Last night, lafalda's friend Daniela said one of the biggest differences between the states and Slovakia was that we don't lock our cars here. That is true in Missoula. This is a great place to live. Just today I ran into Dustin and Evan, a couple friends I haven't seen for a while. Dustin and I talked about how much we love this place, and how we realized it even more after we had left and came back.

That is why it is so terrible to read a story like this in today's paper. Ben Corbett had just moved to Missoula after serving in Iraq and Kosovo. While he survived his time in the military, he suffered an unprovoked, but severe beating in downtown Missoula.

Proverbs 1:10-19
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.

If they say, "Come along with us;
let's lie in wait for someone's blood,
let's waylay some harmless soul;

let's swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;

throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse"-

my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;

for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.

How useless to spread a net
in full view of all the birds!

These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!

Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Ben, I am so upset and dismayed about this. May justice be served. You are in my prayers.
C2 G D Em7

Verse 1:
Reach the unreachable,
Show them love.
Touch the untouchable,
Show them love.
Break the unbreakable,
Show them love.

And we say,
Hey, hey, hey, Jesus is Lord (x4)

Let every tounge confess,
Jesus is Lord.
And every knee shall bow,
We praise you more. (x2)

And we say,
Hey, hey, hey, Jesus is Lord (x2)

Verse 2:
You reach the unreachable,
And show them love.
You Touch the untouchable,
And show them love.
You Break the unbreakable,
And show them love.


Yesterday I bought Switchfoot's new album, "Nothing Is Sound." The music is really good like their last album, however, Sony released it with the content protected. This means that it is difficult to get on the computer. I listen to most of my music on the computer, so this is a real headache for me. I don't use iTunes, just Window's Media Player. It would hang when I clicked on Rip.

Coincidently, I read an article on Slashdot about this very album. Tim Foreman from Switchfoot wrote up a detailed forum post apologizing for what Sony did with the album, along with instructions on how to get the music from the CD.

I sent this letter to Sony via their online feedback form:

Dear Sony,

I was extremely disappointed today when I tried to rip my new Switchfoot CD. When I listen to my music, 99% of the time it is on my computer, and for it not to work has really upset me and left me with a bitter feeling towards your label. I read Tim's post as mentioned on Slashdot, and I really appreciate what he as done. However, I will still be attempting to take my CD back to Wal-Mart, and find the dual disk without the copy-protection.

I realize that music copying is a difficult problem, and I don't agree with burning CDs for friends or downloading pirated music. That said though, what you have done with this CD only frustrates legitimate customers, and is hardly a speed bump for those who would copy the music illegally.

In the future, I will be more careful when purchasing music, and I won't accidentally buy one with copy protection like this. I will not let Sony run software on my computer in order for me to listen to music.

Thank You,
Lance Fisher

I doubt I will hear back from them.
Time flies when you sleep-in 'til one.
When Microsoft throws a party, they go all out. Wednesday night they rented Universal Studios Hollywood for the PDC attendees. In case you don't know, it's a big theme park. All the restaurants were open and free. They had fondu fountains all over the place, and free drinks. All the fair type games were open and free too, and if you won you still got the giant stuffed animal prizes. I won two for Rich's kids, and gave a third to someone else.
Thursday night, Wayne, Rich, and I drove around. We ended up going to a In-N-Out, the Santa Monica Pier, and then Hollywood. It was a very late night, but pretty fun. Wayne was nice enough to let me use his camera to take some high-quality photos.
Yesterday, I was really surprised to run into a couple of old friends from the Air Force. Wayne, Rich, and I were all stationed in Alabama at the same time, and went to the college ministry (Icthus) at a local church there. Wayne is living in South Korea now, and Rich is living in Miami. It should make the rides at Universal Studios tonight a little more fun. They aren't very exciting by yourself.
Hey, Prizrak I did see Bill Gates, but only from about 100 yards. The hall filled up with people really quick. I saw him at VSLive in San Francisco in 2004. He had made a funny video which he showed us there, but the video he showed yesterday completely topped the VSLive one. He hired the actor from Napoleon Dynamite and it was really, really funny. Seriously, you might think that it wouldn't be, but it was.

After the conference, I took the metro and the bus to get to the Russian part of town. I found a really cool video, book, and CD store. The guy who ran the place was really cool. I got to practice a lot of Russian with him. I told him that I spoke English, but I like to practice Russian, so he said, "okay we'll go with the Russian, and if we have a problem, then we'll use the English." He moved to the states back in '87 from St. Petersburg. He said he left because they didn't like Jews there. After getting exactly what I was looking for and more, I asked him if he knew where I could get some borsch. He ran next door to the store/cafe and asked them if they had any left. They did. Over at the cafe they were really nice too. I got to practice more Russian. The girl at the counter was from Uzbekistan, and she spoke just a little more English than I spoke Russian. She didn't know where Montana was, but that's okay. She said she'd find it on the map.

Although my camera quit working after the second time I dropped it on the cement, the day didn't turn out too bad.
Yesterday, I went exploring for a little bit while I was waiting for my hotel room to be ready. I tried to find the Russian part of town, but I didn't write myself very good directions. However, en route, I saw the La Brea Tar Pits so I hopped off the bus to explore. The nice thing about the park is that the admission is free.

They have pulled so much out of those pits, and unlike other fossils, these are the actual tissue. One pit had an observation deck from which you could watch some people pulling stuff out of the tar and cataloging it. I did end up paying $4.50 (the student price) for entry into the museum, but it was worth it. There were all kinds of skeletons from saber tooth cats, giant sloths, mastodons, wolves, and other extinct animals. I was taking photos, but since I forgot the memory card in the computer, I could only take 28, and they are stuck on the camera until I get home where I have the cable. Hopefully the camera makes it. I dropped it today, and it isn't working entirely right.

Despite Prizrak's warning, I bought a homeless guy dinner last night at Denny's. He was glad to have someone to talk to, and air his problems with. He says he wants to change, and not do the things he knows are wrong. I was thinking the whole time that I would really like to pray for him, and just before I was going to ask him, he asked me if I could pray for him. I did. Then he asked me if I could get him some food, so we went to Denny's. Denny's Restaurants in the city are different than other Denny's. They don't have their own building. While we were eating, he said that he felt really comfortable talking to me. He said that he enjoyed talking to strangers because then he didn't have to worry about looking weak, or them using what he told them against him. That's the sad state of relationships for many people besides him I'm sure.

He told me about how his mom used to make hot breakfasts and how she taught him to do the same. When he was just a young boy he surprised his mom by cooking one. He worked in a photo lab just down the street, and after that he served a couple years in the Army. However, he got in trouble with law. He disappointed his wife by getting arrested and spent some time in prison. Now he sells DVDs on the street. He says he has everything from cartoons to porn, and he has "pimped out girls" to make ends meet.

I was having a long day. I got up at 3:00 A.M. and after only a short nap, I was still up. I think he had a longer day. He was falling asleep sitting in the restaurant. When he finally fell into a bit of a heavier sleep at the booth, I paid for dinner and left. It seemed like the right time.

I've been reading Chesterton's Othodoxy. It seems to me that he is keenly aware of the precarious nature of life. Using the story of Robinson Crusoe he writes:

Crusoe is a man on a small rock with a few comforts just snatched from the sea: the best thing in the book is an inventory. Every kitchen tool becomes ideal because Crusoe might have dropped it in the sea. It is a good exercise, in empty or ugly hours of the day, to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the bookcase, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship on to the solitary island. But it is a better exercise still to remember how all things have had this hair-breadth escape: everything has been saved from a wreck. Every man has had one horrible adventure: as a hidden untimely birth he had not been, as infants or that never see the light. Men spoke much in my boyhood of restricted or ruined men of genius: and it was common to say that many a man was a Great Might-Have-Been. To me it is a more solid and startling fact that any man in the street is a Great Might-Not-Have-Been.

At the tar pits, they had a plexiglas case with a rod you could pull on which came through a hole in the top of the case. The rod connected to a leg-sized piston sitting in a bucket of tar. Pulling on the rod you could feel how difficult it was to try and escape the pit. People get stuck in pits like this all the time. Not the ones in the park, but the traps of sin which become impossible to escape on our own volition. However, we don't need to wait thousands of years for an archeologist to dig up our remains. Jesus can pull us out before we perish.
So far, it has been a long day, and it's only 12:30 here in L.A. I got up at 3:00 a.m., and Shannon and I met lafalda at Perkins for a 4:00 breakfast. My flight left on time at 6:05.

On the flight I got to talk with a nice lady from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. If I remember right her name was Hung Ho. Foreign names are harder for me to remember. Apparently Montana and Utah are in the same district as Washington D.C. when it comes to Chinese embassies. She said the most surprising thing when she first came to the U.S. was how little most people knew about China. It's a big country.

After a bit of confusion and almost sleeping through the boarding call. Well, sleeping through the boarding call, and almost missing my flight I made it to L.A. close to on time. From the airport, I took the metro downtown through some neighborhoods indistinguishable from Tijuana. There were a lot of Hispanic people speaking Spanish on the train.

Now that I'm at the hotel, I have to find something to do until my room is ready. It won't be ready until 3:00. So here I am blogging.
Shannon and I worked on the house this weekend. I got all the flooring in the living room, and most of the flooring in the library installed. Then, on Monday, my parents came over with the air compressor, nail gun, and Betsy. My dad and I had the molding up in a flash, and we got to meet my mom's new puppy, Betsy.

I still have the hallway to do, but I ran out of underlay mat. I hope we have enough floor left too. It looks like it will be close. I'll have to see if I can find more.
I started using this photo service called flickr back in May, because I wanted to be able to post pictures straight to my blog from my phone. Since then I bought a pro membership so I can upload 2GB of photos a month. Congratulations Scott, you happen to be my 2000th photo uploaded to flickr. For your prize you get a magnet.

My favorite things to do on flickr are:
  • Tag photos with names and stuff so I can find them later. (see all photos tagged with scott)

  • Post photos to the Somewhere in Missoula group, and have people try and find the location

  • Browse other people's photos like preciousroy's

  • Add photos to the ChiAlphaMontana pool so they show up on the Chi Alpha blog.

  • Read comments that people have left on my photos, and add comments to other people's photos. (If you have a flickr account check out the "Recent activity" and "Comments you've made" links on your home page on flickr.)
There is so much to do there, and it's easy to waste a bunch of time flipping through photos. After using flickr for four months, I can say it's the best photo sharing software made, and it has a great community. Check out my flickr contacts, they cool people and cool photographers.
Life in Missoula goes on as usual. Well gas prices are a little bit higher. Meanwhile, New Orleans has become a literal cesspool. Those left are demanding help. Certainly, they need it.

I got an email from my friend Clay who lives there. He was the drummer for NLB. Also we were in tech school together at Keesler Air Force Base. Which just survived the same hurricane that devastated New Orleans. Thankfully, he is okay. Life won't be the same for a while though. He is an insurance adjuster, and will be working twelve hours or more a day, seven days a week, for the next six months to a year.

What can you do to help?

You can pray.

You can send money.
I donated through the The Assemblies of God, whom I trust. It's fast and easy and tax deductible if that concerns you.

You can save gas.

Disaster brings often brings out a person's true nature. Unfortunately, there are a number of people in New Orleans in whom it has brought out the worst. Generosity and compassion can conquer looting and greed. New Orleans is really an interesting place. I hope the good in it can be restored, and the bad is washed away.

Finally, I leave you with a few interesting links:
Google Earth Imagery
CNN interview with the mayor.
New Orleans is sinking Published in 2001
What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not Missed New Orleans Published in 2004