Saturday, December 31, 2005

More Software

The little bit of web site work that I do has made me appreciate Dreamweaver a whole lot. Of course, even with a student discount, it was a hefty price tag. Today I discovered NVU (New View), an open source web design software. I downloaded it to the iBook to give it a try. I'm not sure that its as easy as Dreamweaver, but with a price tag of a donation, I can live with that. It will at least give me some web software on my iBook, even if I don't use it much.


I'm playing with Backpack right now. It's a Web 2.0 application for organization. It is very impressive. I've got a free account for the time being, but I can easily see myself moving to a paid account at some point, should my life require it. It can be used by an individual or by a group for a collaborative project. I'm thinking about using it with a project for the Folding team as it would be a great way to collaborate and edit our work as we go. It's very impressive. I even have the capability to email items to the pages, so if I think of something to add to my To Do list, I can simply send an email to that page and it gets added! It's a pretty awesome setup!!

The Register Star is a Joke

We were pretty heavily involved in helping a local hospital provide downpayment assistance to one of their employees. I learned my first lesson in dealing with the media...they really don't give a rip. When I sent an email to the paper because they had our organization's name wrong in the original online article, they didn't fix it. They deleted it. Now I know why I don't subscribe to the paper. They put a picture of our housing counselor on the front page of the Local section, and still didn't mention us at all in the print article. Pathetic. The news story should have been so much larger than it was.

The employer assistance from the State of Illinois is available to any employer in the state. Not only that, but the employer gets tax credits to help offset the cost. Even in the case in the article, the hospital will get $2,500 in tax credits. (Since the hospital is a non-profit, they can sell those credits for about 80 cents on the dollar...a for profit company can apply the credits to their state tax liability.) Not only that, but the employee receives homebuyer education, which has been shown to lower delinquency by nearly 40% when given by a non-profit like our organization.

The hospital did a great job, the State did a great job (IHDA), and Housing Action Illinois really pulled it all together. All in all, it was pretty painless to pull the state funding into the deal, and it helps offset the hospital's cost, improves the overall situation while adding a lot of additional downpayment assistance for the employee. It's a win-win-win-win situation!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

First Snowman

First Snowman
Originally uploaded by A Bob's Life in Pictures.
We haven't had really great packing snow in quite a while, and when we do, it doesn't seem to be much nor does it seem to stick around. This winter we've got it. A week ago the boys helped Jill build their first ever snowman! Jill could barely get the second layer up, but Nathan wanted to knock the whole thing down as soon as they finished!! Jill figured that for all the pain she felt, they had to leave it up a while. ;-)

Originally posted at The Dad's Group

Sunday, December 25, 2005


to YOU!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Is the Emerging Church for You?

Read here or here to find out.

Bob Does Linux

Yep, I've fired up two computers using Ubuntu. Ubuntu is supposed to be one of the easiest versions of Linux out there. While it is certainly workable, I am not convinced that it is easy to set up. My experience is that once a setup works, don't change anything!! Having said that, I can't say that I'm a big fan. I'll use it for computers that I set up for the sole purpose of Folding@Home. After all, it is free. If all I want to use a computer for is basic email and web surfing, it sure beats paying $100 for Windows. It's even better if I'm just going to use it for Folding for Team Mac OS X. All in all, I've now got two computers Folding with Linux down in my basement. It works faster than Windows 98, which isn't a big surprise, since Linux is reputed to be faster than Windows in general. In my case, I've got two computers with the same processor to compare, so I can say that Folding is faster in Linux than Win98.

If you don't know about Folding, it is a project from Stanford that uses your computer for scientific research into protein folding. Protein folding plays a role in some types of cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and more. Please check it out, and sign up for Team Mac OS X (Team # 1971).

Taking on Establishment

Jeremy is addressing the whole notion of popularized American christianity (I've decided it doesn't deserve a capital letter!). There's some good reminders from the Bible about the impact of Christianity on our lives and on that of the world around us.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Morning Temperature.png

Welcome to northern Illinois. Yes, the sun is shining, yes, it really is cold this morning. Although, it looks like we'll have to wait and see before we know if the snow on the ground will still be here for Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Who Joins The Marines?

A journalist, that's who.

Capital Hill Protest by Evangelical Leaders

When we were at the CCDA National Conference in November, Jim Wallis invited all of the attendees to take part in a protest at Capital Hill over the abuse being handed to the country's poor in the budget this year. Lots of evangelical leaders such as Wallis, John Perkins, and Mary Nelson took part. There were also a whole lot of other evangelical folks there as well. This picture is of fellow Evangelical Free Churcher Ron Tilley of Pennsylvania. He's among the EFCA folks we met in Indy. You can check out the protest here and here.

The Modern Exodus

The Ooze discusses the modern American Exodus. Apparently a group of "Christians" think that if they all move to South Carolina then they can take over the state government and eventually the national government. Sounds kind of like the radical element of Islam, eh? Anyway, the gist of the article is that it really doesn't matter if "Christians" take over any government. We've been claiming that we were founded as a "Christian" country to begin with, so what happened the first time around? Do we really honestly believe we're that much smarter than that first group? We look at the current state of the country, where 80% of the people claim to be Christians, and we are spending all our time getting bent out of shape over issues that are barely relevant. Anyway, check out the article.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Create ZIP Files Easily...

if you own a Mac, of course. It seems like this ought to be a common thing due to the quantity of email that gets sent around. The Mac does make it easy...its about time.

Create ZIP Files Easily...

if you own a Mac, of course. It seems like this ought to be a common thing due to the quantity of email that gets sent around. The Mac does make it easy...its about time.

What is the Emerging Church...Again

This topic will keep coming up, and now Jason Clark tackles the question.

Another Epiphany

The iMonk makes a lot of things known publicly, and it usually stirs up a lot of debate. I don't know if this one will or not, but its about time someone with a large readership published something like this. I've only been saying it for years, long before I started blogging.

Will The Real CEO Please Stand Up?

Bill Gates was recently named the world's most respected CEO, with only one problem...he's not a CEO. Michael Dell also made the list...he's also not a CEO. If you can't even figure out who's in charge, how on earth would you know if you've got a decent computer? Of course, Steve Jobs isn't just CEO of Apple Computer, he's all CEO of Pixar Films. Some guys can handle being at the top, some guys can't.

Calvin and Humor

If you love discussions of Calvinism, and you have a sense of humor, this post is for you. 25 ways to know you're going hyper. If you love discussions of Calvinism, but you don't have a sense of humor, stay away, you might be offended. As for me? I just enjoy the humor part, and its all there!

Missions in the Twenty First Century

Ryan Bolger, a missiologist at Fuller Theological Seminary, was interviewed about mission in the twenty first century. He posted the questions and answers for all to see. Its a very interesting interview. Exciting to think about the future. Of course, then you look at TallSkinnyKiwi's response to the question, "Who defines Orthodoxy?" and that adds a whole new dimension to the discussion. Could be an interesting century in Christianity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mortgages for Immigrants (Legal and Not)

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette published an article back in July that I ran across earlier today. It discusses the subject of ITIN mortgages, mortgages to immigrants who only have a temporary ID number (as opposed to a Social Security Number). All in all, I find it a fascinating subject. Banks are clamoring to start giving ITIN mortgages because the default rate is exceedingly low. Note the quote from the article:

In four years, Mitchell Bank has issued about 100 similar home loans, mainly to illegal immigrants, and says it has never experienced a default; it has recorded two late payments. The average household income of borrowers is $30,000 annually, for mortgages ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. Thanks to its outreach to Latino immigrants, including many illegal ones, Mitchell Bank is recording 4.5 times more transactions and at least that much more traffic at its three branches than a few years ago. It is looking for a site to open a new branch in nearby Waukesha, which has a fast-growing Hispanic population. "Our portfolio is evidence that the undocumented are model customers," says Jeff Bowman, president of Mitchell Bank.

Only two late payments out of 100 loans!!! That is amazing.

Jill and I were discussing the whole subject of illegal immigrants in the US. Often they are paying into Social Security with no hope of benefitting from it. If you thought Social Security was in trouble before, just imagine that there were no illegal immigrants paying in like this (Jill heard a discussion on this on NPR). One of the difficult issues with illegal immigrants is that they provide a lot of benefit to the US. Maybe that's why the US government is willing to help them buy homes?

The Weather

The weather forecast for tomorrow is snow. Three to six inches. Depending on when the freezing rain starts. Should be a fun day. Not.

Oh, did I mention the 30 mile/hour wind gusts?

Monday, December 12, 2005

What is the Gospel?

I haven't read the whole article, but I'm liking where its starting. Scot McKnight has written this article for Next-Wave Ezine.

Preacher Idol

Another post that made me laugh.

Pastors are Introverts

This is not a big surprise to me. We've set up theology to be a thinking man's domain, then complain when the pastor isn't exciting enough. If we could keep action in our theology, perhaps we'd have more action in our pulpits and homes.

I struggle with this too, because I'm a bit more of an introvert myself. There are a lot of days I'd just as soon be left alone. Now imagine that a bunch of the people who hired me didn't like me anymore (another post I saw tonight mentioned that 1,400 pastors leave their churches every month). Then I'd want to spend even more time being left alone.

The Justice in Cotton

Inevitably, Keith blows me away. This is a serious look at the impact of subsidies on impoverished nations. Keith focuses on Burkina Faso, where his heart is, but this applies to other nations as well. We spend a ton of money keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, then hand out a pitance and call it charity.

A New Look at Rudolph

Abner has a great look at Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I laughed out loud at #4. Glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time, my nose would've hurt.

Missionaries Get Emerging Church

Jill and I have believed this for a long time. We had some missionary friends visit this past summer and the conversation came up. They couldn't figure out what the deal was with criticizing Brian McLaren. From their perspective he was just doing what any good missionary does.

How to Conversate...

or something like that. Anyway, Scot McKnight is posting on how emerging church types can have conversations with evangelicals. Weird how many people fit both categories.

Like To Drive? Need a Job?

The Crystal Cathedral is hiring.

No Church on Christmas

Tons of bloggers are posting on the mega-churches that aren't having a service on Christmas day. Most of them are bemoaning the fact that their doors will be best. Some are close to pronouncing heresy. iMonk, who a month ago was repenting for going into ministry because it took time away from his family, blasts churches that are closed on Christmas day out of concern for taking time away from their families. Sven isn't too happy about it either. Jeremy isn't quite sure what to think. Personally, I think its up to those churches. They know their congregations better than I do. It wouldn't fly at my church, but then, my church has lots of Swedes who celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve, not on Christmas day, so going to church would fit in just fine without interfering with their family celebration. For churces in the suburbs (like Willow Creek), its a whole different set of circumstances. Having family in the Chicagoland area doesn't mean they're within an hour of home. I'd guess there are also a higher percentage of families that will have to travel out of state to visit relatives. A lot of people are shocked to learn that there are so many people in our area that celebrate on Christmas eve. Apparently its not a common thing outside of certain communities. Its very common here, and always has been.

One other thing about all the complaining about churches being closed on Christmas. A lot of the complainers are chalking it up to being "seeker sensitive." I guess its just me, but I never thought of Charles Stanley's church as being a "seeker sensitive" church. I know it fits some of the churches being talked about, but definitely not all of them. Some people just like to gripe about "seeker sensitive" churches because they are easy targets. They aren't "old school" churches. I'm not convinced that that is a bad thing. I tend to think that we should be very careful about harping on what God is doing in other churches. There are a whole lot of people coming to Christ in "seeker sensitive" churches. They might not have classes like "How to be a hard-core Calvinist (or Arminian)," but I'm not sure that is how God defines a good church or a good Christian. There are some people who are pretty hard-core about their theology, but only in theory. Their attitude shows that Love is not a part of their lives. Hmm...a little more of a rant than I intended. Anyway...

We're going to my folks for Christmas on Saturday, then church on Saturday night. Sunday will be spent with Jill's family (no church). Usually its the other way around since her family has some of those Swedish traditions, but my folks are going to be leaving to visit family out of state. It'll be weird being with my family the day before Christmas and Jill's family on Christmas, but our tradition isn't really changing, just the family we're spending it with. Me? I'm just looking forward to having a long weekend and a chance to kick back a little.

eBay Fooled by Phisher

ComputerWorld is among the sources reporting on a phishing scam that was so good that it fooled eBay's fraud investigations team. If you ever thought you needed to be careful, Christmas is the time to be doubly alert. The email had been reported to eBay by a columnist for ComputerWorld. When he received a message from eBay reporting that it was legitimate, he was incredulous. He wrote back stating that the website that the email pointed to was obviously fraudulent, and it turned out he was right!

If you think you're good with computers, don't get too carried away. Even the pros get fooled sometimes!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

Last night we went to see the Chronicles of Narnia. I'm not much of a movie reviewer, and I remember very little from the book, though I only read it a few years ago. Given that, I can only talk about the movie from the movie perspective since I have no idea how it compared to the book.

The filming was sometimes fantastic and sometimes pathetic. There were a few times when the movie had a "Sounds of Music" quality. I don't mean that in a positive way. What I mean is that there would be scenes of the kids out in the beautiful surroundings, followed by a closeup that looked totally canned. They were obviously moved into a studio with an ugly backdrop behind them. Those moments were really bad because I didn't pay attention to what was being said because all I could think was, "That was acceptable in movies forty years ago, but that's terrible by today's standards!" At other times it was simply outstanding cinematography that captured the imagination.

The movie itself did a great job of capturing the allegory of Christ's death and resurrection. That actually came across as the clear point of the movie.

Overall, we really enjoyed it and recommend it. A bit much for children, but junior highers could handle it without a problem.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Coconut Identity Card

I followed Sven's lead and gave Coconut Identity Card a try. My Mac mini was built in the USA between February 2 and February 13 of 2005. How cool is that? Of course, you can't do that with a PC, because your PC may have been built in your neighbor's basement. Let's face it, anyone can build one, so there's not a simple way of determining this data on PC's. Your iPod, however, is totally different. If your iPod is plugged in with Coconut Identity Card already on, then you can find out when and where your iPod was built. You just have to have a Mac to do it. Thanks Sven, and mark this day, a computer was built in the good ol' USA!!

Yesterday I received an email with various news items. This one stood out to me:

The House of Representatives has voted in favor of establishing a long-overdue Affordable Housing Fund. Those affected by Hurricane Katrina are to receive priority.

But many community-based nonprofits will not be able to receive the funds if the Senate follows the House’s lead.

That’s because hidden away in HR 1461 is an antivoter gag rule. Proposed by Representative Michael Oxley (R?OH), the so-called Manager’s Amendment states that no organization can receive money from the Affordable Housing Fund if it engages in voter registration, voter identification, or get-out-the-vote activity, even of a nonpartisan nature; if it has engaged in such activity in the 12 months before applying for funding; or if it affiliates with any organization that engages in such activity. Affiliation is defined very broadly; the amendment explicitly names overlapping board memberships and sharing of supplies as indicators of an affiliate relationship.

HR 1461 was passed by the House on October 26 and will now be taken up by the Senate, whose version of the bill, S 190, does not yet contains a gag rule provision.

It is highly ironic that organizations that work to help at risk neighborhoods are being punished if they encourage people to vote by helping them register. I know of a local non-profit that had a resident-organized voting drive. Local politicos would come in and call bingo and there was a voter registration table out in the hallway. The politicos included most major office holders, regardless of political party or leaning. This type of activity would put an organization at risk of losing funding. That's an embarrassment.

Originally posted at my work blog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's One

I was talking to Sven about Jill's web site for work. When I called, the first question out of his mouth was, "How cold is it there?" I guess being in northern California, midwestern winters are an intriguing thing. I pulled up Dashboard and told him it was one. I have to confess, "one" sounded like the loneliest number when I said that. Of course, its now an hour later, and the temperature has dropped two degrees. I'd just like to know how the temperature can be less than nothing. Has anyone else wondered that?

Hanging with Santa

On Sunday we took the boys in to Sunny Ridge, the adoption agency we've worked with. We're not big Santa folks, but thought it would be a fun event and a chance to take the boys back to where we first met them to bring them home. Nathan was totally psyched about the whole thing. It was finally our turn to go see Santa and Nathan was speechless. It was the first time we have ever seen him go totally blank. He was asked what he wanted for Christmas, and he couldn't think of a single thing!!! He was encouraged to make out a list and mail it back to Santa. On the way home he asked if he could do that as soon as we got home. I don't think its happened yet, though. ;-)

Originally posted at The Dad's Group.

True Story

This morning I was in line at the gas station with a Mountain Dew in hand. The boys had been up a lot in the night and I had an early morning meeting. The lady at the front of the line was requesting more and more lottery tickets. The fellow in between us looked at her, then turned around and looked at me. He looked back and forth a couple times, implying that he was amazed at the lottery purchase he was observing. I'd just shrug when he'd look at me. When the damage was done, the cashier said, "That'll be $130, please." Now the man was about to start jumping up and down. After she left he walked up to the counter and said, "I can think of a lot better ways to spend $130! I'll take three packs of Menthol Lights." I nearly started to jump up and down!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sven Can Gripe!

Finally, a place where Sven can gripe about software for the Mac!! Sven always seems to find the quirks that either don't bother anyone else or aren't even known to anyone else. has just the place for him to let loose!! ;-)

iTMS Offers Knight Rider Season 1

MacMerc has posted the picture. Can you even believe its true?!? The 80's hits the 21st century!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Online Service Dumped

After having withdrawals taken out of the wrong account two months in a row, I've dumped MyCheckFree. The idea behind using online bill paying services is that you save money on stamps. I've now paid enough in bounced check fees to pay for stamps for the next few years. Since I can't afford to keep that up, and since I haven't gotten satisfactory response, MyCheckFree is now free of me.