspice
1 pt sour cream
1 tsp cardamom
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
Rind & juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
1 T anise oil (Do NOT use extract, you can find the oil at your pharmacy or online)

Mix all ingredients together.  Just before pouring out, add 2 Tbsp soda.  Pour liquid ingredients into a large pan.  (I use a 13 quart bowl, but a clean dishpan works, too).

Stir in enough flour to make a dough stiff enough to roll out, about 18 cups.  Chill.

Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick; cut with cookie cutter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cookies are better if made several weeks before used.

Frosting:  Beat 1 or 2 egg whites until frothy (beginning to peak).  Add 3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar per egg white, depending on size until frosting reaches the consistency of Elmer’s glue.  Food coloring may be added if desired.  Spread on the flat side of the cookie; decorate as desired.  Place in warm oven, about 200 degrees, for 6-7 minutes until set.  Cool on rack.  Store in airtight container, putting waxed paper between cookies that have been frosted.  Makes between 20 and 24 dozen, but they will keep for months and when they are frosted, taste better than fresh ones.

Note: If your frosting leaves a watery mess after baking, add more powdered sugar. It should be the consistency of the paste you used in grade school. *You can eat this paste without being ridiculed.

My Favorite One-liners

Simply ask my family and friends and you’ll find out that I love one-liners. I love some of them so much that I use them over and over and over. So, I set out on a quest to add more arrows to my quiver. Here are a few that I found which I like:

  • 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
  • A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  • A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
  • Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.
  • Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of.
  • Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  • Boycott shampoo! Demand the real thing!
  • C program run. C program crash. C programmer quit.
  • Double your drive space. Delete Windows!
  • Ever notice how fast Windows runs? Neither did I.
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.
  • For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.
  • Forget world peace. Visualize using your turn signal.
  • Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
  • Good judgment comes from bad experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • He who laughs last thinks slowest.
  • How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand.
  • I poured Spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.
  • I won’t rise to the occasion, but I’ll slide over to it.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
  • If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again; it was probably worth it.
  • If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.
  • Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.
  • Never mess up an apology with an excuse.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • On the other hand, you have different fingers.
  • Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.
  • Some drink at the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
  • There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can’t.
  • Warning: Dates in calendar are closer than they appear.
  • You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted then used against you.

Review of Jars of Clay album Good Monsters

I picked up the new Jars CD a couple of weeks ago. Now I understand the hype surrounding this release. It is perhaps the best Jars album yet. I have no doubt that it will equal the success of their self-titled album released in 1996.

The CD has a really great, unprocessed sound to it. After hearing the band practice before heading out on their Good Monsters tour, it is clear that they have tried really hard to produce a product that will stand alone either on CD or live.

Dead Man is the second track on the CD and is getting a lot of airplay right now; it is at number 3 as of this writing (I’m sure it will be #1 before long). It is a catchy, 80’s style pop song. The chorus is almost as catchy as “it’s a Small World After All”  and has been rattling around in my brain for at least a week. It isn’t the best track on the album, in my opinion, and I am never quite sure why the record companies choose one song over another for airplay. Next time I talk to a label executive, I’ll be sure to ask.

Oh My God caught my fancy the first time I listened through the album. It stands out as the most impressive song on this very thoughtful album. It starts out with a single acoustic guitar and builds to the finale with an insightful prayer from the soul and ends with:

Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God

Good Monsters also features Kate York on Even Angels Cry and the haunting voice of Leigh Nash on Mirrors & Smoke.

All in all, I think this is perhaps the best album to hit the streets this year.

Review of Newsboys album GO

This is a classic Newsboys album, which reminds me more of their earlier work with driving beats and catchy lyrics. Paul Coleman joined the band early this year and is found playing cool licks and adding his unique vocal talent to this album. I honestly don’t look forward to Newsboys album releases. I see them as a band that does one thing really well: Live shows. Go sounds as though the majority of the songs were written with live performance in mind.

Catchy pop songs like Something Beautiful, Let It All Come Out, I Am Free, and Secret Kingdom should all make top-10 hits. Secret Kingdom even features a whistling solo. Every great song needs whistling, just ask my friend Phredd. He’ll tell you.

I am not really a pop-guy. But there was one song on this release that I really liked. Your Love is Better Than Life is an ‘Aussie Rap’  which reminded me a lot of Timbuk3 or Fat Boy Slim. It stands out as a diamond among the rest of the gems (sorry for the cheesy simile).

The only track I didn’t care for was the final one, Gonna Be Alright. I am not a fan of the sampled background vocal singing Oh How He Love You and Me. It reminds me too much of early Christian music when mediocrity reigned supreme.

If you’re looking for something revolutionary from the Newsboys, keep looking. It definitely shows how polished they have become as a band and it is the solid, happy, worshipful style that has become synonymous with the Newsboys.

Go Playlist:

1. Wherever We Go
2. Go
3. Something Beautiful
4. The Mission
5. Let it All Come Out
6. In Wonder
7. Your Love Is Better Than Life
8. I Am Free
9. Secret Kingdom
10. The Letter (One of a Kind)
11. Gonna Be Alright