July 13, 2012 - Happy Friday the 13th (if you're into that sort of thing). Tonight I loaded up a playlist of Thelonious Monk while smoking a Rocky Patel Decade Toro, and washed it down with a classic gin martini - don't forget the olives.

So tonight I'm interested in digital music that ISN'T in mp3 format... something that's "lossless" or that sounds better than mp3. Mp3 is a good music format because it's very popular and plays on a wide variety of devices. However it's also a compressed format, which means it strips out portions of the music to create a smaller, more compact file. This is a desirable tradeoff as you hear decent quality music while being able to fit an enormous amount of songs on your media device (usually an mp3 player such as an Ipod.)

But I love music... which led me to wonder if I could hear it better if it wasn't compressed into the mp3 format. Enter lossless music format such as FLAC. I'm listening to Thelonious Monk mp3's and hearing distortion on some of the piano tunes... don't know if it's my imagination, or the quality of the original recording - or the result of copying from a CD to mp3 format.

I guess I'll need to burn it from the CD again to lossless FLAC and compare the playback. This could get complicated because if it IS better then I need to decide whether to re-rip all my CDs. This will also create duplicate files, since I'd have the same music in both mp3 and FLAC, which will take up more disk space also.

BTW, the Rocky Patel Decade I'm smoking has been in my humidor at least 6 months if not a year - and it's still one of the best cigars I've ever smoked. No doubt there are better cigars out there (Padron Anniversaries) but the Decade has nothing to apologize about - it's top shelf all the way.

July 3, 2012 - Happy 4th... Allman Brothers, Padilla Miami cigar, and scotch w/Drambuie. The world is a better place.

So today I was thinking about some deep stuff... along the lines of how awesome God is and why people cannot bring themselves to recognize his awesomeness. I know - weird stuff.

But it's true. I often wonder at the amazing thing that creation is... the world we live in, the sun, the sky, the earth, all of the creatures big and small that are such a stupendous example of how great God is. This is going to be hard to put into words, but I'll try.

EVERYTHING in creation is complete. Dogs are completely dogs. Trees are completely trees. The moon is suspended in it's orbit around earth, the planets arranged in their order... pick a random flower from a field and you'll find it finished in complete beauty. (Yes, there are mutations that are NOT complete, but by their very definition they are EXCEPTIONS to the rule. Mutants are exceptions, they are not the rule.) This speaks not just to God's thorough job of finishing his work, but the overwhelming creativity and predictability speak to the way he not only created, but finalized his job. Creation was a completed job... I don't know - this says to me that God didn't just throw things together, but he finished the job. And if you examine the expanse of creation, both the earth and all it's creatures, and the heavens above you can unequivocally surmise that creation is a finished product. No stone was left unattended - everything functions exactly as it needs to.

I told you this was going to be hard to describe...

The other thing about God's creation is that it wasn't simply put together and left to deteriorate. Everything has a component of growth and regeneration. Plants and animals (and people - I don't equate them with animals!) have seeds. They reproduce, regenerate, rebirth... seasons have been established to cycle all of creation in a pattern of life and death. The reason I highlight this is that creating something isn't enough - you need to build in a RE-creating element to sustain it over time. This also has been completely designed to keep life going for THOUSANDS of years.

Compare this to anything man has created... we can find cave art that's a couple thousand years old. That's it. Cave art... not the Mona Lisa, not a statue of David or Notre Dame cathedral - heck, the great structures of Greece are literally ruins that we struggle to maintain against the demands of time. The oldest and best we have is cave art. Compare that to the moon or the planet Saturn - what we've created may as well be a 6th grade macaroni art project.

So here stands creation, this amazing - STUNNING - work of art at the hands of a genius creator... and we pretty much take it for granted. The sun rises each day and we're too busy hustling off to work to pause and marvel at the beauty. Take an hour to examine the process of how a man is created - from inception, thru gestation, to an actual birth and you simply cannot deny it is an unqualified miracle. A fully functioning complex organism called man begins life at birth and continues for years and years. Able to think, reason, work, play, create, exist in a hostile environment for years and years. Simply amazing...

And this is where I attempt to understand why people refuse to face the truth of how wonderful creation is, how wonderful they are made, and how stunning the whole mix actually is. How does one deny the awesome existence of life? I simply cannot comprehend this... it's like waking up in Disneyland and assuming it's just like anywhere else in the world. I don't get it...

There's a parable in scripture about a landowner that worked to create a vineyard. He planted the vines, built the barns and press, rented it out to tenants, and left them to take care of the place. But they stopped paying rent. Actually they reached the point where they assumed they owned the vineyard and whenever the owner sent messengers to collect, they beat them and sent them off empty handed. The owner decides to send a member of his family, thinking they will at least respect him. But the tenants decide to kill him, reasoning that if there are no family members then they will gain ownership of the place.

And the question is asked - "What should happen to these foolish tenants?"

The answer is obvious - they must be violently thrown out of the vineyard. No amount of reasoning has had an affect on them. They have eliminated the owner's option and this is the only way he can recover what rightfully belongs to him.

Now if by some remote chance someone is actually READING my rambling website, let me state clearly in no ambiguous terms - I AM NOT ADVOCATING VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD. That is not my purpose in life, nor do I believe it is other believer's purpose. God will establish consequences for unbelievers, not me. I am only describing a parable that I believe equates with how we exist in God's creation and what the consequences will be for those who refuse to acknowledge his creation. He's God - not me or others.

For me the question remains - how do we live in a Disneyland creation (and the Disneyland analogy is incredibly weak because nothing Disney created compares with life itself) without falling down in utter adoration at the Creator's feet? How is it possible to assume the grandeur of life was an accident or random occurrence of evolution? It's simply too marvelous for that conclusion... and yet it happens. We all do it all the time, even believers. How foolish would I be to not include myself among those that take this all for granted?

I am a wonderful creation. God created me, made me marvelous, and yet I fall far FAR short in my attempts to honor and recognize my creator.

Forgive me Father, for even in understanding all of this I know not what I have done.