Departing Dallas

We are very grateful for David and Lucy Wang whom we met in 1991. Dave and I served as youth counselors at Dallas Chinese Bible Church and went through the June 8, 1992 DCBC Mineola accident together (cf. Jessie’s post about the accident.) All four of us knew each other before we were dating, when we were engaged, and attended each other’s weddings. It was very memorable to stay in their home this past week and I even re-slept on Lucy’s sofa that I crashed on over a decade ago. Still as cool and comfy as ever!

Since Dj doesn’t wax nostalgic (as Edna Mode says in The Incredibles, “I never look back, darling, it takes away from the NOW!”), I do all the reflecting and “what if’s” around here  What would our lives have been like had we stayed in Dallas since we got married at AABC in 1995? I’m pretty sure Dj would have turned out the same, but I would have stayed in my small circles and root deeply in suburbia. Nothin’ wrong with putting down roots, but part of my soul might have died with gaining the American dream. And there’s plenty of American dream in the country of Texas — mini-mansions for $300,000 or less and all the big box stores to go with it to fill em’ up. Out in a Frisco neighborhood for 5 days, I saw less than a dozen folks walking around the perfectly-manicured streets. Granted these were the weekdays, but the world can be so shut out and the eerie isolation so palpable you can gasp gulpfulls of loneliness. The ills of American suburbia have been widely documented and filmed, but I’m looking forward to reading these titles soon:

Dallas Discoveries

  • The ultimate scrapbooking store: Recollections, 4 locations in the Dallas area. Please, please come to Southern California soon!
  • The Craft Guild of Dallas: has fine letterpress and book binding studio

on the road again

We’ve just left Plano proper, and driving north on I-35 to Oklahoma City for lunch. We stopped by Starbucks this morning for our morning fuel: Rachelle was feeling like something different but reverted to the usual tall almond latte, Jeremiah with a vanilla milk, and DJ with his current drink du jour: iced grande Americano in a venti cup [more room for half & half, less cost, less caffeine, less spillability.]

morning Starbucks run

This morning’s Starbucks run is courtesy of a gift card from Rachelle’s previous workplace. Rachelle is driving this morning so that DJ can be blogging. Yes folks, Rachelle is still the effervescent morning person!

Tonight’s destination: Big Texan in Amarillo. This is the notoriously famous restaurant that serves a 72 oz. steak that they’ll give it to you free if you can eat it all with sides in 1 hour or less. I’m not attempting that (thought I have finished a 50 oz. bone-in steak at Trail Dust in Dallas once). But we will eat there tonight and hopefully snag a photo of the main stage — a platform with a table and clock for those who attempt the 72 oz. steak in an hour challenge.

i have no iPhone, yet

One last family excursion in Dallas before we head out in the morning for Amarillo: after the opening weekend viewing of the Ratatouille movie (great story!) and French dinner at La Madeline (to match the movie and mood) — we trekked over to the nearest AT&T/Cingular store!

store closed

Our attempt to be part of history in the making was met with a “closed” sign. Apparently this store in Allen, Texas, only stayed open to 7:00pm, and our arrival after 8:00pm didn’t qualify. So I will have to wait longer to behold a demo iPhone in my hand, and a bit longer to have one in my pocket.

And why wait in line and deal with poor customer service, anyways, when I could have free shipping and convenient home delivery? Yes, you can buy the iPhone online.

And news like this, below, makes you kinda want to work for Apple:

Apple giving free iPhones to employees

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) — Good news and bad news for Apple’s 18,000 employees: they are all getting free iPhones but they will have to wait a month to get them.

“We’re giving phones to employees at the end of July,” an Apple spokesman said Friday ahead of the launch of the device, which combines a cell phone, a Web browser and a music and video player.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced the gift in a meeting with employees Thursday. Employees will get the high-end model with 8 gigabytes of storage, worth $600.

finding good food

Cabin fever drove us out of the Plano house we’ve been staying at (I worked from the home office Wednesday); and we ventured into the rain for something to eat for dinner that night. We were on a quest for the legendary world-renowned Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse barbeque, and we weren’t able to find it at the Frisco mega-intersection of Preston and 121. It was listed on our GPS, which I forgot to bring with us in our borrowed sedan, but I knew the intersection at which it was listed. We drove around and couldn’t find it. I even stopped twice to ask for directions. Nobody knew where it was (although one guy from Georgia was very excited to learn that Sonny Bryan was founded here in Dallas and will make his way there very soon). I called up Google 411, and the number they connected me at was disconnected.

We quit that quest and went to a local non-franchise Tex-Mex place called Senor Conrad’s. The place seemed not descript, but soon as we walk in, the ambiance impressed us. It wasn’t a mega-restaurant with 500 seats; capacity was probably right around 100. Cozy setting, $5 margaritas, and nice abstract art on the walls. Because of the smaller size, everything was amazingly personable: the food was great, the service was excellent! (we had fajitas and bbq tacos, plus 3 desserts — sopapillas, flan, and churros.) Sorry, no camera to take pictures, so you’ll have to take our word for it. Reasonable prices too — our highest recommendations. Here’s the info:

Senor Conrad’s 2809 Preston Rd. Frisco, TX 75034 Phone 972-334-0937

And here’s one commentary found on a web discussion board:

Went to Senor Conrads on Preston Road /Frisco.The old Tres Meridas location.OMG what a great meal.Had the caso/beef/sour cream appe it was amazing.Hubby had the ribs and I had the sour cream chickan enchiladas.Had the Sapades w/apples dessert.5.00 margarita swirl all day(which was great).Please excuse mispelled words.We met Conrad and he was so nice.Please give it a try.

Thursday I wander around looking for companions for lunch. I dropped in unannounced at my old home church where I was married 12 years ago. I took 3 people there to a nearby Sonny Bryan’s in Richardson, and I experienced it for the first time. Beef brisket sandwich combo, famous onion rings.. warmed bbq sauce (bottles aligned on a hot plate), fixin’s bar .. wait staff came by 3 times to offer hot rolls .. again, no photos. Well, I was slightly underwhelmed, great Texas-style BBQ, but my expectations were over-hyped. Not to stir up Texas bbq wars, my preference leaned more towards Rudy’s in Austin, where they have 3 kinds of beef brisket — regular, moist, and extra moist.

iPhone buzz. wait time. frenzy.

Like millions of others, I’ve been seeing the escalating buzz about the iPhone that goes on sale at 6:00pm this Friday June 29th. At the moment, iPhone is the #3 most popular search on Technorati, #15 on Yahoo, #51 on Google trends (cf. iPhone reviews). I’m of the persuasion that there’s no such thing as bad press, just no press. More conversations and more buzz, especially online and Google-searchable, is (usually) a good thing in our free information age. Lack of information is not so good. The iPhone buzz is not only escalating online, it’s all over the mainstream media too. Looks like a big win for Apple!

2 things tipped it for me towards getting an iPhone as soon as possible: an upgradeable phone software and the longer battery life. I checked with my Apple insiders, hoping to get that 15% friend/family discount and the word on the street is NO discounts on iPhone. And being the webby kind of guy, some of you may well think that an iPhone is the kind of phone I should have as an early adopter and talking it up. With the built-in camera on the iPhone and upgradeable software, the iPhone could potentially capture and stream live video during the rest of my cross country move. But alas, the lines are already mounting everywhere.

More than 2 guys are already camping out for the iPhone at the Apple Store in New York City: Greg Parker is 1st and David Clayman is 3rd. The 1st guy is playing it as an average person who wants an iPhone; the 3rd guy is using his stint to raise awareness for his charity of choice. The 2nd guy apparently wants to stay anonymous(?). Watch this video interview to see them online.

I’m working here in Dallas, so no time to camp out for the iPhone. Plus it’s been raining like crazy this week. So the conclusion is: I won’t be getting an iPhone this Friday when it is first available. I might possibly get one when I land in California, or when the rumored version 2.0 comes in January 2008. [nb: for more details on iPhone frenzy + insider notes + rumors, see NYT’s Bits blog and the Apple Phone Show blog.]

And, here’s an artistic take on the iPhone from Valerie – the painting in this video sold on eBay for $710:

More Collages. Ate sushi.

Here’s my Saturday collage from Memphis and Sunday’s collage based on the Mosaic Church in Little Rock logo. These are pretty straightforward collages designed mostly in the car.

Collage 6 Memphis

Collage 7 Mosaic

We’re taking a break until Saturday while we stay parked in Dallas.

[update] Last night, we had a sushi fest with our hosts — yes, homemade sushi rolled by DJ and Rachelle. One of those side benefits of hosting strangers/friends at your home, as long as those strangers know how to roll sushi. 🙂 Finger food and food art all rolled in one! Delicious! See all 4 sushi eating photos.

sushi fest

first Desi radio station in the USA

During my morning commute into the office, I’m channel-surfing the FM dial, and came across a distinctly sounding radio station at 104.9 FM — playing Bollywood style music and morning call-in trivia questions that related to American Indian subculture. It’s called Radio Salaam Namaste. They’ve been broadcasting since March 2006 and they’re streaming the radio station online via web too; so whether you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex or on the Internet, listen in to this future sound of the global village!

working and playing in Dallas

We arrived into Dallas just before 9:00pm last night, and are staying with dear old friends (Dave and Lucy) in Plano/McKinney for the week. For a late night dinner, we picked up some food from the Wendy’s drive-thru, which included my first Frosty Float and a shot at winning a Wii. What a great drink concoction those floats are: ice cream and soda both at the same time!

So here’s the deal, we’ll be here in the Dallas area until Saturday morning — if anyone want to meetup, would love to see you! DJ will be working here, Rachelle and Jeremiah will be playing here. I’m having a Jalapano bagel with Onion cream cheese – that’s all my hosts had. What a way to wake up!

[update] after much persuasion and arm-twisting, our host Dave started blogging tonight! Welcome to the blog world, Dave!

pastors and families lunching in Little Rock

Traffic delay on I-40 West kept us from getting to the church on time in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, we only caught the tail end of the worship service at Mosaic Church, enough to sense the energetic vibe of the shopping mall space that used to be a Wal-Mart. During the worship hour in our Xterra, we listened to Gospel music en route and got engrossed by an impassioned Pentecostal preacher talking about having the faith to believe God for moving mountains.

I spotted a worship attender with a video camera scoping the scene, a probable sign of someone doing church reconnaissance. So I struck up a conversation and turns out they (Jay & Mickey Robison) were visiting from Lexington, Kentucky, taking field trips all over to learn more about multiethnic churches. We did lunch together with the Mosaic pastor Mark DeYmaz and our respective families. We ate at a local Mexican place– Senor Tequila— great food and great prices. While the pastors talked shop with DJ, the women talked about more sociable things, and the children sat at a separate table and ate & played away. The Robisons had a son named Jeremy, and an instant bond combusted with our own Jeremiah, social gaming with their respective Nintendo DS. The girls got a spontaneous art class when Rachelle pulled our her collage kit to share.

lunching pastors and families

Mark DeYmaz has a new book coming out in October, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation, published via Leadership Network (for which I work) and Jossey-Bass. Linda DeYmaz (Mark’s wife) is an author in her own right, with her best-selling book, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry, which competed head-to-head for an award right up against one of Rick Warren’s titles. Invigorating conversations since we all have a big heart for multiethnic churches. And, yes, we talked about blogging, for which I highly recommended The Blogging Church as a quick read and primer.

Oh, and Jay, we’ve racked up over 1,750 miles on our cross-country drive so far at the time of this writing.

[update 8/10] Mark DeYmaz is now blogging over at