Brandon's Notepad

July 23, 2014

Living To Please God Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 1:56 pm

This is a very random post indeed. I’ve been following a blog titled Living To Please God authored by one Kate Bortell. I think she follows my blog too, as I seem to recall seeing a few likes sent from her direction. In any case, it’s a kind of online journal containing the thoughts of a Christian woman living in the modern world, and I’ve found that she has some things to say that are worth discussing. Unfortunately, she’s turned off the comments and does not have a contact page. So Kate, if you stumble across this post, please contact me via my contact page. I’d like to chat.

February 8, 2011

Notable Covers

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Cover songs. Cover bands. Cover albums. Good ones. Bad ones. Whatever. Here’s my list of notable covers. Special thanks to YouTube, which has apparently captured everything ever filmed or recorded. (Note: I add them as I find them. The list will grow.)

American Pie

Nothing will ever top Don McLean’s original.
Chris de Burgh. True to the original.
Madonna. Exploits the lyrics (IMHO) to promote an ultra-leftist agenda (watch the video).
The Brady Bunch. Painful. Comical. Pure nostalgia.
Hernaldo Zúñiga. Most popular version in Texas?
Catch 22. Because the refrain is all you need anyway. Punks.
King’s Singers. Well done!
Leslie Cheung. This song started his career. The ground ended it. Very sad.

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Muppets. Best cover of this song ever!
P!NK. Not much different than watching Queen perform it. Good voice for the song!
William Shatner. Funny video! The serious bits are spoken.
Hayseed Dixie. From the 2010 album, “Killer Grass”. Typical H-D spoof.
Newton Faulkner. Painful.
The Ten Tenors. Not too bad. At least they had instrument accompaniment.
UC (Berkrley) Men’s Octet. Acapella. Suddenly want a haircut.
Surrey Harmony. Funny to watch the old ladies sing this song. Great voices! Stupid rock segment!
Robert Wilkinson. This intoxicated Canadian almost got all the words right.


Whether or not you agree with the principles, there is something enchanting about Lennon’s masterpiece. There’s no variance in the covers, no adaptations. Timeless.
Bill Clinton. Sang with Israeli singer Liel at Shimon Peres’s 80th birthday. Didn’t know the words.
Elton John. Central Park, September 1980.
David Bowie. The same, as expected.
Avril Lavigne. True to the original. Great voice.
Live. From a concert in December 1999. (Selling the Drama, Lightning Crashes)
Lady GaGa. Gag.

The Sound of Silence

Simple, poetic, and rich in symbolism, I consider this one of the most important songs of my formative years!
Live in Central Park, 1981. Ok, not technically cover, but this performance by S&G far surpasses the original recording, IMHO.
Nouela. Beautiful performance. Very sad video compilation by MusicForLife.
Kina Grannis. Also beautiful.
Brooke Fraser. Several good live performances available online. Sounds like Karen Carpenter with elements of Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge, and Linda Perry. Well done, but nothing really new.
Passenger. Folksy hipster from East Sussex. A bit dramatic, but worth a listen!
Coffee House Gypsies. Sung by minstrels? I’d love to hear them cover California Dreamin’
Ásgeir & Júlíus. Icelandic. Clear guitar and vocals. True to the original.
Emilíana Torrini. Also Icelandic. Sounds nice in her accent.
Einsauszwei Rework. Basis for a backdrop mix in a very sweet short film.
Bobaflex. Awesome rock version! Subtle influences from The Offspring? The video is terribly sad.
Nevermore. Metal. Megadeth/Pantera, with a hint of Manson perhaps? Didn’t move me.
Yao Si Ting. …on the walls of science?
Leonard Cohen. Read as poetry. A nice twist, a new perspective.
Duptribe. Psychedelic beat track + British accents = great sound! Many remixes exist.
Tiesto. This may be the Duptribe voice track laid down with some other sounds. Not as good, IMHO.
Hardstyle. Angelic voices + deep house = has promise. Short on lyrics though.
Niels Martreb. Strong beat. Synth. Humming. Very sterile, impersonal. Not the whole song. #robbed
Gregorian. A novelty? Yes, but chant is always awesome. Wonder what it would sound like in Latin. Hmm, well, here are the lyrics in case anyone wants to try.

Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)

I don’t like the Stones, but this song is cool for its historical and religious references. It is also covered quite frequently, often live.
Blood Sweat & Tears. BS&T3, 1970. Nice try. Lacks the spirit of the song, IMHO.
Jonathan Round. Self-titled album, 1971. My absolute favorite version by far!
Bryan Ferry. These Foolish Things, 1973. Bad…but still better than the Stones.
The Jerico Mile. Intro tune, 1979. Groovy instrumental.
Jane’s Addiction. Concert album, 1987. Too true to the original for my taste.
Laibach. 1989. From Slovenia. Bad English dub job?
Guns N’ Roses. Interview with the Vampire Sountrack, 1994. Because I’d rather listen to Axl than to Jagger anyday.
Pearl Jam. Live [YouTube], late 1990s. Improv, just hangin’ out on stage.
Gail Swanson. Standing on the Bridge, 1996? Great Sound! Could lose the Ian Anderson flute solo.
Jon Bon Jovi. Live in Wembley, 1997 [YouTube]. Same ol’ song, less-annoying singer.
Natalie Merchant. Tigerlily, 1999. Great live version! Blends well with her other songs on the album.
Tiamat. Skeleton Skeletron, 1999. Gothic! How appropriate.
Ozzy Osbourne. Under Cover, 2005. Nice change, but Ozzy could’ve put more heart into it.
Bossa n’ Stones. Freedom Dub, 2006. Same ol’ song, female singer.
Jenny Silver. Live on Sommarkrysset, 2010. Great performance, but didn’t add much to the song.

You Were Always On My Mind

Willie Nelson’s classic! Well, actually the original was sung by Brenda Lee.
Willie Nelson. Obviously, the most successful cover.
Elvis Presley. What’s to say? A typical Elvis rendition.
Pet Shop Boys. An upbeat sad song?
DJ Guest. Synth, drum machine, and female vocals.
Fantasia. American Idol. Jazzy R&B version. Meh.
Michael Bublé. Sinatra-ish.
Boy George. He loves this song! Lot’s of concert covers on YouTube.
Tim, Roland & Jake. Sung Chipmonk-style.

Dance Covers

Behind Blue Eyes – Jan Van Bass
Boys Of Summer 2k10 – Max Deejay
Dont Walk Away (Jade) – Jenny Jones
Eternal Flame – Lady Crew


The Covers Project. Someone is actually building a databse of cover songs!

January 20, 2011

2011 Calendar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 4:05 pm

January 2011 S M Tu W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
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April 2011 S M Tu W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
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November 2011 S M Tu W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
December 2011 S M Tu W Th F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

December 13, 2010

Catholic Catechesis & Apologetics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 7:40 pm

Home > My Research > Christianity > Theology > Catechesis & Apologetics

The faith can be explained in a variety of ways. The notes on this page focus on two: catechesis and apologetics. These terms are first defined, then some correlations are drawn between them. Conclusions are tested by the literary study of Catholic texts that follows.


One may find oneself explaining aspects of the Catholic faith for a variety of reasons in any number of settings. In order to determine which approach to use to do so effectively, it is useful to recognize the nature of scenario at hand. These definitions help clarify.

Catechesis. Catechesis literally means oral instruction. It is derived from the Greek verb katekhein: kata- meaning “thoroughly” and -ekhein meaning “to sound”.

Apologetics. An apology is a defense given orally. It is derived from the Greek apologia: apo- meaning “from” and -logos meaning “speech” or “lecture”. The use of this word to mean an expression of regret is much more modern – the mission of a Christian apologist is not to express regret for being Christian!

There is an important distinction to note between these words. Both refer to the conveyance of information using an oral medium, but notice how the purpose of that conveyance differs: to instruct vs. to defend. Undoubtedly, the tone with which this information is delivered will be necessarily different, even if the information is substantively the same.


It seems that works of Catholic literature in this genre tend to gravitate toward one of two basic approaches, each with its own uses. This is fortunate, as I’ve found that no single form is suitable for all catechetical and apologetic efforts. The way in which information should be delivered can depend so much on what the recipient needs to know to understand the faith, to “fill in the gaps” if you will. The most effective approach for answering questions about the faith depends heavily on where you start.

Top-Down Approach. The top-down approach begins with a high-level view of the faith and then works down through logical constructs to arrive at the specific topics particular to Catholicism. This approach is based on the premise that when the more fundamental concepts of the Catholic faith are understood and appreciated then the rejection of the contested beliefs becomes illogical.

Bottom-Up Approach. The bottom-up approach involves addressing the specific “hot topics” directly, including the most common objections to the Church and other familiar talking points. This approach is based on the perception that both parties share some common understanding of the faith, and that an adequate explanation involves the simple elimination of errors and misconceptions.

Based on my observations, the first is generally used by catechists and the second by apologists. It also seems logical that the most fruitful opportunity for an apologist is to not merely defend, but to rouse the natural curiosity of his antagonist and thereby open the door to actual catechesis. This may require a shift in perspective.

Literature Survey

To illustrate the differences between the approaches described above, I have listed here various texts that I have read or that are available to me, each assessed according to content as being closer to one approach or another, either top-down or bottom-up. The purpose of the text is also considered. By no means should this be considered a very scientific study, but just a collection of empirical observations.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. The (current) Catechism of the universal Church is very much a top-down treatment of the faith. It discusses first what it means to believe, then examines the details of the creeds, God’s gifts to his people in the Sacraments, and finally, the life and prayer of the Christian. The language is explanatory, expressive but not defensive. Some general misconceptions are addressed, but no counterpoints are levied against specific objections. A person with no religious knowledge whatsoever could read this book and understand its messages.

Catholicism and Fundamentalism. Keating’s book is a hallmark work in apologetics literature. It takes a very strong bottom-up approach, explaining over eight chapters the objections of anti-Catholics, and then addressing specific topics over another fifteen chapters. In every chapter, Keating takes a defensive stance – which is the whole point of the book.

Catholic and Christian. More to come…


August 17, 2010

Online Maps

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 12:00 am

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I love maps. I really love maps I can access when I need them. The following are online mapping tools, maps collections, and other sites, categorized more or less by purpose.

Current: Directions, Traffic, etc.

United States: Google, Yahoo! & Mapquest
Europe: Mappy

Historical, Demographic, etc.

National Atlas of the USA. An amazing collection of maps.
World Sites Atlas. Physical & political maps of the world. gifs
Hargett Rare Books & Manuscript Library. Historical Map Collection, University of Georgia
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (UT Austin). Large collection of maps, including Texas Topographical maps. Topological maps for climbers, including Tarrant County

August 2, 2010

Local Interest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 7:08 am

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Forth Worth / Dallas

Texas SH-161
Russ Martin
– Fort Worth, March 28, 2000
Kennedale/Arlington, April 3, 2012
– Chinese
– Mexican
Orchards, Vineyards, etc.
Henrietta Creek Orchard (PYO apples, peaches, pizza garden; Roanoke, TX)
Red River Peach Orchard (PYO peaches; Gainesville, TX)

Texas Hill Country

Orchards, Vineyards, etc.
Sonlight Apple Orchard (PYO apples; B&B; Mason, TX)

June 28, 2010

Christian Ministries

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 8:02 am

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This is a list of Christian ministries that have caught my attention.

Bezeugen Tract Club This is a Fundamentalist Christian tract club operated by my friend, Carl Kalbfleisch. The organization’s website can be found at

Victory Life/Outreach/Fellowship This ministry was started by San Antonian Freddie Garcia, who found Jesus on his road to recovery from drug addiction. The many names associated with this ministry may be a product of its expansion. According to this Express News article, he started his ministry by inviting other addicts into his home to assist with their spiritual healing. His program has been highly effective, and it became a way of life for him. His life story, Outcry in the Barrio is widely available for sale (Amazon, Alibris, etc.) and usually costs between $1 and $5, though a free copy can be obtained through various associated ministries. He was awarded a national Achievement Against the Odds award by the elder President Bush in 1990. Garcia died October 16, 2009 at age 71. The rehab program involves keeping the recovering addicts busy and focused on their work for the center, which involves producing and selling various baked goods and beaded trinkets. I have been approached many times by members of a local center in various parts of town, and while my heart goes out to them in thir struggles, I must agree that their technique could be improved. As this Dallas Morning News article points out, many are concerned about their safety when they are approached by members of this group – not only physical safety, but also conerns about what has been baked into the food they sell. Comments to this post illustrate how easily the program could be abused by spoofs. A few examples of local branches include Templo Victoria De Houston, Outcry in the Barrio Center in Pharr, Texas (near McAllen), and Victory Temple Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas, founded by recently-departed Gerald Salomon. Braches often include a church, homes for the recovering addicts and drop-in centers.

March 5, 2010

Books I May Buy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 8:52 am

Back to My Lists

Below is a list of books I may buy someday.


The Calligrapher’s Companion ISBN 0760725268; may already have this one – check shelf
The Encyclopedia of Calligraphy Techniques Diana Hardy Wilson; ISBN 0806989114

Business & Technology

Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference Robert L. Harris


William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books David Bindman

Math & Science

Prime Numbers: A Computational Perspective Richard Crandall & Carl B. Pomerance; now in 2nd edition
The [Mechanical] Turk Tom Standage
Calculated Risks Gerd Gigerenzer

Theology & Philosophy

Mystical Language of Icons Solrunn Nes; ISBN 0854395849
Toward a New Catholic Church James Carroll; ISBN 0618313370; anti-catholic, buy used copy

February 24, 2010

The Small Stuff: Office Supplies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brandon @ 10:00 pm

Other Small Stuff

CD/DVD Media

Maxwell Color DVD+R 4.7GB 16x 120m 10pk UPC 025215626272
TDK DVD+R 4.7GB 16x 120m 25pk UPC 020356485085


Red Card Stock Walmart, I think
Graph Paper Tablets
File Folders Ampad Manila Efficiency Letter/3-tab @ Walmart

Plastic Sheet Protectors

Current Standard Staples medium weight 100pk letter 2.4 mil archival Item#040713

Stamping & Labelling

Brother P-Touch M-231 Black-on-white .5″x26′ ~$8 @ Fry’s
5-in-1 Date Stamp U.S. Stamp & Sign Item #4422 UPC 010736044223

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