Monday, May 30, 2005

Back to School

Tomorrow is the first day of summer classes. Class for the summer? Ethics and Professional Leadership. Should be interesting and fun!

A Heretic?

I'm very slow to label someone a heretic. I figure that that moves into very dangerous territory. I'm trying to figure out why so many people are so quick to label Brian McLaren a heretic. Granted, I'm only about 80 pages into A Generous Orthodoxy, but I'm just not seeing it. I read his blog, but I'm just not seeing it. He tends not to use some of the catch phrases that people look for when they want to see if a person is legitimate, but I don't think that puts him in the camp of heretics.

Interestingly, when Jesus talked about an unpardonable sin, he was talking about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. What he defined as the sin (if my memory serves correctly, I'm typing in the dark) was a claim that something was not of God when, in fact, it was. That is the trouble with labeling someone as a heretic. If the Holy Spirit is working through someone, calling them a heretic makes that accuser guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. THAT is scary stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I think there is a need for clarification with some of McLaren's writings. He is very vague on too many things. Being vague and being a heretic are two very different things, however (and remember, I'm only 80 pages into one of his books). I would guess that John Calvin was quite surprised when (if?) he got to heaven and found out that a few people he had burned at the stake were already in glory, in spite of his opinion that they were heretics.

Conclusion? Be slow to judge, be quick to give grace. Weird, it seems as though some Guy from Nazareth practiced that...

The Perfect House

Chicago-style bungalows are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. They are, in my opinion, the perfect house. We've got some good friends on Chicago's south side who have owned a bungalow for quite a few years now. I have never seen a more perfectly designed home in my life...ever...anywhere! Their home is a basic one story with 3 bedrooms, a full bath, kitchen, dining room and living room. Here's the catch. If that's not enough space, finish the basement. Our friends have three bedrooms and a full bath in the basement, plus the mechanical room and a tv/sitting area at the bottom of the stairs (that's as big as a bedroom). Wait! Still short on space? The Chicago style bungalow is 1.5 stories tall. That means that additional space can be finished upstairs. I've looked at the attic with our friends as they have talked about finishing it. I think they could get a bathroom and two bedrooms comfortably upstairs. Suddenly that 3 bedroom house with a full bath, kitchen, dining room, and living room is a home with the same kitchen, dining room and living room, but it also has eight bedrooms, three bathrooms and a tv/sitting room. And yes, it can fit on a lot that is only 25 feet wide!!! THAT is the perfect home!

Do You Ubuntu?

I downloaded Ubuntu Linux last night and gave it an install on our old 12" HP laptop. My initial thoughts? Why does it only use 60% of the screen?!? It's a 12" screen to begin with, but Ubuntu leaves a 1-1.5" border all the way around the outside edge. I tried changing the screen resolution, but I only had one choice, and it was already selected. There were drop down menus that dropped out of site and I couldn't even see all my choices! Second, the reason I installed this over the old Windows 98 is that I was sick of trying to figure out where to put the info I needed to get Windows to connect to the internet. It seems that Ubuntu's "Find settings automatically" feature works about as good as Windows 98. In other words, it doesn't seem to work. All that said, I'm not nearly good enough on computers to want to dink around with these types of problems all the time. It really shouldn't be that hard. Isn't there something that "just works?" Oh yeah, my two Macs! I'll spend a little bit of time searching the Ubuntu site for help, but it really isn't worth too much hassle. The worst case scenario is that I'll reinstall Win 98 and throw the laptop back on a shelf. Seems to be at its best when its off.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Scoble on Spyware

Robert Scoble is right, spyware is terrible. He's also right in that a solution will be coming that won't involve buying a Macintosh. Buying a Mac is the solution that ALREADY exists.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

McLaren, Campbell, and Starbucks

Can you see this one happening in church on Sunday?

What's the Value?

Here's the question I'm asking: What is the value in being a member of a church?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blackmailed Lately?

Yes, there is yet another reason to use a Macintosh computer. This one is blackmail. The BBC is reporting that a malicious piece of software exploits Internet Explorer to get onto a computer and then it locks up files so that the user cannot access them. It leaves a text message telling the user where to send money online in order to get the code necessary to unlock the files. And you use Windows why?


I heard a saying a few years ago that goes like this: Love without truth is a lie and truth without love is abuse.

So, why is it that people always emphasize one over the other? People go through life looking for love, even if its found in deception. People go through life handing out their truth with a sledge hammer. The Church is pretty good at the second one. We have put so much emphasis on being right that we have forgotten how to love. Kind of sad, since Christ spent his time on earth with tax-collectors and sinners. It's time for the Church to practice truth WITH love. Don't water down the truth, don't hide the love. Sometimes I would love to invite people to church, but then I'm afraid they'd see a business meeting.

I'm Not a Space Nut, But...

this is very cool!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Reality Store

A couple of middle schools in our local school district are wrapping up school-wide lessons on handling personal finances. Its about time schools get into this. Parents are horrible at teaching personal finance, and most parents don't know enough about it to be able to teach it anyway. I know that my dad always tried to teach us how to handle money well, but it was usually beyond the level we were at. It dealt with investing money, not the day-to-day handling of it. Fortunately I haven't made too many serious mistakes.

I met a few folks when I went back to school in the mid-90's who had already toasted their credit. One friend was told by her ex-boyfriend that no one would ever marry her because they wouldn't want to take on that level of debt. She had maxed out 11 credit cards by her junior year of college. The article I linked to earlier made the comment that a card with a $2,000 limit takes 16 years to pay off if a person makes the minimum payment and doesn't add any additional charges once they've maxed it. That $2,000 in purchasing power ends up costing $4,500 when its all said and done.

So, what ideas are out there for teaching our kids about proper money handling?

Originally posted at The Dad's Group

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bruderhof's Daily Dig

I get an email a day from Bruderhof with a quote. Today's was too good not to post:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint; therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

-Reinhold Niebuhr

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Tiger at Home

I finally got Tiger loaded on my computers. Tiger is the newest version of the Macintosh operating system. I've gotta say that it is awesome. Spotlight is truly an incredible thing. This is the search function that everyone else seems to be promising, but Apple has actually delivered. Look up anything in any document on your computer. It will find it. A set of words buried in the middle of a document? No problem, Spotlight will take you there! The other piece that people have been talking about is Dashboard. This allows small pieces of software to run in the background, but you can pull them up with a click of the mouse. It's a pretty cool bit of technology. Apple is far from the first with this type of program, but I must confess something, while I think it's cool, I'm sure glad I didn't pay money for software that did the same thing. I just don't use it enough to have justified buying it alone.

Other thoughts? Mail has a huge header, but hardly anything in it. It's not a problem, just slightly annoying. I'm sure I can fix that, but at this point, it just hasn't been worth the time. All in all, I really haven't spent a lot of time poking around. All of my software works fine (Firefox works better, but since I was getting a bit annoyed with it, that just means its functioning). Safari now has built in RSS. I haven't spent much time with it. I've gotten so used to Firefox's rendering of RSS that the Safari version doesn't hold much interest for me. There's a lot more reading. All in all, I found it worth the upgrade. Of course, I got an educational discount. I'm not so sure it was worth it if I had paid full price. Some great new features, but I'm not finding myself using them enough to justify $129.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Item in the Header

You'll notice that I've finally sat down and figured out how to add my Folding Team's logo to my blog. I even put it right up front. Since I'm pretty much a novice at anything to do with web design, it took me quite a bit longer than it would have taken most folks. Fortunately I was able to pull out a Christmas present to help me figure it all out.

For those new to my blog, Folding@Home is a distributed computing effort from Stanford University. Researchers are studying how proteins fold so that they can better understand how the process plays a role in disease, specifically in certain types of cancer, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, and Alzheimers. Stanford created a competition amongst teams in a recruiting effort. Team Mac OS X is ranked number 11 (out of a couple thousand teams), and we're looking to move up the ranks. Unlike most teams out there, though, we're pretty platform neutral (contrary to the name!) and a couple team members have created installation software to help in the process of getting started (look here). The some software is designed for Windows, other software is designed for Mac OS X. I've used both and recommend that you take advantage of the easy methods of getting started. The Folding software itself is designed to scale back when you are using your computer, so you'll never even notice a performance hit.

Join the battle against disease, Fold for Team Mac OS X!!

Where I'd Fit Best

This really isn't a shocker, but here are the results of what city I'd fit in best. I can't imagine life without a serious season change, and I mean more than "Rainy Season!" Winter is just too cool (pun intended) to skip out on.

American Cities That Best Fit You:

70% Chicago

60% Atlanta

55% Philadelphia

50% New York City

45% Austin

Thanks to Marla for the link, she always finds the best online quizzes!

Monday, May 16, 2005

No Trial, Just Jail? Must Be France!

My internet friend, Shelby-Jeanne, was able to rejoice at church yesterday when some dear friends walked into the service after spending 8 months in jail. Apparently someone gave the family's daughter something that had been stolen. Since the family didn't have their French papers at that moment, they were thrown into jail (the whole family!) until they were found innocent last week. They were never given a trial or a lawyer, just jail.

You know, the BBC is ragging on the US for being behind most of Europe in the opportunities for women (based on standards that would require the 50% income tax rate that much of Europe seems to pay), but hey, at least we provide lawyers for people charged with a crime!

British Man Fights for Right to Live

Here in the States, the fight tends to go the other way, people want the right to die. In Britain, however, people have to fight for the right to live. Mr. Leslie Burke won the right to live last year when a court agreed that he should be given food and water when his degenerative disease has progressed to the point where he can no longer speak. Apparently, the General Medical Council (GMC) advises doctors to withdraw food and drink from a patient with Mr. Burke's condition when they can no longer speak, allowing them to die even though they are fully aware of what is happening to them and around them. Mr. Burke didn't like that idea. The GMC is appealing the ruling.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Doubly Positive

Thanks to Ken, a fellow Folder for Team Mac OS X for this one. He posted it in our forums back before I was a part of the team. This one is laugh-out-loud funny!

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive."

"In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative."

"However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

BusinessWeek on Church points to the cover story on BusinessWeek. The mag takes a look at the evangelical business machine, noting that Willow Creek is in the top 5% of major brand names in the US. notes, at the end of their blurb, that "aside from that it's your typical megachurch philosophy: no pews, no crosses, positive preaching and in the case of (Joel) Osteen and Creflo A. Dollar, the prosperity gospel." Interesting, and somewhat depressing, in my opinion.

Throwing Helicopters

Today is the first day I've been home and not had a lot of school work to do in several weeks, so we headed outside this morning since rain is supposed to hit this afternoon. After getting some yard work done, I got out a broom and swept a bunch of "helicopters" (aka maple tree seeds) into a big pile and threw them up into the air. The boys got a huge kick out of it and immediately came running so they could take part in the fun too. They were probably throwing helicopters for 10 minutes. Isaac even ran up to the front of the house to show Jill his cool new "trick."

Originally posted at The Dad's Group.

Gates Is Speaking Too Early

Bill Gates has publicly joined the pundits who say that Apple will hurt the iPod by keeping it locked into their software just as they lost the desktop market by doing the same thing. I think he's wrong. First, unlike the pc market, there are no IT departments telling me what type of mp3 player I have to buy. Second, mp3 players are not software. You cannot simply buy some software and stick it on your player. In the pc market, Windows came to the fore in part because people could install it on the computers that they already owned. Not so with mp3 players. Here you MUST buy the hardware too. Third, being extremely strong in one segment of a large and diverse market (graphic based computer segment when most computers were command line) is much different than being extremely strong in ALL existing segments of a small and homogenous market (there are hard drive players and flash based players, and Apple owns both segments).

Oh, and did Bill just happen to forget to mention that he and Microsoft have something at stake? Kind of like mudslinging in politics, isn't it? Can't brag on what he's got, so he's got to trash the opponent.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Times They Are A-Changin'

It's now official, on July 5th I'll be starting a new job as the executive director of the Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition. Leaving Zion will be tough, as I've not only loved the job, but I've also been able to work with good friends for the last five years (my longest tenure anywhere!). Ah, well, I'm looking forward to the new opportunities.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Tickets to Tiger

Tickets to Tiger
Originally uploaded by A Bob's Life in Pictures.
I'm finally posting my proof. My brother and I got over to the Apple Store on the opening night of Tiger. Here are our scratch & win cards. We both one a free song on iTunes. We hit the store in Lyndhurst, OH, outside of Cleveland.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Firefox Issues & Rude Customer Service

I've been having some minor issues with Firefox for the last week or so. They're slightly irritating, so I thought I'd go to their forums to look for a fix. I went to this forum and decided that I just didn't want their help! These moderators are simply RUDE!! No thanks! If someone is using a product that you believe in enough to help out in the forums, then don't trash people when they want help! I was shocked that they would even pretend that this is a support page. I started to register with the site so I could post a complaint, but I figure it'd just get deleted anyway, so I backed out and won't be back. If I can't figure out the issue on my own, then I'll be pulling Firefox off of my Macs (its still fine in Windows) and go back to Safari. It may be a bit of a hassle due to my bookmarks, but it would sure beat asking a question from the Firefox support team!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Adoption vs. How Many Children Should a "Christian" Family Have?

Marla has opened the can of worms, and folks are jumping in on all sides (you can read the condensed version of my rant on the subject there as well.

There is a larger than necessary segment of Christians (Protestant and Catholic) who tend to believe that all birth control is "sin." They believe that Christians should go on having children until they aren't capable anymore. The idea is to have a "quiverful" (read the comments at the above post).

Now, Jill and I have two boys, both by means of adoption. Yes, we are planning to adopt another. Yes, we have turned down opportunities to adopt, not due to the child, but due to our own situation (he was adopted by another family in our church and is in the nursery at church with our son, his biological sibling!). Coming from the adoption side of things, my reaction in reading about the "quiverful" theology is anger. Not at the use (some would say abuse) of Scripture, but at the hypocrisy.

The first comment at Marla's site agrees with Marla that stewardship is important and then goes on to state that having lots of children is a blessing. I'll agree with both of those statements. That does not negate the thought, however, that having NO children is also a blessing. It does not negate the thought that having only one child is a blessing. It does not negate that being single and childless is a blessing. I could go on and on here, so I'll stop this line of thinking.

I would also argue, however, that if you are going to say that having many children is a blessing and that stewardship is important, then adopting African-American and/or handicapped children is the best way to be both a good steward and to be blessed. These are the children who are the hardest to place, they are the least expensive to adopt, and the cost of the adoption is often reimbursed over several years by the federal government in the form of the adoption tax credit (we have gotten more money returned to us via tax refunds than we paid in to the system since Nathan was adopted three years ago). In other words, the adoptions often turn out to be free (or extremely low cost). Add in the fact that my wife didn't miss work for pregnancy leave (which would have cost us income) and that her health wasn't at risk as a result of a pregnancy, and there are a couple more benefits.

So, if you really believe in having a "quiverful," and you think you should be a good steward, then I've just given you the solution. Of course, I don't really expect many people to change their minds on this issue. I can hear it now, "Adoption is a calling!" Yeah, and having 2 children instead of 10 isn't? C'mon, be consistent!

Cheap Gas, But Who Wants It?

I saw gas at $1.97 this morning, so I thought I'd take advantage and get a Dew at the same time. My wife's van was half empty, so it was a worthwhile venture, or so I assumed. I pulled into a pump right in the middle thinking that I wouldn't have to prepay. I got out, hit the "Pay Inside" button, opened my tank, selected my gas grade and waited. I then noticed the LCD screen telling me I had to prepay at that pump. Prepay at the middle pump?!? OK, I'll skip the Dew. I inserted my credit card and waited. It asked if I wanted to use a debit card. Um...I just inserted a credit card, why would I want that? No. Do I want a car wash? I just had it washed! No. Do I want a receipt. Actually, at this point I just want gas. Oh well, Yes. Now I'm supposed to take out the nozzle and lift the handle. The nozzle is already in my gas tank and the handle is already raised. I lower the handle and raise it again. The pump tells me to swipe my card. I lowered the handle, replaced the nozzle and left. My wife's tank is half full, after all.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm Still Around

After spending five days on the road with little or no internet access, I'm finally home and back online. We borrowed an older laptop with Windows 98 and it became very clear that Windows 98 was not designed for laptops. At least, not for laptops that leave the house or office. We got connectivity for a combined total of about 10 minutes, though we tried in every hotel room we stayed in. The ten minutes was after a call to tech support and it came in two five minute chunks. Ah, the joys of Windows...

We had a great time. The boys were swimming every day. Nathan can swim without any help if we put water wings on him. He usually wears a floating ring around his waste and chest as well, but that's actually not a requirement. He loves the water!! Isaac can also swim with the ring and water wings, but he'd rather cling to someone, so he usually does that, though Jill and I push him back and forth between us and he enjoys that as well. He's actually a bit more of a natural swimmer than Nathan. Nathan tries to run in the water.

Anyway, I'm back and ready for another day at work. I'm sure that most of my day will be spent picking up the pieces of being out of the office for three days, but that's the price I pay.

One last thing, if you're driving through Indiana, the Hampton Inn in LaPorte is a great place to stop for the night. It's about 30 minutes west of South Bend, significantly cheaper and very comfortable and quiet. We got a two room suite which was very nice and still under $100 after taxes. So, there's my room recommendation from the trip.