Monthly Archives: June 2008

Streaming TV: A Review of the Roku Netflix Player

Update: The main problem with Roku is that the kids always have something they want to watch, (Dr. Who, Dilbert, etc.) so I don’t get to watch my daily dose of Jeopardy and news. Ben was complementing me on my excellent decision in asking for presents and their wisdom in choosing this gadget for me.
My children all chipped in and got me the $100 Roku Netflix Player for Father’s Day. This is a gadget that allows you to watch streaming video (Netflix only for now) on your TV. It is very easy to set up. It took me less than 5 minutes to hook it up to my wireless network and my television. It allows you to stream TV shows from Netflix directly to your TV. This is particularly nice for us mainly Mac families, since you are currently unable to stream Netflix to a Mac 😦

The main issue I have right now is that I have to disconnect my TIVO from my TV to connect the Roku. I called technical support at Roku – and got a hold of a human being in less than five minutes. He told me to buy a switch at Radio Shack and keep the reciept in case it didn’t work.

The picture quality is perfect, but I do have Verizon’s FIOS, so I have a fast home connection. It takes about 20 seconds for the show to start streaming from the internet to your television (instead of the three days to get the Netflix DVD to your mailbox).

Only a percentage of what’s on Netflix is currently available for instant watching. We put the new Dr. Who season one, the first season of Heroes, and the first season of the Dick Van Dyke show (with Mary Tyler Moore) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents on our list. All of these shows have the commercials taken out. They also have other things besides old TV shows, of course!

The service is included free with Netflix. So far, I am very pleased with the Roku Netflix player. Recommended!

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Jesus for President #2

There is an interesting article in the latest New Yorker dated June 30, 2008 called The New Evangelicals.

Since 2004, influential pastors and the head of many large faith organizations have set a new national policy agenda, one founded on their understanding of the life of Jesus and his ministry to the poor, the outcast, and the peacemakers. The movement has no single charismatic leader, no institutional center, and no specific goals. It doesn’t even have a name. But it is nonetheless posing the first major challenge to the religious right in a quarter of a century

The New Yorker, Annals of Religion: The New Evangelicals, p 28 by Frances Fitzgerald

The article discusses how the only religious voice in the last presidential election was that of the Christian Right, but that this is changing. Mark Noll, the evangelical historian says “Evangelicals do not want themselves identified as the Republican Party at Prayer”. Rick Warren, “who is the best known evangelical preacher after Billy Graham” because of his book about purposeful living and being the pastor of the Saddleback Church, has repented of not serving the poor, and is calling for a second reformation, one that would be about “deeds not creeds”.

There is a new Christian Manifesto which says that it is the Christian’s duty “never to be completely equated to any party, partisan ideology, economic system or nationality” because “that way faith loses its independence, the church becomes ‘the regime at prayer’, Christians becom ‘useful idiots’ for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology.”

Other Christian leaders discussed in this article are Joel Hunter, Bill Hybels, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and Ron Sider.

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Send your name to the moon for free

NASA does not ask for anything but your name but the deadline is June 27,2008. That’s tomorrow!

Sign up to send your name to the moon. Names will be collected and placed onboard the LRO spacecraft for its historic mission bringing NASA back to the moon. You will also receive a certificate showcasing your support of the mission.

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Bill Gates is leaving MicroSoft

Bill Gates,52,  just decided to leave MicroSoft. He is cleaning out his desk this Friday.  He is worth $58 billion and has decided to become a philanthropist. Previously he has founded and led a company that made $51 billion last year and employs 78,000 people.




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RIP: Guinea Pig Feb 2003-June 2008

Our pet guinea pig escaped from his cage which was in the backyard. The cage was on the grass with no bottom so that she could eat the grass. Somehow she snuck out underneath her cage, and we have not seen her since. She is not a very smart pig so I don’t know how she will do by herself. We gave away her cage on Craig’s List.

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Bearing a Cross

And we must be cautious not to abuse the idea of “bearing our cross”. The cross is too easily turned into a religious metaphor for any of our hardships. But the Bible never waters down the cross into a mere symbol that can make us feel more spiritual by wearing it around our knecks. No, the cross is the execution tool of the state that killed Jesus and the insurgents. And it is the place where Jesus faced and overcame violence with love. How ironic when someone gets a tattoo of Jesus on the cross but has no problem with religiously condoning violence. Too often a cross is placed in a house to signify respectability, symbolically saying “Hey, we’re good people.” The cross of Calvary was not a difficult family situation, not a frustration of visions of personal fullfillment, a crushing debt, or a nagging in-law; it was the political, legally-to-be-expected result of a moral clash with the powers ruling [Jesus’] society. There are plenty of biblical motifs to counsel, soothe, and care for people in their troubles, but the cross is not one of them.

Jesus For President, p 278-279, by Shane Clairborne and Chris Haw, 2008

Check out

I just finished this book – and will write a review shortly.


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Cheapest hotel prices on the internet

Here are the prices I found for one night, one person at http://www.hotelscombined.comfor 2008-07-11 on 2008-06-22. Most of the lowest price is for a hostel with a shared room and a shared bathroom – and I do not know about the quality or safety of these places. I just found them on the internet. No guarantees. All prices are in United States Dollars.

New York, NY      $29 Broadway Hotel and Hostel

London, England   $25 Meininger City Hostel & Hotel London

Orlando, Florida    $30 East Palm Resort Hotel Orlando

Venice, Italy  $62   Villa Alighieri Hotel Venice

Bejing, China $8     9dragons House Hotel Beijing

San Antonio, Texas $44   Alamo Lodge Motel San Antonio

Lawrence, Kansas $39  Hallmark Inn Lawrence

Paris, France $45 Mister Bed Nemours Hotel Paris

Mexico City, Mexico $24 Fontan Hotel Mexico City

Another good web site:  and bid about half the price of the going rate. Sometimes, I have gotten great deals that way.

The free way to go is with couch surfing: for the true travel adventurer only.

The cheapest way to get around the east coast right now is with, which I have tried and liked. I am trying it again to go from Philadelphia to Boston with my family in July.

 Or stay with a friend!

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West Chester shopping (online and offline)

Malena’s is one of Hannah’s favorite Downtown boutiques. Malena also has a fantastic web page:

The Chester County bookstore is having a 25% off sale on almost all books  June 22-28. So this is a good time to stock up for books to read on the beach and support your independent local book store while paying Barnes and Noble and Border’s prices! (still not as cheap as however). Your conscience will feel better, and you will still have the cash.



And don’t forget the West Chester Grower’s Market on Saturday Morning:

We have a deal with a local farmer that if we buy all our fruits and vegetables in January that he will give us lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables! So we are enjoying a lot of local food with no inflation.

Finally – our music festival is coming up:






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Pictures from Iran

Here are some beautiful pictures from Iran. I am opposed to any American invasion of this beautiful country and of these beautiful people. Jesus said “Love Your Enemies” and preaches the gospel of enemy-love which does not include killing people. It does involve boldly proclaiming His message and proclaiming allegience to His Lordship and not to anything else, including the American Empire.

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Ice On Mars

The Phoenix Mars Mission has discovered ice on Mars. See

There is a cool animation of ice cubes melting on Mars there. The Martians must have abandoned their iced lemonades when they saw this strange UFO landing! 🙂

This is also the first evidence of man-made global warming on Mars! We are already melting their polar ice.


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