Not your typical Superhero

Saturday, August 31st, 2002
A couple of months ago, our family was introduced to the "Bibleman" video series (think "Batman" who quotes Bible verses rather than throws punches). The programs are the brainchild of Willie Aames from "Eight is Enough" and "Charles in Charge."  Aames has committed his life to the Lord and is using his program to reach young children with the Gospel of Christ in a powerful way.
Image:Not your typical Superhero
We found out that the "Bibleman" also does a live stage show.  We drove up to Sonora to see the show.  We had fun, and the children loved meeting "Bibleman"  after the show.  Highly recommended.

Go, Go, Go, Joseph

Saturday, August 17th, 2002
Image:Go, Go, Go, Joseph
Many years ago, our family became acquainted with the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Kathy and I  first saw Joseph at the Pantages theatre and enjoyed it so much that we took our twin daughters to see it as soon as they were potty trained and old enough to sit still long enough to watch it. My wife made Technicolor dreamcoats for Amy & Wendy to wear to the theatre. Afterwards, the girls were invited back-stage to meet Joseph and the cast. Since then, we have sort of become Joseph groupies as we have travelled to see many performances of this production across the country.

Last night, we took the family to see a student-run production of Joseph at a small theatre in Bakersfield. We had a lot of fun. This time, the older girls passed down their dreamcoats to their younger sisters so that they too could wear something special to the show.

For those you who may be unfamiliar with the story or the musical, it is a truly delightful story for all ages.

I highly recommend this musical for it's powerful performance at many levels.  I have uploaded more photos and narratives of the various shows we've seen to our family web site.

Happiest Music on Earth?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2002
Close your eyes and imagine that you are on a carousel. (Click to listen)   Hear the music?  Does it make you feel happy?  Are you there?  

Sometimes, when I get ready to study and I want to put myself into a happy mood, I hook up my calliope and play some happy music. I find that my disposition changes and the burdens of the world are lifted - as if I were a child again.   Of course sometimes I just do this because it is an excuse not to study -- which I am supposed to be doing right now. :-)

Image:Happiest Music on Earth?
Listening to music like this brings back find memories of when I was a kid. There was a man in our neighborhood who restored carousel band organs as a hobby. On Saturday mornings, he would start up his band organ and kids would come running for blocks around to sit on his lawn and wiggle to the happy music.

That experience inspired me to desire to have a band organ of my own -- until I found out how expensive they were to own and maintain. A few years ago, I began researching the idea of building one and making it computer controlled so that I would have an endless supply of MIDI files to control it with.  This has been a long project and I am certain to have many years of work still ahead of me. So far, I have completed the MIDI controlled Calliope (see above) and a MIDI controlled Glockenspiel. I am almost done with a MIDI controlled Accordion. Next, will be the rhythm section. All of this is powered  by my Oreck XL vacuum, which you can see in the above photo.

Watch a vacuum cleaner powered calliope play a patriotic greeting!
    Broadband - RealMedia 300 Kbps
    Low-Speed - RealMedia Dial-up

Here's a treat.  It's a video clip of my computer-controlled calliope powered by an 8 lb Oreck XL vacuum cleaner. The video clip is in RealMedia format and you can watch it by clicking on the link below. During the video, be sure to watch for the Mack sisters, our American Bear, the vacuum cleaner (which you can hear in the background) and the laptop computer that controls the entire performance.

* MIDI stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" - a computer control system where a computer can control musical instruments, lights, or other equipment.

Bible Places

Thursday, August 8th, 2002
This evening, in my Old Testament Survey Course, I had an unexpected treat. We have a guest professor for the next two weeks  - Todd Bolen. This evening he presented part one of a lecture on biblical archeology, geography and history.  What I found fascinating was the photos and stories which Todd had to share.

Todd is an American who has lived and taught in Israel for the past 7 years. One of his activities is a web site, Bible Places, which features photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history.
Image:Bible Places
During the lecture, we were treated to a PowerPoint presentation of all of the places which he was discussing in his lectures. It really gave me a new sense of perspective as well as a greater interest to learn more about Israel and the Middle-East.  This evening I learned more about the geographic and climatic aspects of the region and its impact on the history.  One of the things that Todd has been doing is to retrace the various journeys taken by famous people of the Bible so that he can share not only a photographic perspective but a narrative as well.

Anyway, his web site shows some of his work and I believe that the smaller images are available for free download.

Eternal Twinkies?

Friday, August 2nd, 2002
It may be possible to extend your life by eating Twinkies.

In my conference room, I have a display case with various computer parts from computers I have worked on. (All are now antiques)  10 years ago, a friend brought me a package of Twinkies and 2 cans of Jolt Cola to display in my "museum."  

Eric's Computer Museum Display Case
Recently, I decided to drill holes in the Jolt cans to drain them. I noticed that the cans were now bulging out and I was afraid that they might explode.
Oh, the Twinkies - they are still there on the bottom shelf, sealed in their wrapper. Other than being hard, they look the same as they did when I put them in the case 10 years ago! I wonder what preserves them so well?

Twinkies on display in Eric's Computer Museum, since 1992

It must be the plastic filling.