Thoughts On A Song Of Ice & Fire

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It’s a terrible and long series of books. Don’t start reading it. This is what the new HBO show Game of Thrones is based upon. The author is still writing, and unfortunately I’ve read too much to stop.

Basically the book is full of horrible people. They do horrible things to each other. Occasionally Murphy’s Law comes into play, and the world does terrible things to some of the few nice people.

Even for those of you watching the series on HBO, you should take the hint from the end of the 1st season when they behead Eddard Stark (SPOILER and I don’t care). It only gets worse.

As my father said about the series, "It better end with Jon and his direwolf riding a dragon and a lot of blond people dead."

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My Food Philosophy

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-Taken at a local KFC

Why I Selected The Nook Tablet Over The Kindle Fire

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I will tell you honestly, I really wanted the Kindle Fire to win this fight. It’s backed by a stronger company, offering more media services. Any time I search for a book, Amazon’s typically the first link that pops up and well over half of them have Kindle versions available.

But my reasoning boiled down to a few sharp differences between the two. First, and potentially the most important, is the presence of a Netflix app. Yes, it is likely that the Fire will be getting one in the coming months. But it’s instant streaming video. INSTANT. Who has time to wait months? I did some setup work on a Nook Tablet someone else is getting for Xmas, and within a minute of connecting to the Internet, I was streaming the first episode of Sherlock to the beautiful color screen. Now with a stand to prop the thing up, it becomes a little television that can show me hours of old Warehouse 13 or How It’s Made episodes.

Another contrast is the option to expand memory. Now Nook has taken a lot of heat in this area, but it still comes out on top in my opinion. The Kindle Fire has 8GB of memory, 5-6 of which are available for whatever you want to put on it. Apps, books, pictures, etc. all go on that 5-6GB. It also has a cloud storage service, so the only Amazon content you need on the device is the thing you’re currently watching or reading.

But on the Nook – with its 16GB hard drive – they currently have it formatted so that only 1GB is available for apps, books, pictures, and other stuff. The reason they’re doing that is because their online cloud storage isn’t as robust, or they just don’t want to deal with the headache. Instead, they have given the other 13GB (2 for OS, 1 for free use) to house Barnes & Noble specific content.

Now that may all sound like a major slam, but as I said in my previous post on this, the Nook offers expandable memory. That means with the purchase of one tiny memory card, I will have 33GB of space to use as I please. Which I will appreciate a lot, because a number of the books and apps I want may not come from the B&N digital store. Through various sources, I’ve collected a couple interesting books that I want to read, and they’re all waiting on my computer to be loaded on my Nook when I get it.

The last consideration was file formats. My wife mentioned that I made it look like the Nook Tablet supported a ton more file types. The thing was, I copied that information from Amazon and B&N’s sites, respectively. So the truth of the matter is that the Nook actually DOES support a ton more formats. And since the Nook seems to have come without any custom software to convert files to acceptable types, it makes my job of finding or converting to the right stuff a lot easier.

One super benefit to getting either the Kindle or the Nook: technology is actually making me want to read more. I already enjoyed reading, but most technology only takes me away from new books. Wii and computer games are awesome, but I have felt them pulling me away from time enjoying a good fantasy novel. Plus other people around me will sometimes listen to a story I read in a book. Telling them about Team Fortress 2 gets boring fast if they don’t play the game. “I blew up the guy standing in front of me, then the guy behind him shot me and I died.” That’s cool, but not as interesting as Sherlock Holmes gathering pieces of evidence through his extreme observational skills and deductive reasoning.

Now that I am super interested in reading more, I’ve found a ton of books that I’d like to pick up for the cheaper digital price and enjoy. Here’s a list of some of them.

The Measure of Magic by Terry Brooks
It came out in August and I still haven’t gotten it from the library or picked it up myself.

G. K. Chesterton: A Biography, by Ian Ker
As I said, super interesting dude that probably led a super interesting life.

God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusadesby Rodney Stark

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, by Craig S. Keener

What is the Mission of the Church: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission, by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

The Fire by James Patterson

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Nerdfighteria FTW!

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Saw the crappy movie based on it. Might as well read the book.

The Art Museumby Phaidon Press

Good Eats: The early years
Good Eats: The middle years
Good Eats 3: the later years
I’m Just Here For The Food

Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh
Blame Doctor Who for my sudden interest in this author’s life

City of Bonesby Cassandra Clare

The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

How To Defend Earth Against Asteroids

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How To Wrap Gifts In Fabric / Use Wrapping Cloth

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There is something oddly satisfying about neatly wrapping gift boxes in paper. My inner neat freak feels many of you nodding in agreement. However, the joy of gift-wrapping can quickly deflate when the patterns of wrapping paper do not line up, your gift is too oddly shaped to be wrapped normally, the paper roll got accidentally smashed in your closet and now has wrinkles all over it, or you tried to use that too-small remnant of wrapping paper and it rips.

Enter the wrapping cloth! Wrapping cloth, which Koreans call Bo-ja-gi, is a versatile item that can be used to wrap just about anything – including Christmas gifts!

There are several advantages to using wrapping cloth:

  • It results in less trash. Yay neatness! No need for tissue-paper stuffing or sticky tapes! All you need is a length of fabric and some elastic bands, and both of those are reusable.
  • It is versatile and quick. Fabric can wrap around odd shapes and soft items, and does so in a matter of seconds without finicky measuring.
  • It will have a second (or third) life, always. Wrapping cloth can always be reused for gift-wrapping, but it also makes a fantastic cape, a bindle, a tent, or a tablecloth for a very small table. I speak from experience.

Now, I will show you some easy ways to use the wrapping cloth. To use wrapping cloth, you will need:

  • Fabric (any kind will do, as long as it is big enough. When in doubt, bigger is usually better.)
  • Candle and matchstick (optional)
  • Iron (optional)
  • Elastic bands (optional)
  • A pinch of creativity

Before you proceed, you will need to prepare your fabric. About 1 yard x 1 yard is a good size for a wrapping cloth, but smaller sizes and rectangular shapes can work, too. You can iron and hem your wrapping cloth if you so desire. If it is made of synthetic material that melts, you can quickly and easily hem it by briefly running the edge of the fabric over a candle flame. The fuzzy ends will melt and seal the edges.

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Method # 1: The Basic

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This method works with any shape of wrapping cloth.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth flat on a surface, and put your gift item in the middle of it.
  2. Grab two opposite corners of the wrapping cloth and tie them together in the middle.
  3. Grab the other two opposite corners and tie them together.
  4. Done!

Simple, isn’t it? You can just leave it as it is, or try one of the following variations:

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Left: Tuck the ends under the knot.

Middle: Braid the ends together.

Right: Twist each end of the wrapping cloth until it curls on itself.

 

Method #2: The Butterfly

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This works well when your wrapping cloth is square and the gift is oblong, like the box of spaghetti noodles shown here.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth and your gift item in the middle of it. Notice the length between the side of the item and the corner of the wrapping cloth. On two sides, it is long, and on the other sides, it is short.
  2. Grab the long ends first and tie it into a knot. If the difference between the long and short ends is great, you will need to tie the knot twice.
  3. Grab the short ends and tie it into a knot.
  4. Now you have “The Basic” form. Notice that there’s a pair of long ends and a pair of short ends.
  5. Grab the long ends and tie a knot again over the short knot.
  6. Twist and fan out the ends into the form of a butterfly.

 

Method #3: The Basic With Pocket

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This can work with square or oblong wrapping cloth.

  1. Lay out the wrapping cloth and your gift item in the middle of it.
  2. Take one corner completely over the gift. Take the opposite corner and fold it halfway up.
  3. Fold it up again, this time over the gift. This makes the “pocket.”
  4. Take the remaining 2 corners and grasp them firmly in your hands. (For the neatest results, grab it as close to the gift as possible.)
  5. Tie a knot.
  6. Tie a knot again.
  7. Take each end and tuck it under the knot. Insert a card or a note into the pocket.

 

Method # 4: Flower

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This works well with a square wrapping cloth and a square (or close to square) gift. You will need an elastic band for this.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth with the gift in the middle of it.
  2. Gather the four corners together and hold them pinched in one hand, over the gift.
  3. With your other hand, tuck in the excess fabric (think of making a pyramid).
  4. Grasp the fabric into one hand and tie an elastic band around it. Push the elastic band down as close to the gift as possible.
  5. Fan out the ends so they look even.
  6. Take each end and poke it into the middle.
  7. You now have a pretty flower on top of your gift!

 

Method # 5: Candy roll

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This works great with oblong wrapping cloth, but it works as long as your wrapping cloth is long enough to go around your gift at least 1.5 times. You will need two elastic bands.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth. Put your gift on the middle of one of the edges.
  2. Roll it up.
  3. Tie an elastic band at each end of the gift, and you are done.

You can also try some variations with the Candy Roll:

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Left: Use a smaller wrapping cloth or a bigger box so that your “Candy Roll” has short little stumps at the end. I tried doubling up the same wrapping cloth from above, and used a cube-like box.

Middle: Fluff up the end to make it look like a flower. This looks good when you use a long wrapping cloth that can wrap around the gift multiple times.

Right: Roll up the end as you would a pair of socks. This works only if you have plenty of excess fabric.

 

Method # 6: Twist and Twist

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  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth, and put your gift on the middle along one of the edges, as for Candy Roll.
  2. Roll it up.
  3. Grasp the excess wrapping cloth. (For the neatest results, grab it as close to the gift as possible).
  4. Twist it once across the top of the gift.
  5. Twist again.
  6. Tuck the ends under.
  7. Done! No knots here. Note or card is optional.

Now, doesn’t that look easy and fun? What’s more, there are no hard and fast rules about using the wrapping cloth. Please feel free to take my guide as a mere suggestion, and experiment with the wrapping cloth on your own. Merry Christmas to y’all!

Best Baby Bib EVER

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G.K. Chesterton Rules

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Stumbling through the Internet one night, I came across a list of the 10 best Christian books of 2011. One of those was a biography of G.K. Chesterton. Now the name rang a bell and I couldn’t remember why. So I looked the fellow up. Boy was he busy! Per Wikipedia:
“His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction.”
That’s the kind of list that you just stand back at and say ‘wow’. It makes me want to read his biography more. You can only assume that he spent most of his adult life writing, or experiencing something new so that he might write about it.
Of course then I looked up famous quotes of his, and found a couple that I’ve heard pastors use. If you’re looking for an amusing and insightful read, try going through even a page of his quotes here. Here are some of my favorites.
“Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.”
“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”
“It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.”
“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,”
“How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.”
“One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.”
“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

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