Archive for the ‘Worth Checking Out’ Category

One of my favorite things to say about wine is:

“Don’t be intimidated, remember wine is just agriculture”

It is simply the process of harvesting, preparing and bottling up the fruit of a farmer’s hard work, the soil of a particular location grapes of a specific plant. There is nothing magical or mysterious about it… which is probably why it is so magical and mysterious… it seems so simple

But I guess I have to concede that wine also has an arcane poetry in this understated alchemy. The bottling of the earth in which the plant grew, and the wind and air that rustled through its vines, the water which rained or flowed to the roots to nourish and develop berries basking ‘neath the fire of a distant glowing sun.

But remember: don’t be intimidated.

And here I stumble upon the tension that I experience. I want the simple explanation; to reduce everything down to a manageable pocket-sized nugget. But my heart is often far more significantly emboldened when I get lost in the terrifying wonder and intricate magnitude of what God wove and fashioned with the deceptively simple, spring-loaded…

“Let there be light”

…don’t be intimidated

And so I sit with a glass of wine, staring deep into the redness, wondering at what is wrought within.

It is not just something to be consumed, but to be experienced.

So I sit. I still myself. I swirl the wine.

The light reflects and shines through the redness, the tidal waves contained with a hemisphere of glass; a sea of colorful and flavorful organic compounds dancing and playing. Amid the tannins, the flavinoids, the esters and sugars I am reminded… “This is my blood that was poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins… do this in remembrance of me.”

And in the stillness, I am confronted with the sobering truth: “Don’t be intimidated” is TERRIBLE counsel.

Because deeper than the agriculture, more mysterious than the alchemy, more beautiful than the refractive hue is the deeper truth, the fuller wonder and the realer realization. Within and without this glass, everything points to the beauty and terrible majesty of the body broken and blood split, to the good glory of God’s great gospel.

But, oh, how easy it is to overlook, and how quickly the cross is presented as a concept, a symbol, an icon; reduced to a manageable nugget. Because of this, I invite you to join me in observing lent starting on Wednesday. Lent? wait you were talking about wine, isn’t lent about depriving yourself? It isn’t about not eating chocolate, it is about being disciplined and approaching Easter with a desire to wonder. Join with me and take forty days to intentionally prepare, remove obstacles and to examine the cross in its fullness. (What is Lent?)

And the next time you pick up a glass of wine – be intimidated, it is much more than just agriculture.

Imagine… 200 miles…. 33 hours… 12 member team running through the Arizona desert for a cause! Well that’s the Ragnar Del Sol Relay that takes place on February 24-25, 2011. The Ragnar Del Sol Relay stretches from Wickenburg to Tempe, AZ. I am joining Arizona Youth Partnership’s twelve member team will be participating in the relay to keep resources available for under-served communities.

What is Ragnar?

The Ragnar Relay is a 200 mile relay race from Wickenburg to Tempe with 12 runners per team. It begins on Friday, February 24th in the morning and the ends on Saturday, February 25th in the afternoon. Each runner runs 3 legs of the race that range from 3.5 to 9 miles and vary in difficulty.

Why?

Together we are raising money for Arizona Youth Partnership’s (AzYP) Basic Center Program for Homeless youth in rural Arizona. Arizona is ranked 4th in the nation for families living in poverty. AzYP has recently taken steps to secure community support and funding for a Basic Center in Kingman, Arizona.  This program is designed to prevent homelessness by providing a temporary shelter for youth ages 12-18 who are in crisis.

How can you help?

One of the ways that I am helping with this is raising $500. Every tax deductible donation will go directly to support Arizona Youth Partnership’s Basic Center Program. Click here to go to my donation page. Also feel free to check out the goals of the Basic Center Program below and my “Runner Profile” for this years race.

The goals of the program are:

1) Provide emergency shelter and services to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and their families.
2) Provide outreach, support services, and referrals to youth at-risk for runaway or homelessness.

Race Profile

Like Ragnar, fun is the name of the game… this profile reflects that.

  • Name: Michael Miller
  • Nickname: Mike… or Dash Rawhide: Zippy McChafkins as a Cowboy
  • Runner #: 3
  • Amount of miles: 22.4 miles
  • Race History: In 1482 BC the a cultural phenomenon began on the island of Fartlek, where teams of twelve domesticated chinchillas were raced as a way to determine if the local tribe of the Saucony would stay on the north or south side of the island.  What they feared the most was that they would anger the gods and usher in Ragnar-rok. Unbeknownst to them the local population of chinchillas didn’t enjoy running, but preferred sitting back and drinking daiquiris, and soon organized and moved to Key West. Having no way to determine what part of the island to live on, they decided the only option was to assemble teams of twelve to run around the full 210 mile circumference of the island and hope that would be enough to assuage the expectations of the island gods. What came from this tradition was the cultural race of Ragnar, which has been observed for the past 3,500 years. Betcha didn’t know.
  • Personal philosophy on running: Running with friends is far better than running with hungry lions.
  • What is your favorite running quote? To a runner, a side stitch is like a car alarm.  It signifies something is wrong, but you ignore it until it goes away.
  • Why are you running the Ragnar?  Because I love running, I love road trips and I love AZYP… I don’t know why I wouldn’t.
  • If you happen to drop your phone in a cattle guard, what is your strategy to get it out? Hire a chinchilla with the promise of a daiquiri to scamper down and grab it for me.
  • What is your greatest fear running Ragnar this year?  I don’t know if I have any… possibly that I will have to run in denim
  • How will you pass time between each of your runs?  Taking pictures, cheering on other runners and talking trash about how my van is better than the other van.
  • What is your training strategy?  I’m training for a marathon the month before, so after that my goal is to keep up the training and get as many “kills” and zombie “kills” as possible.
  • Imagine: You are running 8 miles uphill at 6am. You receive a picture text of a wonderful breakfast that runners from the other van are eating. What do you do?  Nothing, there are some people who can’t hang… I’m not so soft, and I have no problem running 8 miles uphill at 6am. Enjoy your breakfast, we’ll send you a picture of lunch .
  • Describe the feeling of finishing Ragnar. Have you ever seen the joy brought to a chinchilla if you buy them a daiquiri? Yeah it’s something like that.
  • At what mile will you regret signing up for this? Mile 42… but I wont have to run that far.
  • What do you like/dislike about running overnight?  Not seeing the ground dip away when you are running on dirt trails, but when you look like someone out of Tron, it is all worth it.
  • What’s your favorite post running food?  Roasted Chinchilla… okay, no … Anything that Kari makes.
  • What is your favorite Ragnar memory?  Hands down it was progression of Andrew laying on the ground and the lost/retrieval of the phone from the clutches of a cattle guard. If I had a close second, it would be cheering Gauri on during the last leg, I loved her adamant perseverance and the camaraderie of a team that was going to cheer through any pain.

Of the many things that I love, I derive a significant amount of joy in listening to music and finding new artists. Many of you who know me have probably experienced, and subsequently worried about me, as I “geek out” over a new discovery. Near to my appreciation of music, is my love of letting people know about new songs/artists/sounds I’ve stumbled upon. Every week I am going to be introducing a new (or new-to-me) song that I am currently enjoying… and try to convince you on why you should love it too.

About a month ago I was listening to Pandora and heard Gotye (“go-tee-yay“) perform “Someone That I Used To Know”, and was immediately surprised at how fresh and yet familiar the sound was. Reminiscent Phil Collins, the Police and Toto it is a modern re-boot of all of the sounds I love from the 80s. It is whimsical and reflective but with an a chorus that is livid and impassioned.

While the break-up song will always have a place in music, Gotye takes the convention past the angst-y one-sided lament that we see (e.g. Ain’t No Sunshine, With or Without You or the classic favorite Cry Me a River). Halfway through the song it shifts into a duet bringing the reality that is true with any break-up… the other person. It is a “formula” that I am amazed isn’t employed more often. It takes it from a song that I would honestly love anyway, to a solid favorite. It also reminds me that sometimes the best innovations are the most obvious in retrospect.

The rest of “Making Mirrors” is easy to let play again and again, despite how amazing all the songs are, “Someone That I Used to Know” is my favorite of the collection.

I am not the only person who has this opinion. The covers of this song abound. Have a listen, and check out the two covers included.

Taking an already amazing song and rearranging it so that it can be played by 5 people on one guitar (which I might like as much as the original), or sung a capella by a beat-boxing quintet is worth your time.

Trust me.

Someone That I Used to Know

Gotye

Someone That I Used to Know

Walk Off The Earth

Someone That I Used to Know

Pentatonix

Have a great day,

Canberry Sauce from a can… a can of red bull. I doubt I will be drinking much red bull over this holiday, but I am thankful to its marketing department.

I love my church. I love the leaders I am blessed to serve with. I love the community and what God is doing through all of us.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been incredibly busy and I haven’t had made the time necessary to get back to writing. That being said I have been learning so much and I am excited to share it with you soon.

Today I wanted to post a video that gets at the heart of where we are headed as a church. We have been praying through our vision of “Helping people find their way back to God” and we are starting into the next chapter on that journey.  Take a look at the video, and then if you can join us this Thursday, August 25th at 6:30pm to hear more about where we are headed (childcare is provided). Check out www.tucsonrevolution.com for more info.



Imogen heap has released heapsong2 = Propeller Seeds.

The initial idea was tied to how sycamore seeds fall… which is incredible if you have never seen it before.

Also cool, but in a different way, is that this song is recorded so that with headphones you are totally immersed in a 3D environment. Try it out.

At work I am able to listen to podcasts, music, sermons, audiobooks and lectures as I sit in a vault organizing massive amounts of information. The job itself appears to most as horrifically mundane and repetitive, but the time it affords me to listen makes it all worth it.

Yesterday I wanted to re-immerse myself into the world of Biochemistry. While, to some of you, that might sound as horrifically mundane as organizing files and blueprints, I love hearing about the amazing chemistry and biology of the cell. So I found a half-dozen lectures from iTunesU and spent the afternoon under a mound of architectural paperwork immersed in topics like DNApolymerase, prions and chaperone proteins.

There is something absolutely magnificent about the chemistry that takes place in our cells. I was trying to explain that to some friends at dinner last night, but found it difficult to conceptulize how amazing the process of even a protien folding correctly is. I left it at … its like going to a padlock that requires 1,000 different combinations to open, and doing it in a quarter of a second. It is that incredible.

PSA Announcement: If you don’t think Biochemistry is AMAZING, you don’t know enough about it.

While this video simplifies things, it is an incredible overview of how to get from DNA to Protein. Check it out :).