Our daughter Morgann just got back from a week and a half in Texas, where she got to retrieve some but not all of her "stuff". It's good having her back, I think everyone in the house missed her. Although the other three kids are at their grandparents for a week so when Morgann came home expecting the pitter-patter of feet racing down the stairs to welcome her there was just silence, and her asking, "Where's my minions?"
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've been stewing on a question for the past week or so, ever since Jeff wrote praising the new Batman movie and Brant posted pretty much the opposite (twice).
Please note - I have not seen the movie, nor will I. I am not into such things. So I am going to take it to a meta-level and ask that you follow me there. So in the following we're not talkin' 'bout Batman, 'k? So I am not dissing nor discussing that particular movie, 'k?
Here's the deal I've been thinking about - Brant's original post seemed to be pretty simple. Batman, for whatever else it may have in it, apparently had a lot of violence. My wondering started with, "Is it ever OK, as a Christian, to watch violence as entertainment? Ever?"
Just for the record, after due consideration my answer is, "No. Never."
Here's why. We're supposed to love people, and love peace, and bring that love of people and peace to the world. How can we do that if we love violence so much we want to fill our heads with it? If we watch ever-more-gory-and-realistic violence in our movies and play it in our computer games? Sure, I already know where you're argument's going to go - "But that's just entertainment! It's just on the screen! It's not real! It doesn't affect me, I just watch it for fun."
That is your argument, isn't it? 's'OK - it's everyone's argument in this culture whenever someone brings up violence on TV or in the movies or in video games (anyone reading this into first-person shooter games? WoW?) or even, God forbid, football (and hockey, and basketball). So let's think about that for a minute. If I accept that someone (you specifically - adult, mature, well-balanced, mentally healthy you) can watch something violent for pure entertainment and it doesn't affect them and how they think, then that immediately leads me to another conclusion.
Porn must be OK.
Now, I am not talking about porn where either participant is coerced, or underage, or not of my species or anything on the fringes like that. I am talking about two (or more) consenting adults goin' at it in graphic heterosexual detail, period. Hey, it appears lots of married people even like to film themselves and post it on the Internet as "amateur porn" - digital exhibitionism and all that. So, let's use that very example - married couples just "spicing up" their sex life by displaying recordings of their intimacy for others to see. What can be wrong with watching that, eh?
Because after all, it's just entertainment, right? It doesn't change who we are, or how we think, or how we view others, right? Right?
"Oh, wait," I hear someone say. "Porn is different." Why? "Because it's about sex." Yes? "And sex is a special act, and it is about relationships with other people, and it is visceral and really affects us at a subconscious level." OK, I can accept all that.
So what makes violence different?
Violence is a special act. Violence is about relationships with other people. Violence is visceral and really affects us at a subconscious level. Huh. I guess I don't see the difference.
So here's where I am at on the subject of violence in entertainment. I watch some violence in movies. Mostly in movies I have seen before and know where and what level the violence is at. I have been consciously trying to avoid introducing new violent scenes into my head over the past five years or so, no matter how "good" the movie may be. So no Saving Private Ryan, for example. No Batman, either. Actually, it is part of the reason I didn't finish the second two installments of Lord of the Rings, even. Because I really do believe violence affects us. It reprograms us. And I don't think that reprogramming is a Good Thing for Christians to have in their heads. Any more than the raw, impersonal sex in porn is good for us. I certainly don't think it's good for me to have in my head. It's not a morality thing - I don't think you'll necessarily go to Hell for having seen the Blade trilogy. It's a practical thing. I can't think "peace" if I keep filling my head with violent images.
I started going down this thought process very slowly almost three decades ago, when I saw my first David Cronenberg movie. David Lynch movies then accelerated my thinking about it. Because no matter how good I thought those movies were (and they were), there were scenes in them where I could literally feel, almost in real time, my brain changing. Images that appeared so quickly that there was no way to filter them out - I couldn't even close my eyes fast enough. And now they're in my head forever. I would've never thought about the situations portrayed in them if I hadn't seen them, and now they will always be a part of me. I don't think I like that. No, in fact I am sure I don't like that.
So starting sometime around 1999-2000 I started getting much more careful about what I watched (and read, but reading's easier to stop before you go too far - today's modern quick-cut movie editing makes it almost impossible to anticipate when they're going to implant a brain worm). And this post is written to ask you to think about it, too. I am not telling you to stop playing computer games or watching Batman movies. Who am I to set myself up as your judge? All I am saying is perhaps, just perhaps, each of us needs to carefully think about and choose what we are going to mentally ingest. That's all. Just think about it. Because you don't get a chance to undo what you see.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This is in case I don't get the real post out tonight, which is one that's been bubbling for a week or more and I keep putting it off, because I think I am going to piss off Jeff when I write it.
So...in the interim, and as sweet saccharin goodness, I will post the following as human interest filler.
Erin, our 12 year old (and growing up way too fast - thanks for asking) went on her first float trip with the junior youth group at church today (on the Current River, for those of you wired in to Missouri's float rivers). She was nervous and excited at the same time, as you can only be at 12 ("But, I've never been on a float trip!"). And she got her first real certified zit overnight in anticipation - how apropos! So we just got the call that she'll be back at the church parking lot at 9:30 and hopefully all went well (she sounded excited and tired at the same time). One of the, ahem, better looking boys in the congregation was on the trip, so I am sure the scenery was Just Fine. :o)
Ah, sometimes the finer parts of parenting is just getting to sit back, watch and smile...
Monday, July 28, 2008
Most Christians believe the Law, that is all those rules in Leviticus, doesn't have much to do with how they have to live their lives now. After all, that's what grace has freed us from, right? But does that mean we get to ignore all the non-narrative parts of the Pentateuch as being not relevant? If so, why not just excise them from our Bibles and be done with it?
Maybe because there's more to the Law than simply setting the stage for showing why we need grace. A congregation in Boston tried to find out what that could be by "living Levitically" for a month. No, there were no animal sacrifices, but lots of interesting insights. Give it a read.
[h.t. Thinking Out Loud]
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I am going to throw out a new category to give me an out when what I have to say would take more effort than what I am willing to type. The category is the title of this post. It will consist of long-dead (and hence, long out of copyright) quips from people way funnier than anyone I see on the modern landscape (P.J. O'Rourke possibly excepted).
Tonight's entry is Ambrose Bierce (of course), from his The Devil's Dictionary (I own a Dover press edition).
Loquacity, n. A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Many days I am longing for some solitude, some "me" time. I get very little of it any more. And now I have two days while Les is working her weekend double shifts, Morgann is in Texas retrieving some of her personal effects and the other three kids are at their father's. And you know what? I'm kinda lonely. What's up with that? Some introvert I am! :o)
I did go over to my folks today to finish the last task of bringing Mom's new computer up to speed by installing Quicken and importing the backup from her old machine. And I listened to Prairie Home Companion as is the custom. And harvested more roma tomatoes than I am going to be able to use. But other than that it's laundry and dinner for one and waiting until it's a time I can go to sleep without feeling bad about going to bed that early on a Saturday.
Ah, well - the kids will be home tomorrow evening. I bet I'll be tired of their fighting (um, I mean "correcting" - Jon has informed me that he and Erin do not fight - they're just "correcting each other") within five minutes of their return. Such is life! :o)
Friday, July 25, 2008
I have taken a break from "talking theology" here, and of reading it elsewhere. I have also been on a news sabbatical for a long time now (coming on a year). And even in the private email "salon" I have run since 1996 and which is focused primarily on things like politics and philosophy I have slowed my contributions way down. Some of that is because I am writing here and on my other blog, some of it for similar motivations to the above - I tire of "discussing" politics, philosophy, theology and such because it just doesn't solve anything. In fact, it seems to lead to division and strife.
At the same time I have been making an effort to maintain the relationships that are important to me, including scheduling regular calls with friends in other places, using my friend Aaron's "Nothing happens unless it happens on purpose" as a guideline. Because all relationships take work - marriage and child rearing teach us that. Last night during one such call with one of my closest friends, after a long, fine talk about work and kids and what not we got into an argument over politics (or economics, or whatever you'd classify the recent minimum wage raise under, because that's what it was about). In the end it got so heated that my friend hung up on me. I am really still not clear on how we went from pleasant chat to conversation-terminating anger in literally a couple of minutes ("From zero to bitchy in 15 seconds!"). I sent him an email this morning apologizing, because I am sure it was something I said that led to it.
Gregory over at Sippican Cottage wrote on this topic the other day, discussing why he never "talks politics". He started by recounting a garden party he had been to (emphasis mine):
Amen. Similarly, as Christians we are called to be in loving relationships with others first and foremost, and arguing over theology doesn't seem to aid in that process at all. The competition to "be right" takes over and we end up alienating people, not loving them. At one point about three years ago during a debate over some trivial political thing in the salon another of my best friends got so upset he withdrew from the list and stopped talking to me. Six months later he was dead. Stupid of him. Stupid of me. What was the point?
No one got the urge, not even once, to talk politics.
Why would we? Nothing is settled by political prattle. Points scored in debate are always subtracted from the bonhomie column kept elsewhere. Politics to normal people is treated like what it is: an intrusion into our lives, something that keeps us from what is more important, and what is amusing. Politics is a lawn to be mowed, not a game to be played on it. And the people that involve themselves in it, generally, are either dry as dust, or nasty, or sometimes loony.
I know some of my friends see my lack of desire to debate any more as a cop-out. I see it as finally trying to embrace what life is truly about, and arguing isn't it. It's love. All the rest is just noise.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Back in the day, during my first software engineering (as opposed to mere programming) job, the support and sales engineers were my bane. Not because they weren't doing their jobs, searching for answers and solutions from customers and potential customers, but because I wasn't yet up to my job of being able to achieve flow mode in programming commercial software in assembly language while tolerating all the interruptions (some quite necessary) that any business throws at you. I made help desk people do little dances in my cubicle doorway to achieve attention. I erected a now-infamous "Les Nessman Memorial Door" at the entrance to my "cube". Frankly, I was a pain in the ass.
Tonight, while going through my (hardcopy) humor file from back before we had everything online and on the Net I came across a fax cover page from one of the sales support engineers (Ralph Coulter - if you're out there, get in touch!), directing a (seven page) question to me. The topic and import of the question are long lost. But I've hung onto the cover page all these years because of the "comments" block, reproduced verbatim in the following. It pretty much summarizes my reign of terror:
O purveyor of Host knowledge, O alchemist of code who is ruler and master of all that is uncompiled please find it in your heart of hearts to bestow upon one so lowly the erudition of your years by enscribing your wisdom on the following parchments. Your word is an excathedra and will prevent the ossification of the uninitiated in their quest for knowledge, and also fill the coffers of the kingdom.My memory seems to reveal that I actually worked hard at answering his question. Prayer works! :o)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Or at least that's how it looks like to me. The Blogger blog posted about Knol today. A "knol" is supposed to be "a unit of knowledge", but then why isn't it "knowl"? Intellectual property issues is my bet. Or maybe the focus group members kept pronouncing it like it rhymed with "owl" - whereas I would say it like "grassy knoll", when in fact it probably should be "noll". I digress. Anyway:
knols are better for when you want to write an authoritative article on a single topic. The tone is more formal, and, while it's easy to update the content and keep it fresh, knols aren't designed for continuously posting new content or threading. Know how to fix a leaky toilet, but don't want to write a blog about fixing up your house? In that case, Knol is for you.So I read that and poked around the Web site and thought "Wiki!" But with an interesting difference - the emphasis on non-anonymity and sole authorship, both of which fly in the face of the Wiki ethos. But notice the subtle tweak as to why - to "ensure that authors get credit for their work, [and] make the content more credible". That's a shot right across the bows of where Wiki gets the most criticism. Because of the anonymity of the Wikipedia authors and the fact anyone can change any article, there have been article defacements, pitched battles over what should be said in an article with articles changed back and forth and so on. It will be interesting to see how Knol will work and whether it will ever achieve the success, both in terms of scope and readership, as Wiki. I am betting no. But I will be watching.
One other important difference between Knol and Blogger is that Knol encourages you to reveal your true identity. Knols are meant to be authoritative articles, and, therefore, they have a strong focus on authors and their credentials. We feel that this focus will help ensure that authors get credit for their work, make the content more credible.
Do you know something and want to get credit for it? Go write a unit of knowledge!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
On Sunday I published the standard corporate speech topics for a growing and successful company. Today is the other side of the coin.
Standard Corporate Speech Topics
In an effort to save time in our busy schedule, the following list was developed to allow for the delivery of a company "back-to-the-trenches" talk in ten seconds, instead of the usual 10 to 30 minutes. Management expects a large increase in employee productivity due to the time savings implemented here. To use this sheet, the speaker will simply call out the appropriate numbers, which can then be referred to below.
- We're not doing so good.
- We have a difficult year ahead of us.
- We have just finished a difficult year.
- The competition is ahead of us, and we need to catch up.
- Everyone must put out maximum effort to catch up with the competition.
- We are shrinking fast, with a loss of old, familiar faces. Make an effort to say "Goodbye".
- As we downsize, teamwork is vital to achieve synergy.
- We have to revitalize our product line, which will help us to turn around.
- We must develop new products, which will help us to grow.
- For those of you that are left, we must pull together!
* Please see "Standard Corporate Speech Topics (Growing/Successful Companies)" if you are fortunate enough to work for one. It will explain management terms such as "success", "growth" and "expansion".
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sure you do. And so do I. We all do. And for most of us, our problems are just rank bullshit.
"No!", you protest. "My problems are very, very real. They must be, because they're mine, and I am important."
At least that's what I always protest. What a baby I am.
Today we found out that my brother-in-law has MS. He has been married to Les's sister for less than a year. She is pregnant (that came after the marriage, thank you). They have no health insurance. She has been a work-at-home wife while he held the only payroll-rewarded non-salaried job, which some days he is having some problems getting to. He has probably had MS for eight years, at least, but the symptoms went into remission and the doctors eight years ago missed it, humans that they are. But his MRI last week makes it pretty conclusive.
I want to be clear right now - I have no problems. None, whatsoever. Thanks be to God!
So, if you feel like praying for people you don't know, his name is Dave, her name is Sarah. He is good to her and loves her a lot. They make a nice couple. It'd be nice if he got to spend a few (let's say five) decades with her and their kid. But we'll take what we can get. So pray away. Please.
Thanks for tuning in.
[Scheduled funny follow-up post to yesterday is delayed until tomorrow. Sorry.]
Come on aboard, I promise you, you won't hurt the horse
We treat him well, we feed him well
There's lots of room for you on the bandwagon
The road may be rough, the weather may forget us
But won't we all parade around and sing our songs
A magic kingdom, open-armed
- Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe, Bandwagon
I know I am on a theology hiatus of late and typically am skimming the posts of my blog friends who still insist on counting the tap shoes and ballet slippers of Biblical messengers pirouetting on pinheads (obscure enough for you? And I am joking!). But today Jeff posted something I liked, so go read it.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
[How 'bout some humor for a change?]
This is a repeat for friends of mine on my mailing list, and it's a real repeat for those that worked with me at MicroDecisionware, Inc. ("MDI") back in the early 1990s. MDI was a small software company in Boulder that later got bought out by Sybase. It is one of the two places in my career from which I harvested a large group of long-standing friends. A great place to work, although we didn't really realize it at the time (at least I didn't, nor most of the people I hung with) and then Sybase bought it, I left to work in the Bay, and the old feel of the place died.
At MDI, ca. 1993 or so, each department was supposed to take a turn at hosting/leading the monthly company meeting (this at a time when the company was at 40-50 people, so not that big of a deal - you're talking a company that had "beer-30" at 4:30 on Friday afternoons). When it came time for Development's turn somehow I got tapped with giving "the talk", which was typically some rah-rah thing when the other departments ran the meeting. So after a bit of thought I typed out a numbered list of the ten things you always hear at a company meeting. I then handed out copies to everyone as a guide, got up, and said in an emphatic tone, "One! [pause] Two! [pause] Four! [dramatic pause, meaningful look around the gathering] Seven! [pause, crescendo to concluding point] Ten! Thanks for coming."
That was it. As I recall it was well received (but MDIers always had a sense of humor - like the time some wag hung the "Feel a sense of urgency" plaque on the bathroom door). I just so happen to have a typed copy in my "Earth Humor" file folder. Actually two, because I did a pair of them - one for growing and successful companies, and one for declining and unsuccessful companies (I have worked at my share of both). So without further ado, here's the one for successful companies, which we were at the time, and which is the "cheat sheet" I handed out that day before delivering my momentous speech. Tune in tomorrow for the other side of the coin!
Standard Corporate Speech Topics
In an effort to save time in our busy schedule, the following list was developed to allow for the delivery of a company "pep" talk in ten second, instead of the usual 10 to 30 minutes. Management expects a large increase in employee productivity due to the time savings implemented here. To use this sheet, the speaker will simply call out the appropriate numbers, which can then be referred to below.
- We're doing great.
- We have a great year ahead of us.
- We have just finished a great year.
- The competition is behind us, but catching up.
- Everyone must put out maximum effort to keep ahead of the competition.
- We are growing fast, with a lot of new faces. Make an effort to say "Hello".
- As we grow, teamwork is vital.
- We have a great product line, which will help us continue to prosper.
- There are lots of neat products coming this year, which will help us to grow.
- Keep up the good work!
* Please see "Standard Corporate Speech Topics (Declining/Unsuccessful Companies)" if you are unfortunate enough to work for one. It will explain management terms such as "synergy", "downsizing" and "belt-tightening".
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Forget everything I said. I am a terrible father. Moreover, I hate being a father, because I suck so much at it. Everyone in the house went to bed tonight crying because I had to clamp down after dinner ("Yes, you may light some punks and set off some of the bottle rockets your biological father let you buy but won't let you set off at his house" somehow becoming translated into "You may have a real bonfire on our patio", complete with the 22 year old watching and presumably aiding and abetting).
Eight more years, and then the damage I do to everyone around me (except Les - but she signed up for it) will be done. That will be good. I am not meant to be in constant interaction with other human beings in a box. The older I get, the clearer that concept becomes.
I hate me.
God help me.
Just sitting here thinking about my oldest, Meghann. I miss her. We had a falling out that was (mostly) my fault about two years ago, and since then the word that applies to our relationship is "estranged". Not from our side, perhaps, but she is making a point of expressing her displeasure with me by making sure I know we are being alienated from her, our grandchildren and her husband. It sucks.
Part of me thinks the Christian thing to do is say, "I'm sorry", even though I am not. Some of what got said needed to be said. But in the end, years are ticking by, decades may tick by. I don't know...
Don't presume you understand. OTOH, is there anything that would keep you from your children, ever? I wonder how God thinks about that?
Meanwhile, my second eldest is happy with me because I set up a new computer (actually my Mom's old one, now another Ubuntu box) for her today to replace Julia. Her computer (a much nicer one) is in Texas, and the executor of her mother's estate is supposed to ship it up here - and has been supposed to ship it up here for a month. Let's just say that household's grip on organizational skills is...um...right up there with ours, perhaps (first stone and all that). Anyway, Morgann's been working hard at being a contributing member of the household and as such she deserves the computational power and Internet connectivity of any 22 year old, and today I restored it to her.
At least I am still a Good Guy to one of the two.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The kids only have four and a half more weeks before school starts up again. It seems like this summer is flying by, even as we do a whole bunch of nothing. I have to admit I think the kids now days are getting cheated. When I was in school we were out basically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No more. The school year is forever encroaching more and more on the calendar. And that's too bad - they grow up fast, and they still need some time to "just be kids". But at least our youngest three don't have to go through the ill-fated and stupid "year-around school" that my oldest two did.
I will be taking a week off the second week in August just to be with Les (while she is also on break from school - her summer classes end next week) and the kids. We won't be going anywhere. It will be a "staycation" (thank gas prices for much of that). But it will be good to all be off at the same time. It's something that actually happens pretty rarely. I might even do something out of character and take everyone to do something fun.
How's your summer going? Too fast? Or are you ready, oh, dear God, ready to have the kids back in school already? :o)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
[And we ain't talkin' 'bout the sink in the bathroom.]
Today Tina posted An Ecclesiastes moment. It was great. Because at last there was someone else in my reader talking about some of the things I've been struggling with of late. Especially mortality, and to a greater extent, "the meaning of it all". When I asked "[D]oes fretting about mortality make you a bad Christian?" the response was pretty much just the wind blowing and crickets chirping. I fear because the answer is probably, "Yes". Ah, well - I am bad at many things in my life - being bad at being a Christian is just another bullet point on the list.
I find myself wanting to just forget about everything going on in the world and just create and spend time with my husband and make sure my kids know that they are loved. And to show kindness to the random stranger who crosses my path. And to be small, unseen, unnoticed.I understand that viewpoint, and I have been in a similar "shields up" mode a lot of late. But I've also been dealing with feelings of "Is my life really just this? Am I just going to disappear without a ripple?" Christianity preaches ego death. It warns that the biggest sin is pride. I think what I am really going through is the death throes of ego. Of still wanting to "be something; be someone; be noticed", and knowing that in the end it just won't matter.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tomorrow is a long overdue physical, during which I am going to be told I need to lose weight (duh). My cholesterol has always run high, even when I was in the best shape of my life (which is not now). And tonight we were over at my folks to see a visiting aunt and uncle and I ate way too much homemade pizza. So I am taking bets on what my cholesterol level is going to be. Given historical data I am setting my guesstimate at 240-250. If I'm lucky.
I need to get going on an exercise program. And a diet.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Thanks to my wife, daughters, Patrick (thanks for lunch!), some locals who are interested in a .NET user's group I am trying to start, Dave A. and some quality family time on the patio after dinner, today didn't suck. Not even with the time in DMV getting my driver's license renewed (MO being one of those states that expires your driver's license on your birthday). I cooked my favorite "Mafia meal" (grilled rib eye and spaghetti, with roasted Roma tomato sauce from our garden), and Les stoked some musician fires that have lain dormant for 30 years with a set of "theme" gifts (but can I really take up the bass after all these years?). So, with all that said, here's me, 30 years ago, in my bass player glory. For some reason Les likes this picture - I think it abhorrent. But then, it was the 1970s (orange, gold and green as decorating colors - need I say more?) And Boulder. Suffice it to say my hair has, um, shortened. Both voluntarily and not. And my face and jowls have rounded. All in all, not a fair trade.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Less that two hours...That's how long I have until my birthday. Which I am not looking forward to.
Tomorrow I will be 30...in hexadecimal. Or 110000 in binary. Either seems better than the age I'll be in base 10. To rub salt in the wound we just spent part of the evening looking at some old (as in "young") pics of me I found on my Mom's machine from scans she had done of various slides and photos from back in the day. For a joke I may post a few of those one of these days. Beats looking at the middle-aged dude I see in the mirror now.
Ah, well, like they always say, turning another year older beats the alternative.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick...
Sunday, July 13, 2008
My Mom got a new computer and I was over today starting the process of getting it set up and all the stuff I had meticulously backed up on an external USB drive transferred over. It's a nice box, but here's the real plus - it's a modern box, which means that all the work I put into it doesn't take four times as long as it should (really). Her old machine was so old and over-taxed that everything took forever. I don't know how she stood it for as long as she did.
Anyway, Mom's gift to herself (and Dad's anniversary gift to her) has a residual effect of being a gift to me, too, because it will easily divide the time I spend working on it by four, if not more. If you are not technical and have someone providing free on-site support, remember that the biggest gift they're giving you is their time. The clock ticking away while they watch your machine reboot. I bet I have spent literally half a calendar year of my adult life watching machines - mainframes, servers, home PCs - restart, over and over and over.
Anyway, her old box is at our house, and after a proper period of waiting to see if we've truly gotten everything off of it, it will arise, Phoenix-like, with Ubuntu on it and live again. And it will run way more quickly, too, without all that Windoze cruft on it. I am happy for my Mom - she got a great deal. And I get perhaps two to three person-days of my life back for the next five years or so. What shall I do with that time? :o)
Saturday, July 12, 2008
You only THOUGHT I forgot! It's still 45 minutes before midnight, so I am still on track for Blog365. For tonight's viewing pleasure, a refrigerator, tucked into its place...thanks to a reciprocating saw and a belt sander:
Behold! 21.5 cu. ft. of cold!
(And a great time had by Morgann, sharing the first Pirates of the Caribbean with her old man!)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Here's a tip I will pass on for free. When you are buying a major appliance, like, oh, say, a refrigerator, always measure where it's going to go before you purchase it. Tomorrow I get to have fun with a saw shaving a bit of overhead cabinet bottom off to make the new behemoth fit.
Just thought I'd pass that along. Hope it helps. :o)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I am not a big fan of meetings. Today was our quarterly (kinda, when we get around to it) strategic planning meeting for my department at work. I hate prepping for them and I dread going, but they always turn out worthwhile and today was no exception. It's a time for the senior members of our department to actually talk for more than a status meeting or five minutes in the hall on what's going on and how it may impact others in the department and in the company. Patrick needs to learn to quit whining and realize there's value there. :o)
Nothing substitutes for communication in human affairs.
Then home to two moody females, only one of which had an excuse (happy [elided] birthday, honey! :o)]
And tomorrow's a brand new day! But I am working from home while waiting for refrigerator delivery, so that's cool. Maybe I can pretend to be a pastor all day!
Yes, I'm gonna get me religion, I'm gonna join the Baptist Church.[That was a joke!]
Yes, I'm gonna get me religion, I'm gonna join the Baptist Church.
You know I wanna be a Baptist preacher, just so I won't have to work.
- Son House, "Preachin' Blues"
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tomorrow (July 10) is Les's [elided] birthday and my parents' 51st anniversary, so tonight we went out to dinner together and had a great meal and good time. For the next five days Les and I are only three years apart instead of four. :o) Then I become [elided] years old on the 15th, and closer to 50 than I'd like.
And being the über-nerd that she is, what did my lovely wife ask for her birthday? A new LCD monitor for her computer. :o) It will be part of us stimulating the economy with our economic stimulus check along with the new fridge I bought today after two weeks of comparison shopping and much hand wringing. The old fridge is 14 years old and is falling apart (literally - broken shelves, bad seal, etc.) I finally splurged and at my wife's urging went with the model I wanted instead of cheaping out like I usually do. But at least it's energy efficient! :o) It arrives on Friday.
All in all a good day.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Morgann's been in a particularly helpful, constructive (not to say, "manic":o) mood lately, and as a result we've been getting the benefits of her reorganizing and cleaning various parts of the house. I came home tonight to floors that had not only been vacuumed and mopped, but furniture that had been moved to get underneath it while vacuuming/mopping. Something I do...um...rarely. It was cool. I think she likes being useful. I like her being useful!
As someone on a sitcom I can't even remember once said, "Ah, domestic bliss - I've dreamed of this!"
Monday, July 7, 2008
Tonight I made baked pasta and grilled rib eye steaks with roasted peppers from Dad's garden. A real Mafia meal. It was great, if I do say so myself, but even at getting a "deal" on the steaks so they were "only" $7.99/lb., I still feel guilty, because I have the choice to splurge on my favorite steak - as opposed to deciding between food and rent, or food and meds.
But it was good.
God help me.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I am not a "car guy". I have never really been into them (I didn't even get a driver's license until I was 17, about a year and a half after I could have), and for the most part when it comes to vehicles in my life utilitarianism has trumped style and price trumped all. Perhaps that's a strange outcome for a mechanic's son, but then Dad never wanted me twisting wrenches, for a living or otherwise, and I grew up pretty car-ignorant as a result. But even so, I was thinking the other day about the cars I have owned and thought I'd drag you down memory lane with me.
[Note: To make things easy this excludes cars that were primarily driven by spouses current or former. These are "my" cars. Also, some of the photos that follow aren't mine, and aren't used with permission, but most were snagged off of "car for sale" sites so I figure the copyright owner isn't too into the image rights, since they were trying to get rid of the thing in the first place.]
1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass (1977-1978)
Red tuck-and-roll upholstery - sweet! (and sticky in the summer). It had an 8-track stereo in it and I put two house stereo speakers in the back. Yeah, I know - classy. But it could rock. I have many fond memories of speeding through the mountain canyons west of Boulder at night with the music cranked to Heart, Styx, Head East ("There's never been any raisin...") and Pink Floyd.
It finally died when the front passenger wheel fell off right outside my friend Mike's house where I was staying at the time (the result of a frozen ball joint). This was the first car (but not the last) I had towed away for free by a salvage yard.
1976 Datsun B-210 "Honeybee" (1979-1987)
bigger stripe and an actual honeybee with wheels logo on the side.
A manly-man's car all right!]
As with all 1970s-era Japanese cars it suffered body cancer really badly. At one point we riveted a metal realtor's sign to the floorboard under the mat on the passenger side, because otherwise their feet would go right through the floor. Classy.
1978 Chevrolet Chevette (1987-1989)
1989 Dodge Colt (1989-2007)
after a backpacking trip to Colorado (hence the dirt).
A much younger Erin is in the passenger seat.]
Mike and I have bounced this car into more high-elevation back country than you can believe. If I showed you some pictures of the places it's been you wouldn't even believe it. It's been through a few blizzards, too. All that and it was a fun car to drive. It could do 65MPH going uphill at 10,000' on the west approach to the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70 (I know - I've done it). A huge chunk of my adult life is somehow attached to this car and the travels I've made in it. I am glad it is still providing my friend Mike loyal service.
1984 Ford F-250 (1993-1994)
Still - I miss the respect I got in this truck at four-way stops and other intersections with iffy right-of-way situations. That's because besides being just a huge truck, the company's name I had bought it from was still dimly visible on the sides - "Explosive Fabricators, Inc." Nothing like having people think the bed of your truck may be packed with explosives for them to just wave you on through ahead of them! Except the company didn't make explosives - they made things with explosives. Which is even cooler.
1994 Plymouth Voyager (2000-2005)
behind the family it trucked. Pinata optional.]
And no, it didn't get hauled away. It got traded in when I bought the...
2005 Dodge Dakota (2005-present)
Well, that's the journey down the used car lot in my head. Hope you enjoyed it.
What have you driven over the years?
Friday, July 4, 2008
[Or should that be "dull drums"? :o) ]
Jeff asked where all his friends went to play and why he can't come along? I liked Barb's reply, it's close to where I am at, too, re., I've processed most of what I had to say about theology and church (for now) and am simply living and loving and learning and listening.
But also, after the horrible depression of this past spring, I find myself in a quiet mood now, perhaps waiting for the next round of mania to hit, I don't know. I am not writing very much on my two mailing lists, either. Still on a news sabbatical, too. I am blogging a bit more on my other blog, so there is some creativity happening there. And I am coding at work (actually a rarer event than I would like), and to anyone who likes to write but is also a programmer you know that the creative spurts in coding tend to sap you of energy to produce much else. Especially since it means having to unload the programming language(s) from your head and reload English.
So...I'm here. Reading everyone else's posts (although sorry, I am rapidly skimming most theology posts for now). If you're posting about family or feelings or friends or frustrations I am reading those (here's some theology for you - "It's the relationships, stupid.") I am happily married with children. Happy to be employed, given the alternatives some of my friends are going through, and being fairly productive at work. Puttering along in the garden. Mostly just enjoying the summer. I will still be posting here daily just because I am still trying to keep up with the Blog365 commitment (over halfway there!), and hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say soon. Until then you're stuck hearing about grilling and ice cream and kids and "stuff".
Speaking of the kids, I was walking upstairs to make coffee this morning and got within earshot just in time to hear Erin (12) tell Gloria (10) re. their shared bathroom that, "There are other people in this house, you know!" :o)
As Rev. Dan sez, "Peace out, peace in."
Thursday, July 3, 2008
My nephew turns five tomorrow. How's that for an auspicious birthday? His birthday party was tonight, and after grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and homemade ice cream there were fireworks to watch in their back yard - one of the many joys of living in unincorporated county instead of inside city limits. Other than the fact it was cold and windy, it was a good time, with lots of small people running around and laughing and oohing and aahing at the pyrotechnics.
Have a fun and safe 4th!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Just got news that a second friend has been laid off, the result of their job being "offshored". That's two in a week. So while a third friend recently ended a long period of extreme under-employment with a return to software development, the net trend among my circle of friends is negative. Makes me a bit more appreciative of my job.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
In a comment to my post on the tragic loss of our computer, Julia, Sam asks, "Could you help me name my computer?"
Sam, you only think theology is a battleground fraught with peril and contradictory ideas in which lifelong ill-feelings arise over minor doctrinal points. Forget that. Arguing the nature of the Trinity is child's play compared to picking a name (or even more vast, a naming scheme) for your computer or computers.
We'll assume you don't want the utilitarian, corporate approach (and even that's a subject worth acrimony - do we put machine purpose or geographical location or both into the name, or go for totally random names to confuse hackers?). I think you probably want something a bit more personal. Software company computer naming schemes are a good place to start. Those that I have worked at have included (in no particular order):
- Characters from mythology
- Mountains of Colorado
- Comic/cartoon characters/superheroes
- Mountains of the world (lots of climbers are software engineers)
- Characters from mythology, again (or they're role playing gamers)
- Video games (or they're gamers in general)
- Place names in Colorado
- Children's names
- Animals and plants of Colorado (are you seeing a theme? :o)
- Books of the Bible
- Battles of (name some war)
- Pets you've had
- Animals in general
- Indian tribes
- State capitals
In the end, I would recommend that you pick something that makes you happy and interests you. Something that makes you smile whenever it invites you to login. Past that, I can give no help. I dare not.
Can anyone else? Reply in the comments.
[Don't worry, this is not a sad post. Well, unless you're fond of computers.]
Last night when I came home my daughter Morgann sadly told me the computer she has been using seemed to have died. I checked it and indeed, the VERY LOUD clicking noises coming from the hard drive when trying to boot seemed to confirm the diagnosis that the machine was no more. So ends the long and storied life of The Little iMac That Could.
"Julia" (named after Julia Child by Les because she's the computer serving as the kitchen kiosk) started life as a machine for testing the Mac UI on a product we were working on at a now long-defunct startup company. When the company dot-bombed in September of 2001, the employees each got some of the computers in lieu of vacation pay. I kept an HP server, a Dell server and what was then known as "Spruce", the little classic iMac:
Isn't it cute?
Since it was a pretty slow machine even then and because OS/9 was as buggy as anything ever excreted from Redmond the machine quickly was assigned to the kids' playroom, where it and an obsolete PC were abused by three little ones (about six, four and four at the time). During the early 2000s children's software CDs often played on both Windows 95/98/Me and Macintosh OS/9, so the kids could play their games on either machine, deftly changing between one-button and two-button mice and different keyboard layouts as only four and six year olds can.
But living in the "kid zone" is rough on any machine. Children's software is worse than most about splattering conflicting drivers around on the hard drive, so I would periodically have to restore the iMac using the system restore CD. And of course little kids are little kids. So first the original iMac keyboard went, and we replaced it with a normal PC USB keyboard. Then the one-button mouse died, and got replaced by a normal two-button USB mouse. Then the CD drive got tired of foreign objects being inserted into its tiny little slot (no tray on these iMacs) and started becoming flaky, although it continued to work for some time to come.
About three years later we swapped out the iMac for an obsolete-but-less-so PC (actually, the kids have three such machines in their playroom now, one for each of them - Les bought two of them for $19 each on eBay, and the third is that now-ancient HP server I mentioned above) and the iMac went to live in the pile of surplus computer equipment all nerds seem to accrete over time ("The island of misfit toys"). And there it sat for quite some time.
Then on a whim in 2005 or so I decided we needed a kitchen kiosk and decided to resurrect the iMac. Since I am no fan of OS/9 and because I am a contrarian kinda guy, I put Linux on it. First Yellow Dog, and later Xubuntu. And thus was "Julia" born. She didn't have sound that worked (I never could figure that out), and of course Flash and other multimedia didn't work, either. And she was slowwwwww. But she quickly went from this weird thing I did just to have a conversation piece to being an essential part of the kitchen, around where much of our home life revolves. Need to look up a recipe or a drink mix? There was Julia! Need to settle an argument over some trivial piece of information? Julia and Google to the rescue! And when Morgann moved in with us last October, since Julia was the only machine upstairs to have an Internet connection (we still don't let the kids on the 'net), it became her machine.
Somewhere in the past few years Julia really started becoming erratic. First, Yellow Dog stopped working on it, so I ended up installing the PowerPC port of Xubuntu. Then the internal CD drive completely stopped working, probably due to the number of times I had to fish various foreign articles out of it with a paper clip while it was still in the playroom. That caused a problem when an Xubuntu update caused the machine to not boot any more. Panic! Was Julia finally dead? No! After a lot of researching and hacking around, I figured out a way to boot her off of an external Firewire CD drive using the following simple sequence:
1) Boot into Open Firmware by holding down Command+Option+O+F keys
(Note: This also required figuring out what was the replacement for the Command and Option keys on a Macintosh keyboard, since that had died long ago, remember? It turned out to be Alt-Windows-O-F on a PC keyboard.)
2) Enter the following Open Firmware commands:
devalias cd /pci@f4000000/firewire/node/sbp-2/disk@
The Linux boot loader grub would then recognize the Firewire drive as a valid bootable CD-ROM and we were going yet again! I was actually able to resurrect her one more time using the above mechanism, and Julia ran happily for more than a year and a half on Xubuntu. Long and valiant service from any machine, if you ask me.
But I don't think I am going to save her from this hard drive failure, and frankly, while I could replace the hard drive, I just don't know if I am up to the effort. Especially since Morgann's machine is supposed to be getting shipped up from Texas any day now so she'll be happy. But I will miss having a kitchen kiosk and I do believe that ecological niche will be filled again one of these days by something with a similar nice small footprint. Perhaps it will be that Asus Eee I've been lusting for! :o)
So long, Julia. You will be missed!