National Presbyterian Evangelism Conference

May 29, 2007 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

Is anybody going to the National Presbyterian Evangelism Conference?

I’m trying to decide whether or not to go.  My task force this fall is studying the local mission field and how visitors are handled by our church.  I figured it might make sense to get a bit more grounding in evangelism beforehand.  On the other hand, it makes more sense to send the next group – the people who will be implementing any of our recommendations that the session adopts (and I may or may not be part of that group).
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I’m undecided.  So I thought I’d ask to see if any of you were planning to go.

Good Weekend – bad work

May 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

The weekend was pretty good.

On Saturday Carolyn and I headed up to Camp Johnsonburg for the annual alumni reunion.  We saw lots of folks that we don’t see on a regular basis, we had some quiet time for ourselves, we hiked a bit in the woods.  Dinner was excellent as usual.  We also dropped off Carolyn’s old car as a donation – it’s apparently going to be the Health Center “drive the kid to the hospital” car this summer.

Sunday was quiet at home – church and evening relaxation.

Monday we visited a friend that we haven’t seen since the birth of her latest child a few weeks ago.
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Then, I came to work.

I found out in a short period of time that the woman who has the cubicle across from me is leaving.  (Actually, it’s more like we share cubes – they are really tiny and essentially open on 3 sides.)  She’s a really talented person who had gotten stuck in a rut here due to the company’s failure to have another person share her job and allow her to grow into a bigger one.  We lost another similar person a few weeks ago.  The good people are leaving my department (and the company as a whole) far too quickly.  I’m about out of reasons to stay.

I’ve recently been asking myself (and a few others) – how can you tell the difference between needing to look for a new job, or needing to look for a new career?  Any thoughts?  The need to answer this question is getting more acute.

Hello, Trenton Devils

May 18, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Sports 

Trenton Devils

The New Jersey Devils announced today that they are changing the name of the Trenton Titans to the Trenton Devils.

Trenton,   NJ (May, 18, 2007)
– The National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils today re-branded its ECHL affiliate from the “Trenton Titans” to the “Trenton Devils.”  The team’s new home and road jerseys will feature “TRENTON” in red across the chest, with a stylized horn in the “T” and “N,” along with the familiar New Jersey Devils logo.  The announcement was made by Devils’ CEO/President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello.

“The Devils’ organization prides itself on two things:  consistency and excellence.  Our goal is to have all of our players at every level play for the same name and logo,“ said Lamoriello.  “We want our players to
feel a sense of pride every time they put on their respective Devils’ sweaters.”

The Devils will become the only hockey franchise with the same nickname at the NHL (New Jersey), AHL (Lowell), and ECHL (Trenton) levels.  Five other NHL teams – Boston, Dallas, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and San Jose – currently share a nickname with their AHL affiliate.

In 2007-08, the ECHL’s Trenton franchise, 2004-05 Kelly Cup Champions, will enter its ninth season of
operation.  The team will continue to play its home games at the 7,605-seat Sovereign Bank Arena.

Full and partial season-ticket plans for the 2007-08 season are available by calling a Trenton Devils ticket representative at (609) 599-9500.  For further information, visit

The Trenton Devils are a member of the ECHL, North America’s Premier “AA” Hockey League.  They are owned and operated by the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.

I am heartened to see that the owners are recognizing this fall as the 9th year of the team, rather than the 1st year of the new image.

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Ticket prices (according to the Trenton website) for season tickets are up about 10% over the earliest discount price from last year.  This is fair, given that they haven’t increased for several years.  The single-game tickets appear to be up 3-8% depending on location.  At the season ticket rate, I’ll probably renew.

Goodbye, Trenton Titans

May 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Sports 

The Trenton Times is reporting that on Friday, May 18 the NJ Devils will be holding a press conference in Trenton to announce that the Trenton Titans hockey team (ECHL) is being renamed to the Trenton Devils.  A new logo will be shown as well.

There is still some question about the league that this team will end up in.  The AHL Lowell Devils have one year remaining on their lease in Lowell, MA.  The Lowell city council is getting ready to take steps that implement a loophole in the contract that allows them to kick the Devils out now.  That would leave the AHL Devils with no home.  There has been rampant speculation in Trenton ever since the Titans were bought by the NJ Devils that the AHL team would be relocated to Trenton, possibly for this fall.  Other options for the AHL team include sharing the new Prudential Center in Newark, NJ or possibly going to Hartford, CT.

So we may have the ECHL Trenton Devils or the AHL Trenton Devils tomorrow.
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We know that it won’t be the Titans.  The Titans played for 8 years and only failed to make the playoffs once in that time.  They contended for the Kelly Cup twice, winning it once.  I hope (probably in vain) that the NJ Devils will retain that history and keep the Titans banners hanging in Trenton.

The Lowell Devils are wholly owned by the NJ Devils.  The Trenton Titans are 80% owned by the NJ Devils, with the remaining 20% currently held by the founding Berman family.

Rigoletto – Boheme Opera Company – April 22, 2007

May 11, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fancy Shmancy, Music 

On Sunday, April 22, 2007 Carolyn and I trotted down to the Trenton War Memorial for the Boheme Opera Company’s performance of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.

This performance was a bit unusual.  The orchestra director (and co-founder of the company) Joseph Pucciatti also served as Artistic Director (as well as Stage Director and Set Concept).  He decided that rather than setting the opera in the traditional mid-1800’s, that this production would be translated to 1938 Italy under the Fascist Mussolini.  The Duke of Mantua was transformed into a high ranking official in Mussolini’s inner circle.

In my opinion, the transformation didn’t work.  Aside from an additional scene after the overture which included newsreel footage of WWII, Mussolini and Hitler, and some shouted salutes to “Il Duce”, the main transformation was limited to military costumes and more modern scenery.  By the third act, even the costumes and scenery seemed more appropriate to the original time period.  Nice idea, but not worth the effort.

Aside from the strange transformation, the rest of the production was excellent as usual.  The sets, while minimalist, were very good and most of the costumes were excellent.  The orchestra as always was wonderful – these folks are always solid and deserving of their ovation before the 3rd act.

One thing that I like about this company is that they often bring in a director who has the performers act, rather than just “standing and singing”.  Too many operas are produced like showpieces for the singing ability of their performers, with the actors simply standing in place and singing their lines.  This company actually expects the players to move around while singing (and even sing from the prone position when appropriate).  These opera feel less like concerts than they feel like plays with music.  The players actually display emotion while performing.  This production was very much in the “act” mode rather than the “stand and sing” mode.  This is what keeps me coming back every year to their theater.

The title character hunchback was played by Constantinos Yiannoudes.  We’ve seen him before as Figaro in The Barber of Seville and as the title character in Don Giovanni.  He was excellent as usual and continues to prove that opera singers should also be able to act (and he can).
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The Duke of Mantua was played by tenor Mark Schowalter.  Before the opening curtain, it was announced that he was under the weather but wanted to proceed with the performance.  His voice was a bit weak in the first act, but by the end of the performance he was up to nearly full volume.  He was EXCELLENT in the role of a powerful man who cares not for the consequences of his actions or their effects on others.

In my opinion, the overlooked star of the production was Cheryl Evans in the role of Gilda, the love interest of the Duke and daughter of Rigoletto.  As far as I can tell (and I have enough musical training to be able to hear the difference), she sang the whole opera nearly note perfect.  During one aria, she hit several notes without vibrato that were exactly on pitch with the orchestra – to the point where I couldn’t even hear a beat frequency difference.  She threw high C’s like confetti.  She also acted excellently.  I was disappointed to be one of very few who stood during her bow at the end of the opera – I believe that her contribution was overlooked.

One up-and-comer who was also excellent was Khary Laurent in the baritone role of Monterone.  He acted and sang his small part with energy and emotion.  I hope to see more of him with this company in the future.

I only have one complaint about the whole opera-going experience.  The people sitting around us this time were downright rude.  A row of senior citizens (apparently part of a bus trip from Brooklyn) loudly complained about the people sitting in front of them.  One woman said, “Can you see?  I can’t see – the woman’s hair [in front of her] is too big.” loudly enough that three rows of people heard her.  I realize that we aren’t going to get a crowd in Trenton that is similar to the audience at the Met in NYC, but some civility is expected.  Carolyn and I have been whacked with carelessly placed canes, hit by people’s coats, and been the subject of complaining about being too tall like the complaint quoted above.  Neither of us is particular tall (we’re both about 5′ 9″) but apparently that’s a problem for these folks.  And people wonder why the seats are going empty.

Next fall, the Boheme Opera Company is doing Verdi’s La Traviata and then in the spring of 2008 they will be experimenting with Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

Black Cat Trivia

May 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Science 

Did you know ……

Albert's Face

…. that black cats are the only cats ….

Cat Nose

…. with black noses ….

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…. and black whiskers (though they get white with age)?  In case you were wondering ….

Cat Tongue

…. they still have pink tongues.

(Thank you, Albert and Isaac, for serving as illustrations).

Need Help – Invitational culture and evangelism

May 5, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Church New Member Process, Religion 

I need your help.

The Task Force on Welcome and Outreach that I mentioned previously will be meeting soon (later this month, probably).  We’d like to come up with 5-8 books on our topic for the team members to read this summer and report back to the group.  This is part 1 of the education phase.

Our charter calls for surveying visitors on their visit experience, surveying the community for their impressions of the church and spiritual needs, and then making recommendations to the session.  The recommendations are supposed to cover creating a culture of hospitality and invitational evangelism.
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Do you have any book suggestions?  I have a handle on what it feels like to BE a visitor, but I’m really stuck on how to survey the community.  Books on invitational evangelism and books on a culture of hospitality would be very useful.

Thanks for your help!  Please leave suggestions in the comments.  If you can’t get the comments to work, e-mail me at the address behind the link in the left-hand menu.

Vacation and topics

May 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Admin 

I will be on vacation next week.

This is not a “go somewhere and see the sights” vacation.  My wife and I (and my entire family for that matter) tend to plan to do too much on a “go someplace” vacation.  What I NEED right now is to relax – to plan one activity at day at most and sleep until my body says it’s had enough sleep.

But who are we kidding – I’ll be doing some stuff.

Monday I plan to go to Camp Johnsonburg and help out replacing light ballasts and fixtures to complete their conversion to lower energy lighting.  They have to have it done by the end of the month to get the grant from the local utility and they still have a ways to go.

Later in the week I plan to go flying again, since my blood pressure is under control again and I can.

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On Sunday, my church is holding a choir concert featuring works inspired by the Song of Solomon.  THAT should be interesting.

I know that I owe you a few posts.  One on Youth Sunday – if you can’t wait until I get that written you can go here to see pictures, or here to listen to the sermons (April 22, 2007).  I also owe you a post on the opera Rigoletto by the Boheme Opera company in Trenton – that’ll get done soon.

I also want to write something about the loss of church members when they graduate from high school and drop out of church during or after college.  It hasn’t gelled yet, so I’ll be writing that when the spirit strikes.

I’ll be back at work on the 14th.

Blood Pressure OK

May 1, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Life 

I headed back to the doctor today, because I thought my blood pressure was still high.

The nurse took it – 118/80

The doctor took it – 114/78
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I guess the new dosage really is working.

Also good news – my cholesterol is 198 – high end of normal but acceptable.  It was a little higher last year.  HDL, LDL, Triglycerides were all normal.