Monthly Archives: December 2007

Top Ten of 2007

Ok, here’s my top ten album list for the past year, based on what I listened to and/or was moved by the most.

1. Once – Soundtrack from the motion picture: Perhaps my fav. movie of the year, and the music is just beautiful.
2. Into the Wild by Eddie Vedder – Soundtrack from the motion picture: Wow my top two were soundtracks. You’d understand if you listened to this album.
3. The Trumpet Child by Over the Rhine: I don’t think I even need to say why, there are simply amazing.
4. Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace – by Foo Fighters: One of my fav. bands around today. I love their purist rock drive, taylor’s straight forward playing and of course Grohl’s creativity.
5. Live at Piedmont Park – Dave Matthews Band: The bands first “green” concert. held in Atlanta, there was no parking available and using public transportation was encouraged. Great music, particularly the duo with Greg Allman on “Mellisa.”
6. Remedy – David Crowder Band: I actually don’t listen to much “Christian” music anymore, however I still love good writing and have a soft place in my heart for DCB. This is a great album and even Ted Nugent appears on it!
7. The Ringing Bell – Derek Webb: A great rocking album from one of the best singer/songwriters in Nashville.
8. Mothership – Led Zeppelin: Obviously, no real “new” music here, but a great list of remastered classics.
9. Continuum – John Mayer: Ok, technically this album was released in 2006, but I don’t think I went a month without listening to this album this year (or the follow up “Village Sessions”). I truly believe that John’s talent often gets missed or dismissed because of his pop status, he is probably the greatest new blues guitarist in his generation.
10. Alright, Still – Lilly Allen: I know this is kind of a shock, but we had a lot of fun listening to this sarcastic, ironical, fun album (clean version for the kids) this past summer. Many a warm trip while crancking up “LDN.” Good times.

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Happy New Year!

I’ve been pretty quiet this past week, on purpose. Last friday, I took my big Greek exam and decided to get to know my wife and kids again for awhile. So, I’ve stayed away from the computer – for the most part – and have been having a great time!

On Saturday, we traveled to Lansing and saw the new “National Treasure” movie with my mom, “auntie reese”and Mel’s parents. Then, we went to Eric and Kerrie’s place for dinner and then to the live nativity at Pennway Church of God. Monday, we went back to Lansing and celebrated Christmas with my mom and siblings. All in all a very good time. We got back home, let the kids open one present and hit the bed.

On Christmas morning, we were woken at 7:45am and proceeded to open presents with the kids. Then, we got ready and headed over to Mel’s parents place to celebrate Christmas over there. We had a great time, until I started hurting from the cold and snow, and we had to leave early.

Wed through today, we’ve been mostly bumming around home. I’ve been in bed a lot because of the snowstorm. I tried to go spend time with my mentor Bruce yesterday, but didn’t get too far before I nearly ended up in the ditch three times! So, back home I traversed.

On a huge note, we’ve been enjoying our new Nintendo Wii a TON!!! Kailey and I had a few tennis matches and a boxing match (which she won)…and we’ve all been getting better at bowling. We also were able to get a new TV thanks to a new website project I made. So, I went to WalMart (I know, I know) and got a 32″ LCD HD tv by Philips. It’s awesome. It’s sold as a 720dpi yet, it picks up the 1080dpi cable signal! (Thanks to Andy for getting the great deal for us through Charter.)

Anyway, that’s all we’ve been up to. Another couple of nice days off coming up, with some friends coming over to the house on New Years Eve (which is a continuing 20some year tradition of ours), which will be fun! We’ll probably head over to Voyage’s Coffee shop in Lowell where our new developing simple church is emerging. They are throwing a benefit/party for the local food bank.

Happy New Year to you all!

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a star in the west

Christmas is almost here. People are bustling with excitement, stress, anticipation and peace (?). We just got back from going to the outdoor nativity performed at Pennway Church of God in Lansing. At one point, there was a mention of the “star in the east” and then the “wise men” came in.

That got me thinking, why is the star named “in the east?” The men who came with gifts (and yes, there were probably more than three, just three gifts) came from the east. That would mean that they followed the star in the western sky right? Maybe I’m wrong, wouldn’t be the first time. It just seems if they CAME from the east and followed an eastern star, they’d end up in China.

But that’s really not the point of the story. It’s all about God showing up on the scene in his relentless pursuit of a wayward Creation. Walter Bruggeman once said that we should re-name the “Old Testament” to “The Story of God’s Wild Pursuit of Mankind.” I like what he’s saying there. No matter how you celebrate this season, I pray that you find yourself pursued by a God that loves deeply, forgives graciously, and is so creative as to send part of himself to earth in the body of an impoverished tradesmen in the early mid-eastern Bethlehem during Roman occupation.

Merry Christmas.

Exam week

So, this is a big week in the Farrand home.

First off, the girls had a snow day today. Not because of the snow directly, but rather because our local gov. system doesn’t have enough money to cover full snow removal.

Secondly, my first big exam hits this week in Greek. (gulp) So, I’ve been buried into my notes and books for the past few days.

Third, Mel is only working till wed. afternoon, so I am hoping to get my school work done by then.


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Led Zeppelin – Reunion last night “Stairway”!!!!!

I don’t even have the words to say.

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So, I awoke eager to greet the day with a smile and pour myself back into my course work. I reach over, and turn on my Macbook. Yet, nothing happens. I have a 15″ white brick for some reason. So, I am sending in my laptop in for repair. I guess I have the world’s worst luck w/ computers.

Luckily, we bought a cheap dell laptop so I can continue in my coursework.

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Artiifically Created Stem Cells Cure Sickle Cell in Mice!!

(article by Jason Mick at DailyTech)

DailyTech has long
covered developments in stem cell research — everything from using the
stem cells in practical medical research to creation printable blood vessels to using the cells in more outlandish experiments such as the human-sheep “chimaera,” which sounds like something straight out of The Island of Dr. Moreau

Most importantly new research allowed for the creation of pseudo-stem-cells from somatic (differentiated) cells,
via an induction process.  The research was first pioneered by Japanese
scientists and later confirmed by American researchers at Whitehead
Medical Center in Massachusetts.  This new non-embryonic technique has
the reluctant blessing of traditional stem cell opponents, including
U.S. President George W. Bush and the Catholic Church.

The cells are dubbed induced Pluripotent Stem cells, iPS cells for
short.  Last month it was shown that the cells could be created as
easily from human skin tissue as mouse skin tissue.  Further, the
research showed that the iPS cells behaved like true stem cells and
could differentiate into the more than 200 types of cells in the human

Now scientists have completed groundbreaking research
which gives an exciting glimpse into the tremendous potential the
synthetic creation of stem cells can hold.  Researchers at Whitehead
have used the artificially created stem cells, created from mouse skin
tissue, to cure mice of sickle cell anemia, a potentially fatal
inherited disease.   The research is published in the journal Science and is titled Treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia Mouse Model with iPS Cells Generated from Autologous Skin.”

The research
sounds so good that many might wonder why the
scientists at Whitehead are not rushing to put the process to work
curing human disease.  The reason for Whitehead’s reluctance is that
they are trying to change aspects of their creation approach in order
to make it human safe.  Researchers currently utilize genetically
modified viruses in the induction process.  The viruses have the
potential to trigger tumor growth in healthy mammalian tissues. 

“The big issue is how to replace these viruses”, commented Rudolf Jaenisch co-leader of the research at Whitehead, in an interview with the Washington Post.

The current treatment method uses multiple rounds of viruses to modify
genetic behavior of the cells.  The first round of gene-modified
viruses induces the cells to behave like stem cells.  Next the
scientists used a gene splicing technique to snip out the undesirable
sickle-cell gene and replace it with a healthy gene.  Finally the
scientists used an additional round of viruses which induced the cell
to develop into a bone marrow cell.

The marrow cells were injected into the mice with sickle-cell and
anchored in the bone marrow and began to release healthy red blood

“All the parameters we can measure are now normal,” Jaenisch enthused. “The mice are cured.”

Hopefully the researchers can modify the technique to avoid tumor
induction as the potential of curing sickle-cell disease would help
save many human lives.  In humans sometimes sickle cell is treated by a
bone marrow transplant, but only 20% of humans have a donor close
enough to them to allow for a safe transplant.  And over 20% of those
who do receive transplants experience failure, often resulting in
death.  However, bone marrow created from a modified version of this
process would be completely safe as the cells are genetically identical
to the donor.

In the mice radiation was used to kill the bone marrow of the mice, but
in humans chemotherapy drugs such as Idarubicin and Cytarabin can be
used to kill the bone marrow in a less caustic manner.  In mice 80
percent of the marrow cells now are the genetically healthy cells and
they have experienced no tumor growth.

George Q. Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children’s Hospital in
Boston, said the test was proof that human clinical applications of iPS
cells were feasible.  He said,  “There will be lots of unanticipated
setbacks before we end up in the
clinic, but this work suggests that we will ultimately get there.”

Jaenisch surprised some by emphasizing that despite his group’s
success, research on embryonic stem cells should be pushed ahead, not

“All the progress in this field was only possible because we had
embryonic stem cells to work with first.  We need to
make more ES cells and really define which are going to be the best
ones for different applications,” he said.

Regardless, for stem cell proponents and opponents alike, this new
research demonstrates a exciting process that may someday hold the cure
for human diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, Parkinson’s Disease and

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