Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My final class session

I am attending my final seminary class, listening to my fellow students expound on Scripture and the finer points of some of the Hebrew text from Genesis.

From a couple years up until now I have felt the strain of completing my degree, but eased by the support of my wife. Now that my formal education is coming to a close, I am beginning to feel the joy of completion!

Commencement is on Friday at 2:00 P.M. The timing precludes the attendance of most of my friends and family; that is O.K. with me. The commencement ceremony itself is the end of my academic career, but the beginning (or commencement) of all which God has planned for Cathy and me. That is what I look forward to, most of all.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sophie's been adopted!

Sophie has been adopted! All of Sohpie's kits found homes, and Sophie herself went to a the same (extended) family that adopted two of her kittens together. yeah!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Don't boycott The Golden Compass

I'm not boycotting The Golden Compass, and neither should you. Please, don't draw any more attention to Pullman, his books, or the movie.

I have already read the book, and it is a very well-written and subtle, but effective, attempt to plant negative ideas about God in the reader's mind. The other books only promise to get more explicit in the attack on young minds who would read this series.

Rather than drawing attention to it, however, we should let it die quietly, and engage in conversation with people who express an interest in the movie and the books.

As Marc T. Newman of MovieMinistry says:
I want to make it clear at the outset that this series of articles is not designed to be a call to boycott The Golden Compass. Any attention Christians bring to The Golden Compass by yelling, screaming, offering to pay for the prints to burn them (as I remember a televangelist saying at a rally denouncing The Last Temptation of Christ) will only fuel the curiosity factor. You would think that Christians would have learned that lesson. The hype around The DaVinci Code turned a boring film into a box-office juggernaut, earning it six times its production budget and guaranteeing that Dan Brown’s other book, Angels and Demons, would get the green light (it is tentatively scheduled for a Christmas 2008 release).

Besides, it won’t work. The Golden Compass has become the “must see” film of the Christmas season. Every time the trailer for the film comes on the audience reaction is positive. They are positioning this as a family film filled with adventure and excitement. A Christian boycott will not stop this film from being a blockbuster. And there is a better way to approach this movie.

The method we find used in the Scriptures to confront the accusations of non-believers, or pagans, is not threats, but persuasion. In Acts 17 and 19 we read of Paul speaking to the Athenians, or hear of his tactics among the pagan people throughout Asia. He moved them with arguments. Paul was well-versed in the mythologies of his time, and, when he had the opportunity, he used that knowledge to question, confront, and make opposing claims. His goal was not to win some temporal culture war, but the battle for his immediate hearers’ souls. We should have the same aim in mind.

Christians can successfully use popular culture as a means of starting conversations about morality, ethics, and the Gospel. I have received numerous emails from people describing how they used Bible studies and FilmTalk cards created by MovieMinistry to bridge the gap between entertainment and evangelism. As distasteful as it may seem, The Golden Compass represents an opportunity for Christians to engage lies with the truth. The first step to understanding how that dialogue can take place is realizing that movies are not monologues.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gmail up to 5.4GB, with IMAP!

I've been using Gmail for a while now. The capacity has grown from 2GB to 5.4GB, and I've only used 9% so far. Google Apps is so appealing to me that I intend to transfer my father-in-law's church to it once I start to administer the network.

The truly amazing thing about Gmail is the free POP3 and SMTP access, and now the inclusion of IMAP. The difference between POP and IMAP is how email is stored; in POP, you take the email away from the server, and in IMAP you duplicate what is on the server.

Some ISP's have offered POP for free, and most charge for SMTP access. None of the other free email hosting services offer IMAP at all. Google is a pioneer in that regard.

With POP email, the mail is moved to your computer; if your computer crashes, the email is gone. With IMAP email, the mail on the server is synchronized with your computer; if your computer crashes, the mail is still on the server and available to you. If you delete a message from the server, it is gone from your computer. If you mark a message as read on the server, it is marked as read on your computer.

If you have used corporate email like Exchange or Lotus then you understand client/server email. IMAP is a great way to pick up email on multiple devices without you having to keep them all in sync.

If you are still using an email like Yahoo! or Hotmail, or YourName@Verizon.net (or sbcglobal.net, etc) then I would encourage you to get a gmail account, or better yet, get your own domain and migrate your mail server to Google Apps. If you need a gmail invite, just drop me a line.

Cathy playing Guitar Hero

My friend Joe has been trying to get me to play a game called Guitar Hero for a long time now. Finally, he just loaned me his Playstation 2 and the game. Last night I hooked it up and gave it a try.

This game is really fun! I don't know most of the songs (I only recognized "Message in a Bottle") but I had a great deal of fun trying to "strum" the cords. It is difficult, though! That makes me think more highly of the musicians who play weekly during our worship services!

Here's Cathy playing bass guitar... if you skip to about 0:50 you can hear her finish it off.

video

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Graduation is around the corner!

Last night, I did my very last assignment for my MDiv degree. It is finally starting to sink in, and I'm quite happy!

I noted with amusement that I was the class of 2000 for my undergraduate degree, and will be in the centennial class for my graduate degree.

I should be getting those grad announcement cards any day now, so I'll have to mail those quickly. Most of my tech-savvy friends read the blog, so if you're reading, you're invited; send me an email and I'll send you directions.

It's been seven years! I graduate on 12/14/2007, just a few days after my 34th birthday. Thank God!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Favorites

Got an email from Yvonne asking about Christmas favorites, one of those that you forward to everybody? Here's my list...

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping Paper

  1. Tree--Real or Artificial?

Artificial – more economical

  1. When do you put Christmas tree up?

First week of December

  1. When do you take the tree down?

Before New Years

  1. Like eggnog?

Nah

  1. Do you have a nativity scene?

Sorta

  1. Favorite gift received as a child?

Bicycle

  1. Hardest person to buy for?

Cathy (duh)

  1. Easiest person to buy for?

In-laws (See’s chocolate!)

  1. Worst Christmas gift?

Tube socks (come on!)

  1. Mail or email a Christmas Card?

Snail mail is better, email when desperate

  1. Favorite Christmas movie?

It's a Wonderful Life (feels good, even if it is theologically dubious)

  1. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

September

  1. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Yes (!)

  1. Favorite food to eat on Christmas?

Turkey?

  1. Clear or colored tree lights?

Colors… the pretty colors!

  1. Favorite Christmas Song?

O Come O Come Immanuel

  1. Travel during Christmas or Stay home?

Travel to meet family

  1. Can you name Santa's reindeer?

Donner, Vixen, Blitzen, Comet, Rudolph… that’s it.

  1. Angel or Star on Tree top?

Star

  1. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas morning!

  1. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Shopping malls

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Georgia and Back

Several friends have noted that I have not been keeping up with the blog and emailed their concern. Thanks! Some of you have noticed that we went to Georgia and came back without blogging about it. Part of that is due to the business surrounding that trip, but that was a month ago now. So, first...

Georgia.
I bought a ticket for $146 and flew out to Georgia on 10/17. Cathy met me at the airport and we happily drove back to her dad's house together. We attended Cathy's sister's wedding on Saturday. I got to preach twice (Sunday and Wednesday) and generally attended morning Bible studies and tagged along with Cathy's dad, Al, as much as possible.

Al's cancer had progressed much like a faith journey; there was a spot on his brain scan, and on a re-check the spot had dissappeared and been replaced with another one. Each health chalenge is met by God's grace, and new challenges come along, another opportunity to trust God. Al's health is in God's hands, and we all think that is a good place for it. The doctors are convinced it is a matter of time; Al thinks God is not done with him yet, and it is a matter of His time.

I have received a great deal of education which should prepare a pastor for a position of ministry. I look at what Al does, though, and know that education along is insifficient to do what he does daily. Rather, God's grace alone is sufficient for the task, for which Al says he does not measure up, and for which I would see myself falling far short of acheiving. When I first met Al, I thought that what he does is admirable, but something I could not do. Later, I found it admirable, and would consider helping on occasion. Then, I considered the possibility of being an assistant pastor, but I decided that I could not lead such a ministry. And now, I know for sure such a ministry is beyond my power, but would willingly labor in it.

The church campus is large to me, sitting on 22 acres, most of which is undeveloped. I looked around and saw great potential. It is in this context that I heard God's call, to my surprise and no small distress, that He wanted me to serve as Al's successor. As I already stated, I am unable to fulfill such a task on my own power, and my own inability terrifies me. It was Friday evening that I knelt with Cathy and prayed, and accepted in my mind that Al was going to ask me to take his place; not long thereafter, Cathy's dad did, indeed, ask me to do so. By faith, I have accepted what we each believe is God's will. Since then, I have come to a peace that God, in His sovereignty, will provide and direct.

I was unable to preach on Sunday before we left because I wanted to see my longtime friend and brother in the Lord, Ted Chandler. Saturday came surprisingly quickly, and we left early on Sunday in order to drive up to Indiana and see the Chandlers. Ted & Angela encouraged us in our decision and ffter sharing a meal at Cracker Barrel we pressed on. We stopped at St. Louis (MO), Denver (CO), St. George (UT), and got home. We were very happy to see my kitties and doggy again.

I had previously inquired about a transfer to Georgia but I was told that there is no room right now; payroll in Georgia is already full. That means the company is needs to either make a lot more money, or someone in Georgia would have to retire or quit. *sigh* God will work it out. So, that's the update on Georgia.

Finances
Cathy and I are looking to refinance the triplex so we can afford it. After all, we're expecting God to provide a means for us to move East. My original plan involved being bi-vocational, essentially getting a transfer and working at the church with every spare hour. Now, I don't know, but the first step is to make living more affordable.

Cathy is still looking for employment; we joke about working at Starbucks, where she could get inexpensive coffee. She is thinking about a mailing place, though, as well. We'll see how that works out.

Cats
The cats are all doing OK. Boaz is very much himself and seems nonetheless for wear since his surgery; the only difference with Boaz is his increased affection for us. Bubba just got his nuts removed today, but male kitties recover so soon that you would think they didn't notice being at the vet at all.

Graduation
I graduate the second week of December. Thank God.

There are a few other things, like Cathy's car getting keyed, but God seems to be teaching us to be less attached to material things, so we're not looking to get that fixed immediately. We went to Disneyland as we had two passes which were expiring, and we stayed Big Bear for a timeshare sales pitch and $75 (free money!). On the way back from Big Bear, Cathy and I discussed and debated passages about Satan whether we give him too much credit; what a suitable wife for me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs


I want one: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs.

Boost your vocabulary & give free rice

Increase your vocabulary with a Reader's-Digest-style quiz at Free Rice and help earn (that's right) free rice paid for by banner ads at the bottom of the screen. The rice is distributed through the U.N.

P.S. If you are wondering about the nutritional value of rice, click here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Water for Africans, Free Music for You

Visit HopeAmp, sign up and receive a free song download (from Matthew Smith; I like "All I Owe"), and help Blood:Water Mission (founded by Jars of Clay) provide clean blood and clean water in Africa.

The Gift of Worship

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Portal: the Flash Version


If you like puzzle games and have about 90 minutes, check out Portal: the Flash Version.

Alone in His Timing

I just realized how much I am depending on my seminary connections for peer support and prayer support. As the chapters of my seminary story come to a close, I find myself too accustomed to the plot and storyline. It is high time for a transitional event; in narratives, a problem is introduced and the story revolves around the solution and end with the resolution. I am looking forward to the new circumstance to which God is calling us.

God's timing, I think, is usually close. Just before he called Abram into the land of Canaan, the Early Bronze Canaanite culture in the highlands was all but destroyed by a series of destructive invasions. The Intermediate Early Bronze-Middle Bronze (2100 BC - 1900 BC) was the stage in which Abram and his decedents wandered the land. Interestingly, Abram entered Canaan in 2091 BC (shortly after the destruction), Joseph went to Egypt in 1898 BC and Israel's family moved to Egypt in 1876 BC (just after the end of the period). Prior to this period, the Canaanite highlands were populated and not suitable for a Bedouin.

There was a bare 10 years between the destruction and Abram's arrival; that's pretty close.

Nevertheless, God prepared the way before Abram and then called him into the land. I do no know if Abram knew all that was happening in the Canaanite highlands; he did intercede for the cities of the plains. I am confident that God has prepared the way before; now I only need to follow.

That also means that God will provide my peer support. I have long wondered, sometimes aloud, "If people go to a pastor for support, who does a pastor go to?" After all, if you are always ministering the Word of God, must you always hear God's Word preached only in your own voice? For my part, I am seeking peer support by pursuing affiliation with a denomination, but I look forward to God's more excellent way.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Walking by Faith

I graduate in December, and I have long wondered what I would do next. The plan (my plan, anyway) was to just keep doing what I am doing until God shows me otherwise. I was just waiting for God to show me the way.

In addition to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it seems that God guides us through his Word. I have been reading much in Genesis, and I just finished the account of Abraham. I have been praying that God would undo me and remake me, and that He would increase my faith.

Abraham is noted for his faith. It should also be noted that Abram was taught to believe in God through numerous circumstances and many years. God grandually revealed to Abram the full divine plan, and He preserved Abram through circumstances and mistakes. For every lesson we have recorded, great periods of time passed. It was over a decade between the rescue of Lot and the conception of Ishmael, and another 14 years before Isaac was conceived. God took almost 25 years to teach Abram to believe in God, and renamed him Abraham. Before Abram, there was Abraham; Abraham believed God's promise, and God considered him righteous.

God is calling me to take a step of faith. True to form, I only know where to go next, but not quite how I am getting there, or how I am going to accomplish anything when I get there. I only know to go as soon as possible, but I do not see how it will be possible. I am yet an Abram, but I look forward to being an Abraham.

I want to point out that Cathy knew long before I did, and waited for God to tell me the same thing. She is a godly woman.

As for the next step, I don't have much to say. I believe I will be a bi-vocational pastor for the foreseeable future. I do know I enjoyed being in Georgia and want to move there. I am still hoping that my company will transfer me to Georgia.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Boaz had surgery -- and will survive

In short: Boaz swallowed a penny-sized glass bead and had surgery to remove it. He's recovering at home now.

Apparently, cats can go for many days without food. Cathy left for Georgia on Thursday, and on Saturday Boaz threw up unexpectedly. None of the other cats were sick, so I just kept an eye on him. Cathy thought she expected Boaz to be ill for some reason. His appetite was good, he drank and played, so I thought nothing of it.

On Tuesday, I woke up and found more evidence of Boaz having been sick. Again, he seemed OK, was cuddly and ate well, so I just began to worry. On Wednesday, I made an appointment and asked Cathy's mom, Rhonda, to take Boaz to the vet... That eventing, Boaz seemed almost depressed, but still ate, yet was no longer playful, only cuddly.

Thursday, Boaz was seen by Banfield. Nothing seemed wrong to them, although Boaz seemed dehydrated to me. They suggested an X-ray and blood work, but didn't have a clue what could be wrong; no virus, no fever, just subdued behavior. I suggested he may have swallowed his bell (off his collar) but nobody expects cats to do anything like that. We took him home and locked him up for observation and to see if he would have a bowel movement.

Come Friday at noon, when I went home to check on Boaz, he has been alone for 24 hours, and no "deposits." He refused food and seemed obviously dehydrated. I got worried and took him in that afternoon and got the X-Ray and blood work done.

As soon as I saw the X-Ray, I immediately knew what I saw looking at; in Boaz' digestive tract was a rock the shape of a flattened burger bun. I recognized the size and shape as the decorative glass beads that we keep in some crystal vases. Boaz had swallowed the glass bead!

I got the estimate and approved the procedures. The vet had to keep Boaz overnight to rehydrate him before surgery, and to stabilize his potassium level. They weren't sure, but Boaz made it through the night and was much perkier, and I greeted him early Saturday morning, and about 4 P.M. after his surgery. I left him to recover again, overnight.

A nice nurse, Megan, let me in for a few hours on Sunday. When I saw Boaz again on Sunday he was almost his usual self; he was cuddly, sought attention, and kneaded my arm when I petted him. He was off the I.V. and obviously better, and groomed. I had to leave Boaz another night, but a doctor called me less than an hour after I left to say they fed him and he ate very well. I was very happy.

Monday morning, before work, I was able to spend another 15 minutes with him. I called at lunch and he had not had a bowel movement yet, but when I visited him for a few minutes at 2:30 P.M. he had done his dootie! They let me take Boaz home Monday night with special food.

Boaz is on special canned food and needs to wear an e-collar when he is unsupervised (to keep him from irritating his wound). He barely makes it onto the bed, but he slept with me this morning. Boy, did I get attached to him this last week!

Oh, I picked up every last bead and small, unattached object when I went home Friday. No more evil little beads around!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oliver Licking Zechariah

This video is from June of 2006... somehow, I never posted it! It is quite cute.

Day 7 Without My Wife

It has been 7 full days without my wife at home. Cathy left last Thursday morning (arrived last Saturday evening) and we have been fending for ourselves, the furkids and I. *sigh*... I miss my wife.

The kitties miss Cathy a great deal. Boaz, in fact, even seems depressed; he's quite subdued and doesn't play anymore. Boaz even threw up a couple of times, so Cathy's mom took him to the vet for me (nothing they could find). *sigh*

I'm finding it difficult to stay motivated. You would think that, with the alone time, I would get much done, but I feel less productive than when Cathy is with me. Perhaps it is because I have to take care of the house and furkids, and perhaps it is the busyness, but I think I am simply "blue."

I have been keeping the kitchen neat, but my desk is starting to look messy. I need to get ahead on my homework for the three class periods I will be missing; I may also prepare a few Bible studies, in case I have opportunity to teach while in Georgia.

Food and clean clothing will be running out soon, so I'll actually have to fend, truly, for myself. It is such a wonderful thing Cathy does for me, the way she takes care of me so I can concern myself only with work, study, and ministry. *sigh*... I miss her.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kitty Videos Around the Web

Here are some kitty videos I saw online... Gotta share!



Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm the highest letter in my Hebrew class

Remember how, in school, a teacher takes roll and calls off all the names, by surname, alphabetically? If you have a name like Brent West you were probably always called last, but if your name is like Edwin Chandler you were called almost right away. Growing up, I always got called somewhere in the middle.

Something weird happened to me... I got called first. That's right, Jones was the first surname, alphabetically, in my Hebrew class.

There's a lot of Koreans and some Europeans in my class, with a lot of Mr. Kim's... oddly, making me first. Never thought it would happen to me!

Cathy driving to Georgia again to see her dad

So Al, Cathy's dad, had two operations scheduled, one for his throat and one for his lung. He had trouble breathing afterwards and would have died but was resuscitated.

He had the throat surgery Tuesday was recovering at the hospital when he “flat lined” and had to be resuscitated. The doctors are saying he had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used for the surgery, and this was a reaction to the allergy. I'm not sure what that means, but that scared the family.

Al is under observation but expected to make a full recovery.

Cathy is still quite spooked and is driving out to see her dad. Please pray for Al’s recovery, and please pray for Cathy’s safety in travel. Thanks. She should be there Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cathy's Dad's Cancer is Shrinking!

Got an update on Cathy's dad. The chemotherapy is nearing completion, and the tumor is shrinking. Short of a miraculous disappearance, this is what we prayed for. There are two surgeries planned, one for the tumor and one for his throat.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Backing Up Into Cars

This past Sunday we backed into another car on Sunday, at church.

I was at church early, and Cathy came a little late. Parking is scarce at church, so I told her to meet me in front, and I would park the car while she got a seat. She thought she saw a parking spot in the alley next to the church, which led to the events in which we hit another car.

I say "we" because Cathy although was driving, she thought I was guiding her, and I don't blame her for thinking so. She could not park in the alley and began to back out between the wall and the other cars. At one point, I warned her that she was getting close to the wall, and she thought I was guiding her the rest of the way out. At the end of the alley, we hit a red car.

So, we hit a red car parked at a bend at the end of the alley. It wasn't too bad, but it was a light scrape. I put a note on the car, sent Cathy inside, and parked the car. While I was waiting for a spot, I prayed with an elder, and on my way down the hall to the sanctuary I prayed with another elder. By the time I was in my seat, I was finally O.K. with it.

After the service, we waiting around for someone to call. Unfortunately, there was a lunch event associated with our missions events. Asking around, the senior pastor said, "I think that's Jim's car."

This Jim, as it turns out, is the man I report to for my IT stuff at church. Sure enough, I found him at the lunch and confirmed it is, in fact, his car. He said he'd look at it and call later. I offered to pay for the damage and went home.

Honestly, we don't have the extra money, what with the impending mortgage crisis. It was a real blessing, then, when Jim called and left me a voicemail indicating, "never mind, fergetaboutit." He indicated he was parked illegally anyway, and it wasn't too bad, it'll be unnoticeable after a car wash.

Thank God, and thanks to Jim. That was very gracious of him.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Boaz!

Boaz is one year old today! Happy birthday, Boaz!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11/2001

Today is the six-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. I was driving back to the office about noon when I heard it on the radio.

Where were you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nice weekend

We had a very nice weekend. OK, it was also a busy weekend, and Cathy felt that I had over-committed myself, but it was a good weekend, nonetheless.

On Saturday, I got up and worked on the computer a bit, and Cathy woke a little later and kept me company. We lounged around the house until I had to leave for the church to do tech work for a Luau and concert.

The Luau and concert was great. We had somewhere between 200~240 people attend, with five responses from first-time guests to our church requesting a follow-up. The music provided during the worship was fantastic, led by Imua Garza (YouTube videos), his wife Tiffa, and his brother-in-law Eric. They were great! As a request from our youth pastor, he did his Super Mario guitar solo (embedded below). That guy is really good! They also played Sunday morning and evening (when we had the youth event).

On Sunday, along with the Hawaii-themed worship, we heard from Dr. Eric Theonnes, a pastor from another EV Free and a professor at Biola. He spoke on the glory of God and how it should impact our lives and missionary work. It was truly fantastic, with a cogent message, good delivery, and a consistent, coherent theology firmly grounded in the Bible. One thing that struck me deeply was his reference to Isaiah seeing the Lord enthroned (in chapter 5), and he was undone. I pray for such an undoing of my self.

That evening, my loving wife convinced me to find someone else to cover the worship service and spend time with her. She was right; I was spending too much time away from family, even for such a good cause.

This night (Monday) we attended a missionary appreciation dinner at the Disneyland Hotel sushi restaurant, Yamabuki. Each table got to sit with one of our missionaries and spent quality, quantity time with them. The couple we sat with have been involved in L.A. inner city missions since 1981 and has a similar target at Cathy's dad's church. I was already asked by a pastor to visit his ministry to help out, and this conversation confirmed so much more. I am looking forward to my first visit.

Well... it is late, and I have a Hebrew test tomorrow, and I am having difficulty staying awake...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Update 3 on Cathy's Father

Cathy heard from her step-mom yesterday. Al will be starting chemotherapy in one week. He'll be treated daily at the clinic for four weeks. It's quite a drive, almost two hours (something like Dahlonega, GA).

If the cancer shrinks in four weeks, they will operate, Al will recuperate, and we will all celebrate, because that would be it -- no more cancer. If it does not respond in four weeks, the chemotherapy will continue until Al goes into remission.

I am praying this works the first time around. Cathy's sister's wedding is in late October, so Al would have time to recover. May God grant our requests!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bulls in a China Shop

Ever seen Myth Busters? Here's a rather entertaining one: Bulls in a China Shop.

Monday, August 27, 2007

See if you can read this without laughing

I read this article (http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=bizarre&id=5607170) out loud to Cathy. We were laughing out loud on this one.

My favorite line:
I'm glad it's going to a museum and not a private collection.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I was mean to my mother-in-law

It was Friday night, and I was mean to my mother-in-law, Rhonda. She needed a "talking-to," but she didn't deserve anyone being mean to her.

Cathy's mom has been with us since Saturday, September 3rd, 2005 (I just checked). In just over a week, it will have been two years. About five weeks ago, Rhonda became unemployed by walking out when her manager was reading her the riot act. As it turns out, walking out while your boss is scolding you means you quit. When you quit, you do not get to collect unemployment benefits; that's for when you are terminated. So it has been a hard month for her.

Rhonda had difficulty securing another job. I do not know why, or how difficult it is to get a job right now; I have not looked. She got behind on her car payments and other things, and we are not in a position to help. I also happen to be of the opinion that it would be unwise to help financially. Anyway, Rhonda spent all day waiting for social services; she learned about this through the Orange County 2-1-1 system. 2-1-1 is the equivalent of 9-1-1 but for human services referrals. While they couldn't help her with her car payment of medications, they did give her $40 for gas. That was nice.

So, I guess she had a rough day. She came home about 8:30 P.M., appearing frustrated. She complained to Cathy about the rash can being full and wondered aloud why I hadn't taken out the trash. I found that pretty annoying; if it is full, pull it out, tie it up, and put in the new bag; I'll take out the trash later. I figured I would do that before bed, but went outside with Oliver to get away from my frustrated mom-in-law.

So, I'm standing outside with Oliver, and I figured I would try to pray. My mind was racing with annoying thoughts and feelings toward Rhonda, and I didn't want to do or say anything I would regret. I thought I was praying, asking God for patience, asking God to help me ignore Rhonda's complaints. Instead, I thought about how I couldn't remember the last time she said "thank you," how she drains resources without any consideration for us, and generally behaves like a bad roommate from my college days. I struggled to put aside all the negative, bitter feelings. I was asking God for grace.

Apparently, Rhonda decided the trash couldn't wait. I heard her shooing Boaz away from the door, and then Boaz was outside. She told me I better catch him, and I told her that she let him out, she needs to catch him (and I would help). She said it's my cat, I catch him. I said she let him out, it is her responsibility. She said I should have trained my cat to stay indoors; I caught Boaz. I told her that she needs to take responsibility for her own actions; at least apologize. She rolled her eyes and walked away from me. I told her that, if she walked away from this conversation, she could move out, too. She kept going, and I yelled after her, "That's it, I've had enough. You're moving out! I'll bring the boxes from work tomorrow!"

Some where in there, I threw in a cuss word, too.

Cathy was understandably surprised; she was too wise to try to talk me out of it. Instead, she talked to her mother, who basically said she had done nothing to apologize for. I threw in my two cents, Rhonda basically just glared at me and went into her room and shut the door.

About 30 minutes later, after I got ready for bed, she found me in the bedroom and said she apologizes for letting the cat out. I apologized for using a bad word at her, and we each went to bed.

Upon reflection, I realized that I did not apologize for not wanting her to live here anymore. I may have spoken the truth, but I did not do so in love. In fact, nothing I did was loving.

I also do not think I was actually praying. Rather, I believe I was simply trying to talk myself down. I probably would have gone on to praying, but I had not got there, yet. Cathy and I had a decent conversation about it, afterwards.

So, there it is, my confession.

Rhonda's approach to handling conflict is to pretend it didn't happen. I find it rather awkward, as I think I would like to apologize for speaking to her so harshly. Still, what I want to apologize for is saying that I don't want her living here; but, I don't. Gah!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Update 2 on Cathy's Father

Al's cancer has indeed spread (previous post).
:-(

He is not a candidate for surgery, but they think chemotherapy may help. However, Cathy is not sure Al would undergo chemotherapy willingly.

More on Monday...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taiwan to be struck by Super Typhoon Sepat

Per this Reuters article, Super Typhoon Sepat is going to hit Taiwan today (interactive map).

I don't remember what year (maybe 1990), but there was this one typhoon season when we had three separate storms cut right across Taiwan, just like this one is supposed to do but from west to east. We had high winds, hard rain, flooding... school was naturally canceled, and I remember trying to ride my bicycle and getting pushed all over the road. If I remember right, that was the same year I saw a car floating down the street.

Typhoon Sepat has caused a lot of trouble for the Philippines... I hope Taiwan fares better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update on Cathy's Father

Here's an update on Al, Cathy's father.

The lung capacity test results are back and they are good. They met with the surgeon today and feel very good about him. The surgeon is wondering about the initial diagnosis, though; he thinks the prognosis is better than initially expected. He is reviewing the findings of the first doctor before proceeding.

The cancer is in the upper part of Al's left lung. The inflammation caused by the cancer spread to his larynx, which caused him to lose his voice. The first doctor thought the inflammation had spread from the left side of Al's larynx to the right side; this could mean the cancer spread from the left lung to the right lung. The surgeon does not think this is the case, but he wants to make sure.

The other bright spot is that the cancer is growing very slowly. They have at least two months to determine the best course of action. This gives us much more time to plan our trips and get the grandkids to Al.

The possibilities of Al's treatment are:
  1. the cancer has not spread, it is large-cell cancer, they remove one lung, he lives normally in remission.
  2. the cancer has not spread, it is small-cell cancer, they treat him with chemotherapy, he goes into remission.
  3. the cancer has spread, he gets chemo.
Come what may, the timing is much better. Please ask God to prevent the cancer from spreading, and that God grants mercy upon Al and those who love him. Thank you!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cathy's father has lung cancer

Cathy's father has lung cancer. His name is Al.

The results of the initial test came back yesterday; it's not the type of cancer you can leave alone; it is not benign. A lung capacity test has been scheduled for Monday, 08/13/2007. If that works out, the doctors will arrange for an operation to remove the cancer; up to removing one lung.

Cathy is understandably concerned. While we had been praying for this for about three weeks now, I had expected it to be benign. We are making arrangements to be present before and after the operation. Cathy's brother and his family will be going, too.

Al is a pastor out in Georgia. Our plan is to ask (and receive) an eventual transfer to Georgia, then begin working with Cathy's dad's church. Cathy would work there most weeks, and I would work there on weekends and after office hours. So, they're looking forward to our eventual arrival. We have plans for several years of working side-by-side until Al's successor can be installed (I think he is hoping it is I, but I'm thinking we'll just get through this and get to Georgia, first).

It is another time to ask for God's grace to trust Him and His will. Please pray that the upcoming tests are good, that the surgery and scheduling all work out, and that God grants mercy upon Al and those who love him.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Palm Desktop beta available for Vista

Palm Desktop 6.2 Beta for Windows (Vista) is available now. It only supports Vista, and it is beta. But, if you are stuck committed to Vista, at least you can play with your Palm PDA again.

Via DSL, via Brighthand

Vista's slow file copying, video problems, spooler dying finally patched

It's about time! If you've copied files and wondered why it was taking Vista so long to do a simple task, here's the update for you.

KB 938979 "performance and reliability" update addresses (among other things) the "file transfer" problem, which Microsoft describes as, "When you copy or move a large file, the 'estimated time remaining' takes a long time to be calculated and displayed." This is what I referred to my coworkers as the "why does it take so long to copy one file?" problem.

KB 938194 "compatibility and reliability" update deals with some video card issues and a printer problem, so you may want this if you 1) play games on Vista or 2) have a problem with print spooler dying unexpectedly (although I'm not sure it will fix bad drivers).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How to Green Your Pet

Love me, love my pets. Love God, love His creation. Here's a good place to start thinking about being "green" where it concerns your furry family members, starting with "adopt from a shelter" to "feed them better food."My personal tip -- don't flush cat litter; according to the handlers at SeaWorld (see also http://cats.about.com/b/a/257490.htm), some cats carry a parasite which hurt ocean wildlife like otters.

read more | digg story

Monday, August 06, 2007

Las Vegas Trip

So, we went to Las Vegas to enjoy our timeshare. It had changed hands a few times, and the new HOA wanted to try selling us more stuff while discussing some favorable changes. We didn't buy, but we're happy with the changes and the inexpensive stay while we were in town.


Tuesday: We drove up on a Tuesday, and boy was it hot all week! It was 107 at Baker, CA (good name) on the way up, and 112 when we came home. It actually poured heavily as we crossed into Nevada, but cleared up as we got near Las Vegas. Once we got there, we just settled in and relaxed for a bit. We finally decided to read the Harry Potter series, so we we read some of that (cooling it at Borders) and generally just tried to decompress.

Wednesday: The next day, we sat through the presentation; time actually passed pretty quickly. As it turns out, Wynn had sold Bally's to Harrah's, which in turn tried to buy the property we owned (which was originally Ramada, them someone else, then someone else, and now "Summer Bay"). Anyway, Harrah's did something wrong and our HOA sued and won, and Harrah's settled by offering to move us one block into a 5-star facility (which they later regretted because they now want that property). There was a buyout offer that the owners voted down; the new facility will be worth much more if we hold on to it. We took the rest of the day easy, walking the casinos and playing a little badminton and ate dinner at an amazingly good Mexican place "Lindo Michoacan" -- highly recommended if you stop into Las Vegas!

Thursday: We actually spent the morning wandering through various casinos (thus seeing the giant chocolate fountain in the Bellagio) searching for treats Cathy can eat, and searching for hours for her towel. Now, the towel probably sounds very HHGTTG, and it's not a joke; the hotel towels were unusable for Cathy (too much polyester), and she didn't bring one with her. We eventually settled on a nice towel from the Paris Las Vegas casino.

Every time we are in Las Vegas, Cathy wants to see another show, one we have not seen before. As this vacation coincided with Cathy's birthday, we discussed seeing Blue Man Group, but Cathy decided on Stomp Out Loud instead. We got tickets and had a very nice dinner at a tucked-away place called "Rosewood Grille." After that, we enjoyed the show at Planet Hollywood.

Stomp was very enjoyable (YouTube clips); I was unprepared for the show, as I only knew that it involved percussion and unusual instruments, and I was thoroughly entertained. Cathy absolutely loved it. We had purchased middle-section tickets, off center, but the guys seating us moved us forward to the front sections, dead center, and those were great seats. It was a nice "happy birthday" upgrade for Cathy!

Friday: We had planned to see the MGM Lions and take it easy the rest of the day, reading at the book stores and playing badminton. As it turns out, it was so hot we tried to stay indoors at all times, so we ate a lot of watermelon at the resort, saw the lions around lunch, walked around the casino shops and read more Harry Potter at the bookstore. We had planned to watch the Fountains at the Bellagio casino but a storm moved in, whipping up a lot of wind with lightning on the horizon. We stayed home and at more watermelon, reading more Harry Potter.

Saturday: We went and checked out the tiger display at the Venetian casino and got to watch a tiger swimming; it was actually kinda cute (from behind inch-thick glass).

That eventing, we got cheap tickets to a variety show at Planet Hollywood, inventively named "V." It was hosted by Wally Eastwood, whom I recognized from this YouTube clip, where he plays the piano with juggling balls. We were very entertained, and the other acts were pretty good, too.

Oh yeah... during the comedic act of Russ Merlin, he talked four men (I was one of them) into raising our hands, and then asked for four volunteers. I didn't see the rest of the act, as I was under a mask, but Cathy found it absolutely hilarious, and we got tickets to Nathan Burton’s Comedy Magic Show, which we decided to see Sunday, after church. That same evening, we saw the Bellagio fountains and watch six or seven shows in a row.

Sunday: There's only one EFCA congregation in Las Vegas, so we visited that church on Sunday. It's a church plant, and the pastor is good (graduate of TEDS). I keep thinking that a church plant is a good idea...

At 2:00 PM we saw the Nathan Burton show, which was very engrossing and family-friendly. We got home at 10:30 PM, and we were very happy to kitties and Oliver, who were also very glad to see us.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vista Wireless DHCP Problems with SonicWall TZ170w

The title bar link will not work for you if you do not have a SonicWall forum login. Nonetheless, here's an interesting problem I ran into and the solution.

I've been running Vista with various wireless access points just fine; Vista's WiFi stack seems OK to me. Then, we had a client running Vista who could not connect wirelessly to the firewall/access point we sold to them. That was a problem.

The Problem:
This Vista laptop was not able to obtain an IP address via DHCP from the SonicWall TZ 170w. It was able to associate itself (it showed up in the mac/ARP table) to the access point, but instead of getting an IP adress it kept reporting an IP address conflict. The same Vista laptop acquired a DHCP address just fine when connected through wired Ethernet.

Other symptoms included the laptop mac address showing up multiple times in the DHCP lease table on the SonicWall, the event viewer recording DHCP errors on differing IP addresses all reporting conflicts, and finally the wireless NIC falling back to an automatically assigned private IP address. I think that, if our DHCP pool has been small, this single laptop would have used up every available IP address in the DHCP pool.

The Solution:
According to Microsoft, a network trace revealed that Vista client is doing gratuitous ARP while losing the IP.

One of the usages of ARP is to provide duplicate IP address detection through the transmission of ARP Requests known as gratuitous ARPs. A gratuitous ARP is an ARP Request for a node’s own IP address. In the gratuitous ARP, the SPA and the TPA are set to the same IP address.

If a node sends an ARP Request for its own IP address and no ARP Reply frames are received, the node can assume that its assigned IP address isn’t being used by other nodes. If a node sends an ARP Request for its own IP address and an ARP Reply frame is received, the node can determine that its assigned IP address is already being used by another node.

After obtaining an IP address from the SonicWall TZ 170w firewall, the Vista client issues an auto-ARP to assure no conflict; in doing so it expects an answer from the DHCP server confirming the IP address. Without the confirmation the client will decline the IP address received via DHCP.

The core of the issue seems to be the ARP request sent out by the Vista client. The wireless Vista client issues out a Version A ARP request with a source IP address of 0.0.0.0. This is non-standard behavior (whatever that means). Future SonicWall TZ 170w firmware will address the issue.

The Resolution:
The ArpRetryCount registry setting sets the number of times that a gratuitous ARP is sent when initializing IP for a specific IP address. If no ARP Reply is received after sending ArpRetryCount gratuitous ARPs, IP assumes the IP address is unique on the network segment.

In the mean time, runas REGEDIT as administrator, then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters and add a new REG_DWORD named “ArpRetryCount” with a value of 0 and reboot.

Again, according to Jean-Marc of SonicWall (as of May 2007), a future firmware will address the issue.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vista: Five-Month Impression

OK, it's been five months since I first started using Windows Vista. I started off using Vista Ultimate, but frankly I did not find the additional features of Ultimate to be compelling. I tried using Media Center a couple of times and never used BitLocker. As I said previously, there's no compelling reason to upgrade from XP.

If you do upgrade, however, make sure that Vista has been available on similar hardware for a few months. My Toshiba laptop required a BIOS update to make all the hardware appear correctly in Vista, and drivers were not completely available until May. I would check for both drivers, firmware, and BIOS updates for your platform before upgrading.

Speaking of upgrading... my opinion on Vista editions is as follows:
  • Vista Home Basic: Why bother? It's just Windows XP with annoying UAC prompts.
  • Vista Home Premium: get a decent graphics controller
  • Vista Business: if you don't need Media Center, this is a better choice because of the advanced backup feature of disk imaging
  • Vista Ultimate: You better have top-of-the-line hardware and actually want to use Media Center, otherwise just use Vista Business
  • All Editions: get 2GB memory (1GB is bare minimum)
If you just want the graphical improvements, check out this article and this utility.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Returning to normal

Well, life seems to be returning to normal for me.

Do you know that feeling, if you take a vacation, where you have difficulty relaxing for the first few days after a stressful time? It's August, and I'm beginning to feel like a normal human being again.

Yes, school starts in a few weeks. But, frankly, I'm feeling ready for it, finally.

Cathy just had her birthday, and we went to Las Vegas for a time-share vacation (I'll post on that later). I bought her a really nice set of knives (don't laugh) -- she threw the set we got after our wedding into the trash about three weeks ago out of sheer frustration; they were 10 years old, I suppose.

We had a good time in Las Vegas, but I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something really important, like a birthday... but I think I was just nervous about Cathy's birthday going well. Still, I've got this nagging feeling...

I've written my parents a few times; it is no secret that I struggle with being a good son. I've offered to send some money home, but I have not heard back from my parents. I am growing concerned, but I do not yet wish to call them on the phone; my last conversation did not go well, and I yelled at my mother. I regret it, but I feel my apology would be insufficient. Perhaps that is why I have not heard from them.

Work is good. I am still hoping and praying for a transfer to Georgia. I'm looking forward to serving in Cathy's dad's church, along with whatever else God has planned for me.

Oh, that's right! My pastor called while he was on vacation and told me there's an opening to preach as a guest in L.A. for a ministry we support there. I'm looking forward to that, too.

Cathy took a few really nice pictures of Bubba, our new adoptable kitten. Man, is he cute! I suppose I ought to post a picture... later. I've got a wedding to get to!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter, Loud Music, and Vocabulary

Harry Potter: I'm not very current on what's popular from day-to-day. I have yet to see "The Passion of the Christ" and I have yet to read a single "Harry Potter" book (although I watched two movies, I think). Nonetheless, I found this article in the Washington Post both interesting and sad (sorry about the print-preview version, the main article requires subscription). The line that hit me was the author's daughter asking, "Do we have to keep reading this?" Frankly, it doesn't sound like a children's story to me (comparisons to Narnia and Middle Earth seem to me, at best, a reach), and even the movies don't interest me. The recent Newsweek review of the latest film doesn't make me reach for my mail-order DVD queue, either.

Ripping Music: I've ripped almost all of our CDs and burned them as data discs for my wife; she has just about every album we own in her car, right now, neatly in a 10-CD case. As I was listening to some of the music, attempting to hit them into logical collections on a single CD, it struck me that some music just didn't sound good. Not that the musicians were bad, but the music just didn't "strike a chord," as it were. Then I came across this video, which argues that today's record companies use too much compression; makes sense to me. This is probably why I prefer live performances.

Nonetheless: I first used the word "nonetheless" when I was required to do a paper in 4th grade (I think; his initials were W.W.W.) of a certain length, so I looked up big words in the thesaurus. My teacher chided me for using words in my paper that I wouldn't use in everyday conversation; little did he know that paper sparked an interest in expanding my vocabulary. I find it ironic, then, that I don't like Harry Potter, and struggle to use shorter words when composing sermons.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eternal Life Starts Now

Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. John 17:3
This is eternal life. ...It is not just unending life in the sense of prolonged duration. Rather it is a quality of life, with its quality derived from a relationship with God. Having eternal life is here defined as being in relationship with the Father, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. The use of "Christ" (Χριστός, Cristos) is not characteristically attached to Jesus’ name in John’s Gospel... here in 17:3 enables us to correlate the statement made in 1:18 of the prologue, that Jesus has fully revealed what God is like, with Jesus’ statement in 10:10 that he has come that people might have life, and have it abundantly. These two purposes are really one, according to 17:3, because (abundant) eternal life is defined as knowing (being in relationship with) the Father and the Son. The only way to gain this eternal life, that is, to obtain this knowledge of the Father, is through the Son (cf. 14:6). ...For John this knowledge is not intellectual, but relational. It involves being in relationship. (From the NET Bible)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Music Thoughts

Cathy's new car, Izzy (she named it "Izzy," although "Indie" was a close second), is a Hybrid with all sorts of new technology. We didn't get the navigational package (neither one of us liked it), so we got a CD player instead. One nice thing about the CD player is that it can read MP3 / WMA CDs as well as traditional Red Book.

I personally find WMA a somewhat better audio format than MP3 (though of course opinions differ); the WMA licensing is also less restrictive than MP3. And, since the CD player cannot read Ogg Vorbis, WMA will do.

I'm ripping all our CD's to WMA v9.2 variable bit rate (VBR) at 90%, which produces files about 192kbps. Unfortunately, the car stereo cannot handle anything higher than 240kbps, so I cannot use 98% VBR. That's alright - I doubt I could tell the difference even with great speakers.

So, I'll be creating compilation CDs with all of our Third Day albums on one disc, all of my Beethoven on another disc... you get the idea.

Weird thing... I came across a 2001 album by Tait entitled "Empty." It's autographed; I seem to recall that I won the Michael Tait autographed album from Air1 (great station, by the way).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Fat Ninja!

There I am, the fat ninja (the ninja who is fat, not the ninja of fat; anyway...). That's Malachi's tail as she runs away from the strange man.

Remember how I mentioned swords in a previous post? Well, I had one of their ninja swords shipped to my office.

It was actually quite entertaining; I unpacked the box without reading the label first, and found myself holding a sword. My coworker, Mike, looked at me a little nervously and asked if it was a butter knife (dulled edge) or not. For the record, it is dull. I did get some inquisitive looks, but nobody else asked me about it. (Funny...)

I had previously lent my telescoping nunchucks to the son of one of our church elders. He's into swords and other martial arts weapons. Oddly enough, they are heading to Ecuador for a missions trip to visit the Wadani tribe (yes, the same tribe from the movie, "The End of the Spear").

Odd... my last post about weapons also involved movies...

Team Work, Tithes, and Responsibility

Did you ever have a teacher who made you work in teams, and everybody gets the same grade? This is the "one-for-all" approach that is supposed to foster team work and be effective in the workplace. By extension, this should be true in churches, as well.

I have a philosophy about working in a church (and sometimes for the church). Ideally, each person understands that our work is more than a job function; it is a work unto the Lord. As such, working on a team in a church should be easier, since we're trying to please one and the same Lord, instead of advancing ourselves or our own agendas.

Therein lies the struggle for me; on the one hand, I have been contracted to organize and set policy for technology at my church, so I have an obligation to do it to the best of my ability, both as a Christian and as a job requirement. On the other hand, there are objectives and goals to be reached, and each person or ministry has their priorities. Some of these are complimentary, some are are contradictory.

Budgeting, however, has been an issue for me. Some people are understanding, others push for what they want me to buy for them, regardless of need. It bothers me when other staff purchase computer accessories or software without shopping around. This is because every dollar we don't save, when we could have saved it, is spent wastefully, no longer available for other purposes. I feel like I am spending God's people's money.

With every laptop or monitor I buy, I spend someone's gift to God, or tithe. It is a large responsibility, being responsible with God's money.

I wish I would feel that way about my time, my talents, and my thoughts.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cathy's Georgia Trip

So, we had a relaxing Independence Day. (I always feel like there should be an "a" in independence.) Basically, we went to a coffee shop in a bookstore to escape the hottest part of the day, bought a drink and read our diet books in the air-conditioned store. Then we sat on the front lawn and watched neighbors light fireworks before retiring for the evening. I'm very glad to have Cathy home.

While on her trip, Cathy saw some neat stuff. She pull over in Utah and saw these pretty rock formations. While driving through Illinois, she passed the Air Force base my father was stationed at when I was born. There's an obligatory picture of my cute nephew (that's Cathy's new car behind them). And, finally, Cathy got a picture of the Cross on the High Plains.

Cathy also checked out my employer's Georgia office... it would be nice to get a transfer.

Now that I am out of school, I find myself busy with church work. Oddly, I'm at my least talkative and more pensive. Go figure. Oh, my knee is getting better.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bricks, Bees, Knees, and Cathy's 10-20

Today, our church voted for new elders and approved the budget.. We had one service instead of two and our topic was about building and pitching in, drawn from the book of Nehemiah. It was a good message, encouraging our church members to help in the building of God's vision by picking up a metaphorical brick. Our pastor makes great use of props and visual aides. He is hitting on all cylinders and doing everything textbook right with great timing in terms of leading the church through change. It is a pleasure to behold.

My "brick" , as it were, is to try to make ministry possible, or as easy as possible,through the use of technology and by coordinating the front line ministries. I get paid for the first objective but no the latter. that is fine, as I see the former as logically prior to the latter anyway.

After lunch, I came home and began cleaning Cathy's office, which I share but have rarely had opportunity to use during Sophie's convalescence and the nursing of her kittens. It took me a while to clean it up; five kittens can make quite the mess!

While I was outside cleaning the litter box, I got stung by a bee! I've never been stung by a bee before, and it didn't hurt as much as I had imagined. I got stung on the tip of my right index finger and was able to remove the stinger quickly, perhaps minimizing my discomfort. Poor bee; I wish he hadn't stung me and died.

While moving around the furniture for vacuuming, I think I tweaked my left knee somehow. It's stiff and it really hurts if I bend it much. Fortunately we do not have stairs to climb.

Cathy is in New Mexico (not California, the other New Mexico). She should reach Arizona tonight and be home tomorrow afternoon. I had got it in my head that she would be home this afternoon, so I was quite disappointed last night when I realized she'd be gone another day. Well, that gives me one more day to clean up around the apartment.

She has some nice pictures which I am looking forward to sharing!

Friday, June 22, 2007

DO THIS!! Block Scams & Porn for Free

Amazingly enough, I have never spoke about OpenDNS on this blog. Your should start using this immediately. Here is their Wikipedia entry.

It's really easy to set up, just so long as you have configured your router before. To start using OpenDNS today, just change your router's DNS servers to 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 (if you are not sure how, there's a dozen configuration examples of the most common routers on their web site here).

What you'll get immediately is anti-phishing protection and typo protection. There's an example site at www.internetbadguys.com, which looks like this screenshot when you are using OpenDNS. It has helped my mother-in-law out in the past.

To also set up the adult site blocking, see these instructions. There's no signup for the basic anti-phishing, but for adult site blocking you need to give them your IP address some how. This would be the slightly more complicated part, especially if you have a dynamic IP address for your Internet connection. However, OpenDNS supports dynamic IP addresses, too.

I've configured this for church, and it was easy and free. Totally worth the 30 minutes it'll take you to read and configure this. Even if you don't go for the porn blocking thing (if dynamic DNS is too complicated for you), use OpenDNS anyway for the anti-phishing.

Some important links:
Common router configurations
Adult Site Blocking
Dynamic IP address configuration

Weapons and stuff

I played with nun chucks as a kid - in fact, I have telescoping nun chucks. Metal ones. Two pairs, actually. I almost broke my front teeth with them, too! I lent a pair to the son of one of my church elders. I'm not sure that was a wise move. I bought them after a Bruce Lee movie (who didn't?).

It's no surprise to anybody that we liked the movie, "Lord of the Rings." Cathy even knows the names of most of the swords, including swords that Gandalf used in "The Hobbit." I particularly liked Narsil, and Legolas' short swords. I suppose I could purchase a couple of swords from somewhere like King of Swords, which carries fantasy swords.

Something else entirely cool is the idea of blending martial arts with guns. There's a could of action movies, both written by the same guy (no coincidence), which feature this. They both have a post-catastrophe storyline and both feature the notion of guns as martial arts weapons. One is called Equilibrium, and the other is Ultraviolet. Both pretty violent... but if you are into action films, I'd recommend both.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Finally, we're back!

Well, finally, I am back from summer school. I must admit, I'm not making the best use of my time... and I have been so busy I have no idea what's going on it my friends' lives. I'll have to read some blogs and get caught up.

Some stuff to update...

First, Cathy's in Georgia. She was looking for a good reason to visit Georgia and to see her dad. Father's Day seemed like a good enough reason. There were two choices, to fly or to drive. Tickets weren't cheap, and Cathy doesn't like to drive rentals, so for the slightly increased cost but guaranteed freedom of movement, we opted for the drive. More about her trip in a bit...

Our 2003 Honda Civic badly needed a tuneup, especially if it is going to make a 5,000 mile trip. So, on Friday the 8th we dropped off the car at the dealer and got its maintenance done. I picked up Cathy in our 1990 Civic, which prompted tried to overheat in the parking lot. It also refused to start. I had been dealing with car trouble, and figured I would have to sink two or three thousand into the 1990 Civic for it to be a reliable car once again. I was hoping to nurse it until my graduation in December, and perhaps sell it and get a transfer to Georgia.

Well, we retrieved the 2003 Civic, and since we were at the dealer we checked out the newer cars. As you have likely guessed, Cathy drove home in a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, and I drove home in the 2003. Our 1990 Civic has been a very good car for the last 12 years. I must say, however, that I am enjoying having air conditioning and a CD player, and I felt better about Cathy drive cross-country in a new vehicle.

So, we got a new car, and Cathy drove out to Georgia to see her dad. We've driven across the country on the I-10 and the I-40, so this time Cathy took the I-70 to Nashville, and then down into Georgia. I miss her, but she is enjoying her time with her dad, and I finished my class. It is good that she got there before Father's Day.

Ah yes, the class! Darrel Bock is a world-class exegete, and his commentary on the Gospel of Luke is the gold standard work. Bock comes to California as a visiting professor at our seminary each summer, and I greatly enjoyed thinking through the Gospel of Luke. It was two weeks of stimulating and thoughtful handling of Luke and, where appropriate, the Synoptics. I gained much from it, and hope to preach or teach through Luke some day. Just one more class in the Fall, and I'm done!

While Cathy is out in Georgia, I pretty much have the place to myself and the pets. I didn't really notice for the first several days, since I was still busy with the Luke class. But now that the class is over and I'm back at work, I'm starting to feel lonely. I wish it were possible for us to both be there right now.

Cathy likes it there a lot. So much so, in fact, that she would like to move there. There's a Starbucks in her dad's town now, so she feels even better about moving! As it turns out, the company I work for has an office north of Atlanta, so I asked my manager if I could get a transfer. I just asked today, although both my manager and the VP already know I would love to move there. Cathy's dad's church is praying that I will get the transfer - the really like me for my previous visits. If we do move to Georgia, I hope I do not disappoint them.

Let's see... there's the kittens. We had Sophie and her babies, and then another batch of orphan kittens. We almost lost Sophie a couple of times, but she and all five of her girls are healthy now. One of her girls, Marcy, is now named Boots and lives in apartment three. The other four are ready for adoption and are staying at the shelter with Sophie.

Of the other litter of orphans, I'm sorry to say we lost all but one of them. Cathy found hard for their survival, but they just couldn't digest any food. The vet indicated that it was likely a birth defect, and that none of the litter had a good chance. But the one Cathy named Bubba did survive. He's small for a six-week old kitten, but he's growing fast! It's almost like he's a couple of weeks behind on his development. I wonder if he'll be slightly under-sized?

I suppose that is about it for now. Going back to work was pretty difficult. I got into the habit of taking an afternoon nap, and I was soooo tired this afternoon! I better hit the sack.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To all our concerned friends...

Hi everybody! We haven't dropped completely off the face of the earth. But, I did get really, really behind on homework and spent a couple of weeks studying to catch up. Classes end May 24th, so I'll probably post a lot of backlog at that time!

In the mean time, Cathy and I both caught colds.

Sophie & babies are doing very well (wish I had time for posts).

Thanks for all the "how are you" emails. Sorry to worry you! We'll be back at the end of the month.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quick Update


Keeping Up

Another month has gone by and my life is crazy-busy. I've got a Hebrew Exam on Tuesday and I've not done Hebrew in a week. Eek!

Today, I got a tetanus shot. Sophie bit me while I tried to pick her up. Let me explain...

I got up late today, having stayed up until 2AM working on the church technical budget. As usual, I checked in on Sophie. I found her lying in the middle of the room -- nothing unusual there, but then I noticed that she had made a mess, lost control of her bladder. She was not responding well to me, just barely acknowledging my presence. I saw she had diarrhea at some point, and I woke Cathy. I got the carrier, and, trying to lift Sophie gently into it, discovered that she was in a great deal of pain.

Sophie communicated her suffering by nipping at my hand near her face. When I persisted in moving her, she nipped harder, and tore some skin on my thumb. She wasn't trying to hurt me; the wounds are shallow and are scratches more than bites. The vet told Cathy later on that Sophie is hurting a great deal from a mammary infection, the poor thing.

Anyway, I got a tetanus shot today. Oh, and I got new glasses yesterday -- they have magnetic clip-ons for the sun. I like it.

Cathy's doing well, and is beginning to make jewelry again. I should take a picture or two... she's going to start selling them for some income.

Kittens

Sophie is recovering, and the kittens are growing. They've really started exploring -- Linus is a particularly brave one, and he's taken to following Cathy around. Lucy and Marcy are absolutely adorable. Lucy was the first, I think, to drink water, and Linus led the way in using the litter box. Sally and Charlie are the largest kittens, and very playful.

Random Thoughts

I had to write up a technology budget for my church. It is interesting, because I had a need to replace a laptop, so I'm spending my first bit of significant cash. But here's the interesting thing... I also got my quarterly giving report. Looking at the money we've given back to God, and looking for a replacement laptop for a pastor helped me crystallize something I already believed in: stewardship. You see, when I make a purchase or plan a budget, I'm not just spending "God's money" (which is difficult to quantify), but also "your" and "my" money -- money worshipers have given faithfully to God. As such, I must spend it carefully, judiciously, as a good steward.

I already believed in good stewardship, fiscal responsibility, and fiduciary trust. However, getting my tithing report at the same time I needed to purchase a laptop helped me truly incorporate that belief.



Sophie's kittens are starting to eat


You can see above a very cute photo of Sally (left) and Linus (right) with a dirty chin. Sophie has a potassium deficiency (vet says this is common) and has gotten an infection in one of her breasts (also common). So, this was good timing for the kittens beginning to be weaned.

They're also getting litter-trained as I type.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cat Ride the Bus

The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings - he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop.
So, there's a cat in England that rides the bus. I wonder who's it is?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Google 411

Try this out... 411 via an 800 number with no advertising (for now). Google Labs is experimenting with Google Voice Local Search. Call 800-GOOG-411, give it a city and state, ask for a listing, and it will return the results and connect you to the listing you choose.

The whole thing can be voice-navigated. I called and found my church and was connected to the main number. Way cool.

Naturally, unless you block your own caller ID, Google will gather information for marketing and later advertising purposes, as well as attempt to improve their service. According to their privacy policy, they will collect and store your phone number, and time of the call, and the voice commands you used, until they connect you to the listing. They don't collect this if you block your number.

You can use Per-Call Blocking (aka Selective Blocking) by dialing *67 before dialing the phone number. You'll have to dial *67 every time, though.

While Google promises to respect your choice to block caller ID, you should know that they don't have to. Because the other party pays for the call, FCC rules allow toll-free companies to use Automatic Number Identification (ANI) technology to identify you even when caller ID is blocked. FCC rules, however, limit parties that own toll-free numbers from distributing the numbers identified through ANI.

Video of Sophie & her kittens



Sophie is well again and the kittens are really big for just three weeks. Cathy named them after the Peanuts cast.
Charlie - solid dark kitten
Sally - dark with tabby stripes
Marcy - black & white, dark head, no white line on top
Lucy - black & white, dark head, half a white line on top
Linus - black & white, dark head, full white line on top
And, of course, Sophie is the momma.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vista APPCRASH error with spoolsv.exe

I'm running Vista Ultimate and I kept getting this message: "Spooler SubSystem App stopped working and was closed." The details indicated the following:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: spoolsv.exe
Windows Vista has a nice "Reliability and Performance Monitor" which gives you an index of system reliability. Just click START and search for "Reliability" or type in perfmon.msc. It tracks application failures, so you have an idea when things went downhill. I could tell that the application failures I had were related to spoolsv.exe and began on 03/26/2007.

While the "Reliability and Performance Monitor" tracks application installs, it does not seem to track printers as hardware installs. Fortunately, I realized that I added a network copier and allowed it to install the drivers, which were actually designed for Windows XP.

So, you you keep seeing spoolsv.exe appcrash errors in Vista, try removing the printer AND the driver. Here's how:
  1. Go to the Control Panel and click Printers
  2. Right-click on the white space and click "Run as administrator > Server Properties"
  3. Click on the "Drivers" tab, click on the offending printer and click on the "Remove" button.

    When prompted, click "Remove driver and driver package."

    Answer "Yes" when prompted to delete the driver.
  4. You will then see a dialog indicating that driver package information has been collected. Click on the "Delete" button.
  5. Back in the printer list, delete the offending printer by clicking on it and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.
For really stubborn printers that refuse to delete, note the files the printer driver uses and delete them while in safe mode. To do so, on the "Drivers" tab (see above), click the printer and click properties. Sort the "File" column alphabetically by clicking on the heading. Write down the files involved and also write down the "driver path" above the "File" column. Delete these files in safe mode, then repeat the removal procedure above.