Unwrapping Christmas, and general updates

Merry Christmas

Hey everybody. It’s been awhile. A long while. It seems I’ve dropped off the face of the earth the past few weeks, and I apologize for it.

My father going into the hospital really set me back. So many things were put on hold or postponed or cancelled. I tried, at the start to post something small every day, but going back and forth to the hospital in New York, spending all day in tiny hospital rooms and lobbies, fighting traffic in the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, and still trying to do Christmas things in the (late) evenings… it took it’s toll.

Merry Christmas to meWell, the good news is that my father was, in fact, released from the hospital the day before Christmas Eve. We weren’t sure if it was going to even be possible for him to be home for the holidays, but thank God it all worked out. Christmas was good this year, as you’ve already heard if you listen to my Utterz. I was sick on Christmas Eve and Day, but am feeling much better now. I got a Mr Potato Head. No, seriously. I mean, I did get some gift cards and cash, but I can honestly say I got a Potato Head for Christmas. 🙂 Actually I didn’t want anything. Especially as of late I’ve become dissatisfied with how commercialism has taken over what Christmas is really about.

ConsumerismEven while I was out shopping for gifts for my family and friends I was watching the frenzy people were in running here and there, shopping carts bursting to overflowing, clearing the shelves of every toy and department store. And while it is an amazing and beautiful thing to remember the gift God gave us on Christmas 2000 years ago by giving to those we love, it seemed a bit off to me. Maybe not off. Excessive is a better word perhaps. I heard a teaching in the weeks leading up to Christmas via podcast from a church that my friend goes to in Indy. The teaching and movement they were proposing resonated with things already stirring in me and helped refocus my priorities for this holiday season. I live in the most blessed nation on the planet. We have way more than we could ever need. Yet still there are millions within our own borders and billions outside them who can’t even afford life’s basic necessities. And so I decided to join the conspiracy and give away a significant portion of my “Christmas budget” to bring relief, aide, and justice to those who lack it. It forced me to rethink my shopping and spending. Let me tell you, I realized even moreso how easy it is to fall into the traps of overspending and excessiveness . It was a struggle to keep the dollar amounts down. But forcing myself to do it on top of my father being in the hospital really spoke volumes to me. I mean, what’s really more important? Getting a new iPhone of Xbox 360, or the fact that everyone in my family was able to gather in relatively good health and celebrate the season together? In comparison who really cares about money and stuff?

Honestly, there’s so much more I have to say about stuff that’s happened over the past few weeks, but it’s after 2am and I’m still extremely tired. I don’t even know if what I’ve typed tonight makes any sense. I’m too tired to go back and read through it and edit. It is what it is at this point. I think I may have to take my leave for now. Tomorrow is going to be a long day as well, but maybe I can blog more on Saturday.

In the mean time you can see what I’ve been up to by visiting my Flickr account. I’ve uploaded close to 300 images of my journies and experiences for your enjoyment. Recently added, you’ll find sets of:

1. The School 23 Christmas Party
2. Carlos’ Christmas Dinner for the 4th Ward
3. The Sanctuary’s Christmas Worship Service
4. Our journey to Tuscarora Inn and some Cracker Barrel!
5. My Small Group’s Christmas Dinner
6. Angelica’s School Christmas Concert
7. Castro’s 21st Birthday Dinner
8. The Bridge: Midtown‘s Christmas Party
9. My father’s hospital journies & random shots around NYC.
10. Visiting the Rockafeller Center Christmas Tree
11. Christmas 2007
12. Playing Transformers Risk
13. and finally, a set for photos not in a set – so you can find the most recent random images quickly amidst the mass uploading of other galleries.

5th Ave, Manhattan My turn?

Of course you can always follow me on Twitter or now on Utterz to see exactly what I’m up to right at that moment.

MacSanta is coming to town

It’s that season again. The air is getting colder. Snow is starting to fall. Lights are going up on houses and trees alike all over the nation. Special music is heard on the radio. And there’s that feeling that permeates everything of goodness and happiness. That’s right. It’s time to save a ton of cash on some great Mac apps!

Every year around Christmastime, the fine folks at macsantadeals.com work tirelessly to give you some great discounts on some awesome Mac applications. Every day a new list of apps are posted at 20% off, and when they day is past they are archived (“Extended Offers” link) for 10% off. This continues all the way until Christmas. All you need to do is enter the code (given on the website) into the “coupon” area of the software when you make your purchase.

If you’re a Mac user make sure you check this site out on a continual basis all throughout December. Last year I bought a few apps with MacSanta, and they’re great.

Visit MacSantaDeals.com

May I recommend two apps in specific that I have and love. Both are currently located in the archived section.

1. MarsEdit (Red Sweater Software). This very blog post is being written in MarsEdit. It’s an amazing piece of blogging software. For a long time I’ve wanted a stand-alone app to reside on my hard drive that would let my type, edit, format, and work through my blogs. I use WordPress to host the blog, but I never like using web apps to do work. I’d much rather work on my Mac and then upload it all when it’s to my liking. I first heard about MarsEdit on MacBreak Weekly, and instantly downloaded the trial version for 30 days. After the first blog, I knew I was going to buy it. And so I did. It’s absolutely fantastic. It has a lot of features to format your blog and setup links. And what’s really nice is Flickr integration. It sees your Flickr account, and you can call up, view, and insert your Flickr images right from within the app. If you blog, I think you definitely need to check out MarsEdit. It retails for $29.95, but now through Christmas you can get it for 10% off.

2. Audio Hijack Pro (Rogue Amoeba). Audio Hijack is an audio recording application that I simply love. I bought it when I first got a Mac because I needed a simple app to record the teachings at my church for later podcasting. I used to use Adobe Audition on a PC to record, but couldn’t find anything within my price range for the new Mac. Enter Audio Hijack. It’s a great little app that easily records audio from Skype, iChat, iTunes, the Web, or any other input you have. That’s right, you can record audio from your existing programs to use for any purpose you’d like. The really great thing is that it encodes and saves as it records. With Audition, and even Apple’s Soundtrack Pro (part of the Final Cut Studio – which I also now have) you have to record, then save and encode separately. This can sometimes take a long, long time, which I don’t have. For church, we also sell the teachings on CD directly after the gatherings, and so I need an instant recording. As soon as I press the “stop” button on the recording, the file is generated and ready to burn. Amazing. Audio Hijack Pro is one of the apps I bought through MacSanta last year. It retails for $32, but you can get it now through Christmas for 10% off.

Merry Christmas!