Friday, February 25, 2005


I've been called "intolerant" before. The pervading and almost ubiquitous thought on tolerance and modernity has vastly erased classical understandings of tolerance. That is to say, I've claimed that others are wrong, and I'm right. I've been involved in a discussion regarding postmodernism, and so far I continue to find it difficult to cast classical tolerance. I find it interesting that the community-generated English Wikipedia has entries for tolerance from a straight postmodern point-of-view.

Tolerance, now, is someone the notion that nobody can be told that they are wrong, and to tell someone they are wrong is to oppress them or to persecute them. *sigh*

Classical tolerance involves three elements:

  1. permitting or allowing

  2. a conduct or point of view one disagrees with

  3. while respecting the person in the process.

Notice that we can’t truly tolerate someone unless we disagree with him or her. This is critical. We don’t “tolerate” people who share our views. They’re on our side. There’s nothing with which we need to put up. Tolerance is reserved for those we think are wrong, yet we still choose to treat decently and with respect.

This essential element of classical tolerance — disagreement — has been completely lost in the modern distortion of the concept. Nowadays if you think someone is wrong, you’re called intolerant no matter how you treat the person.

That pretty much sums up my experience. Oddly, when being confronted for my "intolerance" I am actually suffering from intolerance myself.

It is rare that I can find a person who will accept that I think they are wrong and to be able to discuss the merits and faults of each other's viewpoints. It would be a pleasant change to freely exchange ideas with someone, disagreeing, and still go home with respect for each other. More often than not, discussions break down into diatribes and emotional outbursts, and I hear (too often), "how can you possibly believe that?!?!" But, such is the "tolerant" society I live in.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It would have changed the world

I had a dream this morning, and I asked God about a question that had been bothering me. He explained it to me, and I thought to myself, "Wow! I have got to write that down!"

I can't remember what it was now.

I can't remember the question OR the answer. It would have changed the world.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Brothers, Ducks and Taiwan

I saw my brother Ted off to the airport early this morning to return to his wife, Angela. It is Angel's birthday, and he will be arriving late in the afternoon (he should be home by now) where he will comfort his three daughters before leaving them with the grandparents and celebrating his wife's birthday.

Ted stayed with us over the weekend, and the cats loved him. Ted has a history with cats: they pretend to like him, then they lash out at him. The Joneses' cats, however, took to Ted like he was a family member. Even Oliver took to him and did not need his muzzle around Ted. Amazing.

Last night, Ted, Wifey-Pooh and I went out to an authentic Chinese restaurant. True to form, we wrestled briefly over the tab, but Ted won the privilege of treating everybody to the meal after Wifey-Pooh defected and cast her vote in his favor. :)

What a feast! We had Wontons and Spring Rolls, Fried Green, Rock Cod, Mixed Fried Rice and best of all, Peking Duck, which usually consists of a Pekin Duck, large white domestic ducks upon which Disney's Donald (Fauntleroy) Duck was modeled after.

In case you are interested, Peking is better known as Beijing, the capital city of the communist state of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC is not to be confused with the Republic of China (ROC) which has its capital in Taipei on Taiwan.

We reminisced about growing up in Taiwan. Ted got a scar on a trip to Yu Shan (“Jade Mountain” a.k.a. Mount Morrison) when he was seven years old. Jade Mountain is one of East Asia's highest peaks at 3,997 meters (13,114 feet) above sea level and the highest point on Taiwan.

Over thirteen years, more than 8000 miles and no less than two countries later, we shared a meal together again. It is a good memory. I've lost my camera's USB cable, and I've yet to purchase a memory card reader or replacement cable, otherwise I'd upload a photo. Oh well.

Ted has a Compaq Presario x1000 laptop. The secondary IDE bus appears to be malfunctioning (I get a boot-up error "1792 - Secondary Controller Failure"). We disassembled the entire laptop since the warranty expired in December of 2004. If someone had told me during my high school graduation that Ted and I would be in my apartment last night, disassembling a laptop before he left for a mini-vacation prior to flying to Haiti, I would not have bet good money on it.

Isn't life grand?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Good Things are Coming (Apparently)

This is a good week already.

My dear friend and brother from Taiwan, Ted, has been visiting. We'll be enjoying authentic Chinese cuisine tonight.

I got a letter last week that I was kicked out of school. Today, I called the school and it appears that I will be suspended for a semester instead.

Our inability to travel to our church has been remedied by a generous from the church council to grant us a fuel allowance so that we can continue to partake of fellowship and to stay involved.

What a good week!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Love, Cats and God

I absolutely love my cat.

Yes, I know, the Joneses have three cats. I love all of our cats, but when I say "my cat" I mean a specific cat which shares her existence with us. Zechariah Malachi Jones' plane of existence began coinciding with mine on March 6th, 2002. She likes to jump onto my shoulder, lay stretched-out next to her canine boyfriend, and run around our shared residence talking to her favorite toy.

I almost lost Zachy-Pooh in November. Oh, God is merciful; it would have broken my heart. I'll tell that story some time.

As I got up today, I spent some time in the living room, meditating and praying. Zechariah came to me for the affection that I so freely lavish upon her. I looked at Zachy today and, as always, love filled my heart. She is precious to me, and I enjoy being interrupted by her as she boldly approaches me, seeking my attention and my affection.

Zachy-Pooh is a cat. She does not understand the complexities of my behavior or my thoughts. What she is assured of is my undying love for her, and how my every action towards her is for her benefit. Zechariah trusts me with her well-being.

What is love? The Bible indicates that God is love; for the Christian, God's love is the source of reassurance, of power and for perseverance through hardship.

Yet, just as Zachy-Pooh will never truly understand me, I will never understand God. Yet I am assured of His thoughts toward me are to give me a future and a hope. And that, as Gandalf said in the LOTR, is a comforting thought.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Microsoft AntiSpyware will be Free! (for XP SP2 users)


Bill Gates surprised analysts yesterday during his keynote address at the RSA
Conference 2005 security show in San Francisco when he announced that
his company would offer its Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware product to
consumers for free and issue a major new version of Microsoft
Internet Explorer (IE) for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) users
later this year.

Alright! The only gotcha is that you must be on Windows XP Service Pack 2. You should probably get SP2 via Windows Update. Frankly, I've installed SP2 on over 40 computers, and I've only had a problem once, and that was on a computer infected by both viruses and spyware, which Microsoft recommends you address first.

I'm happy!

Who's on First?

So, Wifey-Pooh and I were debating last night about whether is Who was on first or thrid. I won. *snicker*

If you are not familiar with Abbot & Costello's classic routine, try this site for the audio, and try this site for the video. It is well worth the download.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Computer Consultants -- Ick

This details of this particular blog entry may escape you if you are not familiar with TCP/IP networking. Sorry.

May God have mercy on me and never have me deal with a stupid computer consultant again.

I'm a computer guy by trade. I work approximately either hours a day with computers, five days a week. OK, I get paid to do that five days a week, and sometime I work on computers on the weekends on a charitable basis.

My job invovles working with clients and often a client's consultant to implement some new equipment or Internet connection. There is nothing that annoys me more than a consultant that spends pretends to know what they are doing.

For example, I had a "consultant" who was "helping" a cliet set up their DSL connection. The client had a Netgear Firewall/router and a DSL connection. They wanted us to connect with pcAnywhere over the Internet. I asked for their IP address and he gave me the server's LAN IP. I knew I was in trouble then. He wasn't asking for help; he sounded like he knew was he was talking about, although I got the feeling he was talking loud enough to try to impress whomever was listening on his side of the phone. I was feeling mischievous that day, so I figured I'd hand him the shovel he was asking for and let him dig himself into a hole.

For the next couple of hours, the consultant would call back and tell me to try pcAnywhere. It would fail to connect. I'd give him a couple of pointers ("so, are you using port forwarding?"), and he'd muttle something about checking on a setting, and then tell me he'd call back.

Finally, the consultant called back with a note of triumph in his voice, "Try it again!" he said. "I've enabled remote administration!" I asked him to go to and read me the number, then I connected to the firewall with the default password and configured the firewall for him. I connected with pcAnywhere, then showed him what I did on the screen. I advised him to turn off the remote administration, and showed him where to do that.

Ironically, the client appears to have liked the good job their consultant did. *sigh*

As another example, I had not yet been chemically altered this morning when I had to work with not one, but two, "technicians" that a client had hired to provide an Okidata PM4410 network-ready printer. That is a 92-pound beast of an impact printer. I have a difficult time imagining many of my clients needing a 35k duty cycle (the period for which it may be operated without deleterious effects) but if you have the $3000 to spend (or as low as $1400 refurbed), I suppose this is a decent mid-range printer to get.

Anyway, you'd figure that a multi-thousand-dollar printer delivered by not one, but two, technicians would be professionally set up, right? After all, you did spend good money, and there are _two_ techs delivering the 92lb beast.

I have found that, when I'm out of my depth, it is best to just say, "I haven't done this before; I'll need help." This is especially true when I am talking to someone who supposedly does know what they are doing and can help me. It saves sooo much time for the person helping you. When you don't speak the truth, transactions such as the following inconceivable conversation take place.

Client: Hi Lee. We've got our new printer. The techs are here.
Me: Techs?
Client: Yeah, there's two of them. What do I do now?
Me: Well, let's assign it an IP address. Since the techs are there, let's just have them do it.
Client: <pause> they say they can't do that.
Me: huh?
Client: <muffled conversation> they want to talk to you
Tech: hi. What do you need?
Me: I'd like you to set the IP address to
Tech: It's not plugged in.
Me: OK, so plug it in.
Tech: We're not allowed to do that.
Me: You're not allowed... to... OK, never mind. I'll just have the client plug it in.
Tech: ok
Me: what's the MAC address?
Tech: it doesn't have one, the cable isn't plugged in
Me: ??!? <sputter> ... uh... it has a network interface, right?
Tech: yes, it does, but it's not plugged in
Me: Right... but I just need the Ethernet hardware address.
Tech: the cable's not plug in, there's no address.
Me: I'm asking you for the Ethernet hardware address. It has a network card, right?
Tech: yes, but it's not plugged in!
Me: I know that. That doesn't matter; the Ethernet interface on the printer has a MAC or hardware address. Just give me that and I'll take it from there.
Tech: hold on... <muffled talking>... here
Tech 2: hi, what do you need?
Me: *sigh* Can you set the IP address?
Tech 2: no sir, I can't
Me: OK, can you at least tell me the MAC address?
Tech 2: well, no... the network isn't plugged in, so there's no address
Me: ... never mind, I'll do it myself

At that point, I gave up. It made me want to be mean, and I don't like to feel that way.

Here's some advice: if you want a computer consultant, or if you're going to pay somebody to do computer work for you, at least interview them over the phone first. Naturally, you should try to determine what experience and skill they have; references wouldn't hurt, either. If they spend too much time trying to impress you or if they make you feel stupid, move on.

Gah! I'm getting IM'ed by another "consultant" again. Gotta go...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Good friends and Good Coffee

My very good friend, Ted, is visiting California on a conference. He currently serves as a missionary in Haiti. I enjoyed a great Bible study at Starbucks with a half-dozen of my closest friends. Life is great!

I got my cabinates completely up this weekend. I made a time-elapsed movie of it, which I plan on uploading if that is possible with MSN Spaces. I'll find out.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Time for a Change

We had expected to continue our weekly trek to our church indefinitely. While we had reasons for leaving, not the least of which is the vastness of the geographical distance, we had adequate reasons to stay. Usually convinced that I am in control of my own destiny, it is ironic that the decision to leave my church was made for me, not by any moral agents with protrusion in space-time, but by the simple, barbarous math of economics and fuel consumption.

In English , we've run out of disposable income, and the Joneses have to cut costs. Gas is one resource we can no longer spend so freely. Not enough gasoline, ergo no more driving 50 miles to church.

The Joneses will be a little easier to keep up with now.

By way of explanation, let me begin with the Fifth Commandment. One of the Ten Commandments require us to honor our parents, which I take to mean more than respect but also caring for their physical needs. Wifey-Pooh's mother (thus my mother-in-law) lived with us for some years, but recently moved out-of-state. It is not as though my MIL was non grata, she is simply too young to live under her daughter's roof and needed to strike out her own path. So, we financed the move. As circumstances have dictated, the Joneses have been making up for any financial shortfalls that have occurred since then.

We've run out of savings, though, and now we are cutting back on all of our expenses. We still have to live, and we have expenses of our own. For example, my most recent experience at the dentist (which did not go as well as Jim Gumbo's visit) is going to set us back a considerable sum of currency.

As such, we are no longer driving long distances if it can be avoided. Given my previous self-queries on the wisdom of maintaining a long-distance community membership, our conclusion seemed unavoidable.

Still, we'll stay involved from here. Wifey-Pooh is the treasurer (for now) and will maintain her office so long as both the church and W.P. agree that she can execute her duties faithfully and accurately from afar. I am still writing the back-end improvements to the web site and audio archives of messages in MP3 and WMV format. We will, however, be physically absent.

Thus begins a new chapter for the Joneses...

--Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Restriction of Technology & Social Interaction

I finished reading Better Off last week. If you are thinking about picking up the book as well, then skip the next paragraph.

Basically, Eric Brende decided that giving up technology meant giving up the car, so they sold their car and bought a horse and buggy. Amazingly, they preferred it, since they were essentially restricted to a slower pace of life and dependence upon a small community. It didn't last, though, as it turns out that Mary Brende was allergic to horses, so they moved out and bought a small place in South Carolina, where they still practice the principles of minimizing technology. They don't hold regular jobs; rather, they sell soap, have a small B&B, and Eric drives a rickshaw around.

After the end of their experiment, Eric Brende went on to write this book. Essentially, he recommends that people minimize the use of technology in their life. For example, he wrote the book on a word processor instead of a computer.

Technology can be too much of a good thing. Although Brende does not say it explicitly, perhaps human beings were created and placed in a world which helped regulate his well being. It is often said that people can think more clearly with regular exercise, and the mind-body connection is constant in Eric's experience. There are really only three areas Brende thinks technology should be employed:

  1. Transportation (limited in frequency and only when low-tech options are not available)

  2. Communication (when distance or urgency limit the application of low-tech options)

  3. Labor-saving (when it is simply not possible to perform the labor without tech help)

As far as my reflection goes, I have gleaned some interesting nuggets from Better Off. Technology can be a distraction, both socially and spiritually. While I find it terribly convenient to have access to the information offered by the Internet, I am willing to sustain my evening and weekend fast from Internet access. For me, it would likely drive me to distraction, reducing social time with my Wifey-Pooh and friends.

As far as how little or how much technology to use, moderation appears to be key. It appears to me that Brende seeks to reduce the cost of living such that he can spend more time socializing. How much is too much? For me, it is when the technology starts costing money to maintain, and when it starts taking over your time. Minimitism requires commitment without fanaticism; I think the same thing applies to technology, as well as pretty much all aspects of life.

Wifey-Pooh would love to simplify. Certainly, I do not want life to become more complicated. I would not want to move to, say, Los Angeles, but I do not feel the need to move to Podunk, NH either. Wifey-Pooh, however, would like to move further out of the city. As a matter of fact, we have friends moving to Florida with the express intention of getting away from the rat race.

Wifey-Pooh does not handle environmental stress as well as I do. So I have a feeling that how strongly a person feels about limiting technology is related to how well they deal with the stress of urban life. Also, the stronger the need for social interaction, the greater the desire to connect with a smaller community.

The advance of technology for travel has greatly increased our reach, but at the same time may limit our effectiveness at relating to our community. Take your average North American urban church, for example... How many people actually live in the neighborhood of the church they attend? We Joneses moved less than six months ago, and we're still trying to stay involved at our church. Previously, we lived less than two miles from church; now we live 50 miles away. It has been detrimental to our involvement in the church community. Most of the church members live up to 15 minutes away by car, so the bonds of community is tenuous, at best.

A common problem with most churches I've attended is a lack of internal cohesion. Would this be true if churches were comprised of only neighbors, people you bump into on a regular basis? Yes, churches would have to be smaller, and what would be wrong with that? A small, intimate community which shared ideas and a common interest in the well being of its members is far superior to a larger community with low involvement. Which, of course, causes me to question continuing our long-distance involvement at our church. I've been contemplating the necessity to realign ourselves with a local community.

Well, my lovely wife is coming to pick me up, so I'd better go.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

All your base are belong to us

I read this cute little poem online:

roses are #FF0000
violets are #0000FF
all my base
are belong to you

I believe I saw this on a t-shirt at ThinkGeek, too... Yes, I did.

In case you have no idea what that is about, the phrase "all your base are belong to us" comes from a poorly-translated Japanese game, and remains an excellent example of "Engrish". If you are truly bored, check out this nice 404 error page.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"Yea!" and "Ow..."

Last night, I got the upper corner cabinets installed.

This morning I went to the dentist to have a cavity filled. I ended up staying in the chair three hours as the dentist gently drilled and scraped away most of my tooth. Ow...

I'm going home to lay around, take some ibuprofen, and take solace from the company of my critters.

Monday, February 07, 2005

A quick update

This weekend, Wifey-Pooh and I celebrated eight years of marriage. I have heard that time flies when you're having fun, but those years sure went fast!

The Joneses hung out with the Van Zwienens this weekend and had a Bible study at Starbucks. We discussed the use of the tongue, briefly touched on free will, submission... and basically spent a lot of time looking at the fifth chapter of Ephesians.

Sunday night, I started putting up top cabinets. I'll post pictures later this week.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Technology and the Human Condition

At the behest of my good friend Steve, I've began reading Better Off by Eric Brende. The full title is "Better Off: flipping the switch on technology", and is available as an ebook from HarperCollins.

I am almost exactly 50% done reading the book, so I have not yet formed a definitive opinion, but I thought it would make for an interesting entry for Philosophy and Religion. I did a Google search and found this excerpt and two interviews here and here, which I have not read for fear of ruining any surprises.

The story so far is as follows: Eric Brende grew up with the gnawing suspicion that society did not integrate well with technology. A chance encounter with an Amish-looking man opened the door to an existential experiment to live without technology. Eric and his newlywed wife have joined a community that minimizes the use of technology. They are conducting this real life experiment of living without electricity and motors for 18 months, at which point they would choose their next step.

The community have Amish and thus Mennonite roots, but is comprised of others who simply seek to reduce the negative effects of technology upon their lives. Brende calls them "Minimites," referring to their Mennonite roots and technological minimalism.

It appears that Minimites limit the use of devices to maximize their lifestyle. They eschew electricity and motors, so no cars, no refrigerators, no electric lights... you may think you get the idea, but Brende would tell you that you have no idea how much your life is pervaded by technology.

It seems that Brende is discovering that man was never meant to live with this much technology. Ostensively, technology is supposed to help make life more efficient and reduce labor. Brende contends that technology can be too much of a good thing; it can cut man off from the positive effects of physical labor. Technology can also isolate us, from each other and from the circadian rhythm of the world.

It is not that Brende is saying technology is evil, just over-used. That being said, I doubt he would be in favor of slight-used electricity or motorized equipment. There appears to be an underlying belief that the development and production of such technology ultimately harms us.

I'll explore some other aspects tomorrow, but for now I would like to express a positive impact the book has had on me. Better Off has got me thinking about the near-ubiquity of technology. I'm a geek, and I love gadgets. I use them primarily as storage for reference and for memories I cherish. But I do not watch TV, I do not surf the Internet at night and rarely on weekends, and I tend to buy technology to better my life, such as air purifiers.

So, how much is too much? I would say that maintaining your stuff should never take more than a small fraction of your week. Brende would say that society feeds the need to work to pay for the car so that you can work and shop... ad nauseam.

A lot of this technological interference reduces socializing and human interaction. That seems to be a big one for Brende. He noted that technology allows us to filter out the contact we don't want; between email, caller ID and commuting to and from work, Brende makes a case that we are not living better because of technology.

Similarly, though, how little is too little? I haven't pondered this nearly as much. Perhaps I'll have more to offer after I finish the book.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

School, Remodeling, and

It looks like I'll be able to register for one class, anyway. My academic advisor has advised me that he apparently overstepped his authority when he arranged my schedule. So, last semester (at least) may simply have been lost time. Not that I did not learn quite a bit on group interaction and leadership in organizations (which came in handy several times), but it does not exactly advance me towards my master's degree. Ah, well... *sigh*

I have all the bottom cabinets in now, and I am looking into preformed countertops. I can probably do that myself. We'll see... frankly, there does not appear to be anything that you cannot do with a lot of patience, some reading and a little courage.

I'm considering switching to Google's It has email blog posting and audio blog posting capabilities, which would make posting on the road much easier. It also was Picasa on the "pro" side. The only "con" factors is the lack of categories for posts and the fact that I would have to copy my blog over by hand. That wouldn't be too big a deal, and a final post here to redirect friends and family would not be too difficult.

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Interesting Times

If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, or if you have at least read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, then you are have probably already discovered "The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything".

In the mean time, these are interesting times, and I am living in them. By the way, that popular saying is *not* a Chinese curse.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Speaking of suffering...

That boot to the head knocked a tooth loose... but at least the dean of the registrar is going to waive any late registration fees (Weee)...

Actually, one of my fillings came out. In fact, the filled tooth chipped a little, and now I have a gap in my in one of my anterio teeth. In Palmer's Notation, it's my Upper Right First Bicuspid. In Universal Notation, it's #5.

Ah, well... I have an appointment next week to get it filled again.