Monday, January 30, 2012

Watching My Life Flash Before My Eyes 1999-2004

I have been watching my life flash before my eyes the past few days. It started a couple of weeks ago when I was unexpectedly given one week's notice that my Christian Activities website was going to have to be moved within a week. For a year I had been told it was going to be moved to Word Press, but suddenly I had to find a new server and web designer.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been the death knell to Christian Activities happening at this time, because my own circumstances are not normal right now. I am dealing with the aftermath of massive flood and water damage, recovering from living in a Microtel for 9 months, and putting up with contractors who insist upon needless delays, ridiculous shortcuts and sloppy work. I am also having to pay for many things Farmers Insurance is not covering: mold remediation, rotten wood replacement under my house and other repairs. A couple of thousand dollars worth of vet bills for a sick dog helped push me deeper into a bad financial situation.

In the best of circumstances, one week's notice would not allow a business with normal resources to find a new web designer and get a site moved to a new server. In my situation, I had no funds to pay someone to help my move a website and host it, nor did I have the luxury of time to get proposals.

Fortunately for me, I have a cousin who is a computer whiz offer to help me save my 20-year-old business and 17-year web presence. However, the code or program for the old site design, (which was originally written in 1999 for a site called Tennesseek that never made it off the ground and then showcased on the Christian Activities site) presented problems during the transfer process. My cousin was able to transfer it to a new server, but well over 1200 articles of the 7,000 articles needed to be divided into Book Reviews and Movies from the general Articles category as well as tweaked for line breaks and extra tags. That has been my task -- to go through those articles, separate the Movie and Book articles and remove code and tags.

At first it was drudgery. Yesterday I posted on Facebook: Change category, reformat, save. Change category, reformat, save. Change category, reformat, save. Change category, reformat, save. I am going to be doing this in my sleep all night long!

However, as I have progressed I have begun to read some of the articles, and that has started me on a nostalgic journey down memory lane. The earliest articles are from Oct. 1999, and I have just made it through Oct. 2004. I have relived a new millennium; Worship City Praise; 9-11; movies like The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Passion of the Christ; the Left Behind books; as well as books, movies and events long forgotten.

I have gone back in time to watch bands come and go, music history being made, babies being born, heroes being buried. I have revisited wonderful articles by past contributors: Mike and Paula Parker, Joan Brasher,  Joanne Brokaw, Cindy O’Halloran, Rick Campbell, as well as articles by Carl Mays, Al Menconi, Dave Ramsey and others.

I am taking way too long to do my part of the job, but at the risk of patting myself on the back, Christian Activities has provided some EXCELLENT content in the past. Due to the economy and a flagging interest in publications, I have let Christian Activities sit on the back burner for the past couple of years, adding a little new content each week, but it is my desire to once again have the kind of content that is making me take my time doing these edits -- because I am enjoying reading the articles so much!

Stay tuned as we revamp Christian Activities and launch it anew as a fresh website with familiar content, an updated look, and hopefully the kind of content that will cause my readers, like me, to enjoy reading about the events and people that define the Christian music and entertainment industries.

Screen shot of the last day of the past version of Christian Activities on the old server.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SOPA, PIPA & the Ongoing Piracy of Videos, Music, Articles & Photos

SOPA, PIPA & the Ongoing Piracy of Videos, Music, Articles & Photos

I wrote this article a week ago expressing my apparently less popular views on SOAP & PIPA. It took a week for the article to post, during which time the debate has wound down. I wish the article had posted sooner, so I could have been unpopular louder and longer.

Over the past several years, I have read numerous articles on the subject or piracy and copyright infringement until I found my own voice on the subject and began writing articles on the topic of copyright infringement. It still amazes me that fairly well-intentioned people as well as lazy short-cutters, scammers and black-hatters think it is fine to steal images from other other website, copy articles to their blogs or discussion boards or copy movies, videos and music to distribute whether on the web or hard copy.

More at SOPA, PIPA & the Ongoing Piracy of Videos, Music, Articles & Photos - Yahoo! Voices 

Also see:

Sunday, January 22, 2012


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Monday, January 16, 2012

William A. Darden - My Father Remembered

William A. Darden - My Father Remembered
by Kathryn E. Darden for Christian Activities

Nashville, TN -

My father was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 29, 1910. William Allen Darden, Jr., called Bill or Allen by friends, grew up on a farm the family called "Tick Hill" in Nashville Tennessee, on Murfreesboro Pike (now Murfreesboro Road). His father, who was no farmer by all accounts, worked at the Nashville Post Office on Broadway, now the Frist Center for the Arts.

He was an adventuresome youth, frequently meeting Billy (W.K., IV) and Jay (James W.) Ransom, the sons of neighboring farmer William King Ransom, III, after morning chores to bicycle from Murfreesboro Road across the county into Kingston Springs where they would fish with an older man. Darden loved hunting as much as fishing and was at home roaming the fields, pastures and waterways across Davidson County.
My father also joined the Ransom boys for games of basketball at the Ransom farm. The youngest child and only girl in the Ransom clan, a blond-haired girl named Mary, would often try to steal the boys' basketball during the games and run off with it. When he was 29 and she was 23, my father and Mary Ransom would wed.
The family did not have much money, so my father grew up in a humble white frame farm house with no running water. The farm had an outhouse, barn and a sulfur well next to the house, and at one time the family owned an old horse. The lack of luxury did not stop the Dardens from entertaining friends and family, and the Darden home on Murfreesboro Pike was the location of several family reunions in the 1920s for the Darden/Harris family.
When his oldest two children reached high-school age, Mr. Darden decided to sell the family farm on Murfreesboro Road and moved his family to Villa Place (in Nashville's Wedgewood area) so the children would be closer to Nashville Central High School which was located on Rains Avenue. Darden graduated from Central High in 1927. Darden's mother was ill and died of cancer two years later. When he was 18, his uncle Charles Franklin Harris helped him get a job as a civil enginees and around the same time, Darden joined the Army Reserves. In 1930 when he was only 20, my father's mother passed away. Her illness had sapped the family's limited financial resources, and there was no money for college.
After working for three years after high school and carefully saving his money, Darden was able to attend Vanderbilt University from 1930 to 1931 where he joined the ROTC program and excelled on the track and debate teams, earning medals in both. When the money ran out, he worked another year as an engineer before transferring to Georgia Tech where he graduated in 1935.
From 1935 to 1942, Darden worked as a civil engineer in Nashville. He married Mary Ransom, the daughter of William King Ransom in 1939. Mary's father was against the marriage, so the couple eloped and was married on January 7.
Mr. Ransom relented after the wedding and sold the young couple an acre of land on the edge of the Ransom farm. Darden designed and built a modest limestone house on the corner of Una-Antioch Pike and Murfreesboro Road where Ransom Place now sits.
When World War II broke out, my father joined the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel because of his involvement in ROTC. He served in the US Army Corps of Engineers. Among other things, his work with the Corps involved building bridges across rivers, often under heavy enemy fire. For his courageous deeds, Darden won the Legion of Merit Legionnaire Medal, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, three Campaign Stars and an Assault Arrowhead, the Presidential Unit Citation the Royal Order of George I (Greece), and the Philippine Liberation Medal for his combat service in the Pacific Theater. He fought in Inchan, Japan and the Philippines, and his old leather photo albums show the horrors he saw firsthand.
Darden served as a corps staff officer in the Korean War in 1946. He was the military advisor air engineer on a military mission to Greece from 1948 to 1951 a time my mother would later remember as one of the best times of her life. He completed the Army Command and Staff College in 1952 and the Army's Strategic Intelligence School in 1956. From 1952 to 1955 Darden served as Assistant District Engineer in Tullahoma, TN. 

Darden also served as Army attach� to the US Embassy in New Delhi, India for several years in the late 1950s through 1960 where he was active in military intelligence. One of his assignments was to look for the rumored tunnel from Pakistan into India. His prowess with a rifle gave him the opportunity to scout the countryside as a big game hunter. His skill as a hunter made him the choice of villagers when a tiger attacked and killed a villager; Darden tracked, shot, and killed the tigress and kept her skin as one of his most prized possessions. 

When Darden returned from India, he was posted to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for a year where he was promoted to full "bird" Colonel. Darden was next transferred to Washington, DC, and he moved his family to their home for the next five years, a picturesque wooded two-acre lot on General Duff Drive on Lake Barcroft in Falls Church, Virginia. Darden worked at the Pentagon in Washington, DC from 1960 to 1963 and at Yards and Docks from 1964 to 1965. Darden wanted to continue his career in the military, but his wife was ready to go home to Nashville to care for her aging parents.
While in Washington DC, he studied for his Masters of Science degree from George Washington University which he completed in 1970 when he was sixty years old.
After he retired from the Army in 1965, my father moved our family back home to Nashville, Tennessee where he rejoined the US Corps of Engineers as the Special Assistant to the U.S. Army District Engineer from 1966 to 1971 and the Executive Assistant to the U.S. Army District Engineer from 1972 to 1976, the highest rank a civilian could hold in the Corps. He served as President of the Society of American Value Engineers from 1974 to 1975. He was actively involved in the construction of Percy Priest Dam, Cordell Hull Dam and Lake Barkley.
During his time in India, Darden hired some people to build a stucco house next door to the stone house he had built on the Ransom farm, and a neighbor rented it out for him. For many years that house was a source of extra income for our family. The most notable tenant was wrestler Tojo Yamamoto. When we moved back to Nashville in the summer of 1965, we lived in the old stone house my parents built soon after they wed. There my father raised Silver Leghorn chickens and fancy guppies. Our next-door-neighbor was Yamamoto who would mow his yard wearing the g-string/loin cloth contraption in which he wrestled. His German Shepherd killed a few of my father's beloveded Silver Leghorns, but they worked it out amicably. My father, who had once fought the Japanese, was now content to rent the house next door to a Japanese wrestler. In most ways, he had put the war behind him long ago.
In 1967, my father purchased five acres of land on Old Hickory Blvd. in Brentwood, TN and he spent two years designing his dream house. In 1969, he built a two-story colonial brick home (still standing) using antique brick acquired from an old jail that was torn down about that time. James W. Ransom told me he thought the brick came from the old Williamson County Jail.
My mother told me in their last years that my father had a recurring nightmare about an incident that happened in Japan during the War. My father was sent down into tunnels which were often booby trapped or which frequently harbored kamikaze soldiers. In such conditions young Army soldiers were trained to shoot first and ask questions later. In one such tunnel my father encountered a young, armed Japanese soldier. As my father raised his rifle to fire, the enemy soldier dropped his weapon and screamed "Don't shoot!" right as my father pulled the trigger. That incident haunted my father's dreams for the rest of his long life.
Unfortunately, my father did not have a deep faith to sustain him during such moments. When at nineteen he lost his mother, a fanatical member of a narrow-minded denomination told him it was "too bad your mother went to hell." (In an ironic twist of history repeating itself, a member of the same denomination told my brother it was too bad our mother went to hell shortly after her death.) From that point on, Darden turned away from organized religion. His many years abroad gave him a deep respect for other cultures and religions, and his great intellect made Bible stories seem like overly simplistic fairy tales to him. However, he told Mary that when he prayed, he said his own prayers to the Christian God. In the 1970s, he joined St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Franklin, but he soon grew discouraged and stopped attending when his family would not go with him.
A few years after he retired from the Corps of Engineers, my father made the long, slow descent into Alzheimer's. As with everything, he fought it bravely and kept most of his dignity long after the disease had robbed him of his great intellect. He stood tall until the end, and he watched incoming airplanes with an eagle eye.
One day when he could no longer speak in sentences, but could still answer "yes" and "no" to simple questions, someone asked him if he wanted to receive Jesus Christ as his savior and spend eternity in heaven. My father said "yes" eagerly and broke into a big smile. Sometimes I think maybe he had to have Alzheimer's to get past his own vast intellect to receive Christ with a truly childlike faith.
After a long health struggle stemming from a broken hip in June 1993, he ultimately succumbed to Alzheimer's, dehydration, a punctured long, starvation, pneumonia, a staph infection and an overtly hostile doctor who delayed giving my father appropriate care, saying my father was wasting a hospital bed. My father fought on for three months and died at Donelson Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 30, 1993.
Six soldiers from the honor guard carried his casket to the grave site. They held a tautly stretched flag in place over the casket while the minister expressed the legacy left to his children by this courageous soldier. With the eulogy's end, seven soldiers fired three somber shots into the air and the muted, poignant strains of Taps drifted on the late-summer breeze, tribute from an unseen bugler, a reminder of how fleeting and precious is the time we have to honor the living while they are yet with us.

Article © 2007 by Kathryn E. Darden and excerpted from the upcoming book The Ransoms of Ransom Place & the Dardens of Tick Hill: A History of the Ransom and Darden Families of Una, Tennessee.

- Engineers on the Twin Rivers, A History of the U.S. Army Engineers, Nashville District 1769-1978 by Leland R. Johnson
- Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 1974-1975, 1975-1976.
- Nashville Banner, Sunday September 4, 1932, Gravure section
- Obit and article in the Nashville Banner, September 2, 1993
- William Michael Darden - keeper of dates
- Charles Edwin Harris, cousin of Wm. A. Darden, Jr.
- James Cantrell, Chairman, Central High Alumni Assoc.

1977 Photo Left to Right: William A. Darden, Jr., Caroline Wilson Ransom, Thomas Alexander Ransom, Mary Ransom Darden, Frances Campbell Ransom, James. W. Ransom

Related Articles & Links
A Soldier's Passing
Remembering My Father

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Amelia's Story Should Make You Angry -- And a Bit Afraid

The story of little Amelia, a precious child with a mental disability who is being denied medical treatment is all too common, but it is a broader issue than precious children. I went through something similar when my father had Alzheimers.

My father, a decorated WWII and Korean veteran, was otherwise healthy as a horse, and used to sit out in the garden with me singing children's songs after many of his other memories had faded away.

When he broke his hip, it was all I could do to get him any kind of treatment. Dr. Bodner at the old Donelson hospital didn't think he deserved treatment because he "had no quality of life." Sure, my father had Alzheimer's, but does THAT define "quality of life" any more or less than mental retardation?

It took my father three months to die a slow, painful death with me begging for treatment for him. It's a slippery slope -- and this was TWENTY YEARS AGO. Imagine how far down this slope the medical community has slid in those 2 decades while we all sat quietly by and let the Terry Schiavos, mentally challenged children and adult, as well as the elderly slip away to negligence and a legal system gone terribly wrong.

Do you have someone in your family with a mental or physical handicap? Do you think as you age you may lose some of your faculties? Because this could be your future should you or your loved ones become less than perfect and require medical care.

Read Amelia's story HERE
Read my father's story at:  
William A. Darden - My Father Remembered

Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's Talk About Lips!

Valentine's Day is coming up in one month, so let's talk about lips!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top Ten Christian Love Songs - Yahoo! Voices -

Top Ten Christian Love Songs - Yahoo! Voices
Romantic Love Songs for Weddings, Valentine's Day & Other Special Occasions by Gospel Artists

This list was compiled in 2008. For my 2009 Top Ten Love Songs List, please visit: Top Ten Gospel Love Songs. Also see The Best Christian Music for Valentine's Day and Top Ten Christian Love Songs of the Decade.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tile Update: Jan. 10, 2012

I finally heard from Eric Roper at Landmark Construction of Nashville, TN today. In spite of my wishful thinking that a small tile job he was hired to do in July 2011, and paid in advance for much of in Sept. 2011, and which he began on Nov. 3, 2011... he's not coming back until Mon. Jan. 16, 2012!

Landmark Construction will have taken MORE THAN ONE HALF OF A YEAR to do a small kitchen tile job. Surely that's some kind of a record. And I think they need to redo the section above the sink that was pieced together so badly.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Top 10 Things About the Lee Company: A Review of the Lee Company

Top 10 Things About the Lee Company: A Review of the Lee Company

Since 1944, the Lee Company in Nashville, TN, has been taking care of Middle Tennessee's refrigeration, heating and air conditioning needs. Three generations of Lees have helmed the Lee Company, ever since L. Leon Lee started the business as Lee Refrigeration Service Company, using his one truck to service refrigeration and heating equipment. Today the Lee Company employs hundreds of people and serves customers nationwide, including homes, businesses and facilities.

Continued at: Top 10 Things About the Lee Company: A Review of the Lee Company - Yahoo! Voices

Also see: Why the Lee Company Has Been in Business Since 1944

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why the Lee Company Has Been in Business Since 1944

Here is part of an email I sent to two contractors who  have been working on my house and who have taken months to complete tasks:

Letter to Contractors about the Lee Company

Here is how the Lee Company does things. I called them on Wednesday afternoon after talking to an electrician who had been working in my house prior to my heat going out. 

The Lee Company asked me when I wanted them to come and I said "As soon as possible." They said, "How about tomorrow morning?" I said I would be out until after 11:Am and they said, "How about between noon and 2." I said that was fine. They said they always call customers 1/2 hour before they arrive so the customer knows they are coming. 

At 12:06 Tommy from the Lee Company called to let me know he was about 1/2 hour away. At 12:34 he walked in my door. He was finished by around 1:30, fixed some burnt wires and a blown fuse, asked me if anything unusual happen before the heat went out.  I said I had an electrician working in the kitchen before I noticed the heat was out. He said that could have caused it. No way to know for sure. He charged $164 for the service call and the repairs. But  here's the lesson for you contractors who want to stay in business for a long time:

The Lee Company came promptly

The Lee Company came at my convenience
The Lee Company came on the day and time they scheduled
The Lee Company called ahead of time to let me know they were coming
The Lee Company arrived within 1/2 hour of calling, just like they said they would
The Lee Company finished the repair job in a timely fashion

I guess that's why they have been around since 1944. They don't just say they are a Christian Company; they have a reputation of doing what they say they will, when they say they will, and sticking with a job until it is done right -- in a TIMELY FASHION. 

I have a friend who had a bad experience with them 15  years ago, and they are not cheap, so I know they are not perfect, and some of their techs do better jobs than others. However, I thought $164 for a service call and repair was reasonable, especially since they respected the customer enough to show up on time and get the job done. Tommy, the Lee technician, told me some things I could do to improve my system when I have the funds, but  he worked within my existing budget while he was here. So I will be writing a glowing review for the Lee Company and sharing this information with all my friends.

Continued at:

Top 10 Things About the Lee Company: A Review of the Lee Company

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Brand-New KitchenAid Dishwasher Doesn't Clean Dishes (Photo & Video)

KitchenAid 23.875-Inch Built-In Dishwasher (Color: Black) ENERGY STAR
Item #: 333418 | Model #: KUDS30IXBL

On November 3, my brand-new KitchenAid dishwasher was installed. Before I purchased the dishwasher from Lowes, I had read some very negative reviews about the dishwasher on the Lowes website. However, when I brought those concerns to the attention of my sales person as we discussed the pros and cons of buying the dishwasher, Allison, the very personable salesclerk at my local Lowes, assured me that her store had had no complaints or returns of this model. Since it was inexpensive and I was working with insurance to replace the Kitchen Aid Whisper Quite Superba which was damaged by a contractor Farmers recommended who forgot to hook my old dishwasher up to the water line before it was turned on, I went ahead and got the low-priced KitchenAid model to accommodate and facilitate a quick replacement.

My first load of dishes came out with a mess of white crud on the inside and outside of my pots, pans and some dishes - thicker than a film but fairly easy to wipe off with my thumb. I called Allison and told her what my brand-new dishwasher was doing, and she explained that the detergent formulas had recently been changed and I would now have to buy special capsules to clean my dishes. Because I had a new box of detergent, I opted to try the special rinse that is supposed to help dishes come out clean. I bought a bottle, filled the compartment and ran another load with the same results -- all my dark pots and pans, my see-through plastic containers, and some of my silverware had a layer of white crud on them, thicker than a film, but fairly easily wiped off with my thumb as seen in the video below.

I shot this video on January 2, 2012

I turned my water heater up from 120º to 140º and that didn't help; I tried putting the special rinse in the rinse compartment in the new dishwasher, and that didn't help; so I tried some of the Cascade capsules designed especially to make up for what the government took out of the detergents with the same results - white gunk on all may pots, pans, plastics and silverware. I tried loading pots and pans in the upper tray in case they were blocking the jets. Nothing worked.

I even found an old box of detergent packed away in storage following the flood of 2010 - before phosphates were removed. I used it with the same results, so the problem is not the new detergents.

But more than that, the dishwasher is flimsy and it doesn't have a good jet for the 2nd tray. I have to put the top tray back in its track almost every time I use it -- and I have only used it about once a week since it was installed 2 months ago today. I wash many of my dishes by hand rather than load the dishwasher after every meal. I don't overload my dishwasher. I am careful where and how I place things in it. I pre-rinse my dishes as soon as I am through using them. There is no good reason why my dishes come out dirty -- which looks unsanitary -- or why the top tray won't stay in its track.  I have only used it maybe 8 times since I got it.

Lowe's says they will work with me to find a better machine. I will also have to get a new budget if the new replacement costs more than this model did which it probably will since I had a better quality KitchenAid before and got the cheapest model this time. Oh, the joys of working with insurance, contractors, and flimsy modern technology!


Where Is the Landmark Construction (Nashville) Tile Guy?

Electrical Issues in My Kitchen May or May Not Be Fixed

Tile Update Dec. 23: More Problems with Tile

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Way' with Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez an inspiring movie journey -- movie review

Watching "The Way" with father-son team Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez was a wonderful way to celebrate the closing of one year and the beginning of another, because "The Way" is a moving and inspirational story of endings and new beginnings.