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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fun at work

I was sitting in Dale’s office chatting today. I saw Mikey through the doorway crawling on his hands and knees across the floor. He made his way up to a metal push cart that had a bunch of wooden pallets loaded on it on their sides that was up against the desk where Steve Finn, our boss, sits when he’s in town. Mikey came up off his hands and shook the pallets really hard. Dale and I heard Steve yell really loud. We all started laughing and walked out the doorway to see Steve shaking scared and mad. He was cussing up a storm using Mikey’s name as separator words. Mikey didn’t look like he knew what to do – run from Steve or laugh with us. Steve is deciding where to ship him off to.

Sad night

Thursday night I came home from work. I went to check on the newts to see what they were up to. It’s always fun to try and find them as they blend in so well in their tank. Their eyes tend to give them away though. I found Cleopatra and Isaac up on the moss hill and saw Lefty in the water. He was positioned weird so I reached in to check him out and found him dead.

I put Lefty aside and took Cleo and Isaac out in a dish while I cleaned out the tank. I did not know if Lefty died from the missing limb or from a skin infection. I wasn’t sure if that meant the tank was then unsafe for the other two. I studied them and they did not have any sores.

Tasha got home and I told her about Lefty. We got in the car and took him to the petstore to have them take a look. Herman was the guy at the store that talked to us. We told him about the missing limb, then the sore, and had him take a look. He said it looked like fungus or some sort of other wound. The store had medicine which we went to take a look at. They had some frog ointment that aided healing but did not have anything specific for newts.

He suggested some supplements to strengthen the other two by raising their immunities in case Lefty did have some sort of infection. He also pointed us to some water conditioner that removes impurities out of tap water and also contained ingredients to help the newts retain their electrolyte levels.

He didn’t know much about amphibians but he did raise geckos. He had 6 leopard geckos that he raised and bred. Like a proud papa he showed us still shots and video clips of them he had stored on his cell phone. It was very nice of him to take them time to talk to us about his geckos and about terrariums and such. I think he could tell we were upset about Lefty.

We went back up front to get another newt. Tasha pointed one out she liked and I reached in to get it. I flipped it over and said, “We’ve got a boy.” Herman did not know how to tell the difference so we have him a little lesson. Tasha noticed a sore on this one’s side, above his leg. It looked like the one Lefty had. We showed it to Herman and put it back. I picked up another one and found a sore on its tail. We did this a few times. We actually found a female with a swollen lower region and I asked if it was pregnant, but I don’t know how old they must be before they are able to reproduce and these were juveniles. It walked across my hand and I noticed a blood trail. We took a better look and saw that it wasn’t pregnant but infected. Herman commented that he’s wanted to separate the firebelly frogs and newts before but the store hadn’t. Maybe the frogs were being aggressive? Then we noticed the heating lamp that had been on top of the tank and wondered if it had overheated the rocks and the sores were actually burns. Herman is going to look into it. Maybe we inadvertently found an issue and the store can fix it.

Herman asked if newts could be housed in multiple males. I guess that his geckos cannot because they are territorial. So his male gecko has a 5 gecko harem. We didn’t know but to play it safe we chose a sore-less female to take home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Newt Photos

Belly shot of Lefty while swimming.

Lefty trying to push Sir Isaac into the water with him.

Cleopatra traversing the narrow moss trail on the back side of the tank. Lefty is soaking his bum.
Cleopatra doing a nice dance on the rim of the water dish.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flavorful Tips

Kyle and I found a great Triskets flavor called cracked pepper and olive oil!

At Winco they have a really good minestorne soup in their bulk foods. It's super to put a cup of the mix and a quart of water and wala, yummy hot dinner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Football

Today my parents flew into DFW. We all went on a short tour while in route to Crackerbarrel. While we were checking out the gift shop it started snowing. We stopped by the hotel to check in and drop off the luggage before coming back to Troy's apartment. The room is nice and big.

Once we got back to the apartment we turned on the Dallas game. Our buddy Paul is there with his wife Kristen. He called Troy earlier to say that they got field passes to go down before the game started. My mom is very jealous because she's a big cowboys fan.

Mom and my "bonus" brother, Paul

Troy, Perry, and I went outside to throw the football around. Troy put on ski goggles and gloves. I put on a nose/ear wrap thingy. Perry had mittens. It is hard to throw a ball when it’s wet. It is hard for me to throw a ball period but at least now I had an actual excuse. :) We came in once our mittens and socks were soaked through.

Troy and me showing off our football attire

This has been a great Thanksgiving. I miss my brother and Aimee lots. It is so good to be here with them. It is also good to spend a few days with Perry and Sherry. We all bonded so much on our trip to India last summer that it’s been hard not to see them so much. I've never played football in the snow with my brother, but I got to this Thanksgiving.

Ama and Apa

What are you thankful for?

Last weekend Tasha and I played a game. I said, "I'll start by saying three things that I am thankful for then it will be your turn. We'll keep going until we run out of things." She said, "And no repeats." We played for quite a while. You try it and see how long you can go.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Texas

Tasha and I are off to Texas to see Troy and Aimee. Perry and Sherry will be there too. We'll be coming back Sunday morning very early. As I type this my head bobs while looking at the time. 4am.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Charlie Hall

Going into college hour last week I saw a table with cds and tshirts for sale. Apparently we had someone coming in to do the music in our worship service. “Who is Charlie Hall?” I thought. Walking up to the table I saw a quote from him that read “"This music is for those people who want to change the world and for those who are trying to make it through the next few hours and for everyone in between." Wow, what a quote.

Ron Reed, our campus pastor, got up to introduce Charlie and his buddy. Rod proudly announced that it was bald man day! He has a rather large halo himself as did our guests. Before they began their set Charlie announced that there were cds for sale in the back for $12. Realizing that we were all poor college students, he did not want us to pay him in top ramen. Therefore we said that if we wanted a cd they’d take what you could give. Charlie led us through an intense time of worship. At the end of the set I was itching to get to the table and get a cd before they ran out. Flying Into Daybreak with Charlie Hall is my current favorite album.

Flying Into Daybreak album review

Track Listing
1. Micah 6:8
2. Marvelous Light
3. All My Love
4. Songs of the Redeemed
5. Your Glory Endures Forever
6. All We Need
7. Bravery
8. Closer
9. Saints and Angels
10. Center
11. Running with Your Heart
12. Come for Me

Charlie Hall biography

Monday, November 19, 2007

Update on the Newts

The official names are:
Cleopatra Isabella,
Sir Isaac Newton, and
Lefty Tripod

Searching for Fall

I've been on a search for fall lately. I took a different way home in search for fall, and I found fall. The odd thing is, you have to look for it. And truly if you look, you can find the beauty. What you don't see is the buildings along the same street as the orchard with bars on their windows and barbed wire on a fence. You don't see spray paint or broken down cars.
Sometimes we get so focused on the junk in life that we pass right by God. He is working. Today I was able to see Him in His beauty. I hope that you take the time to count your blessings, for we all have many of them.

Baher-esk Afternoon

Tasha and I decided to take a walk after lunch on Saturday. Along the way Tasha stopped and took pictures of flowers and trees. We came to the one mile mark where the library is and spent some time there.

The library has these really cool mats that can read what is put on it. It read all the books and the book on cd that I was checking in. I then got lost on the computer looking for anything on newts. I ended up with a book on Salamanders and a book on Cricketology. I had no idea there was a whole field of study on crickets. I was interested about it because we feed crickets to the newts. Maybe there is a field of study called Mealwormology we could check out because we are also feeding mealworms to the newts. :) We also found a vhs tape on creatures of the rain forest.

After we got back from our walk we hopped in the car and headed to the pet store. The pet store was going to unveil their new shark in their saltwater tank. The shark is a good 24 inches in length. It is a light tan color with dark markings on its head and tail. It glided through the tank so effortlessly. There were maybe 4 small fish in the tank that cowered in the middle bottom of the tank out of the sharks path.

While we were at the pet store I got a new bulb for the newt tank and some more moss. The bulb I had put in there was too hot, so I had already replaced it with a lesser wattage bulb, but I had to get another bulb that had even lower wattage. The tank was so hot that the humidity had gotten out of control and it molded in less than 7 days. Therefore the newts had a little bed-breakfast getaway while I redid the tank.

We think the newts like the tank a lot more now. They are spending a lot more time in the water dish now where before they were not even going near it. The hill became less drastic and the moss is more packed. I also replaced the big bulky cave with a small red clay pot. They love to hide in it but so do the crickets. It is wierd to see the crickets jump and crawl all over them. I just think I can hear them saying, "Laugh now cricket, you'll be lunch really soon."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday morning

Last night we were at Star Bucks. Tasha meets with some other ladies to work on their BSF. I go and sit at another table so that I can spread out and do homework. We like to sit outside because this location tends to play their music louder and the music is very different which makes it hard to concentrate. However, sitting outside we are subjected to the smokers. Last night I left feeling like someone had filled my ears with sewage. I had no idea that people could use swear words and cuss words as nouns, adjectives, and verbs. It is amazing how many cuss words this one man in particular could fit into a single sentence. Cussing is stupid.

This morning I was getting ready to leave for school. I could not find my backpack. I ran through the apartment a few times until I was ready to either give up or tear the place apart. **light bulb** I left it in Tasha's car. I called Tasha and confirmed this was the case, yep. I had to drive from Clovis to Easton to get my bag. Then from Easton to Fresno to get to school. Needless to say, I missed my first class of the day. However, he posts his lecture outline online so I can print it and go through the chapter to catch up easily. Maybe if I am really lucky he'll mp3 his lecture (he has been forgetting to bring the recorder lately).

Funny story to lighten up my off to a bad start morning - in Easton I stopped at the pump to fill up. While I was standing there an SUV was sitting at a stoplight. There was a black scottish terrier sticking its head out the window. It saw me and the other pumpers and barked at us. Without thinking I barked loudly back. It moaned and ducked back into the SUV. Ha, ha. I win!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Last night I was pretty bummed that we've been unable to find any newts. After dinner I was checking out the empty terrarium. I bought a 26W bulb which hit the humidity mark but was 5 degrees too hot. I remembered that there was a 13W bulb and I still had the receipt so I left to go switch it out. Why do homework when I can go walk around Pet Extreme?

I told the cashier what I wanted to do and he said to shop around and we'd switch out the bulbs once I was ready. I found the bulb I needed and then took a look at the other tank items they had for sale. It is crazy how elaborate you can get if you want to. I am satisfied with my set up though and it turned out to be a low budget project compared to what could have gone into it.

When I went to check out I had just the bulb I was going to swap. The cashier was busy helping someone in the aquarium area so I decided to check out the stuff in the front window. I came to the tank of fire belly frogs and noticed that they also put fire belly newts there too. Petsmart wasn't expecting to get another newt shipment for a few more weeks though. I was counting frogs and noticed a black clump underneath a pile of damp moss. It wasn't a group of frogs because it wast solid black instead of green with black spots. I pulled my head around to the side to get a better view and THERE THEY WERE! There were three, yes three, fire belly newts in the tank.

I left the bulb on the counter and ran over to the plastic transport containers because I knew I wanted to change up my set up before they entered it. I went back to the front and piled the stuff on the counter and said "I want the three newts too". She looked at me funny and said that they had no newts. I showed her where they were hiding and she boxed them right up for me. While she boxed them I grabbed a box of small crickets. Then I put the bag and the box into the car but remembered that I forgot something. I went back in for a more shallow water bowl than the one that was already in the tank to ease their access and egress.

On the way home I held the box in my left hand and drove with my right. I didn't want the ride to be too bumpy for them. At each light I put my ear to the side of thier box and listened to hear what they were doing. I think they were doing acrobatics but I wasn't sure. When I realized how silly I must look to the other drivers I wondered if they were asking themselves, "Why is that guy listening to his chinese food takeout box?" because that was what the newt box looked like.

When I got home I put gravel in the bottom of the plastic transportation container with moss on top and filled it to where the water was right up to the bottom of the moss. Then I carefully lifted each newt from the box and put them in thier temporary home while I readied their real home. I looked at the small crickets and realized that the holes in the lid of the terrarium were big enough for them to get out. I still had screen left over from when I put the gravel and moss in so I trimmed some and hot glued it in place into the lid. Now the holes were small enough to keep the food from escaping.

I periodically checked on the newts to see if they were okay in thier temporary home. One was hiding under the moss, another was pressing its belly against the side wall, and another was searching for an escape hole at the top of the lid. I positioned the water dish in the tank and filled it with water. Then I placed rocks around it and inside the dish near its edges. Then I repositioned the sticks to make my set up more interesting. Finally it was ready.

I had just put them in the tank when I heard Tasha turning her key in the door. She had been at BSF with Karin. I said, "We have newt babies! Where's Karin?" Tasha tried to register what I had said then went running after Karin trying to catch her before she left the parking lot. Tasha returned out of breath and limping a little. She had lost her footing on the copperstone path running to get Karin. I called Karin on the cell and said to turn around and come see the suprise.



Newt 1

Newt 2

Newt 3

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Here is the terrarium as it is now (pre newt inhabited). Gravel for drainage, screen to keep the substrate from setting down into the gravel, and moss on top. The humidity should be kept between 65-75% and the temperature between 65-75 deg F.

Full view shot

Cave zoomed in shot

Water bowl shot

The next step is to find newts which is proving to be difficult to get done. Fresno is out. Seems like they all get theirs from China. China has a higher demand right now for them so getting them exported isn't possible right now. The other problem is them making it all that way alive.

We were in Bakersfield this weekend. While visiting with our Hudson family, Donald asks if Ashley has shown me her fire belly newt yet. I look at Ashley and she looks away. "I am the one that told you about them. You didn't even know they existed. Now you have one before me?!" So, Ashley has a nice maybe 1 gallon plastic octagon tank. The newt, which she hasn't named yet, hides in a pile of underwater barrels. He is smaller than I expected at only maybe 1 inch length from nose to tail tip.

Today before we headed out of town to return to Clovis Ashley took us to the store where she had bought hers. She said they had plenty. We found their holding tank with only fish in it. No newts present except for the one pictured on the price tag. They had run out late last week. No more newts for a week or two. So we returned home newt-less but the search must go on!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Idol Worship

I’m very grateful for Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, Lamentations, and am now into Ezekiel in the Old Testament. In the New Testament I’m in Revelations. Needless to say I’ve been a bit lost while reading. The reason I’m grateful for BSF is because it has given me opportunities to dig deep into God’s Word in a way that makes more since than where I have been reading for SOAP.
Last night for BSF I read from Matthew 7 including the following verses: 7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I haven’t been journaling due to a running late in the mornings, and also being totally lost in Scripture. So as I realized I’ll be in Ezekiel through most of December I prayed for understanding. Here is what I got today out of Ezekiel 6.
S: 6 In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain are among their idols all around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every thick oak, wherever they offered sweet incense to all their idols. 14 So I will stretch out My hand against them and make the land desolate, yes, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblah, in all their dwelling places. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’”’”
O: The Israelites had forgotten that God said in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” They had put idols and themselves in the place of God. God sent prophets to warn the people, and they ignored Him. God sought His people, and they refused to turn back. So, God allowed them to fall captive to other nations.
A: I may not have an idol, burn incense, or bow down and worship a god on a mountaintop, however, have I put something, anything, before God? Is my selfish pride winning again? Am I taking credit for what God has done? Have I lost sight of the many blessings God has given me? What am I putting my time and energy into? Am I doing even the hard parts of my job with God in mind? Do I think about Him throughout the day?
P: Lord, thank you for answering my prayers to see some understanding into the Old Testament. Please help me to remember that you are worthy of worship, honor, glory, and praise. I pray that I will have an eternal perspective rather than getting wrapped up in the trivial things of this world.


NYC eatery offers $25,000 dessert
The Associated Press Thursday, Nov 8 2007 12:10 PM
Last Updated: Thursday, Nov 8 2007 12:15 PM

This is one rich cup of haute chocolate: A New York eatery is offering a $25,000 dessert bulging with top-grade cocoa, edible gold and shavings of a luxury truffle.
The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate was declared the most expensive dessert in the world on Wednesday by Guinness World Records.
The dessert is a frozen, slushy mix of cocoas from 14 countries, milk and 5 grams of 24-carat gold topped with whip cream and shavings from a La Madeline au Truffle.
It is served in a goblet with a band of gold decorated with 1 carat of diamonds and served with a golden spoon diners can take home.
The dessert was created by Serendipity 3, a restaurant popular with tourists and once featured in a John Cusack movie.

My thoughts:
It seems that the rich have run out of things to speed their money on.
I hope that they realize their foolishness when they defecate later.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What is the Kingdom of God?

I posted this on the FPU message board:
What is the Kingdom of God?

One gospel author says kingdom of God and another gospel author says kingdom of Heaven. The phrase “kingdom of God” appears in the NT 65 times. The phrase “kingdom of Heaven” appears in the NT 31 times. Neither phrase appears in the OT. Jesus tells many parables about what this kingdom should be like.

We see that the kingdom:
It is near
It has come upon us
It was preached
It is good news
It belongs to children
It is seen by believing in God
It is entered by receiving the spirit
Its coming should be prayed for
It is power
It is not inherited by the wicked

Is the kingdom an actual place or a sphere of rule?
It looks like I inadvertently hit a nerve. One of the comments I’ve received already was “is this an actual question or was this asked to just spark debate?” I am a bit perplexed at this comment. Are there feuding camps on this topic that I am not aware of?

Does anyone want to give their two cents on the subject?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Newt Tank - Part 1

Here's the newt tank development process:

First, play around with the layout of the tank. Cost of tank - free.

I was walking around the hardware store looking for things to put in the tank. I came across this plastic gutter corner and thought "cave!" There were brown and white components. I chose brown because I figured that I could mount vegetation or rocks on it to make it blend into the tank. Cost of cave - $6.

Because there are going to be creatures in the tank, you cannot use just any sealant/adhesive. I found this Aquarium Sealant which is safe for creatures, it doesn't shrink, or get brittle. Cost of sealant - $5.

Here are some river rocks I am going to use later on for decoration on the top soil around some small plants. Cost of rocks - already had.

Here is a view of a plastic screen which will keep the soil from sinking into the gravel bed. There was also fiberglass screening but I figured that fiberglass might harm our creatures. A tank must have gravel at the bottom for drainage, then the screen, then moss, and then soil. There's other options for how to form your terrain but this was the most common one I found. Cost of 36x24 screen - $4.

Newt Tank - Part 1 (continued)

Wood options for the tank. Don't buy it, find it on a walk through the park.
Left: vine from a crawling palm
Middle: driftwood
Right: branch from at the park

I chose the marble chips for the gravel bottom of the tank. This bag cost less than $4 and for our 10 gallon tank I only used about half of it. The size of the gravel varies from 3/8" to 3/4" in size. I read that the size needs to be big enough for your creature to not swallow it.

The gravel had lots of dust on it. I did not want that to transfer to the tank so I set up a cleaning station at the sink. I cut a square of the plastic mech to place over the drain so gravel wouldn't get caught in our sink pipes. Then I took a plastic bucket and drilled holes in the bottom of it.

Dirty gravel? Fill it with water, swoosh it around, and you've got clean gravel.

I took a large old towel and folded it in half on the floor. Then I took the wet gravel and poured them onto the towel. I swung it around a few times to pull the water off. I then positioned the tank where I wanted - do this first because it will get heavy and you don't want to break your back moving it later. Still using the towel I lowered the gravel into the tank and let it pour out gently as not to crack the glass bottom.

Photo Post

Golden Clovis sunset

Nanny and Minnie (Madison)

Thomas and Caitlyn

Kyle, Tasha, Grace, Tim at Avila Valley Barn in San Luis Obispo, Ca.