Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2nd Annual Parry-Furlo Camping Trip

For the second time in recorded history the Parry and Furlo clans headed over to the Oregon coast for a good ol' fashion camp out (here's the first). This year we went to Beverly Beach State Park which is really close to the ocean. The weather was perfect - light jacket at the campsite and enough wind at the beach to fly a kite.

We arrived Friday night and enjoyed burgers with s'mores for dessert. On Saturday we headed out to the beach. We built sand castles and flew kites. At one point in time we had three kites in the air at the same time. We also played a few board/card games that were a lot of fun. One particularly goofy one is called Fluxx where the rules of the game are constantly changing.

Overall, it was a blast. We had a lot of fun and are looking forward to next years trip. If we're really on top of it, we'll be able to nap a yurt.

Sand Castles
Perfect Marshmallows
Beverly Beach Bridge

Pretty flowers
Enjoying the Camp fire

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yard Re-Grading Project

Jessi and I kicked off our next big project last week. We are going to complete re-grade both our front and back yards. We talked about it back in May, and the time has come to go for it. We've done all the research, figured out all the expenses, and lined up all our tools. The timing has never been great because we've been pretty busy this summer, but Jessi has half a month free, and that's the best opportunity we're going to get.

Cutting the lawn super short
Why are we doing this? Currently the slope of both yards run towards the house. This means that when it rains water goes under the house, instead of away from it. This is not good. The goal of this project is to change the slope of both yards so water runs away from the house. It's not really a cosmetic fix, but a need to keep the property it the best condition possible.

Here's the plan:

  1. Cut the grass as low as it will go. We've been neglecting it all summer and it's responded exactly as planned. This should only take 2 hours.
  2. Rototill the yards. This is actually a two step process, and will take the longest. A friend from church is letting us borrow his rototiller.
    1. We'll do a top level first pass only going down a couple inches. That will break up the crusty dirt on top. This will probably take around 8 hours.
    2. We'll do another deep pass going down somewhere between 5-8 inches. This will take longer, possibly 24-30 hours of work.
  3. Level the land. We're going to be able to rent a tractor from a near by rental and use that to do the heavy lifting of moving the dirt. The goal, again, is to change the slope of both yards. Hopefully this only takes a full Saturday. I have very limited experience and will have to ask my dad for tips to making it go faster.
  4. If needed (I can't tell until we get there), we might need to add a couple truck loads of dirt to build up the side near the house. I'm not sure how long this will take. It'll probably take 4 hours worth of spreading per truckload.
  5. Spread new grass seed and water. A couple hours for spreading and intermittent watering. Hopefully it'll be strong enough by the time fall gets here.
With Jessi's help this project shouldn't be too much of a bear. My plan is to work hard for HP in the morning so I can get out between 3-4pm and get a couple good hours of work in. Looking at my calendar, September 11th is my first free weekend so the tractor work might have to wait until then.

Monday, August 16, 2010

iPhone Bible App

One of my favorite iPhone apps is simply named Bible and is created by YouVersion.com. It is exactly what you would imagine - a Bible. I really like it because of a few other features also included.

Like any good digital Bible, it comes with an astounding number of translations. A few of them are even downloadable so you can read anywhere. Unfortunately, the NIV, my preference, isn't available to download, but steaming (can I use that word for text?) happens fast enough that it isn't an issue.

Another feature all good digital Bibles should have is the ability to search. I remember I being in a Bible study going through Revelations and we were trying to remember where a certain passage was located. Everyone started flipping their pages and I tapped on the search tab. Seconds later I found the exact verse we were looking for. This is indeed a very nice feature.

Reading Plans
I saved the best for last. Our church is currently going through the Life Journal reading plan. It's a year-long plan that goes all the way through the Old Testament and through the New Testament twice. The Bible app offers this reading plan plus loads of others. I even had the choice to set my own speed, like say, take two years instead of one. It's been great to wake up in the morning and tap straight to today's reading plan (ha! pun intended!).

So, that's the Bible app. It's pretty straight forward, and has a few nice features. I wish it had some additional options, like linking to a Concordia or explanations of verses like a study Bible. Still, it's very useful and easy to use.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spending On Experiences

I've written before our finances and how to manage it. This talks more about the spending side. Jessi and I recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary which started up the discussions of what to get each other. This ultimately lead to a broader discussion about buying gifts.

You see, we find ourselves wanting to get each other something nice, yet don't want to accumulate any more items. I also still have the crazy goal of owning less items the next time we move. The solution we landed upon was buying experiences, instead of stuff, for each other.

For example, Jessi has never had a professional massage. I could get her a certificate to a local place and let her experience it. Or a manicure, pedicure, or some other rejuvenating experience. Going to a concert or taking a small trip are also great options. The point is to create memories and store those instead of simply buying "stuff" and storing those.

I recently read an article in the New York Times called "But Will It Make You Happy?" that has emboldened me even more. The article basically says that spending money on experiences makes you happier.

"New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses."

Very interesting. The reason is because the satisfaction lasts longer.

"One major finding is that spending money for an experience - concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco - produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff."

In psychology this is called Hedonic Adaptation which means as your situation changes so do your expectation resulting it making it harder and harder for you to be happy. I think it's very similar to the boiling a frog in water metaphor. What this means is that when you buy something, it sits next to you and you eventually become used to it - it's no longer special. However, an experience is here and gone, never giving you a chance to adapt to it, and therefore it remains special much longer.

Timothy Ferriss wrote in his book "The 4-Hour Work Week" about finding happiness (He also talks about taking a media fast which I did, and wrote about). He actual claims that our goal should not be finding happiness, but instead seeking excitement. To me, this falls right in line with buying experiences instead of stuff.

My last observation was of ourselves. We ultimately bought each other "stuff", but we also had an experience. We ate cake and drank champaign while watching our wedding video. When the toasts came up, we toasted with the video. When glasses clinked, we kissed each other. I can hear the romantic "ahh" right now... It was a lot of fun, and that's the story I keep sharing with friends, because in all honestly was the best gift for our anniversary.

So, from now on Jessi and I are going to purposely focus on giving each other experiences instead of just buying material items. It should lead to less clutter, more excitement, and more happiness.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Crazy July

July was crazy! I don't know what happened. Starting the summer it didn't seem like we would be that busy, but somehow we kept adding things. While talking with Jessi we determined that we didn't work hard this month, but instead played hard.

What We've Been Up To

I already share about our trip to Little Crater Lake and my epic trip to Germany. We also attended the All-Church-Camp-Out at South Beach near Newport, Oregon. It was fun getting to hang out with people from church. Then another weekend my best friend and his fiancĂ© came to Oregon for a wedding and we got to hang out. We again went to Newport and enjoyed the coast. Here's a video of us checking out the ocean.

Jessi and I also taught classes for a summer school program in Corvallis. Jessi taught art and drama. I taught computer classes. Teaching little kids is pretty fun. I showed them how to use PowerPoint (they really like clip art!), Excel, Paint, and Google Earth. At this stage, they're more into graphics than numbers and it was fun showing them how each program allows them to make cool pictures (yes, even Excel).

As an exciting end to the month Jessi and I got to use a stump grinder to get rid of a stump in our yard. That was a fun toy! By the time I finished I was all sweaty and dusty. Here's a video of us setting up.

Something To Think About

I read an interesting article this month about "The 5 Second Rule". The part that I thought was so interesting about the article was that the amount of time food is on the ground it's that important, but instead where you drop your food. Contrary to what I thought, the kitchen is perhaps one of the most dangerous places to pick-up and eat food off the floor. This is because of raw food that could potentially be on the floor for earlier cooking activities. That food, as compared to outside germs, can cause much more serious illnesses. Also, food that falls on the bathroom floor should also have a "Zero Second Rule" because of potential hazardous germs.

Video Fun

One of my favorite video blogs is called "How It Should Have Ended". They take films and take a crack at fixing the ending. Often the result is something hilarious and awesome. Here's an older video, but I recently discovered it. This is how Terminator should have ended:

Monday, August 02, 2010

Apple Is A New Religion?

Every once in a while something comes along that really fires me up. The movie Serendipity is probably the worst of them all. Fifteen minutes into that film and I'm shouting at the TV. I can't stand the irrational decisions they make! Of course, I don't even like the Game of Life because it subtly encourages bad financial decisions. I know, sometimes I just need to relax...

Well, I recently read an article that managed to get me fired up again. This one came from Fox News and was talking about how Apple is like a religion. It was titled "For Apple Followers, It's a Matter of Faith, Academics Say". Specifically, they bring up four reasons that "Apple is the new religion... It's not a matter of rationality, it's a matter of faith." Each reason is, in my opinion, a half truth. On the surface it seems to make sense, but a half truth amounts to nothing more than a full lie. The part that really upsets me is not that he's attacking Apple, but that he's cheapening religion. OK. Let's dive in.

1) "Apple's creation story epitomizes the humble garage origin of its technology -- not unlike the humble manger of Jesus' birth."

That's a little bit of a stretch. What company didn't have humble beginnings? HP also started out in a garage. This is hardly something special. Furthermore, being born in a manger is not what makes Christ special. It's the fact that Christ is God: all powerful, who could have chosen to be born anywhere, yet chose to be born in a manger. I'm pretty sure Apple didn't have the choice to start in any venue they wanted.

2) "Apple CEO Steve Jobs is perceived as a messianic leader who was fired but rose again to save the company."

Really? OK. On the surface I see the similarities, just like Simon in Lord of the Flies. Still, the huge difference is the reason behind the "death". Jobs was let go because he wasn't doing a great job of running the company. When Christ died, he was innocent - he had done nothing wrong. Furthermore, even though Christ was blameless, he took everyone's wrong-doing (aka. sin) with him. So it isn't the act of just dieing and rising up that makes Christ who He is. It's what he did during that time and why he did it.

3) "Apple has traditionally had an evil archenemy, the Devil, as represented first by Microsoft and now by Google."

I don't like this comparison because Christianity isn't about fighting an enemy. Sure, there is the struggle against sin, but that's not the point. The point is to worship God. To focus on the enemy is a mere distraction. Besides, any person or organization that takes a stand will inherently create some "enemies" who disagree. 

4) "Its tablet computer can't play most of the videos on the Web ... its cell phone has trouble making voice calls ... and yet its products are wildly popular... It's not a matter of rationality, it's a matter of faith."

The implication here is huge (and gets to me the most). They're saying that people are buying Apple products irrationally, because they don't work... I guess. This is actually the driving force behind this article. According to the article, the implication is that this is the same way people have an irrational faith in Christ. First, their claim that Apple's products are not great is simply unfounded. Consumers are smart and if the products don't work, people will return them. In 1995 Apple was on its way to bankruptcy because their products weren't great. So people were able to figure it out then, and are even more savvy than ever before. Second, Faith in Christ is also not irrational. I won't go into it here, but instead point to two great articles that show, rationally, how real Christ is. The first is called Lord, Liar, Lunatic and the second is Evidence Of The Resurrection.

Well, I feel better. Apple is not a religion and faith is not irrational.