March 30, 2010

No Way

This is the "future" of TV watching?
3dglasses.jpg
I think not.

December 4, 2009

How Computers Think


A good reminder of what happens when we become careless with technology. I needed to convert temperature from degrees Celsius to degrees Fahrenheit. Out comes the trusty TI-85 calculator. Bring up the conversion menu, and into the temperature subsection. I entered my conversion:

-30 C > F

and get back -86. Almost subconsciously, this answer struck me as incorrect. A sanity check with a co-worker confirmed my suspicion that it was indeed incorrect. What was going on? After pondering, I tried the conversion again in a slightly different manner:

(-30) C > F

this time getting back -22. A quick check using the conversion formula itself:

TF=95*TC+32

verified the answer:

TF=95*(-30)+32=-22

So what happened? It turns out that in the first attempt, my trusty TI was really doing this:

-1*(30 C > F)

TI should warn users about this. Maybe they do. It has been a long time since I opened that user manual. I wonder how this works on RPN-style calculators? Or if this behavior is corrected or accounted for on the newer models like the TI-86?

October 26, 2009

Some Funny

I have been doing awful at making regular posts obviously. I am going to try to do better, starting today. Here is something short, but I thought it was pretty funny:

Here's another good one:

And, yes, they are both for real. Thanks to Rick & Bubba for pointing these out. Enjoy.

May 27, 2009

Just Baffling

Having never been a waiter, I do not have the insider knowledge needed to answer the following question:

Frequently, when my family and I go out to eat, after the host/hostess has seated us, and the waiter/waitress has taken our beverage orders and returned with our beverages, why does said waiter/waitress ask if we need a few more minutes to decide what to order, and then give us a full 10 or 15 minutes?

I am just curious.

May 23, 2009

They Made It Dumber

I saw the new Star Trek movie a few days after it opened. Though I found it entertaining, I came away from watching it certain that something was wrong. I was unable to put my finger on it. For this reason, I was reluctant to even call it good.

So, last night I watched it again, determined to figure out what the problem was. The friends that accompanied me picked up on it in one viewing. The writers have dumbed down Star Trek. It was nothing more than almost purely an action flick. Guns blazing, almost start to finish. Gone was the science phrases and "techno babble." Out of the TV shows, Voyager was the most well known for this. Other issues with that show aside, the tech-talk always appealed to me. But, it was completely absent from the new movie.

I guess this was the effort of the writers to draw in people who have never watched Trek before. I would say it is a pretty decent movie. I am curious to see what direction the new keepers of the franchise will take.

May 7, 2009

This Is Our Legacy?

My family and I recently took our annual vacation. More on that to come. On our trip, we used some model of Garmin GPS to help us not get lost (most of the time). I noticed that the unit occasionally mis-pronounced things. For example, it told me to turn onto "Old Keene Road." I suspect that the last "e" in "Keene" is silent, but the unit pronounced it like it had a "y" at the end: "Keeny" or maybe "Keeney." There were other instances that I can no longer recall.

I found this sad. Why? Suppose one day humans are wiped out by intelligent robots and computers. We will have left behind robots and computers that do not even know how to pronounce things!

Not that I believe robots and computers will wipe out humans.

April 9, 2009

Update To MT 4.25

I finished running an update on the site this morning. I know posts have been infrequent. I am working to change that. After all, I recently chose to continue the existence of this site (i.e., paid a healthy chunk of money to preserve my web presence). I have several ideas jotted down typed on virtual sticky notes for new posts. Time to write has been the tricky part.

The update should be pretty much transparent to my fledgling readership. I thought for sure this update would break the "look and feel," but thankfully that was not the case. However, I realize an update might be in order. I will have to ponder that.

Anyway, stay tuned. I should have some new posts up soon.

February 19, 2009

A Lack Of Famous Quotes

I know, it has been a long time since I posted. My apologies! However, I am certain the world has gotten on just fine without my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. A few of my readers have been asking why there has been nothing new on this site lately, so I will try to get back to posting more frequently.

It occurred to me this past week that no one says anything memorable any more. We seem to remember famous and important persons' many gaffes, but no one says anything good. At least, that is my perception. Maybe I have missed a recent, good, inspirational quote.

Thankfully, there are many good ones from days of old. In light of the continued unconstitutional actions of U.S. lawmakers this week, I thought I would share this one that wandered into my email inbox:

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

Though I enjoy good sausage, I have strong doubts that the "sausage" lawmakers created and passed this week will be a good one. This quote comes to us from Otto von Bismarck, who I admit I know nothing about other than that he was a German Chancellor. So, a little disclaimer: I know nothing of Bismarck's character, I just thought it was a good quote. Of course, we could all learn more here. And in my effort to continue to learn more history, and enjoy it, I will soon read that page myself.

October 17, 2008

Rules For Cell Phone Reviews

I am in the market for a new cell phone or two. In the past, I have been careless and bought a phone that just seemed cool and ended up being an expensive piece of junk. Now when I phone shop, I do thorough reviews and search for any and all information about prospective phone candidates (if I can get the user's manual, which I usually can, that is excellent!). Ultimately, I rely on reviews by owners. Both Amazon.com and Phonescoop are really good sources for these reviews. I just think there should be some rules for reviewers:

1) Reviewers should state their age: teenagers write very different reviews compared to grown up kids adults who write very different reviews compared to nerds gadget geeks. I can usually tell which ones are written by the teenagers because they leave the ubiquitous comment about how fast or slow texting can be accomplished with the reviewed phone.

2) Do not make comments about your service provider's coverage without giving your city. These comments are pretty much useless without the second bit of information.

3) There are a lot of negative comments out there about how lousy the cameras are on cell phones. Here, I would suggest not leaving the comment at all. If you want to take nice pictures, go buy a nice camera.

I think that covers the important points. Any other suggestions?

August 29, 2008

A New Ranger

That's right, there's a new walker, Texas Ranger in town. When I got home from work today, Malika walked from in front of the fireplace all the way across the room to the couch where I was sitting (about 12 or 13 feet), and then turned around and walked all the way back to the fireplace. So, Malika is officially walking now.

August 23, 2008

Styrofoam Experiment

The other day, I sat in a Taco Bell munching away at my lunch. As I had gone by myself and had no one to talk to, I did my very best to avoid making eye contact with other customers. This led me to stare at my tray a good bit, and as such, I began to take notice of the great mass of paper on my tray. I had three paper wrappers from three crunchy tacos (I could not get my usual two chalupas and one crunchy taco, standard for my visits to Taco Bell, because the fryer was not working--who knew that part of chalupas were fried?). If you know me well, you know I do not customarily fall in line with the mainstream environmentalist movement. It is not because I think it is an unworthy goal, I just think that the "science" behind the man-made global warming does not even follow the scientific method. And global warming dominates the present day environmentalists' thinking. However, I do find it somewhat tragic that we order our fast food meals and give little thought to all the paper wrappers, cups, and thin cardboard boxes that we throw in the trash that wind up in landfills and such. Did God really intend for us to bury our trash in the ground? Is that being good stewards of the Earth? I do not have the answer. I am just as quick as everyone else to throw my fast food trash into the trash bin and move on (when I bring my lunch to work with me, I try to pack it in nothing but reusable containers, not even little baggies which just get thrown away). But, as I stared at my wrappers, I remembered when McDonald's provided their Big Macs in styrofoam cartons. McDonald's got dogged pretty hard for this in the 1980s, I believe, which is why those of us brave enough to go to McDonald's even after seeing Super Size Me now get our Big Macs in cardboard cartons. The argument was that all of those styrofoam cartons do not break down very quickly and would still be present in our land fills something like 100+ years later.

Some 20 years later, I wonder if those styrofoam containers really are still lurking around. I personally believe that all God created has an amazing ability to recover from injury and contamination: people, animals, and even the Earth itself. If so, could it be that these styrofoam containers have all broken down? Is there anyone out there brave enough to dig into a landfill to have a look? I wonder what would be found.

July 11, 2008

New Name

I think I finally settled on a name for this site. I had originally used "Chaotically Random Musings," but dropped that because a surprisingly large number of blogs incorporate "random musings" into their names.

The new name heralds back to a phrase that, to my recollection, came to be in the mid-1990s and was popularized by the return of a bit of pop culture. I will let my readers try to guess the reference...

June 12, 2008

Chick-Fil-A vs. Everyone Else

I had one of McDonald's new chicken biscuits for breakfast yesterday. It was gross. Even a little overcooked. Such has been my experience at most restaurants.

I was first introduced to the chicken biscuit at Chick-Fil-A and I must say, no other restaurant seems to be able to make these little breakfast treats better than Chick-Fil-A. Their's are never overcooked, and tastefully seasoned. The one from McDonald's and other places are always bland.

If you do not have a Chick-Fil-A where you live, I pity you. You're truly missing out.

June 2, 2008

Little Smile

It has been a while since I posted. Life has been extremely busy. Due to requests, I have been working on some updated picture galleries of Malika. I am about half done. So, here is a preview. This is Malika just being herself. Sometimes she looks at you with this cute little smile that generally develops into a full 5-toothed grin.

smile.jpg

April 16, 2008

Hopefully, Lesson Learned

When writing a program, regardless of programming language, one should never use variable names that are identical to functions intrinsic to the programming language of choice. Such a mistake kept me busy for a while this afternoon. Just a friendly reminder.

February 25, 2008

Words That Are Easy To Mispronounce For 400

A brief list to ponder:

colonel
resilient
epitome

That last one has daunted me for years until tonight.

February 10, 2008

Digitally Restricted Media

I do not know who the genius was that coined the phrase "digitally restricted media," but it is the perfect definition for the acronym "DRM." At present, it is widely known to mean "digital rights management" which is the copy protection being used to restrict playback of downloaded media (music, movies, etc.) to certain software and hardware. I am going to go along with the new meaning I have now heard, the "digitally restricted media." It seems more accurate and in line with the money hungry music and movie industries.

Like I said, I do not know who came up with it, but I first heard it as an email or call-in on the HDTV Podcast, which you can find here.

December 11, 2007

Global Hoax

I remember watching an Earth Day TV special back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I do not remember exactly what year this was. It seems like it was maybe the 20th annual Earth Day or so. The thing about it that I remember the most was that Christopher Lloyd was a part of this TV special reprising his role as "Doc Brown" from the Back To The Future movies (which is probably also why I bothered watching this special--I was very into those movies). I am pretty certain that global warming was discussed during this TV special and was probably my first, or nearly first, introduction to the topic (though, global warming worked its way into many a Weekly Reader which I had to read in school back then).

I used to fall for the global warming propaganda back in those days. How could I not? I would have been about 12, faithfully ingesting everything my government funded public school system threw at me. Why would they have presented anything to me that was not fact?

Fast forward to present day. I have long since dismissed man-made global warming as scientific fact. The global warming "movement" has gained substantial momentum since the release of Al Gore's "documentary" on the subject, An Inconvenient Truth. I have not watched this film, but I did take the time to look through the book of the same name. I am told the material in both the movie version and the book is identical or nearly identical. The book presented very little scientific fact, in my opinion. It seemed to largely be a collection of pictures. There were some speculative charts and graphs too. My conclusion after looking through it was this: if you show the right pictures and make the right comments about those pictures, people will believe man is slowly elevating the temperature of Earth. But there was no credible science presented! In fact, the book came across to me as more of a child's picture book. How ironic that in this particular bookstore, the children's section was in the next aisle...

I say all that to suggest to my readers that they consider a few other sources that I believe present credible science. First of all, a guy named Marlo Lewis has written an almost point-by-point critique of An Incovenient Truth that I have not personally finished reading, but I found Lewis's presentation much more compelling that Mr. Gore's. You can find this work called "A Skeptic's Guide to An Inconvenient Truth" here. The document is available in PDF format by chapter.

Another source is a book called Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 years. I just got this book and have not read much of it, but I heard an interview with the first author, S. Fred Singer and thought he was a very credible scientist. Al Gore as you may recall, is a politician, not a scientist.

I especially like these two sources because they have actually cited credible reference material.

Now, if you do not feel you have time to read through those two sources, consider a few thoughts and apply some simple logic: carbon dioxide is often pointed to as the leading culprit behind global warming. Our cars and coal/natural gas power plants are pointed to as the major man-made carbon dioxide producers that are causing global warming. Oh yeah, humans and animals exhale carbon dioxide. Are our natural breathing processes causing global warming? No doubt, if successful in limiting carbon dioxide emissions from our cars and power plants, our ridiculous politicians will next try to limit how much we breathe!

If you have never been to a true greenhouse, I encourage you to go to one. It will indeed be warmer in the greenhouse than the outside ambient temperature, but I believe the cause has more influence from the higher water vapor concentration (increased humidity) than the carbon dioxide output. I do not have time to provide resources on the influences of water vapor at the moment, but I will try to post more information in the future. Actually, I believe both of the sources I mentioned above talk about it at some point, but you can search the internet for more.

Now, do not get me wrong. Obviously, I am not buying the global warming/carbon dioxide connection. However, I do think it is important to take care of our planet. Pollution certainly does not seem to do any good, and in general, I find it pretty gross--especially during those times that I am stuck behind some 20-year old diesel delivery truck and I am driving with my windows down. Yuck! It is hard for me to breathe.

I do not know why the global warming thing has taken off and gained such momentum, or what Al Gore's purpose is behind it all. With Mr. Gore's recent Nobel award, he has once again proved what a hypocrite he is: on his journey to accept the prize, he took the train from the airport to his hotel publicly commenting that "trains are symbols of environmental consciousness," while his luggage road in a motorcade. Go here for the news article.

Still, from the standpoint of taking care of Earth, I think some good things are coming of it. There is a move in the U.S. to start opening more nuclear power plants (which are safe and clean). And, then there is Tesla Motors. I would love one of these:

tesla.jpg

Hopefully, as they keep making advancements, they'll get up to 1000+ miles on a single charge. Very cool as it is though, because most other all-electric cars cannot go further than about 40 miles on a single charge.

Anyway, I want to encourage my readers to think through things for yourself with a little logic before you eat up everything our media and Hollywood heroes expect us to believe without question.

November 9, 2007

That's Daddy's!

However, my favorite hat does look awfully cute on Malika.
DSC_0002a.jpg

Comet Holmes

If you haven't heard, there is a comet, Comet Holmes, that is currently pretty easy to spot in the Northern Hemisphere. I went out this evening and spotted it. Even without binoculars or a telescope, and within city lights no less, you can make the comet out as a hazy blob. It was more impressive with my 10x binoculars. Look for it near the Perseus constellation.

If you want to learn more, here's a good site with some pictures.

October 30, 2007

Break On Three

Earlier this year, Spider-Man 3 was released to theaters nationwide. I had managed to get my wife interested in the series a while back, so we were really looking forward to the latest installment.

We did not try to see it opening day, and negative reviews quickly surfaced. Most reviews seem to grumble that the story strayed too far from what was originally presented in the comic books. Having been an avid Spider-Man reader in the mid-1990s, I suspected I knew why folks were downing the altered story.

Well, our efforts to see the movie in the theater, and even an attempt at a nearby drive-in, were all thwarted for one reason or another. This happened at least three if not four times. Finally, we gave up and decided to wait until the movie was released to DVD.

Today was that day. We rented it, picked up a pizza, put the baby to sleep, and pushed play. Wow! It really was bad! And, being familiar with the original comic book storyline, the changes to the story are not what made this movie so bad in my opinion. I think I would argue it was the poor acting put forth for almost all of the characters, the ridiculous inclusion of numerous gags, and the "favors" that were handed out to non-actors so that they could participate in the movie (I caught three of them: Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame once again made a pointless cameo, one of the producers was the security guard in the armored van that Sandman filled with sand, and the director's daughter was the one whose camera was purchased by Mr. Jameson for $100).

The story was overall a bit weak anyway, not to mention a bit depressing. But there was some good. I thought the final battle had some redeeming elements for characters and storyline--it was good to see a lingering plot line from the first movie finally resolved. But that is all the good I could find.

Overall, I think Spider-Man 3 may very well have brought the Spider-Man movie franchise to its end for now. This seems to happen with comic book based movies. The series of Batman movies that began in 1989 had two good ones, and then tanked (though, Batman Begins was an excellent reboot to the series and I look forward to the upcoming Batman flick). I think it is safe to say X-Men will not be making any more theater appearances (though rumors abound of the Wolverine spin-off movie which would be great because I think Wolverine is cool). I never got into Superman much, but I think that series had similar performance. I am sure there are others I am forgetting right now.

I guess comic book movies just break down at their third installment. Weird. And disappointing.

October 9, 2007

More Pictures

There's more pictures of Malika up here.

September 8, 2007

Baby Pictures

Having a baby keeps a man busy! Everything with Malika has been going well. She is a very good baby. She even lets us sleep pretty good at night. She had her 3-week visit with the pediatrician this past Thursday, and she has gained a pound since being born (now at 8 pounds, 12 ounces) and is 3-1/4 inches longer (now at 22-1/4 inches long).

My lovely wife, the photographer, has been busy. Check out the gallery here.

August 22, 2007

Missing Fondue

Today is a sad day. Some very good friends of mine who are fond of fondue have left town. Not just on a vacation, no, this is leaving of the more permanent kind. They have moved away. They often invited me and my wife over for fondue dinners. I was not sure what to make of fondue the first couple times. It was "interesting." After a few times, I really started to like it and realized that it allows for more fellowship while dinner is cooking a few minutes at a time. The last time my friends had us over for a fondue dinner, it ended in a competition to see who could stuff the most marshmallows in the dough, and then cook it in the oil without the marshmallow oozing out.

David, Jennifer, Liam, and Paul, we miss you already!

August 21, 2007

Number One Is Here

Last Thursday, August 16th, my wife and I welcomed a baby girl into our lives:

baby.jpg

She weighed 7 pounds and 12 ounces, and was 19 inches long. We named her Malika. She is a blessing from the Lord and a new source of joy in our lives. We are so excited that she is finally here!

July 25, 2007

Midichlorians

Another completely random thought, but it must be said. For some reason, I have been thinking about the Star Wars prequel movies and the many things that were handled badly in them. Before everyone labels me a "prequel hater," let me just state that while I thought a lot of the prequels were entertaining (Obi-Wan racing through asteroids being chased by Jango is one of my favorite scenes in all six Star Wars movies), they definitely had parts that made me roll my eyes and groan.

On a more serious note though (at least as serious as one nerd can be about a collection of science fiction movies), here is my complaint with the so-called midichlorians. In the original trilogy, they were never spoken of. Rather, the Force was something more mystical and individuals either tapped into it or they did not. At the start of the newer trilogy, it is revealed that Force adepts have large concentrations of midichlorians in their blood. Now, here is the completely random thought I have come up with: if these midichlorians reside in the blood, could a person with high amounts of midichlorians (enough to be able to use the Force) give a blood transfusion to someone who does not have many midichlorians and thus give them an edge up in using the Force?

George Lucas has said time and time again that he had long ago (little pun there) written these prequel stories. Every time I have heard him say that, it gives me the impression that he had written them completely. However, this little thought of mine concerning midichlorians once again re-inforces my belief that Lucas had a very general idea of his so-called "backstory." He filled in details as the prequel movies were being made. I believe the midichlorians are one such example and they just do not seem to make the connection to the established story in the original trilogy.

This is why story writers should never, Never, NEVER write prequels. Flashbacks to small events are usually okay, but I believe that doing an entire prequel story always messes up continuity.

July 18, 2007

Alternative Uses For Socks

Sure, socks can be turned into hand puppets or filled with rice or beans or rocks and used as a heating pad, but socks can also come in handy in a certain "emergency" situation. I am sure this has happened to many of you: you are in a public restroom, you have just washed your hands, and then you notice there are no more paper towels. What do you do? I have the solution. I have not told any one besides my wife until today, but you do not have to suffer through this embarrassing situation any longer. When you need to dry your hands and there are no paper towels, pull up a pant leg and dry your hand on your sock!

Before you say I am crazy, hear me out. What is your alternative? You can walk out of the restroom with soaking wet hands, and then look! There is your buddy who you did not even know was at the mall, but you cannot shake his hand because your hand is wet! Or, you could just dry your hands off on your pants leaving wet hand prints. Then when you walk out, and your buddy sees wet hand prints all over your pants, he wonders what happened in the restroom.

Now you are likely beginning to see the advantages of the socks. You can pull your pant leg up with your fingertips leaving a very small, generally unnoticeable wet spot on your pants. Then just grab that sock with the free wet hand and dry away. Now repeat with opposite hands and socks. What do you have? Dry hands and no embarrassing wet pants. Now, I caution you, try to shake off as much of the water as you can first. No one wants to walk around with extremely damp socks for the next few hours. If you shake off enough water, your socks will be dry in ten minutes! And no one is going to see your wet socks.

Granted, this is not as foolproof when you are wearing shorts, dresses, skirts, or kilts, but if you have on standard white cotton socks, you still have an excellent chance of pulling this off without anyone noticing.

Next time you find yourself with wet hands and no paper towels, you know what to do!

July 17, 2007

The Mighty Oto

oto.png

I am a fish keeper, for those of you who do not know. There is this large tank in my dining room that has been waiting for a woodworking project to be completed so that the tank can finally be set up. I will get it set up eventually, but in the meantime, I have a couple small tanks. In my five gallon tank, I have five fish. There are three cherry barbs, and two otocinclus. Otocinclus are often referred to by the short name "oto" and it was one of my otos that had a little adventure the other day.

It was time to clean the aquarium. For some time, I had seen only one of the otos. So, in the process of doing a thorough cleaning, I removed the fake rock/cave structure from the aquarium. I had actually assumed that the other oto was hiding in the cave, but when I pulled out the cave and set it on a towel, I could still only find one oto.

I continued to look carefully for the other oto for a couple minutes, but could not find it. Fish sometimes jump their tanks, and sometimes they die before you realize it and they can "break down" in the water and thus simply disappear. I was left to assume that this is what had happened to the poor fish. So, I returned to cleaning and getting everything put back in as it was.

Then I thought, surely I would have spotted some remains of this fish. It would be very unlikely for this type of fish to jump out of the tank. Where could it be? It suddenly occurred to me about seven minutes after I had pulled the cave out of the tank that I had not flipped the cave over and looked inside of it for the fish. After all, these guys are a sort of sucker fish and stick to things with their mouths. Still the fish was not in the cave! I looked on the towel the cave had been sitting on and noticed a little fold in the towel. I pulled the fold open, and there twitching very slowly was my poor otocinclus. I quickly scooped it up in my hand and dropped it back in the tank. It swam down on top of the bridge decoration and sat there. I observed it periodically for several hours afterwards. Though it was breathing rapidly, it was some time before it finally moved off the bridge and back into hiding, but it did survive through probably its biggest adventure ever.

The picture above is one of my otos, though I cannot tell if it is the one that "escaped." They are neat little fish and if you want to learn more try here or at the Wikipedia article here. I believe mine are actually of the affinis variety.

July 3, 2007

Remade

For several years now, new movies have failed to be original. Maybe I am simply not watching the right movies, but there seems to be an abundance of remakes and stories swiped from other media (books, comic books, etc.). Some of these have turned out well in the end, and some of the remakes have even gone on to make sequels that the originals did not get a chance to do (the new Ocean's 11 series comes to mind, of which I have only seen the first remake and none of its sequels). The only truly original film I can think of in recent years is Napoleon Dynamite. There is even a new Star Trek film that will be some sort of remake using characters from the original series.

Since this trend shows no signs of stopping, I will make the outlandish prediction that sometime soon, someone will remake Knightrider into a movie (sans Mr. Hasselhoff). You heard it here first!

June 25, 2007

The Hidden Shame Of Embarrassment

I had a seemingly random thought today: For all those readers who subscribe to the theory of evolution, please explain to me why humans blush. As far as I am aware, no other animal blushes.

Though I cannot recall ever discussing this with anyone or reading about it before today, I cannot take credit for this being an original thought. A quick Google search pointed me to a few other web pages discussing the same thing, but I can find no one from the viewpoint of evolution, that can explain why it happens.

Self Love

Most mornings, my lovely wife prepares a lunch for me to take to work. Today, she was a bit rushed getting ready to go somewhere herself, so she asked if I would mind making my own lunch. I did not mind at all.

When I had finished assembling my lunch, I returned to the bathroom where my wife was fixing her hair. I said, "You know what the hardest part of making my own lunch is?"

"What's that," she replied.

"Writing that note that you often put in my lunch."

That was the hardest I had seen my wife laugh in about the last month.

June 11, 2007

Refreshing

Regular readers might remember my earlier post discussing the enjoyment of hard labor. Tonight, I was doing some landscaping. I need to flatten out a spot in our back yard for our pool. So, I was digging some more. Despite the heat, and the pain in my lower back, I was really starting to get into it. Unfortunately, dinner was soon ready and it was time to abandon the project for the evening.

It leaves me wondering what it is about hard, somewhat menial labor that is so invigorating to me lately.

Maybe it is just that it causes me to drink more refreshing water than sugar-rich soda.

June 1, 2007

Check Out "The Lamb Among The Stars" Series

I want to give a thorough review of these books at some point in the future, but I cannot put off mentioning them any longer. Chris Walley has definitely become my favorite fiction author with his three two books: The Shadow And Night and The Dark Foundations. The "true fans" of the series know that the first book, The Shadow And Night, was originally two books called The Shadow At Evening and The Power Of The Night. It seems that these two books became popular enough that the publisher gave the go ahead for a complete trilogy, but wrapped these two books into the new The Shadow And Night volume, made the new books hardcover, and marketed the books as... um, I guess "normal" adult fiction (I'm not sure of the technical term for that, but in comparison, the books were originally marketed as juvenile fiction).

I cannot describe the basics of this series better than Chris Walley has done on his own web page:

After an unparalleled spiritual revival (the ‘Great Intervention') the human race survives the 21st century and during a long period of grace, peace and blessing, spreads out among the stars. Then, in the year 13,851 evil returns to the most distant of the inhabited worlds and once more men and women must battle with the sin and wrong.

This story is a science fiction tale (which appeals to my nerdy, rocket scientist engineer nature). Walley has done a marvelous job of telling the story without overwhelming the reader with various sci-fi lingo and gadgetry. In fact, the only "future tech" item I can recall at the moment (it has been several months since I finished reading these books) is the device referred to as a "diary" and it may as well be an iPhone. Rather, an iPhone may as well be the diary that Walley invented for his stories because he came up with it first. (To be fair, Walley's diary does a lot more than the iPhone is likely to do and has much better battery life.) Beyond this device, there are indeed spaceships and fancy computers, but like I said, none of it overwhelms the reader.

On the cover of each of the books is the phrase "A fantasy in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien" who are also some of my favorite authors. While it is true that Lewis also wrote a sci-fi series known as The Space Trilogy (which is a good series too), Walley's books bring a little more of the sci-fi element into play. If I may be so bold as to say it, The Lamb Among The Stars series is much more "sci-fi-ish" than Lewis' trilogy, but I mean no disrespect to Lewis' work.

Tolkien's most popular works, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings tend to get high acclaim because of how deeply and richly they are written (I think The Lord Of The Rings is written at an 8th grade reading level--maybe higher). While I would agree that Tolkien's stories do deserve such adjectives, I think it would be very unfair to say that Walley's books lack depth. I was so drawn into the story that I read the original first book in two days and a friend whom I recommended the books to read the first one almost as fast. Most of the reviews I have read on forums seem to indicate a similar level of enthrallment with the books.

Most refreshing of all, Walley has written a story about Christianity and he is not shy in doing so. Unlike a lot of Christian fiction I have read in the past, Walley's books are not "corny" (don't tell me you don't know what I mean). One of the most remarkable story elements to me was how Walley introduced a society and cast of characters who were born-again Christians that had collectively not had any experience with sin for thousands of years, but suddenly, sin is interjected into their lives. Walley has really done a superb job with this story element.

If you want to get to know more about Chris Walley, read his blog. He is not shy about posting on forums about his books either. Even though these books have achieved a significant measure of success (most evidenced in my opinion by the honor of re-issuing the original books in hardcover), Walley is always humble and thankful to his fans. I think it is great that he's written these books, experienced significant success with them, and yet is not "above" his fans.

I hope to do individual reviews of the books in the future, but if you are looking for a good Christian science fiction story, The Lamb Among The Stars series comes highly recommended. The third and final volume of the series will be available... well, it will be available at some point in the future.

April 18, 2007

Birthday Etiquette

I've participated in the birthday celebrations of two friends recently. It got me thinking: what is proper to do while singing happy birthday to the person? The way I see it, there are two options: 1) stare somewhat intently at the person while singing making that person uncomfortable, or 2) look around the room at anyone or anything except the person to whom is being sung happy birthday.

Option #1 has the added disadvantage of making oneself a bit uncomfortable as well (at least, that's generally my experience), while option #2 makes onself look a bit silly, but tends to eliminate most of this discomfort (again, that's in my experience).

I wish I could better remember participating in this activity as a kid. I think it is different when one is younger, though I still vaguely remember staring around the room a lot.

April 2, 2007

Back Up

Hopefully, no one noticed. The site was down for a few days, but if you are reading this, obviously, it is back up now. I made a small change to my web host, and upgraded to Movable Type version 3.34 in the process. Everything seems to be working as before. Leave a comment if you see any problems.

March 3, 2007

Annoying Personal Trait?

For a couple weeks now, I've been reading this really great book, The Way Of The Wild Heart, and I have been greatly impacted by Mr. Eldredge's writing. What he discusses about how God created men to be and live a certain way, and the various stages of manhood that men need to go through, it all seems to ring so true with me. So, today as I was doing some work around the house, what I've been reading in this book was floating around in my mind and heart as I worked and prayed.

Many months ago, a portion of my fence began to lean, and as it leaned, one of the wood beams began to crack. A week ago, a wind storm finally cracked the beam all the way through and blew this section of fence over. My wife has asked me to repair it many times before, but now it seems I could not put it off any longer. As I began working on it a week ago, I soon discovered part of the reason this section of the fence collapsed is because it was structurally weaker: a fence post that should have been in the middle of the section had been chopped off almost at the level of the ground, hidden by a tuft of grass. I became determined to replace this post and make the fence stronger, so I had to dig the remains of the old post out. Soon, I realized that the post went down a respectable distance and had been anchored by pouring cement around it.

For about and hour and a half, I continued to dig, periodically checking to see if the remant of the post was ready to come out (though, throughout this process, I kept wondering how I was going to pull out a block of cement and wood that I assumed would be very heavy). When I had finally loosened the post, I was very reluctant to try lifting it out on my own. I thought of calling a friend for help, and then was suddenly inspired to give it a try on my own. And so, I leaned over this hole, now nearly three feet in diameter, and two feet deep, grabbed the cement block, and lifted straight up. While heavy, it was not the 100 pounds I thought it might be. Rather, it seemed to way more like 60 pounds.

This whole process of digging and lifting rather invigorated me. I guess I had not done any "hard" work in a while, and I quickly recognized that I kind of missed it. Truly, I was somehow refreshed by the task of using my own hands to accomplish something.

Jump ahead to today. I have been slowly working on the fence throughout the week (cutting a new post to the proper length, pouring new cement, et cetera). Today, I was ready to put up the beams to which the fence planks would later be attached. Now, at one end of this section of fence, the fence line turns by about 30 degrees. So, the beams had to be cut at an angle to properly butt up to the next beam. I got the beams cut to fit okay and firmly attached them to the posts. As I walked away, I pondered how they could have been made to fit better and I quickly reasoned that the best way would be to cut a notch in the post for the beams to rest in. Not a big notch, mind you. Just a small notch that would let the beams come together at the proper angle and not leave a peculiar gap between the beams and the post. After coming up with this "ingenious" idea, I quickly identified this thought pattern as one of my perfectionist moments. I was frustrated to find myself drifting into a perfectionist mind-set again and this frustration quickly moved me to prayer. I asked God why I have the "perfectionist trait." No one seems to like it, and it doesn't seem to do me or anyone else much good.

The reply seemed to arrive as a mixture of something in my spirit and remembering the discussions of "what makes a man" in the Eldredge book combining to reveal something to me: whether being a perfectionist is good or bad, it is a part of who God made me and there is likely some purpose behind it.

But what could it be?

I still do not know, but I am stirred to seek God to find out.

February 6, 2007

A Challenge

Men, if you are a husband, or are planning to be a husband one day soon, this entry is for you.

I was reading in 1 Peter the other day. As has often been the case lately during my Bible study time, one verse stuck out to me more than any others that I read that particular day. In chapter 3, verse 7, the NLT says:

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Normally, I read out of NIV, which says:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Not too much different. I normally read and study NIV, but I've been reading out of a one-year NLT Bible for a while.

Anyway, this verse stuck out to me so much that I began to reflect on how I treat my wife. Do I honor her? Do I respect her? Being that she can be weaker, do I protect her? My wife would say that I am doing great at these things. My personal evaluation says that at times I satisfy these areas, but often, I must admit, I miss the mark big time. Sometimes, I even feel like I'm not getting through to God in prayer, and mulling over this verse, I can now identify one possible source for this.

In the few days since I met up with this verse, I have tried harder to be there for my wife. I have been trying to spend more time with her and not get caught up in my own interests. I am trying to help out around the house and help her get some things done that we have been working on for a little too long. I have been praying for her more. It has been good to do these things. I feel closer to her. I feel more in love with her.

Men, honor your wives! I challenge you to do so. If it makes you grumble and groan and roll your eyes, then at least do it to glorify God. After all, He said to do it! See what a difference it makes. I would love to hear your results and experiences in the comments.

November 27, 2006

Number One

Today, my wife took a pregnancy test and confirmed a suspicion we have had for a couple weeks now: our first baby is on the way and should be here sometime in August of next year. Praise God! It is joyous news!

November 25, 2006

Quality Time

I've been spending some time with my family this week. I raced around the midwest, trying to put in a visit to all of my siblings and their families and also to my parents. This evening, I spent some time with Mom and Dad, as well as with my sister and her husband. I am truly grateful for the time I have had with all of my family this week, but most of all with my parents. Tonight, I saw more and more how age is beginning to really affect them.

So, when Dad was able to give me some tips on how I could bowl better, it quickly became a cherished lesson. "Keep your index finger in to prevent the ball from breaking so hard at the end of the lane. Don't drop your shoulder." They were excellent tips. Those two games were some of my highest scores in four years. It makes me wish there was more time for those lessons from Dad that I ignored when I was younger. I'll take whatever he can still teach me. Thanks, Dad.

October 25, 2006

The Relief Of Ackbar

Long have I been a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy. The new trilogy is ok, but really, the original is best. And for nearly as long as I have watched these movies, there is a scene in Return Of The Jedi where a look of relief crosses the face of Admiral Ackbar as the Star Destroyer Executor is destroyed. Long have I sympathized with the expressions on his puppet-like face as I too have come through a major trial. Don't know what I'm talking about? Have a look:

1) The moment of triumph:

2) The sigh of relief:

3) The chance to lean back and relax a bit:

I recently ended a long task at work that has caused me much stress and taken much of my free time from me. So, when I completed this task, I again found myself empathizing with Ackbar.

The really good news about this is that this work has kept me from blogging... until now! This is my second post in less than a week's time. That's like a record or something!

October 20, 2006

Sports Nut

I for one tend to not be a sports nut. Here in America, you can find someone passionate about many sports. I think football ranks as one of the highest, but there are plenty of people nuts about baseball, NASCAR, soccer, golf, bowling, pool, and even curling. Poker tournaments are shown on ESPN, so somehow, that might make poker a sort of sport. At the least, a friendly competition.

What gets me is that in the spectator sports, there is always that passionate observer who feels that they must be involved in the game by being an "encourager." Were I much of a sports nut, I might understand this more. However, I just don't get how yelling obvious things at the players of the game really helps. For example:

I attended a hockey game tonight, and a spectator yelled "Skate!"

In football, spectators will yell "Run!" and "Get him!"

In NASCAR, people... Um... Bad example...

In poker, spectators might yell out "Lay them cards down! Whoo!"

And so, and so forth. I guess I am just not a very good sports spectator. I do like to play some sports and that is the only time I can get real excited about a sport. I've broached no new topic here, as I am sure others more astute than I have realized the obviousness of sports spectator speech long before I did tonight. It just came together in my mind tonight when that guy yelled "Skate!" and I thought to myself, "What else would the hockey player do?" It would at least be funnier if the same guy yelled the same phrase at an ice skating competition.

I guess what I'm thinking overall is that yelling the encouraging phrases may do something to encourage the player... if they can hear what is being yelled. After all, sports teams would be nothing without their fans. The "home field advantage" is often regarded as beneficial because of the fan base.

Maybe someday I'll discover that one sport that enthralls me so much that I shout out something obvious.

September 2, 2006

I For An Eye

A couple days ago as I was walking through the parking lot to my office, I saw a Pontiac G6 and on the back where the letters of Pontiac were glued to the car, I noticed that the "I" was missing. Immediately, I thought if it were my car, I would have to cry out: "Ah, my I, my I!"

August 25, 2006

What's wrong with Safari?

So, I noticed the other day that when using Safari to view this page, nothing is visible below a blockquote, like this one:

Howdy!

What's up with that? And does it mess the page up down from the first visible blockquote?

August 10, 2006

Slight Miscalculation

Oh yeah! I guess I need to write stuff and post it if this going to be a real blog. Sorry about that. I will try to get to work on that.

July 8, 2006

Dedication

This site has been a long time coming, but with this entry, I will officially begin my blog. I am not yet pleased with the look of this site. In fact, there have been many attempts to jazz up the look, and because I do not fully understand how to write CSS, for now I have opted to go back to a default layout. I hope to remedy this soon and make things look a little better. However, rather than continuing to let that prevent me from posting, I will just work on that aspect of things as I am able.

So, what is to come? I do not really know. I like math a lot, and so as the "pun-laden" title of this site suggests (more obviously suggested in the sub-title), I do want to discuss math topics on a regular basis. I will probably get into some general science topics too. When I discuss such things, I really want to make an effort to go back to the reason science came about in the first place: the efforts of early scientists and mathematicians really sought to gain a greater understanding of God and all that he has created. Being a lover of God, a believer in his son Christ Jesus, I also want my mathematical and scientific pursuits to be representative of my efforts to understand what God has created. With that goal in mind, I believe that this site can offer something to both mathematically- and scientifically-minded people, but also to those who may not be as comfortable with math and science topics. If you are a person of the latter type, I encourage you not to be intimidated by the topics brought forth on this site. At least give it a shot. Besides, I will talk about other things like my latest wood-working project, how things are progressing with my aquarium, and perhaps even interesting things I eat for breakfast.

I have greatly enjoyed the writings of John Piper, a Christian author and pastor. His book "Desiring God" has been something of a central theme for living in my own life (in addition to what I learn from the Bible, of course). It really made me reconsider how I want to live my life for God. The main premise of the book is:

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Since first reading the book about five years ago, I have tried to live out my life in just that manner: to glorify God and enjoy Him in doing so. My goal for this blog is that it would also bring glory to God. So, I want to dedicate this website to the glory of God. May everything written and discussed on this site ultimately glorify Him!