Friday, December 19, 2008

MUYOW


A MUYOW for those who are unfamiliar with my class, stands for Make Up Your Own Worksheet. However, I happened upon a real life MUYOW this morning. As this vintage World War Two era Tiger Moth biplane was touching down in a field yesterday, it happened to clip a cow with its wing. The cow is reported to be unhurt, in spite of its tumble.





G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Darrell Mansfield


Darrell Mansfield

I was completely blown away by this video.

His testimony. The gospel. The blues.

Just wanted to share it with you.




G.Houtchens
Armchair coach
Amateur historian

Friday, November 14, 2008

FCA Speech

Several years ago, I gave a speech to the school FCA. It addressed my thoughts to the young students who were present. The ideas I presented then still apply now. So then, to my students, all of them, from the year I started teaching to the wonderful young teens I have now, I present the following text of the speech I gave that day.

I have decided to discuss 4 things: I am going to talk a little bit about life, being a Life Science teacher. I am also going to talk a little bit about me, a little bit about you, and a little bit about God.

Life
All life, in my opinion, reflects the nature of God in its beauty, complexity and design. How many of you have pets? There are numerous accounts of dogs, who, when separated from families who have moved across the country, travel 1000’s of miles to be reunited with their human families. How can they travel so far, never having been there before? Scientists don’t have an answer, but I do. It’s love. And GOD IS LOVE. And that, my friends, is beautiful.
All physical living things are made up of cells. Our cells make proteins that make up our bodies and the structures of all plants, animals and less complex organisms. So, is that all we are, is just chemicals that came together by accident? No. There is a spark of life in all living things. And that spark comes from God, for He is the author, the originator, the One whose spirit gives life to all things. GOD IS LIFE.

Me
I have lived a really imperfect life. More than you know. Please don’t look up to me or put me on a pedestal, because if you knew everything there was to know about me, you would be supremely disappointed in me. I am fallible. I am not Super-Christian. I am more like Super-Flunky. Tada! Time for me to make the wrong decision and screw something up! It’s time for me to hurt someone’s feelings, trying to be funny. It’s time for me to blow it again. Perhaps, at times, you have felt the same way. Here’s a little secret: God does not see us the way we see ourselves. He sees the invisible part of us. He sees our hearts. God uses imperfect people who make themselves available to Him. God’s not looking for Super Christian to do His work of showing love. He’s looking for you, and for me. Just the simple act of looking up to God and saying, “Please help me to show your love to someone today” is all it takes.

There was a young man who gave me fits as a teacher last year- absolute fits. He interrupted class, got me mad, blew off his grades completely, got kicked out of my class every day. Laser beams were coming out of my eyes, smoke coming out my ears. His only joy was making teachers upset, which can be kind of fun if you are the one doing the disruption. So here I was facing this situation. I decided to start praying for him. “Oh Lord, please bless him. Please help him. He is so angry and mad and upset, and he doesn’t even know it. He makes very poor choices. Please be with him. Let him know your love.” And that marked a beginning of a difference in the war of the classroom. Why? Because he could tell that I cared. My prayers were answered in an unexpected way because I was the one who was changed through prayer, not him. I have not stopped praying for him to this day, and maybe someday, my prayers on his behalf will be answered. You see, prayer changes things, because God loves us.

You
If there was any piece of advice I had to choose for teens in middle school and high school it would be these 2 things:

First, be careful who you choose to be your close friends. Why? It’s because you will become just like them. You all are in the process of trying to find out who you want to be. You want to have friends. If it has not started yet, you will want to identify with a peer group. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the band kids, the nerds, and the skaters- you name it.

I was a mess, a complete mess as a kid. I was alone. I was unpopular. I was just this sort of stupid, nerdy immature person who wanted to have some friends. And there were these other guys. They were outsiders too, but they were troublemakers. They used bad words. They encouraged each other to make fun of folks in order to feel better. So, I hung out with them for a while.

Now, there was this other student, a quiet guy I will call Mike. He kept to himself, didn’t bother anyone. He was a nice guy- had this cool watch which was the first type that had glowing numbers that lit up to show the time. I started teasing this guy mercilessly, calling him gay, etc. I was a real jerk, and I did it so I could go brag to my new “buddies” about it. Well, eventually Mike had enough and confronted me about it and I backed off because I knew I was wrong.

10 years after high school I went back to my class reunion and guess what I discovered? Mike was gay. I went up to him, and I said, “Mike, in the 8th grade, I teased you mercilessly. Please forgive me.” And he looked up at me, and he said, “Glenn, I forgive you.” It didn’t matter whether he was gay or not- what mattered is that I had wounded his spirit. It all started when I began to hang out with the wrong crowd.

Secondly, how many of you are offended by the fact that slavery was once legal in this country? Good. I am too. Slavery was absolutely horrific. Families were torn apart; people were bought and sold like pieces of cattle, their lives subject to the whims of someone else. Moms and Dads were separated, sons removed from fathers; daughters from mothers. If you tried to leave slavery, they would whip you until scars crisscrossed your back.

There is a form of slavery that is alive and active right now, today, in America. I am talking about illegal drug use. You see, drugs release dopamine from certain cells in the brain, and that makes you feel good. It chemically squeezes all the dopamine from the cells that produce it. Now, dopamine gets released naturally at a very slow rate. However, when it is released by drugs, it KILLS the cells that produce dopamine, and they don’t regrow. Eventually what happens is you have a person who will never be happy another day in their lives, and they need the drug simply to feel normal.

There was a guy in my church who was a cocaine addict. He would go to a wilderness treatment center for 6 months and then come back clean and immediately turn around and begin using again, lying to everyone. This happened over and over again. His family recently split up and separated, because he was a slave to his addiction. He blew his families lifelong savings to get high- his life was subject to the whims of his addiction- nothing was more important. When he tried to quit, he was lashed with the pains of withdrawal.

Recognize the spiritual issue for what it is, not with judgment but with understanding. Realize that when one uses drugs they are holding up their hands for the shackles. It’s slavery- pure and simple.

God
God’s love is so great, we cannot begin to understand or comprehend it. It is something that transcends knowledge, and this goes against the science teacher in me, because I desire to understand and comprehend. God’s love is shed in our hearts spiritually, and God’s love changes us. Just to say “God, help me know your love” every day is a beautiful thing. “Thank you for making me. Help me, despite my problems, to be the person you want me to be.”

Here’s one final story: I was in high school in 1979. As we prepared for football practice gearing up, I was the last one out of the locker room. Now this was during summer practice and the heat was like one of those unbearable Georgia days. It just sort of shimmered there. There was the smell of dried cut grass and there was an inaudible humming it was so hot. So I stayed behind in the locker room to pray for rain. As I was praying, of the guys, Scott Ladd came back in and saw me there.
He said, “What are you doing, Houtchens?”
I replied, “Praying for rain.”
He ran back outside to tell the others and they all laughed at me as I came out. Well, the heat and the sun that day were absolutely brutal, and here we were in pads running around in it. About a half hour later, clouds started to gather overhead. Thunder was heard rumbling through the ground. To make a long story short, coach had to cancel practice and we did a walk through in the gym, which was considerably cooler now that we were soaked.

God loves us. God will never leave us. I spent many years after college without going to church. I was mad at God because of the actions of his servants ( people). God never left me, though. I told God to get lost, but He stayed right there with me, just waiting for me to look up and talk to Him. This I know for true: if He never left me, as poor an example as I have been, He will never leave you. He’s waiting for you to look to Him, you see, His patience and His love endures FOREVER. God loves YOU.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Reverend Graham; God Bless You!


Today the Reverend Billy Graham celebrates his 90th birthday, and he will do so with fried chicken and barbecue. The man who has preached the gospel in so many countries and has been counselor to presidents going all the way back to Harry Truman is very much loved in the hearts of the American people. (Harry Truman was president at the end of World War 2, in 1946) It is to God's credit in the work of the heart of this gentle man that he never wavered in his commitment to the gospel. I have his daily devotions and am never disappointed to reflect on them as they are filled with the love of God, with the awesome blessing of His word.

He stated recently that he was prepared to go to heaven, but no one had ever prepared him for growing old. I cannot imagine losing a spouse of over 50 years, losing my eyesight and being infirm. If I could, I would reach out and give him a hug.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing this humble man to remain among us, a spokesman for Your wonderful love, Your son Jesus who was sacrificed on our behalf.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On the Supernatural


I had meant to type this article up on October 31st, Halloween, however, I was tired and am so used to getting up early that it makes it difficult for me to stay up late. There have been several TV shows with the new fad of reality television on the subject of the supernatural. These shows center on hauntings of various types, encounters with spirits manifesting themselves in different ways, and various parapsychological phenomena. These shows break down into several groups:

1. The Thrill Seekers, otherwise known as Stupidity over Validity. Typically, these shows have low light cameras that focus on the faces of people who are novices on things supernatural. They enter a haunted building of some sort and eventually split up, scaring themselves witless and the producers use this along with scary music to try to scare the audience. To me, it seems to be the equivalent of Jerry Springer for the supernatural. The few times I have watched shows like this, I have wound up rooting for the ghosts, being disappointed that the family always seems to survive. There is another show that is closely related to this type, where mediums "feel" their way around with no scientific investigation whatsoever. I have another word for these folks who go about blindly, groping in the dark determining their fates by their feelings based on this type of investigation: Democrats.

2. The Super Scientists. I speak here of the tv show "Ghost Hunters." You have these two guys who are Roto Rooter plumbers who investigate supernatural hauntings on weekends with their team known as TAPS. First, if you have a hit tv show, WHY are you still working a day job? Secondly, if you are going to do a serious scientific investigation, do it right. One experiment on one night does not an investigation make. You need to quintuple the number of cameras, both low light and infra red, to cover as much of the structure you are investigating as possible. THEN you need to come back to the site of haunting over a period of weeks or months every night. When the experiment is repeated with consistent results, then you begin to have something which may be defined as evidence. Also, it is difficult to study a spiritual subject using only objective tests which are limited to the physical senses. Finally, most of the time TAPS does nothing to help these poor people who are suffering from hauntings. They say, "YUP! You have a poltergeist! Thanks for having us over!" and they leave. Some help they are.

3. The Balanced Approach. This is the method used by the Penn State Paranormal Research Society in the show "Paranormal State." Now, they don't use *nearly* enough scientific equipment, and they don't rely solely on mediumship or the scientific method, but they do a decent job of investigating, in my own personal opinion, spending anywhere from several days to a week in one location. Yes, they are green, wet-behind-the-ears college kids, but they do a better job than the other shows because they use a wide variety of methods to collect evidence. I do NOT agree with their practice of contacting spirits in the use of what they call "Dead Time." This is, literally, playing with fire.

So now that we have evaluated some of the reality shows, lets take a look at some of the classifications of haunting, as well as my own personal opinion about both hauntings and spiritual warfare. I shall be using information that I have acquired from outside sources, scripture, and personal experience.

Classification of Hauntings:
When supernatural events attributed to the presence of spiritual entities occur, they generally fall into one of the following categories:
1. Intelligent, independent. This form of spirit is classified according to how it interacts with people in the areas they are found. They are placed into this category when they respond interactively with the persons who are present (usually this occurs in some negative way, but not always.)
2. Non-intelligent. This occurs when spirits manifest themselves in a manner which represents an old style tape recording. They do not recognize the presence of others, and the events that revolve around them often recur on certain nights of the week or year. It is theorized that this style of haunting occurs because of strong, unseen but nonetheless traumatic, emotional events that have occured in the respective setting.
3. Poltergeist activity. Poltergeist is German for "noisy ghost." When this type of haunting occurs, knocking on walls is reported and objects sometimes fly around or appear to move on their own. Also, in cases that involve such spirits, there often is a child or adolescent that seems to act as a focus for the activity that takes place. Electrical manifestations also sometimes occur in these instances.
4. Single visitation, human. This type of haunting can occur when a loved one dies, and appears to a relative before leaving this earthly realm.
5. Non human spirits. Such as demons or angels. These creatures do exist and they are nothing to trifle with.

Observations:
1. Houses or buildings can sometimes begin having manifestations when they are being renovated. Evidently, spirits do not care to have their physical surroundings altered.
2. There have been reports of infernal spirits hiding their demonic nature by adopting the guise of playful children. Do not be fooled.
3. There are some who say that all supernatural hauntings are demonic in origin, that there are no human spirits involved. The scripture used to support this is "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." I do not discount this, as this article is for the most part, conjecture and research, my personal experience being limited to one incident which occurred in college that I do not care to repeat.
4. There have been reports where objects (typically old ones, such as a piano, organ or doll) as well as places (graveyards can be considered) have been reported as haunted. I think this may well be possible.

Recommendations:
1. If you think you are being subjected to a haunting of some sort, get an expert. I would recommend clergy. The power of God's Holy Spirit is greater than that which inhabits our world.
2. Do NOT under any circumstances address any spirit or attempt to communicate with them in any way unless you are ready at that moment to go into hardcore spiritual warfare. Do NOT play with Ouija boards and do NOT involve yourself with seances or the occult. This acts as an invitation for the enemy of mankind. Don't do it.
3. Be strong in the faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 That means immerse yourself in scripture, and become familiar with it. Allow God's Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he was able to remain faithful not only by knowing the word, but also because it was within his heart. 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Matthew 4:3,7 and 10
4. Jesus knew about spiritual warfare. There was an incident where the disciples tried to cast a spirit out of a possessed boy and it refused to go. Jesus said that this kind (of spirit) does not go forth except by prayer and fasting. I don't know a lot about unseen spiritual forces and neither do you. If you don't know if a downed power line is charged or not, you don't mess with it. The same concept applies here.

This is a delicate subject, and although I joke about Democrats and rooting for the ghosts, the fact is that I do not approach it lightly. Hollywood seems to be using the ghost centered reality show as a form of entertainment, much as spiritualists used mediumship in the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's as a fad of sorts. The reason I address this issue is that in a rational society that lives in a rational world, it needs to be reiterated that there IS INDEED an invisible spiritual realm. We cannot expect to completely understand it on this side of life, but not to acknowledge its existence gives way to spiritual and intellectual pride. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

A Reply


Dear George,

Thank you for your post on my blog. I was touched by it. Basically what I see coming up is a repeat of the Carter years. I'm sure you remember them. Mr. Carter who stated "peace must be waged like war," left our kidnapped citizens high and dry in Iran for over 400 days while he conducted "diplomacy."

I see the Iranian government using the Obama presidency as an excuse to stall while they complete their nuclear bomb. Israel will attack, will not be successful because the facilities are located well underground, the Obama government will condemn Israel, and Iran will respond. And, to put it in words, there goes the neighborhood. Earlier this year, a North Korean government cargo jet was stopped at the border of India. Its destination was Iran and it was suspected to contain nuclear bomb parts. This was the reason I chose the graphic on my previous posting.

Now I don't like war. I hate it. I hate the war in Afghanistan, and I especially hate the war in Iraq. There was a scene in the Lord of the Rings that left an impression on me. Frodo at one point has for the most part given up hope. Sam is speaking to Frodo, about why they are on this dangerous mission to take the ring to the mountain, and to resist the evil hordes of Sauron. Sam states "Mr. Frodo, there is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."

I see a lot of corruption within our government, from both parties. As I stated in an earlier blog entry, it was basically a choice between the lesser of two evils. One of the reasons I was so strongly against Mr. Obama was his promises of money to the masses *at the expense of others.* To bring out in the character of our citizens the most vile of motivations, greed and envy. To me, this seems to be a blatant attempt at spreading corruption. And it worked. I guess that is why I am still stinging. I had thought better of our country than this.

I will pray for our president. Mr. Bush listened to his cronies who told him the presence of WMD's in Iraq was a slam dunk, that there would be no problems with the occupation of this foreign country where factions that hated one another were kept in check by Saddam's sadistic military police, that literally fed people into paper shredders. Bush initiated an unprovoked war, and we see the results of it today. Evil can take many different forms, not just war, and I wonder what the people who surround our future president will tell him.

Sincerely yours,
Glenn

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Goodbye Israel, Hello Nuclear Iran


That almost sums up my thoughts about this election. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Forget about it if you are still in the womb. Kiss your job goodbye if you are working for any company that makes more than 250k/year. The unions will force companies to become unionized thanks to the lack of anonymous voting. They will increase their prices and pass that increase to we, the consumers. We are going to "stick it" to big oil and those evil, white, fat CEO's that smoke cigars. You don't think that would affect our gas prices, would it?

But that's okay because we have "change." The system that has congressmen in Washington buying one anothers votes with money pledged to their districts continues, with a scalpel. But it was stated so eloquently, wasn't it?

There is a reason this election turned out the way it did. God is in control. My fear is that we are going to get *exactly* what is coming to us. Iran does not hate us- they love us! They don't mean it when they chant "Death to America" by the thousands. I predict that they will soon have the bomb and that they will use this as leverage in the middle east to act with impunity, if not worse.

God have mercy on us.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, October 24, 2008

I am looking for Sarah Connor



Before reading this article, please open this you tube link, then minimize it. Make sure your sound is on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wCyZm7_uwU&feature=related

Robots hunting down humans? It's closer than you think. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/10/packs-of-robots-will-hunt-down.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=specrt10_head_Pack%20hunting%20robots The last I heard about these particular robots, they were planning on using them as pack mules for infantry troops or as medical assist robots in combat zones to pull injured troops out of the line of fire. They are incredibly versatile and can travel over almost any terrain. Now, there are plans proposed by the Pentagon to have squads of robots each controlled by one individual soldier, and to have weapons attached to them.

Check this out:

Truth is stranger than fiction.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Election Thoughts


I have been mulling over the political conditions and implications that are currently going on in this country. As I reflect, several realizations have come to my attention:

1. It seems to me that this election is one which involves the wrong candidates. A better nomination which more truthfully reflects the ideals and substance of the Democratic party would have been Hillary Clinton. Once again, the current Democratic candidate (Obama) is painting himself as much, much more conservative in his policies than his voting record reflects, in order to win the most votes. Similarly, the senatorial maverick, John McCain, is not the best representative for the Republicans. Rather, the better candidate, Newt Gingrich, chose not to run this year. Frankly, I can't blame him. Gingrich would have completely ruled the debates, but such is the way of politics.

2. This election has turned into one which involves communication. Ronald Reagan was called the "great communicator" and for good reason. Mr. Bush essentially has become the anti-communicator, unwilling or unable to effectively speak with the American public due to his spin on Iraq, which we all know has turned into the defining issue of his presidency. McCain, like Bush, also has been unable to communicate effectively, especially during the debates, which has cost him greatly. (see my previous article "John, John, John") I can see that his aides tried to urge him to be positive during the debates, smiling and pumping his fist in a "gung ho" gesture, but style without substance does not cut it. Obama, for all his extremely liberal platforms on various issues, is an effective communicator, and it is this that appeals to the American public. He is able, with his team of PR folks, to express his ideas in such a way as they do not seem to be all that bad. Make no mistake, though, he is essentially a communist. At the very least, he is a socialist, which is why Europe is hoping he will be elected. There used to be a saying here in the US- "better dead than red." If you don't understand that, ask someone older than you.

3. Boortz did a piece on Obama this morning that cuts through a lot of the fluff and gets right to the heart of various issues- it can be found at http://townhall.com/columnists/NealBoortz/2008/10/21/to_the_undecided_voter. He stole my thunder on the issue of being a great communicator ( I started writing this article early yesterday morning) but he (Boortz) makes several points that need to be considered to every person that will vote.

4. Once again, it is my opinion that this election is one that involves the lesser of two evils. The economy seems to be the issue that most of the news agencies are pressing. However, the reason this race remains close is because many also feel the issue of national security and Islamic terrorism are the issues that are the most important. Americans seem to vote with short sightedness, with whatever issue seems to affect them the most at that particular time. In this case, that would be the strain on their (our) wallets. Personally, I would think that tough times don't really matter as much if your city is blown into kingdom come in a cloud of nuclear radiation. Last year, right here in our state of Georgia, in Savannah, a group of Islamic militants were detained when it was discovered they had illegally smuggled nuclear material to our shores in a container vessel. Look it up for yourself. You DO realize that Obama wants to make drivers licenses available to any foreign national that wants one, whether they are in the country illegally or not? Yeah, that's what we need.

One thing, one hope is of reassurance to me. God is ultimately in control, regardless of the seemingly powerful forces of politics and power. The true issues are spiritual, not earthly. The disease is not the Romans (as many Jews thought in Jesus' day,) it is within the hearts of men. Thank you, Lord, for Your long suffering towards us. For Your mercy and love. Kirie Elienas. Christae Elienas.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maddening

I am a pro football fanatic, following my lovable losers, the Falcons, through thick and thin. I was disappointed to learn that Madden 09 would not be coming out for the PC, however, wanting to play with "Matty Ice" (Matt Ryan, the new Falcons quarterback) leading the team, I went out and purchased a new X Box 360. Here are the results of what I found:

At first, Madden 09 was a wonderful game to play. There were some nice animations, and I enjoyed, for the most part, the challengability and flexibility of the franchise system. Then the crap hit the fan.

Suddenly, I was no longer able to simulate games. The system would crash and freeze up every time I tried. I was also unable to complete any mini-challenges to increase the stats of my players. Finally, I was unable to save any games at all after narrowly winning against tough opponents. Great job, EA Sports! My Madden 09 which I plunked down good money for is now good for being a coaster on a table, and it does not even do THAT job very well.

Why has this occurred? How has Madden gone from being the pre-eminent game in sports to a useless hunk of junk? The answer, dear friend, is found in the economics of the situation.

EA Sports signed a lucrative deal with the NFL several years ago to become the sole provider of video games for the sport. Yes, the players got money for the use of their names in the product, but this eliminated competition completely. No competition= no incentive. Before, ESPN 2K5 gave Madden a run for their money, as people realized there was an alternative and spent their dollars elsewhere. There was a reason to make a game that worked properly, and not just the eye candy we have recently been treated with.

To add insult to injury, EA Sports also released a new version of Head Coach, the 06 version which I wrote about recently. Guess what? THAT game is also so filled with bugs that it is virtually unplayable. Yes, it looks nicer, has better music, animations and screen shots, but again, it does not matter if you can't play the game. EA should change it's motto to IF ITS IN THE GAME, ITS GOTTA BE LAME. Thankfully I did not waste my money there and am content to wait and see if they fix THOSE problems before I purchase another unplayable product.

Consequently, I am disappointed. I would like for Commissioner Goodell to either end the NFL's current contract with EA Sports or allow it to lapse, returning parity, accountability, and competition to the simulation of the NFL experience. If it's good enough for the players and coaches to have competition and be held accountable for their performance and actions, it's good enough for the products that represent the NFL.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

PS Thanks to TennVol for the following review, which comes from the EBGames website

Review by TennVol

I purchased the CE edition of Madden 09 so I could get Head Coach with it. Let me just say I was really excited to get my hands on this product cause it seemed to have a lot of promise from the stuff I had seen on it.

And then the other shoe dropped!

This game could be sooo fun and challenging if it were not for the over abundance of bugs and AI glitches.

Bug 1) If u use the play creator, it will permanently keeps players who are injured .... well.. injured. IF u have someone who says they will be back in 1 - 3 weeks, they will never come back. U have to end up trading them or cutting them.

Bug 2) The game sounds won't come on in the game till during the 2 minute warning. That's something they should have found during the testing phase I mean, come on!

Bug 3) If u save on certain days of the week, a contract bug will appear where scrub players will ask for HUGE contracts when u sign/re-sign them. I had a 65 overall cornerback asking for over 2 million a year at age 31!

Bug 4) Well, sort of a bug.. more like a game flaw. The AI of the game is in one word.... HORRIBLE! Running Backs who will run into defenders instead of going through huge holes that were opened by the offensive line. Wide receivers who will juke out of bounds for no reason at all. Quarterbacks that will throw the ball low on long routes and then lob it on a short route? I mean, this is a big issue in my book. The AI sliders in the game are even messed up. They have a Player AI and a CPU AI but the player AI does nothing at all! And trying to figure out what CPU AI settings to use so players don't act like they are out of a Ernest Goes to Football Camp movie is a nightmare

Bug 5) The Officiating is way too lopsided. They will call Face Mask Penalties on players taken down at the knees! They will over turn any good review for you but the CPU team will never have anything over turned and if one of the opposing teams players catches a ball out of bounds, it will be ruled a complete pass even though when u watch the instant replay, he feet are clearly in the white when he catches it. Poor programming in my opinion.

Bug 6) Two Minute Drills u can't stop in game WITHOUT calling a time out. Players won't spike the ball or attempt to kick a field goal on your team... they will just keep running the same play over and over and over till u get an incomplete pass or call a time out. No way to make real adjustments at all.

Now, EA claims to be working on a patch to fix this stuff but it is still a minimum of 2 weeks away and we have been dealing with this stuff for a month now.

In my opinion... don't buy now. Wait a month or two to see if they have truly completed this Beta Release of a game cause as it stands, it is a bad bad product.

Even with the release of numerous updates that EA have sent out via Xbox Live, this game is still buggy; even franchise mode is almost impossible to complete. I'd recommend NCAA 09 before this. Since we really don't have a choice in the matter of who makes our football games anymore, we are kinda left with this garbage. As a long time Madden fan, I sincerely will not recommend this game to anyone, unless you're desperate. Despite many new cool features it still lacks consistency for a football game. EA's developers are falling off and quick they need to do something and scrap this game and work super hard on next year's. And I really hope it's nowhere near this bad. If you did buy this game trade it in because no matter what, you just have a steamy pile of dump.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Holy Temple of Jerusalem, 1 of 5


[Click above for larger picture]

I recently visited a recreation of the Holy Temple of Solomon in Second Life. It was recreated to scale, using Old Testament measurements and specifications. It was completely awe-inspiring. In this scene, I am hovering above the temple in a panoramic view, looking down from above. The Romans placed symbols of Caesar on these buildings, and eventually destroyed this place, not wanting for their own works to be upstaged.

Note: the crenelations and outer wall proceed around the outside and left of the temple- they were extended so far away they were outside the draw distance allowed by my specifications in 2nd Life.

The Outer Courtyard, 2 of 5


[Click on above for larger image]

This is the outer courtyard of the Temple of Solomon. It was here that Jesus, as a young 12 year old boy, was found by his parents teaching men of the truths of Scripture with authority after he was left behind. It was here that young Jewish boys would come to say their prayers upon their bar mitzvah, and their recognition as an adult in Jewish society. It was here that Jesus drove the money changers from the temple with a whip. "Then Jesus went into the temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the moneychangers' tables and the chairs of those who sold doves. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV and KJ)


What thoughts and emotions are drawn up from within me as I visited this place. Can you see these scenes as I do?

Holy Temple, Scale, 3 of 5


[Click on above for larger image]

To get a better idea of the size of this place, I took a snapshot of the entrance to the inner courtyard. It was here that only men were allowed to proceed (and, if I am not mistaken, only men of the priesthood, perhaps only Levites.) I am standing with my feet spread before the massive double doors. The signs which you see are for visitors, and when you click on them you are given a note card with lots of history and interesting facts about the different parts of the temple and their functions.

Fascinating!

The Lost Ark of the Covenant, 4 of 5


[Click on above for larger picture]

According to Jewish legend, before the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Romans, the Ark was taken and buried in a chamber vault below the oil storage room, which was used to store oil for lamps. I felt very humbled as I viewed this recreation of the Ark, complete with the cherubim with outstretched wings and the Shekhinah glory which glowed from between them.

The Altar of Sacrifice, 5 of 5


[Click on above for larger picture]

This is the inner courtyard where only men were allowed. You can see the altar where families would make sacrifices to the Lord. To the left is a ceremonial washing urn that would be lowered into the well, then raised, the water pouring out through open spigots. Behind me through the double doors is the Holy of Holies. Once a year the high priest would make a sacrifice for the sins of the people. He had to be dressed in blessed ceremonial clothes, and a rope was tied to him lest he should die inside this place, where no one else was allowed.

Consequently, this recreation helped me to visualize what life was like in Jerusalem during Jesus' time. I am thankful for having the opportunity to have visited here.

I am also extremely thankful to Rabbi Writer ( a Jewish Rabbi who lives in Europe) of 2nd Life, who assembled this place prim by prim (piece by piece,) then colored each separate piece with a texture, in an incredibly massive work of reproduction, so that the love of God may be known. Thank you Rabbi Writer, and thank you Lord!

G. Houtchens

War


I watched a documentary this morning about the incident in Mogadishu, commonly known in America as the Blackhawk Down incident. This was not the Hollywood version, but rather a documentary made from interviews and recreations involving the soldiers themselves.

To recap, the US was engaged in a United Nations mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, in an attempt to end a bloody civil war where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. You can take a wild guess as to whether any Islamic factions were at the core of the fighting. Somalia was the country that earned notoriety years ago for a widespread famine, made famous by the late comedian Sam Kineson, who yelled at audiences that "plants don't grow in sand."

International relief efforts were being stopped by local militias. Food and medicine were being sold to neighboring countries in exchange for weapons. This is what spurred the UN into action.

A meeting was held at a house of tribal leaders in an attempt to broker a truce. The US received bad intelligence (does this sound familiar?) and the house and all its occupants were bombed to kingdom come. A Blackhawk helicopter flying low over the city was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade, then another one was shot down that came in support of a rescue effort for the survivors. The Somalis were, as a city, outraged, with women and children firing weapons at the besieged US Rangers and Delta Force Army units, who had barricaded themselves in four connecting houses in the city center.

A small international force was slowly assembled outside the city, numbering just over 100 troops. They made their way into the hornets nest at night, protected by several armored personnel carriers (tanks without cannons) and waited there for the survivors. Unfortunately, some American forces were being held hostage, and were unable to make their way to the rescue vehicles.

Before dusk, the vehicles pulled out, leaving behind numerous American troops. Some ran along behind the convoy, yelling "Wait! Wait!" as they were fired on from behind. President Clinton gave explicit orders to the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon NOT to remount another rescue mission. 18 brave men lost their lives in this failed mission. The next day videotape was released to the world showing bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets, spat upon, and degraded.

Here is the deal. I have mentioned this before. When you say the word "war," it means total commitment. Not until 18 soldiers die, and not until 4,000 troops die. Those men should not have been left behind. The commander in chief needs to have the wherewithal, the courage, the fortitude, the tenacity, to see a war through to its end, with the only acceptable result as victory. Our next president also needs the wisdom to make choices on when and where to commit our troops.

Freedom is never free. Our freedom comes with a price. We are in a war right now. You and I. Right here. Right now. Every day. But we don't even see or recognize it.

The war I speak of is spiritual. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12 "The believers continued to devote themselves to what the apostles were teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to times of prayer." Acts 2:42

Is the war we are engaged in recognized in your life? You are on the front lines, like it or not.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, October 10, 2008

Morning Prayer


Morning Prayer

Last week I was getting ready for work early one morning. As I was putting on my socks and shoes, Mikey, my 65 pound dog, started crying, because she did not want me to leave. I looked at her with compassion and went over to her and gave her a big hug and pressed my head against hers. She did not understand why I had to go to work, just that I was leaving, once again.

As I drove to work that day, I reflected upon the mornings events. I realized that in one way, I was a little bit like Mikey when it comes to the Lord, in that I do not understand the big picture, and at times, I get morose over events that are beyond my control. So, I cry out to Him and He comforts me through His Holy Spirit, although most of the time I am so blind and filled with tunnel vision of my surroundings I do not see the love that is waiting for me.

As I drove, I continued to pray the following prayer:

Dear Lord,

Please make me like Mikey, and Snoopy, may he rest in peace, that I may be without guile, and do what is right in Your sight.

Help me to rejoice at Your appearance, with love and affection and adoration, with jumping and great shouts of joy.

Help me to follow You and as Mikey follows me.

Help me to long for Your appearance.

Help me to see clearly, that I may not be troubled.

Thank you for these wonderful, beautiful companions, and their example of love towards me.

Most of all, let me be Yours, oh Lord. Let me be Yours.

Amen.

G.Houtchens

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Sister, Amy




What can one say about a sister that one has grown up with? There are contentions, certainly, through the childhood and teenage years as both of us sought to define our space within the household. Let any come between us though, and you will see us jump to one another's defense. There are idiosyncrasies and habits that remain throughout our lives that both annoy and endear us to one another. We have shared secrets and difficult times.

As children, we pretty much got on one another's nerves in a game of one upmanship that is common with any family household. What does not kill us makes us stronger, however, and I feel this is the case with Amy and I. I am indebted to Amy for learning understanding, patience and love. I have not always been the easiest person to get along with. I have been at times, selfish, spiteful and isolated.

We used to play a game involving macaroni and cheese. We would cook the macaroni, leaving one elbow out of the boiling water. Then when the macaroni was done, we would mix the milk and butter in with the powdered cheese sauce. After that we would replace the uncooked macaroni into the pot and stir vigorously. After the macaroni was evenly divided (one of us would divide the macaroni and the other one would get first choice, ensuring that no one got preferential treatment) we would sit down and eat, staring at each other with passive-aggressive glee, waiting in trepidation either to get a hard crunch or to erupt in laughter as the other got a surprise.

As we matured into the teenage years, I went through a period in the 8th grade where every other comment flying out of my mouth was sarcastic and rude. Amy had to deal with the receiving end of this usually as she was the closest target, and my parents got a little concerned. Basically, I was angry and upset and mad about my lot in life. Being a teenager is rough because one yearns to break free from the rulership of their parents and establish ones own identity. However, one is still treated in many ways like a kid. Amy had no one really to shift the blame onto vicariously when she went through it, as I was the older brother. Her experience of high school, I understand, was not as rosy as mine in retrospect, just trying to survive on a daily basis. Two experiences stand out, however- both occurred when I was a senior and she was a sophomore.

Amy came to me at one point during the school day crying and told me that a young man in her class named Glen was saying things about her in the hallway. Spreading rumors that she was a slut, saying bad things about her, etc- the thing that young girls fear as it causes ostracizing and social difficulties, and this means the world to them. I decided to find this guy and set him straight. Now, at the time I was known around campus as a Christian. I carried my bible around school, was involved in youth groups, was the chaplain for FCA and basically tried to get along with everyone. I discovered a most violent reaction within me that was not Christian at all, however. When I finally saw this guy in the corridors, I pulled him off to the side. "We need to talk, Glen." I basically told him that I had heard he was saying things around the school about my sister. He denied it. As I spoke my voice got quieter and I basically started growling what I was saying to him as I stared into his eyes and invaded his personal space. He backed up against the wall as I continued stepping forward making my point. "If I hear... that you are continuing to say things about my sister... I am going to PERSONALLY turn your FACE into HAMBURGER. GOT IT?" He did and I moved with my personal hurricane of rage slowly away, to make sure it stuck. NOBODY messes with my sister!

The other incident occurred after school hours. My sister was a party animal and one night when I was out on a date with my then girlfriend, we decided to visit a party at a person's house. When we arrived I discovered Amy was there, soaking wet in her clothes, and had been drinking (the drinking was not uncommon for the time- it had not yet become politically incorrect.) I told Amy I was taking her home and she wanted to stay and have fun. We had a disagreement and I started to drag her out. Well, Amy sat down next to a car tire in the garage (that was still attached to the car) and grabbed hold and would not let go. "Nooo! I want to stayyyy and have funnnn!" At that point my girlfriend and I (whom I had taken to the senior prom earlier in the year) had a miscommunication. She suggested that I just leave her there. To me, that was translated as: "Allow her to stay and get taken advantage of by the repulsive, horny, male, teenage, slimy dregs of humanity that were slouching around the house looking for a target."

I turned on her. "Don't you EVER come between me and my family!" I yelled into her face. Well, that was the end of that relationship. I continued to try to take Amy home, but she would not budge from the tire. I finally took my rapidly deteriorating girlfriend home, not caring how she felt. I was stinging because I had to leave my sister in harm's way.

As Amy has grown and matured, however, that stubborn-ness has served her well. It has changed into an incredible work ethic, which I think she got from Dad. She has rebounded from near bankruptcy shortly after college, finally establishing herself as a mortgage broker of some repute. She is on at least one regional committee that represents the mortgage industry to Congress, having gained the trust, confidence and recognition of her peers in the mortgage industry. She has met and socialized with Newt Gingrich and other Washington elites. She has won Businesswoman of the Year twice from the Business Advisory Council and was recognized with the National Leadership Award from Tom Delay in 2003.

She has been more than successful in her business, and has made it a success with her hard work in a field where large banks are cutting the legs out from under independent brokers. It's similar to the situation I read about with Wal Mart one time. Wal Mart was purposely underpricing the gas pumps at their stores, driving stations out of business because they could make up the profit with other merchandise that they sold inside, in bulk. They stopped this practice (I understand) when it started earning them a lot of bad publicity. The large banks, however, have no such worries about simple things like ethics.

I am in awe of her business achievements. In comparison, I am sort of a goofball, going day-to-day in a rather whimsical manner, not motivating myself very well in any endeavor I direct myself to. But there is more to Amy than that.

Amy has blossomed into a woman who is both beautiful and strong, compassionate with a heart that is tender, especially towards animals. She has survived through the difficulties of a very painful divorce, and come out stronger because of it.

As I examine our relationship as a mature teacher of 19 years, I think I can summarize it this way: Amy and I are like Ren and Stimpy. Yes, those two crazy cartoon characters who stretch the limits of decency. Amy is a bit like Ren the Chihuahua. Passionate about everything! Driven! Explosive! Filled with energy! I, on the other hand, am a bit like Stimpy the cat, who pauses to examine the fuzz that has accumulated in the navel of my belly, a bit introspectively and naively. It's ying and yang, but we understand each other and gain strength, wisdom and perspective from one another's counsel.

I am very proud of my sister, Amy, and am thankful to God for her presence in my life.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

John, John, John


I just finished watching the presidential debates tonight- I must say that I am disappointed with the performance of the candidate I am leaning towards, Senator John McCain. He was not as polished as Obama, not listing points as answers to questions and explaining them well. He also looked a bit of a fogy with that striped tie, as opposed to the thin satin red tie Obama chose. But, enough about appearances, let's move on to the discussion.

I think part of the reason why I was disappointed was that McCain did not pin down Obama on the issues regarding the platform of the Democratic party. He basically just gave him a free pass. For example, when they started the debate discussing the economy, McCain did not point out that part of the reason for the housing bubble bursting was lack of fiscal conservatism on the part of lending institutions. Yes, part of the reason is greed- banks (like Wamu) gambling on lots and lots of risky loans to make a buck, but the other part of it is the government mandating many of those bad loans. Obama characterized McCain with the blanket statement that all regulation is bad. No, Senator Obama, BAD legislation is bad, and in this case, it was bad legislation on the part of the Democratic party.

McCain also let Obama make many unchallenged statements. Among them, that Obama wanted to cut taxes for 95% of all Americans, and that he wanted to ensure health care for all Americans. He could have come back with such statements as, "I'm sure all Americans will enjoy the lines they have to wait in and the 6 month to 2 year wait for surgery that others in countries with nationalized medical practice enjoy, especially when the choice for nationalized medicine is made without their consent. Where will the Canadians go if they need immediate surgery?" Regarding taxes, he could have said "I was not aware that 95% of all Americans pay income taxes. How can you cut taxes for those who don't pay?" (This would have been a beautiful time to inject the argument for the fair tax- shame he does not support it.)

Obama has not effectively lead *any* legislation in the senate. Any time he referred to legislation he sponsored, it was with connection with another senator. Additionally, there was not one mention on the percent of "present" votes Obama has cast. "A vote for being 'present' is not the change we need, nor the leadership we deserve."

The Democratic party is the one that until very recently has *NOT* wanted to drill offshore, has *NOT* wanted to drill in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, and does *NOT* want to tap our oil reserves from shale. These are things that can help our gas prices. Why are you letting him skate on that issue, John?

When it came time to talk about overspending, McCain missed an outstanding opportunity. He mentioned a moratorium on spending, to which Obama replied, "Sounds like you are using a hatchet when you should be using a scalpel." He could have countered, "The hatchet worked quite well for President Reagan, thank you for the comparison."

Additionally, there was the discussion of North Korea and Iran. It was the Democrats under Clinton who sent a nuclear reactor to North Korea, and as a result they developed the bomb. North Korea tried to help Syria construct an atomic bomb facility (before the Israelis destroyed it.) Regarding Obama's desire to use diplomacy, he could have pointed out that it's dangerous to go into long drawn out talks when time is of the essence, and to have compared Obama's diplomacy to Jimmy Carter diplomacy. We remember what happened when Jimmy Carter tried diplomacy with the Iranians.

Last but not least, the issue of Pakistan, where he really could have scored points. To direct a question towards Obama: "What sir, will you say to the American people, when after we have launched an incursion into Pakistan's sovereign territory, and blown up Bin Laden and his crew, when Pakistan then lobs a nuclear missile or two at the heaviest concentrations of our troops across the border? What will you tell them then? I am interested in knowing what you will then say. You oppose the 4,000 deaths of our troops so far. What will you say to America if you start a nuclear war with Pakistan?"

McCain did score some points with experience, but he was far from polished. Get with it, John- show your intelligence, wisdom and ability to handle the office of the president. Get a new suit that's a little more slimming. Attack your opponent on his vulnerable positions. Make your arguments concise and to the point. Emphasize your strong points, and don't let your opponent go unchallenged.

"Your ploy of tying me with Bush due to his unpopularity is getting a bit old, Sentaor Obama. Let's drop that and I will stop calling you the second Carter administration."

That's my take- what about yours?

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fall Break 08

[Above- the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten]

Oh, wow. It has been a while and I am ready to write again. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and had thought of writing an article in support of Bush on the single issue of our country remaining safe in the years since 9/11, but Ann Coulter beat me to the punch. It's fine; I usually don't read her stuff, but she was very eloquent and wrote a much better article on the topic than I ever could. (link)

Fall break is here and it could not come soon enough. I am enjoying working with the students and faculty this year at my new school. Here are some ideas that I have been planning for my blog, that have been simmering on the back burner in my shining, buffed head:

1. Semper Paratus- about my life and times in the US Coast Guard.
2. Factions- discussion of the apostles and the role of different Christian denominations and how they each individually fill a place in God's purpose for the church.
3. Danger, Will Robinson- a discussion of character analysis in writing fiction.
4. Update for the story, "Modern Slavery" (already done- corrected names and uploaded picture from 1988.)
5. Amy- a letter of appreciation for my sister, Amy.
6. Maddening- a rant about EA Sports.
7. Cantstandja- a comparison between George Kastanza, from Seinfeld, and myself.
8. Rockytop, Tennessee- a lighthearted practical joke I played on one of my colleages at work.
9. Graham Crackers- how the daily devotional by Billy Graham is food for the soul.
10. I Love the Barefoot Contessa- discussion of the cooking show, "The Barefoot Countessa."

That should keep me busy this week. In the meantime, my main computer is down and out for the count as the registry seems to have a glass jaw. It's at the repair shop again.

That's all for now. Let's see if I can get these articles done.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, August 29, 2008

Armchair Coach

[Above: Screenshot from NFL Head Coach 06]

Well, I have settled into my new job at Mill Creek Middle School, and have been blessed with a wonderful team of professionals to work with as well as an outstanding administration and a good group of kids to teach this year.

You may have wondered about my title of "armchair coach," in my articles. You are about to find out why I chose that designation.

Recently, I reinstalled NFL Head Coach out of the boredom of the preseason of the NFL, and have been working my magic to assemble a team worthy of going to the Super Bowl. Part of the fun is taking the job of the General Manager in order to make trades, sign free agents and manage the salary cap. Because the original 06 version was a little bugged, I was unable to take the reins of the Atlanta Falcons and so settled for the task of rearming the Steelers for a repeat performance. The game itself is driven by statistics, so I had to assemble my team based solely from a stat-based orientation. That being said, I quickly traded Rothlesburger to the Cardinals for their first round pick, and kicked the bus, Jerome Bettis to the curb for only having a year left of productivity. ( Sorry, Paul )

Only the younger, elite players were immune to my cutting and trading pen of doom. I was throwing players around like pieces of meat, like a stockbroker on Wall Street on the trading floor. "Who loves ya, baby?" I would ask, as I signed moderaterly skilled veterans, only to immediately turn around and trade their keisters to the highest bidder for draft picks. "What'llyahave? What'llyahave?" I asked holding up my players contracts as I wheeled and dealed with the other teams GM's. When all was said and done, I had accumulated ( a bit unrealistically, but it was fun nonetheless,) a decent draft day ensemble, and then simulated the proceedings several times to see where the computer thought players would be picked. I then traded up above those picks and took the players I wanted in the draft, as fitting for an armchair coach such as myself. Here are the results of my hard fought wrangling:

Round 1 Pick 3: QB Matt Leinhart (note: this pick effectively switched QB's between the Steelers and the Cards)
Round 1 Pick 4: HB Reggie Bush (*very* fast and agile, able to break tackles for big gains)
Round 1 Pick 5: DE Mario Williams (unlike in real life, due to his stats he will become the premier sack leader in the league for years to come)
Round 1 Pick 26: CB Jimmy Williams (he will not balloon and gain 35 pounds nor lose his work ethic as he did in real life)
Round 1 Pick 30: CB Antonio Cromartie ( a virtual clone of Jimmy Williams with great speed, strength and tackling ability, he will prowl the secondary looking for heads to knock off)
Round 2 Pick 5: FS Ko Simpson ( speed like the wind, no one will beat him deep; a perfect complement to SS Polamalu )
Round 2 Pick 16: QB Charlie Whitehurst ( akin to Matt Schaub; excellent pinpoint passing, but lacking in arm strength- a perfect pick for a backup QB)
Round 2 Pick 28: LB Ernie Sims ( outstanding speed for a linebacker, a good pick for a project LB)

I signed all my rookies to 7 year deals, and although costing more initially because they don't want to be locked in, it will pay off in the long run as they increase in stats over the years they will want significantly larger paychecks. Currently I am working towards picking up the few players I missed in the draft that will turn from small acorns into solid gold performers. The other teams want an arm and a leg for them, but it will eventually turn out in my favor.

Preseason practice starts next week, and I am looking forward to putting all my skills and armchair coaching philosophies into play. I also discovered that EA Sports will be putting out an 09 version of NFL Head Coach. Perhaps they will fix the glitches they were so reluctant to address in the last edition.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, August 1, 2008

One Wish


I was thinking the other day. There was once, a long time ago, an incredible opportunity. An inconceivable opportunity. A very, very rare thing occurred. It was during King Solomon's time. King Solomon traveled to a place called Gibeon, and there was granted a wish by God in a dream. 1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

I thought about this wish. What would I wish for, if I were given a wish? That I could be like Superman? That I could win the lottery? That I could be happy with my self image? That I could have power or fame or love? Sure, I would like to be married to my perfect soul mate- one who would complete me. To love and be loved, to know and be known.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized something. In my heart of hearts, what I really want is to love God. That's what I really want. I want to love God. I want to be His. I want to not sin. All other things are nothing in comparison.

That's what I would wish for, if I had a wish.

G. Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Have a Fever- and the Only Prescription... Is More Cowbell


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhSkRHXTKlw

Embedding disabled- click on the above link and enjoy =)

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hitchens vs. Houtchens


Dinesh D'Souza vs. Christopher Hitchens: My Response

This morning I read the beginnings of an article about a debate between Hitchens and D'Souza. I stopped halfway through because I did not want to hear Dr. D'Souza's response. Rather, I wanted to place myself in the debate in his shoes. It seems the intelligent Dr. Hitchens came up with an argument D'Souza had a hard time with. Here is the section of the article that I read:


In my debate with atheist Christopher Hitchens in New York last October he raised a point that I did not know how to answer. So I employed an old debating strategy: I ignored it and answered other issues. But Hitchens' argument bothered me.

Here's what Hitchens said. Homo sapiens has been on the planet for a long time, let's say 100,000 years. Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition. After all, cave-man's plight was a miserable one: infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death. Evidently God didn't really care.

Then, a few thousand years ago, God said, "It's time to get involved." Even so God did not intervene in one of the civilized parts of the world. He didn't bother with China or Egypt or India. Rather, he decided to get his message to a group of nomadic people in the middle of nowhere. It took another thousand years or more for this message to get to places like India and China.

Here is the thrust of Hitchens' point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this?

An excellent point, which I concede to Hitchens. However, in his arguments he omits the following ideas:

1. If God is our creator, and indeed the author of all life, and if our attempt to understand Him with our finite, mortal, dimly-lit perspective of things on this side of eternity is lacking, then is it not God's standards which should be applied to us and not the other way around? Some were born with your intelligence, Dr. Hitchens; some have been born mentally retarded. Since when should you apply your own standards of "fairness" to God? Intelligence and wisdom are two different things, sir.


2. You mention "infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death." You imply that God was not there, or did not care because these things took place then. In some places (the United States,) even worse infant mortality exists today. Does this mean that God did not care? I would take quite the opposite approach. God was there in the gas chambers when the Jews were massacred by the Nazi's in WWII. God was there at the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, and in the Pentagon when those people died. Scientific methodology makes a poor meter stick for measuring spiritual truth. How can one measure the essence of a man's heart? So then, you seek to apply this meter stick to God's motivations? Here is an anvil, Dr. Hitchens. Please use it to measure an exact quantity of a liter of water.


3. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You claim that God has not been present for 98% of human history. God either did not care for or has not been present in China, Egypt or India. Dr. Hitchens, here is an idea that is too hot for you to handle, and its a simple one, too. So simple, even Forrest Gump could understand it. *Everywhere there is life, it is evidence of the existence and presence of God, for God is the author of life.* If you even thought to acknowledge this, it would undermine your entire life philosophy, something that you do not want to do, lest you reap the consequences.


4. Why do you question God's existance, Dr. Hitchens? What is *your* motivation? I can't say for sure, but here is a quote from you: "Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition." It seems to me you are bitter, sir. Bitter and angry and resentful. It seems to me that you use your intelligence to justify your bitterness. In this, I can only shake my head in wonder. God deliver us all from bitterness, and the vanity of self-justification.


I am reminded of Psalm 2- here it is:


Psalm 2
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Seems like this is not the first time these questions have been asked....

G.Houtchens
armchair coach

amateur historian

Monday, July 7, 2008

Smile ! Al Queda Loves You !


This morning I watched an informal discussion on ABC news video between Senator Lieberman (I) Connecticut and Senator Reed (D) Rhode Island having a discussion moderated by George Stephanopolis about foreign policy. They both addressed questions of Obama's flip flopping on the Iraq issue in order to attract centrist voters. (Obama had previously said during the debates that he would call the troops home immediately regardless of conditions on the ground; he is now mitigating his stance.) They went back and forth on it a while and I could see that both sides had a point.

One thing, however stuck out in my mind. Senator Reed said this about Al Queda at the very end of the interview, and I would like to call him on it- I wish Lieberman had, but they were out of time. Reed said that Al Queda was not waiting to plan an attack. My point is this- yes they are! Thats *exactly* what they are doing. They are smart enough to know, and so are you, that if an attack occurred between now and the elections, McCain would be swept into office in a landslide. They would *much* rather have the Jimmy Carter clone who favors unilateral negotiations regardless of any freeze of Iran's nuclear weapons program, which is what Europe has spent the last 2 years working on. If this were to occur, it would open yet another round of "talks" allowing Iran to complete their nuclear weapons program.

Now, Iran is not stupid. They would not launch nuclear missiles at Israel and insure their annihilation. They would NOT, however, be above giving one or more nuclear weapons to a fanatical group to use then holding their innocent, clean hands up to the world saying, "We don't know who did this." Are you beginning to see the writing on the wall?

The US is in a catch-22 though. If Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, the border with Iraq and Iraq itself will be the site of a retaliatory attack by Iran. The other middle eastern countries would not like to see a nuclear Iran (although they would like to have nuclear weapons themselves, like Syria tried to obtain from North Korea.)

Thankfully, we are in God's hands. I am going to add preventing a nuclear holocaust to my prayers. It seems that we are closer to this than we have been since the cold war. The thought of a nuclear strike by terrorists... leaves me chilled.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

The Blood of the Innocent

[Above- Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals]

Last night as I was driving home from the store for a quick pick-up of Reece's Peanut Butter cups, I drove into my driveway and noticed a cat leaping off into the woods from near my garage door. As I got out and began walking up the driveway towards the sidewalk, I was greeted by an incredibly heart-wrenching sight. A kitten, 7 inches long, crushed and bleeding on the driveway. I checked to see if its eyes responded to light and saw no change. I said a brief prayer for the poor animal, whom I did not even know I had run over when it happened, asking God to keep it from pain and to grant a quick departure to better places.

I went inside to get some plastic bags to wrap it in for disposal. When I went back out to take care of the poor little kittens corpse, I saw it was still breathing, struggling to take ragged, wet breaths once every 15 seconds. What do I do? I felt I had no choice. I carefully bundled the small, broken animal on top of the plastic bags and took it in my truck for a trip to the emergency animal hospital. It continued to breath, but when I was a little more than halfway to the hospital, it curled up oddly, shook its hind legs a bit and died, there on the passenger seat.

I turned around and came home, with a sad feeling in my heart. I called my friend Mary to talk to her about it, and she was very helpful and supportive to me. I prayed again, and asked the little animal to forgive me and went to bed.

This morning I asked the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi, to look after the little kitten who died.

In retrospect, as I think about the terrific struggle this small creature had, trying to cling to life, it reminds me of the price Jesus paid, how difficult his struggle must have been, to lay his life down purposefully, in obedience to God, on our behalf. It is one thing to say, yes, Jesus died for us. It is quite another to see firsthand, this innocent creature, blood flowing from its helpless body, matting its fur, and imparting and understanding that suffering and more to Christ, God's son.

Dear Jesus, Please forgive me for taking your suffering for granted. Forgive me for taking your obedience for granted. Thank you for showing me a little of what you went through, and forgive me for it taking the life of an innocent one in order for you to get my attention. Let this lesson stay with me, and not be forgotten. Amen.
Glenn

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Objections from the Left, Discussion


[Above: Obama celebrates as his policy of placing national security on the back burner (in favor of individual freedoms for terrorists) results in the inevitable consequences]

OK, folks, the wheels are turning again this morning. I am no fan of government- basically, where power exists, it is my opinion that those who are attracted to such positions (politics) are the ones who are most likely to abuse it. I read a bullet point this morning detailing a list of grievances from the left. These positions are liberal ones, and as the junior senator from Illinois has the most liberal voting record in Congress (to the left of Ted Kennedy even) it is his platform (represented by the following list) that I object to.

While I don't consider myself to be a Republican, I do consider myself to be a moderate conservative. I wrote about Obama last June. (http://houtchblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/obama-does-not-get-it.html) He has recently been courting Christian evangelicals. More about this later. As you go through the list, you can find many similarities between the conditions found on the list and those that were present in pre-WWII Germany. (amateur historianwise-speaking, hehe)

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
It is a good thing to question ones leaders. Blind obedience to a party or person (with the exception of Jesus, who will *never* disappoint) opens one up to being misled. I find this objection to be an excuse for blaming the world's ills on America. It is an excuse for America-hating, basically. Now, does the US government have a lot to answer for? Yes! (especially in regard to the UFO cover up.) But it is not to blame for every social ill that leftists (lets go ahead and call them what they are- commies) see fit to lay at the feet of our nation. "We need something to rant about so we can be like we were in the '60's! Death to pigs!"

2. Distain for the recognition of human rights
This is a thinly-veiled reference to the prisoners in Guantanamo. And they are right about one thing- they deserve justice, not limbo. Bush failed here in not ordering the army to begin military court marshals within 6 months after they had arrived. These prisoners deserve to be released, to have sentences of hard labor, or death. Those arguing the above point would quickly change their minds should the prisoners be released into their neighborhoods. It's an argument of convenience, as long as they have to pay no personal cost themselves.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
It's the EEEVIL Muslims! THEY are the cause of our ills! No, its select groups of Muslims, such as Osama Bin Laden and those who support terror to achieve their goals. That's not to say that most Muslims would oppose Sharia law across the face of the earth. They wouldn't. It's the method of implementation that differentiates them.

4. Supremacy of the military
Since WHEN has the military had an effect on national politics? OH YES! It was those pesky military personnel who wanted to have their absentee ballots counted in the 2000 election in Florida. Yes, the ones that the Democratic party hired lawyers for in order to keep those ballots from counting. Forgive me, I had completely forgotten. When someone is laying their life on the line for their country in a foreign land, THEIR votes MOST DEFINITELY should not count, especially if it means our candidate does not get elected.

5. Rampant sexism
This one I absolutely agree with. There IS rampant sexism in America. Especially in regard to divorce, where women hold *all* the cards and they know it. They get the kids, they get the house, they get spousal support and child support, and the husband gets nothing but bills and the loss of being involved with his children. Oh, joy. It's almost the exact opposite of what occurs in Muslim countries, but in a legal viewpoint rather than both a legal and social one.

6. Controlled mass media
The media just LOVES Bush. Yup! They simply adore him. And they are controlled by the government to say JUST WHAT Bush wants them to say. They know that if they say *anything* bad about Bush or his administration, they will be locked up and the station shut down. The mass media sure is controlled all right. But by whom?

7. Obsession with national security
Preventing another 9/11 should be the last thing on our minds. Never mind that the terrorism on our soil has been prevented for 7 years. National security should be our lowest priority, until we get attacked again. Never mind about the Al Queda cells that were found operating within the United States and Great Britain. Never mind about the bombings on the London subway and the one in Spain. Al Queda loves Spain since they elected a government that pulled their troops out. We should do anything that will make Al Queda happy, so they wont hurt us. I have another word for this: Jimmy Carter diplomacy.

8. Religion and government are intertwined
Lets have a national ballot to put the ACLU's agenda to the voters. Lets make it law to remove every mention of God from the public workplace, lest someone get "offended." Remove all crosses from military graveyards. Remove all mention of God from our currency. Remove and decommission all military chaplains from their posts. All at taxpayer expense I might add. You KNOW the results of what this national referendum would be. That's why the ACLU does not want their agenda put to a national referendum. They would rather make changes to our society through the back door of the courts.

9. Corporate power is protected
So what shall we do about this? Force every big company from the territory of our country through oppressive tax codes! MAKE Microsoft move to Canada! (which almost happened) SHOVE General Motors and GE down to Mexico! FORCE all those evil, powerful, rich bigwigs to leave! That will show them! Oh, yes, remind me to enroll in an Economics 101 class when I get the chance.... By the way, what happened to my job?

10. Labor power is suppressed
Every industry should be unionized. Power to the people! We can force industry to pay us what is our due. And while we are at it, we can flush our industry down the drain because with higher prices due to higher wages, our trade deficit will make us slaves to countries overseas. I can't wait to be completely and utterly dependent on China for all my consumer goods (which is closer to reality than I am comfortable with.) What is China doing with all our American dollars? Oh, yes! Upgrading and expanding their military in ungodly proportions with US submarine and nuclear secrets. Thanks, President Clinton!

11. Distain for intellectuals and the arts
Whatever would I do without knowing that my tax dollars were used to pay for a $40,000 piece of ... art, that consisted of a jeep covered with hay? Or that my tax dollars were used to sponsor an artwork that featured the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung? Everyone knows that intellectuals that are professors in universities across our nation are the most accepting, most non-judgmental, most non-discriminatory people in our nation, especially when it comes to viewpoints that they do not share. Really! Just ask Ben Stein!

12. Obsession with crime and punishment
Criminals are beautiful people. They should be loved and trusted, not put into prison. They just had some bad breaks. Like robbing people at gunpoint, stealing things that don't belong to them, selling addicting illegal drugs, shaking merchants down for "protection money" and making other people's lives nightmares through identity theft. They are just like us, only different. They wont do that again if we let them go, I promise.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
This, I agree with. The only thing about it is that the Democrats are just as bad about it as the Republicans. My answer? 1. More issues should be placed on national ballots. 2. Completely eliminate "earmarks." 3. Term limits. 4. Allot TV time by candidates as they do in England, not facilitated by campaign contributions or special interest groups.

14. Fraudulent elections
Hanging chads? Do we REALLY want to go there again? I know, lets TAX people and businesses for the pollution they cause and the energy they consume! Yeah, THATS the answer!

Thanks to Roger Mexico and Stranger on the Town of Fark.com for the bullet points and photoshopped image of Obama

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, July 4, 2008

Not Marvelous



There was a game I was involved with several years ago, called City of Heroes. In it, one can make a Superhero or Supervillain, complete with costume and super powers and save or terrorize the city at will, which in my mind seems kind of fun. There are several classes of hero one can choose which basically break down into several different roles. The tanker type, which is good at resisting damage (Superman,) the quick, agile, tactician which is good at dealing out damage (Batman,) the "blaster" who is fragile but does good damage (Green Lantern,) and various support types who heal or defend. You may notice that all the heroes I listed were from DC and not Marvel. There's a reason for that.

You see, Marvel got a kink in their backside because of people actually having fun with this game. It seems that they were upset because people could reproduce the image, likeness, name or powers of some of their superheroes. Because WE own the rights to these creations, WE are going to hire lawyers to sue the pants off you. How nice of you, Marvel. Someone actually thinks enough of your characters to emulate them in an online superhero game, and you threaten to shut the thing down completely for all users, whether they are emulating your heroes or not, by shutting down the business with your lawsuit.

And how many creations does Marvel own? Bunches and bunches of them. Their website says they have over 5,000 characters. And NO ONE is allowed to emulate any of them, because some genius in the 60's came up with an idea for a certain super power, a certain costume, a certain name, they own it. Uh huh. But the story does not stop there, dear reader, oh no.

Marvel hired lawyers who took the case to court. They presented evidence of "their" heroes being used in the game. But guess what- it was the lawyers themselves who had created the accounts for the expressed purpose of recreating these heroes so that the case could be brought to trial. It is against official NCSoft policy to copy existing heroes. There is no way these lawyers could have used this evidence without letting Marvel know exactly what they were doing. So, as far as I am concerned, Marvel is complicit, and I throw them in with the lawyers as scum sucking toadstools who are worth no more than the price they intended to exact from the gaming community.

NCSoft eventually settled the lawsuit out of court, and thankfully it did not put them out of business. But its the nature of the thing- its not about how much they asked, its about how they went about it.

So I have decided to vote with my wallet in our free enterprise system. I will not view any movies based on Marvel characters nor will I buy the DVDs when they come out. I ceased being a fan when I heard about this incident. I urge others to do the same. Perhaps Marvel will learn someday not to bite the hand that feeds it- I kind of doubt it though.

cc: Marvel Public Relations

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

PS After writing this story, I discovered that Marvel was also involved in using lawyers to threaten a simple pre-screening of one of their movies (which was approved by Paramount and the theater mentioned, I might add.) http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/29/oh-my-god/

Perhaps they can officially affiliate themselves with Scientology and then they can begin suing anyone who even mentions their name. That would "suit" them well, it seems.