August 2002 highlights

Saturday, August 31st, 2002
Kathy, Emily and Kelly drove to Modesto to spend a few days and to bring Amy and Wendy home.  While there, Grandma treated all of us to a day at Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy.  It is a beautiful amusement park set among more flowers and trees than you can imagine.

When we returned home from Modesto, Wendy and Amy participated in a week-long tennis day camp here in Pine Mountain.  Lots of fun for Mom to sit and watch 10 children who have never played tennis before!

Amy and Wendy's ensemble performed in a concert at church this month.  They sure enjoy singing!

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Amy & Wendy sing again at church

Eric's been busy this month. He made a trip to Ojai to work with some of his favorite clients.  Kathy and the girls were able to join Eric for a few days and stay at the hotel. In between traveling back and forth to church for ensemble practice, Kathy and the girls enjoyed the hotel's swimming pool, and visited four missions for our California history unit study.  While Eric served his clients, the girls and Kathy took day trips to  Lompoc, Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Ventura to see the various missions.  We were amazed at the diversity at each site.

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Studying California history
at the Santa Barbara Mission

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.
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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. http://www.bibleman.com

Joseph comes to Bakersfield. It was hot!

Friday, August 16th, 2002
Tonight we attended a children's theater production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in Bakersfield, California. We have seen this show in several different venues, from small intimate theaters to very large productions. Tonight's production was special, as it was Emily and Kelly's first theatrical experience, and first introduction to our favorite musical. Amy and Wendy passed down their Joseph coats to their little sisters, and the thrill of seeing the show was special to all.  Oh, it was about 102 degrees - inside the theater.

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Emily and Kelly meet Joseph for the first time

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Kelly & Emily meet Joseph at the Bakersfield Music Theater

2002 - Joseph Emily & Kelly Bakersfield 03.jpgAmy & Wendy pose with Pharoah at the Bakersfield Music Theater

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Emily, Kelly, Jospeph, Amy and Wendy

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. :-)

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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.
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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.