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The missing link

“Even if we do not as yet know what true humanity is, we already know well what inhumanity is. As Gerd Theissen notes, people were once especially eager to find the “missing link” between primates and human beings. Now, however, it is dawning on us that we ourselves could be that “missing link.” -Walt Wink, The Human Being, p. 26-27

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Reflections on teaching

It’s been around 3 weeks since I started teaching elementary music. The greatest challenge is that I have to make music accessible to the broadest range of ages imaginable. Today I taught kindergarteners, 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Tomorrow I will add 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders to the mix. Each age has its own unique characteristics. So I not only have to plan lessons around their uniqueness I also have to be able to relate to them personally and as an educator. I’ve had days of feeling really successful and at least one day when I wondered what the hell I thought I was doing.

But I have to say that the moments that make it all worthwhile are when I work with the youngest kids… the kindergarteners and 1st graders, and the special needs kids. Watching their excitement as they _get_ to play a shaker or bells. Seeing the joy in their eyes as I play the music they “wrote” by putting their M and M’s on a staff. You would think that in ministry you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you were changing lives. But the older people get the more they keep their cards close to their chest. I never felt like I was making a difference in the lives of the people I served for the last 2 and a half years. I honestly don’t know what they needed or if they needed anything at all. But today when I was marching around the room with 20 kindergartneres behind me singing “Bow bow bow belinda” I knew that I was bringing joy to these kids. It’s nice to be making a difference again.

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No TV

Moving to Nampa forced me to make some media decisions. Our family has two homes now, one in Twin Falls and one in Nampa which means twice the bills. Fortunately all my utilities are paid for here, ‘cept for electricity and I hardly use any. But for the last two and a half years I’ve been spoiled with 200 channels of television and a DVR on Dish Network and wireless internet. Moving to Nampa I knew I couldn’t afford both so I chose internet. So I am now living a TV-free life.

This is really a forced, though fun experiment for me. Before you get all misty for me missing Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes and Numbers, realize that the networks make these shows available online to watch for free. Mind you the video is kinda crappy, there are still commercials and I have to wait the next day to watch the episodes my family watched the night before. And I moved the family’s Netflix account to my Nampa home. Really the only thing that I can’t watch legally for free is my scifi channel shows like Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis. For those I’ll rely on bittorrent which will involve a little more work and hard drive space. So really, I have just as much media opportunities as I had with Dish.

So, can I live without cable? Without rabbit ears? Yes. Could my family? Maybe. If we had a media computer like a Mac mini hooked up to the TV we could get by with our prime time shows online. The kids would have to watch cartoons and Disney programs on Netflix. So who knows… might have to try. In the meantime, I’m getting along just fine for those of you who were worried. <wink>

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New job

Wanted to let all of you know who have been helping me, praying for me and been concerned for my job search know that this morning I accepted the position of K-6th music teacher at Homedale Idaho. I am very excited. I hadn’t really imagined myself as a music teacher because though I have experience, I have neither a music major, minor or endorsement which are normally needed. But the more I thought about exciting young students about music the more I wanted this job. I actually was driving to Ephrata for an interview with for an afterschool program in Warden when I got an afterhour phone call from the principal while my cell phone was in roam. I didn’t recognize the number as Homedale so I didn’t answer the call and didn’t know it was the principal until I was in Lagrande at 8:30pm. She called me this morning at 8:15pm.

Thank you to all of you for your help, for your prayers and your concern. This long road has ended and now we begin another long road. I will be living apart from my family for the next 9 months. It will be a 3 hour drive from them which I plan to make ever other week if we can afford it. This will not be an easy life for any of us but it means my family’s needs will be taken care of.

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All a twitter

Over in the left hand column is a new addition called “What I’ve been doing.” The source for this is my new twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/jeffreyclong. “What are you doing… what do you have to say in under 140 characters.” It’s sort of a microblog. I can post from my phone or instant messenger client. So keep an eye over there for random stuff.

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Vince Guaraldi

Nearly everyone growing up since the 1960’s with a television is familiar with the music. He was the composer and performer of the music from the Charlie Brown television shows. I have owned the Charlie Brown Christmas album for quite some time. But I recently discovered that his music is available on emusic.com a music service I subscribe to. Just downloaded a couple more albums. It’s interesting how certain music places me right back in the place where I first heard it. For the rest of my life, listening to Jazz Impressions will put me right back in Albany where I was at my church conference last weekend. Clicking on that link will send you to a page where you can listen to samples by clicking on the little speaker. Enjoy

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What do you have to say?

It’s interesting to look back and see all the stuff I’ve written. More in me then I thought. Though not much lately. Seth Godin had something interesting to say about blogging.

A lot of people have blogs. But most people don’t.

I think you should. Even if you only have one post in you.

Having a blog is pretty daunting, especially if you don’t like blank paper and are the sort of person that hates falling behind. I can imagine that the idea of posting 50 or 300 times a year is a little bit nuts for many people.

But what if there’s just one thing you need to say, but you can say it clearly and well and in a way that hasn’t been said before? What if you’ve got one great blog post inside of you, and, even better, you’re willing to update that post as you learn more and gain more insight?

An entire post about a certain kind of fossil. Or the misuse of a certain word. Or about a key difference between two kinds of bluetooth…

Why not?

What do you have to say? Are you saying it? How could you if you wanted to? There’s lots of places you could, for free. There’s vox.com if you like the traditional blog approach that I use. Another possibility is tumblr.com if all you have is links and quotes and pictures to show. Maybe you want to tell the world what you are doing this very moment. Give twitter.com a look.

What do you have to say? How you gonna say it?

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The assault on reason

I’m currently listening to a fabulous book called “The assault on reason,” by Al Gore. Insightful to be sure, but he is an amazing writer. I plan to write about it but in the meantime, I thought I’d make people aware of what it is about. This is his description of the book from his blog. Hope it inspires a few people to give it a look.

In the months following the release of An Inconvenient Truth, I began to focus on why our democracy has been so slow to deal with the climate crisis. The unwillingness to solve this problem is not only the result of a lack of political will, but it has also been caused by the emergence of a new political environment dangerously hostile to reason, knowledge, and facts. In the long-term, this poses a threat to the very basis of American democracy: the ability of a well-informed citizenry to use the rule of reason to hold government accountable. This Assault on Reason is the focus of my new book. When George Bush launched his preemptive war in Iraq, more than 70% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorists who caused 9-11. After the 2004 election, when asked what stuck in their minds about the campaign, voters in Ohio named two ads playing to the fears of terrorism paid for by the Bush Campaign. One pattern that has held true since 2001 is that this White House is less interested in openness and truth than any previous administration. We are facing so many long-term challenges, from the climate crisis and the war in Iraq to health care and social welfare. To solve these problems and move forward we need to reverse the damage done to our democracy. We have little time to waste. My goal in The Assault on Reason is to explore why our public forum now welcomes the enemies of reason. More importantly, the book focuses on what we can do together, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason to our democracy.

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I never would have believed…

A few weeks ago, I discovered that my kids dig 80’s music, the music of my youth. So, I set out to make a mix CD for them. I was pleasantly surprised that they were listening to it in the car, and that my eldest daughter stole it from the car. So I’ve made my second mix disc and have started work on mix disc three. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never would have believed that the day would come that my music would be played on the classic rock CD and that my children would want to listen to the music I grew up with.

Back when we lived in Soap Lake, I was shopping in Walmart one day and discovered that they were selling video games that were nothing but a joystick. The video game was built into the joystick instead of in a console. But the cool thing about it was that the games were the arcade games I’d grown up with. We bought the first one which had PacMan, Galaxian, RallyX, DigDug and Bosconian. Then we got the one with Ms. PacMan, Galaga and Pole position. Mind you, these are not replicas of the games. These contain the original software that drove the video games. I never would have believed when I was pumping quarters into these games as a teenager that the day would come that I would hold in my hand two joysticks containing 10 of my favorite arcade games, never to pump a quarter again.

When I first moved to Idaho begin pastoring, I lived alone while my wife sold the house in Soap Lake. Having a lot of time to myself, I subscribed to Dish Network. Among other channels, I discovered the SciFi channel. Very soon Friday became SciFi friday when original episodes of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica were played one after the other. Then monday they played reruns of Stargate. Throughout the week there were movies. As a teen, waiting years for the next Star Wars or Star Trek movie, I never would have believed that the day would come that I would have an entire channel devoted to my favorite movie and television genre: science fiction.

I never would have believed any of these things. What a wonderful world.

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Backup

As the self-declared hard drive prophet of doom, I must remind you all again of the importance of backing up your hard drive. There are two types of people in the world. Those whose hard drive has crashed and those whose hard drives will fail.

In the interest of saving your bacon. Go to http://mozy.com. There you can install a little program that will automatically back up things like your contacts, calendar, email, passwords, photos and your documents folder to the internet. Free for 2gigs of backup. Awesome! Don’t come crying to me when you lose your documents and pictures of your newborn baby.

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