Fishing in Lake Gaston, NC

Ann's folks rented a house on Lake Gaston, NC, so the kids did a bit of fishing while there.

110923 Fishing

110923 Fishing

The kids weren't the only ones fishing that day.

110923 Fishing

St Petersburg VA

In September, Ann's folks came to NC for a visit, and we spent one day touring some Civil War battlefields in St Petersburg VA.  Naturally, I have several photos involving cannons.  The final one is of Emmy throwing some cotton we found in a field southwest of the city.

110922 Petersburg VA

110922 Petersburg VA

110922 Emmy and Cotton


When we moved to this house, we put out a hummingbird feeder, and we were rewarded with a small but steady stream of visitors over the summer.  One day I sat out on the porch and tried to capture them on camera.  They were skittish at first, but I managed to get a few shots.

110806 Hummingbird

110806 Hummingbird

(Yes, these are from August.  I'm behind in my photo editing.)

7 Wonders

We bought a new game for my sister's family for Christmas, 7 Wonders.  It's one of those games that has lots of ways to win, but you can't do all of them, so you have to pick and choose which strategy you want to use.  We got to play three games over the holidays, and the game was quite fun.  It was hard to learn the rules, but easy to play once you got them, and games normally last about 30 minutes.  Despite losing to my sister all three games, I highly recommend it.  You can read more about it on Board Game Geek.

The Green Expansion

The Christmas holidays started with a bang at our house this year.  We added the Green Booster to our Killer Bunnies deck, which adds a zodiac theme to the game.  (We were worried there might be some weird horoscope stuff in this one, but there wasn't.)  Ann won the inaugural game, but the rest of us will get our chance for revenge:  Another game is scheduled for this evening!

Smoked salmon chowder

Ann is making smoked salmon chowder, and it smells so good.


It's nearly a sure bet:  When it comes to movies, sequels are not better than the original.  This week our family watched a couple of sequels:  Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2.  KFP2 was a good movie.  The graphics were markedly improved, especially the lighting.  But the plot was not better than the original; you almost knew how this would end before it got going.  Still, it was full of good Kung Fu action, and I might actually buy this one and watch it again.  C2 on the other hand was actually better than the original.  C2 went a new direction, spoofing James Bond, and the overuse of cliches was well done.  True, I don't think I'll buy it; it's a one-timer.  But it was well done.

Dog meets bone

Jezzy went to town on this ham bone.

ePub Reader

I don't read many eBooks.  If I did, I would probably get an iPad and read 'em there.  But I recently downloaded a couple of free eBooks on programming, and both came (only) in the ePub format.  Now what?

There doesn't seem to be any good and free eBook readers for the ePub format, but there is a nifty plugin for Firefox that works just fine.  It's not a perfect solution, but it's good enough.

What do you use to read eBooks?
Things I learned while reading the North Carolina Drivers' Handbook:

  • Reading a book can distract me while driving. 
  • Fresh air will not make me sober if I am intoxicated. 
  • Young drivers are less experienced than mature drivers. 
  • I should not drive over a fire hose. 
  • If a police officer pulls me over, I cannot ignore him and talk on my cell phone. 
  • I should not park my car in the entrance of a fire station. 
  • Interstates don't have stop signs. 
  • I should always drive with my window open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • It is dangerous for oncoming traffic to drive in my lane. 
  • I should not stop in the middle of the interstate to read the signs.

Panorama of the Dean Dome

Earlier this week Jacen and I got a chance to see the Tar Heels cream Tennessee St in an early season basketball game. It's was Jacen's first game, and we had a lot of fun hanging out together. Here's a picture I took before the game in the Dean E. Smith Center:

Christmas Ornaments

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Which means on Friday you can start putting up Christmas decorations. (You're not one of those bad people who put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is over, are you?) And that means a Christmas tree. And that means Christmas tree decorations. And here's a page that gives instructions on making Christmas decorations with Legos!

Commentary on James

I have finally finished my commentary on the book on James. You can freely download the entire commentary as a 170 page PDF file from my NT page. It includes my own translation, an introduction to the book, an outline, and my exposition of the text as well as homiletical outlines suitable for teaching. You can even import this file into Logos, though I have not added any reference milestones. BTW, I'm planning to try and self-publish the book, if you prefer paper.

Panorama of the Front Yard

Using Photosynth, an app for the iPhone, I took this panoramic picture of the front yard:

Video of our trip to Illinois

We took a family trip to Illinois last month to see my grandmother. Along the way we shot some video using my Canon 60D, which I combined in iMovie to create this video.

What happens if...?

So I'm watching the final game of the World Series with my daughter and she asked, "what happens if the Steelers win?"

Today I'm working on extracting information using the MicrodataJS jQuery plugin. Lack of documentation makes it slow going, but I'm getting there. The docs on this page are helpful.


We took a family trip to the Science Museum in downtown Raleigh a while back. It's a good place for a family to go and hang out for a while together. It's kinda dark inside and hard to take good pictures, but here's one that turned out well:

110805 Frog


Where did Halloween come from? Should Christians participate or not? Here's a great article from Grace To You that answers these questions well.

Fire Boat

I've seen plenty of fire trucks, but this was the first time (that I can recall) that I've seen a fire boat. It was near the Navy Pier in Chicago, IL.

110801 Fire Boat

Cupcake Truck

So we have ice cream trucks in America that drive through the neighborhoods selling ice cream to kids, but I think this one is a first. It's a guy selling fancy cupcakes out of a van just across the street from the Trump Towers in Chicago. I didn't ask how much, but they did not look cheap.

110801 Cupcake Van

The Panoramic Ball Camera

Ok, click on this link, go to the German website, and watch the short video (yes, it's in English). Then I dare you to tell me that you don't want one, too! I wonder how much they'll be.

The Anabaptists

Yesterday instead of expositing from the book of James, I took a break and taught a lesson from church history. I attempted to answer this question: What is the final authority of the church? And I answered it by looking at the Anabaptists, particularly Grabel, Manz, and Blaurock. You can find a write-up of my lesson on my tutorials page. My church history professor, Dr. Caner, would be proud.

Making your web apps secure

Hacking web applications is super easy; there are so many available vectors. Looking to make your app more secure? These documents will get you going in the right direction:

Protecting Your Web Apps: Two Big Mistakes and 12 Practical Tips to Avoid Them

Fundamental Practices for Secure Software Development

The Anabaptists

If you enjoy reading history, here's a good introductory article to the Anabaptists, the radical reformers that came from Zwingli's reformation in Zurich.

Cake Pops

Our church, Centerville Baptist, had homecoming this week. It was a special service with gospel singing and then dinner on the grounds. One of Ann's contributions to dinner was cake pops, a gooey cake center with hardened icing on the outside. Yummy! (And decretive.)

111002 Cake Pops

111002 Cake Pops

Portal 2 - On sale for $15

A midweek madness sale on Steam has Portal 2 for only $15. Yep, bought my copy!

AJAX with JQuery

If you've been wanting to add some AJAX to your site and thinking maybe JQuery could help, you're right! But there are multiple ways to make XHR requests within JQuery, and that's why this AJAX tutorial is very nice. It explains 5 different ways to do AJAX with JQuery.

JQuery for Beginners

Are you an absolute beginner when it comes to using JQuery in your web pages? If so, take a look at these nice video tutorials.


We went and watched the movie Courageous with several members of Centerville Baptist last night. If you're a father (or will be), it's a must-see movie.

Christian Radio in iTunes

Did you know you can listen to Christian radio stations directly in iTunes? I just learned that today. From my son. (Sigh. It's finally happened: Something my kids know better than me. It's all downhill from here, ain't it? But I digress...) Here's a screenshot that illustrates how to do it.

KLove is there, as is His Radio. Me? I like Air1.

The Kindle is on Fire

Want a tablet, but don't want an iPad? Here's the first tablet I've seen that has a legitimate chance of actually being worth the money to own and having the firepower to stay in a fight with Apple longterm: It's Amazon's Kindle Fire. It's not big and doesn't have tons of capabilities, but it's cheap at $199. And you can add apps, movies, shows, music, books, and magazines. It's worth looking at.

The "L"

When I went to Chicago, I took the "L" from the airport to downtown, where my hotel was. The "L" is Chicago's name for the metro/subway system. It still amazes me that part of the "L" is not only above ground but right above the streets, such that there are supports in the middle of the roads. Crazy. But it worked. Easier and cheaper than renting a car.

110801 The "L"

How to Reinstall Lion

Suppose you bought a brand-spanking-new Mac, like this super amazing 27 inch iMac. It came with Lion preinstalled, but not with a reinstall DVD. How do you reinstall Lion? Try the instructions on this Macworld article. The key is to hold down Command-R after starting. Of course, if your disk drive has crashed, this won't work, in which case you'll have to buy a install USB from Apple for a painful $69. I can't say that I like this option; a DVD should have been included.

Another use for chopsticks

I have some friends in China, where they eat with chopsticks instead of fork and spoon. Learning to use them is an acquired skill, and one that may have other uses.

Preying Mantis

My son found a huge preying mantis while mowing the lawn today. Check him out!

110926 Preying Mantis

110926 Preying Mantis

Crown Fountain

Another feature in Chicago's Millenium Park was the Crown Fountain, a pair of structures with faces on them that poured out water like a waterfall.

110801 Crown Fountain

110801 Crown Fountain

The Cloud Gate

Back in August I went to Chicago for a week long conference. While there I did a bit of sight-seeing. One of the more photographed sites was the Cloud Gate in Millenium Park.

110801 Chicago

110801 Chicago

Omnibar for Safari on the Mac

Finally, a way to get an Omnibar on Safari. Basically it combines the location bar and search bar into one omnibar. I find this small feature to be quite handy and one of the many reasons why I like Chrome so much. Works on Lion.

Learning HTTP

Most of the time we don't know anything about HTTP headers, and honestly we don't really care. Enter a URL, get a web page, life is good. But if you ever find yourself needing to learning more, here's a few good resources:

* An introductory tutorial
* A more detailed tutorial
* More info on caching

Where's my iDVD?

Today I needed to burn a video to a DVD, so I went looking for iDVD on my new Lion iMac. Guess what? Not there! Apple chose not to include it, presumably since it wasn't updated from the previous version. If I had upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion, that would ok, but I bought a new Lion machine. So, no luck. I know Apple's going to the Cloud with everyone else, but I still need DVDs from time to time. This isn't helping.

Solution? One, I copied iDVD from my old machine to my new. That seems to work, but time will tell. Two, buy Toast Titanium 11. It can do everything iDVD can do and then some.

API Kitchen

I'm starting to do some work with HTTP headers, and I wanted a simple tool on the Mac that allows me to examine and set headers. A bit of googling found a Stackoverflow page that mentioned API Kitchen, which is exactly what I wanted. Nice.

Netflix spins off DVDs

Netflix has announced that they are spinning off their DVD service to a new company. As someone who subscribes to both their streaming and DVD services, this is both good and bad. It's good because they are adding video game rentals for no price increase. Now we can try out a Wii game before deciding if we want to buy it. It's bad because they are starting a new company. Another web site to check. Another account to manage. Another bill to pay. Another place to check if I want to watch a particular movie or show. What a pain. I can't help but think that Reed Hastings is not very bright. Or maybe he just doesn't care about customers.

Baby Turkey

One last shot from Ray Farms: Here's Emmy with one of the baby turkeys:


Skype is really annoying me

The longer they continue to "improve" Skype's interface, the worse it gets. In particular, it's getting bigger. It wants more and more space on my screen. All I need is a list of who's online. Nothing more. And now, news is out that they are going to be putting ads on Skype! Ok, that's it, I'm done with the upgrades; it's obviously not going to get better. I went back to version 2.8 for the Mac. Small. Clean. Simple. I like.


Here's another shot of the animals we found at Ray Farms. This horse was leaning over the fence, waiting for some attention from the kids. He was quite happy to eat the grass they fed him.

110716 Horse over the fence

Guinea Fowl

These guys are guinea fowl. They are somewhat related to chicken and turkeys, but they are primarily used to eat bugs. They keep the pest population, including ticks, down to a minimum. They also make great watch, uhhh, birds.

110716 Guinea Fowl


We saw this cute little guy at Ray Farms this summer. Can't say that I'd want one of my own, except as bacon with my eggs:

110716 Pig

Mudcats Baseball

Here's a couple more pictures from the Mudcats game we went to. One is the Mudcats pitcher (who gave up 4 bizillion runs in the first); the other is a catcher warming up the relief pitcher.

110715 Mudcats

110715 Mudcats

The iMac has arrived

So, the new 27" iMac with Lion is here. And I must say: It. Is. Huge! Loving this screen.

Mudcats Baseball

For the fourth of July we went to see a Mudcats baseball game, which was a lot of fun. They're a AA team over in Zebulon. The park is nice and ticket prices were real reasonable. Here's a couple pre-game pictures, signing autographs and warming up.

110715 Mudcats

110715 Mudcats

Just in case you're wondering, a Mudcat is a type of catfish and a pretty ugly one at that.


Here are some recent photos of Jezzy, our Yorkie, who is now sporting a new summer haircut. The first photo (the best of the lot) was taken by Emmy. (This is also a nice tutorial on camera angles; the first shot is best because Emmy got down on the ground to take the shot from Jezzy's eye level.)

110806 Jezzy

110806 Jezzy

110806 Jezzy


Robots are cool. Swarming robots are better. So yes, I would like to buy some Kilobots, but I can't find where to get them! (And yes, you should watch all the videos on this page.)

Will trade email for phone

Recently we needed a couple new Gmail accounts. So we went to Google to create them, and that's when we discovered something interesting: Google won't give you an email account until you give them a phone number. Don't believe me? Take a look at this screen capture, a part of the account activation process that I could not get around:

New Gmail Account

Why computers shouldn't talk to themselves

At Cornell, they connected a couple of chat bots together and let them talk to each other. It's...disconcerting.

Skip the article, but watch the YouTube video in the middle of the article.

New iMac Ordered

I ordered a new iMac earlier today. Since the kids each need a computer for school, we needed another computer for Ann and I to use. We got the 27" iMac with the standard keyboard and magic trackpad. Can't wait!

Piggy Back Ride

A while back my sister and her family came to visit us. Here's a picture of Emmy giving Maddie a piggy back ride:

110715 Piggy back ride


I discovered a new web app today: Wordle. The basic idea is to give it some words, whether some text you paste in or a URL to a blog, and it dynamically creates words for you. Here's a couple examples based on our bios:

Garriss Bio Wordle

Garriss Bio Wordle


When we went to Ray Farms (near Bunn NC) we found a couple donkeys. They were curious and friendly and wanted to be petted.

110709 Donkey

110709 Donkey between the Fence

Hobbs on Sovereignty and Free Will

"The Bible does not try to harmonize God's sovereignty and man's free will with respect to his foreknowledge. It assumes them both to be true. This is a mystery to our finite minds but not to the infinite mind of an omniscient God."

Herschel Hobbs (Pastor FBC Oklahoma City, SBC President)

Baby Turkey

Check out this cute baby turkey wandering around in the grass. Bet he'll be yummy come November!

110709 Baby Turkey

Unknown Berries

Found this guys at Ray Farms. Can you ID these?

110709 Unknown Berry

Wireless Network Names

So, you'd like to mess with your neighbors, eh? Try this. Change the name of your wireless network to:

* FBI Surveillance LAN
* Virus Test Network
* Al Queda Cell 239

Baptist Faith and Message Resources

I'm planning to teach parts of the BFM 2000 at my church, so I thought I'd share some of the resources that I've found:

* Articles from some profs at Southern
* Some sermons from the Baptist College of Florida
* Some manuscripts from Dr. Akin

In addition, there's a book by Charles Kelley, Richard Land, and Al Mohler entitled The Baptist Faith and Message. Talk about some heavy hitters! I bought a copy at my local Lifeway for $8.

Biblical Inerrancy

I still affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. What a great document this is!

Genesis 4

I finished my study of the first section (toledoth) in the book of Genesis, which is the basis of the expositional storytelling that I am doing at our church. This morning I posted my notes from Genesis 4.

BFM - 1963 vs 2000

Ever wonder what the differences are between the 1963 and 2000 versions of the Baptist Faith and Message? While preparing to teach on the BFM 2000, I found this wonderful comparison.


Ray Farms not only has flowers, they have animals, too, including horses. Here's one curious fellow:

110709 Horse

110709 Curious Horse