I’m not one for sentimental reflections.  I didn’t follow the trend on Facebook of doing a “My 2012” review.  It seemed cheesy and inappropriate for the year that I’ve had.  As Jen and I were talking last night after church, it occurred to us that it has been a year since our daughter was diagnosed with multiple heart defects. This has been the best and worst year of my life.  It truly is the year I never hoped for, but it is the year God graciously walked me through.

My first baby picture

One year ago this week, we went to a pediatric cardiologist for the first time.  We hoped against hope that our sweet Lily would be just fine.  We hoped that all the doctors and specialists were simply mistaken and that there was nothing wrong with her. How could there be anything wrong with my baby girl? Let alone something so terrifying as a heart defect? After our first meeting with the pediatric cardiologist, we learned that our Lily not only had one heart defect – she had four.  Words cannot describe the emotional roller coaster that we embarked upon that day.  I could write a book about our experiences, but I will limit this post to listing things that I am grateful for from this year.

I am thankful for my wife Jennifer

My Wife and Daughter in the PICU

This is a picture of my wife and daughter a few days after Lily’s open-heart surgery.  That tower of IVs is about 2/3 as full as it was the first days after the surgery, when I didn’t have the heart (or the wits about me) to take a picture of it.  My wife is a saint.  I love her, and I am immensely thankful for her.  In the midst of all of this, her conduct has reminded me constantly of why I fell in love with her.  This was the most heart-wrenching and difficult time of our life together, but we made it through it. I love you Jennifer.

I am thankful for our families

We were blessed to have near constant companionship from our families throughout our stay in the hospital, and they have continued lovingly supporting us over the months that followed.  The love and support that they have shown us can never be repaid.  We love y’all.

I am thankful for our friends

When Lily was in surgery, we had over a dozen of our friends sitting and waiting with us.  They prayed, ate, laughed, and cried with us.  I will never forget those hours.  You guys (and gals) that were there: you will never know what a blessing that was.  We had tons of people supporting us.  We received so many meals, gifts, emails, notes, calls, cups of coffee, texts, etc. that I could never hope to thank each person properly. So, Thank you to all of y’all.

I am thankful for our Church

Sojourn East - Louisville

We had been at Sojourn East just a few months when we found out Lily’s diagnosis.  From day one, our church stood side by side with us.  I am thankful for every sermon and every song that broke and restored me over 12 months of fear, pain, and joy. I am thankful for that one usher that prayed with me on the Sunday after Lily’s surgery while I wept in the back of the auditorium. I don’t know your name dude, but you were the body of Christ to a brother in need that day. I am thankful for my elders and deacons that loved on us through the midst of all of this.  I am thankful for our community group that served as a second family.

I am thankful for my job

Prima has been incredible to me this year.  I was shown immense flexibility as I learned to deal with life-altering changes.  My co-workers are some of my closest friends, and they too served us in innumerable ways this year.

I am thankful for Kosair Children’s Hospital

Praise God for a place with such excellent doctors and nurses as Kosair’s.  Praise God  for the care Lily received, and the kindness and concern shown to Jen and me every day.

I am thankful for medical technology

Lily’s heart defects were noticed in an ultrasound when Jen was 17 weeks pregnant.  Think about that. That’s crazy.  I am thankful that we were forewarned about Lily’s condition.  We had months to prepare for her surgery and care.  This is a blessing.  Some dear friends of ours faced a similar situation with about three days’ notice, and they handled it exceedingly well, but I am thankful that we had the time to prepare.

I am thankful for godly musicians

I am a musician at heart.  God continually ministered to me through music over the past year. I wrote one post about it: Farther Along.

And of course….I am thankful for my sweet daughter

My daughter at christmasThis is my sweet girl.  She is doing incredibly well.  We still see a ton of doctors, but by all accounts, she is a normal little girl.  She is sweet. She is independent. She is hilarious.

So, 2012 wasn’t the year I hoped for, but it’s the year I got. I have learned more what faithfulness truly means.  God is faithful in the midst of our worst times.  He shows Himself to us through little bits of grace: a cup of coffee, a hug, a meal, a shared laugh during a hard time.  Thank you to all of you that ministered to us through this time.

Until later friends…

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Welcome to the final installment of the For Aslan Christmas Gift Guides.  This guide will help you find a great gift for your evangelical theology nerd loved ones. This list is a mixture of really great books you can get for cheap and multi-volume collections that most theology nerds are too poor to buy for themselves.  These are all great gifts for your pastor, youth pastor, poor seminarian, theological blogger, or armchair theologian.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $0-$25

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke$7.19

Thielicke Young Theologians

(http://www.christianbook.com/a-little-exercise-for-young-theologians/helmut-thielicke/9780802811981/pd/2811981?product_redirect=1&Ntt=2811981&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP)

If you know someone in seminary or Bible college, I implore you to buy them this book.  This book is a swift kick in the gut to pride that can swell up when people get a semester’s worth of theology and Greek under their belts.  Thielicke provides a great reminder that the study of God produces humility when done properly.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler$8.99

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

(http://www.amazon.com/The-Explicit-Gospel-Re-Lit/dp/1433530031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354111467&sr=8-1&keywords=explicit+gospel)

Matt Chandler is one of my favorite preachers alive.  He is an excellent example of biblical preaching, and he has glorified God throughout his suffering with cancer (Don’t Waste Your Cancer an Interview with Matt Chandler).

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney$10.87

Whitney Spiritual Disciplines

(http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Disciplines-Christian-Pilgrimage-Growth/dp/1576830276)

Most young Christians that ask their youth pastor how to grow “deeper” in their faith will receive an answer somewhere along the lines of “Pray and read your Bible.”  This is true, but Donald Whitney provides very real and practical steps in this modern classic.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer$11.99

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

(http://www.christianbook.com/knowing-god-j-i-packer/9780830816507/pd/1650X?item_code=WW&netp_id=101130&event=ESRCG&view=details)

Other than the Bible, this is my favorite book on earth.

Martin Luther Bobblehead$18.95

Luther Bobblehead

(http://oldlutheran.cybrhost.com/oldlutheran/page.php?page=store&Screen=PROD&Store_Code=OL&Product_Code=800&Category_Code=HO)

Does anyone really need a Martin Luther bobblehead? No.  Would many people appreciate it as a gift? Yes.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones$19.48

Sermon on Mount by Martyn Lloyd Jones

(http://www.amazon.com/Studies-Sermon-Mount-Martyn-Lloyd-Jones/dp/080280036X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354112352&sr=8-1&keywords=sermon+on+the+mount+martyn)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a brilliant expositor of the Bible.  This is a very long book, but it is worth the price and the time needed to read it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge$32.34

Bethge Bonhoeffer

(http://www.amazon.com/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Biography-Eberhard-Bethge/dp/0800628446/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354111563&sr=1-2&keywords=dietrich+bonhoeffer+biography)

This is the exemplary biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Everyone loves Bonhoeffer, conservative evangelicals and theological liberals alike.  If you want to get them an actual Bonhoeffer book, go for Discipleship or Life Together.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $25-$50

Spurgeon’s Sermons, 5 Volumes by Charles H. Spurgeon$49.99

Spurgeon's Sermons

(http://www.christianbook.com/spurgeons-sermons-5-volumes/charles-spurgeon/9781598568325/pd/568325?en=google-pla&kw=church-and-pastoral-40-60&p=1167941&gclid=CL2b7Mfr8bMCFQU5nAoduikAXg)

Spurgeon was amazing.  All theology nerds get a bit geeked out about Spurgeon.  Plus, this set looks great on a bookshelf.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $50-$100

God, Revelation, and Authority, 6 Volumes by Carl F. H. Henry$96.99

Carl F. H. Henry God, Revelation, and Authority

(http://www.christianbook.com/god-revelation-authority-6-volumes/carl-henry/9781581340563/pd/40567?product_redirect=1&Ntt=40567&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP)

Carl F. H. Henry founded Christianity Today.  He was one of the great evangelical voices of the 20th century, and this is the pinnacle of Henry’s scholarship.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $100+

Church Dogmatics, 14 Volumes by Karl Barth – $129.99

Karl Barth Dogmatics

(http://www.christianbook.com/church-dogmatics-14-volumes/karl-barth/9781598564426/pd/564426?kw=karl%20barth%20dogmatics&event=PPCSRC&p=1018818&gclid=CISj0eTq8bMCFQkFnQod9EUAVQ )

I love Karl Barth. True, we have some major theological differences, but I respect him a ton.  This work usually costs upwards of $400, however, in recent years this publication has come out for much cheaper.

The Early Church Fathers, 38 Volumes – $229.99

Early Church Fathers

(http://www.christianbook.com/the-early-church-fathers-38-volumes/9781565630819/pd/30815?event=CF)

So…this is wicked expensive.  Most of these works are available online now.  But we all know reading a book on real paper is 1,000 times better than reading on an e-reader or computer screen.  This would be a great gift for someone if a bunch of people pitched in, but I personally think it’s a crazy amount of money to drop by yourself.

Until later friends…

After a nice Thanksgiving weekend, I am greeting you this Cyber Monday with a continuance of the For Aslan Christmas Gift Guides.  Below you will find a series of gifts, arranged according to price, that are sure to please your favorite History Buff.  While a nice trip to a Civil War battle site or a museum would be great gifts for history buffs, you can’t give those gifts from a laptop while sitting on your couch in your underwear.  Everything on this list, you can.

GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $0-$25

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque – $10.20

All Quiet on the Western Front

(http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Western-Front-Erich-Remarque/dp/0449911497/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353950398&sr=1-1&keywords=all%27s+quiet+on+the+western+front)

This is one of the best war novels of all time.  This book captures the horrors of trench warfare, and it accurately represents the German sentiments during World War I.  You could also get them the film, which is a classic.

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion by Edward Larsen – $11.53

Summer for the Gods

(http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Gods-Americas-Continuing-Religion/dp/046507510X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353950504&sr=1-1&keywords=Summer+for+the+gods)

This book concerns the Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN.  This trial captured the cultural shift of the United States as Christian fundamentalism retreated from the public square.  This book is fair and balanced.

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789-1815 by Gordon Wood$13.37

Empire of Liberty by Gordon Wood

(http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Liberty-History-Republic-1789-1815/dp/0199832463/ref=la_B000AP9O7A_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353950634&sr=1-1)

Gordon Wood is one of the premier American historians.  This book covers a fascinating era of American history, and every American needs to know more about the War of 1812.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond – $17.82

Guns, Germs, and Steel

(http://www.amazon.com/Guns-Germs-Steel-Fates-Societies/dp/0393061310/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353949780&sr=1-1&keywords=guns+germs+and+steel)

Guns, Germs, and Steel is required reading for many college history classes.  It is a general world history book concerning the three main downfalls of society: guns, germs, and steel.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown – $18.45

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

(http://www.amazon.com/Bury-Heart-Wounded-Knee-Illustrated/dp/1402793375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353950262&sr=8-1&keywords=bury+my+heart+at+wounded+knee )

A helpful balance to the white-man’s version of American history so many of us received growing up.  This book details the horrid things done to the Native Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer – $19.79

Rise Fall of the Third Reich

(http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Third-Reich-History/dp/1451651686/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353949909&sr=1-1&keywords=the+rise+and+fall+of+the+third+reich)

William Shirer was a reporter in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.  He provides excellent firsthand accounts of the rise and fall of the Nazi regime.

GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $25-50

The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set) by Shelby Foote – $47.33

Civil War by Shelby Foote

(http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-Narrative-Vol-Set/dp/0394749138/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353949830&sr=1-1&keywords=shelby+foote+civil+war+3+volume+set)

Shelby Foote is just great.  He is a fantastic storyteller.  If you (or your favorite history buff) are interested in the Civil War, these are the books to read.  They are entertaining and informative.

Various Historic Memorabilia from Ebay

Presidential Buttons on eBay

(http://ebay.com)

There are tons of interesting things online from all periods of history.  Just be careful not to buy a reproduction, unless that’s what you’re shopping for.

GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $50+

The Second World War (6 Vol. Set) by Winston Churchill – $74.55

Churchill Second World War

(http://www.amazon.com/Second-World-War-Six-Boxed/dp/039541685X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353950442&sr=1-1&keywords=winston+churchill+the+second+world+war)

Winston Churchill was one of the great heroes of World War II.  In this 6 volume set, he recounts the history of the second world war as only Winston Churchill could.

Netflix (1 Year Subscription) – $84

Netflix Logo

(http://www.netflix.com )

Netflix? Really? Oh yeah. If your history buff does not have Netflix, give them a subscription.  There are tons of documentaries.  Ken Burns’ Baseball, The Civil War, The War, and Jazz make it worth the price alone. Plus, there are many other great non-Ken Burns documentaries.

Happy Shopping.

Until later friends…

Coffee and Coffee Snobbery are recurring themes on this site.  As you know, I work for the nice guys at Prima Coffee.  Naturally, I have a fair amount to say about coffee equipment.  Many coffee snobs find themselves (to their chagrin) receiving Starbucks cards for Christmas.  While I am thankful for such gifts, because Jen really likes their hot apple cider, I think it helpful to provide a list of good gift ideas for your favorite coffee snobs. So, here’s my list of great Coffee gifts divided under: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50-$100, and $100+.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS $0-$25

DCILY KeepCup$14.50

DCILY Keepcup

(http://dearcoffeeiloveyou.merchmo.com/products/detail/oz_DCILY_Mission_KeepCup_6087)

This is a sweet reusable travel cup featuring one of my favorite coffee blogs – DCILY.

Clever Coffee Brewer$16

Clever Coffee Brewer

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/clever-coffee-dripper-abid)

I have said multiple times before that the Clever is the best entry-level manual brewer on the market.  I absolutely love this brewer.  It is a great gift.

Intelligentsia Gift Card$25

Intelligentsia Coffee Gift Card

(http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/product/merchandise/intelligentsia-gift-card)

Intelligentsia is one of my absolute favorite roasters.  Their coffee subscription service on their website, however, is confusing. Thus, I recommend a gift card.  Intelli ships all over the place, and you can find great coffee (and sweet mugs) on their site.

Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee – $$$

Sweet Maria's

(http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.mvc.php?source=side)

These vary in price, but if you know someone that does their own roasting, Sweet Maria’s is a great resource.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $25-$50

Aeropress$25.95

Aerobie Aeropress Coffeemaker

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/aerobie-aeropress-coffee-maker)

The AeroPress is a great little brewer.  A little more effort than a Clever, but it makes a great cup of coffee.  Mind you, it only makes one cup, but it does it well.

Hario Metal Coffee Press$27.75

Hario Metal Coffee Press

(http://prima-coffee.com/hario/coffee-press)

If you’re into French Press coffee, this is a good little brewer for you.  Prima is also selling it dirt cheap for Black Friday.

Hario Mini Mill Manual Coffee Grinder$31.95

Hario Mini Mill Grinder MSS-1B

(http://prima-coffee.com/grinder/hario-coffee-grinder-mini-mill-slim)

The best little hand grinder out there.  Gives you a good workout while grinding your coffee.  Functional for espresso to French Press, which is quite versatile…trust me.

Jennings CJ4000 Scale$38.75

Jennings Coffee Scale

(http://prima-coffee.com/catalog/jennings-cj4000-scale-29075)

I find that I brew coffee best when I am exact with the weights of both the grounds and the water.  The Jennings scale is precise.  It also has an AC adapter so you don’t have to buy batteries every six weeks.

Hario V60 Pour-Over Set-Up$43

Hario V60 Coffee Brewing Set-up

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/hario-v60-pour-over-set)

I have this set-up at home (except with a ceramic brewer).  I love this system. Although you will need to purchase a pouring kettle as well (see below).

Bonavita Electric Pouring Kettle$49.99

Bonavita Electric Pouring Kettle

(http://prima-coffee.com/bonavita/electric-pouring-kettle)

This is the kettle I rock at home.  It is also helpful for warming up my daughter’s bottles.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $50-$100

AeroPress and Mini Mill Combo$57

Aeropress Mini Mill Travel Combo

(http://prima-coffee.com/catalog/coffee-travel-kit-aeropress-and-mini-mill-17033)

Put two items from the list above and get ’em for cheaper. Enough said.

Hario Buono Pouring Kettle$53

Hario Buono Pourover Kettle

(http://prima-coffee.com/hario/buono)

Pours better than the Bonavita kettle, but it costs a bit more and doesn’t heat up water automatically. Your call as to which is better.

Counter Culture 3-month Coffee Subscription$64.95

Counter Culture Subscription

(http://my.counterculturecoffee.com/coffee/subscriptions/)

I love Counter Culture Coffee. They have a good subscription service for varying durations.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $100+

Tonx Coffee 3-Month Subscription (2 12oz bags per month) – $114 ($38/mo)

Tonx Coffee Subscription

(https://tonx.org/7dd531b4)

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder$129

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder

(http://prima-coffee.com/grinder/baratza-encore-conical-burr-coffee-grinder)

My favorite entry-level electronic grinder.  It is very flexible and reliable. We use it everyday in the office.

Six-month Craft Coffee Subscription$134.94

Craft Coffee Subscription

(http://www.craftcoffee.com/products/artisan-coffee-tasting-box)

Great subscription service. Craft coffee sends you great coffee from several great roasters.

Prima Tamp$140

Prima Tamp

(http://prima-coffee.com/prima/prima-tamp)

Just talked about this yesterday. It still rocks.

Bonavita Thermal Carafe Automatic Brewer$149.99

Bonavita Automatic Coffee Brewer with Thermal Carafe

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/bonavita-automatic-coffee-brewer-thermal-carafe)

The only automatic coffee brewer I recommend.  Great gift for anyone at half the price of a Technivorm (another good automatic brewer).

Until later friends…

Chicago Cubs fan have faced a lot of disappointment over the years.  If you want to help assuage some of that disappointment, here are some gift ideas for your beloved Cubs fans.  They are ordered by price lowest-highest.  For simplicity’s sake, I have divided these into four categories: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50+, and $You’re Insane$
CUBS GIFTS $0-$25

Chicago Cubs Cups$11.99

Cubs Cups

(http://www.fansedge.com/Chicago-Cubs-Plastic-Tumbler-4-Pack-_-349271733_PD.html?utm_content=pla)

I received these as a gift, and I use them regularly.  I especially like serving drinks to my Cardinals fan friends in them.

Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Chicago Cubs by Carrie Muskat (Cubs beat reporter) – $14.95

Banks to Sandberg to Grace

(http://www.amazon.com/Banks-Sandberg-Grace-Decades-Frustration/dp/0071385568/ref=wl_it_dp_v_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2EHF2WXVULFV8&coliid=I3IE50JNAAJ4LR)

Carrie Muskat is the Cubs beat reporter, and she does a great job.  This book follows her experience with the Cubs.

Cubs Sippy Cups$14.98

Cubs Sippy Cups

(http://www.shopmyteam.com/store/index.php/mlb/chicago-cubs-sippy-cup-2-pack.html)

Start ’em young.

Chicago Cubs T-Shirt$20.00

Cubs T-Shirt

(http://www.one10threads.com/cubs-t-shirt.html)

This is a sweet, classy T-shirt.

MLB Infant Chicago Cubs 3 Piece Bodysuit Set$24.99

Cubs Onesies

(http://www.amazon.com/Newborn-Chicago-Piece-Bodysuit-6-9mos/dp/B007DOURBI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1353506233&sr=8-2&keywords=chicago+cubs+baby)

Start ’em even younger.

CUBS GIFTS $25-$50

Cubs Batting Practice Style Hat$27.99

Cubs BP Hat

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3875080&cp=3637327)

Pricey for a hat, but it does look nice.

1908 Cubs Personalized Shirt$36.95

1908 Cubs Shirt

(http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_0000000000000000515500000000000000000V8JP?sid=IDx20110310x00001i&srccode=cii_184425893&cpncode=31-52300169-2)

Let them relive the last Cubs World Series Championship with their name on the jersey.

Chicago Cubs Elite Polo$49.99

Blue Cubs Polo

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13114532&cp=1452693.704257)

Help them support their Cubs on casual Friday at the office.

Kerry Wood eGraph$50

Kerry Wood eGraph

(https://www.egraphs.com/Kerry-Wood/photos)

I personally would not want one of these. I prefer meeting a player and getting an actual autograph. That being said, Egraphs are interesting.  You pay money, a digital autographed picture is sent to your friend with a recorded message from the player.  Other Cubs players include: Andre Dawson, Jeff Samardzija, and Brian Lahair.

CUBS GIFTS $50+

Framed 1908 Chicago Cubs Roster$55.26

1908 Cubs World Series Champions Frame(http://www.sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-products/11×14-framed-matted-1908-chicago-cubs-world-series-champions.html?gclid=CPKz1IKe4LMCFQ4EnQodFGIAtw)

Once again, all we Cubs fans have is the past. Help them relive the glory days with this.

1908 World Series Champions Panoramic Canvas Print$65.00

1908 World Series Champions Panoramic Canvas Print

(http://www.etsy.com/listing/112121596/chicago-cubs-1908-world-series-champions?utm_source=googleproduct&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=GPS&gclid=CPXK-YGe4LMCFQ45nAodqBgAmw)

I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but this is cool.

CUBS GIFTS FOR $You’re Insane$

Chicago Cubs Game-used Ball Cuff Links$169.99

Cubs Cufflinks

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4254549)

If I were an incredibly rich day-trader, I might consider these. However, this is pretty insane. Cool…but insane.

1969 Chicago Cubs Team Autographed Ball$640

Cubs 1969 Team Autograph Ball

(http://www.legendsofthefield.com/1969-Chicago-Cubs-Team-Autographed-Official-MLB-Baseball-Santo-Sweet-Spot-12-Signatures/Baseball/Baseballs/-p9816023.html?gclid=CNmr17if4LMCFQu0nQodM1IAzQ#.UKzht4eunHY)

Oh the 1969 Cubs.  The Cubs fans’ greatest disappointment post-1908 and pre-Bartman.  What a treasure for any Cubs fan, but if you have this kind of money to spend on a ball I don’t know what you’re doing reading my blog.

Or there’s always a MLB Gift Card, which your Cubs fan can use for most of this stuff or and MLB.tv account so they  can watch every single Cubs win and loss.

MLB Gift Card – $$$

MLB Gift Card(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4254549)
Until later friends…

Christmas shopping season has begun

Black Friday Hysterics

I fully believe that you, my readers, are healthily sane people that do not wish to risk being trampled for the sake of cheap electronics.  I want to help you meet your Christmas shopping goals, as well as your life goal of not dying at Wal-Mart.  So, I will be sharing with you some Christmas Gift Guides for various demographics covered in this blog.  All of these gifts will be things you can buy online, without risking life and limb with all those crazies out there.  So, keep an eye out for the following:

Christmas Gift Guides

And this is for some laughs at the craziness that is Christmas shopping season:

One of the great shows of 1980s was Transformers.  I don’t have many memories of watching the show, but I do distinctly remember being fascinated and frustrated by the toys as a child.

Optimus Prime Cartoon

I think the cool thing/most-frustrating-thing-ever about Transformers was the mechanical-mindedness it took to play with them.  The fact that your toy could be two different things blew the minds of many a child in the 80s and 90s.  Now that my generation is all grown up, we don’t play with Transformers.  However, I think that subconscious love of adjustable/mechanical devices remains.  That is part of the reason I love the new Prima Tamp so much.

Prima Tamp - World's First Adjustable Tamper

I have been privy to the entire development process of this sweet device.  I have been able to use it to tamp and pull some good shots of espresso.  The more this thing developed, the more geeked out about it I became.  While this doesn’t transform from an espresso tamper to a little robotic man with a bazooka and a sword, I feel the same sort of fascination towards it.

Prima Tamp InstructionsTransformer Toy Instructions

OK, so it’s not nearly as complicated, but that makes it cooler right?

As you know, we just had a big election.  I ran a marginally successful write-in campaign here in Louisville, collecting about a dozen votes in 5-6 categories (e.g., Kentucky State Senate, Kentucky State House, Soil and Water Conservation Officer, etc.). Big thanks to all my supporters. We should have a BBQ party.

I am currently teaching a US History class once a week.  My students (mostly Romney supporters) will most likely be very rowdy for class today.  Last week I showed them this video concerning what happens if the presidential election ties?


This is very interesting,  although unlikely in a two-party system.  Last night’s election was very close.  It was amazing though that after an estimated $6 billion was spent in campaigning, the election basically changed nothing in the White House, Congress, or Senate.  I do my best to not be political, but I feel like there needs to be some reining in of campaign spending, because right now it feels like all that is being accomplished is this:

OK. Now that my political rant for the day is over…

How does the electoral college work?

This has been answered so many places, but since I put effort into putting together a lecture on this for my US History class, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

  • The presidential election is decided based on electoral votes, not a national popular vote.
  • The electoral votes are distributed as follows:

Electoral Map

  • The Electoral College was a compromise by the Founding Fathers between a Congressional vote for president and a popular vote (because they were scared of mob mentality).
  • All states except Nebraska and Maine give their electoral votes in a winner-take-all format within the state
  • This election process was established with the 12th Amendment to the Constitution and requires a Constitutional amendment to be overturned.

There have been a few times that a presidential candidate won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote.  This most recently happened in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.  It also happened to Andrew Jackson once, but he came back in the next election to win it all. For my class, I decided to give them the results of three recent presidential elections to get a view of how the popular vote and electoral vote work, and to tangibly illustrate the voting tendencies of the country (getting most info from ElectoralMap.net).

Reagan vs. Mondale – 1984

Reagan Mondale Election Results 1984

Bush vs. Gore – 2000

Bush Gore 2000 Election Results

Obama vs. McCain – 2008

Obama McCain 2008 Election Map

Notice in this map that McCain took 4 Electoral votes from Nebraska and Obama received 1.  This illustrates well the difference between the usage of electoral votes between Nebraska/Maine and the rest of the states.

Video: How the Electoral College Works

The Electoral College is extremely controversial.  There have been over 700 motions in Congress to change it.  However, since the system is set up by the 12th Amendment, it would take a Constitutional amendment to change it.  Based on the current state of affairs and the history of the United States, I don’t see the Electoral College election system ever being replaced.  I’m not sure if I want it replaced either.  It may very well help protect smaller states and regions from the states with ginormous urban centers pushing their will on everyone else.  I have thought about this system a lot, and I still not know how I would propose to change it (if it should be changed).  So, please do not see this post as a soapbox rant.
So, that’s how the Electoral College works as best as I can figure it.  Let’s all celebrate the fact that we won’t have to deal with anymore political ads for the rest of the year.

Until later friends…

From time to time, I like to share some fun YouTube videos.  Here are some that have made me laugh in the recent past.

The War of 1812 – The Movie

Used this recently with my US History class. I think I’ve shared it before, but it is worth sharing again.

Epic Rap Battle of Manliness

Your Facebook is False (with Rainn Wilson)

Actor Rainn Wilson playing along with one of my favorite online memes.

Dwight False Meme

The Parent Rap

I’m beginning to find parent humor a lot funnier.

Until later friends…

(Dear dudes that read this because you like sports and music,

More manly posts are coming. Have no fears. I am not turning into a TLC fanatic.)

 

It seems to me that there is a whole world out there of ladies with blogs and pinterest boards about home improvement/decoration/foodie stuff.  My wife follows a lot of these DIY decorating type blogs and stuff.  She is also a fan of a few internet-famous cooks.  Like the Prairie Woman as I call her (it’s really the Pioneer Woman, but I can never remember that).

The Pioneer Prairie Woman

Apparently this home-cooking, self-decorating industry is a huge money-maker.  My mom and Jen love to watch those shows where people get their houses redecorated, or where some chef springs upon someone at a grocery store and forces his way to cooking their dinner.  In honor of all that, I thought I’d do a little DIY post about our kitchen. So, here’s to all you do-it-yourselfers!

We moved into our apartment a couple years ago.  It is a nice place with washer/dryer hookups, hardwood floors, and no drug dealers or prostitutes for neighbors (a real step up from our first apartment – but that’s another story).  We loved our spacious kitchen.  After a few weeks, we realized that we would be able to optimize the space in our kitchen if we got a stainless steel wall shelf and hung it above the refrigerator.  Thankfully, I work for a restaurant equipment supplier and knew exactly where to get such  a shelf.  So, after some measurements, we decided on which size we wanted (14″ x 60″), we bought it, and we hung it up.

Stainless Wall Shelf for kitchen

Of course you can tell Jen had fun putting some decorative stuff up there.  I was excited just have more shelf space, because for me shelf space = storage space.  Jen was excited because to her shelf space = storage space + a place to display pretty things.  I am really satisfied with this shelf.  It is an economy-level shelf, so these shelves could have scratches incidental to the manufacturing process.  But we put ours high enough that it looks really good.  Here is another artsy shot Jen took.

Black and White Photo of a Stainless Steel Wall Shelf

So, I heartily recommend Atlantic Metalworks stainless steel shelves to go over refrigerators in kitchens.  If you want an immaculately beautiful wall shelf to be at eye-level, this might not be the best fit for you.  But these shelves are superbly functional and inexpensive.

Good luck in whatever DIY endeavors you are planning.

Until later friends…

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