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...