Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shooting for the stars... Lynchburg native Leland Melvin ... son of a very close friend of mine

When I was young, there was a time during which I once dreamed of becoming an astronaut.... now today, I have met one, and know his parents extremely well. I am just so excited and proud I can hardly contain it ... and yes, concerned enough to ask all for prayers.

Lynchburg native Leland Melvin is among the crew of NASA shuttle mission STS-122 set to launch on Thursday. Leland has been to our church several times and I was at a surprise party with him once for his father, Deems, who has helped me greatly many times over the years with car situations as well as giving me the opportunity to play music together. Deems and his wife Grace, along with their daughter Kathy, have already traveled to Florida for the launch. They left after church on Sunday. So if you care to learn more about Leland, his mission, his native city and family, follow the links. Even if you don't have such an interest, please pray for his safety and for peace and faith for the entire family. I would appreciate it greatly.


Stories in the local newspaper, News and Advance:

USA Today story:

Nasa TV for public view to keep up with mission and launch:

Countdown clock to launch:

Leland interview:

Leland profile:

Leland biography:

Leland menu (yes, what he'll be eating for each meal):

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thank you Veterans!

Monday, Tina and I went to the National D-Day Memorial to observe Veterans Day and observe/participate in the ceremony there. The prayers and music were powerful. Yes, the Bedford Elementary school chorus (a public school) included "God" in their lyrics and the whole event was very heart-warming and reminded us how blessed we are to live in America and to thank those who have served to maintain our freedom.

Lily the chef

Halloween day, Lily's pre-school had a party and celebrated the community helpers they've been learning about. Lily dressed as a chef!

Halloween 2007 also marked the 4th anniversary of Lily's heart surgery and we are so grateful for how well she is doing. Praise be to God for His blessings.

One car up, two back

On Oct 30, we kept the boys out of school to make a trip to Charleston, WV and meet Laura's mom Mary K, Linda, Alan and Jessica. Daniel was being given a car formerly used by both Ben and Jessica and we met to bring it back home. We ate at the very fun Quaker Steak and Lube. Daniel drove from Beckley, WV (3 1/2 hours).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lily, little princess/big girl

Hard to believe that Lily turned 4 years old yesterday! She had a wonderful day as her Uncles Kevin and Brian and Aunt Faith are visiting from PA. Of course, her Aunt Tina, Uncle Jackie and cousins were all here for her party too. Of course, she had a pink, princess cake! Click to play the short video clip and you'll hear how she wants to share her cake and her birthday too!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Heights achieved and celebrated!

Daddy and Lily had some special time yesterday morning with the boys in school and mom at work. We took a little drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yes, I know that just being able to say that is not something to take for granted as some of you would have to drive for hours just to get to the parkway. I was hoping to see wonderful new brushstrokes painted by God amongst the trees, but things were still 'mostly' green... I did appreciate all of the sculptures of the mountain ranges however, and Lily (yes, still in her pajamas... why not, it was a lazy morning) did have some nice discussions about the leaves changing color and that Jesus is the reason.

Then, last evening -- October 9 -- Laura and I had a special date for dinner as it was the 25th anniversary of our very first date. Little did we know about the delightful journey that was ahead for us. Why do I remember? Well, I told someone recently that I was either very neurotic or desperate but it could just also be that I'm a hopeless and sensitive romantic at heart. Could it be both? In truth, probably!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Danielson rocks!

From leading a worship song during the morning offering today at church... to opening band at show tonight at a local venue... Daniel makes us proud with his musical talents, heart for God, and fun showmanship!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pumpkin Patch Pictures

David had a 'no-school' day, perfectly timed to join Lily for her school field trip to the pumpkin patch. After all, she had the chance to go with him on his field trips to the same patch for the past two years... too bad grandma and grandad were not here this year like last. David enjoyed getting his own pumpkin and a Happy Meal at McDonald's afterwards. So much so, that he declared this as "the best day ever". This afternoon the cousins came to the house to spend the day and sleep over tonight.... that was part of why he knew it was going to be a "best day".

Model Child

The following is taken from an email update sent by Laura:

At work, Don and I just attended one of J. Crew's annual Fall Kick-off meetings intended to get everyone excited about the upcoming peak season. We had a few important people from corporate headquarters in NY come down to Lynchburg to give us all the statistics about our company growth and tell us all what a great job we do stuffing packages in the distribution center and smoothing out customer issues in the call center. Just to make everyone aware of the new styles and create a buzz about the brand, there's always a little fashion show at the end...AND...my point for telling you all this is...Lily was picked to be one of the models this year!

She did a great job, sporting her red corduroy pants and yellow polka-dot wellie boots, tartan ruffled shirt and yellow argyle cashmere cardigan. To add additional cuteness, as if that were really necessary (or possible!), she had a yellow fair isle hat that just made everyone go "Awwwwhh...." when she came out and did her sweet little spin on the stage. No diva fits, temper tantrums or shrinking violet shyness the entire time--she was just cheerful and confident. No, we're not thinking about contacting a modeling agency or doing any beauty pageants any time soon, but we are very proud of her!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Camden Yards... without Cal

I always wanted to visit Orioles Park at Camden Yards... but wanted to do so while now-Hall of Famer Cal Ripken was still actively playing. That never happened, but yesterday I had the chance to go to Baltimore to watch the Orioles play the playoff-bound NY Yankees at Camden. The O's lost 10-4 and it was a very warm day, but Todd (my co-worker friend) and I had a lot of fun making the bus trip there and are already looking forward to a return visit in '08.

While there, I did as much scoreboard-watching as I did game-watching, hoping for what actually happened -- a NY Mets loss and a Philadelphia Phillies win!!!! The combination gave the Phillies the NL East division title and their first post-season appearance since 1993!! (note the scoreboard at Camden photo capturing a video of the celebration) They'll play the Wildcard team on Wednesday!!! Go fightin' Phils. Hope you can catch Phillies Fever!!!
Here's the wrap from http://www.mlb.com/ (as luck would have it, the 4th inning is when Todd and I went to the concessions to get some food ... we saw some of the feats on video but didn't get to fully take it in... oh well, neither of us are Yankee fans, so its OK)...
BALTIMORE -- On the 162nd day, there was rest.

After an emotionally draining season, the Yankees took a more relaxed approach Sunday as the team's stars took their final bow in a 10-4 victory against the Orioles.

"The guys have played a lot of innings -- a lot of stressful innings -- in the second half of the year," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "It's good to get your mind and body rested."

It was the team's final game before Thursday's playoff opener against Cleveland. Rodriguez received the loudest ovation from the Yankees fans in Baltimore when he was removed from the game in the fourth inning, but inside the dugout the biggest cheers went to Bobby Abreu, who picked up his 100th RBI of the season in the fourth inning.

It was a milestone he had been chasing for the entire month, and Torre thought it showed.

"I was surprised he got a walk his first time up, because he was swinging at everything," the manager said with a laugh.

Abreu's quest had been picked up by the team, and the day's honorary manager, catcher Jorge Posada, was waiting with his team to congratulate Abreu in the dugout.

"When he got it, it was like a load came off for all of us," Posada said. "I can only imagine what he felt like."

Abreu hit the milestone four times with the Phillies, but he said this year was special because he battled through a rough first half of the season. At the end of May, the right fielder was hitting .228. Like the team, he went on a second-half tear to boost his numbers.

But as he approached 100 RBIs, things slowed down. He stalled at 98, picking up just one in the past 11 games before Sunday.

"I've been looking for that for a long time," he said. "I never gave up."

Yet another review of Thursday night's Dylan show!

Sept. 28, 2007

Dylan and Costello Push for the 22nd Century

Concert Review by Olivia Beatty

Say what you will about Bob Dylan - at 66, the man still knows how to rock. Dylan is a living legend, one of the few socially conscious rock troubadours to make it out of the ’60s alive.

And thank goodness he did. He and his five-piece band proved they still have what it takes get an arena of thousands on their feet screaming. Dylan filled Charlottesville’s John Paul Jones Arena Thursday with his blues-infused, country-tinged, good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll.

In a wide-brimmed flat cowboy hat, hips swinging, Dylan proved his talent on guitar, keyboard and harmonica. It’s impressive that the man has made a career with a voice that sounds like he’s got a mouthful of cotton balls, but those nasally vocals are what make his voice unmistakable.

The show was a best-of bonanza, combining ’60s classics, tracks off his 2006 album, “Modern Times,” and notable bits and pieces in between. The mix might have been because he’s releasing yet another greatest-hits album in October or maybe because he has a solid songbook nearly four decades long.

A particularly rousing rendition of the 1965 hit “Highway 61 Revisited” really got the crowd going. In “Spirit on the Water” he jokes about his age: “You think I'm over the hill. You think I'm past my prime. Let me see what you got. We can have a whoppin’ good time.”

Dylan made the audience practically beg him to come back onstage for an encore. I guess when you’re Bob Dylan you can make them wait an extra few minutes, just to be sure enough they make enough noise to warrant the extra songs.

And what an encore it was. They played the up-tempo, hard-rocking “Thunder on the Mountain” from “Modern Times” and the pièce de résistance: his oft-covered 1967 masterpiece “All Along the Watchtower.”

Opening for Dylan was Elvis Costello, a headline-worthy act in his own right. He played an engaging and impressively energetic solo-acoustic set, which included his classic hits “Alison,” “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” and “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.”

His British wit proved just as charming between tunes as he told tales of spotting Schwarzenegger in a restaurant and recounted the genesis of his politically charged newer songs. Costello and Dylan made for a solid tour pairing, with the former’s charm and short, poppy songs complementing the latter’s straight-to-business rocking jam sessions.

After 14 years of waiting... how sweet it is!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers -- together -- and an upcoming one?

Found the following review of the concert Laura and I enjoyed last night, posted at http://bobdylantour2007.blogspot.com/.   Unfortunately, Amos Lee, a Philadelphia artist who opened the night with his band, is not mentioned and he was incredible!  Check him out at www.myspace.com/amosleeofficial.
Review: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Costello, Dylan prove an engaging pairing
After Brit's solo set, Dylan mixes it up on keyboard and guitar

Once a year, concert industry magazine Pollstar awards the most creative tour package of the season.

The 2007 winner can already be named.

As striking a pairing in reality as on paper, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello brought their legacy, cynicism and airtight songbook to John Paul Jones Arena last night.

Though Costello, chipper and grinning in a black suit and trademark black specs, referred to himself and fledgling soulster Amos Lee as Dylan's opening acts, Costello should never be relegated to secondary status.

After giving the nearly sold-out crowd of about 6,500 a hearty "How are ya?", he burst into "Either Side of the Same Town" and "Veronica," attacking his acoustic guitar with electrifying vigor. Even in acoustic form -- Costello performed his hour-long set solo -- and missing its glossy sheen, the song still bopped infectiously. What else can you expect from a pop tune partially constructed by Paul McCartney?

The British Costello cheerfully accepted his many ovations with the curl of a smile that suggested he basked in the adoration. But, even when sharing a witty yarn about his two American-born sons and their chances of becoming president over Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was evident that Costello had a deeper message to convey.

A biting "kind of campaign song" written with T-Bone Burnett contained the chorus "It's not very far from sulfur to sugar cane," and Costello altered the lyrics to the pensive ballad "Scarlet Tide" to include "Admit you lied and bring the boys back home" -- a line greeted with impassioned cheers from the audience.

The crowd spanning many ages retained its enthusiasm when Dylan and his five-piece band, dressed in identical sidewalk-gray suits and black fedoras, crept on stage.

Dylan, clad in a black suit with a flat-brimmed cowboy hat hovering over his craggy face, plowed into his fusion of blues, country and rock, his guttural rasp of a voice swallowing every word.

But this Charlottesville stop afforded a setlist more familiar than other dates on this joint tour that began last weekend in Georgia.

On "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," Dylan injected eloquent pauses between the syllables, burning up the fret board of his guitar while lead guitarist Denny Freeman did the same, both seemingly lost in their own musical world.

While he spent some of his 100-minute set caressing the guitar, Dylan appeared most comfortable behind the keyboard, knees bent and shoulders hunched over the keys.

"Tangled Up in Blue" was Dylanized with an unrecognizable cadence, but those groovy keyboards were unmistakable, especially as he played with his right hand, the left one busy with the harmonica at his mouth.

At times, especially during "Watching the River Flow" and "Workingman's Blues," Dylan's voice was more akin to hacking up phlegm than singing. But isn't that part of the reason people revere him so much?

Though pockets of the show trudged with similar-sounding chord progressions, when Dylan and his crew blazed through "Highway 61 Revisited," they sounded like the tightest bar band this side of the Mississippi.

While those seated on the floor stood and clapped along for much of the show -- especially set-closer "All Along the Watchtower" -- many in the side levels remained seated. They would nod politely to the beat and try to decipher a single word, figuring at least they can tell their friends today that they saw the legendary Dylan live.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A big week ahead

David had no school on Friday, so I walked with he and Lily at the track after dropping Daniel off - used the double stroller. Only got a mile in - plus the extra weight. He and I had a rare daddy/David morning since I don't see him as much as I'd like during the week with my second shift work schedule. We went mall window-shopping, though he did come away with a used "on-sale" Gamecube game. I worked half-day in order to take Laura, David and Lily to a local night of magic, sponsored by the Salvation Army. The local ministry is raising money for a new Center of Hope which will house more homeless citizens in transition and have the capacity for husbands and older children to also be able to stay with mothers - currently not an option. There were 5 local magicians who performed, part of the Hersy Basham Assembly 32 of the Society of American Magicians. FUN! Lily maybe enjoyed it even more than David, clapped a lot, and repeatedly I heard "How did he do that?".

Saturday Lily, David and I walked 4.5 miles on the Blackwater Trail, and Sunday had Laura join us for a 2.0 mile walk there again. It starts at the awareness garden which honors those who been impacted by cancer.

Daniel had a show on Thursday night which his band, A Breath of Plagues, performed in and he went to one on Friday night, then spent Saturday night at a friend's house.

Today, I decided to break out the bicycle... something I have not seriously tried in a very long time. I rode three miles on the same track and what I discovered is that 1) it is harder than it looks and 2) my bike seat is not big enough to make my personal seat comfortable in the slightest!

Laura and I are looking forward to Thursday night when we'll go see Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello in Charlottesville!!! Then, this weekend, I'm taking a bus trip with a friend from work to Camden Yard to see the Orioles and Yankees.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

...and three today!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Keep walking

2.5 miles on Friday and 2.0 Monday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

"L"ong way "U"p there

Ever since Liberty finished the moutain-side LU monogram, I've been curious about what it looked like up-close. Today for my walk, I followed the Liberty trail to the top ... some of those inclines were very demanding. The view is amazing. ... and now the legs are tired and aching!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More Happy Times at the Park

Lots of fun - daddy, David and Lily -- but it was HOT!

Fun at Day In The Park

Walker again

Yea for me! Twice in the week I've used my 'alone' time after dropping off Lily to walk! I hope I can remain consistent. This time, I stopped at the local high school track consuming less travel time and gas than the park would have to get there. Eight times around - that's two miles! Listend to audio Bible on my mp3 player and made it through 8 chapters in Romans. Good way to exercise multiple elements of my being, huh?

Today was yellow day for Lily... did you wear your yellow too?

Hope to take David and Lily to 'Day in the Park' tomorrow.

Feeling a little better today - stayed home from work yesterday. It's not fun to have a cold when its hot!
By checking out these sites, I'll bet you'll learn a little more:
About my teenage son at www.myspace.com/dangeromen

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lily's First Day of School

Today is a very significant day in the parenting life of Laura and I. It was the first day of school for Lily (pre-school) meaning that all of our children were in school today. My morning was spent as Mr. Mom's shuttle-taxi service ... dropped Daniel off at 8:15, David at 8:30 and Lily at 8:45 (actually we had to wait a little as the doors didn't open until 8:55a). She had a great day and did very well.

Afterwards - I knew I'd have a couple hours to myself. I'd appreciate prayers that I may use this time (3 days a week) wisely for personal/spiritual growth, rest, projects, exercise, etc. Today, I decided to go to Peaksview Park and take a short walk since I have been very negligent in doing any kind of exercise and the scales are showing it. I only did a mile and a half but will increase as I continue. I encourage you -- if you want a way to lift your spirits, build your faith and re-energize -- take a walk alone if you can... I found myself talking to God about a lot of things. Sure, the endorphins help - but what helped even more was listening to some biblically inspired, and annointed worship music. This morning it was Matt Redman's "Beautiful News". I probably looked a little strange walking with an ocassional clap or hand lifted... all refreshed, I came home and cleaned!!! After all, I wanted the roses I left on the table for Laura to look good! Roses in the midst of dirt and clutter just don't impress as much.

Other than that, I'm fighting a cold, which is terrible anytime, but especially when its still so warm and nice out. It may actually be allergies exasperated by lawn-mowing!

I did have a teary moment the other night when listening to the Liberty Flames opening football game. It was pointed out how this year so much is going right for the team and they hope this is the year they go from good to great - but it will be without their number one fan, Jerry (Falwell). The new tradition for each game will be a moment of silence in his honor, followed by the playing of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. At that point, a new flag, a jersey-like flag with the number 71 (the year LU was founded and the number on the Falwell jersey given to Jerry last October and then immediately retired) is hoisted. Listening to it all was very moving and I couldn't help but tear up. Its only been 3 1/2 months since Jerry went home. Sometimes it feels longer and sometimes it doesn't seem to be true.

On a totally unrelated note ... I have now been posting to this blog for over two years and I'm pretty pleased with that even with moments of inconsistency. Just look back at the oldest pictures of David and Lily and you'll see how much they've grown and changed! :)