Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

It happened, while they were there, that the day had come that she should give birth. She brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn. There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

on earth peace, good will toward men.”

It happened, when the angels went away from them into the sky, that the shepherds said one to another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough. When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.

When eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-21, World English Bible translation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Admitting tasteless faults

This isn't an easy post to write. The Lord has been working on me for some time to talk about this, and I've always found some excuse not to post about it. He didn't like that, though, and has convinced me over the last few days that I needed to post about my troubles here.

I am addicted to pornography. Since starting college, this has manifested itself in an addition to porn on the Internet.

(I'm going to take the rest of this to the extended body, in case you don't want to read the details)

Fathers, it is incredibly important that you have no access to any porn within your house, either on your computers or in printed material. My experience mirrors every other male porn addict I've heard about: I had access to pornographic materials when I was 11 or 12 (certainly early enough that I wasn't even aware of sexuality). Not to attempt to deflect blame, but there seems to be something about exposing a boy to porn in early puberty that makes developing a porn addiction easier later.

In college, I had access to Porn on Usenet, and then many of the free web sites that exist on the network. Access to high-speed Internet didn't enable my addiction, it simply made it easier to get.

As an addiction, it did grow until it impacted my relationship with my family and especially my wife. I know it has hurt her and made her insecure in our marriage, and no matter how much I have asked her for her forgiveness and how much she has extended it, I know that this stain will never quite wash out.

Finally, the Lord worked on my heart to convict me that my behavior is wrong. I admitted to Milady that I was looking at the porn. Our marriage was strained, but she felt led to forgive me. I thank the Lord every day that she has forgiven me, and that He has forgiven me as well.

Just like Paul's thorn in the side, the Lord hasn't completely removed this addition from me. I still have urges to use porn, and will until the Lord chooses to completely remove it. I haven't had a personal accountability partner, which was (and still is) a mistake. What is worse is that I am succeptable to pseudo-porn outlets like Stuff, etc., and I see how close to porn they really are. Sometimes, the Lord lets me keep this thorn as a way to humble me, so that I am aware of my own sinfulness still. This is, of course, no excuse on my part, and is not meant to be, but if you're in the same situation, please know that prayer and working in the Word will help you too.

I am even more scared by the trash-girl industry being inspired by the pseudo-porn and porn industries. Women like Brittney Spears have inspired girls fashions that look like trash. Dolls like the Bratz dress like prostitutes, and Milady has to buy Little Miss (at 6 years old) boy's clothing at times because some girls clothes sling too low or are too exposing.

If you are fighting problems with pornography, go to someone in your church or a local Promise Keepers for help. Go to for other links. Stay away from porn and the pseudo-porn that is currently marketed as "Men's Entertainment". Stand against the selling of porn and pseudo-porn in your local stores.

Most of all, Christian men, you need to provide an example to your son to stay away from Porn and the pseudo-porn trash currently being produced. Tteach your daughters to have enough respect for themselves to stay away from the porn and the pseudo-porn industry, and their trash-girl image offspring. Teach them modesty, and have them cover themselves in modest, decent clothing. It isn't "empowering" to teach your girls to dress like sluts, or to let your boys look at girls who are dressed like sluts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I could complain

It's been a busy 8 days. Last Tuesday, the bathroom almost burned down, as I mentioned in the last post. On the way home from work Thursday, I couldn't tell that the Mercedes in front of me was stopped, and I locked the brakes on the poor Saturn up trying to stop. The Saturn nosed-down, so all I did to him was scrape the bumper, but the Saturn lost the hood, hood latch, and about $1000 more damage. I do have comprehensive on it still, but that's $500 deductable and yet another wreck on my list (you know it's bad when Geico wants to raise your insurance by $75 a month....). Little Miss is (I think) reliving her seperation from us last year, and now takes a crying fit every time I tell her no. Yesterday evening, the toilet in the bathroom that I'd just put laminate in a couple of months ago started leaking again, requiring me to start pulling the toilet out at 7PM, and pull the laminate out at 9 (I'd botched the cut-out around the toilet enough that it just wasn't worth saving). My wreck has cost us the money we'd have used to go to Gatlinburg after Christmas, and instead I'll probably be laying the laminate in our bedroom the week after Christmas. And let's not even talk about the Christmas present bill. I really could complain.

But I'm not complaining at all. It's not always easy, but I do know that God is still in control. This week last year, Number 1 Son was laying in the hospital with a heart rate over 175 while the doctors rushed to get a second chest tube in him to drain the pneumonia that almost gave him Congestive Heart Failure. Last year, we spent 5 weeks waiting for the Lord to use a surgeon to heal the remaining half of his right lung. Last year, I was trying to keep a new job and having to work days at the job and spend nights at the hospital so that I could measure out the few sick days I had stored up & not have to go to unpaid days (which we couldn't afford).

This year, I have my family home for Christmas. This year, we're all reasonably healthy, blessed with riches that most people in the world couldn't dream of possessing. We have been able to participate in a couple of ministries to help others. We can go to both sides of the family, and celebrate Christmas together. This year, Little Miss has been baptised, meaning that I can know my entire family is saved.

It is a good Christmas, you know.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

A prayer of thanksgiving

It's not the least unusual for my dog to want to get up in the middle of the night and go out and pee, so I didn't think much when I got up to let him out this morning. Until I came downstairs and smelled smoke. Even as asleep as I was, I knew that this wasn't good.

We got downstairs, and I could tell it was coming from the bathroom. Our downstairs faucet isn't well-insulated, so it can occasionally freeze in 15 degree weather (like tonight). I'd turned on a heat lamp. That heat lamp had fallen off the clip, and was proceeding to scorch its way through the bottom of the sink cabinet.

I grabbed the plug to the heat lamp, and pulled it so hard the lamp flew back out of the cabinet, causing it to burst the filament (i.e. nice flash, no damage). There's now a two-inch wide scorched wood mark in the bottom of the cabinet. It's solely God's hand of protection that the cabinet didn't burst into flames.

There really wasn't even any smoke downstairs, so <mumble> even if I'd had the smoke detector working downstairs</mumble> it wouldn't have helped. I'm just glad that the dog had to go.

Monday, December 5, 2005

The silence isn't intentional

I'm not meaning to be quiet, I am just still working on my Hebrew manuscript, as well as mulling over whether it's worth collecting my 1990s era writings together for a book. Lulu makes the printing of the book cheap, I just doubt anyone would buy it once I'd bothered to collect the thing...

Anyone willing to spend $2-$3 for an electronic copy of my 1991 & 1992 newspaper articles, with commentary added for value? :)

Needless to say, the projects that might possibly bring in real money are overriding blogging. I'm hoping that will change tomorrow, but I thought that last week too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

One thing that's too disturbing for 4AM

We broke down and got the evil talking box: i.e. cable is back. I've already practiced mandolin instead of listening to Cutie-Pie and Holmes talk at their guests.

This morning, I got paged to fix some broken backups. Now that something is actually on, I turned on the tube & flipped past MTV. I saw the very end of one of those "no out of pocket" mobility scooter commercials.

I'm impressed. I knew MTV was branching out to fans who don't care if they ever see a music video, but I didn't realize that it included the older set.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Have a blessed Thanksgiving day

May the Lord God of Israel bless you and yours on this and throughout the coming year.

Please take a moment to thank God for every blessing that He has given to you over the last year, and to thank Him in advance for the blessings of the year to come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

An apology, and a note of back to the future

It seems that "Open Source Media" has brought out some of the worst in the Blogosphere. It's been enough to upset LaShawn Barber, as she posts in this article. I've gone back to my article, and I am not proud of the entire article, and that's bad.

First, no matter how much I agree or disagree, there's no reason to call Richard Stallman a "nutjob". That sets the wrong tone. Richard, if you ever read this, I apologize.

Also, I said that the OSM crew "have decided to freeload". That wording was wrong. I wouldn't like to be told that I was freeloading, and I would take it personally. It is OK, and at times good, to disagree, but it is never OK to be disagreeable. I am sorry I was that confrontational.

I always hate it when people tell me "I'm sorry, but", because it seems they're not sorry. Well, I AM sorry, but... I am glad that OSM has decided to return to the Pajama Media name. Charles and Roger document all of the good arguments against OSM, including the probable forcing issue that there already WAS an Open Source Media. Guys, you should consider outing your name brand people, or at least get a full refund. It's the cardnial sin of branders to give you a name easily found in Google.

I am glad that Pajama Media has settled things out, and I wish everyone involved the greatest of success.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

OSM - Not "Open Source"

t's hard to miss everyone talking about "Open Source Media". LaShawn Barber is near-live blogging the event. Then Jeff over at The Shape of Days posted an objection to OSM, Buzzword foul with extra penalties for vapidness. I was going to keep quiet about PJ Media, but then the name change cought my eye. I too am glad OSM exists, but their new name is wrong.

In May 2005, I decided to follow the invitation of some of my fellow bloggers who knew more than I (not to mention had a lot more traffic), and sign up for this neat offer to be first in a new group of bloggers. It seemed that these bloggers were going to set up a group to farm out ads, and collect blog content for wider distribution. A little extra money for the ADSL line is always good, and wider distibution would be nice too. Then I got this not-so-neat non-disclosure form in the mail. In return for the possibility of a minor income, PJMedia wanted permission to sue me in another state (I think New York, but don't hold me to it) for uncapped damages if I even accidentally leaked some information that causedthem any harm.

I don't think so. My NDA with my first post-college employer wasn't that bad. I told the nice person from PJ Media that I couldn't sign their NDA, and that if that was enough to keep me out, then that was fine. I would do a "Scout's Honor" that I wouldn't say anything, and was willing to sign all the rest of their papers. She talked to her superiors, and said that that was OK. I was surprised, but glad to be able to stay in the project.

Several months passed quietly. I'm passing up at least $0.50 worth of and Google Ads revenue waiting for PJ Media to get off their duff and do something. I finally get a ping from them, but by that time I was barely even putting out content. PJ Media was so low on my radar that I decided it wasn't worth it. I just ignored the PJ Media email and let my exclusive lock-in offer with them expire.

Now PJ Media is "Open Source Media", and I am glad I didn't sign up. I have been a computer geek since the late 80s. I'm one of those kids who grew up dinking with sprites on the Commodore 64, and marveling about how you could tell this little box what to do and it'd do it. Then I went to college and discovered this wonderful system called UNIX. Whether you called it NeXTStep, SunOS 4, BSD, or even this fledging little toy called Linux, it was Good. I sat on the sidelines with my peers watching AT&T suing BSD Inc. and the University of California Berkeley to close the source on BSD, and Linux take off because of the lawsuit. I've used NetBSD ever since my Mac IIsi could run it, even having to have a terminal because the console code was broken.

I never cared a lot for the difference between "free software" or "open source". Stallman is too much of a nutjob for me to latch onto "free software", but both of these terms represent 30+ years of people like Stallman, the BSD crew, Donald Knuth, and many others believing that basic computer programming infrastructure needs to be reusable by all. The code is "free" (however you like to mean "gratis") because people have given to us so that we didn't have to redo it, and it would be a shame for us to make others redo what we've had to do.

Now, a group of bloggers have decided to freeload on that tradition by calling themselves Open Source Media. They may be using Open Source software (but hardly all - many of the blogging packages aren't Open Source), but that makes us no more Open Source than brushing with Crest makes me Proctor and Gamble.

Other people want to make money off their content, either through ads or by selling some articles. That's fine, I like making money. I'm hoping my current manuscript idea will make some, which is why I've been working on it and not this blog. I'm sure that Charles, Roger, and the rest of the OSM crew desire to make a little bit off their writing too, and that's just fine.

OSM is (appearantly) about making some people who wouldn't otherwise have access to money and a market have that access. That is all good, in of itself. Those of you who have stuck around are seeing my work free of charge, thanks in no small part to Open Source software. However, I am a greedy idea sharer- you may read it, but you can't do what you want with it. You can't reprint my story for a profit. I can't take Power Line or LaShawn Barber's content and do anything I want with it. That's not the blogger way.

The Blogger world is not Open Source. We don't take text and do anything we want with it. Bloggers are more like academics. We cross-link, we attribute, we even heckle, but we never beg, borrow, or "steal". Our work ISN'T free speech like Richard Stallman says, it's just free beer.

I am glad that OSM exists. It's just not Open Source. And I won't be a part of it as long as it tries to say it is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where's my towel?

We just got done watching one of the best movies of the year: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Yes, it's not the book. Yes, it's not the best version of the movie, and they drop as many threads as they wrap up. And they don't say the question(*). That's unforgivable.

However, people who deified Douglas Adams have forgotten one thing: he was a hack. He could only write really well when he was broke enough to have no choice. The fourth book of the H2G2 trilogy wasn't great, and the so-called 5th book of the trilogy (*gag* Mostly Harmless) isn't fit to line my cockatiel's bird cage (Sunshine might actually read the pages...). Terry Jones had to write "Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic". Adams isn't Shakespeare.

If you keep that in mind, the movie really fits the tradition. It stands on its own, but helps to know the backstory. I wish they had carried through with the Question, but they simply didn't have enough time. But I really cared about the silly everyman who was losing his home, his planet, yet wasn't losing himself. I may want to be Kirk, Spock, or Obi-Wan, but down in my heart, I know I'd probably be Arthur Dent, and if you think about it, so do you.

I'd rather watch H2G2 a hundred times than watch Star Wars Episodes 1 through 3 one more time.

(*) What is six multiplied by nine? Forty-two.

Yes, it works.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Request for a prayer of healing for minor illnesses

Last week, the Packrat family spent pretty much all week fighting some head cold bug. I spent a couple of days wanting to sleep, and Milady spent a day down herself. This weekend, we got healthy but I beat my hands up putting in the laminate floor in the upstairs hallway.

Today, I had a free coupon for 2 hot dogs at Speedway, and I felt like getting out of the office for lunch. I made my way over to the Speedway on Limestone. When I was in college, it was still a SuperAmerica, and they fixed real cooked meals for lunch. At least twice a week, I'd grab a barbeque pork sandwich & mac and cheese lunch box on the way to class. They finally closed the lunch counter when the chain got out of the cooking business. That was a depressing day.

Appearantly, you can't go home again. About 3PM, I started seeing wavy sparkles, even when I shut my eyes. Migraine. Fortunately, it wasn't a serious one, but it was the most serious migraine I'd had in almost 10 years. The hot dog must have been high in MSG or some other preservative, since the moment I'd voided the last of the dog, the symptoms started to fade out. I had wondered if my MSG allergy was fading, but I guess not.

If everyone could pray for us, I'd appreciate it. We need a healthy week at least. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Packrat's Movie Picks of the Week

Last week, we went to see Sky High, per Number 1 Son's request. I figured that the large bag of popcorn with unlimited refills would have to help me through another disaster like Shark Boy and Lava Girl, but I was wrong.

Sky High is a very good movie. Yes, every comic book hero cliche comes up, but rather than being stupid, the writers made it seem realistic. Instead of taking opportunities to be cynical or negative, Sky High is a positive story about a family and a group of "uncool" kids in high school.

We also bought Batman Begins in Wal-Mart. Milady and Number 1 Son had seen it in the full-price theatre earlier in the year, but I hadn't seen it. I thought the first Batman movie was pretty good, but the rest of the 4 were mediocre at best. Batman Begins is good. It's not exceptionally violent or dark, but it is Batman so that's not saying a lot.

Next trip to the theatre: Little Miss' pick, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I'm putting back $6 for the next bottomless bag of popcorn...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Christian Carnival LXVIII

Sven has done the incredibly challenging but enjoyable job of gathering the Christian Carnival together this week. Go take a look.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Being made humble

This weekend humbled me twice over.

We went on a Boy Scout campout for Number One Son this weekend. Fortunately, we've got camping down to a fine art now, so we were completely set up within 2 hours of being there. Since we wimpy-camp, the kids were on cloth cots, Milady was on a fold-out cot, and I was on a portable MASH-style hospital bed. Very nice! (Milady's hospital bed had a blowout - ripped canvas - so she had to "fall back" to the fold-out cot.)

Saturday, we went on a three mile hike up and back down a big hill. In our pack, one of the scouts was born without either leg just above the knee, and weakness in both hands. Even so, he led the way. The rope bridge didn't bother him a bit, we only had to help him place his feet since he couldn't feel the rope. He then proceeded to wear the rest of us out, needing only a few minor rest breaks.

Then, today, I baptised Little Miss. Milady homeschools the little darlings, and part of our A Beka curriculum teaches about the Bible. Little Miss at 6 knows more facts about the Biblical characters than me (her brother can debate theological theory already, and he's 9). She's been talking about being baptised for a while, but today was the first opportunity for us to get everyone in the family into town to see her. Just like her brother, she wore the Noah's Ark t-shirt Milady was baptised in, and again like her brother I baptised her after the minister took her confession of faith.

Sometimes the Lord uses the most amazing ways to humble us.

Monday, October 10, 2005

This is why we had kids when we did

When Milady and I first got married, I was 22. Some might call me young, but I simply knew what we wanted: kids while we were young enough to enjoy them. Number 1 Son was conceived just before I turned 23, before I even had a full-time job (but that's another story). Little Miss was a bit earlier than expected, born a few months before I turned 27.

We were somewhat limited in that Milady is 8.5 years older than I am, and we didn't want to risk her health by her waiting any longer. However, we could have waited and adopted instead, and gotten a few years together instead.

A reader of Vox Populi puts it a LOT better than I ever could here. TW is 29 year old lady who just had child number 2:

As an engineer, I found it amazing that my male coworkers were in general supportive when I had my daughter 3 years ago. My female coworkers, however, tended to say I was too young; shouldn’t I get more established in my career first? I retorted that they were 5-15 years older and didn’t have children. I would be working for another 50 years given our Social Security mess. I wanted children. I had 1-2 decades for childbearing and 5-6 decades left for career goals.

I'm now 31. My son is 9, my daughter is 6. Lord willing, my wife and I can look forward to at least 30, and possibly 50 or more, healthy years with our family. I will have to work at least 20 years after my kids enter college no matter what, why would I pass up the time I have now for years without them?

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Buyer's Remorse

I said I was going to stay out of politics. Sorry. I'll be happy to refund what you've paid me to read this blog... ;)

I voted for George W. Bush in 2004 because I thought he wouldn't be as big government as John Kerry, and that he would nominate Constitutionalist judges. Instead, Mr. Bush has been a statist who is appointing people based solely on personal connections.

John Roberts certainly has the qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice, even if we don't know if he's another Scalia, Souter, or Renquist. He's clerked for the Supreme Court, and he's argued in front of it multiple times. I'm not happy with a stealth judge, but at least he's not unworkable. I could stand him as an appointee from a Democratic president.

Ms. Miers is a different story. She's a trial lawyer. She's had a diverse client list, and she's been the president of a bar association. She is also appearantly a born-again Christian. And that's it. No academic experience. No clerking for any judge, much less for any high courts.

I am disappointed that Mr. Bush has even nominated her, and I wish she'd just drop out right now.

Thursday, October 6, 2005


The great graduate school attempt has had to be ended. Last weekend, I had a large project due that I thought I could get done. Then I got called for work Friday morning at 2AM. Then again Saturday morning. Then Sunday Morning. By Sunday afternoon, I was so tired that I told Milady that I just couldn't think about the project, so we packed up and went to see my niece cheerlead for the local Little League Football team. Monday, I finally dropped all of my classes, bringing me out of school.

I haven't given up on either learning Hebrew or getting my MS in CS, I'm simply delaying both for a while. I've still got my Hebrew book, and I intend to study it regularly.

That said, I miss blogging. So, I'm starting again. I have a big article already in the oven, but it's a complicated logic argument that I want to make sure I make correctly.

For everyone still reading me, thanks for your patience.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

So, am I wrong?

One of my little addictions is cards. I love strategy card games. I absolutely adore bridge, even if my wife refuses to be my partner because I get too serious about it. Spades is fun, and even hearts when played with good players. I've played Rook with my parents, and it was kinda fun, even if it felt a mix of Bridge, Hearts, and Spades for people afraid of those nasty, evil "regular" card decks. I even adore Uno, and would play it with the kids if they just were better losers.

There is one like line I won't cross: playing for money. I'll play poker for chips or pennies, but the thought of losing real money at poker, or any other card game, terrifies me. I'll pay to play in a Bridge tournament, but playing for money per points is just out. Number 1 Son likes to play poker with me (because he beats me more than I beat him), but he hasn't figured out why he doesn't want to involve real money in the transaction. Of course, I am the sucker, so why not? :)

So the Online Blogger Tournament at is throwing me for a loop. I enjoy playing fake games, and it's free. That said, playing a tournament for a gambling house is a bit different than playing at the ACBL nationals when they came through Cincinnatti.

I have registered for it, as the rest of this post will show. The question is this: is it wrong for me as a confessing Christian to play in this tournament? There's no money at stake, and I don't consider it gambling because, even if Number 1 Son helps me, there's no way I will win enough points to get to a price. I will just play so that Number 1 Son and I can sit beside the computer on tournament day and laugh over losing quickly to some other bloggers.

So why do I feel conflicted?

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 1354560

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wow, LaShawn's hit the big time

Ms. Barber has hit it big. BBC World had her on a Blogger TV spot for almost a minute tonight. I am so jealous... :) That said, I suppose that I have to post to be considered a blogger....

Why do I know what's on BBC World? KET carrys it. While an anti-US, and especially anti-Bush, bias is there, they will cover world news when the MSM outlets (including Fox News) just don't like to do so. With the Packrat household on an antenna only, it's the best I can do under the conditions....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Speaking freely

I'll apologize in advance, you'll see a slang word for excrement below. It's necessary.

Last night, I was practicing my Hebrew alefbet, ahead of the test today (I think I did OK, thanks for asking :) ). I was trying to pronounce ח (Chet), which has a gutteral CH sound (like CH in Bach). I was mumbling "hit, no, het, no , chit, no" and so on (I have trouble with the gutterals...) until I accidentally said "sh - no".

At this point, Little Miss, who has been writing the letters too, looks at me brightly and bursts out "You mean, sh*t". Well, I turn deathly pale, and both Number 1 Son and Milady, who have been watching the Bob Dylan film on PBS, burst out laughing and can't stop. This of course encourages Little Miss (what 5 year old wouldn't like an excuse to say bad words), who says it again. And again.

I'm stuck between trying to get them quiet and to stop Miss Potty Mouth. Finally, Milady stops laughing enough to remind Little Miss that no, it isn't that word, and to stop saying it.

Somehow I didn't think studying Hebrew would be quite so adventurous.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm not dead.

I feel happy ... I feel happy.... <thump>.

Grad school hasn't killed me yet, but it is close. I'm dreading the numerical analysis class homework coming either Wednesday or Friday, and I STILL haven't had enough time to just sit down and memorize the Hebrew alphabet yet. Plus, let's not forget that full-time system administrator job.

I do have one thing going for me: If I can't hack the classes, it's not Jeff H's tax dollars that will be funding my welfare checks. It's even worse. My job's funding is state-related (any more than that, and I'll blow my cover, what little there is left), so Jeff is already paying my salary! Jeff, do you think you could work on getting me a raise? ;)

The Packrat household is working on generating better habits. The little wonders are adjusting (unhappily) to a 9PM bedtime, I'm working on getting up at 5:30AM - 6AM consistently, and Milady is dealing with my extra hour a day gone. Homeschool is now consistently taking from 8AM to 2PM, so there's more time in our lives consumed. Even so, it's goes pretty well unless someone asks us to do something else, but we're having to learn to say no.

I'm trying to make the habit of a 6AM Bible Study time, so if anyone can suggest a good One Year Bible study or a Prophetic Verses daily study, I'd appreciate it. I'm also hoping I can use my Hebrew classes to grow closer to the Old Testament (especially the Prophets, where I always bog down). Then, once I get those habits going better, I should be in better connection with the Holy Spirit to start writing again.

I am not going to write much about politics or current events. Politics (and especially talk radio and 24 hour news) darkens my soul too much, and until the Lord helps me understand why, I am staying away. As for current events, I have my opinions, and I'm not sure they're much better than anyone elses'. Plus, all my Blog List authors to the right are better political writers than I am.

Instead, I'd like to write "Daily Bread" style short essays about various topics. I've tried this before, but I never seem to keep myself fed enough in the word to write well. I'm hoping to counter this.

For those brave souls still reading me, is this something that you'd read? While I want to praise the Lord, if I'm just a clanging cymbol that no one will read, then it's useless and I'll figure out something else to do.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Thank you Huntington

On the way home from Milady's family reunion today, we passed a convoy of Humvees on I-64. It was a West Virginia Army National Guard unit, the 1257th Transportation Company out of Huntington WV, carrying troops and water to points south. I don't know where you guys are going, or even if a single other soul will note your travels, but the Packrat family will be praying that God is protecting you and blessing your cargo and mission as you head south.


Thursday, September 1, 2005

Katrina Aid

I have held off blogging, mostly because as a full-time sysadmin, a part-time grad student, a father of two, and a husband, I'm out of time. This is important.

Glenn Reynolds is leading the effort to recommend donation targets. I am partial to Samaritan's Purse, since the Packrat family's been making Operation Christmas Child boxes for quite a while now. WorldVision is also mobilizing, as is the Salvation Army, and other groups listed at this FEMA site.

Please, give as you can, and more importantly, get down on your knees and pray to Almighty God for aid as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Catch 22

I have a problem, you see. I think I've blogged before about deciding to go to graduate school, and now I'm in. I had my Numerical Analysis class yesterday. It's a fairly bad sign when the professor says "You see this section? It's the only math the CS version of this class studies. We'll be covering it as one of six sections of this class." Ouch.

Hebrew is today. The teacher hasn't even given a book assignment to the bookstores yet, which might be good or might not. I'm not sure yet.

I'd question whether I can even stay blogging, if I weren't already not blogging. :)

Now, to get out of this, one has to be insane, but no insane person knows they're insane....

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'll never get those two hours back

Number One Son is spending the night with friends, so Little Miss wanted a daughter's night out. And she wanted to go see "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D". So we went and saw it.

Now we know why that movie stayed in theatres about 5 minutes after the premier. It is AWFUL! Rodriguez's son came up with the idea, but it's really just a cheap knockoff of "The Neverending Story".

Do not pass go, do not even spend 1 US Dollar to see this movie. Like Sherlock Holmes tried to forget that the Earth was round, I fully intend to try to forget this movie as quickly as possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Great Fish Purge

We have a fishtank in my office here at home, and we've had a good number of freshwater tetras and barbs in it. Until last night. Milady went upstairs last night, to check on the fish as part of our zookeeping rounds, and fish were dead. We're used to having one die every now and then, that's kinda the cost of running a tank. This was different.

We had lost 6 different fish last night, and two more after we did a water change and tank scrubbing. The rest are looking puny enough that they may well not make it long either. What is so troublesome is the suddenness of it. Yesterday morning, they're fine, now they're mostly dead. Very disturbing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I can't sugar-coat it. I can't dance around it, and I can't come up with nice words. I am coveting a new Jetta TDI diesel.

We started out with a normal bemoaning of gas prices. We love everything about our 4Runner EXCEPT its gas milage rating. In the town, it sometimes can't even make 10 miles per gallon. On bad months, we're pouring $80+ per month down its gas tank. The 4Runner's only saving grace is that, when we get it on the open highway and turn on the cruise control, it can top 20 mpg even going 65-75 on the Interstates.

There's also one other big negative on the 4Runner: we are almost $4000 underwater on the car loan on it.

We decided to see if there were any vehicles that were nice, very fuel-efficient, and big enough to seat all 4 of us (and preferably a guest every so often). The only one that fit the bill seemed to be the Jetta TDI diesel. It was efficient enough that we could pay for the underwater part of our previous car loan out of the fuel savings alone.

IF we could find a dealer who would fall below retail. Which we can't. Instead, the Lexington dealership won't even talk about falling below MSRP. Very depressing.

I finally started praying when I cought myself taking the curves to Cades Cove Sunday, and dreaming about how the Jetta would be taking the curves so much better, and how the Tiptronic shifting automatic would work so well...

The feeling is easing, but it still is hard. Now, if one of you fine readers happens to be a VW dealer and can get me $2000-$3000 under MSRP, that would be very nice... :)

Stealth Upgrades

I suspect that no one even noticed that the site has been upgraded. That's good, because nothing should change for you. For me, things are much better, though, since I will be able to control the spam problems with greater ease.

If anyone DOES see a problem, please Email me ASAP.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Finding Suitable Headgear

Life is strange. You look up, and two weeks are gone. Oops.

I just want to know how my average readership went UP two hundred visits a day.... ;)

Friday night, we went out to eat, and Milady asked me what I wanted to do Saturday. She knew I was tired of fixing the house, and we all wanted a change. I thought for a minute and said "I want to go to Gatlinburg tomorrow." She thought about it for a minute, and then said, "OK, let's go." I love her so. :)

We were at Meijers a half-hour later, collecting groceries, and getting ready to go. By 10PM, Milady's neice (the social worker) had also asked to go, so we were collecting a five-some together.

We had a ball. I found Milady a "She Who Must Be Obeyed" T-shirt (read Rumpole if you have any questions). We did spend too much money on the kids' clothes, and a few for ourselves.

I even fed one of my clothing weaknesses. You see, I like fedoras and trenchcoats. I love to wear a brown fedora and matching trenchcoat. I have ever since my senior year of high school. I never picked up a desire to wear a suit or tie, but I always thought those film noir detectives were so COOL. I was in high school some years before Columbine, so no one thought it too strange.

I kept a fedora all through college, even while dating Milady, and she thought it was cool too. However, the only hat store in Lexington is fairly useless for simple things like helping one find the right hat size, so I gave up the habit.

Then I found wonderful hat Saturday in (of all places) a country-western clothing store in Gatlingburg proper. I just need to steam-reshape the brim a bit (still too cowboyish). It's also missing the traditional fedora ribbon, although the cowboyish leather ribbon isn't awful. I'll fix that sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Of course, I could never quite match this fellow in Hat Coolness, but one should have goals...

Monday, August 1, 2005

Who says you can't go home again

Saturday, Milady and I worked to finish the downstairs. Again. The floor looks really nice, and this time the house acts like it's really drying out. I just have to get one piece of flooring down to meet up with the stairs, and cut 5 pieces of quarter-round to match up the last missing pieces.

Sunday, we went to the farm to visit my grandparents and parents. My mom and dad asked Number 1 Son to stay a couple of nights and go on the farm with my dad. Number 1 Son hesitated some, so we let him decide when he got home. We got home, and number 1 son wants to go to the farm, but he doesn't like the idea of us being an hour's drive away. There's some level of seperation anxiety after his stay in the hospital. So, like the charitable person I am, I volunteered to take him to the farm Wednesday, and even to go out and work with him and Pa.

I swore, proclaimed, and declared that I'd starve in the gutter before I farmed again. I suppose this is one of the ways God is reminding me to be humble... Maybe the two of them will forget I volunteered to help by then. :)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thanks for the prayers for Milady

She had her follow-up visit Wednesday midday, and they did both a mammogram and a sonogram, and both confirmed that the earlier inconclusive was probably because of a tissue fold.

Loss of Memory

I had a memory issue this week. I let my PDA's batteries die.

I am notoriously forgetful. As my mother always said, I would forget my head if it weren't attached to my body. I've tried a couple of times to use a paper organizer, but I never could seem to use the thing. Then I got my first PDA phone, a Kyocera 6035 Smartphone. It was at least 2 generations back on the Palm scale, but it was good enough a PDA for me, and it was the best cell phone I've ever owned. Since my employer paid my phone bills, I didn't need a pager too, so I only had one device. I started calling it my extended memory because I could put stuff in there, and it was backed up in multiple places.

I went through 2 Kyocera 6035s, and when the second one died under warrantee, Sprint gave me a Samsung i300. It was the same generation as the Kyocera, and color too, but the Palm part is about the same. I wasn't ever very happy with the phone, and when I switched to the Current Employer and got out from under my contract, I dropped Sprint, and just used it as a PDA.

Then I started paying less attention to the PDA than I should have. When we got the new laptop at home, we took down the older workstation. I didn't back my PDA up to the laptop like I should. At work, I only backed it up to the older PC, not my desktop Mac, so I didn't integrate it into a calendar or Address Book like I should have. When the battery died and the hard drive went out on the old PC I was using, I couldn't bring back my memory. I ended up missing a meeting, as well as losing almost a month's worth of checking account data. (The latter was easy to recover: put $0 in the balance and start over ;) .)

Now, the PDA is charged again, and tied into the applications on the Mac. I can say I've recovered most of my memory.... :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Requests for Prayer

We've got several requests for prayers in the queue:

  • Our next-door neighbor's father's death has been imminent for several days now. Saturday, he had what appears to be a near-death vision of Hell. Our neighbor called her minister, who visited him for over an hour Saturday, and who accepted his confession of faith. He needs prayers for peace and gentle passing.

    Also, our neighbor's family needs our prayers. They have let sin step into their lives, and haven't repented of it. Now, they're suffering some of the consequences. We think they are starting to realize this more, so please pray that the Lord helps them, and helps Milady and I as we work to show them all God's love.

  • Milady got one of those infamous 5PM Friday letters from the doctor saying that her mammogram wasn't irregular, but couldn't be called normal either. She did manage to get ahold of someone today around noon who could tell her that there was a tissue fold in the first exam, so they just needed to do another to be sure everything was checked right. Since her mother and sister have both died of cancer, Milady is understandibly nervous about anything approaching cancer. Please pray for peace for her.

  • Sandy Tucker of the Galilean Children's Home in Casey County, Kentucky is quite ill. Please look at the newsletter on their site for more information, and then pray for the Tuckers and consider a donation if God so leads.

Thanks everyone.

Friday, July 22, 2005

More Water

The kids had been playing with the water hose yesterday evening when I came home and found even more water at the foot of our laminate flooring. Fortunately, I hadn't yet put the last stretch of it down, so I could just pull up the vapor barrier (again) and dry it out (again).

On central air units, the coils have to have a pump attached to drain the water away from the house, so the underparts of the house won't mold. Our pump's hose wasn't even sticking out of the hole in the foundation, which means water was heading straight into the foundation, and from the foundation leaking into the basement. The leaky bathroom was probably the root cause of the original flood, but this hasn't helped any. On top of that, if the hose leaks on the outside faucet, that water wanted to come down into the wall too.

I pulled the AC pump hose out and foamed the hole into the house, so that hose can never again move back into the house, nor can any water or bugs use that as a way in. We've also banned the garden hose until the plumber (read: me) can fix it too.

On a better note, the insurance lady did say that I could go ahead and fix the bathroom fixtures myself. Since I haven't gotten a single plumber to return my calls, that will save us some money, at least. We can get the contractor in to fix the bathroom, and I can finally get the floor downstairs fixed. Maybe we can have the construction zone closed by August.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Teaching the class

I didn't write about this earlier because, frankly, it scared me so much I didn't really think about it.

I tought our Sunday School class last Sunday.

When Milady and I first went to our current church, the kids wouldn't stay in the preschool area long enough for us to have a Bible Fellowship class. Finally, they grew up enough to stay with the teachers, and off to class they went. We looked around for a class, and "Family Life" sounded nice. The age group was "30-50" if I remember correctly. Seemed like a perfect fit, a mix of younger couples and older ones.

Instead, the people in our class were all in their late 40s and early 50s, and only one couple had younger kids. Even so, it was obvious that the Lord had led us to the right place, because they were very supportive and loving with us. They've welcomed us into their fold, and when the leadership of our church basically ignored us during Number 1 Son's hospitalization, they were there with food & support.

Last week, our teacher said that he was going to be out of town this last Sunday, and someone would need to teach the next lesson. Suddenly, everyone in the room looks at me, and I knew what the deer feels when it looks in the headlights. Two of the church's elders are in with us, and our class' teacher is one of the most respected teachers in the class. Teaching them was such an intimidating idea.

The study guide we're using is really good, and can practically be read from in class. Which is good, because I was so busy last week, that's about all I did. I also managed to teach about 2/3 of the lesson, the part about following God's leadings. This was OK, except that I now need to spend all of next class teaching 1/3 of the lesson, the part about getting still and listening. I think I'm going to get the Nooma "Noise" episode from our college ministry leader and play it for our class in it. It's one of the most powerful videos I've ever seen about just getting still.

Pray for me please. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

It's not so bad

I had a nice, negative post going at work, agreeing with LaShawn Barber's complaints about keeping up with politics. With only a few exceptions (like dreaming that Ron Paul gets appointed to the Supreme Court), I am too disgusted with both parties to talk about politics a lot.

But that doesn't matter. When I was in high school, I found a cool cassette tape of Irish drinking songs. I did my best to wear that tape out, and then I lost it. After Milady and I got married, I was able to find a second copy of that tape, but I never could find a CD of it. Until today.

The memory is so weak that I can't remember if it's exactly the same CD, or if it's almost the same. The songs I like the most are the same, so I think it's the same one.

There's something relaxing about hearing an Irish guy sing, "If moonshine don't kill me, I'll live 'til I die." :)

Insurance blues, and commenting on the negatives

Since I hadn't taken any time off of for the change last Friday, and just worked a couple of hours on a pre-planned change, so I took off today. The contractor did show up, but the plumber didn't. (I guess one out of two is OK.) I didn't quite get the entire downstairs fixed, but I did get 5 or 6 rows done (I lost count), as well as the entrance door's boards. That leaves me with around 10 boards left to place. I thought I'd be able to get them tomorrow morning, but I don't think an early morning is happening now. :)

The hardest part of my life right now is having to deal with the insurance adjuster. The contractor wants to tear the entire bathroom out, including the tub (to replace the subfloor underneath the tub), and he's already mentioning that the adjuster might not pay for it all. In the scheme of things, this isn't a lot.

Milady's niece is a social worker in the Kentucky Mountains, and she's dealing with parents hopped up on Oxycotin and meth. She says that so many parents up there involved in methanphedine production and consumption that she doesn't see how any kids in the area will be able to grow up normal. Living in a place that can blow up if someone breathes on the lab equipment the wrong way at the wrong time can't be all that healthy...

Our neighbors have a household falling apart. I can't talk about the details, but it's a mess. Please pray for all of them.

We still grieve with our friends in London. I pray that loved ones are found and brought back to their families.

Finally, there is Sudan, Zimbabue, and so many other places where man willfully violates the will of God by mistreating his fellow man.

It's enough to want to say "Come, Lord Jesus!" And it makes some problems with a bathroom floor seem rather trivial.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Splashing in the Water

It's fun to splash water when you're in the pool. Playing in a creek is nearly divine. Having water in your laminate flooring stinks.

We were sitting down, watching the BBC News on public television, when Milady went to see why the kids' blanket on the floor was wet. As she stepped on one of the the boards, water started bubbling up out of the floor. I just about cried, and Milady started to too.

We were up until 2AM this morning, pulling out 40 now-ruined boards of Pergo laminate, and cutting holes in the ceiling to track down the leak. We checked, and it looked like either the toilet or the shower in the main bathroom were leaking. Since we had the floor off for almost 2 weeks before doing the floor downstairs, we know the water was a recent (less than 2 weeks) event. We mopped the floor, brought down the laminate we were going to use upstairs on the hallway, and started running the dehumidifier to try to dry out the whole place.

This morning, I rushed out at 8AM (which is Way Too Early on a Saturday) to get marine caulk so we could rush to recaulk the master bathroom's shower (which was down because some caulk had broken loose) so we could shut down the main bathroom. Then I started cutting out the walls of the shower, since I knew that they needed to go. Our neighbor came over and pointed out that our homeowner's insurance would cover it, so now we have our first insurance claim. This is good, since the subfloor in the bathroom is pretty much mush.

Particleboard is sawdust that has been glued together to form a hard board. It's really strong stuff, but it has a bad flaw: its glue is water-based. Get it wet, and the glue washes away. You'd think that even an idiot would know better than to use particleboard in a bathroom. Nope, that's the subfloor in my bathroom at least. Once I'd cut out enough of the shower walls, I could tell that the shower had been leaking behind the walls, and most of the subfloor, even under the tub, is now mush. We took pictures galore (to prove the damage to the walls), and then took the tile walls outside to throw them away. We're going to keep the wet (now dry & warped) boards until the adjuster can see them, since we didn't get water pictures.

Assuming that the subfloor under the tub is as bad as the subfloor all around the tub, I'm hoping that the insurance company will pay for pulling it all out (including the tub) and replace the entire subfloor. I'll even trade vinyl shower walls for a new tub. Of course, I don't want to get anything undeserved or unnecessary, so if they'll at least pay for the drywall, flooring, and the bathroom subfloor, I'll be happy.

At least, I will be happy if I can get my hands healed up. I managed to cut myself while trying to open the marine caulk. It's a nasty cut right in the middle of the tip of my right thumb. I can barely grab anything, and it looks nasty.

At least we will have to fix the main bathroom now...

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Prayers for our friends in London

The Packrat family grieves with those in London who have lost loved ones, and prays for those who have been injured.

May the Lord hold all of London in His hand, and extend His peace to all who are troubled.

Showing the Union Jack In Support

In support for our good friends who stood with us on our day, we stand with you now.

(Thanks to The Captain, from whom I've "borrowed" the JPG, and Jeff of The Shape of Days who gave the Captain, and others, the idea to do it.)

Update Sept. 29, 2008: I lost the original Union Jack picture, so I'm borrowing Wikipedia's....

Standing Firm on Kelo

I've withheld posting on Kelo v. City of New London, mostly because the thoughts of that case make me want to sputter and rage at the moon. As a classical liberal turned libertarian, I'm enraged that John Paul Stevens could have supported such an overarching view of eminent domain. I should have continued to keep quiet, but that'd make for a boring blog....

John Hinderaker of Power Line has decided to defend the Kelo v. City of New London case decided by the Supreme Court last week, briefly on Power Line, in more depth on the Weekly Standard website. John's logic is why I am do not like the title "conservative".

New London appearantly is condemning large sections of land around the new Pfizer facility, not because they are particularly "blighted" or requiring removal, but because their use doesn't match the desires of community planners. John defends this, using language steeped not in (IMHO) conservative values, but in the worst of the 19th century pro-business socialism that forced the creation of the progressive movement.

The second-strongest power that a government has is the confiscation of property, whether temporary or permanent. The English government trampled this in pre-Revolution America, through forced billing of soldiers, among other grievances. The Fifth Amendment was designed to constrain the powers of government from infringing on the rights of people.

John forgets that governments do not have rights. A city does not have the "right" to be more prosperious, or to make more money. Instead, people have rights, and one of those rights is right to security of their property.

Unlike John's Pollyanna statement "Second, the Fifth Amendment requires that anyone whose property is taken for a public use be fairly compensated, and in practice, most takings are compensated generously", reality shows a much harsher picture. Condemnation is a club welded early and often against poor people who cannot afford lawyers. For every one case where some politically-connected person gets triple value, there is a poor person robbed of their land. Moreover, even if someone is paid fair value, it is rarely enough to buy an equitable piece of property and to pay the expenses in moving from one piece of property to another.

I believe that a US government entity should have to meet four standards before a condemnation of direct living space or active business space occurs:

1: The property will not leave government ownership for at 15 years, or the original owner gets right of first refusal to purchase the property back at the amount paid at condemnation, no matter how much the property value has increased in the meantime.

2: The primary use of the property changes significantly (i.e. house -> road).

3: The government must, at the owner's choice, either pay fair market value or purchase a comparable property within a reasonable range of the property. i.e If you take a poor farmer's 30 acres, the government either pays cash, or goes and buys 30 acres of farm somewhere else close.

4: The government pays all lawyer's fees, and no caps.

Yes, this would make life harder on the govenment (especially number 4), but that's fine. I prefer the government's life to be harder.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Pitching a car

As we were driving home from The Red Mile's July 4th weekend fireworks show, I thought about the kid at the dramatic conclusion of The Incredibles: "That was totally wicked!" I'm a sucker for a good fireworks display, and Number 1 Son just about went wild. I hope my ears quit ringing soon...

A lot of bloggers have mentioned that they wished that Pixar had used the alternate, picnic start to The Incredibles, and I agree with them. However, the ending has a subtle point that I missed for a long time. Syndrome has lost Jack-Jack, and is threatening to keep coming back to threaten the Incredibles again and again. A weak director would have used this as a dramatic moment for Bob to decide whether he should sacrifice his sports car. Brad Bird goes for subtle. Syndrome is done monologuing, and Bob just throws the car. He may well never get another sports car, but Bob has realized just how important his family is to him.

The car goes in a second. Bird's so subtle that it's easy to miss, but the choice is there, and it's really no choice at all.

The contrast between The Incredibles and Robots is amazing. The Incredibles is a really good, rich, mature (but NOT adult) story that just happens to be animated. Robots is a collection of flatulance jokes wrapped by a bunch of generic plot devices. Not even Robin Williams AND Mel Brooks could hide that there wasn't much plot to Robots.

People will be hard-pressed to remember Robots in 5 years, while The Incredibles may well be on the Top 100 movies of the 21st Century show in one hundred years, and Brad Bird will, if he keeps up this string, will be one of the all-time-great directors of the 21st Century.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Sleeping through a change

The Lexington park system (along with a bunch of sponsors) have been doing a series of free second-run movies out at Jacobson Park called "Free Friday Flicks". Last night was the first night we've gone, and of course it was the last in this year's series. Robots was funny at a 4th grade boy kind of level (I'm sorry, but passing wind jokes DO get old after a while), so the kids loved it. I'm going to be able to get a pre-paid cellular phone for $20 today (since they didn't have their credit card reader last night), so Milady can reach me whenever she needs to do so. She was missing that when I dropped my Sprint phone.

We didn't get in bed until midnight last night, but I wasn't especially tired when I went to bed. At 9:30 this morning, our neighbor dropped her grandson off to stay with us. This wouldn't have been so bad had we not all been asleep. Worse, I was supposed to start a work change at 9AM. Fortunately, I had 3 hours for the change, but it wasn't that big of one (AIX patches, install drivers, and reboot). I'm already done.

Now for home improvements...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Milady Has Painted Little Miss' Room

While getting the floor, we decided to repaint the kids rooms too. Milady will paint the walls and (in Little Miss' room, put up a fairy border), and I'll refloor it. Little Miss wanted a yellow color for her room, and we bought it. Today, Milady put it on.

It's yellow. Very yellow. It's flurescent yellow. It's fire-engine yellow (you know, that 80s yellow that was supposedly better to see than red). It's bright. The fairy border helps make the trim and the walls blend, and helps mute the yellow, but it's still bright.

Did I mention it was bright?

I have to take the three-day weekend and get the hallway, Little Miss' room, and the stairs done with flooring. I'm going to focus on getting the downstairs stairs done, so I can know what the stairs will require, and then do Little Miss' room if we will have enough to do the hall and the lower stairs too.

One of these days, we will have the house done with, I guess.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Spammers Go Home

I know they won't read this, but I just have to say this:

If you run a poker site, are selling loan refinancing, or have porn to sell, PLEASE don't bother commenting here. I have set links to not add pagerank on Google, so they don't help you. I'm not even a La Shawn Barber or even a Jeff H. Even if you get through the comments moderation, no one will be interested in clicking on the link.

You've made me turn on those annoying captchas (you know, the odd shaped letters on a colored background) on old comments. I hate them, but I'll use them to keep you off.

Now please, just go away.

To everyone else, I'm sorry if the captchas make things annoying to you, but I'm spending more time fighting comment spam than writing. If I don't get the comment spam stopped, I'll start coding on a spam blocker, and nothing will kill this blog dead than me wanting to code on it. ;)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

My newest old time waster.

Back in college, I discovered Netrek, a terribly addicting game I first played in college. It seems that the names have changed, but people are just as cocky, and the game is just as time consuming. Even worse, I have a Mac desktop at work, and the Netrek client is showing its age as an X11 client. They need a native Aqua client, and I'm actually considering writing it. That is so sad.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dealing with Eden

Milady has been using Answers in Genesis' wonderful series Firm Foundations as the kids' summer homeschool curriculum. They've been studying the Bible from Genesis 1 & 2 all the way to the resurrection. Since the kids also use A Beka's good Bible study texts, they've had a very deep understanding of the fundamentals of Christian Theology the whole way through.

I was surprised yesterday when Milady called me around 11AM yesterday. They'd been covering The Fall, and Number 1 Son started crying. He was terribly upset that God had created Satan, and placed the Tree in the Garden of Eden. He wondered if God didn't set us up to fail. Milady tried to help him understand this, but it's a hard problem. God did set up the situation where Adam and Eve would sin, but can you have a choice without something to choose?

Adam and Eve did have a choice. They weren't forbidden to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Instead, they were only forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could have lived forever with no problems. Instead, they did listen to Satan, and here we go.

That said, we still can't blame Satan entirely. It was Adam and Eve's choice, not Satan's. Adam knew full well it was wrong, and he could have explained to Eve how it was wrong so that she would not have been tempted.

The Millenial Kingdom shows us that the sin nature is in our hearts. Satan will be bound for 1000 years, and Jesus will be ruling on Earth in person. Even so, Scriptures talk about nations having to be punished some with droughts, and that there will be some number of wicked people. When Satan is unleashed at the end of the 1000 years, he will convince a large number of people to oppose Jesus, even after they've seen the miracle after miracle that He and the believers do. Until the choice is done, and God can completely remove the sin in us, it will be OUR sin, and our fault. We can't blame Adam, or even Satan, for our problems. If we were in Eden, we would have eaten the fruit too.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday Musings

(Lost my last post. Let's try this again.)

  • I'm really glad that my kids got to participate in our church's Vacation Bible School, but I'm still worn out. We didn't get done each night until 8:30, so by the time we got the other kids home, picked up a bite of dinner for the kids, and then did the nightly chores, it was 11:30 or midnight before we could start to relax. We are just starting to relax and catch up on some rest tonight.

  • Can anyone recommend a $100-$150 digital camera? I'm not expecting SLR quality, but I would like something that can push out a decent 4x6 picture, and it needs to be both Mac-friendly and work with XP (I know, I shouldn't be supporting The Evil Empire, but I do have a family....). We don't take enough pictures because of the cost of developing film. I'll be more than content to burn several CD copies and then just spread them among the family members. If we lose our house, we don't lose our pictures.

    While I'm at it, can someone su ggest a cheap scanner than can do APS film, or a service that would scan APS film directly into pictures? We had the dog ruin some prints, so I don't have them to scan directly.

  • The Burger King "King" is really disturbing.

  • Jeff H of Think Sink has reached 10000 readers. I'm jealous.

  • As a former Democrat and a former liberal, the Gitmo == Gulag and US Soldiers == Nazi thing is really disturbing me. The Republicans need a strong, sane opposition party, and right now the national Democratic party isn't it.

  • I haven't missed not seeing Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC cover the Michael Jackson case one bit. BBC World had one or two stories on it on PBS, and then moved right on. Those were too many as it was.

  • In Reason, Jacob Sullom talks about how half of us are crazy at one time or another, or at least according to current psychiatric standards. Milady and I both have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winters, and she was proscribed Effexor to help her past a rough 5 years. That'd make us both have mental illnesses, I suppose, but neither of us would think so. Milady just had 3 deaths and 2 kids in 5 years, and little non-emergency babysitting help available from either side of our families through it. She wasn't crazy, just exhausted. :)

  • Apple will make Pentium Macs. I sense a great disturbance in the force, like a million geek crying out in anguish... Yes, I am late to this party, but I'm not surprised at this. IBM and Freescale/Motorola just couldn't make chips fast enough or cool enough for Jobs, and AMD can't make the volume he'd need. Intel makes the coolest laptop CPUs, and that's where Apple rules.

  • Kodak isn't going to make black and white paper any more. I worked for a count y newspaper in high school, and one of my tasks was to print black and white pictures for the paper. I really loved doing B&W pictures, but I've never had a darkroom since. Now, digital photography, especially the high-end SLRs, are ending all but niche markets for consumer film. At least there are other vendors who still make good B&W paper.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It Burns! It Burns!

My skin does, at least. Our neighbor is in the horse-racing industry, and he obtained tickets to the Churchill Downs day at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom for his family and ours. We were able to keep the kids lathered in sunscreen, but Milady and I couldn't keep ourselves lathered up. We're both toasty red in several spots.

I'm also starting to hurt. Number One Son took a friend with him, and both of them wanted to go into the 5 foot section of Kentucky Kingdom's big wave pool. They couldn't stand up themselves, so I had to hold them up on the high waves. Considering that each of them weights over 130 pounds (and neither is overweight), I hurt today. A lot.

What's worse, Number One Son is turning into a daredevil. He talked his friend and I into riding The Tornado. You get on a raft, then slide for a moment before going straight down a couple of stories into this big funnel. You then go up a couple of stories on the other side, and start down again. Number 1 Son wanted to go again, and also insisted on riding everything that even remotely resembled a roller coaster. He only rode the smaller ones this time, since no one else would go on the scarier one with him.

When he reaches 16, I suspect he'll try to sweet talk me into how a certain tin can with a rocket motor and wheels will make such a good car for him. When his mother objects, I'll just remind her of her "speed racer" set of cars....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Power Outage

The only big problem with hosting the blog on my own machines is that they're also my own machines to fix. I don't have enough money or need for a big Uninterupted Power Supply, so the set of storms that just passed through the local vicinity took out the home power. The web server didn't boot cleanly, and the firewall was all kinds of mad.

Sorry for the outage.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tales of Gossip and Church Dissension

I just couldn't resist quoting Mississippi Squirrel Revival by to Ray Stevens. Fortunately, my local church isn't a bit like the First Self-Righteous Church of Pascagoula, but there is a bit of dissension in the ranks because the evil C word: "change".

There's been a lot of turnover in the staff of late. The children's minister had to leave because personal life issues. Her replacement had to leave because she tore apart the entire kids program (running off several families) and then wouldn't listen to criticism about it. Our outreach minister went to start a new cross-town church just before the area of town he went to was hit by a massive tornado. The high-school minister committed credit card fraud. A "church doctor" helped kill the (IMHO ill-advised) plan to buy some high-priced land. Now, we're going from two to three services, and the Bible Fellowship classes are all being torn up by moving.

I happen to be a strong supporter of the move, including the most controver sial part, a young people's "Emerging" service. We had a good start of one last year, but the high schoolers kinda took it over and made it feel too much like a concert, so it missed its target.

I've been a bit disappointed so far by our college program, but I'm still working in it and I've decided to pray and fast this week. It's hard to make a college program that fits needs, so I'm hoping that the guy heading it can get some experience and get it going well.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pain for fashion

My sister has at times been a slave to fashion. One New Year's Eve, we watched her kids while her hubby and she went to a New Year's Party. She dropped the youngsters off in near-freezing weather in the proverbial "small black dress" and heels. She was turning pale and her whole face was about to frostbite, but she was fashionable.

I always thought that I'd manage not to be that silly about my clothing, until my heel started hurting. As dense as I was, I it took me a while to connect the dots: my favorite black boots didn't have enough padding in the heels, nor enough arch support. Both feet are rail-flat, and a shoe without arch support just hurts.

A quick side-trip to Wal-Mart this morning, and I picked up set of ProFoot triad Orthodontic supports. I've tried other arch support pads, but they never did seem to help a lot. These do seem to help. I walked about a mile today (there and back) for lunch, and my feet don't hurt any more. Maybe these will be enough. They had b etter be, I like my black boots. They're my kind of fashion. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Why I am a Young Earth Creationist

Vox Popoli and Crystal (of The Crystal Lake Observatory) have both posted about neo-Darwinian evolution. I was a Theist Evolutionist for much of my life, but I am a dedicated Young Earth Creationist. Answers in Genesis, the Institution of Creation Research, and others too numerous to mention have re-enforced this position.

First, let me state my axioms:

  • The Holy Bible, in its original form in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts are documents written by human hands but inspired directly by the Holy Spirit.

  • These manuscripts form the complete, accurate, and exclusive record of God's communications to mankind as a whole.

  • The Holy Spirit has acted to protect the extant manuscripts of Scripture. The differences that do exist in current manuscripts can be reconsiled using textual analysis, and do NOT represent issues that raise doubt on any significant historical or theological issue.

  • The Lord God of Israel is not a liar. His statements (via Scripture) are accurate and trustworthy.

If all of these are true, then the current theories of evolution can't be true. Genesis has the creatures of the sea and air created on day five, and the land creatures created on day 6. For the moment we'll set aside the issue of whether Genesis 1's day is really 24 hours long. We will also not worry about sea mammals, since it's possible in "era days" for the land mammals to "return" to the sea. Neo-Darwinian thought has the birds evolving out of land animals, but Genesis clearly states that the birds came before any land animals existed. This is a flat contradiction.

If God had desired to tell the Creation story in such a way to agree with neo-Darwinian evolution, it would be easy to do so. Most of the other creation myths have differing, or indeterminite times. He could have even kept the "days", and just reordered animal creation. Instead, Genesis presents a creation story that is incompatable with scientific thought of this time.

Time and again, the Bible has stood up to the claim of myth. Civilizations and cities only it mentions are found time and again. Egyptology claimed that the Exodus had to be a myth, because no timeline could match up. Now, it's Egyptology that realizes that its times are all wrong.

The Bible has proven itself time and again, while man's wisdom fails. I see no reason to call Genesis 1 wrong when the rest is right.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

The floor is done

At 12:53 PM today, I put the last board in the floor of the living room. Around 2PM, I'd finished taking out the first row and fixing a gap I'd created up there that couldn't be covered with quarter round. I was going to glue in the quarter round, but that seemed to be too messy and permanent. I read that you wanted a brad nailer. The sites I read recommended an air-powered brader if you had a compressor, although they have battery-powered versions too. So, off to Lowes. (I usually prefer Home Depot's products, but Lowes is right across the street, while HD is 20 minutes away. Convenience versus quality, usually.)

At Lowes, they happened to have a Taiwan-special "Tradesman" air-powered brad nailer in the discount pile for $35, which included 1000 of the nails I needed for our project. I could either buy it and a $100 hand-carried air compressor, which would be ready to work the moment I got home, or I could buy a $100 GMC (no, not THAT GMC, it's Lowes' generic tool b rand) battery-powered brad nailer that would take at least 3 hours to charge up and I might not use again before the batteries go bad. Easy choice, I bought the air nail gun and the compressor.

Got home, plugged it in, and had to "test it" by filling a board with brads. No, it might have looked like a guy playing with his toy, but it was tool testing. Honest. :)

About 4:30, I started cutting quarter-round in the downstairs, starting with the square pole in the middle of the floor. I cut all four pieces of it with the power mitre saw I had from a previous project, and nailed it down with the gun. Perfect little holes, waiting for the color-matched putty. For the next 2 hours, I cut quarter round and nailed it down, and covered most of the flaws I'd developed during the floor installation.

I have to put one last piece of quarter round on the door jam on the way out, putty and fill around the bottom of two door frames I didn't fit well enough, and put end pieces of lamina nt coating over the exposed quarter round pieces. Simple stuff. At least until we get to the hallway.....

By 8:30, we had cleaned the floor and garage some, and gotten enough furnature downstairs to call the move-back done. We had already ordered pizza for dinner, but Milady took us and a friend (who had stopped by to help us carry stuff down) to get Krispy Kreme at 10:30PM. I'm still on a carb/sugar buzz 4 hours later....

Friday, June 3, 2005

A Bad Sound

Milady and I worked all day yesterday on getting the first fourth* of the room covered in laminate. Today, we spent about as long, and got all but 1 row of the rest done. Appearantly, we managed to pick the hardest part of the room first, plus I didn't learn several tricks until today.

At 11:30 tonight, I was putting the final touches on the next to last row of boards, musing that, since the flooring isn't quite straight, the last board will be small in spots. As I mused, I walked. Then I heard a crunch.

Pops are OK, they mean that a board wasn't quite seated right, and your weight has fixed it. A crunch, on the other hand, is bad. Very bad.

I turned around, and on the fifth and sixth rows from the end, there was a raised spot, like a nail sticking up. We did our best to find all of the carpet nails in the floor, but it seems that there was one left, and I found it too late.

Since I didn't want to stress Milady, I started taking the laminate apart. The first three rows seperated out fairly easily. The rest I only took out the boards I needed to reach for the repair. Fortunately, the nail damaged full-sized boards, so all I had to do was pop out the two damaged boards, replace them with new ones, and then put it all back. More easily said than done.

Now, I'm just unwinding a moment before I go to sleep. I'll sleep until 8 or so, and then finish the room. And I mean it this time.

*This shows my geek age. I almost said "forth".

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Michael Savage has melted down

Occasionally while we're driving around, we turn on Michael Savage. He has a bad habit of ranting anyway, but tonight he was melting down far past normal. He wanted Felt (aka "Deep Throat") convicted of a crime right now, and he screamed something about the old liberals not dying fast enough.

I don't miss the cable news talking heads, so I suppose I won't miss the little bit of radio talking heads I won't be listening to either.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Monday Musings

  • It doesn't take long to lay laminate. Maybe not. But it does take forever to pull out the carpet, fix the wall, paint the fixed walls, etc. before you can put that laminate down.

  • I'm the Emperor of the entire universe, and I can't even keep track of one little family in a far corner of the universe. If I'm the evil dictator of the entire universe and a kid named Skywalker shows up on Tatooine, he's dead. Good grief, it's not that hard.

  • The French can't even be convinced to vote for a socialist constitution. I'm happy that I'm not having to watch the talking heads ramble on and on about this, but I'm not at all surprised that Chirac and crew are implying that there will be a second try at ratification.

  • Speaking of talking heads, Mr. McCain has probably finished his chances at getting out of the Republican primaries. I've not mentioned the Republican Party's debacle in the fillibuster "compromise", but I wasn't a bit surprised when I heard that McCain was in the middle of it all.

  • Indiana Jones 4 is moving. I'm not sure yet if it should be moving to the circular filing cabinet on the floor yet, but there's one hope: Lucas isn't writing it.

  • Thank you for those who served our country, and continue to serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Day 3 of vacation - Family Break

We spent all of yesterday pulling up carpet and getting things ready to fix. Little Miss ended up having to go to the doctor because her hacking cough wasn't getting better. She ended up having a sinus infection, and is now on antibiotics. Since that left her and Milady out of work all morning, I was able to pry Number 1 Son away from the Gamecube enough to get every bit of carpet out of the family room. That was really hard work, and I was very impressed with how much effort he put forth.

Since our trash pickup is Monday, we now have a large stack of carpet and padding bundles on the back patio, waiting for the make-up day on Wednesday. I've already told the family to visualize less trash for the next couple of days, since we're down to 1/2 of a trash can left. For this crew, that's not much.

Last Night at Home Depot, I finally met another 'we'. As I've mentioned before, Milady loves to say "we" will do something that I know will end up being my job. As I was putting the exterior paint* in the buggy, a lady at the counter commented that I had a lot of paint. I told her that Milady had told me that "we" had projects to do. She said that her husband had made the same comment about "we". Then Milady got back from the wallpaper section, and her husband came up too, and the two ladies started in. I almost got a hernia laughing so hard. The poor guys at the paint counter weren't sure if they should laugh or run us off (the $300 in paint in my buggy pretty much precluded the latter...).

Since we've had two good days, we've decided to take a break day.

*The exterior of the house and garage need painting to match the new siding. Milady has also determined that we need to paint the currently-unpainted concrete portions of the garage.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Moving slow on the first vacation day

We got in bed late last night, so it was about 10AM before Milady got up (to answer a phone call), and I didn't get up until almost 11AM. I hope the poor Jehovah's Witnesses who got to see me pre-shower with my white undershirt, a pair of shorts, and hair going everywhere weren't too scared. They were real troopers about that (probably used to strange dress), but when I not only wasn't scared by their "You know there won't be poverty eventually" speech, but I explained that I was a Christian apologetic and study end-times theory regularly. They started getting that "Oh, no, the Jehovah's Witnesses are at the door" look I usually get, and made their apologies and left as rapidly as possible.

We didn't get started in the house until 1PM, but by 8PM all of the stuff in the family room was either in the garage or in my office, including our former wet bar. I'm not sure if I'll be able to walk tomorrow, much less pull out carpet and start laying down the laminate.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

And we're a depressed, "backwards" state?

Alarming news passes along (via Red State) an Andrew Roth article on The Club of Growth: listing the US states as entries in the international Gross Domestic Product listing.

I was interested in the following numbers from Mr. Roth's article (I've added the population Stats myself):

StatusCountry/StateGDP in USDPopulation (est)
7United Kingdom132,000,000,00060,441,457


76Kentucky128,982,000,000 4,041,769

77South Carolina127,251,000,000




Kentucky has a bigger economy than either Israel or Ireland. Israel, while still suffering the aftereffects of the most recent recession, still has the healthiest economy in the Middle East. Ireland is the growing dynamo of the EU, with low taxes and excellent industry growth. We earn more GDP per person (about $31000 per person) than even the United Kingdom ($25150).

Kentucky's GDP per person is better than any of these economies, yet we are one of the poorest states in dollars of effective government services per person, especially personal education. I don't know if it's poor management or poor expectations, but it's disappointing to see just how much wealth (and by that wealth, tax base) the state really generates, and yet it can't deliver the services we need while taxing at a very reasonable level.

This is hardly a call for more taxes. There is already more than enough tax revenue to fund good services, with minor exceptions (primarily in higher education). That tax revenue usage simply stinks. It's not a Democrat problem or a Republican problem, and that means I don't know if Kentucky can fix it.

One can hope.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Paul had a thorn in his flesh, as he describes in 2nd Corinthians 12. The original Greek word, skolops, isn't used anywhere else in the New Testament, but its use elsewhere in koine Greek is as a thorn, a prickle, or an object with a sharp point. A few people have speculated that Paul was feeling homosexual tendencies. Most commentators of note believe that it was a physical problem of one form or another. It is clear that Paul was given this embarrassing condition to hold back his pride. When Paul would ask for it to be taken away, God would instead point out that the thorn was for Paul's good.

I've always been fascinated that Paul didn't identify his thorn. A lot of people love to identify their thorns. Sometimes, in the case of addictions and groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, this is essential. In other cases, we want to wallow in the sin. Bill Clinton's sexual history was critical information. People were fascinated by the idea that George W. Bush may have taken cocaine during his college career.

Paul's goal was to glorify God. It glorified God for Paul to talk about his trip to heaven (either through a vision or a bodily translation), but it gave more glory for him to speak about it in the third person. Paul describing that God has given him the thorn glorifies God, and helps other believers to deal with their own thorns. Since the details of his thorn won't help us as much, and doesn't bring glory to God, Paul leaves them out.

We need to keep this in mind in talking about our troubles too. We are not our thorns. If God is calling you into a specific ministry (like Alcoholics Anonymous), then you need to talk about your thorns. For the "rest of us", we may need to bring less attention to our problems, and focus more about giving glory to God.

You see, I have whined here before about my weight. I've mentioned how I have trouble reading my Bible regularly. I have other thorns that I have not mentioned. I too have asked God to remove my thorns, but He has chosen to leave them with me. Spiritually, they attack me by making me think of myself as a pincushion for my thorns instead of being a child of God who still is flawed but is under grace. The Lord appears to be leading me against dwelling on my thorns, so instead of focusing on them, I'm going to accept that He will fix them when He is ready, and will strive to get past them with His grace.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Quick prayer requests

The grandmother of one of Number 1 Son's friends has an unruptured aortic aneurism that is growing. They are going to evaluate her for surgery tomorrow, but there's no promise that they will operate yet. Please pray for healing for her.

Also, I am driving to Cincinatti at 0 Dark 30 tomorrow morning for an all-day class being given by IBM. I don't do well with driving tired, so please pray that I sleep well, and don't sleep at all tomorrow. :)

Slow death by Nutrasweet

TheAnchoress is having health issues, and still manages to write a wonderful article about David Horowitz's new book. Our prayers go out to her, and we hope she gets better soon.

Some of the commentors mentioned that TheAnchoress should kick her Diet Pepsi habit. I had decided to leave a comment on that regard, and then it got too big, so a trackback will do.

I was violently allergic to MSG when I grew up. Any trip to McDonalds, and many of the meals in the school cafeteria, would give me a migraine. Almost everyone has quit using MSG, so my sensitivity to it has gone down a lot in the intevening years. Aspartame is sufficiently similar to MSG that I'm also allergic to it. I would get headaches and other light symptoms every time I ate or drank NutraSweet products. I also hate its taste, so it wasn't hard to not use the stuff.

A couple of months ago, I started taking the low-sugar version of SlimFast without reading the label. I react badly to stress. I am a person that no one, even me, likes to be around. I can't stand anything, and lash out almost without provocation. Since I've started with Current Employer, I've only had the lightest of stress, and can deal with it. Except when I started taking that SlimFast. Then the grouch was back. By the first week, it was rough, but I wasn't getting my traditional headaches so I didn't notice. I skipped the SlimFasts a couple of days and noticed that I wasn't grouchy-bear any more. Two cans of diet formula quickly entered the trash can.

Aspertame metabolizes into methanol, which metabolizes into formaldehyde. Worse, aspertame deteriorates rapidly under 130 to 140 degree temperatures, which aren't hard to reach in shipping crates and trucks in the summer, producing formaldehyde in larger amounts. Aspertame and its children can also cross the blood-brain barrier. There's widespread speculation that Nutrasweet is the cause for the large growth of Parkinson-like symptoms in young people and "Grave's Disease", among other issues.

I was going to suggest that TheAnchoress look at sucralose (Splenda), but the health troop are starting to point out its chemical similarity to DDT and other chlorocarbons. Research it yourself, but don't just jump from Aspartame into Splenda.

Stevia has a fan club, but it tastes metalic to me, and a few people are countering the "all safe" designation. Saccharin appears to have weathered the "rat bladder" problems, but I still don't trust it, and it tastes metallic to me too. I think that Americans need to retrain themselves to a sweet-free diet. Given that I am obese, I know it's easy to say and hard to do... :)

TheAnchoress, drop the Diet Pepsis now, drink water (and for a while, a lot of it) and light juices, and get better. We can't take too many light posting days. :)

Light traffic this morning, and ditching SiteMeter

I woke up fairly early this morning, and noticed that everything inside the network was working OK, but I couldn't log in anywhere. OK, uptime's around 5 hours, so the storm must have knocked the Packrat Antique SuperComputing Complex™. Then I remembered that I'd never fixed the firewall's default route. Nothing in, nothing out.

Since around 12:30AM ET, no one could read Kentucky Packrat. If you were one of the insomniacs who missed reading me, I'm sorry. I've fixed the problem so it's won't reappear. I'm just impressed at the 21 people who were able to get in from between 12am and 12:30.

I've also been collecting my own statistics on visits (the joy of running your own web server), but I decided that I'd like a second opinion, so I signed up for SiteMeter. That was an exercise in futility. It cought my own visits, and maybe 5 or six others in a day, but everyone else coming in didn't even get counted. SiteMeter is now gone.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Taking the bar down

One of the best "selling points" for our house has been the wet bar (sink, fridge, and bar) in our living room. The previous owner loved to entertain, and used his parties to help his sales career (he sold office furniture). We thought it'd be a nice little feature for the house, but there was one little problem: we never used it, unless you count me occasionally hanging the clean laundry from it.

Since they put the bar on top (!) of the carpet, we have to take the bar out either way before replacing the carpet down here with laminate. I wanted to keep some form of cabinet, but Milady kept vetoing each of my ideas, so eventually I figured out that we* weren't putting another cabinet back in there.

If we hadn't had a party over at the neighbor's house, I'd have had the rest of the bar out tonight, but I'll have it out tomorrow or Tuesday night. Then, the bar will sit for a week or so in the garage, and then spend the rest of its life in Milady's niece's new house, either as a kitchenette or as a ammunition reloading stand.

*Our next door neighbor has started calling me "we". He pointed out that, every time Milady has a new homemaking idea, she says that "we" are going to do it, and then I do it, so my name must have been changed to "We". He exaggerates, but Milady and I now laugh that "we" are going to do something.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A King of the Hill quote from tonight

"It looks like the Bomb Squad, Hank."

"Get away from that box, you idiots. It's a smoked turkey."


Thoughts about the Sith

Number 1 Son and I made the midnight showing Wednesday night. We didn't make it home until 3AM, and I was up by 7:30 to make it to work again. I'm getting too old to deal with that little sleep any more, and I'm still really young. ;)

There are some light spoilers here, but if you haven't already figured out the basic storyline, it's too late for you anyway...

Some random thoughts, in no particular order:

  • TheAnchoress asks if Lucas is targeting the Catholic priesthood? I have my own issues with the celebate priesthood, but I don't think Lucas is trying to present it as a problemper se. First, there are women Jedi, and even women Jedi on the Jedi Counsel (think the top 10 cardinals as a governing body). Second, Lucas loves his symbols, but like the Greek myth writers, he can't be subtle. If you don't feel like he just beat an idea into your head with a hammer, Lucas didn't mean to tell it to you. :)

    I think Lucas is trying to portray Anakin and Padme as both being ambitious, and that is their downfall.

  • It helps to be able to tell who the good guys are. Anakin couldn't. Obi Wan lied and deceived, and if you annoyed him you could kiss that arm goodbye. The Jedi Counsel was willing to use the same tactics as Palpatine. There's no tactical differences between the Jedi and Sidious.

  • The bad guy is the only person interested in Anakin as a person. Obi Wan preaches patitudes. Yoda basically says "Get happy your loved one will die." It's Palpatine who offers him a way to save her. Of course, being the bad guy, he's helping Anakin actually cause the problem, but Lucas likes old myth-based ideas.

  • I am beginning to wonder if Lucas is intentally bad at writing the Star Wars dialog, in some vain attempt at emulating the Joseph Campbell-style hero stories too well. Read the Odyssey or the Iliad sometime. The dialog in almost all of these stories stinks, and you like the hero because he's the hero, not because the hero gets you to like him. The hero's loved ones have no reason in the story to love him (think about Penelope's loyalty to Odysseus, despite his sleeping with every woman he's come across), yet they do. Occam's Razor leads us to believe that Lucas just can't write, but I hold a vain hope that he might just be doing it on purpose.

For my final verdict, I'll quote David Elliott: "Lucas speaks cosmic Crayola, in tones both murky and obvious".

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Anyone want to use this code?

I just haven't had a large amount of creative resources this week. There's two articles sitting in the draft box, but they won't get done tonight.

One thing I did get done last weekend was the Database & JavaScript code that provides the Christian Carnival hosts dynamically. Now I just update the database every so often, and out pops the Carnival hosts.

I will provide this as a service to the rest of the Blogosphere, if so desired, but I'd first like to see if any other hosts want to use it. If you do, email me here and I'll see if I need to copy the script to a hosting server or if I can run it from here.

Is this something someone else wants to use?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The (fake) power of the pseudonym

I've been debating off and on about staying pseudonymous. Pseudonyms make some people think they have more power than they really have. Critical Mass has the story of an SMU adjunct professor fired for blogging about her students and colleagues. Ms. Liner made the mistake of giving away too much information. Any one post at any one time won't carry enough information to identify you, if you're careful, but the total collection of data will sink you. That's why interrogators WANT you to lie a lot. You'll drop enough truths eventually to let them find out what you know. (It didn't help that Ms. Liner appears to be violating confidences in articles, but other people have addressed that issue.)

I've had one cardinal rule about staying pseudonymous: Assume anyone you're writing about knows who you are and will read your blog. Would you say the same thing to them in person? If not, then don't blog it. It's easy to think that the target of your rant won't read your blog, but they just might be, and even if they aren't, God is. He sees the things done in secret, and will show them in the light, either in this life or at judgement. I try to not say anything here that would make Him mad either.

Right now, anyone who put out a small amount of effort could identify who I am and where I live. Given Eric Ragle's problems with a stalker, I am hesitant to come fully "out of the pseudonym". If someone latched on to me, that would pester Milady, and I won't have that. That job is solely reserved for the Lovely Darlings and me. ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Semicolon has the Christian Carnival

I know I'm late, but Semicolon has Christian Carnival LXIX. Share and enjoy.

Number 1 Son is easy to please

it just takes 2 tickets to the premier of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. :)

I told him and told him that there was no way I'd wait in line for tickets for the premier. I still won't, but the closest theater happens to do online ticketing. A couple of clicks later, I am the proud owner of 2 tickets.

He's even going to take me to dinner with his saved allowance.

Changing the World, or at least a Hospital

Number 1 Son has very bad allergies (a gift from me). They started to get bad yesterday, so Milady took him to our new pediatrician. There, we saw a friend: the resident from ICU who monitored us for Dr. Werner (the head of the Pediatric ICU at UK). She stayed most of the nights we were in PICU, and helped keep a watch on things for us (and on us). She has now cycled out and is spending residency time with our pediatrician.

She was telling us how that Dr. Iocono (the surgeon who took over my son's case) took his case and used it to change the way pediatric empyemas are handled at UK. Instead of using a gradual process of chest tubes and patience, they are going to use the VATS procedure* very quickly after the detection of an empyema to clean out the pus and existing dead tissue. If they'd done the VATS the first week Number 1 Son was in the hospital, the lung would still have been damaged, and they probably still would have had to remove his middle and lower lobes, but he'd have been out of the hospital in 10-14 days instead of the almost 4 weeks he was in. After several months of work, Dr. Iocono finally got everyone to agree to change the protocols to allow the immediate surgery.

Number 1 Son got nervous over hearing that. I think he got disturbed at the concept that his case was so different than others that it could move an entire hospital. Once I figured that was the problem last night (and when Number 1 Son turns down a cheeseburger, there is a problem ;) ), I reminded him that Dr. Iocono has had many other cases, and that his was just the "final straw", the perfect case to illustrate his point. Then Milady and I both told him that the Lord may well have used a big, strong fellow like him to help them change their protocol, so that some sicker child doesn't have to die because of a "wait and see" policy. He liked to hear that.

The VATS procedure is an arthoscopic surgery where the surgeon operates using a camera sent down the throat, and a knife in a tube inserted in an incision in the side. It's a lot easier on the surgeon and the patient than cutting open the side.