Creative Chaos 21 // If I Had a Million Dollars Money Series

This is my post for Creative Chaos // 21 (see also guidelines) over at Ragamuffin Soul for this week. I have skipped a few weeks for this post but wanted to pick it back up again, there are always so many great ways people worship, and this is one way to see what other churches are doing.

The Inevitable Money Series

For this week, I have a quick post about the current series at our church. If you spend enough time in church, inevitably you will run into a series on money. If you don’t, perhaps you should ask yourself why your church hasn’t visited the most talked about topic in the bible. It is a topic we don’t always like to hear preached about, but something that is important to hear. So for 4 weeks, our church is going the money series, but they wanted to keep it light and fun. So the series is called “Cha-ching” and the music worship leader (see his blog here) picked some great music.

The music is the creative chaos for this post. The first week, he started off with Pink Floyd’s Money, and for week two, the band opened with If I Had a Million Dollars by the Bare Naked Ladies (although they didn’t mention the group name in the service).

Music doesn’t always have to be a hymn to bring people into the mindset of the current series and to have the ability to play a culturally relevant song is something not all churches will allow their worship leaders to do, great job Brian… I still can’t get get that last song out of my head.

A Wedding in Colorado Awaits a Photographer

Bryan and Sara Fillmer

Today my wife and I are leaving for Colorado for our son’s wedding. He is getting married on Saturday in Estes Park Colorado (which is was better than getting married in the heat of south Alabama) and we couldn’t be more excited.

People who have just met me are amazed that I have a son who is about to get married, frankly, I am too.  But, on Saturday Sara Turner and Bryan Fillmer will be then known as another Mr and Mrs Fillmer and I will official become an in-law.  We have known Sara for quite some time and are so thrilled that she will become part of the family.

Deb and I have always thought of her as part of the family for years now anyway, but now they have a piece of paper that proves it.

And, yes, I am doing double duty as the father of the groom and the photographer. In over 10 years of photography, this will be my first wedding (shhhh don’t tell them that). I have looked at more wedding photography in the last month than I ever thought I would (Chad Wright’s wedding photography has helped a lot, thanks bro), and I think I am as prepared as I can me.

All I have to do now is manage to get my larger photo back bag through security and in an overhead bin so some lovely baggage agent doesn’t alter my first wedding shoot, and my equipment.

I am sure everything will go as planned and soon Sara, who is managing to get our flip-flop wielding son into a suit and actual shoes for an entire Saturday (and me for that matter) will be a happy woman on her way with her new husband to Alaska on Sunday.

What would be nice is if this long tradition of taking photos at a wedding was transferred to taking photos on the honeymoon, now that would be something. The trip afterwards always seems to be in some grand place (sometimes a grander location than the wedding itself), with incredible scenery, and what do most couples take, themselves and some old point-n-shoot. Oh well.

Welcome to the family Sara, we love you.

Humidity, Storms, and Lightning in Alabama are Back

Lightning in an Alabama Summer Storm

We have been in a drought for about two years now. Just over the last few weeks we have finally started to get back those 90% humidity days with afternoon thunderstorms. Finally, the grass, trees, plants, and everything else that needs water is getting a small break.

Taken on Monday night as a storm blew through. It was so nice to see a few storms roll through here in the last few weeks. It has been so long since we have had rain here in the lower south, it is a very welcome sight. It also gives me a great chance to practice my lightning photography (see photographing lightning post).

Is it Really Important to Ask God Why Anymore?

It is only human nature, I guess, to ask why? We start from the moment we can talk asking why this why that. One of my biggest questions to God is always, why? Why did this person get sick, why did this or that happen, and of course, why do you want me to do that?

Sometimes when I ask, later down the road I get the answer, and really wish I hadn’t ever asked why in the first place.

Why God Why?

As was with Nehemiah, Joel, and a host of others, I have had an ongoing discussion with myself (and God) over the last several years about why I ask God why. I think part of asking God why is a lack of faith more than curiosity. Faith knowing that God knows what is best for my life, and I don’t. I know the ultimate answer, the why doesn’t matter, all things work for God’s good.

I bring it up now in a post mainly because of the summer’s events like Matthew Butler (see Matthew Butler Killed at Zion Gate) and others, and ultimately we are asking the question, why evil acts take place or why God allows these things to happen. I certainly don’t know the answer but I know what Romans 8:28 says.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This is a simple verse to read, but to me, one of the most complex verses in Romans. Different versions or translations put key words in different places but some of the interesting words to look up in the NASB are “God causes” and “called”, “purpose”, “all things”, and so on. Doing a side by side comparison is very interesting.

Is Asking God Why So Important?

How do we answer this question many times when asked by a very small child… because I told you to. Do we not become annoying some times with the question ourselves? Over the years we all develop these little pet peeves and one of mine that keeps getting a little more well defined is when people ask me why other people do what they do. I can barely explain to someone why I am doing something but no way can I figure out why other people do what they do.

People [we] are strange, and they do strange things, rarely can I determine why, so, I really don’t like to be asked. But, if it annoys us, does it annoy God? I don’t think so but I don’t think we can even begin to understand how God thinks so it might be futile to ask the question here. So ultimately, is the why really important? The what, how, and when are probably more important of the little words we like, but not quite as fun I guess.

Do you ask God why? For me, I try to remember Romans 8:28 and know that “why” isn’t always the most important thing, for me anyway.

My 8 Year Old iTunes XML Library File Got Corrupted

After work yesterday I spent a good few hours trying to recover what became a corrupted iTunes Library xml database file. For those who don’t know, I am a pretty big music fan, but I am also a huge data collection nut.

Some people are pack rats with paper things, I am a data pack rat, which means I should also be a backup freak, which I am not, but I do a moderate amount of backup, which usually saves me some headache, but not all.

So what do you do when the iTunes Library xml database file you have been using since 2001, for over 8 years and 5-10 different computers, gets corrupted. You let the stupid thing recover itself and don’t inadvertently hit the “stop” button, or you just start all over. In a brief thought of “what is this thing doing” I stopped a recovery effort that iTunes was properly making to put a final stamp on the library file in which it was overriding at the time.

An Old iTunes Library File, Built Since 2001

I had been collecting this play data since I started burning mp3’s back in 2001. I could look at any one of my (approximately) 17k music files and see when it was last played, how many times it had been played, when I added the file to my collection, and what start rating it had, now, I see empty boxes. After determining that I could not recover the corrupted file, I faced a few choices. Use the latest backup I had, which was from July 13th, or start over. July 13th may not sound bad, but I have probably added 25-30 albums since that date, and I have absolutely no way in the world to determine which albums those are to add them back into my library one at a time.

Had it been a couple of days that would have worked, but to try and remember each individual cd added when they are all now alphabetically filed would be impossible for me to determine.

How iTunes Works With a PC

Just in case anyone needed a quick iTunes Library file tutorial so something like this doesn’t happen to all their hard work, he is a real brief overview (and I am in no means an expert at all). iTunes uses two main files, stored in the “music” folder of your “my documents”. These files, are the iTunes Library.itl file and the iTunes Music Library.xml file. The .itl file controls or stores all your play count data and the .xml file is the database library of music that is called from the .itl file.

What this means is the xml file can be rebuilt by the iTunes Library file (if you let it), so as long as you have a copy of this file, you can just do a quick copy and paste into the proper directory and all your historical data is there.

Backup Your iTunes Library Files, Now

The moral of this blog post would be, backup often, backup frequently, backup now. iTunes Library files are probably one of the easiest backups to make. Just go into your music –> itunes directory, copy the two library files, then paste them into a new folder called “backup”. iTunes actually does this for you every so often, but is the frequency that itunes backs up your data frequent enough? For most, probably. For me, wasn’t even close but I also wasn’t really paying attention, so now I get to start over. At least I didn’t loose the music files, only the really cool data that goes with it.

[update] I was able to use the newest saved file and then import my new music added since that file.  At this point don’t ask me how, it was a huge mess and I really don’t know how I got it back but I did.  Backups are now running daily.  Can’t wait until I get a MacBook and have to try to take my pc based iTunes file and convert it.

[update 2] it seems my itunes library now will not find the songs, some 17,800 songs unless I manually point each one, one at a time to the proper location.  I am sure this had something to do with me moving my music files to an external hard drive… but I have tried to change the drive letter iTunes looks at and that does no good.  At this point, after being able to recreate my itunes library in July, I think now in September the library history is finally going to kick the bucket.  I had a backup this time from yesterday, but it does no good when it won’t locate the files on the hard drive.

This is extremely frustrating but I am about to buy a MacBook Pro anyway and will have to move my itunes library over at that time without any history anyway.  So, here’s to 5 to 8 years of music history, down the tubes.  I am now reimporting all of my music from the external hard drive and slowly converting everything over to the Apple Lossless file format instead of mp3.  This should improve the sound quality and hopefully work with my ipod, iphone, and mac book.