News for December 2007

Holy-ouge Family Christmas

Like most folks I know, and probably a few I don’t, I really enjoy The Office. Jodi and I missed the third season, and so every now and then we pick up another disc from The Blockbuster. Jodi’s pointed out that my life has been mirroring a bit of Season Three Disc Three era Michael Scott. First with my boots that were manufactured by a women’s boot manufacturer, and secondly as the only adult male in the Christmas program at our church. It feels kind of like Michael going to magic camp. Some people think Christmas programs are only for kids, which is probably why there were so many kids in it. Self fulfilling prophecy.


How did I become the sole adult male in the program? I blame Elsa.


Lydia, with the rest of the little girls in Sunday School, was an angel. Elsa, in her attempt to one up her big sister, took the role of the Savior of the Nations, The Messiah, Emmanuel, or as Mary sang towards the end of her third trimester, Long Expected Jesus. So Elsa is Jesus, which makes Jodi Mary, and yours truly either the Holy Spirit or Joseph. Survey says… Joseph. For one morning, and one morning only, we were the Holy family.


The program was great. Simple and to the point €“ a total non-stresser which is in my book a formula for success. In fact it was so simple we didn’t make it to any of the rehearsals and we were still able to figure out our part. It didn’t hurt being familiar with the story.


Costumes. Lydia got a cool white and gold get up €“ she was a little bummed there were no wings, but all in all looked every bit the part of the heavenly host. Jodi had a blue cape thing that she put on to make her look like Mary. Or super church goer. Elsa didn’t really have a costume, but Jodi had put her in a bright pink dress, so obviously she was Jesus. And I got a kind of small for me striped pull it over the head robe and a piece of cloth and rope to tie around my head. It didn’t really cover my blue plaid western shirt, and probably my brown engineer boots weren’t typical turn of the millennium footwear, but other than that I looked a lot like the 4th grade shepherds and wise men. Except three times their weight and twice their height.


The program was in lieu of the sermon so after the gospel reading up we went, Myself, Mary, and 20 kids barely tall enough to make it into the Ikea ball pit. The only prop was a wooden manger filled with hay that Mary stood behind and I stood wedged between that and the pulpit. A couple of the 4 year old cows really took a liking to the hay so about 2 minutes into the program I had to move baby Jesus’ bed. Then it was time for everyone to sit down. And everybody did. Including one of the angels who sat right in my spot next to Mary. So I remained standing. As if I didn’t stand out enough already.


Then we were up again. Then we were down again. This time I slipped into a spot next to the aforementioned cows. Still not exactly blending in, but a step in the right direction. Though they could no longer reach the manger, they had pilfered enough hay early on to keep them busy for the entire 20 minutes. In fact, while reaching for some of this hay the cow next to me took a nose dive down the four steps leading up to the altar. And who saved him? Not the lady with the cape. Joseph. At this point I decided I was no longer the remedial adult who wiggled his way into the children’s Christmas program, but rather my role had switched to being an embedded peace keeper. An embedded peace keeper that also helped the kids sing a little louder.


And so the program continued, Mary held pink-girl Jesus, Angel Lydia hung out with the angels, and I sat with the cows and kept them from throwing hay in the air. Later during the passing of the peace I got about 12 heartfelt congratulations from folks on a job well done. To which I replied, €œThanks, it took 30 years but I finally got the part.€


On the way home Lydia’s comment on the whole thing was, €œThat’s not how I thought it would be. I thought you’d lay Elsa in the hay and I’d stand behind you and say, ‘glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.’€


Maybe next year kid.





Posted: December 29th, 2007
Categories: family
Comments: No Comments.

on the information minimum maintenance road again.

In the last 4 months since moving back to St. Paul I’ve averaged less than 2 hours a week online.  Tonight we’re staying at a hotel with wi-fi and it’s the first chance I’ve had to do anything like update my flickr site or do any little stuff to this site like add my cousin Cyndee to the blogroll – something I’ve been meaning to do for about a year.  Micah recently updated my version of wordpress and gave things a facelift and for this we can all be thankful.  And now as I lay in a phat king size bed (seriously – the bed is the size of our entire bedroom at home) I’m thinking about how technology is ever so nice and how utterly time sucking and annoying it remains. 

Ever so nice – I get to read blogs, see pictures of tall bikes, learn how to speed up open office, get booking info for tours that never happen, and send e-mail to my brother in China and my parents in Kenya.

Utterly time sucking and annoying – There’s alway more to do.  For example I could’ve taken the time to put a link with each of the above examples.  It wouldn’t have taken me long to do it, but then you’d be off day dreaming about tall bikes, or wondering how it is my brother blogs in Chinese, or maybe even what it’d be like to book me. (I can answer that one – it’s expensive and emotionally draining – but deeply rewarding all the same).  Even my lame blathering about technology is evidence of it’s suckyness.  And proof of my annoyance.

You know what else is annoying?  Apparently my Sportos are.  12 years ago when I moved to MN I bought a pair of winter boots.  Having lived in CA and West Africa most of my life with brief stints in MO and NE and even briefer stints in OK, TX, and OH, I had never owned winter boots before and I thought they were kind of geeky.  In the last 5+ years I’ve put function over fashion in most areas of my life, including footwear.  And now, after nearly 8 years of wedded bliss my bride has decided it’s time to reveal her true feelings concerning my cold weather friends.  How bad is it?  She won’t even let me wear them to church anymore.  And I quote, “Nate, wearing your sporto’s to Christmas Eve Service is tacky.”  Though I appreciate her referring to them by their full name, ‘sporto’s’ I’m appalled that she finds them tacky and unfit for a service ending in candle light, lighting in which no one will be able to identify my feet in the first place.  And anyways, shouldn’t we all be focusing on a certain baby in a manger, not our neighbor’s footwear?  I was about to go to the trouble of linking to Sporto’s homepage to prove to my billions of readers out there how legitimately cool my dear sportsters are but alas, in the last 12 years apparently Sporto has switched over to only making women’s boots.

That’s even more annoying than technology.  Although, if I didn’t spend the time googling the brand of my boots I would’ve avoided all this.  Instead I took you down with me!  Sucka!  Merry Christmas all the same.  If you’re lucky (and a girl) maybe Santa will bring you some Sporto’s.

Posted: December 23rd, 2007
Categories: technology, travel
Comments: No Comments.

updating genius

thanks to micah taylor for updating this site’s look and for years of techno-wizardry.  tw is the new it.

Posted: December 23rd, 2007
Categories: friendship, technology
Comments: No Comments.

do less live more

Nate Houge gives you permission to blow something off.  Work, Class, or Exercise.  Whatever you want.  You have my permission.   You’re welcome.  Merry Christmas.  See you in 2008.

Posted: December 20th, 2007
Categories: fact
Comments: No Comments.

no tree? no prob.

If you don’t have a christmas tree by now you have 3 options.

– don’t get one

-buy one from a lot.  merry christmas charlie brown.

-make one.

Sure you could make up more options, but it’s christmas who’s got time for that?

Our family has usually gone with option two.  In a somewhat intentional way we’ve tried to put off Christmas till after Advent, you know when Christmas comes.  The years we’ve got an early start on Christmas and put up decorations and all that during early December we’re really sick of them by the time Christmas comes.  In fact last year while living in ottertail county we got carried away and cut down a tree (legally) barely got it on top of the car (it was huge) and had to cut parts of it off to fit it into the house.  It was a bit over the top.  We spent Christmas Day taking down all our decorations.  Partly because we were sick of them and the tree was taking up a ton of room, and partly because when we’re both home for the day we usually start getting rid of stuff.

Anyways, unlike her parents our eldest and wisest loves glamour and glitz.  She’s got more glitter that Mariah Carey.  So one day a few short weeks ago I conceded it was time to put up a tree.  But I didn’t want to spend any money.  (not unusual) Nor did I care to clean up pine needles.  So we made our own.  I was going to make an step by step instructable, but I forgot to take any pictures till it was done.  So here’s what we started with:


2 tomato cages, some wierd grid of wire i found in the garage, zip ties.

the wire became the trunk, the tomato cages were stacked together and zipped, then covored with ornamentation. 


in reality it looks a lot more vertical.

voila, no mess, no money spent, small footprint, plenty of places to hang crap, and in 5 days I can throw it back in the garage!  what more could you ask for?

Merry Christmas one and all.

Posted: December 20th, 2007
Categories: diy, family
Comments: No Comments.

Wild and Goosey

The week of musical fulfillment continues.

Saturday night’s Bobby Wildgoose show was great!!! And for all of you seeking a formula for success, here ya go: Surround yourself with people better than you. It’s been my model for living – if you don’t believe me you haven’t met my wife. And it’s also been my model for making music €“ see Jason, Micah, and Justin for further evidence. And it was the key to the Wildgoose show. The Ragged Regiment included vocalists far more talented than myself (Matt Maas, Joel & Aimee Pakaan, Chris Ohland, Grant Applehans, and Carol Seilhymer) and a band that surpassed me musically (Micah Taylor, Michael May, Erik Ritland, Jonathan Rundman, Bill Singsaas, and Steve Seilhymer) All I had to do was hand them the songs and we were off. In theory we were going to practice beforehand, but in practice there was no beforehand. The sound guy (Nick) was running late and that worried me a bit because generally sound men aren’t excited when there are 13 folks up on stage. Especially when you’re a club that generally has 4 piece heavy rock and roll outfits. But as it turned out Nick was great! In fact he’s the best soundman I’ve ever worked with in a club setting. Generally speaking when there’s 12 people on stage, the monitor mix is set and the soundman is working on the front of house mix, you don’t want to be the one saying, €œHey Nick, our accordian player just joined us, can we through up another mic?€ But I think Nick was genuinely excited about setting up that next mic. So thank you Nick. The other cool thing took place when I went up to inquire about drink tickets for the band. Generally speaking bars want to make money off of you. When you have 13 people in the band it’s only natural to be a bit apprehensive about asking for drink tickets. So I asked Steve behind the bar in a sort of timid fashion how many drink tickets I could get for the group, expecting him to say something like €œHere’s a beer and 13 straws€ But instead he said, €œAll bands get 2 tickets per member, the guy playing the washboard is just as important as the guy playing drums!€ That’s the spirit Steve! I tipped the guy more than I’ve ever tipped a bartender before in my life.

Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to the set yet…

I handed out music folders to everyone with little notes concerning intros and stops and stuff. We had a quick and effective sound check and we started playing. Highlights for me included 12 days of Christmas with parts assigned to various audience members, leading the place in a round of €œChristmas is Coming€ and Jingle Bell Karaoke. It was a blast. For the final €œGo tell it on the mountain€ I invited the other bands on stage and handed my guitar off to the real Martin Marty so that he could do that thing I can’t. Solo. It was great I did my chicken dance all over stage. We got everybody soloing. Party.

But wait there’s more. (For all of you who appreciate the brevity of my blogs I apologize)

the next band up was floating bridge featuring my buddy Erik Ritland. I’ve seen Erik play for seven years now since he was in the youth group at Lutheran Church of Peace and harmonica player Steve Seilhymer was his Confirmation mentor. All I can say is that this performance single handedly blew every other performance out of the water. I’ve always enjoyed Erik’s charisma and rock and roll attitude on stage but now here he was with a tight band invoking a sort of Mike Watt/early Uncle Tupelo punk rock ethic as he took on Bowie, the Stones, and all his original material. Honestly, the guy’s always been great, but this night he was freaking awesome! Way to go Floating Bridge!!!

Order now and you also get…

To top it all off I’ve just finished putting together the bootleg I recorded of Bill Mallonee and Jonathan Rundman. It’s really weird editing Bill’s songs and putting them on a CD. He’s such a hero of mine. Does life get any better?


Posted: December 17th, 2007
Categories: friendship, music
Comments: No Comments.

Yonder shines Bill and Muriah

I can’t really blog about the Bill Mallonee concert the other night because I’ll come off as either a psycho fan or a sentimental 14 year old girl. 

But I can say thank you to Bill, Muriah, and Jonathan, Kerns, and Troy for great music, musicianship, and songs.  Sometimes songs (and concerts) hit at just the right time and they perform a little redemptive work that lets you work with your life from a new angle.  I think great music doesn’t just get you through, but it acknowledges what you’re in.  And from that place allows you to see the light.  Jonathan did this with his advent/christmas set which included my favorite ‘this old town tonight’ and bill did it with songs like ‘bank’ and ‘tobacco sunburst.’ so thanks.  And yes, I am 14.

Posted: December 13th, 2007
Categories: music
Comments: No Comments.

Two Great Shows You'd be Remiss to Miss

Hey!  You should go to one or both of the following shows.  I’ve been a Bill Mallonee fan for quite awhile.  I’m the kind of fan that has 3 different versions of Audible Sigh (including the Pioneer pre-release).   He’s one of the most prolific songwriters out there – very autobiographical – very gutsy – very heart on your sleeve kind of guy.  Seeing him play for 10 bucks in the intimate setting of Edina Lutheran is probably the best thing you’ll do this advent season.

The second best thing is to come see Bobby Wildgoose and the Ragged Regiment play at Station 4.  It’ll be a 4 or 5 piece band and a 4-8 person choir.  We’re (I’m in the band.  As Bobby.) going to lead a big old christmas sing along at station 4 and then we’ll get to hear Erik Ritland’s band.  Erik has been making music for as long as I’ve known him and he always puts on a great show!  

So come to these shows and be a better person, not because of what you’ve done, but because of what we’ve done for you.  And what is that?  Kept Rock and Roll alive for another day.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and if you want to be in the Ragged Regiment Choir let me know. 

Tuesday, December 11th, 7PM, $10, all ages welcome
Bill Mallonee Christmas Concert, w/ Jonathan Rundman opening
Edina Community Lutheran Church
4113 West 54th St
Edina, MN 55424
More details below in the press release. Saturday, December 15th, 8PM or later, 21 and over
Bobby Wildgoose and the Ragged Regiment (featuring Nate Houge, Jonathan Rundman, Micah Taylor, Rachel Kurtz and more and more and more)

Station 4
St. Paul, MN

Posted: December 4th, 2007
Categories: music
Comments: No Comments.

vista sucketh

why did it take so long to update el blago?  By the grace of Jason and Micah I have successfully uninstalled vista and replaced it with xp.  And now that the switch has been made I couldn’t be happier.  Vista stinks! xp smells like roses!  and not the ones you buy in a gas station, the pricey ones you get at a real florist.  Or from a guy that interupts your sidewalk dining and tells you to buy one for the lady you’re with.  those are probably just gas station rejects, but in the context of eating outside and smelling bus exhaust and all the smokers taking refuge from mn law, they smell really good.

Posted: December 4th, 2007
Categories: technology
Comments: No Comments.

let's get physical

Nate gets a physical.  Before and After.

Tomorrow (Monday) morning I’ll be going in to my new doctor and getting a physical.  I’m not sure what his name is because he’s new and we’re not yet on a name basis.  What happened to my old doctor?  I’ll field that question.  I didn’t have one.  In fact I’ve never had €œA€ doctor.  I’ve never called ‘my’ doctor.  In 11th grade I broke my leg in three places and was seen by a doctor (who subsequently discovered I had double pneumonia and thought it best I stick around for a few days).  My leg’s and lungs have healed since.   In 1997 I had a physical in Nebraska and got a bunch of shots to fly to West Africa.  And then in the last 3 years I’ve gone in to random, but very helpful, doctors on two separate occasions for throat problems.  The first doctor gave me nasenex (which my wife called natonex) and when that night I saw a commercial for the stuff and after the weird voice at the end went through all the side effects I threw it in the trash.  The second doctor tried to give me a strep test and I kept gagging and accidentally slapped her hand away from my mouth on her third attempt.  I apologized.
That’s my medical history.
Why the physical now?  Oh I don’t know, my wifes been asking me to do it for 8 years, I’m out of shape, I turned 30, my wife made the appointment for me… all good reasons I guess.
Last Wednesday when Jodi told me about the appointment my first reaction was, €œI gotta get fit quick!€  My second reaction, €œBut wait!  That’s impossible!€ My third reaction was to sit down and eat some cookies while I came up with a better plan.  And a better plan I did come up with:  Get in worse shape.  It sounds stupid but think about it.  If you’re going into a physical and you know you’re out of shape than you can safely assume there’ll be another physical to see what kind of improvements you’ve made.  Starting to see the genius?  The worse I look at this physical the more room for improvements there are for the next physical.  Brilliant.  Have I stuck to my plan? Heck yeah.  On Wednesday I had bacon and eggs and bacon and bacon for lunch.  Wednesday night Micah and I played a fun show with Rachel Kurtz and ended up at Wendy’s where we were pleased to discover the Baconator.  The name says it all.  On Thursday I put some left over bacon on my sandwich.  On Friday something healthy may have slipped in, but that night Jason and I went to Taco Bell on the way to a retreat we were leading music at and on the way home we discovered McDonald’s was selling Eggnog shakes so we bought some.  They asked if we wanted fries with them and it seemed like a wonderful idea.  It was.  More crap food on Saturday, another Eggnog shake, today there was frozen pizza and hot dogs… And at 8:59pm I ate one last piece of leftover pizza.  And now I’m not supposed to eat anything till 9:30am tomorrow.  Which is probably good ’cause I feel pretty sick.  In this case it’s safe to refer to it as the sweet sick of success.

Totally uneventful.  I’m not obese.  I don’t have high blood pressure.  They did blood tests so maybe when the results I’ll at least have high cholesterol.  All that bacon for nothing?  I don’t think so.

Posted: December 4th, 2007
Categories: health
Comments: No Comments.

Like Nate on Facebook

Purchase Reform Follows Function on iTunes