Monday, February 20, 2006

Baby's got a new pair of shoes

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

This weekend I gave my ride some TLC. On Saturday, I changed the brake pads on the front. I had a little phone coaching from Cort, but did all the work myself. Except when I needed to bleed the brake lines, and managed to find a neighbor to push the brake pedal for me. What should have taken about 2 hours took about 3.5, but I blame the fact that it was about 20 degrees out and I had a rather primitive jack for the heavy lifting. New England rust is a pain. On one of the brakes I couldn't remove the pins so I had to dismantle the caliper (hence, the need to bleed the brake line). But I feel good about accomplishing something like that, even if it is a simple job.

Today I got new tires. I've been riding on a spare for about a year and a half (it's a long story) and I finally found the tires I needed at Costco and got a great deal. They're an odd size, so just the fact that they had them in stock was a big deal. I just took her down to the car wash and got these pics. Not bad for 10 years and 150k miles.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

All Give Some - Some Give All

On Friday morning, I attended the funeral service of Matthew Bertolino, a Marine who was stationed in Afghanistan. (See links below for more info.) Matthew was the younger brother of one of the young ladies where I work. Having a brother who also served in the Marine Corps gave us something in common, and sometimes stories to share and talk about. My brother never served in a combat zone, but I could relate to her sharing somewhat about fearing that your brother whom you spent your whole life growing up with, could suddenly be taken away from you. On Monday she got the dreaded call that everyone hoped would never come.

It's always tragic to lose a family member, but especially one so young. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and to lose a sibling at that age is like having a piece of yourself torn from you. I can only begin to imagine what that must be like and my heart goes out to his family.

It also reminds me of how much I need to take advantage of the time I do have with family and friends. Being 3,000 miles away from most of them is a hard thing, and I visit as often as I can and call at least one family member daily. God forbid that they should ever think I love them any less because I am so far away.

Funerals by nature are emotional events. A military funeral with full honors is something that is hard to convey without sounding trite. The absolute precision and care that the Marines gave to every detail was an honor befitting royalty. You've probably seen it in the movies, but nothing can perpare you for the perfect dichotomy of pride and ultimate sorrow conveyed in the proceedings. Even after hearing the officer shout, "Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the salute!" the guns made me jump so raw was my emotional state. I don't think I've ever heard or seen anything so heartbreaking - the bugler playing "taps" while his family sobbed and leaned on each other.

I never got to meet Matthew, but seeing the love and emotion poured out during that service moved me deeply. By the end, I counted him as a brother and wished I could have met him. It would have been an honor.

Rest in peace, Matthew. And thank you for giving everything for us.

News Story from WMUR with Video
News Story from the Concord Monitor
News Story from the Union Leader

P.S. As inappropriate as it sounds, I couldn't but help notice I'm in the newsvideo in that first link, just for a moment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Hate Valentine's Day

I Hate Valentine's Day
by Jewel

Valentine's Day
Wish I had a sweetheart
It's Valentine's Day
Didn't even get a stinkin' card
It's Valentine's Day
I just have to say
I hate Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day
And I didn't get no chocolate
It's Valentine's Day
If I had a heart I'd hock it
It's Valentine's Day
All I have to say
I hate Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day
And I hope it finds you healthy
It's Valentine's Day
I'm glad your stinkin' girlfriend's wealthy
It's Valentine's Day
I just love to say
I hate f***in' Valentine's Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Blizzard '06

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

Well, I survived the blizzard OK. My town got about 10" but there were places that got a lot more. Sunday night after things had settled down the landlords decided they wanted to plow the lot. So, I had to dig out my car in the dark and cold, but it meant I didn't have to do it this morning to get to work (as you can see in the pic). I took the opportunity to run down to Wendy's rather than eat more leftovers. I also found a couple of empty parking lots and did the mandatory cookies until I was dizzy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Picture Update: NYC

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I've included a new album set from my last big trip to New York City from the summer of '04 with my parents. This is only the first half of them - more to come!

The Breakers

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

This is a set of pictures I took the summer of '04 at Newport, RI. Most of the pics are from The Breakers mansion. I didn't take a single picture inside, but I went nuts with the architecture outside.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Is Bono a man of faith?

Christians have been quick to judge U2 for decades for the rock-n-roll lifestyle, and some would deny that the band members share faith in Christ as Believers. I've read a lot on the subject, but there is nothing more telling than a direct quote. So, here it is, straight from the book, "Bono in Conversations...", which is a good read, whether you are a U2 fan or not.

MA: As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

B: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

MA: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

B: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

MA: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

B: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

MA: I’d be interested to hear that.

B: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

MA: The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

B: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says, “Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions.” The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

MA: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has the rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God isn’t that farfetched?

B: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of the other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammed, Buddha, or Confucious. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, “No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying, ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying, ‘I’m God incarnate.’” And people say, “No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the ‘M’ word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.” And he goes, “No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.” At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says, “Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this.” So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah – or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase one the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. [Religious terrorists/martyrs] This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the cross, was going, “OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it.” I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched…

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bono on Tithing

I just finished reading the transcript to Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this past week.

I find it interesting that it takes a self-proclaimed "rock star" to point out to Christians that the purpose of giving and tithing is for performing social justice, and it's NOT ABOUT US. God is more concerned about the poor, the orphan, the widow, the sick, those in prison, those who have real needs, than he is about what percentage we give or how we might be blessed because of our giving.

Arguing about how much to tithe or when/if you do it is missing the point. God wants us to be the means of changing a world that is in need.

I think the best example of this in the Bible is in Acts 10. God answered the prayers of a Roman Centurion because he used his power and wealth to provide for the poor. It was because of his giving (not his tithing!), that God used him as the first Gentile family to become Christians. We have Cornelius to thank for bringing the Gospel to the non-Jewish world.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Amazing Discoveries

CRW_1218 (1)
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

One of the cool things about joining flickr is that I've been going through all my pics from the last 2.5 years and finding gems like this one. Some of these pictures I probably viewed once and never looked at them again. Now I have a way to share them with everyone, so I'm going to continue to delve into my archives to bring you more like this one. I've added a few dozen pictures today, and I'm still back in June of '04, so there's lots more to come. Stay tuned!