[sticky post] Friends-Only Journal

Snarf
Many of the entries in this journal are friends-only.  If you are interested in being added to my friends list, please leave me a comment.  Thanks!

WBC 2014 - Games I plan to play

Snarf
The 2014 World Boardgaming Championships is fast approaching.  Here is a list of games I plan to play.

Games I will compete in:
Games I may play once during competition, but have no intention of advancing:
Naturally I will play other games in Open Gaming and I hope to learn a few "new to me" games.  But two games I've previously played (once) that I wouldn't mind having another go at are:
And WBC week wouldn't be the same without trying to get in a game or two of Battlestar Galactica!

So, what else should I be playing?

Savings, discounts, points and tech tools

Snarf
 I just wanted to take a moment to post about and promote a few tech tools I've used lately that have led to discounts and savings.

1.  PriceBlink is a (currently in beta) site that tracks prices on many products.  The neat thing is they have browser plugins available.  Today I was browsing prices for a 6-pack of 3M Filtrete air filters we needed.  We use the filters in our furnace / air conditioning system.  Each filter lasts 3 months, so the 6 pack lasts a year and a half.  In 2007, we bought a 6-pack of eBay for $86.31 plus $8.50 S&H ($94.81 total).  I found the same pretty cheap on Amazon today for $94.26 plus free super-saver shipping - a few cents cheaper than 2007.  I was about to buy it when I noticed the PriceBlink toolbar had found a cheaper price.  The toolbar found it listed for $82.43 plus $4.99 shipping at vitacost.com.  Well, that would be a savings of $6.84 from Amazon - but I've never heard of this site.  How can I trust it?  But I clicked through anyway, and discovered they are offering free shipping - even better!  Now the cost of my item will be only $82.43 ($11.81 less than Amazon).

2.  PayPal - We've all heard of PayPal.  As I clicked around the VitaCost website, I wondered if I could trust sending them my credit card information.  I've never heard of the site.  How can I trust it?  Then I discovered that they offer PayPal payments.  Bingo!  After seeing that, I can trust the transaction.  Even if I cannot 100% trust VitaCost, I know I can work with PayPal to get my money back if something goes wrong.  That helps me feel more secure about my purchase.

3.  MyPoints lets you earn points for visiting various websites, taking surveys, or linking through the MyPoints website to make your purchases at many online retailers.  Whenever I make a purchase online, I usually get everything "ready" in my shopping cart, and then I head over to MyPoints and search the merchant listing.  If the merchant is listed, I "click through" and then find my shopping cart again.  Recently I've made a few purchases that will add up to many points that I can redeem for various gifts cards (most often we've gotten Barnes and Nobles gift cards so Janet can buy "free" books.  I've received points from a recent large purchase from HP (Janet's new laptop), purchases from Half.com and even the purchase I just made from VitaCost.  The laptop purchase alone was enough to get us $100 worth of gift cards.  On a daily basis I earn numerous easy "5 points" for clicking on a couple email links.  They add up over time.

I'd love for you to join MyPoints.  Let me know your email address and I can refer you - I'd get points for that.  Otherwise, please use the above tools / sites to get good deals on stuff.  Its awesome!

PS.  I fully believe that such tools can cause people to want to buy things they do not need.  There is no savings in buying things you don't need or didn't want.  So use caution while shopping online.  Seek great deals on the things you need to buy and beware of anything else.

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My Favorite Podcasts

Star Trek, UFP
I promised something geeky - and since I can't stop this annoying cough and go to sleep I thought I would write up a list of my favorite podcasts.  Do me a favor...  If you listen to any of these, leave me a comment.  Or if you check any of them out because of this post, please let me know what you think.

 (Listed in no particular order.)

Miscellaneous / Family
The non-tech and non-Lost podcasts I listen to.

Nobody's Listening
Hosted by James Kennison and others, NLCast is a clean comedy podcast featuring funny true-life stories from the hosts and listeners who contribute their own stories.  One of these days I'll actually submit a story of my own.

Geek Loves Nerd
Geek Loves Nerd started when James, host of Nobody’s Listening Podcast, wanted to share his hobby with his wife. Now they both share their opinions about life, faith, family, children, video games, movies… and it’s a little bit funny! Geek Loves Nerd is clean and is a featured iTunes Kids & Family podcast.

The Dave Ramsey Show
Radio show host Dave Ramsey offers the first hour of his 3 hour daily show for free download via podcast.  Great tips and its also awesome to hear people scream "I'M DEBT FREE!!!" on the Friday shows.

Family From the Heart (GSPN)
Hosted by Cliff and Stephanie Ravenscript, FFTH is an entertaining podcast devoted to providing an authentic and unscripted look into the lives of a family in pursuit of a balanced life.

Daybreak Community Church
This is my church's weekly sermon.  I don't actually listen to the podcast often since I catch the sermon live each week.  But if you want some Christian inspiration and education, this is a great resource!

Tech
I like tech - and these podcasts keep me "in the know."

Buzz Out Loud (CNET)
I actually have not listened to this one in awhile, but I used to every day.  Its a great podcast for keeping up with tech related news.

Podcast Answer Man (GSPN)
The podcast about podcasting - hosted by Cliff Ravenscraft.

The Real Deal (CNET)
The Real Deal gives you access to secrets and info that will help you master the confusing world of technology. Every Tuesday Tom and Rafe take on a new topic as well as taking your e-mail.

Lost
Probably the largest category of podcasts I listen to.  These will dwindle as the show is coming to an end in a few weeks.

Geronimo Jack's Beard - Hosted by actor Jorge Garcia (Hurley) himself!

Weekly Lost Podcast (GSPN) - Hosted by Cliff and Stephanie Ravenscraft.

The Lost Community Podcast - Hosted by David A. Dean and Steve "the Goog" Googlich.

Cranky Fanatic Lost Podcast - Hosted by "Big O"

Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack - Hosted by father/son team Jack and Jay.

The Transmission - Hosted by Ryan and Jen "from the island."

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Spiritual Gifts and Stretching

Blue Frog
This past Sunday's sermon at Daybreak was about Spiritual Gifts.  During the sermon, Dave mentioned an online assessment.  It was a short quiz you could take (just like many Internet memes) that could help you to discover your spiritual gifts.

I took the quiz, and here are my top 5 spiritual gifts (per this quiz).

Teaching: You love to learn and help others to understand what you have been taught from God's word. You are easy to listen to and your instructions are simple to follow.

Encouragement: The words you speak comfort, encourage and urge to action those who listen.

Helps: You love to help others, nothing is too much to ask, and others seek you out when they face a practical need.

Hospitality: You show your love for people by making them feel welcome in your home or anywhere.

Giving: You love to give, God guides you to give, and you have the ability to know just what others need.

The results are in order with Teaching being my best gift and the other four being equally next in line.  I find it ironic that I would probably list those gifts in the opposite order - I find giving to be terribly easy.  I enjoy inviting people over to our house.  I even like helping others.  But to think that I give great words of encouragement or teach others well?  Maybe not so much...

But then again, maybe God is teaching me (pun intended) that I am good at teaching.  It seems as if the documentation I write for work is easy to understand and rather useful for my team.  But that is technology where I am confident (at least most of the time).  How am I to teach people about God when I'm not always so sure what I believe?  In the past few weeks, Janet and I have been leading a small group in our home.  But that role is merely a facilitator.  I caution myself to not teach or preach in that venue.  I've not been trained.  How is my opinion any more valid than theirs?  But maybe there is room to do both?  Maybe I can teach through the sharing of my opinions and thoughts?

Last week I was told by someone that a card I sent him in the mail was such an encouragement.  I didn't know it was going to be, but it seems that God used me to touch this person's life that day.  If I stop to think about it, that is truly amazing!  How blessed I am to be used by God.

So all that to say, maybe God is trying to stretch me into these spiritual gifts that I didn't even realize I had.  I think thats why I'm trying my hand at blogging again.  My words could very well be both educational and encouraging.  Who knows...  Maybe God will even one day stretch me beyond one of my biggest fears - public speaking!

Tomorrow I'll try to post something of a lighter topic...  Maybe something geeky.  But for now?  Its time to watch LOST!

PS.  Want to share your list of Spiritual Gifts?

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Serving Leftovers to a Holy God

Tigger Thinking, Thinking
For the past few weeks Janet and I have been making our first endeavorers at actually leading a small group in our home.  For those that might not be aware, a small group (or life group) can be thought of like you might think of a bible study - only we don't necessarily study the bible.  Instead, we are currently tackling Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love."  I must say this is one of the most difficult books I've ever read.

Why is it difficult?  Well, maybe I should use the word "challenging" instead.  Many times I read the small group study books and let their words slip by without giving them much thought in later days or weeks.  Once I'm done with that week's session, the chapter could be erased from my memory just like I studied it to pass an exam.  But I'm at least trying to push myself so that this book doesn't see the same fate.  Why?

I feel that this book has the potential to rock my spiritual world.  So much has been stirring within me in the last few months...  Feelings of wanting something "more" in my life.  A desire for change.  And this book could be that motivation.

This week we're covering chapter 5 which is "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God."  Following the chapter "Profile of the Lukewarm" I see and realize that maybe I am lukewarm for Christ.  See, I can compare myself to self-proclaimed non-Christians and say "I'm go-hung for Christ" and I would be correct.  I could compare myself to self-proclaimed Christians who go to church on Christmas and Easter (or every Sunday for that matter) but don't think about God throughout the weekend...  Sure, I would look like a saint compared to them.  I mean, I donate a large portion of my salary to the church, I donate time to the church in setup and other stuff.  So, yeah, I'm a great Christian...

But Jesus asks me to compare myself to Him and His standards.  While my salvation has been purchased through Jesus' death on the cross (and I do not doubt that much), I still should have a desire to live a life devoted to Jesus and not my whims and fears.  And if I don't, then maybe God is speaking to me in Revelations 3:15-16:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Well, I personally know my own deeds.  And while I know I am not "cold for Christ" I also know I am not "hot for Christ."  Now, I know I have a tendency to beat myself up about this sort of thing.  I have to remember that God has worked in my heart tremendously and I have grown so much spiritually in the last decade (and I'd say especially even in the last year or two).  But I've got farther to go.

This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians (Dave mentioned Chapter 12 during his sermon yesterday).  But I continued into chapter 13 because it is the "famous": Love Chapter which we also had read during our wedding.  But then this evening the Crazy Love book also referenced that chapter.  And Francis offered the same challenge that I've seen elsewhere ... replace Love with your name.  So the following represents how much farther I want to go.  I want these statements to be true as often as possible.

Daniel is patient, Daniel is kind. Daniel does not envy, Daniel does not boast, Daniel is not proud. Daniel is not rude, Daniel is not self-seeking, Daniel is not easily angered, Daniel keeps no record of wrongs. Daniel does not delight in evil but Daniel rejoices with the truth. Daniel always protects, Daniel always trusts, Daniel always hopes, Daniel always perseveres. Daniel never fails.

Now the author is quick to mention (and I'll say thankfully) that scripture is clear - God's grace is awesome and leaves room for my failures.  Yet I can not see the above faults in my life and then not do something about them.  I am more patient than I used to be.  I am more kind than I used to be.  But I could be more patient.  I could be more kind.  I certainly envy a lot of things (especially tech toys).  I am self-seeking (maybe more often than not).  I can be easily angered (even if I don't erupt in curse words).  The list could go on.  I have a lot more room to grow.

And I find myself continually comparing myself to others around me - especially at work (which is my largest source of human interaction outside of the church).  But what God is teaching me is that I need to compare myself to Him instead.  If I'm not giving it "my all" then its like I'm just giving Him my leftovers.  But that can change!  I don't want to fear talking to a stranger who looks alone.  I don't want to be afraid to speak my opinions and beliefs at work because of what others might think or say.  I don't want to be lazy or afraid on a Saturday when I could go serve others at Open Door.  I want to be growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ and then unashamedly  spreading His love to others.  I want to be ALL IN!

Well, I've got a cough and sore throat right now.  And I'm afraid if I continue rambling I won't get to sleep soon enough.  So I'll just submit my first attempt at blogging in awhile and let it be.  Maybe tomorrow I'll write about Sunday's sermon and my Spiritual Gifts.

Dec. 23rd, 2009

Snarf
Shady Maple.  Wish you were here!
http://ping.fm/p/TJES1 - Shady Maple. Wish you were here!

Dec. 16th, 2009

Snarf
1/2 batch of Good Eats sugar cookies.  Had to bake some tonight.  Dough is ready for a bunch more this weekend.  The few with colored sugar
http://ping.fm/p/wqu5W - 1/2 batch of Good Eats sugar cookies. Had to bake some tonight. Dough is ready for a bunch more this weekend. The few with colored sugar was a test - I like 'em, so the rest will be red and green too.

Dec. 14th, 2009

Snarf
Contemplating reinstalling 2yr-old Vista desktop over vacation. Maybe even dual booting Fedora with Vista and/or running a Vista VM. Thoughs?

Dec. 12th, 2009

Snarf
Christmas shopping with Janet at KOP since 8am and enjoyed Five Guys for lunch.