Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some Thoughts On Reading Tyndale

Last week I finished reading the 1526 version of the Tyndale New Testament.  I shared some initial thoughts when I first started the Christmas Challenge and thought I'd share a few as it came to a conclusion.  I am struck by the fact that the Graham Friends Church Christmas Challenge was noteworthy enough to generate an article in the local newspaper.  Not real sure what to make of the fact that people reading the New Testament is considered to be so unusual.  I would guess that back in Tyndale's time, people actually reading the New Testament was also a noteworthy accomplishment, albeit for different reasons.  Along the arc of time between then and now, I'm thinking there is probably a period when reading the NT was considered almost as routine as breathing (at least for some cultures).  Yet here we are in some ways back where we started.

My first thought has to do with how many errors and such slipped in.  In fact, at the end of the book, they included about 3 pages worth of errors that were noted.  I didn't go back cross-referencing them.  But I did notice cases of the same word having different spellings.  One interesting thing I noted was that there were occasions when the script didn't fit on a line and they'd drop the last word or two to the right hand margin of the next line and draw a line around it.  Reminded me of my son's handwriting as he is learning how to write neatly, which includes giving some thought to spacing so you don't end up scrunching things up.  All of this really enhanced the impression of how young the English language was at the time.  It also helped draw attention to what an achievement it was to write the whole New Testament by hand.

That got me to thinking about the difference in knowledge between the scholars of the 1500's and my almost-teenage son of today.  I suspect that in some ways my son already has amassed much more information than Tyndale was able to put together in his lifetime.  But clearly the amount of information falls short of revealing what can be done with that information and how it can be turned into knowledge and wisdom.  I liken it to comparisons between things like Apollo 11 and today's smartphones.  My iPhone has far more computing power than the space ships of yesterday.  Yet look at what they were able to accomplish with what they had.

This also made me really appreciate what Tyndale had done.  In today's world we have a wealth of translations and research available to us as represented by the different Bible versions.  When I do Bible study on my computer I'm able to open up several versions all at once and compare and contrast them.  And they are frequently backed by teams of scholars who worked to make them happen.  I contrast this with Tyndale (and some scriveners?) who likely labored for years hand writing his translation.  And this was with the threats of the Church hanging over his head.  Yet he persevered.

Another thing I noticed while reading through the New Testament was both similarities and differences.  The Gospels, except for John, sounded very much alike, which is not surprising given the history.  But it really seemed to jump out when reading how consistent the versions were when telling the same story.  Later though, as I got into Paul's letters and then some of the others, like Hebrews, I felt like I could really tell a difference in the writing style and tone.  So now when I read a commentary or study guide that talks about something like who the author of Hebrews may have been and how they rule out certain people based on comparisons of style, I think I'll understand that much more having detected it myself.

As I neared the end, there was another thought that really kept knocking on my brain.  That had to do with how "close" the documents seemed to be to Jesus and the authors.  Yes, 1500 or so years separated Tyndale's documents from the original source documents.  But given the pace of change for those 1500 years, Tyndale's documents were not that far removed from what the original author's had written (think maybe 2-3 degrees of separation as opposed to six degrees of Bacon).  Compared to the last 500 years when we went from quill pens and parchment through printing presses and on into electronic images on a computer screen.  Reading the handwritten manuscripts almost took on a sense of having Paul himself tapping me on the shoulder and saying,"Let me tell you about Jesus."

All in all, a very enjoyable and stimulating challenge.  I think it will help me continue my Bible reading in a new light.  Thanks for persevering through this rambling post!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Completion!

Last Christmas, one of the gifts all of our kids received were new devotion books.  The plan was for my wife to do devotions each night with our girls and I would handle the nightly devotion with our son.

We didn't get to a devotion every night.  But we did get to one most nights when we were at home and not up too terribly late or doing something else (like some of the "becoming a man" stuff).  I'm glad to say that tonight William completed his devotion book - 108 devotions in all.  Maybe even better is the fact that it is usually him coming and asking me, "are we doing devotions tonight?" and not me having to drag him into it.  He is already asking about the next devotion book!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spoke too soon

As the title indicates, it appears I spoke (or more accurately, blogged) too soon when I wrote last month that I had recovered the data off my old hard drives that were in the server that had the meltdown.  Last week I went to find a file and discovered empty directories.

So, had some time today to reconnect the old hard drive and tried to access the files I was looking for using a couple different PCs.  Alas, it looks like the files are definitely gone from the hard drive.  And unfortunately, I really have no idea what is missing and what is not.  One of the downsides of not having a good record of files (or possibly the fact that I had thousands of files).

From what I can tell, it looks like I definitely lost all my files from the badges I had been making for my MINI.  I can always reconstruct those.  Looks like I also lost a lot of pictures from MINI events over the past couple years.  Fortunately, I don't think I lost any of the pictures of the kids events (e.g. school events, sports events, etc.).  Looks like the music directory got hosed as well - again, not a big deal as all the music was saved elsewhere, although I think the .ogg versions of my music may have been lost.

Haven't really been able to identify any rhyme or reason to what is present and what is missing.  The only thing I can tell is that it appears the folder/directory structure is present - just the actual files missing in some directories.

At this point, I suppose I need to accept the fact that since the files were so seldom accessed, they probably were not all that important.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Some Staying Awake Thoughts

This past week I was doing a little research on the word "awake" in the Scripture. If I recall correctly, this was due to all the instances I ran across it while reading the Tynedale New Testament. Which, by the way, has been a blast reading even with the challenge of translating the Old English language (maybe that challenge is part of what is making it a blast).

Obviously, the word "awake" has some significance to me since it is the name of the blog. There are many stories throughout the Bible about the importance of staying awake, but the one that probably strikes me the most as a good example is Mark 13:33-37:
33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."

While reading the NT these past couple weeks we read the story of Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:49-56) who had died (or as Jesus indicates, she is only sleeping - which could take us off into a whole 'nother blog entry about what that means).  Jesus proceeds to raise her with the command, "Child, arise."

This story got me to thinking about how Jesus brought others back from death and of course, he himself came back from death as well.  And if death is "sleep", then part of his goal for us is to awaken us from that sleep.  Which led me to the realization that "staying awake" could also refer to the idea of being with God for eternity.  That is, we hope to stay awake in Heaven for all eternity.  This means the title of the blog could be a double-meaning from what I had originally based it on.  It is also part of my effort to walk in the path of Jesus that I may spend my eternal life with him - that I might stay awake!

Monday, October 25, 2010

60 Days with Tyndale

Today I started a new reading of the New Testament.  This time, the goal is to finish reading the entire New Testament by Christmas, which gives us 60 days, as part of the Christmas Challenge being led by Pastor Mark at Graham Friends Church.

Of note for this reading, I will be reading the Tyndale Bible version.  This was the first English Bible translation from the Greek.  I picked up a Tyndale New Testament on-line from CBD which is a facsimile of one of two existing copies of a 1526 printing.  Below is a pic of what the pages are like:

[caption id="attachment_100" align="aligncenter" width="416" caption="Tyndale New Testament page"][/caption]


As you can see, it is basically handwritten script.  The first day reading it was a blast, but presented a few challenges.  Back when this was written, letters were a bit different, so I've had to get used to a slightly different alphabet.  The most noticeable are the letter "s" which looks like an "f", lowercase "j" which looks like an "i", and "k" which really doesn't look like anything we have now.  Then there are the "o"s with a line over the top of them (how we would indicate a long o sound) which, from what I can tell, generally indicate a "m" or "n" follows.  On top of learning the letters, I am having to deal with the different spelling of words and a little bit with sentence structure.  The other thing one might note is that there are no verse numberings.  By the end of the day's reading, I felt like I was starting to "get it".


One thing that definitely helped was the fact that I've read the NT before.  It helped that I at least had some idea of what was being written about as I translated the old, old English into the English that is in my head.  And the slow pace leads me to linger on the words a little bit longer than I might if I were reading a modern translation.  Hopefully that will eventually turn into a better, stronger knowledge of the text.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recovery!

Some may recall that last April, due to an HVAC "incident" at the house, my server suffered a horrible death (RIP Donkey).  The server had run for 302 straight days at one point (New Record? 302).  Not too shabby for old equipment.  Too bad I can't get the servers at my job to stay up and running that long (oh if I could only get them switched over to Linux).

I have finally gotten around to seeing whether I'd be able to recover the data that was on the hard drive.  The first step was to get the drive out of the box.  While doing that, I looked for evidence of what might have burned up, but did not see anything that was obvious.  I did find a cover to a resistor/transistor/???, but never figured out where it was missing from.  There was a really bad build up of dust though.

Recovery work in progress
I also discovered that they now make USB to IDE cables so that you can connect what would normally be an external hard drive to a USB port and not have to physically install the drive in a computer.  Would have been nice if I'd had something like this for the last 20 years.

Took a couple tries, but I finally figured out the proper order to connect things (power first, then plug USB in).  Fortunately, it appears the drive was not damaged in the meltdown.  Linux Mint picked it up as a USB drive no problem.  So I am in the process of copying over 35 GB of data to a new Seagate external, portable HD I picked up at WalMart.  Hard to believe you can buy hard disk space for 22 cents a GB (and even cheaper if I had sprung the few extra dollars for a 1TB drive).

I found another HD up in my closet, so it'll be interesting to see what may be on that.  And I think I have one or two old PCs in the attic that I was saving for the day when I could do something like this easily.  I have an old laptop drive I need to recover at some point, but it is encrypted, so more of a challenge.

Of course, the big challenge now is to get everything organized.  Haha, like that is going to happen.

Scratch that - biggest challenge right now is keeping the laptop cool enough to keep running long enough to copy all the data over.  The laptop crashed once last night.  Did it again this evening just as it was about to finish up a 4.7GB folder.  And in the process, it borked the Seagate drive.  Had to go in and use the Partition Manager to reformat the drive (testing on a Win machine, it wasn't even detected).  I sense another meltdown may be pending. :-(

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A GTD/ToodleDo Modification

So, over the past few weeks it seems like I have been a lot busier than normal.  Some of this is attributable to my new boss at work.  He is very proactive in his attempts to improve our organization and this has resulted in a corresponding increase in tasks to attend to.  Likewise, with a few things behind me, I've been able to get more aggressive in addressing some areas where I'd like to see some changes.  Soccer season is in full swing and I've taken on a couple new projects for church.  Fortunately (or maybe, unfortunately) there has been a corresponding drop-off in my activity with the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club.

Bottom line is that I seem to have a lot more tasks that I am trying to juggle.  If I took the time, I'm sure I could go back through the archives and find some info that I posted about a new framework I had implemented to get GTD into ToodleDo and my iPhone app, ToDo.  It involved setting up folders for Actions, Projects, Someday, etc.  The contexts correspond to things like work, thmmc, bsc, church, and personal.  I've also implemented a specific format for naming tasks, especially those connected to projects.  Overall, it was a vast improvement over my previous implementation of GTD.

However, I have noticed a few cracks starting to appear.  While I feel good that everything is getting captured in the system (giving me some peace of mind - part of the GTD goals), the list of Next Actions that needs to be addressed has been getting kind of hard to manage.  The biggest issue seems to be an inability to distinguish between those next actions that need to have a higher priority (e.g. something that needs to be done in the next couple days vs within a couple weeks).  I'd been trying to use a combination of the stars available in ToodleDo combined with the priority setting and some calendaring (this last part mainly in an effort to force the system to present the list in an order based on urgency).

I decided tonight to make a change and introduced a new folder: Actions - Urgent.  This is modeled on something I read over the weekend on a GTD mailing list I'm on from someone who was having similar challenges.  Another person posted about implementation of a concept from the Master Your Workday Now! system (hmm - maybe I need to add reading that to my Someday/Maybe list?).  Apparently Lineberger uses a concept based on identifying tasks to be completed within a couple weeks.  My timeframe is a lot shorter - I'm looking at those things that need to be completed in about 2-3 days.

So in ToodleDo, I added the new context and now only items on that list get a star (which makes me think I could have just used the stars for this instead of an entirely separate folder) except for a couple items in the Project list.  Below is a screenshot of Toodledo after I went through and made changes:

New ToodleDo after mod

This may force me to have to do my weekly review on a more frequent basis.  Like I say, maybe some redundancy that I've introduced as well that is really needed.  I'll see how it works this week.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Mission of Division

This past Sunday we got a little worried at church that our guest scheduled to give the sermon was not going to make it (fortunately, he did). In trying to figure out what to do about a sermon, I offered to try to speak on a couple of the readings for the week. I had made some notes about them in preparation for our Sunday School class which I was going to lead since Pastor Mark was out of town. Since our guest showed up, I did not have to resort to presenting an impromptu sermon. But I did figure I might organize my thoughts that I had and write them up for the blog. Helps me flesh out some of my thoughts and what I was studying. Maybe it will be a little bit of a kickstart to go back and get some other posts put together and published.

I assume those reading this know that I am in management and have been for many years. If you didn't know that, you do now. Being in management, I've had plenty of opportunities to get involved in strategic planning for various organizations where we worked on things like goals, visions, and missions. The idea of a mission – what an organization is trying to accomplish - struck me in the passages I had studied this past week.

Looking at John 3:16 we read (I'm going to use the ASV translation for everything in this post – another post one day about why that is maybe):
3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Yikes - Time for New Plug-ins?

So, I have a new post I'm ready to work on for my Staying Awake blog.  But before I work on it, I wanted to make sure the Twitter Tools connection was functioning properly since the last couple posts I made from my blogs did not get "published" to Twitter (and in turn, to Facebook).  In digging around, I noticed the plug-in I was using had a newer version available, so I updated it.  As I then discovered, this meant a new way of connecting to Twitter using some application service they have setup (which coincidently looks more like a developer tool - doesn't seem to cool for end users to have to use that).

I went through the process of setting everything up, only to discover this updated Twitter Tools plug-in requires PHP 5 to run.  I spent about five minutes trying to figure out whether I could upgrade my PHP to 5.  That was all the patience I had.  I'm sure it's possible.  But, it was easier to try finding a new WP plug-in.

I found a Network Publisher plug-in that supposedly will let me publish to like 30 some social networks.  May be able to not have to worry about hashtags to push stuff over from Twitter to Facebook.  On the other hand, I may have to do some additional work on categories if I wanted to somehow exclude some from one service or another (can't yet imagine what that might be).

Anyway, I'm ready for this first test to post.  It will be interesting to see how this works.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some BRP 2010 Pics

I really need to do a proper write up regarding this past summer's BRP Tour, especially since my son joined me this year for a father-son weekend adventure.  As it is, for now, I have some pics available in a gallery here on the site.  Sadly, I have realized that the BRP Tour was the last actual THMMC event I've been able to make it to.  I did get out for some motoring in preparation for MINIpalooza which was held this weekend.  So, these pics will have to do for now.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mint-y Fresh Upgrades

Doesn't always seem like it, but I suppose every now and then I manage to do some things right. Recently I started to get a little frustrated with my Linux install on my laptop. I've been running Mepis Linux ever since I got this particular laptop. Seems like maybe two years now if not more. I liked Mepis because it installed for me and I was able to get everything mostly working. One thing that annoyed me though was the wireless connection manager. I always had to go into it as root in order to re-establish a connection. The other thing was that I was never really happy about the desktop and how everything looked. I attribute part of that to the KDE 3.x desktop I was using and part of it to Mepis.

Anyway, I decided I was ready to go ahead and upgrade the Linux partition. This would probably help me wean off the Windows partition which I feel like I've been using far too much lately. I'm currently in a bit of "down" time on various activities - no MINI runs being planned, soccer season is just now starting to crank up, and I have not yet really cranked up some of the mission opportunities I am pursuing.

After checking out DistroWatch to see what was new, I came across Linux Mint. Looked pretty good and one thing I like is that they offered a KDE based version (KDE being my preferred desktop manager). I felt a bit reassured because they were also offering other dm versions as well like Xfce and getting ready to release a FluxBox version. So they seem to be on top of things when it comes to packaging things up outside of the typical Gnome dm.

The potential down side though included the fact that I would have to go ahead and make the switch to the 4.x series of KDE. I had checked out the new KDE 4.x when it was at 4.0 and was very unimpressed (thus, the reason why I stuck with 3.x for my Mepis install). Now they are up to 4.4. The other problem (well, potential problem) is that Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (ok, technically the KDE version is based on Kubuntu) and I have never had any luck installing Ubuntu.  So that had me a bit worried.

Anyway, I went ahead and backed up my data on the laptop and started the process of installing Linux Mint.  I ran into a bit of problem as I could not figure out how to create a swap partition.  I was able to free up some space on the hard drive for it, but could not make it usable.  So I had to proceed without one.  After configuring a few options though, I let it rip.  In the past it always seemed like Linux installations took a while - at least an hour (yeah, I know that is horrible compared to the all day process a Win install involves).  And when I last updated my iPhone to 4.0, that took close to two hours.

Amazingly, I think it took only about 15 minutes max for Linux Mint to install.  Once installed and fired up, I discovered the bit that I apparently did right.  A while back.  In keeping my home directory on a separate partition, I just mounted it as the home directory.  When I fired up Thunderbird, I discovered all my settings and local folders still there, all my accounts were working, etc.  Firefox was the same way with my homepage already set.  Basically, everything was just like I left it in terms of data.  So that was really nice.

I'm now playing around with the configuration of my desktop and power settings.  I have to say, the KDE is pretty nice - much better than I remember when I tested back around 4.0.  I just have to do some more tweaking - e.g. getting Flash up to date.  Overall though, I am very happy with this new Linux Mint install.  Now I can enjoy more time in Linux and only get into Windows for those few programs with no Linux counterpart (hmm, I may even have to try out Wine).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I return with...poetry?

So it has obviously been a while since I've posted anything here.  I'd like to think it is due to being overwhelmed with other stuff in my life.  Alas, I'm fairly confident there is a fair bit of laziness that has contributed.  Nevertheless, my journey has continued and our Prepared Christian class has continued to meet throughout the summer months. I do have a backlog of posts to make.  Fortunately for me, my implementation of GTD seems to be holding up fairly well and I've captured all of the To-Do's for the pending posts.

Before getting into the subject of this post, a couple items that might be noteworthy.  I am currently participating in a 90-day Labor Day Challenge to read the entire New Testament by Labor Day.  Pastor Mark is heading it up as he is posting the American Standard Version (not the "New") on-line and each day as he posts it, it becomes a reading for that day on the plan.  The posts themselves are over at the Graham Friends Church web site, but I get to them via Facebook posts he makes each day.  I have to say it has been one of the better uses of FB that I've come across.

The other item worth mentioning is that I am currently trying to get hooked up Wycliffe Associates as a volunteer.  Wycliffe Associates supports the larger Wycliffe organization which is engaged in Bible translation in an effort to spread the Word to people in their native language.  Seemed like a good fit for my gifts.  I have gone through the process of being approved as a volunteer.  Just waiting for them to identify a position for me now.

I'm also looking at Voice of the Martyrs and trying to figure out whether there is anything there I might be able to help with.  The stories of Christians fighting persecution throughout the world are very powerful imo.  May hook up with the Be-A-Voice Network.

So, that is enough catching up.  On to the "real" subject of this post.  Back in the middle of June, one of our weekly lessons was on the history of the Old Testament.  In working through that material, one of the items we ran across was the concept of antecedent texts.  These are texts that are referred to in the OT, but which we have no copies of to know what they said.  Since they are referred to in the OT, they existed before the OT section that includes the reference was written - that is, antecedent.  So to some extent, the OT (ok, sections) was "built" using these other texts.

To demonstrate this, Pastor Mark introduced us to "found poetry".  Found poetry takes words, phrases, sentences from other sources, and then puts them together to create a new work (see, kind of like taking an antecedent text and then adding to it to produce new, inspired text).  As an exercise, we went through eleven pages of our textbook for class and picked out a word, phrase or sentence from each page and put them together as a poem.  One could do some cleaning up if they wanted.  But I am leaving mine it its raw form.  So, without further ado, here is the found poetry (untitled at present) I came up with during our class:
Neither of them thought much of the idea

They cannot recognize the risen Jesus

He opened their minds so they could understand

These actors and props are an integral part to God's self-revelation

God called

You will be enticed to turn away

Culture shift is witnessed

Political and religious upheaval

Set the stage

The one true God's character

Challenging the community

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flow MINI Raleigh Grand Opening

flow_03.png

Back in January a handful of us THMMCers made it over to the new Flow MINI Raleigh when they first opened.  Things were still being constructed at that time.  I've also been over there a couple times for some service the past couple months as they've been in a "soft opening" phase.  But the big day finally got here - the official Grand Opening on May 15, 2010.

flow_07.png

The day's festivities started early with a scavenger hunt in the Raleigh area.  We gathered at Flow MINI Raleigh at 8:30 a.m. to receive our clue packages and we were sent off.  For this hunt, my co-pilot was my son William.  Our first goal was the Observation Park at RDU.  Luckily for us, we were traveling with a pack of MINIs on 540 over to the airport and the lead MINI knew where they were going.  After finding the answers to some trivia questions and getting a pic of the control tower, it was off to Crabtree Valley Mall.

flow_11.png

At the mall we probably picked up some time as we were supposed to find some MINIs in the mall.  William had been there a few times with his Nanny, so he knew right where to go.  After that, we shot over to North Hills Mall where a British Car Show was gearing up.  Got a pic of William with a classic and counted classic British cars.  Also, we got to see a Tesla out there.  We then shot over to the original Snoopy's on Old Wake Forest Road - a location I knew well since it is across the street from an auto shop that my father worked with.

flow_13.png

After that, we headed downtown for pics and clues at several locations like the Executive Mansion, the Capitol Building, the Museum of History, Mordecai Park, and one of the convention centers.  From there we headed over to the Farmer's Market.  I really hate going over there during these scavenger hunts as it is always very frustrating trying to find the vendor that has your next clue.  We then rode over to the NCSU campus for some info at the Bell Tower and then Cup A Joe.  I got to see the new streetscape project on Hillsborough Street.  That really makes things different compared to when I went to school there.

flow_16.png

We continued on out of town with stops at the Vet School, the Hunt Horse Complex, Carter-Finley Stadium, and finally the Museum of Art, before heading back to Flow MINI Raleigh.  We didn't win the scavenger hunt, but I felt pretty good as we found all the clues, answered all the questions, and got all the pics we were supposed to get.  And at one point, William even noted that "this is fun."  Flow provided us with some lunch and we checked out some of the MINIs (they have a nice convertible S in Chili Red).

flow_20.png

Near the end of our time there, we got to talking with the balloon lady.  She wasn't having much luck as there were very few kids there.  After politely declining her entreaties to make a balloon, William finally relented and agreed to let her do a little face painting.  We figured she would just do a little something on his cheek.  But no.  She did a full on paint job over his entire face, making him look like a wolf (including eyes painted on his eyelids).  We got a good laugh out of that and I noted for William that he had made the balloon lady happy to finally have something to do and we noticed another young boy who got his face painted after seeing it could be done.  So that was a little bit of happiness he brought to two people at a small cost to himself.  So that was a nice little life lesson to close out the day.

Flow MINI Raleigh did a good job with the grand opening.  The scavenger hunt was fun, we got some free food, and got to spend some time seeing other THMMCers.  And I got to spend some time with my son doing something fun and a little bit offbeat.  Be sure to check out the photo gallery for all the pics we had to get as part of the scavenger hunt as well as some others.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anonymous Infamy?

Last week TWISTER from the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club sent me something interesting that his daughter had received.  It seems she was stopped at a vehicle checkpoint over the weekend.  No problems for her, but whatever agency(ies) was(were) conducting the checkpoint was handing out some flyers.  She managed to send a pic of part of the flyer to TWISTER as shown below:

License Plate Law Flyer


As you might be able to tell, it was noteworthy in that it shows a pic of a MINI.  And as TWISTER accurately surmised, it was none other than my MINI WUF.  You can find the original pic here on the blog.  You'll note that they blacked out one of my badges - it was the one reading "HUMMER ESCAPE POD".  Not sure why they wanted to black that out, but left all the FLOW MINI info.


I can't see the entire flyer and haven't been able to find the agency that produced it (though I do know it was not the NC Highway Patrol).  So there is a chance I am wrong on this, but it does not appear they gave proper attribution for the photo per the CCL I use.  And just basic etiquette would suggest you'd contact the person to at least let them know you are using their pic (and/or ask permission as may be appropriate).  I guess they may be picky about license plate frames - copyright law, not so much.


So without the attribution, my contribution is anonymous.  Yet my MINI has some little bit of fame (maybe 10 seconds worth - long enough for recipients to toss the flyer).  Maybe I can add this to my photography portfolio, no?  In the meantime, make sure your license plate frame is good to go in NC!!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Be Somebody

After missing a few weeks for various reasons, our Prepared Christian class got back into the swing of things a couple Sundays ago.  Last week's chapter was on the doctrines of humanity and sin and before jumping in to a discussion on what it means to be human, we were given this quote (at the beginning of the chapter):
God made man to be somebody - not just to have things.
-Brotherhood Journal

After class (we were still working on the chapter this past Sunday), Pastor Mark sent us an "assignment" to help drive home some of what we were studying.  The assignment included a link to a video of Tamara Lowe doing a little "rap":



Yeah, she goes pretty fast in trying to point out to her audience a little bit about what matters and what doesn't matter.  And we were to examine a passage from C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:

These then are the two points that I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.

Finally, Pastor Mark pointed out that a similar idea can be found in Romans 7:14-15:
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Out of all this material (and another bit I'm about to mention), it seems there are two main concepts to consider.  First is the whole idea of what it is to be human.  Second is a bit on the nature of sin (hmmm...and the chapter was on the doctrines of humanity and sin - seem to go hand in hand, eh?)

The material clearly points toward the idea of inescapability of sin (the red squiggly lines say that is not really a word!).  We know how we ought to behave, we fail to do that.  As we discussed in class, sin is so much a part of our nature that we can't escape even if we try.  Perhaps those paying attention to the Bible or their preachers will think, "of course!" - it is only through our belief in and faith in Jesus that we are able to be freed from sin.  But I think both Paul and Lewis are trying to say that even when we understand and really know that "law", we will still end up sinning.

If that is the case, clearly we need to examine our response to our sin since we can't avoid it or escape from it.

For some reason though, I find myself drawn a bit more to this question about what it means to be human or to be somebody.  Pastor Mark mentioned that we might want to read The Velveteen Rabbit (which I found on-line).  I suppose the whole story applies to our attempt to understand what it means to be somebody, but I particularly liked this little bit near the beginning of the story when the Velveteen Rabbit is discussing the process of becoming Real with the Skin Horse:
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time..."

I think that is something that lots of folks lose track of - that our lives and what we strive for take a long time.  It doesn't help that we live in a society/culture that values the instantaneous.

I do like how the Skin Horse expresses the process of becoming real - "You become".  I guess a lot of people would naturally ask, "you become what?"  They kind of touched on this in the Raising a Modern Day Knight book, how men seemed to be defined by their career.  But I think the Brotherhood Journal and  Williams are looking even beyond that.  I hope there is more to me than just being a CFO.

Unfortunately, while all this reading has raised a lot of questions and "hmmm..."s in my mind, I don't think I'm any closer to any answers.  It has only been two weeks though and as the Skin Horse says, it takes a long time.  So I'll have to continue to ponder the idea of becoming.

Friday, April 30, 2010

RIP Donkey

So I'm sitting here this evening eating some dinner and catching up on some stuff on the 'net.  When I hear something upstairs, kind of a loud popping or crunching sound.  Didn't think much of it the first time, but then whatever it was, it did it a few more times.  So I figure I should go upstairs and see what is going on.

As soon as I reach the top of the steps I notice it is extremely warm - almost hot.  Check the bonus room, nothing there looks out of place.  Start down the hallway and start to detect the odor of burning electronics.  Stop at the thermostat and note that the temp is 81 degrees even though the A/C is on and set for 72.  That's not a good sign.

Get down to my office and the smell of burning electrical components is really strong.  Clearly something in the office.  Modem, routers, printer all look good and are powered up.  Then I spot it.

My server is not on.  I check it and it is very hot to the touch.  Clearly this is the source of the burning odor.  I get it unplugged.  But already, I know (and you the reader know) how this is going to turn out.  To be safe I check the rest of the upstairs.  Check the circuit breakers in the garage.  Check the outside unit.  Go up in the attic and check things, reset the breaker on the HVAC unit.  By now the odor is already starting to dissipate.  Alas, I still cannot seem to get the A/C to blow cold air (it finally did start back up about 15 minutes later).

So yes, the server is toast.  It's network name was Donkey as in "the Donkey server".  I plugged it back in just to verify and could not get it to power up at all.  It has served well.  Started out as a desktop PC back in the late 90's.  Was briefly relegated to testbed status as I started dabbling with Linux and it had been replaced by a better gaming PC.  When I started up my business I went ahead at that point and converted it into a server.  Mainly served as a file server, but I ran some local web services on it and used it for testing stuff I was thinking of deploying in live environments.  That was back around 2004.

Haven't looked it up, but at one point it ran for something like 283 days straight and only had to be taken down due to a planned power outage at our old house.  Not bad for equipment that was close to a decade old.

So Donkey, RIP.  You served admirably, well beyond your designed life.

The big question now will be whether I can save the data off the hard drives.  Hopefully they didn't get toasted in the process.  I have some older snapshots of the data and I don't think there is anything critical on the hard drives, but it would still be a loss if I can't access them.  Can only blame myself for that (being lazy about backups).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book review: Raising A Modern-Day Knight

A few out there may be aware, but a few weeks ago we (as in my wife and I) started to have some behavior problems with our son.  Nothing nearly as bad or dramatic as what some people have to deal with.  But, still troubling to us.

In an effort to address his behavior and actions and try to get him back on a good path, I did some searching for some materials that I could use to improve my own parenting skills and pick up some ideas on how to deal with the situation.  One thing I was hoping to find was something that was, if not Biblically based, somewhat connected to our faith.  One of the books I picked up was Raising A Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis.  I suppose the premise is figuring out a way to move a son from childhood to manhood as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:11 -
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

The book starts out with a couple chapters on some of the challenges that sons face in our world.  Especially in terms  of fathers who are not there for them whether through the challenges of a family that has split up for some reason or just because the father is focused on other activities (e.g. a workaholic) or has his own problems (e.g. alcoholism).

In response to this, Lewis proposes that we could tap a model from the past - the Knight - as a way to get our sons (and perhaps ourselves as fathers) back on track.  As he explains it, a knight had a code of conduct that could be summarized (as was done by Tennyson) as:
Live pure;

Speak true;

Right wrong;

Follow the King.

Hopefully readers can see how that can pretty easily be grafted onto and supported by principles and concepts in the Bible and in what Jesus taught us.

Lewis goes on to lay some groundwork for what it means to be a Knight.  This includes having a Vision for Manhood, a Code of Conduct, and a Transcendent Cause.  In all of the chapters explaining this, I think Lewis does a good job of connecting the ideas and concepts to points in the Bible.

The second half of the book starts to get into how to translate this into action.  The "how to" focuses on ceremonies as a boy moves through different stages.  Using the knight paradigm, Lewis has noted that knights became knights first by becoming a page, then a squire, and finally a knight.  During each of these stages, the knight-to-be focused on learning different things and upon achieving success, was promoted to the next level.

Overall, I liked the book.  I thought it presented some good concepts and a nice framework for a path to manhood.  One thing I really liked about it were the numerous connections to the Bible and the path Jesus has set before us.  It does get weak in the second half with the how-to portion.  Lewis does a good job of describing the framework, but I would have preferred some more practical application information.  Maybe that is in the six-part DVD series?

Bottom line on the book, I'd recommend it.

Now, translating all that into helping my son has been another story.  The first challenge is the fact that he is not into knights.  So I've been struggling to find an alternate model, preferably one that my son helps select as I think he will be more invested in it that way.  I know he really likes Walker, Texas Ranger, so I've thought about maybe using Texas Rangers as a model for manhood.  He is also into all things military, so perhaps some elite special forces model?  Another interest of his is hunting and outdoors type activities, so I've been trying to think of some group along the lines of Danial Boone or possibly some of the survivor guys with shows on TV.  Interestingly, other than Chuck Norris, another person who cropped up in my son's opinion as a "man" was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I'm not sure what to do with that.  It has been enlightening (and perhaps a bit discouraging realizing how far he needs to go) to watch him struggle with some of the questions I've posed to him on what it means to be a man.  I think one good thing though is that he himself has also realized that maybe he didn't know everything like he thought he did.

I have worked with him on examining and trying to identify what a definition of manhood would be (this is part of the vision of manhood).  We've worked through some Bible passages on the Biblical ideals of manhood which start to lay the groundwork for a code of conduct, including:
Loyalty (Hosea 6:6)

Servant-Leadership (Matthew 20:26-27)

Kindness (Proverbs 19:22)

Humility (Philippians 2:3)

Purity (1 Timothy 4:12)

Honesty (Ephesians 4:25)

Self-discipline (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Excellence (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Integrity (Proverbs 10:9)

Perseverance (Galatians 6:9)

At this point we are still early in the process and trying to do some basic defining.  I did pick up a few tips from the book on some little things to do to help my son understand that I love him and will help him with this journey.  I think I've already seen some change in him.

If you are struggling with some behavior issues in a son (or even if not and would just like to get a little better idea of some Biblically based manhood concepts), I recommend Raising A Modern-Day Knight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

THMMC Covered Bridge Run 2010 Recap

Gathering at Pilot Mountain
Yes, yes, yes, it has taken me almost a week.  And I have lots of other blog entries on my list of things to do (those would be GTD Next Actions).  But for now, I just want to see if I can crank out an update of the Covered Bridge Run that was held last Saturday by the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club.  This was a run that I led as a follow-up to the 2009 Covered Bridge Run.

In 2009 we stayed in the central part of NC visiting the Pisgah Covered Bridge after a route that took in a couple Scenic Byways including the Flint Hill Ramble (really nice twisty stretch there).  For 2010 I set my sights a little farther north - Virginia to be more specific.  There are actually a few covered bridges in the southwest area of Virginia (also home to one of our THMMC chapters).  Getting up to them though proved to be a routing challenge as it was quite a bit of ground to cover.  I also wanted to avoid Floyd County after the whole Turkey Trot Incident (no, I will not go into details).  And on the way back I wanted to avoid Hwy 66 since I knew we'd be doing that as part of the Bullfrog Run.

MINIs on Squirrel Spur Road
So, I decided to start us off at the top of Pilot Mountain.  Those who live in the area and have been up Hwy 52 have seen Pilot Mountain several times.  I had to do a bit of research and figured out there is a State park there and it had a nice, large parking lot close to the summit.  Perfect for a gathering of MINIs.  Our plans almost derailed when we learned on Friday that a marathon was being run on Pilot Mountain.  Fortunately it started out at the base and no runners had made it to the summit while we were there.  Although a couple llamas or alpacas or something were up there as we were leaving.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Great Fixes in IT Land

Was recently logging into one of the systems that I use on my job.  When you logon, it takes you to a splash screen with various bits of information.  This time, I was presented with the following information (identifying information removed to protect the guilty even if they are the Federal government):
System performance issues have been identified with xxxxxxxxxxxxx. Specifically, double clicking the mouse button during a page SAVE for the unaudited and audited financial submission process may lead to an error message identified as "Sql Map Client, error code [1427]".

xxxxxxxxx has identified a temporary solution that will avoid this system error. When submitting your financial statement, DO NOT double-click on the SAVE button. Click only once and wait for the system to complete the initial SAVE operation.

The emphasis was in the original.  Unless I'm mistaken, it looks like the "temporary solution" that has been identified is basically - "Don't do that!"  Gee, thanks.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Devil and our Friends - We Win!!!

On this Good Friday, I had a bit of an unusual situation to come up.  I got the day off from work.  However, due to snow days, the teacher workday scheduled for today became a make-up day, so the kids are in school.  And, my wife ended up subbing today.  So, I'm on my own for a bit today - at least until school let's out.

Decided to use the morning for a little scouting work for a MINI drive idea I have in my head.  I suppose it is building upon the Howl at the Moon run I did last fall.  But this time, with haunted locations!  The first step was to identify some haunted locations that might be fun to get to (i.e. there are twisty roads leading there).  Not the easiest task.

I've identified four potential locations that are generally in the area.  There are lots more in the Triad/Triangle areas, but who wants to visit a college dorm?  Of course, the first candidate I visited today was close to that - Gimghoul Castle in Chapel Hill.  I vaguely remembering visiting the castle either during high school or college with some friends.  And yes, today's mission meant riding through campus in the MINI WUF to get there.  No evidence of parties from last night's NIT appearance.  No students at all really - guess class was out.  Anyway, there is a gravel circle that looks like it might be open to the public so we could circle right by the castle.  Not sure if it just happened to be open today or not.  If not, we should be able to get close enough on the surface street to be a worthwhile stop.

From there, I headed southwest for some country roads.  This took me through downtown Pittsboro, where I got to see the recently burned down Chatham County Courthouse when I went through the traffic circle.  The next target was in the country - the Devil's Tramping Ground.  I remember hearing the tale of the DTG growing up.  In my research, I had found a blog post that provided some GPS coordinates.  Upon arriving there, I was presented with a dirt road leading down into some woods.  Definitely not MINI country judging by the "lake" that had formed in a dip in the path.  But, it was also heavily marked with No Trespassing signs.  Just judging by sight, it didn't look like the right place.  However, about 2/10ths of a mile back up the road was a small pull off with a path that led to a small circular-ish area littered with the remnants of partiers.  This looked much more like the photos I have found on-line describing the DTG.  Right in the middle were the remains of a fire.  Today, laying on top, were some "things" - sorry, no idea what they might be - that looked to be made out of some kind of hair (maybe some horse mane hair?).  Maybe 16 inches long, mostly white with some black, and they had some kind of handles at one end.  Whoever had been using them for whatever had thrown them on the remains of the logs, but they had not burned up.  This may be do-able.  Not great parking and who knows what kind of crowd we might stumble upon if I ever do this.

So those were the two locations I visited this morning.  fwiw, I may also look at throwing in the Pisgah Covered Bridge (found a tale about the  apparition of a hanged woman that appears in the bridge), Lydia's Bridge (great story in the vanishing hitchhiker vein), and/or the Cabe's Land Cemetary.  All  of those would probably be too long for one drive.  Hmm - a series of haunted MINI runs?

With all that said, what is this bit about our Friends in the title of this post?  After visiting the DTG, I had plotted a route up through Siler City and then some back roads of Alamance County to get back home.  I didn't even realize it, but it took me right by the Rocky River Friends Meeting.  That was notable as just last weekend they were having a revival at the meeting.  I didn't get down to it, but it had been in our bulletin at church.  It was a nice large facility with lots of playground equipment (a good sign).  I guess looks can be deceiving, but it appeared to be a nice vibrant church.  And, it has been around since 1753 - so long, it has its own historical marker.

This means that in my journey I got to contrast the DTG with the Rocky River Friends Meeting.  The first is a patch of dirt off the side of a country road that has been overtaken by partygoers and is largely unimpressive.  But the Friends Meeting is alive and well - no trouble finding it and no threat for now of it fading from memory or existence.  So, imo, the Friends are winning!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

THMMC Bullfrog Run 2010

bullfrog_14.png
As spring weather rolls around, one of the joys that I have come to expect is participating in the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club's Bullfrog Run.  I say I've come to expect it since it is something that I only know about due to my MINI ownership and participating with the THMMC.  This year's run was the third annual running of this particular run for the club.  Members of the club have been running the route for several years; but in memory Rob Baker they started running the route as an annual event and dubbed it the Bullfrog Run.  I never met Rob as he had passed on before my membership started.  He was described as a great driver (who really knew what to do with his DS Justa), a great club member, and a great person.  His example also spawned the MINIs Motoring Against Cancer banner.  And for this particular run, we took up a collection that yielded a $120 donation to the American Cancer Society.

bullfrog_01.png
I'm glad to say that I've been to all three of the Bullfrog Runs.  Besides the nature of the event, it is special to me now because the first Bullfrog Run was also my first ever event that I attended with the THMMC.  So even though my MINI adventure started in February, the running of the Bullfrog always feels like the "anniversary" of when I started with the THMMC.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Document Freedom Day - March 31st

Just thought I'd post up a quick entry about Document Freedom Day.  This is coming up on March 31st.  As indicated on the web site for the "event":
Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.

As any regular reader of this blog is aware (is there such a thing as a reader of this blog, much less a regular one?), I'm a big fan of OpenOffice.org for all of my "office" documents - text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.  Among the reasons I like OOo is the fact that it is free and that it uses the OpenDocument Format for saving files (and of course there is the "it is just plain better" reason).  Use of the ODF format helps others as they do not have to use specific software to open the files that I generate.  Theoretically, they do not even have to use an office productivity suite since the files are in an XML format (maybe not theoretical as I once had to go through the process of open the native XML file when I was helping someone troubleshoot some file corruption).

Those two factors in my opinion make a strong argument as to why governments and public administrations should switch to ODF.  There are plenty of applications available that can open an ODF file, many of them free (like OOo).  By using these documents, citizens are not forced to go out and buy any specific software application.  So, the government stays neutral with respect to vendors and the marketplace.  And, it does not seem to me that government should be forcing citizens to buy software just to be able to read/open a government document.

Unfortunately, even now, in my position I continue to get Excel spreadsheet files from HUD for the conduct of official business.  I've been tempted a few times to write back to them and inform them that "I do not have Excel - how am I supposed to use their document?"  I have a feeling they'd be at a loss as to how to answer.

Hope you'll think about this some.  And maybe make a switch to some other document format.  You may even have a chance to try out OpenOffice.org.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baseline mag's 40 Fast Facts on Linux

Ran across this slideshow on the Baseline magazine web site. I seem to spend a lot of my effort promoting OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Thunderbird. There are lots of other F/OSS applications I use as well. Don't want to lose sight of the fact that I'm a big fan of Linux. Still hoping I may be able to convert my employer to Linux. Change is always tough though. Anyway, the facts from the slideshow include:

  1. Linus Torvalds developed the Linux kernel while still a student at the University of Helsinki in 1991.

  2. Last year, 75% of Linux code was developed by programmers working for corporations.

  3. In December 2009, IBM announced a new mainframe system designed for Linux.

  4. IBM chose Linux for what is expected to be the world's most powerful supercomputer, Sequoia, due in 2011.

  5. Linux powers 446 of the world's top 500 supercomputers.

  6. Some 95% of the servers used by Hollywood's large animation studios are powered by Linux.

  7. The first major film produced on Linux servers was 1997's Titanic.

  8. Director James Cameron again chose Linux servers for box-office smash Avatar.

  9. Google runs its web servers on Linux.

  10. Google has contributed about 1.1% of the code in the current Linux kernel.

  11. Linux has a strong following in smartphones and other devices in the consumer electronics world.

  12. Palm's WebOS, Google's Android and Nokia's Maemo smartphone operating systems are built on top of the Linux kernel.

  13. TiVo uses a customized version of Linux for its appliances.

  14. In 2009, Linux had 33.8% revenue marketshare of servers, compared to Microsoft's 7.3%.

  15. As of January 2010, Linux still only has a 1.02% marketshare within desktops.

  16. Torvalds created Linux based on the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  17. Torvalds wouldn't have written his own operating system if GNU had had a kernel at the time.

  18. The GNU Project then lacked drivers, daemons and a kernel.

  19. Under the GPL, any person or group distributing the Linux kernel must make the source code available to the recipient of the package.

  20. Said Torvalds: "Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did."

  21. Torvalds failed to register the name "Linux" when he first started his open source ventures.

  22. In 1994, William Della Croce, Jr. filed for trademark in the U.S.and asked for royalties from Linux distributors.

  23. Torvalds and his lawyers won the battle for the Linux name in 1997.

  24. There are over 300 distributions of Linux actively deployed today.

  25. Linux gained traction beyond the coder cult with 1993's Slackware distribution, which was easier for non-programmers to use.

  26. The Debian distribution was one of the first truly community-oriented Linux coding projects.

  27. Debian's code base remains the foundation for other distros such as Ubuntu, Knoppix and Xandros.

  28. Debian v. 4.0's source code containes 283 million lines of code.

  29. $7.37 billion: projected cost to produce that amount of code in a commercial environment.

  30. The first commercially-produced, live-CD distribution of Linux was Yggdrasil, released in 1992.

  31. Red Hat was one of the first commercial Linux distributions to truly cater to the enterprise.

  32. Ubuntu was the first Linux distro to be offered by a major OEM (Dell) to desktop users.

  33. The Xandros distribution helped make the netbook craze possible when it was chosen by ASUS for the first iterations of the EeePC.

  34. Linux-based Apache wasn't named for Geronimo's tribe, it was called "a patchy server" for its cobbled-together source code.

  35. In 2002, The Register claimed Microsoft spent $421 million just to fight Linux.

  36. In 2003, the SCO Group earned enmity by claiming that IBM transferred UNIX code into Linux and asking for redress.

  37. The Indian state of Kerala made it mandatory for all of its high schools to run Linux on their computers.

  38. The federal government of Brazil favors Linux operating systems over all others in its PCs.

  39. In 2009, Brazil carried out the largest thin-client deployment of Linux to date, with 350,000 nodes.

  40. IDC projects that Linux support sales will top $1 billion by 2012.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Would you be tempted?

Another post generated from a discussion with my son.  We were doing his (our?) devotion for the night.  The subject was temptation.  As we started on the activity part, we had to read Matthew 4:1-11:


The Temptation of Jesus


4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,




“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”




5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,




“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’




and




“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”




7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,




“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”




11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.


The activity was asking what were the three things Jesus was tempted with.  So the first item was the temptation of food via the challenge to turn the stones into bread.  The second item was the challenge to jump/fall from the temple and let God's angels rescue Jesus.  The third was the temptation to "own" all the kingdoms of the world.

As we discussed the passage, the first one was pretty easy to understand once we looked at it in context - Jesus was starving from being in the desert for 40 days.  Of course food would be a temptation.  The second one was a little harder for my son to grasp (and me to explain).  I'm pretty sure I could develop something around the idea of not putting the Lord to the test.  But for now, something a little more in reach was appropriate.  In the story, Jesus is challenged to jump off the temple, which would be dangerous.  So, we decided the temptation could be summed up as safety - against physical harm.  The third temptation took us back to something a little easier - the temptation of all the riches in the world.

My son seemed to understand it much better when we had it reduced down to these three things - food, safety, and riches.  And as we look around the world today, we decided that it would be pretty easy to see how people would be tempted down a path of sin if they knew their food, safety, or some riches would be provided.  No doubt lots of people have probably sold their soul or some part of it for at least one, if not two or three, of these.  I'm not so sure that perhaps most(all?) of us let our worries and concerns about one of these three cause us to think we need to do something to ensure them rather than trusting in the Lord.  But then, that's probably at least part of what makes all us of sinners.

Are you being tempted by the promise of food, safety, or riches?

Shifting gears somewhat, my son told me tonight that he had finished reading the entire book of Matthew!  He doesn't know it, but I have both of us on a path to reading the entire New Testament.  Having gotten through that one book probably puts him into a somewhat select group.  I'm proud of him for completing that first stage.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Look! Do you hear something?

One of my favorite lines in the movie Ghostbusters (which frankly, imo, is chock full of little bits of comedic genius) is when Ray says:
Listen...do you smell something?

It is funny because of the mixture of senses within the single sentence and in the movie, it appears that he is not even aware that he is mixing things around like that.  I thought of the line after our Sunday School class (ok, maybe it was actually during it) today.  One of our members was commenting about how God seems to have been so explicitly involved in the world of the OT.  From burning bushes to parting seas, creating floods, keeping believers from burning in a hot furnace, and other examples, God seems to be very present and active in the world.  This kind of culminates with the arrival of Jesus Christ as God actually walks in this world.  And of course, in the process of doing that, many miracles are performed.

But since then, it does not seem like God is actively involved in the world.  Yes, there are reports of miracles occurring.  But for some reason, it does not not strike us as being the same kind of involvement.

Sometimes I've wondered if part of the problem is that we Christians are looking too hard.  We become so focused on looking for signs of God that we fail to still ourselves and just listen.  Maybe it's the same idea we tell those looking for love - it is only when you stop trying so hard to find a boyfriend or girlfriend and instead just live your life, that is when you will find love.  Or at least increase your odds.  Similarly, if we stop looking so hard for God, we may discover that he is at work in the world just as much as always - we just fail to perceive Him.

All of this finally brings me to the point of this post.  Which I've been wanting to write for a couple days now - luckily I had not so I was able to make this connection with what happened in Sunday School.  About ten days ago we (that is, me and my wife) had an incident with our son.  He did something at school, not wrong, but troubling.  We talked with him about it and planned to make some changes.  Unfortunately, he then proceeded to engage in some disobedience with our directions, which of course only served to compound the problems. This resulted in him getting grounded.

It also made me do some searching for new ways to deal with him.  To that end, I invested in a couple books from Family Christian Bookstore to see if I'd get some parenting ideas.  One of them is Have A New Kid By Friday, which I am currently reading.  The first one I read was Raising A Modern Day Knight.  Hopefully I can put together a review of that in the next few days.  I will say one thing I really liked about it was the focus on connecting the concepts and ideas to the Bible.

So I am now in the process of implementing some of the ideas in the book.  One of the first steps was asking my son to come up with a definition of what a man is.  He is struggling a little bit but seems to be warming up to the conversations we've been having.  Another part of implementing the framework in the Modern Day Knight involved a couple gifts I gave my son.  This past Thursday was his birthday and I gave him a Bible and a journal to use for his journey to manhood that I have him now traveling.

On Thursday night, just before starting our "manhood" discussion and giving him his gifts, we were working on his nightly devotion.  In the middle of the story for that night, we came across this passage:
Strong is about being a man. And being a man means keeping promises.  Taking care of your family.  Walking away from a fight whenever you can. Respecting people, especially women. Honoring the Lord.

So after several days of working on a definition of what it means to be a man, and on the cusp of revealing this manhood journey to my son, right here in the middle of the devotion is a definition of what it means to be man.

Some will write this off to coincidence I'm sure.  But I think if one relaxes a bit and doesn't try quite so hard, one will perceive that this was God at work in my life and my son's life.  At just the right time and in just the right way, he revealed something to us that, at least in my case, was part of an answer to my prayers for guidance in dealing with my son.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

New Twitter test

Just testing a new WP plugin for generating Tweets since my last one mysteriously died.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Learning Guitar

My son got a small guitar a while back and finally started to show some slight signs of interest in learning it.  I went ahead and bought a full-size Yamaha 6-string for the two of us to share.  The plan is to eventually spring for my own guitar so we can play together.

In an effort to be able to help him learn, I've been trying to figure it out myself.  Been at it about three weeks now, though I don't practice nearly enough.  The Music & Arts store set me up with a good beginner's book though and I've slowly been working my way through it.  I'm close to having the notes down for the first four strings.  In the process of doing that, I've managed to learn a few songs - Yankee Doodle, Happy Birthday, and Amazing Grace.  I'm not too good on them, but they are recognizable.  I'm starting to learn When the Saints Go Marching In.  One day I hope to be able to play a song for my wife.

The bigger challenge has been learning to strum the chords.  Once I get my fingers positioned, playing the chord is not a problem.  But switching between them is really hard for me.  Especially when switching from one note to the next.  I guess I'll eventually get it with enough practice.  Dang small hands.

The other challenge is my complete inability to read music.  I suppose I'm making a little bit of progress.  Alas, my brain just does not function that way.

Anyway, it is a new challenge I'm working on in my life and figured I would start blogging a bit about it.

A Prepared Christian Creed?

This week's Prepared Christian assignment has to do with creeds.  As we've been studying the chapter on God the Father, the idea/concept of creeds has come up a few times as we attempt to define the doctrine of God the Father.  One of the things we have learned in our class is that for the early church, most people did not have access to books like the Bible (and may not have been able to read it even if they did).  So, the church had to come up with ways to get everyone on the same page, especially when it came to understanding some of the basic concepts of being a Christian.  So creeds became an important tool in this effort.  Webster's online dictionary defines a creed as:
a brief authoritative formula of religious belief

Our assignment was to review the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed; identify some common structural elements; and then write our own creed.  Having attended a Methodist church for many years, the Apostle's Creed was pretty familiar.  That could also be a holdout from attending a Catholic church as a child.  I was also somewhat familiar with the Nicene Creed.  However, I had never run across the Athanasian Creed before (which, btw, fails on "brief").

Pastor Mark sent us copies of the versions of each of the creeds he wanted us to use. This was a good move as a quick Google search will likely overwhelm you with the different versions that are out there. Looks like the Apostle's Creed version is the Traditional English Version and the Nicene Creed is the International Consultation on English Texts translation as found at the creeds.net web site. The Athanasian Creed is close to one I found at affirms.org.

I did a little mindmapping as I worked through the creeds and came up with the following (sorry, been trying to figure out how to embed the Freemind file, but it keeps throwing an error when I preview - complains about Javascript and Flash not activated - so you'll have to put up with PNGs):



Using that, I put together the following outline of some Christian creed attributes:

  • Use the word believe. The Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed do this more actively.

  • All seem to focus heavily on the concept of the Trinity. The Athanasian Creed is very, very focused on this. Probably half the creed is spent explaining this concept.

  • God the Father

    • present in all the creeds

    • all use the adjective Almighty

    • references to being the creator/maker of Heaven, earth, all things



  • Jesus Christ

    • the only Son of God

    • begotten

    • emphasis on incarnate nature

    • historical perspective of his life on earth

    • he died, was buried, and rose

    • ascended into Heaven

    • will judge us

    • life everlasting is possible



  • Holy Spirit

    • Ghost is also used (I like Spirit myself)

    • giver of life (general and in terms of Jesus's conception)

    • not much else



  • Other stuff

    • catholic church

    • communion of saints

    • forgiveness of sins

    • resurrection of the body

    • everlasting life

    • Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed set these off; Athanasian Creed seems to incorporate them into the body of the creed




In starting to think about how to draft my own creed, some ideas included:

  • use believe as an active verb

  • touch on each “member” of the Trinity. I tend to feel the Holy Spirit gets the short end of the stick – any way to change that? I like John 14:26 and the reference to the Holy Spirit as the Helper coming to teach us and help us with remembrance, so perhaps use those?

  • As I started writing, I decided the descriptions of the God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit would all start with “who”

  • briefly considered structuring it using who, what, when, where, why, and how. That did not last long

  • instead of the “other” things being included, ala Apostle's and Nicene, I decided to go a little different route. I would use the five soli we studied earlier to structure the final section.


So with that in mind, I put together another mind map, this time of my creed:



Finally, converting all of this to a format of a creed that could be repeated yields:
I believe in Almighty God, who is our Father in Heaven and on earth, who created Heaven and earth, who is above us and with us, now and forever;

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, who became man incarnate that he might suffer for our salvation, who died, was buried, and rose from the dead, who ascended into Heaven, and who will judge us from His throne;

I believe in the Holy Spirit, who gives us life, who helps us by giving us knowledge and remembrance of what Jesus Christ taught;

I believe God grants us his grace that we may be saved;

I believe our faith is the path and the means to access God's grace;

I believe Jesus Christ is our savior that our sins may be forgiven;

I believe in the Holy word of God as revealed through Scripture;

I believe in the Glory of God.

Amen.

A pdf version is available of just the creed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Final Epiphany Epiphany? Maybe Even Two?

Was reading up some stuff in A Guide to Prayer and came across two passages in some C.S. Lewis materials that seemed to connect with my blog here.

The first is from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.  In that, Lewis writes,
We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him.  He walks everywhere incognito.  And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate.  The real labour is to remember, to attend.  In fact, to come awake.  Still more, to remain awake. (emphasis added)

That just kind of touched me since my blog tagline is about my efforts to stay awake spiritually.  Or as Lewis puts it, "to remain awake".  That is one idea that came to me when I really started to get more serious on my path to God.  Being a Christian is about more than being awakened to the existence of God and his saving grace.  Once we stir, we have to work to not fall back asleep, not even to nap.  I know there are many stories and passages in the Bible cautioning us to stay awake, some even told by Jesus.  That was part of what drew me to the concept.  I'm sure I'll write about that some more as I run across these passages (or I could pull out my journal where I made a bunch of notes on it).

Speaking of my journal, I'll briefly note that I am struggling with an organization problem.  I currently have ideas coming in from three different places - Sunday School (mainly the Guide to Prayer), church services, and now The Prepared Christian class.  I'm wondering if I need to somehow come up with a solution that would put all this material in one place.  Of course, that kind of calls for an electronic solution.  I'm somewhat resistant to that as the act of writing by hand is enjoyable and in some ways, forces me to slow down a bit and give a little more attention to my thoughts.  Been thinking about switching to a larger size Moleskin, but still not sure.

OK, back to the C.S. Lewis connections.  The second is from The Joyful Christian.  The passage, if I can summarize, is about an individual struggling with an experience he had with God and how that fits in with "religion" and theology.  The individual felt like he no longer needed those.  Lewis presents an interesting analogy of a person who takes a walk on a beach and then looks at a map of an ocean.  While the personal viewing of the ocean is very powerful, it does not help one get anywhere the way a map does.  Lewis notes that one benefit of the map is that it has had input from many different people who have all had their experiences and that is now combined to produce the map.  As we studied in our class, one consideration regarding the authority of The Bible is the number of people who have helped write it (over many centuries, cultures, languages, etc.).  So in a way, The Bible is similar to the map in helping us understand where to get to and how to get there.  And it has the benefit of all these shared insights as opposed to a single person having written it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Another word is found

A few minutes ago I finished up our nightly devotion with my son.  Tonight's lesson was about integrity - doing the right thing even when no one else knows about it.  My son seemed to really struggle with understanding what moral dilemmas and difficult decisions are.  Not sure whether that is good or not.

Anyway, part of each night's devotion is an activity.  Tonight's was an exercise to unscramble a verse using a key that was provided (I guess it is more breaking a code than unscrambling).  The verse was Psalm 119:11, which in his KJV read:
11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Or, using my ESV:
11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Seeing the word, "word" in there immediately brought to mind John 1:1 for me:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Since we've been doing a lot of studying recently about words and THE Word, I found the Psalm passage to be one of those that jumped out at me as contemporaneous.  And, I don't recall running across that particular passage in our lessons, so it was one of those "new" connections.  I'm sure there are many, many more instances of this through The Bible since The Portable Seminary can only hit the primary examples.

One of the things I like about the passage is how it connects with John 1:1.  And if I think about having the word in my heart could also be taken to mean having Christ in my heart.  I also like the idea of having Christ and God's word in our hearts will help us not sin.  I think in my case the more time I spend in the word, and in studying the word, and with the word, the easier I find it to resist temptations.  Even to the point where some temptations aren't really even temptations any longer.  I think it also makes it easier to engage in more wholesome or peaceful or productive activities and pursuits.  It is just an all around good thing!

Some OpenOffice.org deployment info

Just a quick note about a study I ran across regarding deployments of OpenOffice.org. There was a recent article that came out about OpenOffice.org uptake in Germany (sorry, the article is in German), where it has reached a 21% market share. The people doing the study decided to expand it and try to figure out what deployment was like around the world. They released an article explaining their result. Methodology is not the strongest, which they admit. But, still a pretty good indication of the gains it is making. In the U.S., they only found it deployed on 9% of computers.  While low, I think that is actually pretty good.  Probably more than I would have guessed. Of course, I was especially interested in this bit toward the end:
Many of the leading countries have switched to OpenOffice (or the ODF file format) in their public administration, education system or in several municipal governments.

Being in public administration, that is news that warms my heart.  I've actually got one of my new employees using OpenOffice.org now (maybe two?).  Would really like to get it deployed throughout the organization, but that will be a pretty major change.  Funding restrictions may work in favor of that looking forward though.