Joe Satriani - Black Swans And Wormehold Wizards
I just received Joe Satriani’s new album in the mail. The biggest complaint about Satriani’s stuff has always been its narrowness. With each new (solo) album however, his style broadens and this new album is the best yet. Danny and I have second row seats for his show. Can’t wait!

This is a list of pieces my dad and I might use to make an HTPC with.

Here are some cases:
LUXA2 LVA20012N1Z Aluminum LM200 Micro ATX, Mini ITX Media Center/HTPC Case (Black/Silver)luxa2-lva20012n1z-aluminum-lm200-micro-atx-mini-itx-media-center-or-htpc-case-black-or-silver

Silverstone Aluminum Front SECC body mini Itx Htpc Computer Case LC05B (Black)silverstone-aluminum-front-secc-body-mini-itx-htpc-computer-case-lc05b-black

SILVERSTONE LC12S Silver Aluminum Mini-ITX Media Center / HTPC Casesilverstone-lc12s-silver-aluminum-mini-itx-media-center-or-htpc-case

ThermalTake VK81221N2U SD100 120W PS Mini-ITX Home Theater Chassis(Black)thermaltake-vk81221n2u-sd100-120w-ps-mini-itx-home-theater-chassisblack

Personally I’m leaning more to the LUXA2 LVA20012N1Z Aluminum LM200 Micro ATX, Mini ITX Media Center/HTPC Case (Black/Silver)

For a Motherboard, we are going to get the Zotac IONITX-B-E Intel Atom Nvidia ION Mini ITX MB. There was a Video Review on the sight we found it on.

For Memory we are trying to decide between 2GB and 4GB.

For a DVD/CD Reader/Writer we will look on Newegg for a good cheap one.

We will opt out of a TV-Tuner

For “interfacing” (i.e. controling), we will use something I found called the Logitech diNovo Mini. The diNovo Mini includes, Full QWERTY keyboard, Mouse Pad / Directional Pad, Lithium-Ion Battery life rated at 1-month/per charge, Backlighting (orange/green), Bluetooth 2.0 (30 foot range) and is Linux compatible.logitech-dinovo-mini

For the operating system, my dad has chosen Ubuntu 10.4.

For the Open Source Media Center Software we will use XBMC (formerly Xbox Media Center, but they no longer support the Xbox system). The default XBMC theme/skin is (if you ask me) boring. As a fix to this dilemma, I have found the Aeon Project. It is better looking, and seems easier to use, then the default theme.

Any input about anything would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, we went hiking. Mom didn’t go because she felt sick. Only Dad, Danny Lukas and I went, and it was supposed to rain. We hiked up Gorham Mountain, down a little bit, and then up the Beehive. The Beehive trail is a short but incredible hike. You go up the side of the mountain on iron rungs and metal ladders. My Dad got really scared and it wasn’t that scary. Then, we went down the other side of the Beehive along the Bowl Trail to the Bowl. The Bowl is a round lake. We passed the Bowl and hiked up Mount Champlain. We went up, then down Mount Champlain. We were a little tired so we hiked to the North side of the Tarn, which is a small lake. Then, we drove into Bar Harbor and got some Ice Cream at “CJ’s Big Dipper.” After we finished our Ice Cream, we stopped back at the RV. Mom, Dad, and Danny went back into town for dinner, but Lukas and I stayed behind at the RV. The map below is the route we took hiking, the route is highlighted in blue. We started at the bottom and worked our way Northward.

Click on the thumbnails below to get the full image.

Otter Cliffs area overlooking a rather far drop Hicking up the trale View from the top of Gorham Mountain Looking up at "The Bee Hive" The view from "The Bee Hive" Hiking around "The Bowl" Looking back at "The Bowl" Clouds over the islands - from the Champlain Mountain Trail The top of Champlain Mountain Looking down on The Tarn from Beachcroft path
Crab in Lukas’ hand

We arrive at the camp ground at about 8 o’clock on Saturday afternoon and set up camp.  It is low tide and Lukas and I go to the beach and look for sea creatures in the deposits that were left after high tide.  We sometimes caught some.  There were crabs, fish, star fish, and lots of snails.

We go to Bar Harbor a few hours after we arrived and look for something to eat.  We eat in a restaurant called Gettys (pronounced jetty) After we have eaten the overpriced meal we look around Bar Harbor and go into some shops.  We talk to people about Sea Kayak tours and find places to rent bikes.

We go back to the RV and make our plans for the week ahead.  We decide to hike the next day and make no other decisions about our week.  As we prepare to sleep we listen to the Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy.

My son Danny and I had a brief conversation about the sacraments and the covenant. I wish I had a recorder. When we were finished I typed in a rough outline of what was said. Here it is as best as I can remember with some minor insertions to preserve continuity.

Danny: How many sacraments are there?

Me: Well, it depends what you mean by “sacrament.” The word literally means “mystery” and there can be many mysteries. But the Roman Catholic church says there’s seven special mysteries they call sacraments. We say there’s two but we mean something more specific by the word sacrament.

But you tell me, what’s a sacrament?

Danny: It’s a mystery :-)

Me: But what is it?

Danny: I don’t know?

Me: It’s a means of grace. Do you know what grace is?

Danny: It’s God’s liking someone.

Me: Right. It’s God’s favor. Grace is favor. So saying the sacraments are a “means of grace” is like saying they’re a means by which God shows us His favor. And can you earn God’s favor?

Danny: No.

Me: The Roman Catholic church believes that when Christ died, he filled up this big reservoir of merit. According to them, when he shows us His favor, He gives us some merit from the reservoir, but then we need to add our own merit to that. They believe there are some people who obey so well that they merit more than they need to have to get to heaven so that extra merit goes back into the reservoir to be used by more people. … Do you know what ‘merit’ is?

Danny: It’s following what God wants you to do.

Me: Well, it’s the “earning.” When you “merit” something, someone “owes” you like wages that should be paid. … Let me ask you this: since God created Adam, was Adam obligated to obey God?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Then, if Adam HAD obeyed God perfectly, would God have owed Adam eternal life? Would Adam have *merited* eternal life?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Would God have *owed* Adam eternal life like a boss owes wages to someone that does work for him?

Danny: Well … yes.

Me: Why? God made Adam so Adam is bound to obey God. But does God OWE Adam anything?

Danny: No, I guess not.

Me: So God would have been within His rights to condemn Adam to hell, even after perfect obedience, if He wanted to. Not that He would, but He wouldn’t violate any rule if He “made Adam for common use,” would He? Doesn’t the potter have the right to do as He pleases with the clay?

Danny: Yes. I guess so. So I guess God wouldn’t have owed Adam anything, even if he obeyed perfectly.

Me: So Adam can’t merit God’s favor. Now, what’s a covenant?

Danny: An agreement that can’t be broken?

Me: Well, not exactly. A covenant is a solemn oath, made by two parties, with promises (and therefore obligations), with blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Blessings for keeping the promises or fulfilling the obligations and curses for failing.

Now, what if God created Adam, and entered into a covenant with him? What if God, in a covenant, promised Adam eternal life if He obeyed Him perfectly, but cursed him with death if he disobeyed?

Now if Adam obeyed perfectly would God have been obligated to reward him with eternal life?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Why?

Danny: Because He promised.

Me: So it has nothing to do with Adam *earning* it. God is obligated by His own promise in the covenant, not by Adam’s obedience.

Danny: Yes!

Me: So did God have to make the promise to Adam?

Danny: No.

Me: So when God made the promise he was showing ‘favor’ to Adam. He promised Adam eternal life because He wanted to, not because He owed him anything, and not because of anything Adam did or could do?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Well, that’s God’s grace. Do you see how God’s grace is bound in the covenant and ‘merit’ cannot have anything to do with it?

Danny: Yes.

Me: So the sacraments are a signs of the covenant we have with God. In them His favor, or grace, is shown to us because in them His promises are reiterated. They are like an official *seal* on a letter than contains the covenant promises. That’s what Jesus meant when He said “This is my blood in the new covenant, which is shed for the forgiveness of sin … Do this as a memorial.”

We talked more about baptism and being in the covenant community. About “common grace” and how it applies to unbelievers in the covenant. And the covenant curses. And then about the development of doctrine (Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda) and the unfolding or the history of the rediscovery of the covenant. But I guess I’ll save that for another time

Obviously My family is not familiar with the phrase “There’s no place like home.” This year we are taking a month-long vacation around most of the US. We are using a 2004 Damon 353, 36′  class A  R.V. We are starting at our house (on July 2nd) and gong up to Hyner PA were we are going to spend July 4th weekend. From there we are heading to Chicago for a few days. Then we are off to Boulder, and after staying there a little bit we head off to some more places and eventualy San Fransisco with one week to get back home. But we haven’t gotten that far yet. today is filled with packing the R.V. and preparing for our trip. My dad put a home entertainment center, new speakers, and a nice big T.V. inside it. We’ve got almost everything packed and will start our trip tomorow. We will be stopping periodicaly at places with Wi-Fi so we will be able to upload pictures and post more posts.

Another great weekend at Hyner. Here are a few videos that were shot.

This one shows Lukas’ first tandem flight.

Hyner 4th of July, 2008 from Jim Carroll on Vimeo.

Here are a few more put together by others:

Hang Gliding at Hyner View, July 4th Weekend from DanTuck on Vimeo.

And one from our Russian visitors staying in camp “Moscow.”

Our latest stop motion entry includes an automatic Christmas tree and the return of the voracious laundry basket.

The Automatic Christmas Tree


When I was a kid of twelve (or so), I discovered that my dad’s super-8 movie camera could make movies one frame at a time. For a few weeks my friends and I had a lot of fun experimenting with stop-motion animation. I wish I could find those old films but they seem to have disappeared.

More recently (much more recently, actually) I developed a scheme for converting old movie film to DVD using a flatbed scanner. It still needs some refinement and a better scanner, but one of the more useful applications that born of this effort was a program that converts a series of images into a playable movie (for anyone that’s interested, the source code is in the Source Forge project, Legacy Film To DVD Project.

So now my kids decided they wanted to try their hand at stop motion movies and claymation. Instead of using an old super-8 movie camera where you only get one shot (unless you want to reorganize the frames with a splicer), they used a digital camera and my software (and a little but of help with the software).

Josh’s first claymation Danny’s Claymation
“Jim” is the name of Danny’s character


A friend of mine pointed me to “Tony vs. Paul;” an absolutely amazing stop motion video hosted on YouTube:

Tony Vs. Paul – This one is not ours


After playing with these claymations, and being inspired by the above, we gave it a shot. Here is a crazy laundry basket eating my entire family :-) :

Hungry Landary Basket


Lukas’ first claymation

And finally, with a little help from all of us, Lukas (currently eight) made his claymation.


On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis theses (thanks Dale) to the door of the church at Wittenburg. This is considered the official beginning of the Protestant Reformation and lead to Luther’s famous proclamation at the Diet of Worms:

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

My family and I recently watched the new(est) Martin Luther movie, which is a great and rather faithful rendition (of course, there was some dramatization and some events were collapsed for the sake of brevity – all in all, given the medium, it was fantastic).

A friend recently posted Luther’s autobiographical account of his conversion. It’s worth reading.

Pennsylvania Anglican – Reformation Day – October 31st, 1517

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