Sunday, February 26, 2006

My birthday..Sort Of, David Crowder/Third Day Concert and Dan

Rachel suggested that we go out to DQ Friday night to celebrate her 14th and a half birthday...hey, it's as good an excuse as any. We used the same reasoning the next night to celebrate my 48th and a half birthday by going to dinner and then the Third Day/David Crowder concert at Target Center. Actually, the concert has been in our plans for a couple months. I was able to get out earlier in the day for a brisk ride in mid 20-degree temps so as not to feel too guilty when I over-ate at Chillies. Tammy's sister, Theresa, also went with us.

The concert had a 7pm start time so we wanted to be at the restaurant before 5:00 and before the crowds. We got seated right away and began to ruin our appetites with a basket of tortilla chips and dip. Fortunately our food came before we could actually do that.

We arrived at Target Center and parked in the ramp across the street on the 4th level...we wouldn't realize until later how big of a mistake that was. We had some time to kill before the concert so we went down and checked out our seats then came back up and perused the merchandise counters. Rachel was hoping to find a David Crowder poster but there weren't any. We scored some very nice seats on the floor in the 8th row.

The David Crowder Band came out promptly at 7pm and played an abbreviated version of the concert we'd seen them play a couple months earlier. I was hoping for a bit more stage time for them but they weren't the headline act so it wasn't to be. It was still a good set from them even though it was short. They played some of my favorites and my face had a smile the entire time so it's all good.

There was a 20-minute intermission between shows and the bass guitarist from Third Day came out to talk about a cause his band is supporting and looking for people to join them in their effort. They're working with World Vision to better the lives of suffering children in Africa and Uganda in particular. There was a short video of the desperate circumstances these children and their families are in. There were tables set up where you could view packets of children waiting to be sponsored. It was good to see a line several minutes long of people waiting to make a commitment in a child's life. We're sponsoring a girl from Indonesia and a girl from Tanzania and Tammy has been talking about sponsoring another. We worked our way to the front of the line and this boy's photo jumped out at me. His name is Dan. I told Tammy it would be nice if we could sponsor a boy and she agreed. We've been so blessed in our country that to not try and reach out to the suffering masses of the world is wrong...especially when sponsoring a child is made so easy. Our commitment really amounts to just a drop in the bucket but it's still a drop. I remember the story about a boy walking along a beach where thousands of starfish had washed up with the tide and they were dying in the hot sun. The boy would pick them up one at a time and throw them back into the ocean. A man came by and asked him what he was doing. He told him he was "trying to save the starfish." The man replied that what he was doing was a "waste of time." The boy picked up another starfish and as he threw it back into the ocean he said, "Not to this one." The same could be said of those who support desperately poor people in other parts of the world...that the problem is so overwhelming that there isn't really much guilt in not trying to do anything because it would only amount to an unnoticeable effort anyway. Depending upon which organization you decide to work through the monthly amount to sponsor a child can be as little as $20. It doesn't stop there though as there is also interaction with the child. I know that for us when we receive a letter from one of the children we sponsor there is always an excitement to open the letter and read it. Here's a link if you think this may be something you would like to become involved in. Please do.

Third Day took the stage and came out rocking. They played an eclectic mix of both old and new and some stuff they said they seldom ever play on stage. Tammy was happy to hear them play Consuming Fire. It's the song that first sparked her interest in them several years ago. They've got a great lead guitarist (Brad Avery), too, and he was playing directly in front of us. The crowd was 7000 large and I think we all got our money's worth. When I was at concerts in my younger days people used to hold lighters in the air to show their appreciation in addition to their applause. There's a new angle on that today...instead of holding lighters they hold their cellphones up. It's a cool effect.

We hung around after the show so Rachel could get a Third Day poster and we figured we'd let the traffic clear out some before we got on the road. When we got to our car in the ramp we could see that it was going to be a bit of a wait. It was gridlock. Nobody was moving at all as I think they were clearing out the three levels of the garage below us before anybody on our level could exit. We waited half an hour before we backed out and played the game, "I Spy With My Little Eye". Find yourself in a traffic jam with us sometime and I'll show you how to play.

Friday, February 24, 2006

One of Three

We've been pretty busy around our household as we try and get the windows in the kitchenette of our basement done before the warm weather moves in and I find it next to impossible to do stained glass with all the bicycling I'd rather be doing. Tammy did some very nice design work to get the ball rolling on these. In case you missed a previous post of mine, here are the designs once again...
left window, middle window, right window; and here's where they're going above the cabinets in the cutouts.

Once we got the designs finished the first thing we did was work on the background glass. We're working with some beautiful Youghiogheny stipple glass we found at a shop in Minneapolis. We got the only two sheets they had and it should be enough but trying to find just the right piece for transitions between areas is still tricky at times.

We laid out the background for all three windows together by placing them in our family room windows so we could view all of the glass at the same time. The lightbox in the basement is too small for that. It's trickier than it looks. I want the background to be an assortment of color but there's also a way to do it so the changes between adjacent pieces aren't too abrupt...that's the tricky part. There's an area on the middle window which I'm still struggling with. Once you've got the pieces pasted where you want them it's time to cut them from the sheet. This is a bit nerve-wracking because if the glass breaks where you don't want it to you'll have to rethink the entire process again to work with what you have. It's always nice to have the main sheet cut up into workable pieces.

After getting the background pieces in place we started filling in the rest of the window which consists mostly of grapes and leaves. The grapes are especially tedious but Tammy has a method for doing them.

The first window came together yesterday but there was still much to do before I could get it hung. I had to run out to Keith's shop and have him cut some plexiglass to size to fit behind each window. I meant to take my camera along but forgot it. I saw my brother Tim there, too, working on staining some pieces. The plexiglass works to diffuse the lights behind the window evenly across the panel so you don't have brights spots where each of the lights are. I'm using three, 20w halogen puck lights behind each panel. Here's a photo of the first of three finished windows...and a closeup view.

We hope to have the other two windows done in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stained Glass

We've been busy working on a stained glass project for our basement. I was hoping to be a little further along than we are but it's very tedious work with no way to rush it. Once we finalized the last of three drawings it didn't take long for us to get busy. Tammy cut all the pattern pieces out and I got busy pasting them to the glass and cutting and getting cut. The hardest part so far has been trying to get the background glass to flow from one area to the next. I bought some beautiful Youghiogheny stipple glass for the background and I would think that two sheets would be enough but I'm finding that it's still a challenge finding just the right glass for the right area. There are so many tiny pieces but I like working that way as you seldom if ever see anyone else work that way. It takes a lot more effort but for something which will be around for years or decades to come, a little extra effort isn't such a big deal. I hope to have the first window done this weekend.

I've spent the last few weeks redoing all of the Navy photos on my website. When I first set up the pages a few years ago I was trying to keep the photo sizes smaller so people on a dial-up connection could easily download them. I was never happy with the quality so I decided to do them all over again with larger file sizes. They turned out nice. I got an email from somebody who also served on the Fresno before my time thanking me for the photos and the trip down memory lane. That's why I do it.