6 July

Now I'm back.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, jumping from my grandmother's funeral to my friend Larry's wedding. Larry and Kristen got married in Branson, Missouri. Aaron and I rented a car, left at 7am Friday morning and drove the 9.5 hours to get there. Within a couple of hours of arriving, we had the rehearsal. Not much time to check out the Branson scene because the wedding was the next afternoon. Then, after the reception, we got back in our car and drove through the night (hit an opossum and almost hit an unknown werewolf creature) making it home by 7am Sunday morning— a blur of 48 hours.

Anyway, I'm experiencing a travel hangover but thought I would run down some items of interest.

1. Fireworks are interesting. Since we drove through the night on July 4th we witnessed firsthand many redneck usages of pyrotechnics, including someone who thought it would be a good idea to set them off next a gas station. FYI, the urban celebration of the holiday lasts much longer; I guarantee I'll hear fireworks throughout the week.

2. Not only did I perform Larry and Kristen's wedding ceremony but I went Adam Sandler/Wedding Singer at the reception. Of course, Bon Jovi supplied the soundtrack.

3. The final trip related note: Missouri's interstate system sucks.

4. So, yeah, Michael Jackson died. In the past I probably would've devoted an entire post to the topic, but I just didn't feel like it. It's truly sad that it took death to transform him from societal pariah back to musical legend. It's also sad that he's worth more dead than alive. Now begins the parade of those who will capitalize on his death, including legions of people who will claim to have always have been fans.

6. We have new neighbors on each side of us. After almost four years of living here we are finally feeling completely settled but all the people we've met keep transitioning out. Such is city life.

7. When will people learn never to mention the accomplishments of Hitler? It is never helpful, so don't be like this guy and avoid mentioning it at all costs. No, not every one of Hitler's acts were evil, but after attempting to systematically eliminate and entire race of people all his other exploits, even if positive, are overshadowed. I'm sure this isn't the first time "big misunderstanding" has been used to defend positive Hitler comments [a little web search yielded this, and this and this] nor will it be the last.

8. Crossroads Church just started a sermon series entitled, "We Love Cincinnati." If you're a local, I hope you can agree. The messages are/will be available online. It also makes me feel good about Echo Church, because I know are folks have been living this out as well. In case you're wondering, our new teaching series is from the Old Testament books of Jonah and Nahum. Both books deal with the Assyrians, whose army is considered one of the most diabolical in human history. I'm calling it, "An Assyrian Summer." Here's our introduction slide, definitely worth a look.

9. Kaelyn's getting older. This is no secret, but she just continues to show it. Today she was constantly singing various songs she's learned while better articulating the words. No preschool next year, as she's still under my tutelage.

10. Not sure if you've heard of The Holy Land Experience, a theme park in Orlando dedicated to the Christian Biblical story. Apparently, it's actually registered as a church giving it a huge tax break. As a result, the park is supposed to allow free admission one day per year. The catch: the owners are secretive about letting the public know this date. Sneaky, sneaky, people. I actually think it's unethical for them to operate as a church. If you're going to be in a for-profit business as a Christian, you shouldn't expect the government to give you competitive advantages because of your faith.

11. Firefox Verson 3.5 is now open. There are a lot of good features, and one you should be careful of using. There's a privacy mode that, when enabled, keeps all your browsing secret. So if you're looking at sites you don't want other people to see [do I need to spell this out: P-0-R-N] no one else will need to know. While there could be other useful reasons for using this feature [ex: checking email on someone else's computer] it's still a good rule of thumb is never to mess with your history settings. Keep your integrity in tact and steer clear from private browsing. Nothing is ever truly secret, anyway.

12. Still knocking out my summer to-do list. Almost finished the first website redesign, so I thought I'd let you take a look. This will be the official Walnut Hills website. It's nothing special and still under construction, but feel free to leave me some feedback: www.walnuthills.us.