Christianity at In-N-Out

I have long suspected that In-N-Out had ties to Christianity. I was just never sure exactly how. Recognizing that they’re not a public company I had been told they were owned by Christians, but never had really good evidence.

Here’s my proof: In-N-Out Burger: Professionalizing Fast Food, an article in BusinessWeek.

(I’ll be frank in saying that the video that accompanys the article on that webpage isn’t the best video I’ve ever seen.  Nick Leiber, the Small Business Editor who conducts the interview, has some serious blinking going on, and he stumbles through a number of the questions. It’s nothing personal, he’s just not very compelling on screen. Stacy Perman, the author of the article comes off as very matter-of-fact, but again, she lacks warmth and friendliness needed to be on camera.)

Video aside, the article unequivocally states that Rich Snyder, former In-N-Out Burger President (and son of founders Harry and Esther Snyder), is in fact a Christian:

There was another difference between father and son: Rich was a born-again Christian. In the 1980s he began printing biblical references on cups and burger wrappers, and then he went further, commissioning a Christmastime radio commercial that asked listeners to let Jesus into their lives, alongside In-N-Out’s jingle. Many stations refused to run the ads, and Californians showered the company with complaints. Rich essentially shrugged off the reaction. The Bible chapter-and-verse references remain to this day, and radio ads commingled with evangelism still crop up. (Emphasis mine.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Snyder died in 1993 in a plane crash. Hopefully, his legacy will live on in his niece (and granddaughter of  Harry and Esther Snyder), Lynsi Martinez (née Snyder). It sounds like there has been a bit of controversy and legal proceedings since the death of Mr. Snyder, so hopefully, that doesn’t overshadow his legacy and the influence he had on the culture.

Well, there you have it folks, yet another reason to love In-N-Out besides the top-notch quality. We’ve got yet another example of someone who was willing to stand for their faith in the face of adversity.

Learning C#: Chess Part 1

Visual Studio and Chess

In my spare time, I’ve decided to relearn C#, and for your reading pleasure, I’m going to blog about it along the way. I’m really rusty, and I haven’t used C# seriously and consistently in years. I learned it a few years ago, like back in the era of Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Visual Studio 2005, aka, the era of .NET 2.0.  Those are pretty “ancient” technologies; now we’re up to Visual Studio 2008, and .NET 3.5. Visual Studio 2010 has no official release date, but it should be out soon, and .NET 4.0 was announced in September 2008.

In any case, I’m also resurrecting an old love of mine: playing chess. When I was in junior high, and even into high school somewhat, I loved playing chess.

So how am I combining these seemingly different amusements? Well, I’m going to attempt to use C# to write my own chess game. Frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing, and it will certainly be a journey of trial and error.

My first thought was to create an abstract class called Piece, which could be inherited by all of the pieces: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, king, queen.

public abstract class Piece
        string name;
        public const int BLACK = 0;
        public const int WHITE = 1;
        int side;

        abstract public void Move(int rows, int columns);

My second thought was to create a class called Board that encapsulates an 8×8 matrix/array that will hold the pieces, just like a real chess board.

public class Board
        Piece[,] BoardArray;
        public Board()
            BoardArray = new Piece[8, 8];

We’ll see how things work out, and I’ll keep you posted as things progress. I’ve already run across an issue in the first day. I originally wrote the Piece class to contain the location of the particular piece. Every piece inherited that field, and was going to “keep track” of where they were on the board. But then I decided that it would be better for the board to keep track of the piece, so I had to strip out all of the position information from my Piece classes. Oh well. That’s trial and error programming for you.

If you’ve got any thoughts or hints, feel free to leave them in the comments. Otherwise, my primary reference sources will be Safari Books, the MSDN, and everyone’s favorite search engine.

Miss California at The Rock church

In a previous post, I wrote about Miss California, Carrie Prejean, and how she stood firm in her beliefs and likely cost herself the title and crown of Miss USA.

On Sunday, Miss Prejean was back at her home church at The Rock in San Diego sharing the stage with Senior Pastor Miles McPherson.  They streamed the service live on their website. (Sorry if you missed it. I’m hopeful they’ll post it to their Messages page in the next couple of weeks.)

It was great to hear more of Miss Prejean’s story. It was especially interesting to hear about all of the behind-the-scenes back story of the past week. I love the fact that even after giving her answer at the contest, it’s still her “final answer.” Many a talk host has asked her if she’d take it back.  Matt Lauer of the Today Show asked if she had a “do over” would she word her answer differently, and she said “No.” She told him “It’s not about being politically correct.  It’s about being biblically correct.” Way to go!

Apparently, she and Pastor Miles were in New York at the same time and being something of a celebrity himself, he was able to coach her through the experience. He joked around that he has essentially become all things to her: a bodyguard, manager, publicist, secretary, pastor, father-figure, etc. Praise God how He so sovereignly and divinely arranged for those two to be in the same place at the same time.

I was a bit nervous watching the broadcast when I saw the “talk show host” setup with two chairs and a table in the middle.  I figured I was gonna end up watching a “show” no different from Oprah or the Today Show.  There was a bit of Q&A interviewing and testimony about her story.  But Pastor Miles did a great job of showing her story in light of the Bible.

He drew out the point that Miss Prejean’s story is very akin to the story of Esther:

  • Esther was a contestant in a beauty pageant.
  • She won and became queen.
  • She came to a crossroads where she had to choose whether to do the right thing and risk losing her life, or the wrong thing and risk the lives of her people.
  • She chose the right thing; God blessed her for it, and her people were spared.

Quite an interesting analogy that I hadn’t even considered until he brought it up. Pastor Miles brought up 5 points that we need to consider when faced with such situations.

We need to:

  1. Stare down courage.
  2. Trust in the truth, not the lie.
  3. Accept God’s Sovereign provision.
  4. Never fear man over God.
  5. Die to self.

Thank you Pastor Miles for not allowing your church to become the stage for a new era of “talk show-based sermons.”  And thank you Miss Prejean for standing by your beliefs, for honoring your God, and for being an example to us all. May God bless you in your future endeavors as you seek to use your God-given fame for Him and His Kingdom.

2 Months!?!

Hard to believe, but as of today Charlene and I have been married for 2 months.

We’ll be going out to the site of our first date: Cheesecake Factory for dinner.

I love you, Charlene.  Here’s to many more months and years to come.

Funny conversation of the day:

“Char, how did you cook those sausages the other day?”

“Oh, I threw them in a frying pan with a little water.  I sorta water-fried them.”

“Water fried them?  That must be a new cooking method I’ve never heard of.”


So went my conversation with Charlene this afternoon as I was contemplating how to cook some sausages. I’m pretty sure that “water frying” is not taught at the CIA or Le Cordon Bleu so my wife must have stumbled on a completely new method of cooking food.

I guess I’ll go try it…

Career No. 2

BusinessWeek had a great article a few weeks ago about people, generally in late in their careers, making a pretty radical career shift.

I love how Hall Kirkham found himself serving the Lord after years as a consultant. It sounds like they’re primarily living off his wife’s income, but they’re making it work.

My favorite vignette in the article is about Scott Kariya. After retirement,

…he quickly became bored. So last year he hooked up with ReServe, a nonprofit in New York that helps place retired professionals with community organizations. He works three days a week for about $30,000 a year. The rest of his time is spent volunteering at the local Red Cross, visiting family in Washington, D.C., managing his portfolio, and doing whatever he wants. An added benefit of his new life: “If I were still an IT recruiter, I would be dead in this recession,” he says.

Oh, to work three days a week, and “do whatever I want.”  I can’t wait.

Hurray Miss California

Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and publisher of BreakPoint Commentaries wrote an interesting article about Miss California, Carrie Prejean.

Miss Prejean is an outspoken Christian who chose to stand by her beliefs during last Sunday’s Miss USA competition rather than capitulate to what the judges would have liked her to say.  As part of the final round, contest judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip-blogger asked Miss Prejean this divisive question:

Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?

Without batting an eye or giving a “politically correct” response, Miss Prejean responded that she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.  She even clarified that it was not her intent to offend: “No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be — between a man and a woman.”

The remark likely cost her the crown and title of Miss USA, but I’m sure a bigger crown awaits her in Heaven.

Way to go Miss California! May we all have the courage to stand for our beliefs the way you did.

They’re not rich???

Yahoo! Finance had this article that left me rather incredulous and with a bitter taste in my mouth: Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise

The article tackles the “plight” of those who earn $250,000 per year or more. They’re feeling slighted because President Obama’s proposed tax changes will likely have the biggest effect on them.

Frankly, I feel like the Parnells, around whom the story revolves, are really just a bunch of whiners. They make $260,000 per year.  According to US Census data for 2006, households that earn $250,000 or more are in the top 1.93% of the population. That is to say, of the approximately 116 million households in the US, comprising about 306 million people, they make more than 98.07% (113.8 million) of them.  And they’re not rich?

Consider this: the mean household income for 2006 was $66,570.  The median household income for 2007 wasn’t far off from that: $50,740. Let’s look at this graphically:


What you’re looking at is a graph of the distribution of annual household incomes for 2006. (Again, this data is from the US Census Bureau.) You can clearly see that people making more than $250,000/year are way out on the left side of the graph highlighted in red. The mode is clearly distinct at the $100,000 to $149,999 range. The mean is close to the center and just a bit to the right.

So the Parnell’s income bracket is highlighted in red, and they’re making more than five times the median household income from 2007–nearly four times the average for 2006.  And they’re not rich? Absurd!

Here’s a few choice morsels about their standard of living:

  • They earn $260,000 per year.
  • They have three kids.
  • He drives an Infiniti (it’s more than 10 years old).
  • They vacation in Sandestin, FL every year at a family house there.
  • They live in a 2,500 square foot house.
  • They have medical insurance.
  • They are able to make monthly contributions to their 401(k)
  • They “tithe” $1,300 per month–that’s not a tithe. A tithe is ten percent, they’re giving closer to five percent, but I’ll let God take that up with them.
  • They bought a piece of land (the article doesn’t specify why); when combined with the mortgage on their house they pay $4,000/month.
  • They’ve financed their cars.
  • They’re insured (the article doesn’t specify, but I’d guess it includes the medical–mentioned above–dental, car, and home insurance.)
  • They have a college fund for their kids.
  • After all those expenses, they’re still left with $1,200 each month. I’d call that “fun money.”

That’s just one example from the article.  I’d hate to know the “dire straits” of James Duran, owner of an HR company in Silicon Valley and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Congress in California. He “only” makes $400,000 per year, and in his own words, “I’m barely getting by.”

Are we’re supposed to feel sorry for them because they’re “not rich”? How infuriating!

Ms. Parnell states: “Our needs are being met, but we don’t have a load of cash to cover wants…I can pay my mortgage and I can buy some clothes. I’m not going without, but I’m not living a life of luxury.” Since when was an Infiniti not a luxury? For that matter, since when was owning an Infiniti a “need”? How about taking an annual vacation in Florida, or the ability to contribute to a 401(k), or having $1,200 leftover each month after all the “needs-based” expenses have been taken care of?  Their cash flow isn’t covering their “wants”?  It seems to me they’ve got an awful lot of “wants” covered by that $260k. And don’t even get me started on their house.

I don’t know when they bought their current house, but according to this article on ABC, 5 years ago the average house size was 2,349 square feet.  Thirty years prior to that, it was 1,695 square feet. So thirty five years ago, families lived in houses 67% as big as theirs, and they’re not satisfied? How insipid!

I’m not going to bother with a point by point rebuttal of just how rich they are; the statistics speak for themselves. But I think they could take a lesson from the pages of a particular Pauline letter. In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul encourages the church by stating, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul learned to be content whatever the circumstances. There were times when he had plenty–plenty to eat, plenty to drink, plenty to spend–but there were also times of need–times where he was hungry and tired, shipwrecked and beaten. Yet, in spite of it all, he continued to remain content–even joyful–throughout his experiences.  And what was his “secret”? It’s right in the next verse: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” He learned to rely on God. Paul knew he, in and of himself, was inadequate. But he knew that God would give him strength, and with God as his source, how could he not remain content?

In Matthew 22:21 Jesus clearly admonishes his followers (and the Pharisee’s who were trying to trick him) to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” So we inescapably need to pay taxes whether we like it or not. It’s not fun and it’s not easy, but we need to do it. With that in mind, the Parnells need to quit their whining, take a biblical perspective, and remain content whatever the circumstances. They may have expressed it in the interview and it never got recorded, but absent that, there’s a surprising dearth of thankfulness in their tone. The very least they could do is be thankful for what they already have.

Who’s Rich?

I’m working on a post in response to reading this article on Yahoo! Finance: Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise. Needless to say, that article left me quite infurious.

I’ll post my rebuttal as soon as I’m done with it, but it’s taking some serious digging for statistics and facts.  I won’t make any promises, but it is shaping up to be my longest post, and my strongest diatribe ever.

It goes without saying that I’m quite thankful for the availablility of the plethora of government statistics collected by the Census Bureau.

Redux: Attempting Brian’s Taco Seasoning

A few days ago I wrote about trying to make my own taco seasoning. I’d have to say it was a success.  I still think it needs a bit of refinement, but here’s the basic ingredients list (in alphabetical order):

  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • White Pepper

I’ll keep working on it and see where it gets me. It was quite tasty, though, and quite similar to the McCormick’s taco seasoning if I do say so myself.