Thursday, December 30, 2004


Yep, we were able to close on the house today. It's sold!! The couple buying it are a very nice young couple getting into their first house, just like we did 10 years ago. It was a dry closing, meaning that everything is done, but we have to go back and pick up the check in a couple hours. We actually ended up with more than a $1000 beyond what we had hoped for, so we're very happy with the situation. The couple also seemed to be very happy to be able to move into their first home. Our former neighbor is looking forward to having them teach him some Spanish. All in all, I think everyone will be happy!

The Power of Sin

Recently we received an alumni letter from our alma mater that told the story of Kevin Carter. This link is a brief blip on who Kevin is, but it doesn't tell is the story surrounding the photo and Kevin's later suicide. It seems that after Kevin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the photo you see at the link above, people started asking questions about what happened to the child. The child was crawling toward a food station in Sudan and, as you can see, was being watched by a vulture. It turns out that Kevin didn't know what happened to the child. After spending 20 minutes preparing to take the photo, Kevin snapped the picture and left. He didn't help the child. Needless to say, people were astounded. Kevin committed suicide several months later.

I wonder how a person gets so cold, and then I remember: we are born in sin. If anyone ever doubts the power of sin, look to the life of Kevin Carter, and remember, you and I are not immune.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Oh ya, did I mention that I've topped 6,000 points Folding@Home? Join the fight against disease, click here.

Getting Late

It's closing in on 11:00, and we've got a crazy day tomorrow. We're still scheduled to close on our house at 9:30 and then we'll hit the road to Des Moines. Tonight we took the boys over to the other house for the first time since we moved. They were able to say goodbye to our neighbor. He's already been telling us how much he misses them. Now he's looking forward to the new family. He's hoping that, since they're Hispanic, they'll teach him Spanish. I was glad to hear that comment because his initial comment to me wasn't quite as positive (it wasn't mean, just stereotyped). Anyway, I'm off to bed so we can get finished with packing in the morning before the closing. Whew, it'll be crazy. I'm taking a borrowed laptop on the road with me, so we'll see how the bluetooth dial in on my phone works on the road! I'm hoping its cool, but it is a Windows 98 computer, so I'm not holding my breath. Either way, the hotel has high speed connections.

Touch of Class

Apple has demonstrated a true touch of class by placing this message on their website's home page: "Our hearts reach out to those hurt by the Indian Ocean tsunamis." It then provides links to four charities where donations can be made to assist in the recovery efforts. That is their home page. A true class act.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love You!

Tomorrow is a huge day for us. We are still on track to sell our old house. This is a HUGE answer to TONS of prayers. We moved back in August due to a closing that we were supposed to have then that fell through. This is a much better situation and we're VERY excited to see it happening before the end of the year. Until the papers are signed, though, there's still prayer happening. Assuming all goes well, we'll be leaving for Des Moines early tomorrow afternoon. I'm hoping that won't mean a weekend of computer work for me though (it usually does). Oh well, at least it won't be on my in-law's laptop anymore (can you say iMac?). Speaking of which, there's an Apple Store in Des Moines...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hitting the Road

Tis the season, right? After two Christmas celebrations in two states on the same day, Jill and I took the boys up to see my grandma in southern Wisconsin. It's still a bit over an hour for the drive each way, so I hate doing that in an evening, but it was really the only time we could scrape together, and the Lord only knows how many more times we'll be able to celebrate Christmas with her (she turned 100 back in August). It was the first time that Nathan has been in a nursing home and been able to comprehend some of what he saw. He asked us a lot of questions when we left. Fortunately my grandma is in tip-top shape mentally, so it is always pleasant to visit with her, and my aunt is usually there as well (we arrange the visits through her since she lives in town).

We had a great time and the boys enjoyed "meeting" grandma since they don't remember the last time they saw her (which was at her 100th party, but that was also the day we moved, so that whole time period is a blur to us, much less the kids!). Grandma has never had much, that happens when you marry a farmer, but she is also very content and a great example of Godliness to all of us. We gave her recent family pictures and she gave each of the boys a card with a dollar bill. I was very glad to hear that my brother and his family got up there over the weekend too. All in all, grandma had a great Christmas, and it was good to be a small part of that.

Wendell's OK

Got an overnight email from Wendell and he's doing fine, well, as fine as someone who's been sitting in their hotel room vomiting for the last few days. They hadn't seen anything on TV about it so they were shocked when they saw a newspaper at breakfast this morning. Anyway, good to see all is well.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Heavy Conversation

Tonight I was a part of a small meeting of my church's leaders. I'm the outgoing elder chairman, and it was being hosted by the outgoing church chairman. The others were the incoming church chairman, the incoming church vice-chairman, and the incoming elder chairman. We had a very good meeting. There are definitely some different points of view, but we're also good enough friends that we can discuss them earnestly and lovingly at the same time. I have some very different perspectives from our incoming church chairman, but I trust him and know that he is simply seeking the best for God's church. I've spent a LOT of time with our outgoing church chairman (he was my boss for a few years), and we see things from a very similar point of view.

We spent a lot of time talking about church structures and church leadership. I have a lot of concerns in this area as I look at how young people respond to these issues. Well, tonight I was hitting some of my regular-read blogs and found that Alan Creech is involved a whale of a discussion on much of this same issue. Read his bit, the comments, and then follow his link over to the original site of the discussion, where there is a whole lot more reading-commenting going on. I haven't even begun to delve into it, but it's looking like a great discussion from the bits I have read! I'll try to catch up on it over the next couple of days and then post some of my own thoughts. Oh, and someone better hold me to it too!

College Alumni at age Three?

That's right, or so it seems. Fifteen years after we were students at Wheaton College, our son's photo appeared in the Wheaton Alumni magazine this quarter. We've never had our pics in there, other than hiding in large group photos at homecoming (that Nathan wasn't even alive for), but there he is, on page 34. We didn't even know it was coming! Jill was flipping through the magazine and was shocked to see his picture appear right in the middle of a page. It was an article about uploading pictures for other alumni to see when they find out what you are up to. I had uploaded a few pictures several months ago since they'd only be visible to people who are alumni and who are registered and signed in. Turns out they liked it enough to put it into print! Very Cool!

Wendell's in Indonesia

A bunch of old friends of Wendell got an email the other day from him. If you've got access to our family pics, he's the bearded fellow sitting on the front porch with me and the boys. He's currently in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. If you follow the news at all, you know there's been an earthquake and huge sea surf hitting Indonesia. As far as I know, no one has heard from him yet, but the map I found shows that Yogyakarta is on the southern coast of Indonesia while the sea surf is hitting the north. I'm assuming that he's ok, based on that, but we'll find out in a few weeks. It's possible that even if all is well, he may not be able to get communication out from his current location. His email said he wouldn't have access to email from December 30 to January 3rd or so anyway, so I'd be surprised if anyone hears from him until after the new year has begun.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Generous Orthodoxy

Yes, I got the book for Christmas. I'm looking forward to delving into it. I feel like I'll get a better feel for what the Emerging Church is all about, so I can formulate a more solid view on it. I've read the McLaren is a very balanced presenter of what the Emerging Church stands for, so I'm excited about this book (not as much as the Chronological Bible, but definitely excited!).

Cool Bible Gift

We got an awesome gift this year. It's the One Year Chronological Bible. This Bible is set up to read it in one year, but it's put in chronological order, rather than by books. The result is that you read passages about the same things at the same time. For example, as you read about the life of David, you read portions of I Samuel and the corresponding Psalms that David wrote as he experienced the events that are recorded in I Samuel. We're really looking forward to reading this assembling of Scripture (yes, it's the whole thing in NIV) as it will go a long way toward putting various scattered pieces together. I know lots of people have done that in the past, but it'll be cool to read it that way from the get-go.

Top 25 (Percent)

I just checked my standings with Team Mac OS X in Folding@Home and I've moved into the top 25% of the team! I'm very happy to be moving up quickly within the team! The competitive streak in me loves to see my name (treadlightly) continue to move up the list and also to see our team move up the list. We're in the top 12 teams and are expected to pass several other teams over the next few months, VERY COOL! You can check out our team stats here, and my own stats here. Oh yeah, the overall team rankings can be found here. And hey, if you want to join Folding@Home, please feel free to join our team, team number 1971, we ROCK (and, yes, we do take Windows computers on our team, I've got my whole office running for Team Mac OS X)!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day

Welcome to the day when we celebrate the birth of the King! I've been spending time on the computer that belongs to Jill's aunt. Adaware came out with over 300 cookies and other nasties. That helped, but there are still a few items showing up with Spybot including one or two items on the topic of Essie ecks (pronounce that to know what I'm talking about). Jill's aunt was pretty shocked. I'm running a virus scan straight from Symantec's site now as they don't have any virus protection on their computer either. I'm simply amazed at how many people don't have any type of protections on their computers apart from what their ISP gives them. That is definitely a frightening thing. Microsoft can say all they want about the importance of security, but people don't make the connection when they feel secure in all other areas of their lives. Today is VERY relaxed around here, though. There's a light snow falling, and we got some overnight as well. Dubuque is a beautiful city. It doesn't have a great reputation in a lot of ways, but it's tough to beat all of the beautiful scenery due to the bluffs surrounding the Mississippi River. It contradicts all of the stereotypes that people have about Iowa being flat, that's for sure. We always enjoy coming here and cruising around the city. It's a great place for Bald Eagle watching too!

Jesus is the Reason for the season!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I know it's not Christmas, but we're doing all of our celebrating today. We were with my family this morning and then high-tailed it across the Iowa state line to celebrate with Jill's family. We're in the middle of a gift opening break right now. Gotta go, everyone has returned to the basement. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

EU and Microsoft

Folks in the computer industry have been watching the European Union's case against Microsoft for some time. Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch has a little summary about the case's ramifications on Microsoft over at eWeek. Microsoft has lost the initial case, and appealed it. Today the BBC is reporting that the appeal has been dismissed "in its entirety."

It's hard to argue with Foley's statements. Foley argues that if MS were to pull the media player and Internet Explorer out of the operating system (like every other operating system I've seen, which isn't many), then they'd actually have to have competitive products. Let's face it, Internet Explorer stinks. There's no way around it. The only people still defending IE are the people who haven't tried ANYTHING else. Can you imagine what the Web would be like if web site designers actually had to make their sites meet Web standards rather than just show up right in IE? The Web would actually become what it's supposed to be...platform neutral.

Just a quick FYI, I did a little checking today, and most of the people who check out my blog do NOT use Internet Explorer. Surprised?

This Is Written Just For Me

Greg Buchholtz wrote an article that I know was written just for me. I hope it was written for you too.

Forgiven Much, Loved Much

TheOoze has a great little article reminding us of the greatness of forgiveness. Find it here.

Cold Spell

I'm home for lunch today. I see that it is currently 8 degrees outside. This week I'm working with some kids from a local high school who are making up time missed for a construction class. We're doing demo in the apartments above my office. We have cut off heat to that part of the building to avoid any possible pipe breaks due to winter setting in, so it's only about 20 degrees up there. Still, we're working hard enough that our respirators are filling with sweat. We leave them upside down when we break for lunch, then we're able to remove the ice that is left when we get back from lunch, thus starting with a dry respirator again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Artificial Beauty

OK, I wasn't sure if I should post this or not, but here it is. In the "What is this world coming to" category, the winner is: China! Yes, China has crowned it's first Miss Artificial Beauty Queen! That's right, in order to be in this beauty pageant, the women had to have undergone plastic surgery to improve their appearance. Women from 17(!) to 62 competed. Of course the winner was 22 and had only had four trips under the plastic surgeons knife.

Looking Like a White Christmas

Oh Yeah!! Last night we got about an inch of snow and today was easily the best chance of it melting away before Christmas. It didn't happen, so it's looking like a white Christmas out our way! There was just enough snow that just the tops of the grass blades were showing when we woke up. The temps did a nose dive, and now it'll be too cold to get any more snow, but we've got some on the ground, so Christmas is looking good.



Wow, that's all I can say!

Folding @ Home

I loaded the Folding software on several computers at work, so I'm picking up points much faster now! I've already topped 2,000! If you're not folding, look into it. It's a great way to help science learn about protein folding in the effort to combat disease, and it doesn't cost ANYTHING!

Worst Desktop?!

PC Magazine has labeled Apple's eMac as the worst desktop of the year. I'm writing this on an eMac, albeit several years old, and I have a new eMac sitting on my desk at work (networked with a Windows Exchange Server and Windows Server 2003). I'm biased in a different direction than PC Magazine. So, in an effort to figure out what is so bad about my computer (which is the bottom of Apple's food chain), I thought I'd go over to Dell and pull up their $750-800 desktop and compare them, after all, Dell is the recommended choice in the eMac bashing mini-article. Dell's home offering in this price is the Dimension 4700C priced at $749.

eMac has: Radeon 9200 Graphics Card, PC Mag rips this as not up to gaming
Dell has: Integrated Graphics, which is far worse than any separate graphics card
eMac Wins

eMac has: 256 mb RAM
Dell has: Free upgrade to 512 mb RAM
Dell Wins

eMac has: 17" CRT monitor
Dell has: 17" CRT monitor
TIE (assuming the monitors have same quality)

eMac has: Firewire, USB 2, USB 1, Audio In, Audio Out, 10/100 Ethernet, built-in modem, Video out Ports
Dell has: "Multiple I/O ports for peripherals" It does not have Firewire, it does have 5.1 Channel Audio
Winner is based on needs. For me, eMac wins as I have a digital camcorder and need Firewire and I don't have/need external speakers.

eMac has: Combo drive. PC Mag rags on eMac for not having a DVD burner for backing up huge amounts of data.
Dell has: CD-Rom drive. Um, that means you can't back up even small amounts of data to CD.
eMac Wins

eMac has: All-in-One Design. This limits expandibility to RAM and Wireless cards (though USB 2 and Firewire allow for an endless supply of external add-ons).
Dell has: Small Form Factor. Expandibility is possible, but the cards necessary for expansion are hard to find. Lack of Firewire cuts back slightly on external peripheral choices. Dell has a floppy disk drive, if anyone still uses those.
eMac Wins due to virtually limitless external expansion options, neither is convincing on internal expansion options at the base price.

eMac sits on my desk and takes up no more space than a 17" CRT monitor. All ports are within easy reach, and two USB 1.1 ports are on my keyboard, making it simple to plug in a digital camera, printer, etc.
Dell sits on the floor where my long legs and big feet can kick it, plus it has a 17" CRT on my desk. Anytime I want to plug in a peripheral, I have to get on my arthritic knees and search for the port I need.
eMac Wins

Overall winner? eMac beats Dells $750-800 option, not convincingly, but it does beat it.

So, is the eMac the worst desktop available? Certainly not! Not only does eMac have a slight edge over a comparably priced Dell, Dell has WORSE offerings than this. Certainly this is not Dell's worst computer, so to name the eMac as the worst out there is a joke.

Now granted, this is simply a hardware comparison on two un-customized computers. If we were to compare software, I'm sure the eMac would blow the Dell out of the water. Windows computers are known for being stripped of software options, or coming with options that are hardly usable. Mac, on the other hand, are known for shipping with great software. Dell's XP Home Edition means that you are limited to being a one-computer home. Home Edition is not designed for networking. All Macs ship with the same system, and all are designed to be networked. As I mentioned, my eMac at work, the one PC Mag labels as the worst desktop available, is networked to a Windows Server system and Exchange Server system. There is no way you could do that with the Dell I compared it to, I've tried.

Why would PC Magazine label the eMac as the worst desktop computer out there? I'm guessing that they completed their list and realized that Apple wasn't on it, so they decided to add Apple, and this is Apple's weakest product. It is really difficult to find any other way to read this. I'm not saying Dell computers are terrible, simply that there are MUCH worse options than the eMac.

Now that I've finished, I've got to go clear the spyware off my brother's Dell, after which, we'll get on the internet and find an eMac for his family. They've already been sold after seeing my computer. My sister-in-law was telling me that her friends are already telling her to quit talking about how great my eMac is. Weird, PC Mag doesn't agree with those of us who use them.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Reminder of the West's Hypocrisy links to a NY Times article about the new movie Hotel Rwanda. The movie is a reminder of how the West completely failed to deal with Rwanda. The result? We allowed 800,000 people to be murdered out of a fear that a few soldiers might lose their lives.

It's stuff like this that makes me believe that the European nations won't get involved in Iraq because they know they are too weak to deal with serious world issues. I recognize that the US was a part of this failure, and I won't excuse that at all. European nations, however, have failed to assist in Iraq and completely failed to deal with the genocide in Bosnia. That's right, European nations couldn't deal with genocide in their own yard! Why is that? Because they have become weakened to the point of paralysis. It's much easier to sit in centuries old halls and cast blame than to actually get out and deal with the reality of evil. It's a shame, as Europe ought to know firsthand the results of such inaction from the Nazis.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Weather

Hey, it's 12:30 in the afternoon and the temp has hit a blazing 9 degrees! WooHoo! It is so cold, that the river froze over last night. I don't know if I've ever seen it do that in one night! A couple more days, and the local kids will be playing hockey out on the Sinnissippi Lagoon.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Top Five

There's a whole bunch of Top 5 Blogs here. I haven't read them yet, nor have I been blogging long enough to feel like I could submit any, so I won't make any recommendations other than "check it out." Oh yeah, and submit your Top 5 if you so choose.

Football on Saturday!

So, here I am watching NFL football on a Saturday. The Steelers are playing the Giants, and I'm getting to watch it live (you doing that Sven?). The bit at halftime is making me want to watch the Packers game. High temp of a whole 11 degrees and brisk winds! OH YEAH, THAT'S FOOTBALL!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Web Design Training

I'm doing an online class through SkillSoft on the use of Dreamweaver MX. It's making me want to go out and get my own copy! I am realizing that I know NOTHING about web design, not that that's a surprise, but I'm learning a ton, and it's all VERY basic stuff. Dreamweaver appears to make it so easy to build a web page, that I'd love to start giving it a go. Of course there is serious irony in taking this course. They strongly encourage people to design web pages with the assumption that people are using a wide variety of browsers and a variety of different versions of those browsers. In order to take the course, however, one MUST use Windows and Internet Explorer. I've tried using Firefox in spoofing mode, and it just doesn't work, so I laughed out loud at their inability to follow what they define as a basic principle in web design.

In spite of that, it is a great tool and I'm learning a ton. It's way better than the course I took on Windows Server 2003. That just gave me a bunch of info without a whole lot of practical knowledge that I could use.

What Are The Odds?!?

If you've seen "Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas," you'll love this story. If not, move on, it won't make any sense.

I was playing with the boys this morning and Nathan was pretending to hold a cup of hot chocolate. I was giving a little more attention to Isaac since he was sitting on my lap. Nathan walked over and asked me to bump his arm. He does things like that occasionally, like when he asked me to hit him in the head with a whiffle ball so he could play Goliath. Well, I bumped his arm and he the "spilled" his hot chocolate all over his shirt, threw up his arms and stomped away yelling, "Arrggghh!! What are the odds?!?!?!"

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time! Man, he cracks me up!

The Love Shack is Gone!

Sven pointed out that the Love Shack is now gone, burned to the ground.

Microsoft, the Anti-Spyware Company?

Microsoft has purchased a NY company for their anti-spyware software. According to the Associated Press, they may eventually start charging for the software. In other words, if you are willing to pay Microsoft for their operating system, you'll also need to pay them for their protection software. Of course, the consumers ought to be saying, "Hey, combine the two so we don't have the hassles!" As for me? I'll keep using my Mac, then I don't have to buy MS operating system or MS anti-spyware. I don't have to buy anyone's anti-spyware!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bloggers--How Old Are You?

Andrew Jones has a post on the age breakdown of bloggers. Interesting to think about.

Topping 1000

I've recently passed a thousand points in Folding@Home! WooHoo!!

On Being Nice

One of my primary rules for email and message board posting is this: Be Nice. I'm not directing that at everyone else, though I do think everyone else should abide by it, but I'm directing it at myself. The internet is a place where the person on the other end of the conversation is completely faceless and often times nameless as well. It is VERY easy to come up with a rude response to a...shall we say...poorly worded statement. I've done it myself, and, unfortunately, I'll probably do it again. Some forums seem to encourage this type of behavior. I've started to avoid those types of forums.

My thought process goes something like this: I've posted here before, so people probably know I'm a Christian by my user name. I must assume that at least some of the people here know that I'm a Christian, so I have to write accordingly. Simple enough? Well, not always. Hitting the "Send" or "Publish" button can be done much too easily. I read a blog recently where the author stated that he doesn't go back and edit his blogs. Boy would I be in trouble if I held to that rule. I've edited and deleted blogs after they've been posted. I've been pretty good with keeping my email straight, which is a very good thing, because once you hit send, its gone and there's nothing to stop the person on the other end from seeing it. That is also the case with some forums. Of course, the basic idea behind this is to think of others more highly than yourself. By doing this, you will always treat those who read your comments with respect, and they will always think you're nice...and that's not a bad thing.

Harmony with iPod

Real Networks is now promising to make changes to their Harmony software so that people can buy music from the Real Networks music store and play in on their iPods. Of course, the problem is that Apple disabled the ability of Harmony to work with iPods a month and a half ago...AND NO ONE NOTICED! Do you think Real Networks is using their time/resources wisely? If you've got their stock, I'd recommend selling it now!

Why Bluetooth Isn't Popular

It's always seemed to me that Bluetooth was a VERY cool technology. I really hadn't used it until I set up my father in law's new iMac G5 with the wireless keyboard and mouse. I was very impressed with the simplicity and ease with which it worked. This article has finally explained why Bluetooth has not taken off. The summary? Bluetooth isn't popular because Windows is. I highly recommend the read. If you've ever tried to install hardware on a Windows machine, you'll probably recognize some of the author's frustrations. I know I can relate (and it wasn't Bluetooth I was messing with!).

Bad Outlook

I was sitting at my desk today when a co-worker called out (so I'd be able to hear), "My Outlook is bad!" I replied, "Then change your attitude, that'll improve your outlook!" Of course, everyone who heard her knew she was talking about Outlook software.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sam's Doing Great!

For those who might not be aware, 4 year old Sam has been battling leukemia. Today, his father posted that Sam came in with the lowest possible result from his test, which is OUTSTANDING! Praise the Lord!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Less Theology?

Again, gets more air time here on A Bob's Life. This entry on the need for useful seminary classes would probably get a lot of attention from seminary students who go on to find their education to be less than useful.

What Makes People Do It?

Church Marketing Sucks has a little piece about a guy who spent five months making a video advertising the iPod Mini. What would drive someone to do that? Better yet, why don't people do that for their church? This guy did it because he loved his iPod. What aspect of your church would you do that for?

Today we went to Nathan's Christmas show for Mom's Day Out. We had a great time. What really struck me, though, was that there were several hundred people there, and hardly any of them actually attend our church. I can guarantee that WAY over half the people there have enrolled their kids in our church's program because they've heard that its good. One person there is THE developer in our city. I heard him comment to someone that he's had kids enrolled for seven years. I don't know if he's plugged in to another church or not, but I do know that he hears the Gospel when he walks in to our church. Our church's kids program is something that is inspiring. Even before I went to the program, I was in a meeting with someone who told me that her kids go to our church's summer program and they TOTALLY love it. Her daughter even wants to be a counsellor when she gets old enough. This is another family that doesn't attend our church (though they do attend another church in town).

What is it about your church that inspires you, that makes you want to create a commercial for your church or church's program?

Scott Peterson

The jury has recommended that Scott Peterson be put to death. I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, but it seems that there are occassions when it should be implemented. I guess I don't know enough about this case to have an opinion, so I won't express one.

O the Weather Outside is Frightful...

Well, twice in the last two days we've gotten a peek at the sun. Wow, I'd forgotten it existed. Of course, with winds gusting at well over 20 miles/hour and a cold front having moved through, it really doesn't matter. is telling me that the current temp is 24 degrees, but that the wind chill is a balmy 12. Glad I walked to work today. Since I cut my hair way down this summer, maybe I should get a hat this year.

UPDATE: I decided to add a spot for our current weather conditions. You can now see what we've got simply by logging on to my blog!

PC Service

I'm not in business, but I do get an occassional call to service someone's pc. I've got two house calls to make this week. I am now generally telling people that I don't mind helping out, but their next computer needs to be a Mac, or I'll start charging to service that one. This week I'll be making a trip to my brother's house. My CD will include Adaware, Spybot, Firefox, know, all the stuff necessary to avoid Microsoft. He was thinking virus, but it sounds like a combination of virus and malware. Should be a great time slugging it out with another high quality Microsoft-based machine. WooHoo !

My father in law is now referring to his new iMac G5 as the BEST Christmas present EVER!! All these years he kept running back to the Microsoft trough, and now he has seen the light (actually, he was forced into the light by my mother in law)...and I don't mind going over to his house and getting on his computer! I don't even charge him to work on his new computer, I actually enjoy it. I actually think that my brother and his family are on board for a new Mac when they get their next computer. My old eMac 800 blew them away, and then they heard that they could get everything they wanted for under $800, and that blew them even further away. I'm looking forward to helping them get their next computer!

No Football

Well, today was Sunday, but I watched no football. Our cable was out all weekend. It came back Sunday night, but by then, it was all over (no ESPN here, just the bare bones version of cable). Odd, though, I didn't actually miss it. At all.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Our Plumbing Work

Sven's been complaining today about plumbing trouble, so I thought I'd let him know he's got it easy (noodles in the, no, no, not noodles on the brain, noodles IN the Drain!). This summer we had about half of our vacant lot at the old house torn up. We traced out the sewer line from the house (using both old techniques and new) and thought it went out behind the garage. We then pulled out the City sewer map and it confirmed what we believed. The tractor in the photo then headed back behind the garage and started digging. Twelve feet deep and thirty feet long, and they didn't find ANYTHING! After some sleuthing and some help from a family member in the drain business, we tryed a new spot almost right next to the house, and we found it. We then had to have the entire line dug up all the way across the lot where they found that TWO cisterns had collapsed onto the sewer line and crushed it. The photo here is the trench across the lot. The little pipe sticking up is the new sewer line drain out. The trench here is about 8 feet deep, and it was full of sewage. It seems that the collapse had occurred a while ago (as in months), but we didn't have an immediate problem because there was plenty of room underground for it to store up. Yep, our plumber LOVED us!

U2 Blog

You can find the blog of iPod's favorite band here. I realized very quickly how many "fans" have their own ideas about U2's musical editing abilities. Sheesh, just record it to Garageband and make your own cuts, folks!

BTW, if you want their latest release, Live Under the Brooklyn Bridge, go here, of course, you've got to use iTunes!

Personality Test

Like many of the people who took this personality test, I am an evil genius. That is the most populated category of the sixteen possible. Doesn't it seem like the world would be much worse off if there are really that many evil geniuses running around? I guess it could be worse, I could be an enemy of the state!

What is Grace?

This morning our pastor was talking about grace. He told of Ken Blanchard, the management expert, meeting Peter Drucker, the even better known management guru. It happened just after Drucker accepted Christ as Savior. Blanchard asked him why he became a Christian and Drucker responded with something to the effect of, "It's the only place you can find grace." That is simple, but incredibly profound...and TRUE!

Our pastor gave a great example of grace. A family kept telling their son that he needed to get home in time for dinner, yet he kept coming home late. Finally, the boy's mother told him to be home on time or he would get bread and water for dinner. That night, sure enough, he got home late. He walked in and could immediately tell that it was his favorite dinner, roast beef and potatoes. He sat down and his mother brought out a plate and glass...bread and water. Nothing else on the plate, nothing else in the glass. He sat there looking at his plate and then looked over at his dad's plate, piled high with meat and potatoes. His father looked at him and didn't say anything. When his mother sat down, his father got up, picked up the boy's plate of bread and glass of water, and then set down his own plate, full of meat and potatoes, in front of the boy. That night, his father ate a piece of bread, and drank a glass of water, while the boy ate very well...and the boy never forgot what grace is.

Lego Clock

Sven pointed out this site. Talk about a great use of Lego's! A working grandfather clock made from 100% Lego parts!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What is a leader in the Church?

I haven't read the article yet, though it's downloaded, but the brief snippet shown here tells me this is going to be good. I really felt this way in my role as an elder. Not something I wanted, but I was asked and didn't turn away from the opportunity. It was a huge blessing! Isn't that so much of how God works?

the Christian Century on Emergent Church

Rudy pointed to this article, and it is a very good look at the emergent church. Longer and more in depth than Campolo's (probably due to editor's demands), it looks at the opportunities and challenges that the emergent church faces.

Tony Campolo on the Emergent Church Conversation

Jason Clark links to an article by Campolo on the emergent church. A quick and easy read. I posted on Jason's site that I tend to agree with the emergent church's assessment of the institutional church. I'm not convinced, though, that the emergent church is the answer. Campolo's take on the emergent church's view of inclusiveness doesn't sit right with me (please bear in mind that it's Campolo's take on it). It seems to me that Scripture if very clear that Jesus Christ is THE ONLY way to God. I'm not doubting the faith of those in the emergent church, but I'm simply looking for some answers to my questions on it...maybe I'll post my questions and see what kind of response I get.

Remember when...

Remember the last time I got a good night sleep? Nah, me neither.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Dead Pod

Well, the iPod was declared dead. It needs a new logic board and a new hard drive. Total cost of repair: $350. I can get a new U2 iPod for the same price and it will have a larger hard drive. They'll be sending it back to us, so maybe I'll peal it apart for Sven's sake. :)

Spam Habits from Around the World

Well, here's the breakdown of spam offenders. It seems that one out of every five Americans open spam. Please don't complain if you get viruses or malware if you do that. Of those people (worldwide) who do buy things from spam, the most common item bought is SOFTWARE! Now, apart from the fact that people probably just got some free "software" just for opening their spam, they then turn around and give their credit card number to the unknown spammer to buy MORE software! Unbelieveable!!

Looking for a Cheap New Computer?

Bill Palmer reissued his post on looking for a sub-$500 computer. It's worth the read. I've done the same thing he did in his research and had the same results. Yesterday I was at I configured a computer and had about $650. When I got to the next page it showed $785, and NOTHING was selected on that next page! The fact is that the eMac is the cheapest useful computer on the market. Period.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

House Sale

So far so good about the sale of our house. We're supposed to close on the 30th, thus saving us the hassle of dealing with the house in 2005 taxes. Whew!!


The other night I dropped our iPod when we went out to eat. It hasn't worked since. Today we got our box from PodResQ and are shipping it off for repair. Here's hoping it will be back early next week. Supposed to be one day turn around, but they're pretty busy this time of year, so we'll see.

Legacy of David and Goliath

At lunchtime, I was home and Nathan came running into the kitchen. He handed Jill a quarter and said, "Throw it at me!" He wanted Jill to hit him in the forehead with the quarter so he could play Goliath! Too funny!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Serious Criticism of the Institutional Church

The House Church blog points to a long, but interesting read on the state of the Church today. I'm not going to say I agree with it all, but it is certainly thought provoking.

Garage Door Working?

Sven points to an article about interference with garage door openers coming from military bases. Fortunately we're more than the possible 50 mile radius from any military bases (Great Lakes Naval Station is the closest that I can think of). We're especially fortunate since we just replaced 3 garage doors this summer and put in new garage door openers.

Site is back up

Hey, McLaren's site is back up. Weird.

Entering Prayer

Needless to say, I'm catching up on odyssey, as quite a few of my posts tonight originate there. For the cat lovers of the world, here's a look at what cats can teach us about entering into prayer (and no, I'm not a cat lover, read it anyway).

Where Am I?

This is me.

Homosexuality and the Future Church

Interesting read here. This is one worth following the links. To give you an idea, it deals with a recent missive issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) regarding the issue of homosexuality within the Anglican Church worldwide.

I played a round of golf with an Episcopal priest several years ago while at a conference in Pittsburgh. His belief was that the Episcopal church would split within five years over a number of issues due to the differences between the conservatives and the liberals. The five years isn't up yet, but he sure looks to have been right.

A Visitor in a Mega-Church

Since I go to a mega-church, I found this article of interest. Church Marketing Sucks pointed me this way. It's a bit of a read, but it should be required of anyone in the leadership of one of these churches. Ours is not a Seeker church, but it is a large church, so much of this is of interest.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Aikman Efficiency Ratings

I've taken to following the NFL more than all other pro sports combined. Tonight I found the Aikman Efficiency Ratings. This is a very interesting look at how teams are doing. No surprise the Bears offense was at the bottom of the league, though.

"The Aikman Efficiency Ratings measure offensive and defensive performance using a combination of seven key statistics identified by Troy Aikman, and then measured against league norms (and extremes) established over the last 10 years. An offense or defense performing exactly at league norms in all categories will achieve a score of 75.

"It will take a truly exceptional unit to score more than 90 during an entire season on either the offensive or defensive scale. In 2003, AER scores ranged on offense from 93.95 (Kansas City) to 63.55 (New York Giants) and on defense from 86.87 (New England) to 62.60 (San Diego).

"The seven categories measured are:

* Adjusted Points (20 percent) -- Total Points Scored or Allowed minus Points on Returns and Safeties.
* Turnovers (20 percent).
* Red Zone Efficiency (20 percent) -- Measured by Percent of Possible Points (figured by taking the number of Red Zone Chances times 7, then dividing it by the number of Points Actually Scored (defined as TDs times 7 plus FGs times 3).
* Yards Per Play -- Divided into Yards Per Rush (10 percent of total) and Yards Per Pass Play (10 percent of total). Yards Per Pass Play includes yards on plays involving sacks.
* First Down Achievement -- Divided into Total First Downs (10 percent of total) and 3rd Down Conversion Percentage (10 percent of total)."

News Flash!

Hey, did anyone know that the National Hockey League is still on strike? Did anyone care? Oops, sorry, did anyone south of Canada care? I didn't think so. Hey, at least there's one group of overpaid athletes not getting paid for playing games. Think anyone would miss the NBA? Yeah, me neither.

The Santa Ban, Part 2

I've gotten a whole bunch o' comments, mostly by email, to the original "Santa Ban" post. Of course, it helps that I trolled for hits on that one, so I guess I was pretty shameless!

All but a couple of the responses were in agreement with what I wrote. Surprisingly, most of them also saw the humor in my questions! I must confess to being a bit nervous about that. One even thanked me for taking a light approach to the issue. Whew! Glad that went over well.

The general idea behind the post was actually not the issue of Santa. I'm pretty laid back on that one. Santa does not strike fear into my heart. I'm not even so sure that Santa has hidden the true meaning of Christmas . I think our own materialism has done that. Santa has simply evolved with our culture, and our church folks are just as, or more, guilty in the materialism than the culture itself. The multiple celebrations that take literally hours have become a chore, not a joy. People love buying gifts, especially for children, but it has gotten to the point where the kids don't even enjoy it because they are too exhausted by the overwhelming task of opening present after present. It used to be that people would open gifts one at a time in order to share the joy of opening gifts. Now people open gifts all at once because it would take twelve hours to get through the gift opening if people went one at a time.

Actually, the more specific point behind the original post had to do with how the church deals with business. There is a quick prayer at the beginning of the meeting, sometimes a gentle reminder to be nice (which shouldn't even be necessary, but it is!), and then a curtsy to Robert's Rules of Order. Get through the agenda, hope there isn't a fight, assume that the person speaking has their own agenda, and it must not be the same as yours, and push for a decision. The fact that the congregation gets to vote on almost everything helps to bog down the process, and, as Sunday night demonstrated, allows for items of personal interest to get pushed through by rallying friends and family ahead of time and not allowing time for prayer and reflection. Buy hey, we were done by 7:30!

I've begun to think that our City Council has a much better process than our church. The Council meets, allows a time for public comments, and then does the work. Yeah, people can lobby the aldermen and alderwomen, pay for their campaigns, buy influence, etc, but ultimately, the people who LIVE in the ward vote for the person (note: the businesses in the ward DON'T vote for the person--Hear that Alderman Holt?). It's not quite so easily divided up in the church. We don't have wards based on where people live. Still, what if our church council had open meetings and took "public" comments at the beginning of the meeting? What if they met more often so that issues such as Santa weren't brought up at a congregational meeting, but at a council meeting? Most of the City business gets done at committee level. The public can give opinions on topics that are important to them, but the Council actually (get this) LEADS and MAKES DECISIONS. Every issue gets cycled into a committee, so every issue is given thought before a vote is taken on it. Shouldn't we, as the Church be just as careful with our decisions?

People hate politics and politicians (at least in the abstract), but our governmental systems seem to be much better at thinking things through (often to the point of absurdity) than other systems. I'd much rather have the absurdity of governmental delays than the absurdities that I pointed out yesterday!

Creative Gift Giving Ideas

Looking for that something special? Check this out! That's right, you can give a gift, in the name of that special loved one, that can provide food, water, or education for a family &/or child in poverty. Opportunities to provide for children in the US and around the world. Support World Vision, give the gift of life, and give an unforgettable gift to someone you love!

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Bears, part 13

Hey, did anyone notice that the Bears found a quarterback who can...get this...throw a football! Good thing, because the fans would have had a fit if Shannon Sharpe had to be hired.

The Santa Ban

Sometimes in a rush to do a good thing, we overlook the potential downsides. I learned, when I got home from the church business meeting, that the intent of the Santa Ban was to deal with one specific event, which is not listed below. Unfortunately, I didn't even know about the event until after the meeting, and NO ONE mentioned it at the meeting. The result is an overarching Santa Ban. Here are the questions that are left, in an almost humorous form:

1) If Jeanne wears Santa earrings to work on Tuesday, will Eric have to fire her (the incoming church chairman's wife) right before Christmas?

2) Will the ushers have to start looking for Santa lapel pins on people's clothing and ask them to leave the service if they are "guilty?"

3) Will Sunday school teachers receive a lifetime ban from teaching if they show a Veggietales Christmas video with Santa in it? If so, Beth, please schedule me to teach this Sunday, and make sure I have a DVD player!

4) Do any of the Christmas tree ornaments on any of the Christmas trees scattered throughout the church have an image of Santa on them?

5) If a cardboard cutout of Santa appears in the Wonders of Christmas three years from now, will we fire the entire production staff?

6) If Santa appears at the staff Christmas party (as used to be the tradition), will we have to fire the ENTIRE STAFF?!?

Needless to say, I was one of the many people who DID NOT VOTE on this motion at all. I'm not a big Santa fan, but that doesn't mean that we avoid him altogether. Most people in the US associate Christmas and Santa, even if they know the True meaning of Christmas. By putting in place the Santa Ban, we distance ourselves from a world that needs to know the True meaning of Christmas. How do we reach people who view us as irrelevant?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Watch the Game on

I've found that if a game is on ESPN, meaning its a Sunday Night Game, I can follow along at It gives a little play by play showing where the teams are lined up. I just saw Big Ben get sacked for a 9 yard loss, knocking them out of field goal range. Too bad, the Steelers may need that field goal tonight!

Big Ben

Hey, check it out, America's best rookie quarterback actually took some time to post on his blog! After a month and a half of nothing, he gave us a few paragraphs. He also gave us a link to his web site, but I'm sure Sven has already blown a wad there on the rookie cards!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still a die-hard Browns fan, but it is nice to see a player interact with fans, even if it is once every 90 days. It's also nice to see that lots of money doesn't mean a good internet connection!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Firefox and RSS

I've got to hand it to the folks at, Firefox is simply an awesome browser. I'm now using it for all my RSS feeds. It let's me keep track of a number of web sites and I only go to the new info that I want to see. With all of the extensions that they offer, Firefox is incredibly versatile. I'm growing to love it more all the time. I've now dumped both Newsfire and NetNewsWire Lite in favor of keeping my RSS feeds in my browser.

It's Saturday

It is the first Saturday in December, can you believe it? Nathan woke us up with a "sick tummy." By 7:30 he was in the tub for a massive cleaning job. He's been doing pretty good since about 9:30, though. Good thing. It seems like we're having lots of little sickness around here these days. Even the dog threw up today.

I was helping my mother in law land some tickets to see Josh Groban for my sister in law. Wow, what a pain. The site for ordering the tickets worked fine the other night when I was trying out another concert just to make sure it would work. Today, however, in the massive rush to get tickets, I couldn't make it happen. Once I got the "Buy Now" screen, I'd just get junk pages. I finally opened Internet Exploder and got in without a problem. I guess whoever designed their site forgot to use web standards, or something. There was nothing to indicate that IE was required, in fact, the other night was completely IE free (as is the VAST majority of my surfing), so I don't know what the deal was with the site today. Well, they still got seats on the floor, so that's not too bad.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Valley Side

Of course, after having a great day yesterday, Jill came down with a bug last night and today was mostly taking care of her and the boys. We accepted the offer on our house today and we're hoping to close by the end of the month. I did get some work done, and I got to take the boys to Menards and Home Depot to do it, so they had a blast checking out tools. A fellow customer at Home Depot commented, "Getting them started pretty early, eh?" Oh Yeah!

THE Site is Available

So, here I am cruising through my list of blogs, checking in on what's up with folks and...BAM...Brian McLaren's site is available for someone to take! Any takers for Sounds like a great place to take on some theology bloggers posting together!

What really blows me away, though, is that it's McLaren's site that's available. Here the guy has just published a book, is in demand all over the world as a speaker, is considered "THE" leader (humanly speaking) of the Emerging Church, and his site fails to get renewed! A third of the other blogs I visit carry his picture, he's THAT popular. Wow, I'm still in shock.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Huge Day in Review

Today turned into an unexpectedly great day. We were pretty much looking forward to playing in the snow and going to work, but it's turned into a lot more than that. First, the teacher of the construction class that works with me stopped by this morning and told me that he'd be bringing the class out to the home we're rehabbing. I've been waiting for them to show up for soooo long, I was shocked when he told me. It was especially good because he stopped by my house before school so I'd have the entire morning to prepare.

On another great note, we got an unexpected offer on our old house!! Woo-Hoo!! This is a HUGE answer to prayer. Not only do we end up getting what we were hoping for in terms of price, we also are selling it to a family! Based on its inner-city location, we have had far more investors walk through it than families, so we're VERY excited to be able to sell it to a family. Our old neighbors will be VERY glad too!

With all of that, and the great snow last night, this has been just an outstanding day!!

A Gentle Breeze...

The boys really loved it when I tossed a snow brush up into the branches and made the snow fall off. We measured 5 inches of snow on our picnic table first thing this morning, so even the smallest tree branches had plenty of snow just waiting to fall. The tap of the snow brush was plenty to make a small, short blizzard.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Hip Hip Hooray!
Originally uploaded by A Bob's Life in Pictures.
There are lots of things that get kids excited, but snow is one of the best! The boys were in glory today as they got to break out the snow suits and snow boots and head outside first thing this morning.

It snowed!

Originally uploaded by A Bob's Life in Pictures.
Here's a picture of the house after our first snow of the season. The boys will be going out to play in a little while, so they're pretty happy right now.


I was checking out the stats this morning, and found this. Three Cavs in the top 50, NO Bulls. NONE! Is it any wonder the Bulls can't win a game?

One other point, did you notice that LeBron James is leading the NBA in field goals? Kobe may have more points/game, but he's spending a lot of time at the free throw line. James is actually earning his baskets.