Friday, November 30, 2018

One Second Every Day

Today I met someone whose last day of work was today. Final days of a month are useful for that kind of thing. She plans to travel the country right away: Florida, Tennessee, California.

She also plans to document her journey in the mold of 1 Second Everyday. If one were to do that for an entire lifetime (~30,000 days), it would run for about 8 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

News of Interest

Rush-hour delivery: Woman gives birth in DC traffic — next to the Ellipse & White House

NASA is ready to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 40 years. It won’t be doing it alone, however. The agency is enlisting nine companies, large and small, to compete for a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

As a result, the average life span in America dropped to "78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016," said the report.

Note: The report attacks “a supposed Garden of Eden in East Africa.” To make a true comparison to the record in the Bible one would compare it to migrations after the Flood, which probably destroyed the Garden of Eden.

Speaking to CCTV state television, China’s vice minister of science and technology, Xu Nanping, said the government is strongly opposed to the project. Xu said the experiment “crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable,” as reported by AP.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Flying Back

Today is a return travel day.

On the one hand, it's a bit odd how driving 850 miles and flying 850 miles can both become the dominant part of one's day. Driving is significantly more draining, and leaves less margin for comfortably starting and ending one's day. In returning to the Washington, D.C., area, I'm thankful to avoid driving for 12 hours, and then hitting another 1.5 hours of stop-and-go traffic.

While I looked at the savings on air fares by delaying my return by a few days, in the rush to book the flight four weeks out while rates were still good, I forgot to run that calculation by the opportunity cost of what I could be making these days by returning earlier. I've set reminders for next year to check earlier, and to take more of these things into consideration.

This was a good trip. It actually turned out to be two Thanksgiving celebrations, one on Thursday and one on Saturday, full dinner and all. It was good to see family, see nieces and nephews who have gotten bigger, meet new members of the family, learn more about my parents that I didn't know before, and enjoy some games along the way. Thanksgiving is a blessed time of year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Day for Planning and Family

Sometimes it's important to make the most of time you have with family while you can.

I remember in 2006 I visited my grandparents in Wisconsin, and four days later, my grandmother had a stroke. Communication was very limited with her after that until her passing in 2013.

I expect this is my longest trip to Florida this year. I looked at my writing ideas, and today seems to be a good day to either schedule some ideas for future dates, consolidate ideas from Trello to a Google Doc, and in general trim down my Trello boards.

Earlier it was just time to help my dad a little with some of the extra work for disposal needed. You know you're in Florida when in late November after a cold front came through, a jacket and shorts are sufficient outerware for a brief stint of outdoor activity.

Monday, November 26, 2018

It's time for Congress to stop choosing death

As Congress returns briefly to end the year, an important question remains.

How is that with two years of Republican control of both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, the United States federal government is still giving millions of dollars every year directly to abortion providers?

I think there are two answers to this question.

First, the filibuster rules in the Senate mean without 60 pro-life votes for a super-majority in the Senate, those in favor of abortion can block legislation that would de-fund abortion providers.

Second, any serious attempt to pass legislation that removes abortion provider funding would face serious opposition. That would get as much attention as the Kavanaugh confirmation smear campaign.

Are pro-life members of Congress ready and willing to take on that fight? Some are. Others would prefer their pro-life positions get less attention. Some may wish to appear pro-life, but actually are not. Wherever one may think the votes are now, it's time for choosing.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Evacuation Day

Some holidays endure in American history; others are no longer celebrated with regularity.

For more than its first 100 years, America celebrated the final departure of the British. Evacuation Day was November 25, 1783. It was celebrated annually until World War I.

Friday, November 23, 2018

2 Things the Bible Says About Climate Change

Whenever the topic of climate change comes up, there are often two things from the Bible that come to my mind.

First, what we're seeing now or on the horizon is not a threat.

After the Flood, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease’” (Genesis 8:20-22). For those who predict disruption to ecological systems due to climate change, this rules out some of the more severe versions of that. We've still have droughts and floods, but nothing permanent on a global scale.

From around that early time in history we can read, “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’” (Job 38:8-11). In other words, sea level rise is not a threat, at least not of any catastrophic uninhabitable proportions.

Second, major global warming is coming.

At the other end of time on this earth, the book of Revelation talks about when there will indeed be climate change, but it's not from man or CO2.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful I don't have to measure my worth or my state in life only in terms of finances. Yes, one needs money to live, and I'm thankful my ends meet right now. If one were just to look at my income or my job titles, they wouldn't be all that impressive. I'm not trying to impress anyone either. Loving one another requires an outward focus anyway. I'm thankful for the many people I've gotten to know over the last few years.

I'm thankful we've been able to accomplish several major physical needs at the church building this year. Some of these were not planned like large sections of the roof which were damaged by wind in march and an office that got damaged by a leak exposed during excessive rain in May. The new boiler is in and operating, and the sanctuary is repainted.

One can also be thankful for the things one does not have. I'm thankful I don't have internet access directly in my home as that encourages me to read more books.

I'm thankful for time I'm able to spend with family, and meet new family members I have not yet met. I'm thankful I don't have to watch the news or be online in order to enjoy time with them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Traveling Light

When I booked my travel a few weeks ago, I didn't fully realize the airline based the price on having only one “personal item” and no carry-on. I didn't realize Orbitz included those kinds of carriers and mixed the apples with the oranges.

That's ok, though, because I had somewhat planned for travel like this at some point anyway, just not from a major airport. I already have about four days' worth of clothes at my destination, so I just need to pack for a couple days more and a few essentials and I should be all set. Without carrying anything for lunch and with only a backpack I may actually be traveling lighter to Florida than I do to work in a usual day, albeit with a different subset of things in tow.

In some ways, the challenge makes it fun. How much can I live without for a few days? And by “live without,” on some counts I may mean without packing things I usually pack and don't use on a trip anyway. For instance, if I want to take books along I'm not going to read, it's better to have them just taking up hard-drive space on a Kindle than having the physical books themselves.

Traveling light also shortens the amount of time needed to pack, too. It doesn't, though, necessarily shorten the amount of planning needed for packing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Characteristics of Progress

In The Third Wave, published in 1980, Alvin Toffler described world history in terms of three types of cultural arrangements, each successively displacing and replacing the previous.

After creation, and later expulsion from the Garden, men simply hunted and gathered what they needed. Some suspect Job may have lived during this time as housing structures were susceptible to major damage.

The first wave Toffler identifies is of a shift to an agricultural-based society. “Settling down” would have been much less defined prior to this time.

The second wave was the industrial age, as brought on by the industrial revolution. Mass production made things more accessible to everyone.

The third wave was his prediction of what technology, specifically that which can be controlled by software and language, would bring next: the information age. Why mass produce everything the same for everyone when you can customize goods and services for individuals?

I am interested not just in identifying the waves and their characteristics, but what the changes in those “waves” may have in common. From when I first read this book a couple decades ago, I remember two.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Compatibility

Whether it's to meet demand or fill a void, relationship assistance has proliferated. Many services tout their ability to profile people and carve them up into various factors and attributes which can then supposedly be matched with others for “compatibility.” The higher the percentage ranking of compatibility, the higher the likelihood of your relationship lasting “till death do us part.”

I remember a college chapel message in which Dr. Brown told us that he and his wife had been told they had one percent relationship compatibility. He then explained, it's not about how compatible you are, but how you handle the incompatible part. He is still married to the same woman as far as I know.

Even marriages with 99 percent compatibility have to face the other one percent at some point. That's when one's commitment is tested. Every relationship at some point will require endurance for a time. Even in those times the words of Paul, in concluding his words for husbands and wives in his letter to the Ephesians, are still true and wise advice: “let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Many Christs

A book excerpt on Matthew 24:3-5…
Coming In His Name

I believe the Bible contains an important passage, which clearly indicates a change of times and seasons may indeed be at hand. In Matthew 24:3-5, which is a chapter dealing with the tribulation period, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples concerning the signs of His coming and the end of the age:
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.
I have heard two interpretations of Jesus’ reply. The first interpretation asserts various individuals will claim to be the returning, incumbent Jesus Christ. The other view says a number of messiah figures will appear and gather followers to themselves in a similar fashion to cult leader Jim Jones or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the guru leader who set up his idea of utopia in Oregon. I now believe neither of these interpretations encompass the bigger picture. It is in light of numerous New Age statements that Matthew 24 takes on new significance.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Essence of Economics

In his forward to Wealth and Poverty, Steve Forbes wrote, "Economists ill-serve themselves by describing economics as being about the allocation of scarce resources. It is about the creation of resources."

He then gave an example: "Oil, for instance, is described as a natural resource. It isn't. In and of itself it is simply sticky glop. It was human ingenuity that turned this goo into something the world can't live without."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Salt in a Wound

It seems in time of abundance, understanding of the healing power of salt has been lost.

These days, most references to “salt in a wound” are meant something is taken as an insult. It's the sting at contact and nothing more.

After reading Salt: A World History several years ago, there's a reference to soldiers dying during the Civil War because they did not have salt for their wounds. They had nothing to arrest and stop the spread of infection.

It was a fascinating read about when salt was a rarity instead of a commodity for most of world history.

Jesus told his followers, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). I've often heard this preached describing salt as a seasoning—make things taste better—or as a preservative—make sure things don't rot. I've not heard it really taught as a healing agent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Asbestos

Having worked on managing a couple buildings now, I've learned how established a threat asbestos is to the cost of renovation projects, and its largely due to its health risks. It's still a high-revenue search term for Google.

In Mark Twain's essay on “The Turning-Point of My Life” he made reference to “Martin Luther and Joan of Arc” as having “temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos.” Having been written more than a few decades before many of the buildings I knew with asbestos, that led me to look up the word. In the definition I discovered why asbestos was used so commonly before its health risks were known: Asbestos is a fire retardant.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Economic Foundation of an Empire

In Life After Google, George Gilder makes the argument that Isaac Newton laid the economic foundation of the British Empire by establishing that gold was an irreversible element. Newton's was an accomplishment in information theory, specifically “the information theory of money.”

Having previously been one to dabble in alchemy, trying to make gold from lead and mercury, “The failure of his alchemy gave him—and the world—precious knowledge that no rival state or private bank, wielding whatever philosopher's stone, would succeed in making a better money.”

The result was, “The little island of Britain governed an empire larger and incomparably richer than Rome's.” Newton was appointed to the Royal Mint in 1696, and the value of the British pound was pegged to the value of gold. The gold standard came into effect.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Decision-Making

I tend to be an iterative decision-maker. On matters of high consequence and high visibility, I like to take my time and make sure I get the decision right, including on all matters of detail.

During the Apollo 11 mission, I read that Neil Armstrong took his time on deciding where to land on the moon, and that process went on much longer than anyone expected. It helped that lunar gravity wasn't pulling them down as fast as it would have on earth. Not having bodies of water or liquid also may have helped in the process.

While iterative processes hopefully lead to a better final product, they are also not for the faint of heart. It can be an exhausting process, especially when it includes navigating lots of opinions, variables, sources of input, and options. Hopefully in the end it will lead to a satisfactory outcome.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

I had occasion to thank several veterans for their service today, this Veterans Day. I had two grandfathers who were veterans of World War II.

Several of our Awana Club directors are veterans, and we had a chance to thank them for their service, both to our country and to the Lord.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Handwriting Analysis

The first time I encountered someone who knew about handwriting analysis, I was very dismissive. One of my professional coworkers had some kind of experience or training with the subject and after only a few examples of the specifics one can infer from a person's handwriting, I found its claims to be overly detailed in the extreme, and she made no further attempts to be informative on the subject. I still owe her an apology, though I don't remember her name.

The second time I encountered expertise on the subject was from someone who I knew to be highly credentialed, intelligent, and thoroughly knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects including many beyond his specific area of advanced education. I was very receptive to what he had to say. Learning about the range of knowledge one can glean from a person's handwriting far exceeded my expectations.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Language Learning

Spanish was my first language. My parents were missionaries in Venezuela, and as part of their practice and learning, they spoke only Spanish in our home. Some of my first words as a one-year-old were about things like turning the light on, turning the light off, etc.

Just before I turned two, my father died of an aortic aneurysm. This cut short our time on the field, so we came back to the States. Later my mother told me how at two years old I could tell we weren't talking like the people around us anymore, and I told her “Talk like they talk”; (“Habla como ellos”). I don't recall speaking any Spanish in our home until I formally studied Spanish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reverse Conversation Origins

85% of all believers ages 18-29 agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers

25% look for ways to share the gospel

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4, citing Christianity Today

At first it's tempting to point out that in nearly any conversation, there is some kind of topic that comes up which can be used to turn the conversation toward God and the Gospel.

And then I remind myself this is the same generation that struggles with conversations in general.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tuesday

Sometimes these posts are scheduled ahead of time. Others are written the same day. Today was a day I had left open thinking I would have a bit more free time than normal to work on writing.

Today was also a day on which I had piled everything else for the last several days, too. And then some things that normally happen in a week also landed on this afternoon.

I'm excited about several writing ideas to come, and given that we're back to standard time and closer to solar time, I'm ready for today to be done.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Match the Nature of Problems to their Solution

“Don't spiritualize management problems, and don't manage spiritual problems. Management problems have to be hit on the head with organization and excellence. Spiritual problems must be dealt with by prayer, God's word and faith.”

Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church

Source: On Mission, special issue 2017, volume 20, number 4


This sounds like really wise advice and perspective.

Not every problem is a “heart problem.”

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Generosity Evangelism

Pastor Roesel is speaking at my church this week. He is a big advocate of ministry evangelism, that is, meeting people's needs to help them see and come to know Jesus.

This man embodies a generosity mindset. When he retired, his church was giving away 65 percent of its budget and meeting the rest of its operating expenses with the remaining 35 percent.

He wrote a book called It's a God Thing: The Powerful Results of Ministry Evangelism. The Kindle version is free. I read it a week or two ago leading up to his coming.

Friday, November 2, 2018

News of Interest

'Colossal collapse' in gas prices expected heading into midterm elections

Millennial Men Leave Perplexing Hole in Hot U.S. Job Market
Ten years after the Great Recession, 25- to 34-year-old men are lagging in the workforce more than any other age and gender demographic. About 500,000 more would be punching the clock today had their employment rate returned to pre-downturn levels. Many, like Butcher, say they’re in training. Others report disability. All are missing out on a hot labor market and crucial years on the job, ones traditionally filled with the promotions and raises that build the foundation for a career.

5 countries—Russia, Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Brazil—contain 70% of the world's wilderness (excluding Antarctica).

Global Warming Damage
For many of the entities driving the global warming debate, the goal has never been about climate. Their long-term goal is to unite the world under a single socialistic government in which there is no capitalism, no democracy, and, ultimately, no freedom. United Nations’ treaties such as the Paris Agreement on climate change are the flagships of the global governance agenda. By controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they are in fact controlling the world’s energy since over 80% of our energy comes from CO2-emitting fossil fuels. And controlling the world’s energy effectively controls the world.

World's longest DNA sequence decoded
The advance is a technological one - this is about reading the DNA rather than the discovery of a particularly large genome. The DNA used for the long read came from a human. But the scientists hope the work will make it quicker and easier to sequence genetic information because, currently, DNA has to be chopped up into smaller pieces and then reassembled during the process of sequencing.

Roscosmos: An assembly error doomed our Soyuz, but we promise it won't happen again

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bedbugs

In his chapter on Interrogations, Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn described dozens of simple methods the communists would use in the Gulag to break a person. Some were psychological, some physical. Some would leave no mark on a person's body. And then there is number 23, the bedbug-infested box.
In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner's jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.
Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr. The Gulag Archipelago. Harper and Row, 1973. Page 113.

This reminds me of Jesus' description of hell: “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48). He used that phrase three times in a row which is a method of extreme reinforcement in the Scriptures.

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