current faves: Phil Wickham and Francis Chan

Christianity, personal

Two plugs for things that have been impacting me spiritually lately:

Thanks to one of the fine fellows on Bwack’s Forum, I found out that Phil Wickham released a free acoustic album entitled "singalong". I’m really enjoying it.

phil wickham - singalong
above: my intricately hand lettered CD-R for listening to in the car and kitchen.

Also, thanks to a different fellow Bwack’s Forum member, Chris Sayburn, I came across this video by Francis Chan:

Francis is a delight to watch, and his message really challenged and motivated me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, and brought me back to the time when I first started to follow Jesus. It reminded me of what it is to follow Him, to really live your life and give things up, make hard decisions, trust God’s goodness.

raising designers/engineers


This is what life is like when you’re raising three brilliant designers/engineers (ages 8, 6, and 3): Legos scattered everywhere, K’Nex pieces burying themselves in the carpeting, Mindstorms pieces being strung together to form impromptu necklaces. I’m loving every minute of it (well, except for stepping on stray pieces).

raising designers/engineers (1)

raising designers/engineers (2)

summer update


Summer is here in full force! I’ve been enjoying my time off quite a lot, trying to make the most of the legendary teacher holiday. Much swimming, reading, and playing with the kids has ensued.

I decided, for one thing, that it was just too hot for hair anymore:

new haircut!

Also, our garage had gotten pretty out of hand. Lots of different projects had left it pretty poor shape, as you can see below:

garage workspace cleanup: before

I spent the better part of an afternoon working on cleaning it up, and it’s in much better shape now:

garage workspace cleanup: after

I still have quite a bit of work to do (notice the left-side countertop, for example) but it’s getting closer. I can’t stand working in a disorganized, messy environment, so it’s got to have some kind of order imposed on it!

Off now to cook dinner and take the kids swimming. Happy summer!

Spring Break is almost over!

personal, teaching

Spring break is almost over, and it was filled with behind-the-scenes work, the kind of stuff you never really think much about but which need to get done. (As an aside, the idea that I get an entire week off for being a teacher is still a little foreign to me, but certainly appreciated).

By way of explanation, I did a lot of laundry, dishwashing, house cleaning, e-mail responding, social networking site updating, kid hanging-out with, photo-taking, and planning for the next few months. My wife and I even got a start on cleaning our garage.

All that to say: spring has certainly started with a lot of refreshing and looking forward to the new seasons.

this is my story.

Christianity, personal

I subscribe to a daily RSS feed of short quotes from Scripture offeredy by, and this morning the quote was particularly meaningful. This is my story, the same as it was the Apostle Paul’s:

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7 NIV”.

Have a blessed Holy Week.

The Copper Country

personal, reading

I started reading the New York Times a couple of years back when I was taking classes full-time at Eastern Michigan University. They had a program where they supplied free copies of the paper to their students, so I eagerly picked up my copy every day I was in the Porter building (the primary area for School of Education classes, and the site of the free papers).

Over the last while, I’ve also started reading their online version, and today I noticed a great article entitled “Industrial Echoes in Michigan’s Copper Country“. It’s a nice travelogue, describing the author’s trip through the Keeweenaw Peninsula, also known as Copper County. I have a special place in my heart for that area of the country, since it’s where Michigan Technological University, my alma mater, is located. The article is definitely consistent with many of my memories, though my favorite restaurants were always Marie’s Deli and the Suomi Cafe (though the Kaleva Cafe, which the article mentions, was great too).

The photo that accompanies the article shows the Quincy Smelter, which I explored a number of times during my college years. My good friend Harrison Withers first showed me the smelter, and we used it as the location for a photoshoot we did, producing material for a class CD-ROM project. Later, I introduced my friend Josh to the smelter, and he took some amazing photos of his own.

smelter: looking up
Interior of the Quincy Smelter. Photo by J. Schnable

It was during this time, along with the summer internship in downtown Detroit in 1996, that I discovered my love for rusted, decaying textures. Inspired in large part by the small artists’ community in Houghton (which was centered around the Suburban Exchange coffee house, performance space, and recording studio), I started producing my own music, photos, and visual art, and it is those experiences that have largely shaped the art I continue to produce to this day.

Seeing this all in the New York Times this morning brought back a powerful flood of memories. There’s no place more beautiful in the fall than the Copper Country, as the colors turn and the whole area becomes a sea of orange, gold, rust and brown, and I think I might finally try to get back up there this year. We’ll see. For now, enjoy the article.

Andy Grove on health care, education, and more


I heard an interview today that mentioned what Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, is attempting to do about the state of health care in the United States. I haven’t gotten a chance to read too much about his plans, but my understaning is that they involve using readily available technology to update the system and radically increasing the availability of health care. Sounds pretty good so far.

After I heard that interview, which was on NPR’s “Money Matters” show, I searched around a little and came across this interview with Grove, which mentions more about his thoughts about the world. It’s an interesting read:’s+top+stories

A couple of pieces stood out for me:

“Grove: This is an ancient belief of mine: You get what you measure. None of them (Congress) measure contributions to the practical solution of a handful of problems.

Interviewer: How would you measure something like that?

Grove: We know how to measure it. You can measure the number of uninsured. Let’s say it’s a number like 46 million the year you go to Congress, and say you want to tackle it. At the end of the second year of Congress, it should be down to 40 (million), then down to 30 (million).”

Also, this:

“Interviewer: You’ve mentioned declining tech graduates and the need to reform education many times in the past. Anything there that needs changing today?

Andy Grove: The state of vocational education in this country is abysmal. Vocational education, job training, and retraining doesn’t exist. A well-organized federal program would lubricate the Schumpeterian engine. ”

As someone who’s spent the last 14 months working toward the chance to get involved in technology education in the public schools, it’s good to see someone in Grove’s position acknowledge this issue, and speak out about its importance.

It’s snowing in Ypsilanti

personal, Ypsilanti

It’s snowing in Ypsilanti…and I am overjoyed. Happy beyond all reason. I get like a little kid every time the first real snow of the season falls (just ask my wife or former co-workers). It’s snowing steadily right now, only two days past Halloween, and that familiar blanket of white is back again – steadily, slowly descending on us.

That right there is one reason why I’ll always love Michigan: I love the change of the seasons too much, as summer fades into autumn and then winter quietly wraps the mitten in its embrace. When spring comes, I’ll be ready for it…but right now, I’m watching the snow fall.

Oh, and I’m also listening to Christmas music, getting in the mood to record a Van Loo family Christmas record in the next weeks leading up to Christmas. Can’t wait!