Friday, December 29, 2006

In Saturn's Shadow

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world.

This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The full mosaic consists of three rows of nine wide-angle camera footprints; only a portion of the full mosaic is shown here. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.

The mosaic images were acquired as the spacecraft drifted in the darkness of Saturn's shadow for about 12 hours, allowing a multitude of unique observations of the microscopic particles that compose Saturn's faint rings.

Ring structures containing these tiny particles brighten substantially at high phase angles: i.e., viewing angles where the sun is almost directly behind the objects being imaged.
This is a really cool, actual photo of Saturn and Earth. Oh, you can see Earth, by the way, about 10 o'clock just outside the bright white rings. You can see medium-res images from the JPL site: color-exaggerated version and the original image. Chris Drost also put up a 1280×1024 version with touched-up colors, if you're into that...

If you want really large, hi-res images, see

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Looking Back over 2006

2006 has been a good year, I think. Let's see...

Looking Back

Looking back over this year, I think I am a blessed man. Cathy loves me; my lovely wife sent me flowers on our anniversary, and she hid a card for me (that I found months later). She survived the Hepatitis-C treatments, I remodeled an apartment, and we moved again (from apartment #2 to #1).

I also became a pastoral intern, got a laptop upgrade, a newer camera, and a Pocket PC (each at little or no cost to me). We visited Las Vegas, Seaworld, and (soon) Disneyland.

When it comes to family, we raised several kittens, kept one, and also had a new nephew born to us. Dad got hit by a car but survived (thank you, Lord). Life is generally very good, with a few bumps along the way, I think.

On the "maybe not so surprising" side, I never did watch "The Da Vinci Code" and none of my family (including extended family) owns an iPod.


Cathy is doing well. She got a MRI on 12/21/2006 and we should get results any day now; the test is to determine, in part, whether Cathy has signs of damage due to MS (multiple sclerosis). In general, she's gotten accustomed to the dietary requirements and enjoys relatively good health. It is true that her energy levels are lower and get depleted quicker than before, but we've made enough changes in our life to minimze the impact of such changes. The biggest thing is just going to bed earlier.

I am doing well, as well. I've got some aches from the continuous stress on my body from all the stuff I am engaged in, but God has been gracious and sustains me. It will actually be a relief to work full-time and take 9 units compared to what last semester was like!

I'm almost completely done with the remodel - I just have to finish the closets and get the carpets cleaned. I'm quite pleased with the job I've done; I've learned more than I bargained for, but the results were satisfactory. Whenever I wanted to quit, I tried to recall the verse that says "do everything as unto the Lord" and ask myself if I would ask Jesus to live here. Of course, if it were Jesus, I'd ask for some carpentry tips, especially with those doors... anyway, I've only got some closet doors to hang, and some smoke alarm batteries to replace, and I'm done.

We did get an excellent family as new tenants. This family is from our church and attends (both husband and wife) the same seminary I attend. They have a new baby and an indoor cat. He's in the Army National Guard and served in Iraq. She was in my small group over the summer. Amazing stuff, how God works.

I didn't send out Christmas cards this year, either. *sigh* I did call Taiwan and a few domestic family members, but basically we had a quiet Christmas at home. This year, everybody got See's Candy and gift cards. Oh, and Cathy got a new kitten, Boaz.

The week after Christmas is action-packed, though. There's work, as usual, then a day at Disneyland on Thursday (12/28), Seaworld on Saturday (12/30) and a family gathering on New Year's Eve.

Looking Forward

I should graduate in 2007. I've got 6 selective units to take, and several required courses before my graduation. I'm cramming in three elective units into the month of Janurary (Winter interterm), then another three-unit elective over the Summer interterm session. For the Spring inbetween, I'll have four classes during for a total of nine units (one class is zero units, go figure). For Fall, I only have a single Hebrew class to complete, and I'll graduate in December! Looking forward to that...

Cathy & I have been married going on ten years, now. I've got about two months to find a nice anniversary ring for Cathy. This is a big one, and I need to make a big deal about it... so I could use any ideas that you may have to contribute.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Boaz: Welcome Home

Sometimes, a kitten will just steal Cathy's heart. Cathy fell in love with Boaz, which means we have a new kitten around the house. He's really been purring loud for Cathy and sleeping in her lap at every opportunity; perhaps that's how he wiggled his way into our family.

So, last night we ran him through the paces. We let Boaz sleep with us, and after tunneling in and out of the blankets for about 15 minutes, he finally settled down under the sheets between Cathy & I and slept through the night. We're accustomed to having one cat sleeping on either side of the bed (Fanny sleeps next to me, Malachi sleeps next to Cathy, and Zechariah wanders around the house all night). Now we have Boaz in the middle.

The cats tend to favor one "parent" over the other. I hope Boaz sticks with Cathy; she's wanted a tom for a while, now.

So, welcome home, Boaz!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jason McElwain: an Inspirational Story

I saw this video about Jascon McElwain. He was born borderline autistic and loves basketball. That's about all I can say without ruining it; you'll have to watch it for yourself.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Free Christmas Music Downloads

So, I like Christmas music, and I like free stuff. It is only natural for me to look for free Christmas music downloads. For example, there's those Christmas Messages from Max Lucado.

As for music, howver, here's what I've found so far:
Feels Like Christmas has Christmas music, stories, coloring books... very nice.
Songs of Praise has artist-contributed music. They only ask that, if you use them commercially or in church, to help them make some money back by reporting to CCLI. Mostly instrumental, but that was what I wanted, anyway.
Gargage Band consists of indie bands, some of which are good and some rather pedestrian. Anyway, if you look for songs in the sub-genres 'Seasonal/Holiday' 'Christmas' you'll find a significant amount of music. For example, I found a version of 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' I really liked.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jesus Christ: Superman?

Spoiler Alert: if you intend on seeing "Superman Returns,"
read no further.

So Cathy & I saw "Superman Returns." The movie was 2.5 hours long, yet we did not notice the passing of the time. We really enjoyed it, and I felt like there are numerous Christological references in the movie. Some were subtle, some were apparent, and I am convinced that the writer/producer intended for this effect.

I am sure I am not the first to make these observations, and there may be more, but here's a quick list of things that occurred to me:
  • Superman falls into his mother's arms like Michelangelo's Pietà
  • Superman has a deceased earthly father
  • Superman has a wilderness experience
  • Superman was sent as an only son (see below)
  • Superman refers to himself as a savior
  • Superman is beaten and stabbed in the side
  • Superman saves the world and falls with his arms and legs in the shape of a cross
Superman the only son: Superman recalls his father saying, "They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. It is for this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you—my only son."

Superman the savior: Superman is flying with Lois over the city, and he asks her, "What do you hear?" Lois replies, "Nothing. It's quiet." Superman says, "I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior. But everyday I hear people crying out for one."

Superman's cross: Superman saves the world and falls with his arms and legs in the shape of a cross as he is falls back to Earth from the exosphere.

A quick Google search turned up this article entitled "The Spiritual Side of Superman Returns." It looks like the impression was quite deliberate. Interesting...

Side note: I prefer DC comics over Marvel. My favorite comic book characters are Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, usually in that order.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Making Your Blogger Beta Header a Graphic

I haven't spent much time in the HTML of my template (yet). However, I did want to know how to add a graphic as part of my header, perhaps a table with a graphic. There's a great solution I saw with a simple Google search which required only changing the template to NOT lock a template element. I wanted to know how to unlock template elements anyway, and I didn't want to actually modify the header widget in HTML file directly.

Anyway, I tried a work-around that doesn't require editing the HTML template at all. It occured to me that I could just put HTML where the header text would go. And, it worked.

When you edit your template (Dashboard > Template tab > Page Elements), click to edit your header. You can remove the Blog Description text completely if you like. In the Blog Title field, insert the HTML code for your image, with a 99-character limit, like <img src="" />

You should have, as a result, a header with a graphic in it. That's it. I still like the "unlock widget" method best, but this work-around requires no customizing at all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Opinion on "The Break Up" Movie

Spoiler Alert: if you intend on seeing "The Break Up," read no further.
We saw "The Break Up" last night.

I hated it. If I want "real life" I'll watch reality television. When I watch a movie about romance, I either want "that's romantic" or "that was nice," not, "well, that sucked."

Just my $0.02

Monday, December 11, 2006

Update on Boaz the Kitten

click for larger version of Boaz
Boaz is getting to the adoptable age. The fact that we haven't talked about him much isn't due to any deficiency on his part... I've just been too busy.

Boaz has earned a couple of nicknames around here. First, I started calling him Squishy, because he was constantly underfoot, and often in the way of a closing door. Amazingly enough, Boaz hasn't gotten himself hurt yet. Second, Cathy started calling him Gimpster. Some time last week, he hurt his right front paw and limped a little. As soon as that was well, he hurt his left from paw, too. He's back to romping full speed now, but Gimpster kinda stuck.

Oh, and I love on him by calling him Squishy, picking him up, hugging him, and lightly massaging him. He loves it!

Here's a cute photo of him. He does remain stationary for extended periods of time during the afternoon and after dinner. He is soooo cute, we're actually tempted to keep him.

We may have to keep Boaz, actually. He peed on our bed once about four weeks ago. He hasn't done it since... but still. Also, Boaz is soooo playful, and he likes to nibble pretty hard. He hasn't bitten me, but Cathy says he come close to drawing blood on her. He needs another kitten to be with, so he'd have to go to a home with another young cat, and with no kids under kindergarden. *sigh*

Anywho, enjoy the photo... I have that as my desktop background right now.

Switching to the New Blogger

12/11/06 08:54 AM
I'm switching to the new version of Blogger. So... I'm saving a copy of my template. I'll add a post later to note anything I had to adjust to make things work.

12/11/06 10:34 AM
Click for animation (467k)

Well, that wasn't too painful... The template elements are easy to manipulate. Naturally, none of the customizations I did transferred across. However, I saved a copy of my previous template (which Blogger apparently saves for you anyway).

I love the new font and color controls... don't have time to make changes right now, but at least labeling will work better, now. I supposed I'll have to relable my previous posts...

12/11/06 10:46
Wow. Comments sure come up faster.

12/12/06 13:06
Tagging is easy... and fast. I've already re-tagged my entire blog (all 460 posts). The performance is great, too. Next, I've got to figure out how to put my customizations back in...

12/15/06 15:23
Since I use Google for my homepage, my email, and my feed reader, posting a new entry is easier now. I no longer need to stop and enter separate credentials.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Messages from Max Lucado

Max Lucado is offering six messages on the meaning of Christmas from his UpWords site. Download the MP3 files from There's plenty of other material on the site as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Free Windows Vista Business & Office Pro 2007

File Under: /
Microsoft is giving away a Windows Vista Business license and an Office Pro 2007 license if you watch three web-based seminars for each. Here's the link to the giveaway site, I am not eligible myself, but my family and friends are eligible!

Here are the requirements: you need to have a Microsoft Passport (your Hotmail email will work), and you need to watch three (3) seminars for either free offer. So, to get both of them, you need to watch a total of six (6) web seminars.

Microsoft Office Professional 2007 comes with the following:
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2007
  • Microsoft Office Access 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager
Vista Business does include the coveted Aero interface. While it is true that Vista Business does not include the Media Center, I do not think most people I know will need it. However, Vista Business includes a spectacular backup / system recovery feature: built-in hard disk imaging.

Here's a rundown of the different Vista editions:
The web site is very slow, being hit by, well, everybody and their brother... so be patient, or try to logon during off hours. Offer expires 02/28/2007. Vista & Office are separate, you can run one without the other.

UPDATE: As of 12/01/2006 at 10:00 AM, they are "sold out." Hope you got one! I think Cathy's either just inside the door or barely got shut out, I'm not sure, but I know she is not getting a copy of Vista. I hope she gets the Office Pro 20007!

Monday, November 27, 2006

I should graduate next year

The light at the end of the academic tunnel is now appearing. I have one more heavy semester remaining, where I will take 4 classes totally 9 units (one class is 0 units, go figure). One of the classes has never been offered outside of the middle of the workweek, and I have been waiting to take that class literally for years. My boss has been very understanding, and is going to allow me to make arrangements to take that class.

So, tomorrow I see my academic advisor to confirm I can graduate in Fall 2007. If I can get all my classes and have my electives approved, I'll only have one Hebrew class for the Fall semester. Yeah!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Trusting God

So, last week I was thinking about trusting God. I've got a lot going on, between work, school, marriage, and remodeling, not to mention my church internship. I had felt, in the past weeks, an increasing persistent sense of dread.

That is to say, I had begun to worry.

I have thought about Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 6. You know, the "do not worry" part? And I have also been reading Larry Crabb's "Connecting" for class. I'm not sure exactly what I was reading, but at one point something connected inside me, and I began to think I was asking God for the wrong things.

The next morning, as I was struggling to pray, it finally became clear to me that I did not need to pray for more time, or more energy, or more skill, not even more wisdom. The problem for me was that I was working hard to accomplish all that is on my plate. And the more I faced, the harder I struggled to get it all done. And I had begun to worry. What I needed to pray for (it came to me suddenly) was to ask God to help me to trust Him.

I'm not saying this is what Jesus meant when He said to "seek first His kingdom and His righteouness" but I think it is the same idea. All the tasks which lay before me are still there, even now, and they must be done. But a year from now, Thanksgiving will still be around the corner and this year will have become history.

God will see me through it. And it isn't about being empowered to do it all (though I think He will do so), it is about trusting Him in the middle of all of this.

So, I prayed that morning for God to help me to trust Him. And I think God spoke to me that morning, and I heard Him. And now the problems are there, but it is somehow O.K.

So, if you've been feeling like me, perhaps you should consider praying for trust in God. :-)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Three Point Two Four (3.24) Billion

This is a first-person contemporary narrative sermon I gave during my second homiletics class. I got an "A" for this one!

I would probably preach this as "34 Million" next time instead of "3.24 Billion"... you'll see why.

Update on Cathy and Everything Else

OK, here's an update on Cathy; in short, everything fine. It turns out that she ran out of this prescription for a anti-depressant. She'd been out for three days when we went to the urgent care, and we also picked it up that night.

Apparently, you can't just "run out of" anti-depressants... they cause weird things to happen, many of which Cathy also experienced. So... she's OK now. Thank you for your prayers!

On the apartment front, I'm painting with the help of friends this weekend. Hopefully, we'll be able to rent it out before the end of the month... (please, Lord?) Financially, we're barely making it, although it feels like we're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. And, Cathy's mother is having difficulty adjusting to living in our larger place, even though she has her own room. *sigh*

On another bright note, however, I got an "A" on my last sermon. I'll probably post that later on. And, Boaz is getting very cute and cuddly... which means he's about ready for adoption.

To quote that guy with the kid from Lost, "I'll do it by doing it"... although I'll add "one day at a time" and "with the Lord's help." :-)

UNIX script to update

I'm not sure the folks at Dynamic Network Solutions (DynDNS) want you doing this, but there is an UNIX shell script I wrote to update dynamic DNS entries using the Lynx text-only Internet browser.

In case you were not aware, DynDNS offers a fantastic, free dynamic DNS service.

I couldn't find a SCO UNIX updater for, so I wrote it myself. So... here it is for the rest of the world. Just save the following as /usr/bin/
# Script to update DynDNS address at
# LJJ 11/23/2005 - original script
# LJJ 01/04/2007 - added forced updates every X days
# LJJ 01/04/2007 - changed log to /usr/adm/dyndns.log
# LJJ 03/03/2008 - added IP source of
# - added DLOG variable
# LJJ 08/20/2009 - set initial NEXT forced update

# reference URLs

# must first sign up for an account and create a host at (free)
# some firewalls will block, so use firewall dyndns client when possible

# to install, create /etc/rc2.d/S99dyndns with the following line:
# /usr/bin/ &

# do not make SLEEP less than 600 (every 10 minutes)




NOW=`date +%j`
NEXT=`expr $NOW + $FORCE`

while :
# use one or the other
# CKIP=`lynx -dump |grep "."`
CKIP=`lynx -dump | grep "Current" | awk '{ print $4}'`

NOW=`date +%j`

if [ "$DADR" != "$CKIP" ] ; then

if [ "$NOW" = "$NEXT" ] ; then

if [ $UPDT = "YES" ] ; then
DRES=`lynx --dump -auth $DUSR:$DPWD "$DHST&myip=$DADR&wildcard=OFF&mx=mail.exchanger.ext&backmx=NO&offline=NO"`
echo $0\: `date '+%D %T'` IP Update of $DHST returned $DRES >> $DLOG

NEXT=`expr $NOW + $FORCE`
if [ "$NEXT" -ge 366 ] ; then
NEXT=`expr $NEXT - 365`
sleep $SLEEP

sleep $SLEEP

UPDATE: I added a "forced update" feature that I found out I needed for dynamic IP addresses which change less often than every 30 days.
UPDATE: Minor tweaks -- makes the script force an updated on day 21 if needed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Our Urgent Care Visit

So... after our visit last night to the urgent care at Kaiser, Cathy feel a little more frustrated. Do you know that feeling you get when you're tired, you're just about to nod off, and then you jerk back awake? That "nod-off-jerk-awake" feeling is how Cathy's felt for some time now, and yesterday it got much worse. It didn't seem safe for her to drive...

Anyway, the doctor last night pushed and prodded, looked in her ears, took her blood pressure and pulse, and had Cathy do balancing acts. He kept asking if she was dizzy (which she isn't) or lightheaded (nope). Basically, my wife and the doc were not connecting.

Anyway, the doctor ordered a CT scan after asking if Cathy were pregnant. I think CT scans are less expensive than MRIs, although personally I wouldn't like the amount of radiation required for a CT scan.

So, I drove Cathy to work today. I'll probably also pick her up. With all that is going on, I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 6:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

OK, I Have Prayer Requests

So... an update on Cathy and me. We're still hopeful about the next Hep C test and that is five months away.

Well, in the mean time, Kaiser thinks that Cathy has Celiac Disease (basically, allergy to wheat). It'll take a month to get that result. The Hep C treatment appears to have messed up her thyroid, so now it is "hyper." Cathy is feeling tired (physically and mentally) and little things are frustrated to her. The frustration itself is frustrating to her because she is accustomed to being organized and stuff.

Cathys been having this senstaion of falling asleep, a sensation of falling, then waking up suddenly. She describes it as "microsleep" or nodding off, like that shock you feel waking back up. She's had this drowsy feeling... ever since the Interferon treatment.

Maybe it is a vitamin deficiency... there's also a slight scare that it may be MS. We'll get some test results from the dermatology department on the 20th, but the doctor says that if is negative, it is probably a false reading, and we'll need another "glutten challenge" where Cathy binges on wheat and takes the test again.

I'm finishing remodeling the apartment we bought. And I go to work 45 hours a week. And I am taking 12 units at seminary. And I am supposed to be an intern at church (though I feel the church is getting short changed). And I am supposed to be a supportive husband.

Not having the apartment ready, and having to do most all of it alone is wearing on me. Financially, we can't sustain a vacant apartment for another month, I think; we barely made the bills this month. *sigh*... I know things could be much worse, but we could use a some help, so I am asking for your prayers.

UPDATE @ 4PM: OK, Cathy just called and indicated she needs to go to the urgent care but cannot drive, and my mom-in-law is locked out of her car… so, I’m outta here.

Voting on Machines

Here are my electronic voting after-action thoughts...

powered by ODEO

Most electronic voting machines in use today are manufactured by either Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic or Sequoia Voting Systems.

For access security, machines require the voter validate the voting process, either by inserting a card or device given to you by an electrion official, or with an access code you receive from an official.

Direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines record your choices when you touch the screen, so they are touch screen DREs. On other voting machines you make your choices with a scroll wheel, like those on an Apple iPod.

My city used the Hart InterCivic eSlate, which utilizes the scroll wheel and buttons. Let's see... here's voting instructions for the eSlate.

Here's a picture of the button pad on the eSlate.

You move you the screen's focus (the highlighted part) with the wheel and press ENTER when the focus is on your choice, which marks the choice. The confusing part is the that the highlight also stops on titles and descriptions, and (at least at my booth) the wheel took several clicks to advance between choices. I can see people thinking, "ok, I want the next choice.... CLICK ENTER... Oh crud, it didn't go forward!"

Thankfully, there was a long and uninspired ballot summary screen to let you confirm your choices. This is useless without your sample ballot, and they don't have those just lying around. With traditional paper ballots you can look at your choices and review the description of the ballot or office at the same time. *sigh*

I was gratified to see the "secured" printer next to the voting machine. Instead of just telling me my ballot was cast, it printed each page as I confirmed it, which fed into the ballot box. This seemd like a suitable "split the difference" approach to recording my vote, since I see the paper ballot deposited, just like I used to deposit my ballot into a box.

One last confusing thing, though... the "cast ballot button." All this time I have been "wheeeeel, ENTER" and now they want me to "wheeeeel, CAST BALLOT". Well, the instructions were on the screen, at least.

Other thought hit me afterwards... how on earth would you do a write-in candidate? That would be tedious, at best. Not that it affected me, but wouldn't different age groups and cultures be somewhat encumbered by digital voting? It wasn't even intuitive for me, and I like computers.

Overall, I don't mind electronic voting machines; I just don't trust them. Also, I saw too many stations marked "broken", and it took way too long for people to vote. We've used scantrons in school for ages, if we're going to go electronic, just switch to having a scanning machine for the scantrons at a polling location. With some tweaking, hanging chads and errors in voting could be eliminated right there as you exited your polling station, and you would know you cast your vote. There you have it, my electronic voting after-action report!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Thoughts

I haven't been to my polling place yet, but I think I'll be wishing I had gone this morning rather than after work.

To follow up on my earlier post regarding electronic voting, not only do you have to worry about hackers during the election, but you also must secure the voting machines before and after the election, just like you would lock up paper ballots. Ed Felton found some voting machines, unattended, days before the election. And he wasn't looking for them. *sigh*

From TechDirt:
One of the issues concerning e-voting machines, and Diebold in particular, is how they've responded to all the criticism and vulnerabilities -- with the company often being accused of covering up, ignoring or denying the problems... back in 2003, Maryland commissioned a study on the Diebold machines... Diebold demanded two very broad concessions: no source code access, and they reserve the right to redact out any proprietary information... The final "redacted" report came out weighing in at a lightweight 38 pages... Someone high up has leaked the original documents which weighs in at 200 pages meaning that someone (most likely Diebold) was able to knock out 162 pages of info on vulnerabilities... how many of the many, many vulnerabilities discussed in the report were actually dealt with before the 2004 election and how many were dealt with before today's election(?)...

In the meantime, if you're looking to feel confident about e-voting companies and their tech ability, Chief Elf writes in to let us know that he went to check out the company, Advanced Voting Systems, that built the e-voting system he used this morning, and found a nice big error message right on their home page. I just checked and it was still there, but in case they fix it, here's a screenshot. It's tough to trust these companies to build competent voting machines when they can't even correct database/PHP errors on their own website on election day.
From Slashdot:
Neovanglist writes "CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are reporting that voting machines in three states (Ohio, Indiana, and Florida) have already been showing issues, both in the machines themselves and in the training of poll attendants, causing many districts to switch to paper ballots."

So... time to get out and vote. Hopefully, the future will not mirror the satirical sites such as Fix-A-Vote. I'm signing up for absentee ballots.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Keeping Up with Boaz

Here's a quick update on Boaz. He is now very playful and is filled with boundless energy. It wasn't easy to snap these photos! On the left, we have Boaz showing off his little claws, and on the right a very nice close-up of his adorable expression!

Here's a quick video of Boaz playing with the camera strap.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Free Accounting Software from Microsoft?

As weird as this may seem, Micrsoft is giving away Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 (Windows only). Aside from being a possible replacement for the "Basic" versions of off-the-shelf accounting packages, it has a few interesting features:
  • Online sales integration for sites such as eBay.
  • Equifax credit service monitoring credit for your business, customers, or prospects.
  • PayPal integration allows you to offer the PayPal payment option to customers.
  • Microsoft Office Live integration.
  • Accountant Transfer Wizard helps you share data with an accountant and synchronizes data easily after the accountant is done updating the books.
  • Data import enables users to import accounting and financial data from additional programs and versions, including Microsoft Money and QuickBooks.
  • Forms customization allows adding, moving, creating, renaming fields, or hiding fields.
  • Customizable security roles so you can add and remove employee permissions to control access to sensitive financial information.
It does not manage inventory, though. For more features, check out this link.

Download Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 from this site here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Can You Think of Anything Scarier?

Bill Amend is a funny guy. He draws FoxTrot, prefers Macs, and occasionally pokes fun at current events. The Sunday strip from Oct 29th illustrates something I have been following with great interest for almost three years: electronic voting.

What's interesting about this strip is that everything Jason Foxtrot says is true. The unamed machine is manufactured by Diebold Election Systems, and Jason is wearing the Diebold AccuVote-TS.

If you do not yet know, Diebold's voting machines have been mechanically unstable and security flaws have been pointed out from day one. Diebold has become infamous in other parts of the country for practially ruining elections. California actually sued Diebold (and won).

To give the alleged security flaws some street cred for the highly educated, you can check out the Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS from Princeton. For the rest of us, just reading the headlines from Techdirt on "Diebold" should give you a taste of the flaws which have plagued Diebold voting machines from the beginning.

And yet, people really don't seem to care. I suppose when voter turnout is already low, it shouldn't surprise me that this kind of thing does not concern people. With Halloween around the corner, I think the comic is timed very well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Peek at My Philosophy of Missions

Gardner & Rebecca Kerin are missionaries to the Buryats in Eastern Siberia. Gardner spoke at one of my classes last week. A couple of students, including myself, grew up in the mission field and had a productive time reflecting on ways that those of us who stay behind can support those who are sent.

The following is a peak at my philosophy of missions, formed partially by my childhood in Taiwan, but also by conversations with my lovely wife (who is more qualified to speak on the issue than I).

Summary Points

• Build a relationship between the church and the missionary; limit the number of relationships and strengthen the ones that exist.
• Every missionary needs a lay person to champion them, to maintain the attention of the congregation.
• Adoption allows for a sense of belonging and fellowship.
• Communication and continuity keep the missionary “in the loop” regarding changes affecting them.

Expanded Points

The first thing that missionaries need is a connection to their sending church. One idea for maintaining such a connection would be to have fewer missionaries sent per church. Having fewer missionaries per church would allow the missionary to have a centralized support base – this provides a continuity of identity for the missionary, as well as allows the church to be more invested in the effort of missions, as opposed to spreading out support to more missionaries but supporting each less. Well-supported missionaries have longer terms and more productive results. Well-supported missionary families with a minimum number of sending churches require less travel during furlough, allowing for a stabilizing of a missionary kid’s life. This also make is possible for better communication between the missionary and the sending partners.

A missionary needs communication with their sending church. The church should publicize newsletters and update from the missionary and send church updates to the missionary. Methods and means of communication should be well documented and made available to the congregation to connect with the missionary. Such communication should be encouraged as well as organized by church leadership. When technically possible, set up congregational phone calls to the missionary during a worship service to maintain the community relationship.

A missionary needs continuity with their sending church. Missionaries rely on their sending partners for financial support, but they also need spiritual support via prayer in addition to emotional support available only through relationships. Missions Chairs should remain incumbent for as many years as possible; the Chair should also maintain a strong relationship with each missionary. With the mobility and turnover of families, a missionary’s original supporters may move and change churches during the missionary’s terms. Missionaries need to be informed regarding turnover in the Missions Chairs and, if possible, their supporters. In this way, we can reduce the emotional shock that missionaries experience upon their return to the “home” church. Remember, this is difficult, not only for the missionaries, but also for the kids.

Another way to maintain a connection between the sending church and the missionary is to have a local “champion” for the cause of the missionaries at the sending church. These “champions” would be people who stay in regular contact with the missionaries, get updates from the missionaries and update the missionaries on what is going on at the church and back home. The “champions” would represent the missionaries before the congregation with updates, prayer requests, ministry needs, and communication to/from the missionary.

Missionaries need to know their congregations have not forgotten them. Another way to maintain a connection it to have established small groups adopt a missionary. The adopting group would commit to praying regularly for the missionary, organizing care packages, circulating birthday cards and holiday cards, as well as communicating with the missionary. The small group would proactively ask for the prayer requests of the missionary and follow up on requests. This also gives the missionaries somewhere to “belong” when they return to visit.

Personal Reflection

There was much more I would have like to write (perhaps some other time) regarding this matter. My wife & I support three missionaries right now, and we love them very much. It seems odd, to me, to when people exhibit a

This past Sunday, one of our church’s missionary families was home to visit. One pastor asked people to gather around them during the next song to pray for them. I went forward, expecting to join two dozen others… instead, I joined the pastor and two couples in praying for these missionaries from our church. I prayed for them, looked them in the eye, and told them, “Thank you.” As I returned to my seat, I was shocked, amazed, and wondering, “Where were the others?”

Another couple friends of ours currently intend to go to Cambodia, and we had dinner with them. We discussed some of the things I have written here; my wife and I have decided to pray about getting involved on the missions board and, perhaps, help our church better support our missionaries.

Microsoft Windows Defender out of beta

Microsoft Windows Defender is now out of beta. Free, it requires Windows XP, and I would suggest that you run a Windows Update before installing it.

via Downloadsquad

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


A little catch up (or keep up, I suppose).

Boaz, natrually, it getting cuter and cuter. He is now 40 days old, so he'll be six weeks old this Thursday. He'll be neutered soon, and ready for adoption. Just in time, since our apartment will soon get crowded once again, with my mom-in-law moving back in with us.

My brother-in-law, Jerry, was kind enought to come up to help me with the bathroom tile last Wednesday. He got the tile started and he tiled the window; the rest of my tub surround is within my skill level. I discovered that I can tile rather quietly, so I'll be working late into the night to complete this job.

I was soooo stressed out about this tile job. When Jerry promised to come out and help me, immediately I felt my spirits lift. Hope is a powerful thing... kinda like the hope of the resurrection giving strength to people who are ill or dying. Anyway, to say the least, I am thankful to my brother in law!

Money is really tight right now; the remodel, having taken so long, has sapped our bank account. Lord willing, we'll rent it out November 1st and get some semblance of normacy back again. That also means that my mom-in-law will move back in next week, causing no small disturbance as we all get used to bumping into each other again. *sigh*

Other interesting things: I wrote a sermon on the aforementioned topic of death. That post, and the post on identity, drew the most comments, but primarily in the form of emails directly to me.

I presented the sermon in a homiletics class and was critiqued by my peers as well as my professor. I am afraid to post the video... I posted a sermon from last year, and frankly I stunk as a preacher then. I must admit that this sermon is much improved (I've had practice), but some elements of this sermon need to be rearranged. With the input I received, my revised sermon should be much, much better.

Oh, yeah... we got a webcam at work, which nobody else is using, so I've been playing with it. I'm thinking I may use it to do time elapsed video of how a server gets assembled, but I'm not sure, yet... too much other stuff going on!

Finally, my parents did receive my letter I sent at the beginning of October... yesterday. It took three weeks for them to get my letter! Something must be wrong with my address, so hopefully I will soon be able to get it right!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Boaz Update - Solid Food & a "Hello"

Boaz the Kitten is eating solid food now for his dinners. His first meal was on the 13th (yes, the Friday). He's coming along great; he's eating real food now, he is getting bigger, and he's starting to walk on his toes!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The latest with Cathy - Gluten!

Well, we think Cathy is also gluten intolerant (commonly due to Celiac Disease).

So... about 14 months ago we started a series of tests that led us to understand that Cathy has two liver diseases: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD, caused by Celiac Disease, we think) and Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a viral disease that attacks the liver, and it probably triggered the development of Celiac Disease, which in turn caused the NAFLD. It is supposedly quite common fo Celiac to stay hidden until triggered, such as by a large virus.

The side-effects of the Celiac Disease include rashes on Cathy’s body. The treatment for Hepatitis C may not have caused Cathy's skin problems, after all. We, so tossed out all the gluten we could from the house (including th cat sand).

We're adjusting rather quickly to the new thing, I think.

UPDATE 10/12/2006: Cathy saw another specialist and they want to do a skin biopsy, so she has to intentionally have some gluten to get a rash for the biopsy. Crazy, huh?

Update Boaz the Kitten

A quick update on Boaz... His appetite has increased greatly and he is much more active. He must ave doubled in size since my last post! His ears get getting much larger and closer to the top of his head; so cute!

I also have a few videos to upload. Now that Google has acquired YouTube, I'm wondering if my videos will get migrated...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Free International Calls!

As bizarre as this is, I finally found a way to call Taiwan for free. I already called Morrison Academy in Taichung, Taiwan and got their answering machine. No software required, and free until at least 2010... I have NO idea how they can afford to do this, although it does remind me of the old telephone "extenders".

For example, to call Taiwan, just
  1. Dial 712-858-8883
  2. At the prompt, press 1 for English.
  3. Then, dial 011, 886, [phone number]

So, if you have any friends or family overseas (check for countries supported) try this service.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Free Museum Day 09/30/2006

On September 30, 2006, for one day only, museums across the country will join the Smithsonian Institution in its long-standing tradition of offering free admission to visitors.

That's tomorrow, of course. You can print a pass for one time use on September 30, 2006.

To get a list of partcipating museums near you, see this link. If I can make it after class, I think I'd like to see The Bunny Museum.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Identity Crisis

Growing up in Taiwan as the son of a Chinese woman and a white American man, I did not fit into either culture. I suppose I weathered a deep, lifelong identity crisis. I found myself torn between two cultures, a guest in both but at home in neither one. At school, an English-speaking school for missionary kids, I found myself in a Western culture. At home, I lived in an American culture as communicated by my father, but one that was placed in a Taiwan context.

My father always accepted me. Having retired from the U.S. Air Force, my father spent a lot of time at home and was always there for me. He told me many stories and taught me many lessons; he remains the man I hope to one day become. I suppose he was the only one to understand, perhaps subconsciously, that his son was a Chinese-American amalgamation. Sure, I was more American than not, but I wouldn’t fit in in the United States, either. I did not discover that until I arrived at LAX in 1992; the first thing I saw was a billboard for an “adult bookstore” – talk about culture shock!

My mother has always had great hopes for me, hopes that she encouraged me to follow. She took my father to Taiwan in 1976, where they have remained for the last 30 years. Mom worked hard outside the home; I suppose she has a type-A personality. She used to come home and cook a meal, give me an allowance when she could, and then she’d be off again. She started many businesses, usually in the service industry, such as cafés or restaurants, but she never knew when to sell and get out. In the 15 years I grew up in Taiwan, my family was in or close to bankruptcy four times. We were, therefore, alternately well off or poor. I was always loved, and I never felt insecure, even that period of time when my family lived off egg sandwiches and donated clothing.

Both of my parents expected great things of me. They both wanted me to have more opportunities, better education, and a better life. I fully intend (even now) to provide for my parents in their old age in response to their love. I was expected to achieve, to excel, to succeed at all I set my heart upon; very often, that was indeed the case. After all, my family’s honor was at stake, and I couldn’t let my family down.

But, I am my father’s son. My mother expected me to be much more Chinese than I am. Sure, when I arrived in California I thought I was as un-American as you could get; I was wrong. My identity crisis merely came to the surface as I finally came to realize my fears were well grounded; I didn’t belong in Taiwan’s culture, and I didn’t belong here, either.

I spent 15 years of my life expecting to go the States and fit in, to finally be “home.” I expected to get an education and a job, find a wife and settle down. I didn’t think too much about kids, but I assumed I would have some (we won’t be having any). I always thought my parents would move here by the time I was 30 to 35 and live with my family.

What a shock to discover that I was not a natural fit in America! I feel comfortable now, but the first couple of years were a real struggle. Cathy, my loving wife, has been a great help in my journey.

It is due to all this that I feel deeply saddened by the distance that has come between my mother and me. It is not merely geography, but also emotions and culture. You see, I am not the son my mother thought I would be, that she hoped I would be. She also expected grandchildren that I won’t be able to provide. I had finally and completely failed my mother and let my family down.

My mother is convinced that I do not love her, and I cannot convince her otherwise. I am not her son (as far as she can tell), because I do not respond to her the way her son should respond to her. Instead, I have discovered that I am more my father’s son, for better or for worse.

I think the problem is actually cultural. This came as a realization after seeing a clip from The Joy Luck Club. I heard my mother’s words in the thoughts of Lindo Jong, and I heard my own thoughts uttered on screen. Seeing the onscreen mother and daughter struggling to understand each other reminded me of my mother and me.

At one point in the movie, the mother (Lindo Jong) thinks to herself:
I could see her face looking at me... but not seeing me. She was ashamed... so ashamed to be my daughter.
Shortly thereafter, her daughter (Waverly Jong) says:
You don’t know, you don’t know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look, and I’m four years old again, crying myself to sleep, because nothing I do can ever, ever please you.
There is another scene from the movie that sounds familiar to me. One of the daughters says to her mother:
Well, it hurts, because every time you hoped for something I couldn’t deliver, it hurt. It hurt me, Mommy. And no matter what you hope for, I’ll never be more than what I am. And you never see that, what I really am.
My mother and I have had similar “conversations.” It is, in fact, a cultural gap, a generational gap common to immigrant families.

this is an audio post - click to play

Unfortunately, my family does not fit the typical immigration family model. My mother is not a first-generation immigrant; she married an American and went back to live in Taiwan. I am not a second-generation immigrant; I was born here, raised among Americans overseas, then moved back to the U.S.A.

Yet, as a child, I did compartmentalize my different lives, between American school and Taiwan friends and home. I neither pursued Chinese culture nor rejected it; I took it for granted and only absorbed it in part. I readily accepted my American heritage, but did not know that I was not thoroughly American. As an adult living here alone, I had to integrate my different cultural compartments. Finally, I am comfortable being who I am.

However, now I see I do not know my own mother. My mother is hurt that I do not respond to her the way a Chinese son would. I absorbed some of her values, for example, I accept the mandate to provide for my parents in their golden years. It is likely that I would make a good American son, but I do not know how to express the respect and love I feel for her in her cultural forms, the way a Chinese son would love her.

My mother thinks I am ashamed of her, that I do not love her. That could not be further from the truth.

I do not understand my mother. When she hurts me with her words and actions, perhaps unintentionally but sometimes deliberately, I believe she is attempting to communicate the deep pain she feels. My mother may be hoping that I, seeing her pain, would respond appropriately, the way a Chinese son would.

In the end, I do not know how to be a Chinese son. My best hope to connect with my mother lies in communicating these very things to my father, and pray that he can communicate them to my mother. In the mean time, I struggle with how to honor my parents during this time. Perhaps, with some understanding, we can learn new ways of relating as mother and son.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Boaz's Eyes Opening

Boaz the Kitten's eyes opened today. This morning it was one eye, but now it is both eyes! He is also purring audibly now and has begun to groom himself. The video below shows him licking his paws and Cathy's hand.

Just look at how big he is getting! One week now! Cathy took Boaz to the vet on Friday and got him deworming meds (all kittens need it) and the doc put him on a temporary diet that ends Sunday. Boaz now weighs 4oz. Boaz the Kitten is just beginning to be exposed to the sense of sight, and apparently he finds seeing things as being very distractive. It is actually quite interesting... Cathy tells me that Boaz would be crying, and suddenly he just looks up, looks around, and stares at things around him for 20 minutes or more.

It is very adorable, especially since he isn't sure what to do with being able to see just yet. His ears are opening, too, and he's getting around better.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

White & Nerdy

Every heard (of) Weird Al? He is a very funny man, and his MySpace page has this video, as well as a muted attack on the RIAA.

Get this video and more at

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Boaz Lost His Umbilical Cord

OK, Boaz was apparently born on 09/14/2006, on Thursday. His umbilical cord just fell off on its own, which takes seven days to happen naturally.

Here's some cute pictures of Boaz...

There's also a video of Boaz being fed, here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Kitten Update: New Kittens

Yes, that's right, new kittens. Cathy brought home two kittens that look like they have some Russian Blue in them. These are less than a week old (ambilical still attached), and the teenage girls that brought them in think 4-days old.

They were quite weak and severely dehydrated, but we are hoping for the best!

UPDATE: I am sorry to say that the girl kitten died Sunday, about 3PM. The boy (we've named him Boaz) is still fussing and fighting, so that is a good sign, I think.

Kitten Update: Sam & Max

Cathy called from the pet adoption center at PetSmart; both found homes today. It never seems to fail... whenever we take kittens to the adoption center, they get adopted the first day!

I haven't posted too many photos recently, but to make up for it, here is a web album mostly of Sam & Max. (If you want a hi-res version of a photo, just email me.)

Max, the playful orange tabby with hazel eyes, went home to a family with a little girl that has been looking forward to having a kitty. I think they'll want to get another kitty to keep Max from going stir-crazy! I don't know Max's new name.

Sam, the lap cat, is the blue-eyed white Siamese-with-fawn-tips domestic short hair. Sam went home to a man who sadly lost his pets and was missing their companionship. Sam will be a great match! Sam's new name is Bob. :-)

Kittens 2006
Feb 3, 2006 - 25 Photos

Friday, September 15, 2006

So Far, So Good

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."
Steve Wright
Cathy got her initial test results back. This test measures for greater than 625 viruses per liter... this test passed. So, praise God and "thank You!" so far.

Kaiser Permanente is skipping the 3-month test. In February, Cathy will get her 6-month test, and that is the "big one" capable of detecting less that 3 viruses per liter (quite a difference).

In the mean time, thanks for the prayers, and please ask God to give Cathy relief from the rashes and the itching. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Podcast: Christians & Death

Cathy and I have been talking about death a lot recently. Actually, we've been talking about wanting to live together for several more decades, say... three score?

This is a conversation Cathy & I recorded after church on 09/10/2006. We had just lost one young man to a traffic accident and one old man to cancer. Cathy herself may be dying from liver disease (tests are still out).

Perhaps if we, as Christians, better understood the reality of death and heaven we would have a different response to death.

What is the proper response to death? to fear? to illness? How about to sudden death? We explore these thoughts in this podcast.

powered by ODEO

Perhaps heaven is like Hawaii... if it is truly such a great place, why do we mourn those who precede us there? It seems that the answer is, "we shouldn't", but I still have to work out why we feel sorrow, and the role of pain in our lives.

Hey, our first podcast!

Monday, September 04, 2006

What is the Great Commission?

Note: This is an assigment I have for a class. I'm posting in case any body else has a good insight as well as for future reference.

What is the Great Commission? The Great Commission is to “make disciples of all nations” by baptizing and discipling. Jesus’ words include both the target and the overall method. The book of Revelation indicates that every members “from every nation, tribe, people and language” will be before the throne of Christ, so I would argue that the scope is universal, as I take “all nations” (παντα τα εθνη) to mean “all people everywhere” rather than “nations states” or “ethnic groups” or “language groups.” Both baptism and discipleship of people everywhere would include language study to effectively bring people to faith and to tell them all that Jesus did and taught.

Certainly, we must understand the language. However, it would seem that merely having the language down would be insufficient. Although Jesus does not specifically say so, it seems to me that a prerequisite for fulfilling the Great Commission is love. I have a friend and brother in the Lord who is in Haiti. Learning languages does not come easily for him, but he has learned Haitian Créole in order to serve the Haitians better. What good would I be if I took language classes, graduated from seminary, then joined my brother in Haiti if I did not love the people? If I do not love the Haitian people, I cannot respect their culture, understand and accept their ways and wisdom, nor could I model Jesus Christ to them. Similarly, I think love for a people would also be important in translation work. The closer we can identify and love a people, the closer we can communicate the heart of God in transferring the Word of God into a people’s cultural context.

Indeed, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14 NIV) But how can they listen to a preacher who looks down upon them and fails to understand and appreciate them? So, while language is required to fulfill the Great Commission, love is essential in answering the call of Jesus Christ. Without love, any preaching I do would be just so much noise.

Words of love seem empty to use if they are not paired with corresponding actions. Along the same lines, if I love a person, I do not merely wish them to be well and stay warm; instead, I would provide for a person’s needs if it were within my power to do so. However, it is not enough to merely provide for a person’s physical needs. What good is it for us to save the body but ignore the soul? It does seem clear, however, that we cannot ignore a person’s needs and offer them only the Gospel if we are able to meet their needs.

One final point: Americans in general tend to behave as though we know better than the rest of the world. This tendency, plus a bleeding-heart social mentality that merely masks our need to appease our consciences predisposes us to meet the needs of people that we think are important. However, while we attempt to minister to other people, we must genuinely love them, appreciate them, and find out from them what they feel are their needs. The felt needs of a people are far more important than the needs we feel need to be met, and (I surmise) far less convenient to fulfill.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Other drama with my parents

The recent drama with my parents weighs on my mind, too. My mother is genuinely disappointed in me as a son. I had called yesterday, and she made me aware of just how much it hurt her that I am not the son she tried to rear. A large part of it is that my mother expect grandchildren that I cannot give her. The last time we spoke was Valentine's Day of 2004. I wrote a few times and my parents didn't write back. I wrote to my mom and she didn't respond. I quit writing and I quit checking the mailbox. Eventually, I grew numb to that missing connection.

Looking back, I can't remember the last time I received a letter, or a card. I think my mother is trying to punish me by withholding letters from me, I don't know. I think the last letter I got was from my dad, and that was when we lived on Margarita Dr, so maybe 2002? My mom stopped writing before that...

I've Been Quiet Lately

Sorry, but I've been quiet lately. I haven't posted much. It is not for lack of interesting things happening. I could say I was too busy, or have too much homework and any number of things. Those things are true. The fact is, I just haven't felt like being myself for a while. I think I have actually been hiding.

Yeah, that's a bit odd. It would not surprise me if Cathy's recovery has caused me to subconsciously begin allowing things that bother me to surface.

In my life, I am reaching my limit. I'm concerned I will not finish remodeling the apartment to get it rented out for September. I have been struggling to keep up with cleaning up the apartment. School has started, and I think I have scheduled 110% of my time. I may be overbooked, and all of my appointments are showing up on time.

Part of my silence is the growing awareness that I am... corrupt. Perhaps I am only more aware of the depravity within all mankind. Nevertheless, I am aware of my failure as a human being. *sigh* Ah, well, now I'm just rambling. Hopefully, I am just really tired.

Four Ribs Instead of Three, But Healing OK

OK, finally hooked up with my parents. He had his appointment on the 28th and got new x-rays. His regular doctor says it is four ribs instead of three, and the ribs are not side-by-side. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but the doctor says dad is really sticking to the program and is already beginning to heal. Dad's heartrate and blood pressure is remaining under control, so things are going as well as can be expected.

I forgot to ask how things were going with the man that hit my father.

I would ask that you pray my father recovers fully and lives for many more years; my uncles are all dead or dying from poor health. Please also ask for some level of justice; not retribution, but some kind of balancing the scales so that the man who hit my father will not just walk away without consequences.

Thank you for your prayers!

In other news, I found out my mother's reluctance to move here is actually a personal issue she has with me. In short, I have not become the son she was trying to rear, and that has but some distance between us. I'm not going to bore those of you who are reading to check only on my dad, I'll post something separate on that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Dad Is Recovering, and Other Details

Thanks for your prayers. I bought a phone card and called Taiwan. I did get to speak to my father. He is on the mend.

In a nutshell: he should recover use of his arm in six months. His next appointment is on August 28th, so I'll be calling for an update. I asked my parents to move to my triplex; he wouldn't mind moving here, but he is concerend for my mother. He promised to talk it over with mom.

The unabridge edition: My dad was going home on his motorcycle on July 22nd, obeying all the rules of the road. A car came up behind him and honked at him. The weird part is that the car could have easily passed him at any time, but instead it followed my dad for a block, honking at him.

It turns out that the guy in the car felt like my dad was driving inappropriately (bikes share the lanes with cars, but sometimes they have separate motorcyle lanes). So the guy in the car decides he is going to try to scare my dad to "teach him a lesson." Instead, he hit my dad, then tried to get away. The driver got stopped at the intersection by the red light.

My dad got a partial license plate and yelled at the man, accusing the driver of hitting him on purpose. Then the driver backed up, admitted that he was trying to scare my dad and hit him by accident instead (!), not "on purpose" per se. So the man took my dad to the hospital to get checked out.

The plot thickens... it turns out that the driver that hit my dad used to be an E.R. doctor at the hospital who started his own practice. This driver/doc drove my dad to to E.R., and my father got checked out, had his x-rays, etc. The E.R. assured my father that he was O.K. and that nothing was broken (remember that). He got a followup visit scheduled. Oddly, it comes out that it was the birthday of the driver/doc that hit my dad.

At the police station, my mom & dad spoke with a police officer. The driver/doc tried to justify the accident by accusing my dad of improperly operating a motorcycle, but an investigation revealed that my father was following all the rules of the road; it is on official record that the police found my father to be free of any wrongdoing and (amazingly) the driver/doc is on record saying he was trying to teach my dad a lesson. The police told the doc that he was in the wrong and that my parents can retain the option to sue if the doc doesn't justly compensate my dad.

In the mean time, my dad goes home to rest but is really sore. He gets checked out a couple of days after the accient. Dad's regular doctor tells my dad he thinks there's a cracked shoulder and some ribs. My father assured him that the hospital aleady checked this out, but the doc says he thinks there are cracked ribs and a broken left shoulder. They recheck my dad, and it turns out my dad's left should was separated (5cm) and has three cracked ribs. It will be 6 months before he can use his shoulder, and in the mean time he needs to get a lot of rest.

What I find suspicious is how an E.R. examination, with x-rays, did not reveal this the night my father was hit by that doctor. Since the same x-ray indicated problems to my dad's regular doctor, how did the E.R. doctor miss it? It seemed strange to me that the man who hit my father intentionally would also drive him to the E.R., so I think he asked someone to lie to my father "for old times sake."

Things took an unexpected turn for the worse... A couple of days go by, and my father is really sore and starts having trouble breathing. He coughs up dark stuff and decides to go back to the E.R. He was having such difficulty breathing that the E.R. decided to put a tube down his throat. They also pumped out 4 pints of dark, coffee-colored (mystery) fluids, then he was able to breath. The hospital kept him for observation for 4 days, during which time he missed his followup appointment. He was discharged on Aug 8th. My dad had to rebook his appointment, and the next available appointment Aug 28th.

Back at the house, the driver/doctor comes by daily to visit my dad to butter him up. The doc offers something like $6000 USD as compensation, which my mother rejects; the insurance company was not even involved yet, and the doctor is trying to cover up his intentionally hitting my dad. My mom is seriously pissed off (and that isn't good for the doc). The doctor then offered a little more, etc, but my mom is looking to have the doctor's driver license revolked and thrown in jail. The minimum sentence is 2 months for a misdemenor hit-and-run (or something like that). Plus she can sue.

What's next? I had asked my father to move here, into the triplex we own. I couldn't afford to pay the rent for him, but his Airforce pension could easily cover my costs and still give him almost $1000 a month to live on. Longbeach has a great VA system to cover his medical needs. My dad wouldn't mind moving back here, but he is thinking of my mother. Mom wouldn't have coverage, friends, employment... he'll think about it, but not until the 6 months is up and after the potential law suit is settled. I'm thinking that mom would have my dad, her son, and should be able to get coverage through my father... I'll have to look into that.

My father's next appointment is Aug 28th. So if I call the evening of the 28th here, dad will already have had his appointment.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Father Was Hit By A Car in Taiwan

My father was hit by a car last month. He rides a motorcycle and, from what I understand, the car hit him and broke his shoulder. There is concern for internal injuries he may have sustained. While he was recovering in the hospital, he also threw up dark blood. He is back home now, resting.

I just heard about this from my sister-in-law, who had called Taiwan to say "hi." I almost never call, and write infrequently (I wish my parents had a computer).

Cathy and I spoke about it, and I am going to call tomorrow and ask my parents to move into the apartment next door. My dad is 71; a 71-year-old man should be able to take walks, chat with the neighbors, watch all the sports and news channels he wants and visit with his children. If they won't move to California, I'm going to arrange to visit Taiwan, but I would rather send tickets for mom and dad.

So, please, pray for my father, whom I love a great deal.

Ellen's Video a Mover & Shaker

Remember Ellen's video of her teething posted back in May? The video made its way into the 300's yesterday on Google Video's "Movers & Shakers". So, it looks like Ellen got her 15 hours of fame!

For all the kitten videos on this blog, click here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cathy Returning to Herself

Cathy is getting better with each passing day. The first thing to return was her energy level; the attitude soon followed. :-)

Cathy is beginning to behave like the lively, bubbling-with-life woman I married. It is so strange, getting to know the woman I love all over again, but I'm quickly adjusting to it. She still has some of those rashes (note that I haven't posted a photo of her in over a year) and still has a little difficulty sleeping at night. I am looking forward to sharing the bed with her again; sleeping separate got old pretty quick, but we've dealt with it.

I'll update when we get the first blood test results back.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free Starbucks Iced Coffee TODAY ONLY

File Under:
Today, Aug 18th, between 1 to 3 PM (13:00 to 15:00), California Starbucks locations are givining away 12oz iced coffees. It's a "beat the heat" promotion. I called and confirmed, so guess where I'll be at 1:00 PM?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cathy's Last Shot!

I can't believe I have been so busy that I haven't said this yet...

Cathy had her last shot! That's right, no more injections! This is her final week of treatments, and then it is just the six-month wait for the final results.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers during this past year. Please keep Cathy's health in prayer, that she will be completely healed at the six-month mark.

As a reminder: the treatment is intended to kill the virus. If, at the six-month mark, there are no viruses remaining, then Cathy will live out the rest of her normal lifespan. Otherwise, we should have between 6 to 12 years together.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sam & Max are Almost Weaned

Wow... when you get older kitties, they seem to grow faster. I wonder if that happens to foster parents?

Anyway, I was worrying about Sam because he wasn't takign his bottle. We did a little experiemnt and disovered that he is eating the dry food. And now Max is doing the same, too. They both ignored their bottle tonight, so it is on to "all dr food" with some wet food already!

They grow so fast... *sniff*

AOL Gets Into Online Storage

Following yesterday's news that AOL would offer AOL email accounts for free, AOL announced plans to provide 5GB of online storage for free, with no transfer limits. That might even convince me to revive my old AOL email address. via Downloadsquad

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AOL Goes Free

After much speculation, AOL announced today that it would finally bite the bullet, and become a free portal, complete with free AOL email addresses for anyone who wants one. via Techdirt

I was wondering when this would happen... AOL dial-up has long been overpriced. Does this mean people will no longer have trouble cancelling AOL accounts? If you want to hear the audio referred to in the previous link, check out this blog post.

I have heard many times, "I'm paying for AOL because all my family / friends / etc. have my AOL email address." Now you don't have to pay for it! Anyway, if you do have AOL dial-up (my condolences), follow these instruction: call up to cancel and they should offer you $9.95 unlimited dial-up. If you have DSL, follow the instructions two posts down on the link I just mentioned to keep you AOL addresses for free.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bottle-Feeding a Kitten Video

In the morning, the kittens are pottied, then they get their bath, blowdry, and finally medications. After they are fluffed up, we feed them. Each kitten usually takes about 1.5 tablespoons to get full. After that, we burp them, massage them and play with them.

I almost didn't post this kitten video because I spend a lot of time making baby talk, but it is too cute me to withhold this from everybody!

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Kittens: Sam * Max

We got a call for another litter of bottle-fed kittens.

Apparently, the mom and one kitten were attacked by a Pit Bull. A woman found these two and called the shelter. So, there are two in this litter, and I have dubbed them "Sam & Max." Sam is the white one, Max is the orange one. They are both male, and that will break my mom's heart.

On that first day, I captured these videos of the kittens falling asleep.
Short Video...

Long Video...