Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coffee Shop Countdown 2009

So 'nother year in Springfield has flown by, and apparently recession years breed coffee shops. Here's the latest countdown according to yours truly: (Including some favorite surrounding haunts)

1. Mudhouse: Last year these guys were in second place, but they continue to deliver consistently well-mixed drinks, great hot teas (with free refills), friendly service, and the best coffe-shop atmosphere around. The oldest game in town with the best atmosphere, you can try anything on the board and it'll be good.

2. Meshugah (St Louis, Mo): We made a detour on our way back from Illinois to stop in and grab a joe. I love this place. They always serve americano-style coffee (my favorite) and their selection of bagel sandwiches is completely fun and refreshing. Makes me want to go race bicycles in St. Louis again -- just to get some coffee.

3. Starbucks: Don't kill me. But their 'to-go' coffee cups don't leach into the coffee taste. (Of course using a "green" coffee cup alternative works too.) And they have mixing a good joe down to a predictable science. 'nough said.

4. Coffee Ethic: I love their decor. I love their recyling emphasis. I love their putting a coffee shop next to the downtown library (even if sometimes I wonder about just how smart it was for us to fund a library specifically designed for the homeless' use). They also use PT's Coffee which means a reliable Central American taste everytime. However, despite the reliability of the bean, I still think the mixing skill needs another year or so.

5. Odd Fellows Coffee (Fair Grove, MO): For only being its first year of existence, Oddfellows is rocking out an amazing African coffee. Now, African isn't my favorite bean since it tends to have a sharper taste (and most of the following coffee shops tend to use African beans) . But their coffee drinks are always generously portioned and flavored, and combined with an authentic coffee-shop atmosphere, the only reason they end up underneath Coffee Ethic is the African Bean. With a solid selection of soups and fresh salads to choose from, it makes a Sunday afternoon drive to Fair Grove well worth the time.

6. Big Mommas: Commercial street now has a swinging hot spot that has come into their own over the past few years -- complete with jazz music. Their roasts can be a little sharp, but overall, they offer a great selection of drinks with more options for those of you tired of the overly-sugared coffee drinks served everywhere else.

6. Kaldis (Missouri State Campus): No longer located on battlefield, the kiosks at MSU still crank out a great joe for cold mornings and long afternoons. Try out the Turtle Mocha.

7. Hebrews: Christian run. Good music. I've never been blown away by their coffee. Lots of seating and conveniently located, its an awesome place to hang with friends.

8. Panera: Everybody has an opinion on Panera, and I can't argue against their great soups, salads and free wi-fi. But if there was ever an award handed out for consistently over-steaming the milk on every single espresso drink they served, Panera would win it. Their house coffee's (though African) are great. Try the Hazelnut with plenty of fresh cream.

9. The Hub: A brand new shop in Springfield, and definitely worth stopping by. Their Intelligista house coffees do tend to lack on quality, full-bodied flavor, but their coffee drinks certainly show promise. (And they have some of the best prices in town) Opening beside it is a bmx and fixie-focused cycling shop. Definitely plan on making this a destination for your after-morning rides. (hey and add them on twitter to get the best deals.)

10. Rendezvous: The coffee shop that actually stays open during the time when college students most need it...early am hours. It's hard to find a Central American roast in the entire place, however. And, on top of primarily always using already-sharp African beans, they run their roaster ad naseum, drowning every coffee drink in an almost unbearable burnt flavor they endeavor to cover up with sickeningly rich mocha and caramel flavors. Good pumpkin spice chai and nachos though....

And there's plenty I didn't mentioned. I haven't stopped into Fog City Coffee yet, and Sinatra's (now Hero's) didn't impress me enough to make the list (plus they haven't been opened for one year, and they already changed their name. The Buzz was kinda' preoccupied and rude when I dropped by, so I don't even remember their joe, and heaven help me if I stop into a place named "Hot Shots" or the "Dancing Mule". And Anton's, well Anton's is a splendid breakfast house that doesn't accept credit cards -- not a coffee shop.

You have any favorites?
Ah, but you hate my choices.

Well, God surely invented comment boxes for a reason did He not?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wow. I'm actually blogging.

Weird, the things chamomile tea will encourage one to do.

Things like resetting his blog password.

(Yeah, it's been long enough that I forgot what my password was.)


Does anybody remember stage 9 back in 2003, when Lance Armstrong threw a little cyclo-cross action into the Le Tour de France? (No? well, then check it.)

The great news is, he got back on the asphalt and continued his legacy.

Me? I started this blog.


So as many well know, there's been a significant amount of reason behind my blog's silence. Namely, my elopement with the beautiful lady that is now my wife. Events like that can really complicate blogs in a hurry.

I feel like now is as good as any a time to put some official (brief) word out on the matter.

Basically,I've done my share of screwing up. I've developed a disregard for family, an issue of pride and self-love, and a stubbornness that culminated in the recent wreckage I left behind at our church and in her family.

If I could do my life over again, I roll it back to about age 14. There, I'd give up my dreams of being a powerful, rich, man, and I'd focus on building relationships with my family that might have actually survived.

As it is, I think I'll have to hug my wife a little tighter, and spend more time fishing with my little brothers. That's the nice thing about big families. You at least get a second batch of kids to be nicer to.

Families heal, but not without their share of scarring.

What's been happening with me? Plenty

Like I finally finished my degree.

Turns out the diploma is only sorta' good at getting me work. So I'm takin' extra classes. Not sure what good they'll do me. But I've always wanted to take a Human Anatomy class. So there.

My wife roped me into taking guitar lessons, so I've been struggling with training my fingers to do things they never thought they'd do. It's frustrating to say the least. Good training, but frustrating.

The old colt finally died. Ok, so it's on three legs. Fourth gear went out, so now it's my daily driver for around town. We bought a 'lil (that's the model: "lil") 1993 mazda that needs a paint job. I'm just really thankful that God has met our needs so wonderfully and kept us in a car.

We put the bikes away for the winter. 'Twas sad, but the wife said they couldn't stay in the bedroom. *sniff

I ran a 5 k and got passed by a dude pushing a stroller.

Guess it's time for a gym membership

...and with that thought I'll wrap up what has been a rather self-centered blog post.
Thanks for stopping by!

Need more Hamp news? visit this blog. Fascinating (outdated) stuff.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free College...and other stuff

Had the random privilege of getting to go inside the Potter's Mansion outside of Fair Grove yesterday. There was some furniture that needed picking up, and well, I was the lucky one ;).

It's such a beautiful structure, and has gorgeous views out of every window (plus four incredible porches). It's not huge, but it is so elegant that one can't help but wish he could raise his family there. Too bad I couldn't find any pictures of the interior.

Maybe if I get a pay raise at work, I'll just buy it and have you all over.

It'd need to be a significant pay raise


I am trying to get the last of my school figured out. I only need four credits, and, in working with an advisor, I found about the FEMA courses that are offered free of charge. These are independent study courses provided by the Emergency Management Insitute to help prepare local officials for emergencies.

Now, colleges like Thomas Edison (TESC) and Fredrick Community College (FCC) are offering credits for those courses. (pretty much 1 credit per course) TESC will give credit for up to 25 courses, and FCC will give credit for up to 30. FCC also allows you to use them as the cornerstone for their A.A.S. in Emergency Management.

There's no charge for the courses (and you gotta admit, when it comes to electives, "Radiological Emergency Management" has gotta beat "Underwater Basket Weaving" .)

FCC charges $60 per course to transfer the courses into credits. For TESC there is no charge to transfer them, however you would have to choose one of their enrollment options if you planned on graduating... the least expensive one is going to cost at least $2455, which is fine when you are taking other course inorder to complete a degree.

Anyhow, free college courses. Hard to beat, huh?


So hold on, we're headed for a better life - Keith Urban

Friday, May 1, 2009

rainy day livin'

...Chilling at the House of Mud. Watching it rain.   Thinking about what life'll be like in a couple of years. Still rocking the whole headachy/Dizzy/Naseau deal from yesterday.  But at least I can concentrate enough to study.  Good stuff.

Tracy Chapman. Enjoy...


In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. 

Psalms 31:1-4


Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's the good stuff

I love my Blackberry.

I love how it brings the internet to my day-to-day world.  

I love how I can never have to get to a computer, and never really miss out on anything important. 

Does it save me time? nah.  I doubt it.  I check it constantly.  But it's so convenient.

Like yesterday morning.  The alarm went off (on the Blackberry) . 
 And shortly thereafter, an email arrived (on the same Blackberry) from Thomas Edison stating that my financial aid mess, had finally be sorted out, and I have the green light to enroll in classes.  

Which is so royally awesome, because I had started wondering if I I was going to have to delay school for another year.  (And I was pretty fed up with having time to study but nothing to study)  So bring on the mayhem and stress of classes.  In 5 months I will be graduated.  Way cool. 

And while I discuss things I enjoy.... CNN.com lets you sign up for free text alerts.  And so everyday I get one or two texts notifying me of crucial things.  (somebody has pig flu...somebody died of pig flu.... somebody ate bacon... Miley Cyrus blew her nose... whatev...like the time Heath Ledger died? yeah, I knew about that before the twins at the bike shop...and they were sitting on the computer surfing People)

Speaking of pig flu.... lemme remove the 'huh' factor.

You've heard of the human flu, right?
And you've heard of the bird flu...

Well, basically pigs have the flu, too.  But beyond that, because they are suseptible to all 3 viruses, their bodies are like demonic virus laboratory's where the three virus types  all chill and mix and match until they crank out something really deadly and contagious.

Ironically, there's been no confirmed cases of pigs having this strain of the flu....

But tell me all about our little trailer by the sea....Joshua Kadison

Monday, April 27, 2009

A real update.

The littleDodge  Colt just keeps running.  I keep expecting it to keel over anytime and leave me hitchhiking.  But God's keeping it together for me.  Gotta' love that provision.  Though it would be nice to have a car I could trust to make the trip up to Illinois and see the Grandparents.  Hopefully that'll be soon.

Yesterday Cory mentioned rocking our upcoming week like "pebble stars."

I said "huh?"

"Pebble stars"  he said, holding up his fore-finger and pinky a half-inch apart.  "Little-bitty rock stars"

This is going to have to be a fun year.  Sis' wedding is less than 3 weeks away. Scary.  Then Jas' wedding in just a few weeks past that.  And sometime this summer I need to go roadtripping. I want to check out the west coast. never been there.  But then this Fall we have Erd's wedding, which is starting to sound like another awesome roadtrip.   And I love how we get two weeks of paid vacation.  Too much fun.

You know, it's taken me a little while to get used to the cubical life of working indoors. But as it comes along, and as the paychecks roll in, and as I watch the college debt disappear, I am more and more grateful.  And I am finding that I have a bunch of sweet coworkers, and plenty of fellow Christians to fellowship with. It's good stuff.

This job requires more sales techniques then I have used in the past.  And I am finding it to help me in my day-to-day life.  Last Tuesday we went out to share the gospel downtown.  I was surprised at how much more bold I was.  I'd walk up to people in their line-of-path  so they had to give me a second of their time.  Whoa! I'm forcing my religion on them?! what a freak!  Or am I?  If all Christians believed that everybody who did not trust God as Savior was going to burn in a lake of fire...then wouldn't the very love and compassion this religion is built around (James1:27) compel us to try to reach them?  I'm pushy when I sell day-to-day products.  Why do people think me so strange then when I take up 10 seconds of their time to ask them if they've considered their eternal destiny?
This morning, I was running through my Psalms for both yesterday and today.  Verse 8 of Chapter 26 really jumped out at me.  
"LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth"
And it brought to mind a song based on the poems found throughout the last letters of Samuel Rutherford.....  (History Lesson of the day: Sam Rutherford wrote Lex Rex, an early work arguing why the law should be  greater than the king.  He based his findings on Deuteronmy 17, and his work was partially the basis for writers like John Locke, who's forward thinking made this freedom we call America possible)

We'll have to put together a sextet at church and sing this. 

"The Sands of Time are Sinking" 


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And Therefore will the Lord Wait...

Ah, the goodness of our God!

I know, I sound like a super-spiritual freak, but I can't help it.  (If you want to skip my ramble and get to the blog update, just scroll down..) I got attracted to Is 30:21 the other day in something I was reading:

"and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left"

whoa! I have to fast and pray just for guidance on what career to be in. So, this is an awesome promise.

So I pull out the Bible and go to Isaiah 30.

And in the first verse God is chastising Israel for leaning on Egypt for help. For going to false prophets for good words. And I was immediately convicted. How many times do I "shop around" for advice? And look where we pull it from! The movies. The music. Our friends. And if they don't tell us what we want to hear, all too often we "... say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:"

And now we have a country full of Joel Olsteen's prophesying how we can "be better" and "be happy"....

And look what the Holy One of Israel says, "Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant."

And look at America. Our troubles are building. (Or even look at our individual lives...)The keep piling up. And boom. soon we (either individually, or as a nation) will fall.

LOL. Go ahead and laugh.. That's what the Israelites did "But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift."
Ha! we think we're gonna' pull through. Just a little more positive thinking, and we'll make it..

I hope we don't. Skip ahead. down there to verse 18. I love it. This is our God. I can't wait for this day.

"And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him."

"will the Lord wait" why? "that he may be gracious unto you". Oh. My. Word. wow. Such love. Such desire. It reminds me of Isaiah 62 where it talks about the Lord rejoicing over Israel "...as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride..."

And if that is how He loves Israel, how much more his own children? His own bride? He waits for us. Anticipates that day. Whoa.

And look at how we will respond to the world and the desires we once knew:
"Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence."

I can't wait. This is awesome. Our God is awesome. Amazing. I love Him so much.


So on the random news of my life, there is little to report. I get up, go to work, and come home. Throw in some occasional family time and a lot of time studying, and well, there you have it.

The other day a customer mentioned that she had moved to the US from Germany sometime back in the 50's. "Now, what prompted you to do that?" I asked.
"Oh, I met this army boy over there, and you know, when you are in love you can just be so stupid. I guess God had to make it that way or the human race would never have survived."

She was a little cynical, but she continued.

"You know, finding your soulmate is like winning the lottery. It's pretty amazing if it happens. But otherwise its more of a two-way street, and it's not always 50/50"

And then, at the end of the day, I had another man make a humorous, slightly deprecating comment on marriage. To which I responsed "Whoa. I'm still a young unmarried, squirt, don't disenchant me just yet!"

"Ah, naw, sonny. I'm not gonna' disenchant you. These have been the best years of my life. Just remember that from now on you'll have to buy your soda with two straws in it."

You walk past me 
I can feel your pain 
Time changes everything 
One truth always stays the same 
You're still you   

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mecies Anew

It's morning. which means we have new mercies for today.  Not for the week. Tomorrow's mercies will be there tomorrow morning. And Wednesday's mercies will be there on Wednesday.  Thank God.

So for a random update.

A couple of months ago I moved off of my brother's floor and started renting a room from one of the church families. It's been a real blessing.  Actually, my whole life this year has been so blessed. The way God provided through so many people for my trip to Africa. 
My Brother's generosity to keep me afloat on my return.
And the way God has blessed me with such an awesome job.  (and yeah, there's moments I hate it)
Not to mention such an incredible, blessed church family to worship with.

Speaking of church family... in the sermon yesterday, pastor briefly touched on "stepping out in faith"  based on Peter's walking on water.

And how we are all so anxious to prove our faith by jumping out of the boat and trying some new idea for God.

Sometimes it's OUR idea. But we expect that if get started on it, God will reward our faith and "bail us out"

Peter didn't go that way.  Listen to him:  "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water."

If it be thou...

Then, and only then should we try it. 

Thanks, Pastor. Good words.

Only if you have a second....
I was having my morning devotions, and the coffee house music was distracting me. So I turned on Pandora. 

 The combination of the songs that played and the scriptures I was reading was awesome

Psalms 36: 6-10

"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart."

Psalms 66: 1-6

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. 

Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Play-by-Play Monday

Sunday night:

List of things to accomplish tomorrow:

  • Devotions
  • Get final paperwork from former employer for Chase (new employer)
  • Get part for Cory's Car
  • Take Cory's Car to repair shop
  • Submit paperwork to Chase
  • Study

Monday morning.


But had a great quiet time with God.

Which took another chunk out of my day.

I finished oversleeping, and devoting, and logged on to the computer. Ran Kaufman was online. I've been wanting to talk with him for days.

That's a miracle when he's a half-day ahead with limited internet and phone connections.

Called my former employer to request specific documents for Chase. Well, they don't have what I need handy... that's in storage, but they do have one document... I already have that document. Guess I'll try to send it. I know Chase won't like it.

Drove across town to get paperwork for Cory's car part.

Drove back across town to get part.

Part guy shrugs his shoulders. "UPS doesn't get here til 11:30"

Look at my watch. 11:15. Who knows how long it will take to sort their UPS shipment. I had planned to be done with this task by 10am. My day is definitely getting blown out of the sky.

I go out to my car. Shut my eyes for a moment. "God, this isn't my day anymore. You run this day the way you want."

Rearview mirror. The UPS truck pulls up.

I had the part in hand at 11:30.

Try to find somebody to help me take Cory's car to the shop. No go.

So I head to the Library. Study for 2 hours.

Cory's girl checks back. Yes she'll be free in a few hours. We'll take his car then.

I head out a little early to get his car. Cory calls. I'm barely out of the parking lot. He's taking an early day off work. Can he help me transport the car? Not only that, but can he help me fix my computer? Whoa. Too cool.

Car Transported.

I head to the library to print out the paperwork for Chase. It's not what they want. But'll have to do.

Almost to Kinko's. My former employer calls. They have the exact paperwork Chase needs. Can I pick it up tomorrow? Well, I work tomorrow, but, yeah. I'll figure something out.

They call back. Can I come over tonight? Copies are made and are waiting for me.

Get paperwork. Go to Kinko's and type up a cover letter. Chase calls. I let it go to voicemail. They want to know where the documents are. Guys, you have no idea...


Really it was like living a day in Africa again. If God hadn't opened doors and timed everything to the second.... the day would have been shot.

But everything's accomplished.

I got to sleep in.

And I still have time to study.

Lovin' it.


And I wouldn't change a thing - Rascal Flatts

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So... I'm sitting in Coffee Ethic the other day:

And these college girls are having some sort of planning meeting on some sort of - whatever - they were planning.

And one of them (with that air of leadership that screams I'M THE LEADER OF A COLLEGE CLUB THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT - BUT IS GOING TO BE LISTED ON ALL OF MY RESUMES) says, "That's one thing I learned from Obama. It's not enough to talk about change. It's up to us to do something."


no kidding.

Here I sat, quite certain that this latte had made itself, the bathroom had removed all pee-splatter by itself, and the backhoe outside the window was running itself...


Man, I gotta' listen to this Obama dude more...

(Side note: What planet has she been living on for the last 19 years??? Crikeys. WHAT are we coming too?)


I'm trying real hard not to shake.

I'm biting my tongue,

but I'm feeling alive and with every breathe that I take,
I feel like I've won.

- Secondhand Serenade

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Learned Something Tonight.

Don't barter with the step-dad.
You will lose.
That guy is good.

First thing my step-dad, John, says to me tonight is, "Wanna' buy a truck? There's one on Craiglist. They wanted $600 for it, but I talked them down to $500."
The truck is a little Mazda pickup. Great shape. Exactly what I've been looking for.
Well, neither he nor I have any money. (Well, I don't have money. Mom wouldn't let him use his money.)
So he calls the owners back up and tries to barter with everything but the bass boat. Everything. The van. My boat motor. The kitchen table and chairs.

No go.

So then we call up Cory. See if he wants a truck.

He wants a truck. AND he has money. Sweet.

So John calls the owners back to tell them we're coming to pick it up.
...And tries to renegotiate the price to $475.

Well, they wouldn't go that low, but what can I say?

The guy's got skills.
People said it would never work out
But living our dreams, we shattered all doubts - Jason Michael Carrol