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Camping Tips


picture of a tent

This past weekend my son Mark and I went camping with my best friend Phil and his three sons - an event that has been happily repeated through many years. Now that our sons are all in their twenties, we don't know how many more of these we'll be able to do with all six of us there. It was a fabulous weekend - so enjoyable and relaxing! We enjoyed having Sliding Rock almost to ourselves. (Who else was crazy enough to plunge into 55 degree water?) The fall colors up in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina were not quite at their peak, but they were further along than they are here in Greenville. I had taken my digital camera along to capture some Kodak moments, but we were so busy enjoying ourselves all weekend that I forgot to pull the camera out. Some blogger I am, huh?!

We've done this so much that we have most of the details down pat. However because my 35-year-old Coleman stove, which I had been able to light just fine in our driveway last week, decided that it would not light Saturday morning. We had to take a quick trip to the store to get a replacement for my stove and for Phil's air mattress that lost its air Friday night. (Mine didn't lose its air until Saturday night.) There were a couple of other items we wished we had brought along, but none that we felt like we had to buy to get through the weekend.

Below are some camping tips for you. I'll start off with a story.

Setting Up Camp

The loaded mini-van pulled into the only remaining campsite. Four children leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up the tent. The boys rushed to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

A nearby camper marveled to the youngsters' father, "That, sir, is some display of teamwork."

The father replied, "I have a system - no one is allowed to go to the bathroom until the campsite is set up."

Camping Tips

Get even with a bear who raids your food bag by kicking his favorite stump apart and eating all the ants.

Old socks can be made into high fiber beef jerky by smoking them over an open fire.

When smoking a fish, never inhale.

A hot rock placed in your sleeping bag will keep your feet warm. A hot enchilada works almost as well, but the cheese sticks between your toes.

The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.

Acupuncture was invented by a camper who found a porcupine in his sleeping bag.

While the Swiss Army Knife has been popular for years, the Swiss Navy Knife has remained largely unheard of. Its single blade functions as a tiny canoe paddle.

Effective January 1, 1997, you will actually have to enlist in the Swiss Army to get a Swiss Army Knife.

Lint from your navel makes a handy fire starter. Warning: Remove lint from navel before applying the match.

When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.

You'll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass.

You can duplicate the warmth of a down-filled bedroll by climbing into a plastic garbage bag with several geese.

When camping, always wear a long-sleeved shirt. It gives you something to wipe your nose on.

You can compress the diameter of your rolled up sleeping bag by running over it with your car.

A two-man pup tent does not have enough room for two men and does not include a pup.

A potato baked in the coals for one hour makes an excellent side dish. A potato baked in the coals for three hours makes an excellent hockey puck.

You can start a fire without matches by eating Mexican food, then breathing on a pile of dry sticks.

In emergency situations, you can survive in the wilderness by shooting small game with a slingshot made from the elastic waistband of your underwear.

The guitar of the noisy teenager at the next campsite makes excellent kindling.

Check the washing instructions before purchasing any apparel to be worn camping. Buy only those that read "Beat on a rock in stream."

The sight of a bald eagle has thrilled campers for generations. The sight of a bald man, however, does absolutely nothing for the eagle.

It's entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motor home.

In an emergency, a drawstring from a parka hood can be used to strangle a snoring tent mate.

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Those camping tips, of course, were in jest. I hope my readers who enjoy camping will post some of their real favorite camping tips. Do you have any great tips to share?

quotation...

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." - Julia Child

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

A great deal of hostility can be released when camping in the fall by using campaign literature of politicians for toilet paper. (I'm ivman, and I so approve this message!)

Networking


picture of social networking

I received a cartoon from a reader that got me thinking about the current sensation known as social networking. Although it's primarily a rage among the younger generation, many older folks are into it as well. Some readers might remember my telling earlier this year about a long-time family friend (and ivman reader, I might add), a widower in his eighties who met a widow in her eighties using eHarmony. They are now happily married.

Anyway, below is the cartoon I received:

cartoon about Facebook

Facebook is a intriguing concept and being "friends" on Facebook is an interesting phenomenon. People are able to get back in touch with people that they have known but with whom they've lost contact. It's been great fun to find an old acquaintance on Facebook or to hear from someone out of the clear blue and get caught up on their lives. Once in a while, though, when someone asks me to become friends on Facebook, I really have to think hard to come up with how we know each other. If I can't think of it, I just confirm, rather than hurt someone's feelings. As of this writing, my "friend" count is 632! One colleague (and ivman reader) is 41 friends shy of 2,000! It was fun last week to have over 80 friends "write on my wall" to wish me happy birthday in at least 4 languages, some even offering condolences! Most of those people, however, would never have known or remembered it was my birthday, had it not been for Facebook. There are all kinds of other forms of social networking out there, some better than others, and some far worse than others.

One form of social networking that I have not explored and am not sure I would even want to is Twitter. This fall I attended a workshop during Faculty In-Service called "To Twitter or Not to Twitter." The presenter of the workshop has a business where he requires all his employees to Twitter. I cannot imagine that there would be that many people who would be interested in wanting to get frequent updates on my every movement and thought. Do any of you Twitter? If so, what do you like about it?

I saw a cartoon a while back that kind of sums up what I've seen happen on several blogs I used to visit....

cartoon about Twitter

I don't want that to happen to my blog!

Living in an age of technology and almost instantaneous communication, we might be surprised to learn how advanced some older societies actually were....

Ancient Social Networks

After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, English scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the English newspapers read, "English archaeologists have found traces of 200-year-old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the Scots."

One week later, "The Kerrymen," a southwest Irish newsletter, reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat bog near Tralee, Paddy O'Droll, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Paddy has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Ireland had already gone wireless."

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One of the fun things about Facebook is viewing and accessing pictures posted by your friends. Our daughter Megan recently posted some pictures of our grandson Drew who enjoys pointing to his facial features to show he knows the words. I've put them together in a collage....

collage of pictures of Drew

We're looking forward to some wonderfully real social networking later this month when we rendez-vous for a weekend in Cincinnati with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. I'll tell you all about it in a future blog post. :-)

I cannot begin to list all various social media, but here are a few - online social networks (like Facebook), blogging, e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, Twitter, etc. In many ways social networking strikes me as paradoxical - it focuses on relationships and community, but it also seems to encourage our human bent towards narcissism. The whole concept brings many questions to my mind. What are your thoughts about some of the various forms of social networking? Do you participate in it? Does it strengthen or weaken relationships? Does it deepen or cheapen friendship? How many close friendships is it possible to maintain at once? Are there dangers in today's social networking? I look forward to some good discussions in the comments to this post.

quotation...

"Our hearts are idol factories." - John Calvin

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Your secrets are safe with me and all my friends.

Putting It All Together


Lego logo

Many children and maybe even more grown-up children enjoy playing with Lego. Lego is a contraction of two Danish words - leg and godt or "play well." Later, someone realized that in Latin lego means "I put together," which seems to be as appropriate as the Danish name.

Recently I was reading an interesting article about Denmark (the homeland of Lego) and was reminded of some interesting Lego lore I had come across - a Lego OSU stadium, a Lego church, a Lego tower, and a Lego artist.

Lego stadium

A scale model of the Ohio State Stadium took 2+ years of work (July 2002-October 2004 - over 2000 man hours). It is a 1:275 (approximate) scale, built entirely with Legos, and weighs around 38 pounds, not including the plywood base. Jim Stricker, the person who built it, had certain "rules" to help guide the project: no modifying of pieces, no glue, and no paint. This model is held together entirely by the interlocking features of the Lego bricks and gravity. Because of problems of space and expense, Stricker had to make certain compromises - notice the absence of yard lines, for example. One challenge was obtaining a horseshoe shape with square Lego pieces. Up close, the appearance seems rough, but everything blends together well when viewed at a distance. The builder lives over 200 miles from the stadium (in Michigan, of all places!) and had to rely on pictures and very infrequent visits to the real stadium.

picture of Lego stadium

picture of Lego stadium

Lego Church

I received an e-mail a while back with amazing pictures of the Lego church. It features a balcony, a Narthex, stairs to the balcony, restrooms, coat rooms, several mosaics, a nave, a baptistry, an altar, a pulpit, and an elaborate pipe organ. You can visit the site of the woman who built it by clicking here

Here are a few pictures of the Lego church:

picture of Lego church

picture of Lego church

picture of Lego church

picture of Lego church

Lego tower

At Legoland in Windsor the Lego brick tower stands nearly 100 feet tall and is shaped to resemble a Viking longboat mast. This tower, composed of nearly 500,000 bricks, was put up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lego bricks in May of this year.

Click here to read an article about the Lego tower. Here are a couple of pictures of the tower.

picture of Lego tower

picture of Lego tower

Lego artist

One of my former students has a hobby/sideline of making portraits with Legos.

Here's a picture of his son Christopher with his portrait.

picture of Lego portrait

You should check out his website - http://www.duckingham.com

If you're interested in learning about the history of Lego, you can click here or for a more detailed history, click here

Did you grow up with Legos and love playing with them? Do you enjoy playing with Legos as an adult? What did/do you like best about Legos?

quotation...

"Prayer and pride are enemies." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.

What’s a Billion?


picture comparing numbers
It's hard enough for me to get my mind around one million, but to try to understand the concepts of a billion or a trillion is beyond my finite mind. (You math teachers out there, please be patient with me and thank the Lord that He wanted me to be a French professor instead!)

A million is a hard concept to grasp. Did you know that a stack of a million one dollar bills is about 358 feet tall?! I read somewhere that for a person to count out loud from 1 to 1,000,000 it would take 23 days, counting day and night, without breakfast, lunch or dinner, without sleep, television, a phone call or a bathroom break!

Here are several more concrete comparisons of a million, a billion, and a trillion:

A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

A million minutes ago was 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago
A billion minutes ago it was the year 107 AD.
A trillion minutes ago was over 1,900,000 years ago!

[added the evening of October 2 - for a really clear comparison of a million and a billion, take a look at Andrew's comment to this post]

Between World War I and World War II, Germans had to deal with astronomic numbers daily because inflation was so high and their currency was so devalued. It cost 200 billion Marks to buy one loaf of bread! Imagine having to deal with numbers like that! You can read a very good article about it by clicking here. Here's a picture of a German one billion Mark bill from 1923:

Whatever you want to say

Evolutionists throw the words million and billion around pretty freely. Here's a story I love that highlights that:

Tourists in the Chicago Museum of Natural History were amazed at the dinosaur bones. One of them asked the guard, "Can you tell me how old the dinosaur bones are?"

The guard replied, "They are three million four years and six months old."

"That's an awfully exact number," said the tourist. "How do you know their age so precisely?"

The guard answered, "Well, I was told that the dinosaur bones were three million years old when I started working here, and that was four and a half years ago."

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Lately politicians are throwing the word billion around like it's chump change. The following article is from the website of one of our local TV stations WYFF 4:

If the $700 billion price tag attached to the bailout plan that failed sounds like a lot, well, it is.

You can spend $700 billion in a lot of different ways. For instance, you could buy a war — the U.S. has spent $648 billion on the war in Iraq so far.

That much money could ensure universal health care coverage for six years or upgrade the country's most deficient bridges four times over. Or you could build 1,750 bridges to nowhere. Surely all of those would eventually take you somewhere.

With $700 billion you could easily run Denmark, which had a paltry gross domestic product of $312 billion last year.

That much money could also pay back every single outstanding student loan, fund the national intelligence budget beyond 2020, or help the Gulf Coast recover from five Hurricane Katrinas.

The next time you hear a politician use the word billion in a glib, casual manner, you might want to think about how wisely politicians are spending your tax money. I guess if you can be glib about a billion, what's a measly $700 billion bailout?! It's just 700 of those billion-thingies....

Several people have expressed their thoughts about the bailout in their comments to my post the blame game. I'd be interested in reading what my readers think about the prospect of our government bailing out these failing businesses.

quotation...

"The certainty that Messiah reigns produces calm in the face of current affairs, patience with the events of one's own life, satisfaction with the Lord's management of all things, expectancy that a glorious future is coming, and confidence in the One who sits upon the throne." - Walter Chantry

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

"The god of the 'American Dream' doesn't seem to be coming through right now." - Dr. Drew Conley

New Survivor Series


a cartoon about reality TV
Are you a fan of "reality TV" and so-called reality shows? I have viewed very little of them because many of them don't seem to be reality in my way of thinking. Take Fear Factor, for example. I could never figure out how getting people to do something they would never consider doing on their own - like eating horrific bugs or suspending themselves over a deep precipice - is "reality." Maybe some of my readers coud enlighten me on what I seem to be missing here.

Recently I received an e-mail with a great idea for a new Survivor series that I thought had some possibilities. See what you think.

new Survivor series

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money. In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time--no emailing.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment, and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside, and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will have access to television only when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn themselves with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed. He must also work out daily and ensure that his body looks like it did when he was twenty.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name. Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.

They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to, "You're not the boss of me".

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man left on the island wins, and he gets to play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years, eventually earning the right to be called Mom!

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quotation...

"The fact is that we pray about what we care about most. If your prayer isn't God-focused it's because your life isn't God-focused." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Just remember, no matter where you go, there you are.