12/31/2009

Top Seven Movies of 2009...

I wasn't able to see every movie I planned on seeing before I made this list. The Lovely Bones was moved to January because it wasn't testing well with sample audiences and the studio wanted to retool its ad campaign. And, in the case of Nine, I just ran out of time. I might see it tomorrow. I might not. It probably wouldn't make the list anyway. (This is how I'm justifying it.)

I saw sixty seven movies this year. (Not counting repeated viewings.) What follows is my list of the movies I loved the most. It's completely subjective in its composition (as all end of year lists on the internet are). But it's completely awesome in its entirety (as all posts on my blog are).

And just in case you'd like to see the past two years' lists, click the links for 2008 and 2007. Anyway, on to why you came here...


7) The Soloist (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - Critically (and commercially), this movie didn't do so hot. But I loved it. Robert Downey Jr. provides another incredible performance as he proves that his career resurrection is completely deserved. It's the story of how a reporter befriends a homeless schizophrenic man who was a once prodigious musician. I felt a deep personal connection to this movie as some of its events mirrored some of the struggles I've had growing up with my little bro. But in the end, it provides such an incredibly beautiful picture of grace...

6) Avatar (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I really, really wanted to dislike this movie. Mainly because of how smug James Cameron was in his proclamations of how this would be the best movie to ever be made. Well, after seeing it in 3D, I have to say I gave in to the hype. It really is good. The story may be similar to Dances with Wolves or The Last Samurai, but the visuals are completely game changing. I guess that's what you get when you give a genius twelve years and three hundred million dollars. Call them were-smurfs all you want, but this movie is a must see...

5) Inglourious Basterds (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I've never been a fan of Tarantino's before. But this movie changed that. While having its share of language and violence, I thought it was one of the most fun movies I've seen in a long time. To see Christopher Waltz's performance in this movie is nothing short of witnessing an absolute oscar guarantee. In fact, there are several character's that I'd like to see get their own feature. This one was so good, I went back for a second viewing...


4) Coraline (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - This movie is absolutely magical. The combination or Henry Selick's stop-motion animation, Neil Gaiman's story, and some of the best voice casting around has produced one of the best fairy tales I've ever seen. And what's even better, is that it brings back the scares in kids' movies. This is another movie that I saw in 3D (and the last one my brother wanted to see in 3D, maybe due to the scares). It absolutely lit my imagination on fire and I can't wait to see what Selick does next...


3) Up In the Air (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I just saw this movie today. I went in with tempered expectations. After all, it had received critical praise but looked boring. But after about twenty minutes in, I was hooked. Such a beautiful, and honest, depiction of the importance of relationships. The movie takes its time showing that Clooney's character has built up walls to keep himself from being hurt. Then it slowly shows how his relationship with a new woman tears them down. The ending was absolutely surprising to me. And I loved it. It's not a typical "neat" story. But it's a great one...

2) Star Trek (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I had serious doubts about this movie when it was first announced. After all, it's not like Mission Impossible 3 was great. But after seeing the second trailer, I was fully on board. And after seeing it three times, I can say that I was right. EVerything about this movie was awesome. Abrams remained faithful to the spirit of the series while relaunching Star Trek for a whole new generation of fans. This was a case of someone going where others had gone before, and conquering it. A friend just got this on Blu-ray, and I can't wait to see it there...

1) Up (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - Simply put, this movie deserves to be on top. It could be Pixar's best. And that's saying a lot. The first ten minutes of it were better than almost everything else released this year. Not to mention among some of the saddest. Everything from the story, to the voicework, to the laughs, to the animation was absolutely great. Not only will this be nominated (and win) the Oscar for best animated feature, but it will be nominated for best picture as well. If you haven't seen this, make it your priority to see it asap...

Honorable Mention- District 9 (certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating), Fantastic Mr. Fox (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating)...

And for the second year running:


Worst Movie of the Year) Miss March (certified 1 Yarmulke™ rating) -
Wow. I mean... wow. There were other movies I considered giving this title to: BrĂ¼no, Jennifer's Body, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Year One, and Land of the Lost were all in the running. But this was the king of them all. There are four, count them, four scenes of explosive diarrhea shown in this movie. Shown. Lazy and easy gross-out humor abound in this absolutely terrible movie about a guy's attempt to win back his High School girlfriend after awaking from a coma. Whatever you do, don't see this. Avoid it at all costs. I'm actually mad that I wasted four dollars on it. I'll be surprised if The Whitest Kids You Know (the internet comedy troop who made the film) ever get another shot at making a follow up...

2009: A Year Surveyed...

Just in case you want to compare this to past years', you can click for 2008, 2007, and 2006...

1) What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Wrote about the lessons I've learned about ministry from the retail world, quit a TV show, ate chocolate covered bacon, invented a new phrase, went to Catalyst, provided tech support to a star, got a cd off of twitter, saw the death of a king, ate at a Columbia landmark, invented a new alphabet, had a reunion with friends, and grew my own Tony Stark Goatee...

2) Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Still no resolutions. I guess I've never really seen the point...

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My cousin Carolyn and my friend Tara...

4) Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year thankfully...

5) What countries did you visit?
No other countries for the 4th year in a row. I really hope that this answer changes next year. Anyone want to take me along on an international excursion...

6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A job in ministry again...

7) What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
As strange as it sounds, I guess there weren't really any giant life changing events this year. Awesome! Kind of...

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a job in the marketplace. Hooray for retail...

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh yeah. I got sick in January and November. Both times I almost died. Seriously...

10) What was the best thing you bought?
I was even shorter on cash this year than I was last. So... not so much with the spending of money...

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?
I'm pretty proud of how great some of my friends have handled the challenges of being parents this year...

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I don't think I've let anyone affect me that badly this year. Thank goodness...

13) Where did most of your money go?
Paying bills. Ugh. Tell me at some point in life this stops...

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got pretty excited about a couple of ministry job opportunities. None of them worked out. But, you know...

15) What song will always remind you of 2009?
Single Ladies. It seems like everyone had to do their own version...

16) Compared to this time last year, are you: Wiser? I definitely think I understand a little more about myself and my relationships. Hopefully, I'll use that wisdom in 2010 to be better... Healthier? Probably more than last year. But still not as much as years past... Richer? Oh gosh. So far from it...

17) What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I'd worked more. It'd be nice to have saved more money...

18) What do you wish you'd done less of?
I wish I'd spent less time wishing for things I didn't have and spent more time working with what I did...

19) How did you spend Christmas?
Back in Columbia with the fam enjoying good food, my cousin's engagement, and lots of people I love...

20) Did you fall in love in 2009?
Nope. I'm not even sure I allowed myself to entertain the idea this year...

21) What was your favorite blog post that you wrote?
I'm not sure anyone has ever written anything better than my 1000th blog post. Ever...

22) What were your favorite TV programs?
Bones, The Venture Brothers, Community, and True Blood...

23) What was the best book you read?
Umm... Well if I can't count rereading Harry Potter seven and eight, than I'm going to go with Stephen King's The Green Mile...

24) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I think the rediscovery of Michael Jackson's music brought about by his death was pretty cool...

25) What did you want and get?
I finally got a job to make a little money...

26) What did you want and not get?
I guess just a job in ministry...

27) What was your favorite film of this year?
Still thinking about this one. I should know in a few hours...

28) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ugh... I saw a movie, spent some time reading, and was pretty depressed at turning 29. All I kept saying to myself was that i had 364 more days until I turn 30...

29) Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?
Umm... Search my blog for Robert Downey Jr. I think the results will speak for themselves...

30) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
It's always going to be t-shirt, jeans, and rainbows. Why change things up now...

31) What kept you sane?
Eh... Sanity's overrated...

32) Who did you miss?
All of my friends in Orange County and San Diego... A lot...

33) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
My identity is not determined by what I do for a living. It is determined by my relationship to and with God. I do what I do because of that...

34) What did you gain this year?
Umm... Airline miles. If I had a frequent flier account...

35) What did you lose this year?
A little self esteem I guess. But it's coming back...

36) Who was the best new person you met?
I wish I could say that I met a lot of new people this year, but I didn't. So... I don't know...

37) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
And I feel so satisfied when
I can see you smile.
I want to confide in
All that is true, so I’ll
Keep on tryin’. I’m
Through with lyin’.
Just like the sun above
I’ll come shinin' trough.
Oh yes, I’ll
Keep on tryin’. I’m
Tired of cryin’.
I got to find a way
To get on home to you.


Here's to 2010...

12/30/2009

Weird Cell Phone Picture: #21 (Hover What?)...

For more Weird Cell Phone Pictures, click here...

While restocking the shelves a few nights ago, I found this little poor choice in fonts...

I'm sorry. Hover what? Maybe next time, you choose a font with a little bit more of a difference between your "O" and your "D". That, or you vastly change your product...

12/23/2009

Coming Soon to A Blog Near You (Hint: It'll Be This One)...

I've still got four more to see (Up In the Air, Sherlock Holmes, The Lovely Bones, and Nine). And I have no idea how, with my retail work schedule, I'm going to do it. But I'm determined. I'm even planning on writing a review for Sherlock Holmes.

I usually post the list in the last week of December (along with my year end survey). So look for them then...

You Give Your Hand to Me...

Yeesh. It's been a while. No, I'm not dead. I just have a retail job and it's Christmas time. In other words, I'm there. A lot.

I kind of wanted to write a post to remind people that I'm still here. But didn't actually want to write a post, as I just got home from work at 12:45am and I'm wicked tired. So I just thought I'd share something with you that I love.

In 2005, I discovered the music of Ray Charles. Yes, it was because of the movie. Yes, I'd heard it before but had never paid much attention to it. But no, it isn't a bandwagon thing. I still love him. One of the first songs of his I heard has turned out to be one of my favorite songs of all time. I even used it as a title in a past post.

It's called "You Don't Know Me".

And tonight, as I restocked the shelves, I found myself singing it out loud. It's just so heartbreaking to hear the story of meeting someone, falling instantly in love with them, realizing they don't see you the same way, and then watching them walk off into the sunset with someone else. I mean, you can hear how he longs to be with his love...

And even though I love this song so much, there have definitely been some times since 2005 when I couldn't listen to it because it hurt too much. I was living it.

But for now, it's back to being one of my faves.

So here's a live performance I found on the youtube. I hope you love it as much as I do...

12/11/2009

I Can Do Cupcake All By Myself...

I was lucky enough to take my great-aunt out today for a little date!

So after hitting up a two dollar showing of Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, we drove downtown to grab some Starbucks. (The coffee. Not the first mate from Moby Dick. Or the chick from BSG.)

Next door to Starbucks is a brand new cupcake shop called... Cupcake. (You'll never guess what they sell there... is a joke I made about five times.) So we decided to give it a try!

Now, I should say, cupcake stores aren't anything new to my friends in southern California. But here in Columbia, it's still kind of a big deal.

Here's what we got...

Red velvet on the left. Key lime on the right.

Even though there was a lot more icing than I'm used to, I have to give two very enthusiastic (and icing covered) thumbs up! I'd heard a lot about this place from friends and I'm so glad I finally made it in for myself! I'll definitely be returning...

Whip It, Whip It Good...

I debated whether or not to write up a separate post for this or include it in some Power Rankings. But who am I kidding? It's Iron Man 2. It's Mickey Rourke. It's Tony... Stark's... Goatee.

It's also the twelfth post I've written about Iron man 2. Boo Yah.

Are you on twitter? Well, you should be. On top of all of the awesome things that you can get from following me, you can also get amazing up to the minute news on all kinds of things. Like, for example, this little gem I got from following Jon Favreau. He tweeted that the new Iron Man 2 poster featuring Mickey Rourke as Whiplash would be premiering soon. And...

Boom.


How cool does that look? Great design guys. You can see a High Res version on Apple's IM2 page.

Do we have confirmation that Mickey Rourke actually knows that he's in this movie? Cause... building laser whips and attacking Robert Downey Jr. seems like something he might do just to impress one of his dogs.

What? One Iron Man 2 scoop isn't enough? Fine. How about another look at War Machine? Thanks to some toy catalog, we've got another look here. How's that? Satisfied? Good.

Gosh I can't wait for May 7, 2010 to get here. You can bet I'm going to grow another Tony Stark Goatee...

12/10/2009

Something New, Something Blue...

Waaaaaay back in June of '07 I bought a new phone. At the time of purchase, I was stoked at how shiny and awesome I thought it was. Well, turns out that phone stunk worse than a seventh grade boy on the fourth day of camp.

So here we are two years, and many malfunctions with that phone, later. I finally broke down and bought (read as: saved up enough money to buy) a new phone.

When I went to the store, I had every intention of purchasing a regular phone. But then I saw the HTC Droid Eris. Now, it should be said that I have coveted the iPhone since its release. So when I saw this phone, that is extremely comparable yet, on Verizon, I fell in love. But there were two drawbacks...

One, the phone runs the Droid OS from google. Meaning it doesn't sync with my Mac. Hey Verizon, how about you meet those of us who don't operate crappy PC's halfway? And two, it would mean an extra thirty dollars a month in data charges. So after driving home and thinking about it, I decided that I couldn't justify the extra charge. Boo. So I got the regular phone. (Pictured above.)

So, once again, I belong to Verizon for another two years. Anybody out there have the LG enV3? Anything I need to know? Any cool tricks? Here's hoping that the iPhone finally makes it to Verizon this coming year...

12/08/2009

iTunes Receipt: Part 13...

Wow. A whole year has gone by since I've posted any of the songs I've purchased on iTunes. Guess I've got some time to make up for.

So here's five of the last group of songs I purchased. Since I'm awesome, and I like these songs, you can bet that they're awesome too. (That's the transitive property SUCKA!) Click the links and give them a listen...

  • Keep on Trying by Poco

  • Nine In the Afternoon by Panic! at the Disco

  • I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man) by Kenny Loggins

  • Home Come, How Long by Babyface

  • Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
  • 12/07/2009

    A December to Remember (Question Mark)...

    I see a lot of movies. Most years, the count is above sixty. For those of you who are good at math (not me), that's more than one a week. (You know, because there are fifty two weeks in a year.) For the past month and some change, I've suffered through a barren desert (I wish it had been a dessert) of terrible "movies"; wastes of film that studios have put out in their evil attempt at getting our money without putting forth actual effort. (With the exception of The Blind Side and Fantastic Mr. Fox.) But thank the Lord December is here.

    Ahh December... That special season when studios release their oscar bait films (and I think there's some type of celebration of the birth of someone...) in their last desperate try to get a statue of some naked bald dude. You know what else is so great about December? It's when I make my list of Top 7 Movies of the Year. But because so many great movies are released this month, it's often a time when titles that were on the list all year get bumped at the last minute.

    So I thought I'd make a list of the movies that I'm looking forward this month (that could potentially knock others off my list). Here they are in no particular order...







    Anyone want to go to the movies...

    12/04/2009

    Fantastic Mr. Fox...

    My review of Fantastic Mr. Fox is up at youthministry.com! Click the link to check it out! Rate it and comment on it while you're there too...

    12/01/2009

    Iron Man 2: Post(er) #11...

    In case you're new around here (or have never googled "Tony Stark's Goatee", you might not know that I'm a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr. as the Armored Avenger. In fact, not only did I rank Iron Man number five on my list of The Top 7 Movies of 2008, but I even grew my own Tony Stark Goatee. Oh yeah, I'm that committed in my fandom.

    So you can imagine the level of excitement that I reached when @Jon_Favreau posted this new poster for Iron Man 2 (released on May 7, 2010) yesterday...

    That's right. It's the first look (outside of this past summer's Comic Con) of War Machine.

    OMLGG, I can't wait...

    Desperation...

    Lately I've been thinking a lot about my love for God. Wait... I think it's probably more like this: Lately, I've been thinking a lot about God's love for me, and how I respond to that love. While His love for me is perfect, my response is very far from that.

    I've written before about how being "in love" can motivate us to do things we'd never do out of self discipline or motivation. It compels us to act. We can't fight it. But as I've been thinking about my response to God, I've been reminded of a visual that I got a few years ago.

    When I was a little kid, one of my aunts got a swimming pool in her backyard. (I was so excited about this, I jumped in with all of my clothes on before the concrete walkway that goes around it was even finished.) During the summer, my brother, cousins and I would go swimming everyday. It was awesome!

    And one of my favorite things to do in the pool was to swim down to the bottom of the pool and see how long I could hold my breath. I can't exactly remember what my record was. But I'm sure it was both impressive and awesome.

    I can still remember floating on the surface, taking in a giant breath, and diving down farther than was possible for other, mere mortal, humans. (Hey, at the time I thought six feet was pretty deep. OK?) Once I made it to my intended depth, I would sit indian style at the bottom of the pool and count how many one thousands (seconds... duh) I could get to before having to swim back up.

    Of course, the inevitable reaction I would have is that of slight panic. The longer I stayed on the bottom, the more time seemed to slow down. I would begin to feel the pressure of the water all around me. My chest would start to involuntarily heave in and out as my body would instinctively try to breathe. Then, without knowing how or why, I would feel my legs straighten out, touch the bottom of the pool, and push off. As fast as I could, I would race desperately toward the surface. Finally, I would burst through and gulp in a giant breath of air. And that breath of air was always the best. It was as if that one breath brought me back to life.

    And that's how I want to respond to God's love for me.

    I want there to be desperation in my response. I want to want God like I wanted that breath. Desperately... Because I know that if I don't reach Him, I won't make it...

    11/21/2009

    Here I Go Again On My Own...

    Today's post is brought to you by Cool Cat. He's like the evil version of Cool Dog. Look into his eyes. You can sense he's plotting your demise...

    If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen me tweet this:

    Just talked with a church about a job! LOVED every minute of the conversation. SUPER excited!

    Well, I'm going to that church this weekend. I'll be hitting the road again Sunday morning, driving to Jacksonville, Florida to interview for a High School pastor position. (I'll be there Sunday through Tuesday.) I'm not sure quite how to describe how I'm feeling right now. It's like a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Exervousness? Nervitement?

    I don't usually ask for prayer here on the blog, but this time, I wanted to share with you what I'll be praying and ask you to pray the same for me.


  • Pray that I'll be able to be completely myself. I'm not sure I always make the best first impression. I can get a little intimidated when I meet people for the first time and this usually manifests itself as either shyness or making too many jokes. I want to be true to who I am. So I'm praying that God will calm my nerves and grant me peace enough to just be me... in all my awesomeness...

  • Pray for wisdom and discernment for me and for the church I'll be meeting with. Hiring a new pastor is a big decision for a church. And accepting a new position would be a big decision for me! Both involve adopting someone new into your family. It's very important that both I, and the church, are sensitive to how the Lord is leading us in this process...

  • Pray that connections will be made. I'll be meeting with four separate groups of people while I'm there: the student ministries staff, parents/ volunteers/ students, church staff outside of student ministries, and the senior church leadership. I'm sure that it's almost impossible that everyone out of all those people will like me, but that doesn't mean that I won't try! After all, if I get the job, these are the people that I'll want on my team! Pray that we'll be able to find common ground...

  • Pray that I'll be able to rest while I'm there. I don't really sleep well when I'm in new places. I also don't really sleep well while I'm on interviews. When I don't get sleep, my mind isn't sharp but my nerves/temper are. I most definitely don't want that! Pray that I'll be able to relax, rest, and...

  • Pray that I'll enjoy the process! As strange as it sounds, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Pray that this weekend (Well, I guess it's not technically a weekend. I'm there Sunday through Tuesday.) will be marked by laughter and joy, meaningful conversations, and fun! Can you have fun in an interview? I don't see why you can't try...


    I'm not sure if I'll have internet while I'm there, so this might be my last post until Tuesday night or Wednesday. Of course, considering my goal this month, that would mean I'll have to make up those posts.

    Thanks so much for praying for/with me.

    By the way, the pic of Cool Cat was an attempt at bribing you into praying for me. Did it work...
  • 11/19/2009

    How To Have a Great Day...

    This post brought to you by Cool Dog. He's cooler than you... And he's a dog.

    Today was my day off. Since starting my job in the retail world, I don't have a regular day off like I did in ministry. So I've come into a new appreciation of it as a recharge. And I would venture to say that today was nigh perfect. Why was it so perfect? Well I'm glad you asked. Here's a break down of how I had the perfect day off. Follow it closely, and you too can be as relaxed (but probably not as awesome) as me (or Cool Dog)...

    1) Sleep Late Alarms are for work days. Sleep later than you usually do. You've earned it.

    2) Eat Your Cereal In Your PJs Getting dressed right away is for work days and fleeing your house when it's on fire. It's OK to start slow on your day off. Go ahead and watch morning TV while you eat your Cocoa Pebbles in your PJs. You've earned it.

    3) Hang Out With People You Like Being around people that you don't choose to is for work days and family reunions. On your day off, you can hang out with whoever you want. So today, I got to spend time with one of my favorite humans, my brother.

    4) Eat Well Eating a sack lunch is for work days and third grade field trips to the state capital where stupid Kevin Hughes trips you while going up the stairs and makes you fall and everyone sees you and laughs. It's important that, on your day off, you eat some quality food. So today, I went to Five Guys and had a tremendous double cheeseburger and fries.

    5) Do What You Want To Do Doing what you don't want to is for work days and anniversary dinners with your sweetheart. Today I wanted to get through a significant piece of the book I'm reading (since I've got another one I want to start). I brought it with me to lunch and spent a good two and a half hours eating, reading, and drinking Diet Coke. Ahh...

    6) Attend A Rock Show Listening to soft Adult Contemporary music is for work days and orthodontic waiting rooms. Today my friend, the right reverend Micah Merchant, called me up this afternoon and offered a free ticket to the David Crowder* Band show tonight. So I went with him, worshipped, rocked out, laughed, and had a good time. I highly recommend going to a rock show every time you have a day off.

    7) Veg Out In Front of the TV Using your brain is for work days and trying to figure out how to open the child proof bottle of Advil. After getting home from the rock show, I cranked up the old DVR and started in on the shows I missed today. Oh... Tina Fey. It's great to see you again. What's that? You missed me. I know baby... I know.


    So dear reader, enjoy your days off. You need them to recharge your battery for work days...

    I'm Tapped...

    Ugh... Sorry reader. Late night at work = I can't write something right now. Guess I'll be tacking on two posts to the monthly goal...

    11/17/2009

    It's Gotta Be the Shoes...

    I mentioned in a previous post that I had started working at a large national retail chain store. For eight hours at a time (soon to be more due to Thanksgiving shopping) I walk the aisles helping customers, filling holes on shelves, straightening merchandise, and generally (and happily) doing as I'm told. There are tasks that my job involves that require me to put forth some amounts of thought. Like tracking down products in our store or other stores in the area. (I rather like this part. It's kind of like solving a mystery!) And there are parts of my job that allow me to enter into a kind of mental state of auto-pilot. My body does the work while my mind dwells on other things.

    It was during one such time this past week that I began to think of how working at this job had taught me another lesson that I'm not sure I had previously learned in the church.

    When I started, I was asked to procure the elements of the store's uniform. Unfortunately for me, these included shoes. I hate wearing shoes. They make my feet feel claustrophobic. For this reason, I much prefer my Rainbows. (But I digress.) The only pairs of shoes I have are some slip on chucks and some Vans. Neither of which provide much support. But I work with what I've got. You know?

    After working a few shifts I began to experience quite a bit of pain in my feet. Now, I'm not talking about a little soreness. I'm talking about full on "slow me down, make me grimace, making my whole body exhausted" pain. I've always had bad ankles and low arches, so this should have come as no surprise. But still...

    So after a few weeks of limping home, I finally decided to go get some good shoes. I went out early one morning before my shift started and found a great pair of New Balance for super cheap.

    I noticed about halfway through work that night that I wasn't in pain! And, not only that, but I noticed over the next week that I wasn't getting as tired while I worked. I had more energy during work which meant I had more energy when I got home too!

    It was a small change that yielded a big result!

    Shoes are such a small part of my wardrobe. Yet, because all of my weight comes down on them with every step, they're very important. I wonder if there are important areas in our lives or ministry that could benefit in big ways if we made a few small changes.

    I guess I know what I'll be thinking about when I go in to work tonight...

    11/16/2009

    How I Met My Bobblehead...

    Remember that time I twittered something that I would like to receive as a gift and then received it? Yep. I loved that time too. Well, guess what? Here's another round of something similar...

    Last Monday, the official How I Met Your Mother twitter sent out a tweet saying that the first 100 people who retweeted that there was a new episode on that night would win a free copy of a special condensed version of Barney's book, The Bro Code (which I already have), called Bro On the Go. So, of course, I immediately complied.

    A little later in the week, I received a twitter response from someone at CBS saying that I had won and asking that I email my info to them. Boo Yah. However, when I did, they told me that I was actually #107 in the contest (yeah right) and asked if I'd settle for a talking Barney Stinson bobblehead. Uhh... yeah.

    A week later and this little gem is at my door...

    Ugly and totally inaccurate representation of NPH? Yep. Free prize from a contest which automatically elevates its value to near legendary levels of awesome? Oh yeah.

    I'd type what he says too, but this is a PG blog.

    Go ahead,be jealous...

    11/13/2009

    Inspiration...

    Wow... This month's goal is turning out to be tougher than I thought.

    You see, there are days when I feel like it's almost second nature to write. And then days (like today) that I struggle to get anything typed out. For me, it all comes down to inspiration. When I've got it, the words flow smoother than a greased fat kid taking off down a slip n' slide. But when inspiration is absent, writing even a simple sentence can feel like passing a kidney stone. The problem is, I can't manufacture inspiration. No matter how... hard... I... try.

    But I have an idea. I'm going to employ this idea for the entirety of the coming week, evaluate its effectiveness, and then report on it.

    To be continued...

    A Little Loggins Makes Everything Better (Even Me)...

    I'm not sure if you could tell from my two previous posts (here and here), but I've been sick. However, after two days of feeling like a got punched in the immune system by all germs ever, I've emerged from my cocoon stronger than ever. That's right, no fever today. Want to know my cure?

    Kenny Loggins

    Yeah, read that again. Kenny Loggins.

    It wasn't that long ago that I said that there was no better song to get you pumped up than Europe's The Final Countdown. But today I discovered I was wrong. When I was in desperate need of pumpitude, it wasn't Europe that came to my aid. No. It was Kenny Loggins.

    You see, today I listened to Kenny Loggins' song I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man) so many times, I became so pumped up that I beat the germs that were invading my body in a dance off. I very effectively served them.

    So to you, dear readers, I offer this health tip: listen to Kenny Loggins. his music can cure any ailment...

    11/11/2009

    I Might Be Dying...

    I know that I set a goal of writing something original every weekday during November, but I can't do it today. Yesterday's post was about how I got sick. Today, it took a turn for the worse. On top of a fever, you can add dizziness and shortness of breath. Ugh... and my symptoms have affected my ability to think straight.

    So I'm going to either tack on a day this weekend, or at the end of the month.

    Bear with me people. I hope I can be back tomorrow. But if I die tonight, I want my ashes scattered in three places: the moon, Hawaii, and the Keebler factory. Cause that way, everyone will always wonder...

    I'm So Sick...

    Ugh... For so long now, I've been reading on my friends' blogs, facebooks, and twitters that hey were all getting super sick with the flu. But I laughed at them. Why? Because they're mere mortals. They don't have the immune system that I do. I laugh in the face of germs... while wearing a surgical mask. But still...

    And then, there was today...

    It started completely uneventful. Bank, shuttling my brother to school, lunch with a new friend. But then, once I got home, I began to feel super cold. Like, my insides were cold. And I couldn't warm up. I put on a sweatshirt and wrapped myself in a blanket (also made of sweatshirt). But I still couldn't get warm. With my work shift quickly approaching, I took my temperature. 100.5. (Moms, is that high?) I decided that getting paid was more important than my health (or the health of others) and went in to work anyway.

    It was terrible. I was sweating like crazy for almost the whole night. It was semi-bearable when I was moving, as it allowed my perspiration to cool, so I tried to keep moving all... the... time.

    Thank goodness I made it through.

    Of course, now I've got to go back in tomorrow at noon. Here's hoping a good night of sleep will work miracles...

    11/09/2009

    Ministry Lessons From the Retail World...

    I've recently started working at a rather large national retail store chain. And, as I was working my shift today, I began to think about some of the things I've seen and experienced since starting. I realized that some of the principles and practices that my bosses have trained me in (and modeled to me) transfer rather beautifully to the world of ministry. So I wanted to jot a few down so that I can remember them, and use them, in my ministry!


    1) Presentation is important... We spend a ton of time on presentation at the store. Several times a day, we walk the aisles making sure that there are no holes on the shelves, products are where they should be, and that things are facing forward. Things are dusted all the time. Floors are polished. Seasonal decorations are hung. All of these things are done with the customer in mind. If perception is reality, then we want to be perceived as a clean, organized store.

    I'm not sure if we think about presentation enough in ministry. What's the first thing a guest sees (and therefore thinks) when they walk into our space? What kind of environments are we creating and how do they affect our message? When we hand over our promo for camp to a parent, what impression does it give them? We need to start recognizing how much presentation can add to our credibility.


    2) But it's not as important as great customer service... It doesn't matter how good the store looks, without paying special attention to the customers, the store can never be successful. Our store policy is that we're always asking customers "Can I help you find something?" Providing great customer service is the first thing on everyone's job description.

    All of us in professional ministry have struggled with balancing being task driven vs. relationship driven. While presentation is important (we could have the best looking ministry around, with the biggest programs, sweetest print work, and most awesome videos) unless we're working hard to encourage growing relationships (with God and others), we're never going to have a successful ministry. Life change happens within the context of relationships.


    3) Everyone's a janitor... This is a principle that I first learned from a book called Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney's Success It basically means that no job is too small for anyone. If there's trash on the ground, everyone from the new guy janitor to the company CEO reaches for it to pick it up. No one is too important to lend a hand when it's needed.

    I'm especially guilty of thinking I'm too important to do some things in ministry. Sometimes, under the guise of "empowering a volunteer" to do something, I'd pass it off my plate. But the truth is that each of us is important, and each of is isn't too important. So there's nothing we should consider ourselves above, and nothing we shouldn't be willing to pitch in on. I love that everyone pitches in and does their part at my store. If only there was some model of that for ministry. Something like... a body. Like... a body... of Christ. Eh. I think I've still got a lot to learn with this one...


    4) Encouragement is important... At least once a day (sometimes more than once) we have a sales team huddle, where all of the sales staff and managers gather together to talk about what's important at the time. And every huddle starts with what they call "recognition". It's basically team members bragging on each other! Everyone has the opportunity to bring attention to someone's good job! I love it! I even got recognized today!

    Anyone who's been in ministry for very long can attest to how easy it can be to get discouraged. We all need encouragement. Duh. But I'll go one step farther and suggest that we all need to encourage others too! I don't care whether you're gifted in it or not. Just do it! It makes them feel great and makes you feel good too!


    5) The store looks great because it's always being worked on... As I was working on product placement today, a customer walked by and said, "Wow! Now I know why this store always looks so good!" And it's true! We're always working toward making the store better! We never just let things coast because there's no such thing as coasting. If we let things go, they'll go downhill!

    Too many ministries suffer because we find something (a method, a process, etc.) that we get comfortable with and stick with it for too long. The truth is (especially in youth ministry) that our audience is always growing and changing. We need to change with them! Don't be afraid to evaluate your ministry, admit that things aren't working like they should be, and take action to make them better! Don't get comfortable or settle! Don't be afraid to change! (Says the black kettle to the black pot.)


    I'm actually having fun with this job. And the more I work there, the more I feel like I'm learning about dealing with people (managing, being on a team, serving others). I hope that God will give me grace (and memory) enough to live these lessons out when I land another pastoral job...

    11/07/2009

    My Bucket List...

    Yes, I was inspired by the movie. No, I didn't see it. Yes, I'm that good...

    After the movie The Bucket List was released, I made two decisions. One, I would no longer classify a movie as "good" just because Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman was in it. (Double for Rob Reiner's involvement.) And two, I would do my best to write down and keep track of some things I deeply desire to see or experience as a part of really taking advantage of the life God has given me, you know, before I kick the bucket.

    I'm kind of surprised that I haven't posted on this before.

    But anyway, I'd like to post some of them here. I can't post all, as some of them are a little too personal. But I'd still love to share some of them. I'll share the one I've already accomplished! Here we go...

    1) Travel to the following places (in no particular order): London, Ireland, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Italy, Australia, China, Kenya, Israel, (the list keeps getting added to)...

    2) Run a half-Marathon...

    3) Own (and, of course, wear) a very nice tailored suit...

    4) Fire a cannon...

    5) Ride a bicycle to work...

    7) Spend the night in the Plaza Hotel in NYC (and reenact parts of Home Alone 2)...

    8) Attend a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field...

    9) Steal a pair of bowling shoes from a bowling alley... DONE!!!

    10) See U2 in concert live...

    11) Visit the Library of Congress and sit and read...

    12) Learn to play Linus and Lucy on the piano...

    13) Drive a monster truck...

    14) Appear as a character in a comic book...

    15) Attend the Sundance, Tribecca, and Butt-numb-a-thon FIlm Festivals...

    16) Sing and play guitar onstage in a really big and/or historic venue (like the Ryman Auditorium)...

    16) Write a book...



    That's all I've got so far! Looks like I've got a lot of work to do, and you can bet I'm still adding to the list as time goes on. Do you have anything that you deeply want to do before you kick the bucket? Maybe I'll steal an idea from you...

    11/05/2009

    And Now We've Come To the End of the Road...

    In an effort to create the perfect ambience for reading this post, I ask that you kindly open this link in a separate window and listen to the song while you read.

    Heroes,

    We've had a good run... kind of. I mean, things started out great. You were giving me things that no other TV show had ever given me. People with superpowers, amazing storytelling, Zachary Quinto's eyebrows... But then, at the end of season one, you hit me square in the face with one of the worst, anti-climactic, finales ever. I should have seen the writing on the wall then, but love had blinded me.

    But I wouldn't give up. How could I quit you? You had given me twenty one episodes of greatness. How could I hold one terrible episode against you? We all have our bad days. Maybe this was just that. Maybe we'd be able to bounce back. Maybe we'd be able to make it past our first big squabble and come out on the other side stronger than ever.

    Then, you came back with season two. And it was terrible. Then, season three. More of the same...

    How could you do this to me? I gave you everything. I even bragged about you to other people, and then they wanted to get to know you to? How could you betray me like this? You became something that you promised you'd never become. You started breaking rules that you had established yourself. Powers were conveniently added or taken away to suit which ever direction you wanted to take. People were killed to bring in new viewers. Then, when that didn't work out, they were brought back to get more viewers. You broke my heart, Heroes. You broke my heart.

    And so, in hopes that you had changed, I added you to my queue on Hulu. I finally got around to watching your season premiere three hours before it was set to expire. I was heartbroken. Another rule you made up was broken. Hiro was now going to spend the season going back in time in an effort to change the past. And that was the only limitation you had put on his power, that he couldn't change the past.

    So when your second episode of season four expired this week, I knew we were done. You've been deleted from my queue, and from my heart.

    Goodbye forever. You will no longer get my attention, my time, or my money.

    No, don't call. I'm already seeing other people. Modern Family and Community have replaced you in my heart. I think it's best if we never see each other again.

    Please take care of yourself. I know if you start making good choices, you'll be able to become healthy again. I'm just sorry to say that it will be without me.

    Goodbye.

    Josh...

    11/04/2009

    Epic Fall...

    A lot of my friends in Southern California talk about how excited they are that fall is finally here. The big problem with this is that, in Southern California, Fall doesn't really show up. Oh sure you get a slight decrease in temperature from summer. But I know lots of people who wear scarves during the summer time. So if the temperature hovers around the same area so steadily that you can wear extra layers without felling it year round, you're not allowed to talk about Fall.

    However, being back in South Carolina for the first time in 6 years, I've been privy to witness some of the seasonal change again. And I like it.

    Fall has always been my favorite season. You've got my birthday, the state fair, the changing of the leaves, and Candy Corn. But there's one thing that I always look forward to that I haven't been able to experience in the six years I've been away from home.

    Here's my favorite part of Fall:

    I love when it's just cold enough outside so that when you breathe in, it stings the inside of your nose a little bit. It's not cold enough to wear a heavy jacket yet. But that stingy feeling in your nose... Dang I love that.

    If I could bottle that and send it to my friends in Cali, I would spend all my time doing it.

    I love it...

    11/03/2009

    Who I Am Hates Who I've Been...

    I can't take credit for the BSG vs. Star Trek comparison. I first read about it here. You should go read that article. It's awesome.

    Do I really need to restate how much of a nerd I am? Of course not. Josh is to nerd as obviously related object is to another obviously related object. And said quality of nerd has (naturally) led me to a love of science fiction.

    I remember first taking an interest in Star Trek (TNG) when I was a Freshman in High School. I hung out with a group of older kids who watched it all the time and even played a Magic: The Gathering-like card game of it in band class. (That's right. Read that sentence again. I wanted to be like these people.) We would talk about what happened in episodes, who our favorite characters were, and what we would do if we possessed the technology that the Enterprise crew enjoyed. Star Trek captured our imaginations because it allowed us to glimpse a world of limitless possibilities. It allowed us to live vicariously in a world that was civil, clean, educated, and virtually problem free. Well, except for the occasional conflict with Klingons or Romulans. (And I haven't even mentioned the holodeck. Oh... the holodeck.)

    It wasn't until I was living in San Diego that I was introduced to the world of Battlestar Galactica. (Thanks Rod.) BSG and Star Trek have a few things in common: space, spaceships, military regimes, robots, umm... bars located on spaceships. But are mostly discussed together because of how different they are. While Star Trek is generally viewed with wonder and hope, BSG is usually loved for its "realism". People love BSG because its characters fight with each other over things we fight about. They're jealous over each other. They're dishonest, lustful, ambitious, and... well... a lot like us.

    And that's the gist of the article I linked to above. Star Trek represents who we want to be, and Battlestar Galactica represents who we actually are.

    I can't help but project this comparison onto myself. Do I have a realistic view of myself or an idealized one? Does it have to be one or the other? Is it possible for the two to coexist?

    I know that I have a lot of blind spots in my life. I have areas of sin that I'm not always conscious of. (Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit and friends who aren't afraid to be honest with me.) And while I think I have a pretty realistic view of myself, I know I don't know (or acknowledge) everything there is. I'm actually kind of thankful for that. I'm sure that part of it is the Lord holding things back from me until I'm ready to handle them. I can't imagine what it'd be like to be confronted with just how depraved we actually are full force. I bet it'd be like when Dorian Gray finally sees his portrait.

    But on the flipside of the coin, I am filled with hope. I see what my future looks like and it's better than my past and present. And I know this isn't because of anything I've done or can do, but it's because of the source of my hope. It's because of what I put my faith in. My faith in God produces in me a hope that drives me. It pulls me. it compels me. I cannot be separated from it. I cannot be deterred from it. I might be temporarily delayed, but I can't be stopped. I won't settle.

    And this is something that has always confounded me about the Star Trek vs. BSG comparison. Why would humanity ever settle? If we see the possibility of a redemptive world, why would we settle for anything less? Is there a way to live in reality while striving for the ideal? Within a relationship with and to our creator, yes. Without that, I don't think so.

    After all, what other hope could last? And why would we ever want a hope that doesn't stand the tests of time? That's no way to ever reach our dream of a holodeck...

    11/02/2009

    Smile...

    I would like to credit the following to lessons I've learned from Julie Hibbard and the airline industry.

    I think it's interesting how our perceptions change with our experience. For instance, I used to think that traffic on I-26 W was bad in the afternoon. Then I moved to Southern California and "drove" the 5. I used to think that my high school finals were tough. Then, I got to college. And I used to think that things like how you talked with someone didn't matter when compared with whether or not you were right. Then, I started flying regularly across the country.

    I've kept pretty good records of my adventures flying home for Christmas here on the blog (which you can read about here). It seems like every year is another great lesson in how to remain cool under pressure. I've learned over time that, at any time in any airport, there are tons of passengers stressing out. And, as anyone who's worked in the service industry knows, dealing with customers can be quite stressful itself. Add to that when the customers themselves are stressed, and you've got a recipe for some serious conflict. I can't count how many times I've witnessed hurried travelers shouting at a gate agent and, when not getting the response they want, being brought to tears.

    After one such incident, I decided to try something revolutionary. While the person in front of me raged against the gate agent, I could see all of the signs that she (the agent) was becoming exhausted by the situation. Her eyes widened. She began to get some slight perspiration on her brow. And her eyes began to dart back and forth, looking past the customer to check to see if she could find any one to back her up. So when my turn came, I stepped up and, right off the bat, flashed a smile.

    As I smiled, I glanced down to take a quick look at her name tag. Then, using her name, I introduced myself and asked how she was doing. She, of course, told me it had been quite a day. So, continuing to smile, I calmly (and using my inside voice) explained my problem. Then I asked her if there was anything she could do to help me. Wouldn't you know it, my problem was solved in no time! It's crazy what a calm demeanor, manners, and a little friendliness can do to better your experience.

    It didn't matter in that situation who was right (me) or who was wrong (them), the gate agent had all of the power to make my travel get really tough. (I mean, she just did it to the person in front of me.) What did matter was how I treated her.

    Now, this isn't anything revolutionary. I mean, the Bible tells us to treat each other as we would want to be treated. But it's a truth that I'm constantly relearning. And as I've gotten older and my experience has changed, my perspective on how important it is has changed as well.

    Just today, I lived another example. Last night, I found out that Regal Cinemas gives you a free movie ticket on your birthday when you're a member of their Regal Card Club (free, by the way). Well, I went to a movie on my birthday last week, used my club card, and no one told me that I could get a ticket for free. So I went back today, flashed some pearly whites (along with my ticket stub and I.D.) and asked politely, and now I've got a free ticket. (Even though they told me this perk isn't something they promote!)

    I guess it's true that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Of course, why would you try to catch flies anyway? I'm catching flights and movie tickets with my honey...

    11/01/2009

    My November Goal...

    There was a time when I considered myself a decent writer. In fact, as little as two years ago, I would have told you that writing professionally would be some part of my future. But somehow, in the past few years, I've allowed what was once such an important and fulfilling part of my life to drop by the wayside.

    Someone asked me why I thought this was. I said that I just felt like I've lacked inspiration, that my life just wasn't really interesting enough to write about anymore. But, whether or not that's true (interest is subjective, therefore the statement is debatable), I can't continue to ignore that I've stopped doing something that once gave me a great deal of joy.

    Most of my blog posts have become short, and less personal, than I'd like. Not that I ever put much personal content on here, but there's a big difference between writing about things inspired by my day-to-day, and posting a video that I found on youtube. While I once prided myself on original content, I feel like I've become more of the "collector" type of blogger: one who simply collects things he or she thinks is cool from around the net and posts it on their own site. And that stinks.

    All of this has led me to feel... less than Josh. (Does that make sense?) A few weeks ago, while I was in Atlanta, I was sharing this struggle with a friend and his response was this: just do it. He said, "Josh, you're a writer, and writers have to write. I'm sure you're not the first to experience a period of lack of inspiration. You think Mark Twain never felt uninspired? At some point, when it comes to anything you love, you have to fight what you feel (or don't feel) like doing and do what you know you're supposed to do." And so I've made a decision to set a new goal.

    During the month of November, I'm going to write one post consisting of original content every weekday. I'll have the option to write on the weekend too, but I won't require that of myself. During this time, I'll still do special posts like Web Wednesday, Power Rankings, and Body Double, but they won't count toward my original content piece. The subject matter won't be set, so it can be fictional or non, poetry or prose, ministry related or personal spiritual reflection. The point won't be the subject, it'll be the practice.

    Hopefully, throughout this month, I'll be able to get my writing chops back as well as discover some new things about myself. So come back here every weekday and check up on my progress. Keep me accountable! And, even better, if you'd like to join in, save the picture I created for this post and use it on your blog to write along with me!

    I hope you like what I come up with this month. But, more importantly, I hope I like what I come up with...

    10/24/2009

    SC State Fair: Part 2...

    I made it back out to the fair on Friday. On weekdays they have a special deal where, for lunch (from 12-2), you can enter for free. Well, you give them five dollars in exchange for a token. When you leave you return the token and get your five dollars back. This deal, of course, seems awesome. But it has its dark side. Mainly that I'm five bucks lighter than if they just let me in for free (for real). I mean, that could've bought me 7 more ounces of fried deliciousness!

    Anyway, here's the run down of what I ate in the second round...

    I'm pretty sure that eating a corn dog at a fair is a requirement of every American. Far be it for me to go against hundreds of years of tradition...

    Of course I had to have more Fiske Fries. Seriously. Best freedom fries on the planet...

    This is an elephant ear. It's kind of like a funnel cake, but instead of dripping the dough into the oil to fry it, the keep it all in one piece. Add in some butter, cinnamon and sugar, and you've got magic. I would punch a grown man for this...

    Finally, Tommy bought some deep fried cookie dough and, through a show of force (really it was just him asking if I wanted some), made me try it. Gooey, hot, melted cookie dough wrapped in dough? Yes please. Super rich though. I was glad I only ate one.

    After eating all of this food, I'm going to need to walk 500 miles just to jump start my heart again.


    Here's some other highlights...

    Micah brought his wife and daughters with us. Here he is with his oldest, Kylee. You probably noticed a few things that stand out in this picture. One, Kylee might be the cutest kid alive. Two, that food stand behind her serves mini-cheeseburgers! But bad news, they were three dollars each and fourteen for five. Boo food carnies. Boo...

    Here's an update to the sandcastle they were working on. This is what it looked like last Sunday. How is it Jackson Pollack could fling paint at a canvas with a toothbrush (Note: he didn't actually use a toothbrush) and make gobs of money and the people that make this are toiling away in anonymity? Way to go Obama-nomics...

    Finally, here's a picture of the Starship 4000. It was my favorite ride when i was a kid (back then, it was called the Gravitron). You go inside and lean against a wall while it spins around super fast. Thanks to centrifugal force, you stick to the wall. We used to try to turn upside down or sit up horizontally. I never puked on it, but I saw about a thousand other people do it...

    I can't wait until next year. Maybe by then, my arteries will be clear...

    10/21/2009

    Things I Love: Series 1...

    For some time now on my twitter, I've been posting a series of tweets about things I love. I figured I'd collect them all in one place (along with making some of them into links). I mean, this way, if you ever want to buy me a gift...

  • Vol 1: 1) 2nite's #AI results, 2) That I'm on my way to watch LOST in HD, 3) RW/RR Challenges, 4) FB Poker, 5) Ninjas, 6) biscuits

  • Vol 2: 1) Kenneth the Page, 2) Stuffed Crust Pizza, 3) SONIC Happy Hour, 4) FB Poker, 5) Chuck, 6) New Transformers Trailer

  • Vol 3: 1) New Books, 2) Building Things, 3) 5 Guys Burgers, 4) My Friends, 5) Movies, 6) Comics, 7) Disc Golf, 8) Raisinets

  • Vol 4: 1) HIMYM, 2) Cartoon Penguins, 3) Writing, 4) My Guitar, 5) Pineapple, 6) Playing Cards (noun&verb), 7) Junior Mints

  • Vol 5: 1) Singing, 2) Making People Laugh, 3) The Brain Trust, 4) Star Trek, 5) Climbing, 6) Purple Flavor, 7) Bowling

  • Vol 6: 1) The Soup, 2) Jelly Beans, 3) Hulu, 4) Light Hawaiian Punch, 5) Count Chocula, 6) Cooking, 7) Learning New Things

  • Vol 7: 1) Waffles, 2) Chicago, 3) Buying Magazines for Flights, 4) Rush's, 5) Having a Row To Myself On An Airplane

  • Vol 8: 1) Jelly Beans, 2) Christmas, 3) MJ's Music, 4) My OC Friends, 5) Book Stores, 6) Making People Smile, 7) Cooking

  • Vol 9: 1) Mashed Potatoes, 2) Blogs, 3) Football, 4) @RickWarren's tweets, 5) Fish, 6) The Beach, 7) Rainbow Sandals


    PS, I just noticed that I had some repeats. Oh well. This will help me to solve that problem...