Thursday, April 28, 2005
Long week so far.
Tuesday, I did work, then headed straight to Nestina's soccer game. It was right down to the wire, so I ended up being late for the deacon's meeting. They won again. It's a pretty good streak they have going right now with five wins in a row. Blue is hot!!
Anyway, Tuesday was also the night we feed the carnival workers, so me being late didn't matter much as we did the meet and greet thing at the door, served coffee, cleared tables, etc. for the first hour or so. Then the actual deacon meeting, some time with pastor and one of the deacons for the meeting after the meeting, then pick up Nestina from a friend's house and head for home. We got in around 10:30PM and crashed.
Wednesday was another soccer game and another win. That is now six in a row! Go Blue, GO!! This was the Wednesday for our quarterly business meeting, so I grabbed some videos, with Courtney's help, and went out to the meeting. Normally, a business meeting is pretty boring stuff, but this one shook some people up. There has been a group of people in the church taking pot shots at the church leadership and they got nailed. Not by name, but those involved were left with no doubt that their actions have been noted and they have been warned. The next few weeks could prove interesting. Afterwards, we just hung around and talked for a while, then headed home. With an extra body, that is.
Today was Take Our Daughter's to Work day and one of Nestina's friends wanted to job shadow one of the other youth leaders that works in graphic design. It made sense for her to come stay with us and get picked up from here. Nestina went to work with me and now knows what she does not ever want to do for a living. But she thought the food was good. Her friend loved the work, but hated the food. Between them, they had a good day. After work, Nestina was supposed to volunteer for the Shady Belle. Every year during the Trout Festival, Kalkaska (the Home of the National Trout Festival) uses a building somewhere in town for local talent to show off and to sell food to raise money for the schools. Nestina and several of her friends had been recruited to help out, so I dropped her there after work, then went home to kill a few hours, then back into town to pick her up.
Tomorrow and Saturday look to be more of the same. I haven't had much time to look at anything else, so everyone gets a break today on the reading assignments.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Life is....that is all I can say right now. I don't want to get everyone depressed like I am right now.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Saturday, I tried to work on the networking and all that, but I kept running into things I needed. I finally gave up and we cleaned up and drove into Traverse City for a run to Home Depot and something to eat. Sunday was another typical Sunday. I had a chance to talk to a teen who was staying with her grandparents. It was a good reminder of why I do youth ministry. We didn't really have much time to get into anything heavy, but it was a chance to reach out to someone that was looking for another person to notice they existed. Kinda cool.
Today was just work and getting ready for the deacon's meeting tomorrow night. It must be time for me to stop this whole deacon thing; I found myself counting how many meetings I had left before my term is up.
Tomorrow looks to be busy. Debbie found out that the owner of a company she worked for in Flint died over the weekend. She is driving down tomorrow for the funeral. Nestina has a soccer game and I have a deacon's meeting. We think we have everything choreographed, but something always happens to throw a monkey in the wrench.
And that is about it. I didn't see anything out on the net that was particularly interesting today, which is somewhat odd. Probably just me.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Anyway, I made a few stops on the way home last night and pulled in the driveway just as Nestina called for one of us to drive into town and pick her up. Her and a friend were trying to find formal dresses for this weekend's Key Club District Conference in Battle Creek, so I sat in the truck and read while they played dress-up at Nestina's mom's place. Two hours later, they were both set up for the weekend, and Nestina and I headed home. She showed off her two choices for formals to Debbie and myself. Of course, I liked one, Debbie liked the other, and Nestina doesn't make decisions. She just packed both of them.
I played taxi driver this morning and took Nestina to school. We won't see her until Sunday evening. This is only the second time she has been out of town since moving in with us. And just like when we went on vacation, I felt compelled by the god of parenting to say all the usual stupid things parents tell there kids, including the oldie but goodie, "Be careful." Uh, yea. Thanks dad!! If you hadn't said that, I'm sure I would have run out in front of a semi! But say them I must. Trying not to is like trying to keep your dog from licking himself when you have company.
I stumbled across a good web site run by an organization of Christians who are scientists (as opposed to Christian Scientists, who are in reality neither). The American Scientific Affiliation "is a fellowship of men and women in science and disciplines that relate to science who share a common fidelity to the Word of God and a commitment to integrity in the practice of science." I haven't had a chance to read very many articles here, but this one on radiometric dating needs to be required reading for every Christian in the United States. Yes it's long, and yes it has big words. Read it anyway. This article makes an important distinction between evolution and evolutionism. It also includes a call for everyone in the origins debate to do some growing up.
Debbie is meeting me in Traverse City for dinner tonight while we are kid-less, then home for a quiet evening of movies and early bed-times. Yes, I know: we are officially old.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I was cleaning out my e-mail and found some interesting stuff that I had never posted here. At least I don't think I have. Some of it may be a repeat.
Martha Stewart again. The message from this case is clear; never help the police in any way. Never give them any information. The key phrase to remember anytime a cop asks you anything is, "I invoke my right to counsel." Then clam up. I'm sure that isn't what the government intended in prosecuting this case, but it is the result.
Being a Christian is now sufficient reason to be committed to a mental institution. Something that was predictable and in fact was predicted when mental health became an industry. If Christians want to raise a stink about something, why not this rather than all the useless posturing about homosexuality?
The strength of any republic rests on informed and empowered citizens. Empires depend on experts. According to the 9/11 Commission, the attacks would not have happened in a republic. The fact that they did happen tells you what we are (or a least what we are becoming).
Paul Graham explains how to start a startup. And also, how to not start a startup. During my time in public accounting, I saw a lot of startups. I also saw a near-100% crash-and-burn rate.
Churches in Europe are mostly empty these days. The services are only attended by tourists who take pictures of the services like they were at a Civil War reenactment or something. The same thing will likely happen here, unless churches in North America make some drastic changes.
And finally, An article about the new pope. And another. And another.
I am playing with some new software called FreeMind. It is called "mind mapping software" and it is supposed to make you more organized and junk. We'll see. I have tried many times to make some sense out of the masses of junk that just pile up on my desk and my hard drive. I have never found anything that works for me. Maybe this will do it? The best part is that it is free, as in beer. What reviews I've read rank it as high or higher than the commercial packages that do the same thing. As I said, we'll see.
And that should just about do it.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Sunday was stressful. I felt like it was the Ric Frost show or something. All the various schedules came together so that I was on praise team, special music with the men's trio, and was on the schedule to preach Sunday night. I made it in one piece, even the preaching part. A few people came up and told me I was OK, and as far as I have heard, there is no petition to remove me from the church.
And so, back to work.
In other news, me niece now has a blog. It's called Everyone Loves Courtney, and if you know Courtney, you know that she really believes that. The rest of us just humor her. Anyway, welcome to blogging, brat.
Jerry Pournelle gives a very good tax day summary of the state of the republic.
And that's about as much as I have energy for.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Today will likely be just as chaotic. A lot of stuff going on that I can't go into details about, but stressful. Plus a half-day for Nestina at school and parent-teacher conferences.
Tomorrow looks to be much the same. And I am supposed to go to soccer practice with Nestina Friday night for "parents night" at the coach's house. This is one week I will be glad to see gone.
A lot of articles on the sorry state of our schools today. None of this should surprise anyone as it was predictable and indeed predicted 150 years ago when compulsory government education was first instituted. Having more direct contact with the schools through Nestina has made me even more cynical of any chance we have as a constitutional republic. In any case read this, this, and this, then plan accordingly.
Jerry Pournelle reports on the death of our republic. When I was in school, I heard a lot of talk about courage. Americans had the courage to face down the Soviets, the courage to send men to the moon, etc. Today, a sizable percentage of high school students don't believe we ever went to the moon. Given that our government is cowering behind concrete barriers, I can see their point. When everyone around you acts like a complete coward, it becomes difficult to believe anyone is capable of having the courage to do anything as bold as send men over a quarter of a million miles through hard vacuum to walk on another world.
I think this is supposed to be funny, but I have to wonder. Working in the medical field, I can tell you that our part of this is completely doable right now. We can deliver your complete medical history to anyone, anywhere via the internet.
And that should do nicely to start the day. I've managed to depress myself and it isn't even 8am. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Just a few things off the net:
Jerry Pournelle had this observation:
EverQuest II is so addicting that apparently some players are in danger of starving to death. Lest this happen, Sony Online Entertainment has built in the /pizza command. This opens up a web browser aimed at a pizza delivery service.One reason I have avoided the on-line games. I have enough time wasters in my life.
This is an interesting article on Pharyngula. The concept of deep time is hard to wrap your brain around. Human history is a lot longer than people realize. The ten thousand years of recorded history is an eye-blink.
This is an interesting clock for your desktop.
And that is all I have.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Other than that, not much going on simply because we don't have the time.
I do have to wonder what planet I'm on: Cookie Monster is going on a diet. Who are the freaks of nature that come up with this crap?
Learn how to build a vortex ring generator. Smoke rings on a big scale.
We are definitely on the slippery slope. Expect more of this.
Since education is high on the national agenda, here's a pop quiz that every American should take.
Question: What group of students makes the lowest achievement gains in school?We must all be equal at all costs. America is most certainly in decline, but like the citizens of the Roman Empire, no one will notice until the barbarians come through the gates.
Answer: The brightest students.
In a pioneering study of the effects of teachers and schools on student learning, William Sanders and his staff at the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System put in this way: "Student achievement level was the second most important predictor of student learning. The higher the achievement level, the less growth a student was likely to have."
Mr. Sanders found this problem in schools throughout the state, and with different levels of poverty and of minority enrollments. He speculated that the problem was due to a "lack of opportunity for high-scoring students to proceed at their own pace, lack of challenging materials, lack of accelerated course offerings, and concentration of instruction on the average or below-average student."
While less effective teachers produced gains for lower-achieving students, Mr. Sanders found, only the top one-fifth of teachers were effective with high-achieving students. These problems have been confirmed in other states. There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Question: What group of students has been harmed most by the No Child Left Behind Act?
Answer: Our brightest students.
The federal law seeks to ensure that all students meet minimum standards. Most districts, in their desperate rush to improve the performance of struggling students, have forgotten or ignored their obligations to students who exceed standards. These students spend their days reviewing material for proficiency tests they mastered years before, instead of learning something new. This is a profoundly alienating experience.
Question: How well is the United States preparing able students to compete in the world economy?
Answer: Very poorly.
Of all students obtaining doctorates in engineering in American universities, just 39 percent are Americans. According to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, "The performance of U.S. physics and advanced math students was among the lowest of the 16 countries that administered the ... assessments."
Question: What group of special-needs students receives the least funding?
Answer: Our brightest students.
And it's getting worse. For example, Illinois, New York, and Oregon recently cut all state funding for gifted programs.
Friday, April 08, 2005
I am continuing to tweak the dial-up connection. It isn't as painful switching back to dial-up as I though it would be. Probably because out "high-speed" connection never was. In any case, I will be configuring a PC as a router, firewall, and a proxy server. That will be fun as a project and will also be something I can set up for some other people. I need to find some sort of use for all the junk PC's setting around the house. This is as good as any other.
Not much planned for tonight. Nestina has soccer practice and Key Club stuff after school, so I will meet Debbie for dinner so we can kill time and avoid extra driving now that gas is inching up to $2.50/gallon.
Some thoughts on Iraq. I've never thought much of the "Bush lied" campaign primarily because (1) we know Saddam had chemical weapons, (2) we know he was perfectly willing to use them and in fact used them on his own population, and (3) certainly did his best to convince everyone in the world that he had chemical weapons and was trying to get nuclear weapons. Still, I do find it distressing that the Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in human history depends on dumbed-down verbal reports.
Fred on democracy. Many have said that no form of participatory government is stable in the long run because the people eventually learn to vote themselves money and influence. It appears we are seeing that play out right now.
Stupid is as Stupid does. The signs are all around, but is anyone reading them? A cashier that is too young to remember 2-dollar-bills is hardly surprising, but is there no one on the Baltimore police department over the age of 20? Why did they have to hold someone three hours in cuffs until the Treasury department showed up? Should the local Baltimore bank branches start giving lessons to the police department on how to discern legitimate currency from counterfeit?
And I have to run.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
I got a bit of a break from the routine today. My Pastor came by the hospital and picked me up for a presentation by Baptist Bible College and Seminary out at Lake Ann Camp. They fed us well, and the presentation was good. The best part was the admission that (1) the traditional way of doing things no longer works, and (2) we are not really sure what does, but we are trying to find out. That sort of honesty is surprisingly rare in many Christian organizations. In any case, I got out of the cube farm and out in the nice weather for a bit.
From the web today:
13 Things that do not make sense. One issue I have with this article (and others like it) is how they report that some phenomenon "violates the laws of physics." Sorry, folks; reality cannot violate reality. What may be violated is our understanding of certain physical mechanisms. Our model of a particular law of physics may not hold up well under new or more accurate data. Our measurement of a phenomenon may not be accurate. But a physical event cannot violate the laws of physics. My second gripe is how everything is being presented as "overturning the world of physics/chemistry/biology." Einstein did not refute Newton; he refined Newton as the result of new, more accurate data. Steven Hawking is not refuting Einstein; he is refining the model Einstein left us (which was acknowledged by Einstein as incomplete). Science is tentative: Model X best explains what we know now. That model may be tweaked, revised, or rebuilt based on new data. But no scientist speaks of his discovery "overturning" or "refuting" anything. Only non-scientists, like the anti-evolution crowd, are that arrogant.
And the politics surrounding Terri Schiavo continue. I expected this. The best part comes from the mouth of Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.):
I never did an investigation, as such. I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue.Yea. Right. Please excuse my cynicism, senator.
The focus of this article is creating a $100 laptop for children, but I think that misses a big part of the picture. Sure, every school-aged child owning a laptop would be revolutionary, but I think this could profoundly change how computing is viewed by society. Computers are already becoming ubiquitous; knock the price down to 100 bucks and they will be everywhere. When I was growing up, the typical household had a TV. Today, it is not unusual for every person in the household to have their own TV. I see the same thing happening with computers. Ten years ago, everyone talked about getting a computer in every household. Get the price down to $100, and it will be a computer for every person.
And I need to pack it in and go pick up Nestina from soccer practice.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
I did spend several hours setting up the laptop to use the new Earthlink dialup connection. It worked pretty well except I was never able to download all the Earthlink software. I'm not that interested in most of it; all I want to take a look at is the accelerator they distribute. I used one of those a long time ago and didn't have a lot of luck with it. I figure it is time to see if the state of the art has advanced.
Tonight is youth group. I know that a couple people will be missing due to driver education, so I expect a very small group.
Other than that, not much else is going on.
This is an article on running that is really about much more. It explains why the Space Shuttle is on the ground, and why the last Saturn V was turned into a lawn ornament.
And back to work.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Well, I should probably do something for my employer now. They get funny about that sort of thing. Especially when they pay you. I find that attitude rather strange.
Speaking of incompetence, I am trying to order a second phone line from Verizon, my government-protected monopoly phone service provider. They have this slick web site that lets me put in my phone number, some other personal information to verify my identity, then order all kinds of stuff like extra phone lines, long distance, etc. I need a second phone line if I am going to go back to dial-up. So I go through this long process filling out all kinds of forms for all kinds of options, get the last page that tells you what your new phone number is and how much it all costs (almost half the cost is taxes; and people wonder why I'm libertarian...), and.... Service Unavailable; please try again later. Over and over. No matter how many times I try, I cannot get past the last screen and finalize the deal.
Aha! I found the trick. Criticize the company on my blog and like magic, the web site begins to work. Of course some bright college-degree-holding web programmer decided that no one would ever need more than 90 characters to give directions to their house. Stupid.
This is pretty funny. It is one of my biggest peeves about education. The problem, of course, is that only about 20% of any high school graduating class have any business in a university, but we as a society have decided that college education is a right like freedom of speech, and therefore must be available to everyone regardless of their mental ability. So the entire class suffers by being slowed down by morons like this.
Here are some thoughts on the future of the US. I tend to agree, although, like any prediction, there is more uncertainty than certainty.
That's it for today. I'm calling the phone company to have our second phone line reconnected. The wireless is, as far as I'm concerned, dead.
Monday, April 04, 2005
The weather has been beautiful lately. The daytime temps have been in the 50's and sunny. Debbie was downstate visiting her mother, so Nestina and I spent the entire day wandering around the property, digging a small pond, and setting a couple rocks that will eventually form a retaining wall. I am reserving all my Saturdays from here until snow flies next winter for such pursuits (yea, right).
Sunday was church in the AM and the afternoon spent on small projects. The church had a group come in for the evening service that we used before. Nestina worked the phones and got a fair-sized group of teens to come. The problem was that the group had gone through a transition of sorts with the result being a dramatic shift in musical style and ability. I guess the nicest thing I can say is that neither change was positive. In any case, we hung out afterwards with the teens, ate pizza and junk food, and played soccer in the gym until after 9pm. The rest was home, then bed. Even though it felt good to work hard Saturday, then play hard on Sunday, I am pretty sore today.
Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) died on Saturday. Others have commented far more eloquently than I ever could. This is one Protestant that will be praying for the Roman Catholic leadership and laity. Whatever I may think of his theology, he was far closer to God than I can ever hope to be.
Jerry Pournelle says it best:
The Republic is safe. Martha Stewart is still on probation and has served prison time for telling investigators she did not do an act that turned out not to be criminal if she had done it. Sandy Berger will pay a fine for removal of national security documents and for destroying some of them; and will not be charged with lying to federal officers when he said he hadn't done it, then said it was inadvertent. We will not be safer for jailing Sandy Berger.And from Jerry's mailbag:
Subject: Political Correctness rules our schools
In Oregon, McKay High School principal Cynthia Richardson has banned a picture of graduate Bill Riecke from an exhibit showcasing past McKay graduates. Cpl. Riecke, USMC, is serving in Iraq, and the picture was taken there. Ms. Richardson prohibited the photo because Cpl. Riecke is armed. She offered to post the picture if the weapon was digitally removed with Photoshop.
Full story here: http://www.katu.com/stories/76079.html
I wish that were an April Fool's Day joke, but alas...
Clearly what the schools need is more money and higher salaries for principals. That will fix everything.
Subject: Dark days indeed
NASA Review: Hubble Headed For Deorbit-Option OnlyThere was a time some at NASA dreamed of walking not just on the moon, not just on Mars, but on other worlds circling other stars. We now can't even fix a telescope orbiting our planet and don't even have the will to try. Spend all the money on ISS and Shuttle. Damn all the rest. Didn't they learn anything by turning the most powerful machine ever built into a lawn ornament just to get a poor excuse for a spaceship? This hurts.
"A major review last week of servicing the Hubble Space Telescope has led NASA officials to a 'deorbit only' position."
My promise to any politician reading this (as if they care): I will never vote for another politician that squanders my money on NASA.
Braxton S. Cook
NASA has done some good. But mostly that was long ago.
And as if we needed it, one more reason to hate what NASA has become since the Apollo days.
Another indication just how far out of synch with reality the average adult is with reality. This should not come as a surprise to anyone paying the least attention to our kids.
And another Vox Day column hits the mark. I don't agree that what was done in Florida was clearly legal, but it is certainly within the bounds of what could be legal, given current political reality.
And a reminder from Vox Day about priorities. It is truely amazing that the western world is so fabulously wealthy that we can afford to pay people unimaginable sums of money to play games for our collective amusement. But at the end of the day, they are still just games.
That's it for today.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Monday was the kick-off meeting for the church's web design team, Tuesday was a deacon's meeting, Wednesday was youth group, and yesterday we had invited a half-dozen or so people over to our house for dinner (two showed up). So now it's Friday, and I'm not sure what happened to my week.
In any case, tonight is supposed to be just the three of us relaxing at home, having a home-cooked meal, watching movies, etc. I'm not betting the bank account that it will actually happen, but it sounds good in theory.
And if you have sent me e-mail that I have not responded to, I am sorry. We still have no internet connection at home despite my taking Wednesday off work to be home for yet another technician to come and swap around equipment. The connection is just plain dead. In the past when we had problems, there would at least be a few packets that would get through, or things would work sporatically as the connection dropped in and out. Now there is nothing. As I said before, this has been an expensive experiment. I will be signing us up for a dialup connection and a second phone line today. I am all done with wireless.
Terry Schiavo is dead; executed by the courts of Florida and these United States by dehydration (in less enlightened times, that would be called torture). For her, it is over and one can only hope she has finally found peace. For those of us left alive, I am afraid that this is just the beginning. I hear a lot of posturing and hot air, but what I don't see is anyone actually defending the concept of a republic ruled by the people. I'm not sure what the technical name is for a nation ruled by judges holding lifetime appointments, but it is certainly not a republic. There are some people in this country that think this may prove to be important somewhere along the way. Not many, but some.
At the very least, I would like to see Jeb Bush, acting fully within his constitutional powers, fire Florida probate court judge George Greer. It won't happen for reasons I have already stated and have been proven true by the complete lack of any effective action. There was lots of action, but none of it accomplished anything. There was only one thing to do; remove Judge Greer and reinsert the feeding tube until qualified medical personnel (not hand-selected by her husband who clearly wished his wife out of the way) could determine her condition. If the National Guard needed to be used to accomplish this, then so be it. Instead we have the Bush Pussies running around doing nothing of worth while a woman is tortured to death over nearly two weeks.
The Bush Pussies. Sounds like the name of a punk rock band.
Anyway, back to work.