Friday, October 29, 2004

Yep, I'm an early voter. I went and placed my vote today for President Bush and Vice-President Cheney to be re-elected. I have rarely felt such an urgency to vote and I felt extremely satisfied walking away from the polls.

As an American, I love my country and feel blessed for the freedoms my family, friends and I enjoy. I also know that those freedoms were purchased with the sacrifice of men and women's lives and those freedoms are being defended this very day by the men and women in the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence community, along with the allies of the U.S. in the international war on terror...and leading that effort all is the U.S. Commander-In-Chief.

So, come what may, I know I participated in the election process. Now, like everyone else, I'll wait and see what the rest of the country decides, who they vote for or if they even decide to vote.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, October 28, 2004

An Eclipse, Family Time, Youthfest `04 & The Return Of The Voyager (Van)

So yesterday was an interesting day. Our van was finally repaired and we went to pick it up. About the time we got the van from our friend who'd worked on it, the lunar eclipse was starting. As the boys and I headed home in the van (and Angel followed in the rental car), the boys got really excited about the eclipse and asked some good questions.

Once we got home and transferred some papers and stuff from the rental car back to the van, I decided to let the boys stay outside with me and watch the eclipse. Adam got out his toy binoculars and watched, occasionally letting his brother look through them. A few minutes later, Angel came outside and we all watched as the eclipse reached its fullness. Then as we saw that the eclipse was starting to wane, we went back inside. I'd hoped to use the digital camera to snap some shots of the eclipse but AA batteries were nowhere to be found (drat.) So, this cool picture I found on the Drudge Report will just have to do...

Youthfest 2004 was a great success last Saturday! We had an terrific turnout, sound was excellent, transitions between speakers and musical groups was near-flawless, the guest groups were diverse and talented, the Gospel was preached in three well-timed mini-sermons and best of all, one soul came to Christ! That made the whole event worthwhile...

In other news, I've been continuing to tweak IR Haven's look and feel over the last week. Thanks to Blog Explosion, we've been getting dozens of extra visitors per day, so I've been trying to make the site easier to load and nicer to look at. If you want to leave feedback on IR Haven, you can e-mail me or just leave a comment on this blog entry. Have a great day!

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Modern Faith

Some people say they don't have faith.

Some say they don't have enough faith to believe in God.

Some say they don't have enough faith to believe that Jesus Christ is Savior of the world.

I would counter that by saying that everyone has faith. Maybe not faith in God or Jesus, but everyone exhibits faith every single day.

It takes faith to believe you can open your eyes.
It takes faith to get out of bed and face each day.
It takes faith to operate a toaster or microwave oven.
It takes faith to ride a bicycle or drive a car.
It takes faith to repair something.
It takes faith to go on a job interview.
It takes faith to travel by airplane.
It takes faith to believe your computer will boot up correctly.
It takes faith to believe that someone will respond when you instant message them.
It takes faith to believe that people will read your blog.
It takes a LOT of faith to become a physician.
It takes a LOT of faith to commit to raising a child.
It takes a LOT of faith to make a marriage work.
It takes a LOT of faith to advance a career.
It takes a LOT of faith to be involved in politics or activism.
It takes a LOT of faith to recover from failure and get on with your life.

It took God to put that faith in all of us.

It took God to give us a desire to better ourselves, to seek purpose in life.

It took Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross and God resurrecting Him from the dead and send the Holy Ghost that can fill that space, that emptiness, and give us direction and encouragement during our lifetimes and hope for what's to come after we die.

Does it take faith to believe in God? Yes.

Does it take faith to believe Jesus is the Son of God? Yes.

Does it take faith to believe in an afterlife? Absolutely.

Is it hard to take that step of faith to believe in these things? Definitely.

Can you do it? Yes.


Because God gives each and every one of us that faith when we're born.

2 Peter 3:9 (King James Version)
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Thanks for reading this. It's not copied from anywhere, I wrote it (except for the scriptures, of course)...and yes, it took faith. Have a great day!

Best Wishes,

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I'm Lovin' It! (I Hope McDonald's Doesn't Mind)

...but my wife and I are really enjoying our 2002 red Ford Focus rental from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Sure, it's got semi-miserable gas mileage, odd inside manual locks, weird cupholders and its CD player doesn't work but other than that, it's a dream! I love the great suspension, smooth gear-shifting, pep of the engine (must be a V6 -- which would account for the inferior gas mileage), the close to the ground feel and the fact that this vehicle has working air conditioning (the van, alas, needs a new compressor -- but that'll have to wait, it's Fall already).

Anyway, we've got it till next Wednesday. More soon!

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Disco With A Twist, Anyone?

My wife showed me this incredible animation over the weekend and I just have to share it with you! It's an MPEG file, so you'll need either RealPlayer (Free Version), Windows Media Player or some other MPG file viewer (I found out by accident today that the Firefox browser does a pretty good job all on it's own!). It's worth the 3 MB download to see an alien sing (and act) 42 seconds of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive!" (complete with disco ball!)

Alien Song

Best Wishes,
Rental Cars, Family and Fixits

So my family (my sister in particular, as well as her husband and my mom -- yes, I have a sibling) agrees to help us with our vehicle dilemma and I make arrangements for good deals on a used transmission for the van and a rental car in the meantime. All looks good. I take a shuttle out to the airport to pick up the rental car and run into CREDIT CARD INSANITY at Advantage rental cars.

I try to avoid using credit cards, I prefer our debit card. Pay with what you have, I always say... Anyway, so Advantage takes debit cards but want to charge $300 to them -- actually withdraw money -- as the deposit. This would be fine if I had something like $500 in my account at any given time but alas, I get paid weekly. They say, no problem, just use a credit card, they don't charge anything to it. That would be fine if I had an active credit card but I don't. They also don't take numbers for other credit cards from over the phone (I can sort of see the reasoning for that). So, I say, hey, no problem, I'LL JUST PAY IN CASH. "We can't take cash as payment." Huh?? "Corporate policy. I could lose my job if I take cash as payment."

Mumble, to this morning. I make one call to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and they:

  1. Set up an appointment for me and confirm they take cash as payment.

  2. Send a car to pick me up within minutes.

  3. Tell me exactly what they need (proof of insurance, driver's license, etc.)

  4. Explain their terms.

  5. Give me a better price than Advantage.

  6. Take my cash.

  7. Give me a free upgrade from economy to mid-size vehicle (a 2002 Ford Focus)

  8. I'm done in less than 20 minutes and drive the vehicle off the lot.

  9. Make me very happy.

So, we have a rental vehicle for a week (why is it cheaper to rent longer?) and our own vehicle should be fixed by Friday. I'm liking Enterprise but I will never use Advantage again. So, yesterday was stressful but today, I am doing alright! Many a gracious and sincere thank you to my loving relatives for their support.

Tonight is final practice for Youthfest 2004 at the church. Soundcheck at the Delco Center is Friday and the event is Saturday! First Light will be one of the first performing bands, so if you're coming, arrive a little early!

Best Wishes,

Monday, October 18, 2004

Lots Of Little Updates

I've been making friends in the blogosphere and registering/submitting IR Haven to more blog-related sites. It's weird, when you decide to do that, you inevitably find more sites to trade links with and run the risk of obsessive linking -- agh!

In other news, the transmission in our van (our only vehicle) went *ka-put* last Thursday, so we're looking at getting a used transmission and having it transplanted. I tend to be car-ignorant and computer savvy; I suppose in the end, it all balances out. Anyway, that's why it's good to have family and friends who care -- who also happen to specialize in the things you don't know. Lord-willing, we'll be mobile again in a matter of days. Fortunately, I have a job that's so close I can literally walk to it and it only takes 15 minutes (in traffic!). Life goes on, I'll keep you updated.

More updates soon...

Best Wishes,

Friday, October 15, 2004

NEW: Live Message Alerts!

Yep, I went ahead and signed on for the new "Live Message Alerts" for blogs. You have to have a .NET passport from MSN (they're free) like for a MSN Messenger or Hotmail account and then you can receive instant updates about IR Haven postings, either on your MSN Messenger on your computer, PDA, cell phone or e-mail! I personally thought that was great idea. I hope you do, too.

If you don't have a .NET passport, just click on the "Live Message Alerts!" button on the upper right of this page (under the clock) and it will take you through the free sign-up process. If you already do have a .NET passport, just follow the rest of the steps to start getting your updates.

I'm posting a lot more frequently these days and I really want everyone to be up-to-speed, so go ahead and get your Live Message Alerts today!

Best Wishes,
Same Blog, New Slogan

Yep, I finally decided to get rid of "It's not just a website, it's a Community!" for, well, obvious reasons: converting from a website with a forum to a blog with comments changes the nature of things. It allows me to say a whole lot more and share personal pictures and events in my life but there's just not as much conversation as there used to be in the old forum days. A forum was just too crazy to run, though -- too many people with axes to grind, usually on my head...and I just didn't need the headache. So when the free service I was using suddenly became not-so-free, about two years ago, it was just a matter of practicality to ditch the forum. When I started the blog last year, the slogan still was cool, so I kept it around.

But if I've noticed anything about the internet, it's that you have to reinvent yourself now and then to keep people interested in what you're doing. Not that I'm making Madonna-like claims (Madonna, like it or not, is the "Queen of Reinvention"), but I love this site and I want it to be all it can be for you. And now that we've hooked up with Blog Explosion, there's a potential for a whole new audience for IR Haven.

So, I thought to myself, "What really defines what IR Haven is all about now -- and then what's a cool hook I can add at the end?" The end result: "Interracial Marriage. Biracial Kids. Blogging the Paradise!"

Let me know what you think! Leave me a comment below.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Return To "Supersize Me"

The DVD of Supersize Me came out last week, featuring an additional hour of material -- including a segment with me and my ISAA Rapport co-host Gia Melissa Marciano! That's right, our segment is located in the "Deleted Scenes" section in the "Overeaters Anonymous" segment. Not that the director, Morgan Spurlock, implied anything about us, rather he chose to insert our segment after he visited and filmed an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. We're the final 34 seconds of that segment.

You can hear what Gia and I had to say about the experience in The ISAA Rapport by by clicking here! (You'll need Windows Media Player to hear it - the topic comes up in the second half of the show.)

So, this week, Gia was contacted by someone who got the DVD and saw the segment, so Gia contacts me and says "You think we're in this thing now???" Angel bought a copy and confirmed everything.

Wow! We're famous -- sorta!

Best Wishes,
Saturday Birthday Party Pics

Adam and Josey open more gifts

Adam and Josey pose with some of their gifts

Angel helps the boys with their gifts

Adam and Josey blow out their birthday candles on the cake

The birthday cake (red velvet -- yum!)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Friday's Birthday Party (In Pictures)

Josey and Adam in front of the refreshments

Goodies at the birthday party included "caterpillar" cupcakes (alternating vanilla and chocolate with different icing on each "caterpillar"), chips and dip, soda, plus little smoked sausages in BBQ sauce (not pictured)

Adam takes a swing at the frog pinata!

Josey's turn!

Adam and Josey open gifts, as friends look on!
(Yes, those are gold- and silver-colored crowns on their heads)

As you can see, the boys had a great birthday party!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

(Birthday) Party Time!

The boys had a GREAT birthday party with some of their friends from church last night! There were about about seven kids and two sets of parents. Something pretty unique about it, too, (though not planned) was that four out of those seven kids were biracial like Adam and Josey! So here we had a boys birthday party where the majority of kids are biracial -- that was neat. Of course, it doesn't matter to the kids and we don't really think about it either, but in retrospect, it's kind of amazing. I guess it's amazing to me because it doesn't happen too often that the majority of any child's birthday party is composed of multiracial children -- to unintentionally and randomly end up with a racial "neutral ground" where kids can just be free to be kids.

And by the way, my wife Angel gets total credit for the planning of the boys' birthday party together and she was an excellent hostess fo the evening, too. The party was part kids' games (like the three-legged spoon race and "Simon Says"-like games), part refreshments, part beat the frog piƱata and finally, the opening of the presents. For the few who remained when that was over, they had a choice of Super-Nintendo with Josey or Charlotte's Web 2 on DVD in the computer room.

The boys said it was their "best birthday ever!"

I got pictures with the digital camera. I'll post `em as soon as I can.

We'll be having a separate birthday party with family this afternoon at home and then it will migrate to "Austin Park and Pizza." Should be fun! I'll update later.

I so love it when the boys can enjoy themselves so much. I know those feelings are usually associated with the Mommy -- but this Papa has those feelings, too.

Best Wishes,

Friday, October 08, 2004

It's Been A Busy Day So Far!

I haven't gotten a chance to post my son, Adam Qyrive (pronounced "keer-ee-vay") Steadham's pics, as it's his 9th birthday today. We're having the first of two birthday parties for the boys tonight (the other is tomorrow). I still plan to post some cool pics of Adam but I may add some digital pics from one or both parties, too.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Updates and Blog Explosion

I've added a clock to IR Haven from Clocklink and hooked up with Blog Explosion. Blog Explosion is a free way to build traffic for blog-related sites.

I've been trying to blog every day this week, which has been a little difficult because I've been sick with whatever blew in last weekend. But as much as possible I will keep blogging.

Also, tomorrow is my oldest son, Adam's, birthday! So, expect a couple of pics of him, just like I did for Josey yesterday!

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Today Is My Youngest Son's Birthday!

Jonavinne ("Josey") Alexander Steadham is 6 years old today. I am very proud of him!

Here's a couple of pictures of him. Give him a "Happy Birthday" in the comments section if you like...

Josey with big bro, Adam, being cool!

Josey fitting in at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002
(I was part of a diversity panel and my wife and son attended)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

More Info On Youthfest 2004 In Austin, Texas!

Monday, October 04, 2004

More About Myst: Revelation

Well, I finally got to play the game on Friday night and Saturday. It truly does build upon the Myst legend of great graphics, animations and strong story -- but with some twists. Myst: Revelation picks up over 10 years after "Myst: Exile" left off but takes place before "Uru: Ages Beyond Myst." It also answers the question of what happened to the main character (Atrus)' sons after the first "Myst" while properly acquainting the game player to Atrus' youngest child, his daughter Yeesha (who was introduced as an eccentric adult in "Uru").

The game is back to 1st person perspective ("Uru" introduced the creation of 3rd person customizable avatars) with some really nice additions, like improved "zip mode," a camera to take snapshots and a viewer to see those snapshots later. Something else that's very new and helpful is a "help/hints" section in the options menu, so that when (not if) you get stuck, you have varying degrees of assistance on solving the puzzles as well as a map of the age you're on. There is one catch, though: if you use help, it mildly alters the ending of the game. Oh, well, I needed some help in a few areas already!

The game has vastly improved 360-degree rotation views and wonderful animated interactions, whether wind or fog or insects or other animals and people. So far, I've only found one extremely minor bug on the "Spire" age and even it did not affect the game play.

According to the game's makers, Ubisoft, there is over one hour of animated footage, in addition to the regular interactive features -- and the animations are virtually seemless with the game. My wife and I are both sticklers for detail and thus far, we have not been disappointed.

Another nice element to the story is that you can figure most of it out but it still manages to toss out some pleasant and unexpected surprises.

Myst: Revelation is rated "T for Teens" for some slightly edgy psychological moments but the game really isn't violent or gory. That's always a plus for me.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the game...which I haven't finished playing yet.

Best Wishes,

Friday, October 01, 2004

I don't think I ever mentioned that my wife, Angel, and I are Myst game players. I have to say, I never really got into the original Myst. I made some attempts to play it but Angel played it through to the end. Then we go the Myst Complete Chronicles this summer, although we could only play Exile because our computer uses the Windows 2000 operating system. The Myst and Riven versions on DVD only wanted either Windows 95 or Windows 98. Later, we got a $5 version of Riven in its original CD format and could play that. Then we got intrigued by Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and purchased the Complete Chronicles version of Uru, which includes two bonus packs ("To D'ni" and "The Path of the Shell"). I played that game all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, we've just gotten Myst IV: Revelation -- the newest edition of the Myst series.

We like the Myst games for several reasons. First and foremost, they don't require you to shoot people or kill them in other unsavory ways (to which someone in the blogosphere replies "but what else are games for, man??"). Secondly, these games continue to raise the bar on high-quality graphics, animations and music scores in a videogame (there are reasons the Myst games consistently win awards). Third, the Myst games have great stories that create a fascinating, logical continuity between the games. Fourth, the games require great problem-solving skills -- in fact, the "puzzle" aspects of the game will most likely seriously stump and frustrate you at some points...but it's okay, there are plenty of game walkthroughs online. There's no shame in getting some help. Really, it's better than the alternative: banging your head against your monitor (I imagine that could get pretty expensive). Lastly, it really is fun to play these games. Our boys are even into them and, unlike other games, we don't have to worry that the boys are going to imitate fight moves.

I'll play Myst: Revelation for the first time tonight.

Do we have any other Myst players out there? If you do play Myst, which Myst game (Myst, Riven, Exile, Uru) do you like the most? The least? Why do you like or dislike the Myst games? Will you be trying the new Myst: Revelation? Feel free to comment below...

Best Wishes,