Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Today was our first day converting sun into electricity. We aren't getting as much out of them as I had hoped, but it is getting pretty late in the year. I already have them up at the winter angle. It's a little early for that, but I figured there wasn't any point in setting them at the summer angle for two weeks, then moving them back.

Anyway, I'm hoping this will at least cut down on the amount of gas we put through the generator. We've been doing good on the fuel front, but this will help us do even better.

Well, I need to get to bed. I just noticed that I had not posted anything in a while and figured I would take a second to put something up here.

To make up for today's short post, go read this on why our schools suck. It's a long essay, but worth every minute to read. I will be adding this guy to my links.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Blogger ate my post for today. Ordinarily, that would be no great loss, but this time I had actually typed quite a bit. It was probably my fault; I didn't want to lose the post if something went crazy, so I was trying to copy/paste what I had typed and something went wrong. I have no idea what; what I had typed just disappeared. So this is a redo which means it will be shorter and more to the point.

Yesterday was college again. Only three more class sessions to go. It's hard to imagine that it has been 18 months already. At the same time, it seems like I've been doing this forever. I don't remember what it is like to not have 100 pages of reading and a 10-page paper hanging over my head every single week, week after week, without any breaks or end in site.

The real question is what is next. I can't see myself in graduate school at this point. For one thing, I need to pay for this program first. I've been paying for all this with student loans, so I have to pay it all back before anything else. I'm also not sure that I really want to go to seminary at this point in any case. This program has been very practical; from what I hear, most seminaries are starting to get the idea, but they are still in transition from academic to practical. Maybe they will have it together by the time I'm ready. Or not. The funny thing is that I got into all this because I wanted to take some Greek and Hebrew classes, which only seem to exist in seminary. None of the seminaries I talked to would even allow me to audit a class unless I had a bachelors degree. So now it is 18 months and $20,000 later, and I still don't have my Greek or Hebrew. I do need to take 15 credits of Bible courses. It looks like Moody does have some entry-level Greek courses that I can take by mail or online. I need to nail down what Cornerstone will transfer from Moody. I tried to get some information last night, but of course Cornerstone makes that as difficult as possible. Understandable from a marketing perspective; Moody runs on funds from an endowment so their classes cost less than half of what Cornerstone charges. Of course, I thought this was a Christian college that was interested in preparing students for ministry, not a business. My mistake.

In any case, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what comes next. I have known for some time that I was not comfortable where I am at. The average church today just doesn't seem to work, at least in terms of what is described in the book of Acts. I thought it was just me until I began this program and started to talk to others that felt the same way. I started studying and brainstorming with some of my study group and we came up with some ideas. It's something that Debbie and I can start doing right now. The problem is what the reaction in our church will be. Because so many families have left the church recently, emotions are running high with a lot of talk of loyalty and such. If we start a ministry that is separate from the church, it will not likely be taken well.

The biggest tie we have is our kids. I can't leave them, and I don't think Debbie ever could either. But there isn't much else that is really keeping us there. I would like to finish out my term on the board, but it's not like the world will end if I don't. I don't feel I have contributed much of anything. In fact, I often wonder just what it is we do that is so vital. We never talk about anything of substance; just building maintenance and budgets. We never talk about why we do what we do, if what we do has any measurable results, if there may be a better way to accomplish the same goals, etc. The rest of it is just an endless series of tasks. I never get to talk to people on Sunday morning because of all the scurrying around I end up doing. We keep trying to redefine Sunday evening service as something other than "Sunday Morning Lite," but it keeps slipping back into that. Most weeks it is all I can do to stay conscious. Even the endless demands to have more activities for the youth is starting to really wear on me. It's even starting to wear on the teens; we just have too much planned. All of our meetings are consumed by planning events. I would much rather see our time and money spent to make the youth rooms less like dungeons (the teens' opinion, not mine), developing some meaningful lesson plans so we have some idea what we are covering in the seven years we have these kids, and developing ourselves as leaders.

In any case, it's late and I'm rambling.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I finally heard back from Blogger support last night. Yes, my template had been eaten by a gremlin they have been chasing for some time. No, it cannot be restored. No great loss at this point: I've more or less rebuilt my template anyway, but now I send a copy of it to myself via e-mail every time I make a change.

An interesting news item I heard this morning on the drive in:

The fastest speeding ticket in Minnesota.

That record will likely stick for a while. Obviously, the self-preservation gene is missing in this guy's family. I've been up to 120 mph on the highway (it wasn't me driving, Mom) and have no desire to repeat the experience. Things happen fast when you get above 100 mph. That's why most high-speed police chases end with a car crash. Watching NASCAR makes it look easy, but it isn't. Professional race car drivers are genetic mutants with far faster than normal reaction times. I can't imagine 205 mph. Doing it on a motorcycle is just completely over the top.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

It looks like our e-mail has been successfully transferred over to Yahoo and our old web site address is now redirected to here. I still have everything that was on the old site. Things that I deem worthy will be put up here. It likely won't be much. Most of what I had on the old site was rather dated and not very interesting to anyone including myself.

I did work and homework today; not much else. It is late, but I'm not really tired. I will probably mess about here for a bit, then hit the sack.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I played golf Saturday. I'm not admitting to my score in public, but I think it had to have been some sort of new club record. Now I am stiff and sore. Sunday was Sunday except for a highlight on Sunday night. One of our new believers in the youth group was baptized. There were some other disturbing things, but I really don't care right now.

Today was Monday all day. Work was work, then home for my favorite: bills. As usual, our bank accounts are just pipelines that our money flows through from our employers to our creditors. The American dream my butt. More like a nightmare. If we can just hang on for another 45 days, all will be well. Or better at least. That will be when I go back to 40-hour weeks for the first time in three years or so. Then it is catch up time.

I continue to rebuild my blog template that Blogger so kindly destroyed (and never bothered to respond to my request for a restore). These guys are as unresponsive as the network people at work. If I ever ignored my customers the way these guys do, I would have been fired in my first week. I guess it's different in the PC world.

Anyway, it is way past bedtime.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I see that now James Dobson is trying to make all Christians look like complete idiots. Hey Dr. Dobson: do us all a favor and shut up! The relevant paragraph:
The family advocate says while the company does not explicitly endorse same-sex marriage, its statements and policies communicate the notion that restricting marriage to one man and one woman is discriminatory.

Just how is P&G communicating a "notion?" This sounds suspiciously like the Amway-created lie that P&G gives money to the Satanist Church. One of the guys in my cohort at college wrote a song called "Shut Yo Mouth, Christian." Maybe I'll send it to Dobson.


Well, Blogger still hasn't responded to my request to restore my template. While I wait for them, I will set up one of the delivered ones. I have made a lot of customizations, so I hate to start all over again. I hope they can restore what was lost. I guess I need to start e-mailing copies of the template code to myself for safe keeping.

It looks like the last class will be a good one. We covered a lot of ground last night; all of it interesting. The next four weeks will be fun if for no other reason than it is the last four weeks that I have to drive to Grand Rapids every Thursday. I can go back to working a 40 hour week as well. That will certainly help with the budget. We can maybe start getting on top of things. And now that we have a good internet connection at home, we are going to start having a fire sale. Anything that isn't nailed to the floor gets sold until we have some bills paid off. Look for us on E-Bay soon. I may start setting things up this weekend, if I get a chance.

Speaking of this weekend, if anyone wants to get a good belly laugh, I will be playing golf on Saturday at the Grandview golf course in Kalkaska. I haven't touched a golf club since my uncle took myself and a bunch of my cousins out for nine holes at Twin Birch. To give you some idea of how long ago that was, Twin Birch only had nine holes. I was probably around 11 or 12 at that time. I had no idea what I was doing then, and I doubt my game has improved much...

Anyway, I need to get to work.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Great News!!! I am posting this update from my desk in the basement of my house! Not only do I have internet, I have fast internet. The first thing I did was go to the Windows update site and download all the patches that I have been missing from not having internet access for so long. The critical update download was 8 meg. With dial-up, that would have been an overnight download. With my new, way cool wireless high speed access, it took about five minutes.

Because I now have an always-on connection, I took some additional precautions. First, I am sitting behind a router, although I don't like how they have it configured. I will see if I can do something about that. I also have the latest versions and definition files for Ad-Aware, Spybot, AVG, and Zone Alarm. So far, pop-ups haven't been a problem even when I am using Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla. If I start noticing them, I will grab one of the many free pop-up blockers.

Blogger has somehow managed to completely mangle my page. I will see if posting this and republishing the entire blog will fix it. Thanks, blogger.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Well, I got as far as the Garfield Road Burger King when Maylone Enterprises called and cancelled the equipment install. They have a batch of bad components, so rather than come out and do part of the work, then have to come back again later in the week to do the rest, they just asked to reschedule. I grabbed some lunch and headed back to work for the rest of the day.

The evening was just dog duty and reading for class on Thursday. I still have some written work that I need to get done, but nothing very difficult. I should be able to crank it out today after youth group.

Tomorrow, I am going to try to wake up early enough to work on the solar panels some. I should be able to at least get the primary wires from the combiner box to the inverter hooked up. Then all I have to do is wire the individual panels to the combiner box. At that point, we will be operating on free electricity from the sun.

That's about it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

We are getting closer to having phones at the house. Friday, two technicians from Maylone Enterprises came by the house to do a site survey. It worked, and they had what they needed to do the install of the outside equipment. Someone is supposed to come by this week and install the inside equipment. That will get us high-speed internet access. Then we can get set up for a voice-over-IP connection. We may even be able to keep our current phone number. We will have to see how everything shakes out.

The weekend was typically busy. Saturday, I took a bunch of people out to the dunes as part of our missionary conference. And of course, Sunday was Sunday. The bottom line is that I didn't get much accomplished around the house. So last night I decided to skip homework and try to make some progress in getting the solar panels hooked up. All the ground wires are run, the outside combiner box is set, and the primary line is buried going into the power shed. If I can get a couple more hours, I can have everything hooked up. The trick is finding those couple hours.

Not much exciting on tap for the week. Tonight I get to do dog duty because Debbie has some sort of hen party. I will probably only be there for an hour or so just to feed the dogs and mess with them for a little while. If it is still daylight when I get home, I may try to get a little more work done out at the power shed.

I just talked to the tech guys from Maylone Enterprises again. They want to come out today and install the indoor equipment. Of course, I can't get in touch with my parents, which means I will have to take another day off work, drive home, take care of all that, then drive halfway back to work to do the dog thing. Ah well. At least we are making some serious progress on the whole communication front. With all the things we can cancel out, the money will be a wash and we will finally have high-speed internet access. The only thing we lose is the web site at We will keep the domain and transfer the e-mail addresses over to Yahoo. As long as Blogger stays in business (something far more likely now that Google is involved) the web site won't be missed much.

That's it for now. I need to find my parents or start hoofing it home.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Still no phones at the Frost household. I have a company coming out today or Friday to do a site survey for wireless. Maybe in the next couple weeks we will have a way to contact the outside world. Maybe.

This weekend was busy as expected. Saturday we were in Flint for a 50th wedding anniversary for some friends from the church I grew up in. Then Sunday was pretty much Sunday with a last-minute end-of-summer pool party after the evening service. Monday, I was up at 7am to haul a tractor from Mancelona down to the church to do some work on the site of our future ball diamond, then haul it back. It was cool because I've never had a chance to haul anything big with my truck before. No problems at all.

That took until around 1pm, and I had two other projects to work on. One was outside (getting the solar panels hooked up) and the other was inside (rewiring the well pump). I got rained off the outside job, then got stuck trying to figure out how to use the timer to start the well pump. The documentation that came with it leaves much to be desired. Whoever wrote it assumed that anyone buying such a thing already knows how it works. Well, I didn't. The bottom line was I ended up working on homework most of the evening, which needed to be done as well.

Yesterday was work and dinner at a house Debbie will be dog sitting at. The owners thought it would be a good idea to get acquainted with the dogs before they left town. That took up the whole evening. The dogs look to be a lot of fun; a Great Dane and a medium-sized mutt. Both are friendly, although it took the Great Dane a bit to get used to me. She lives with all females, so a male in the house was a new experience for her. But I won her over with my wit and charm. As usual.

Today is a bit of a day off. Not from work, but at church; we are starting our missionary conference tonight, so I don't have to teach. It will be fun just to sit with everyone else and listen for a change.

Anyway, that's it. You will know when we get internet access because this place will finally start being updated on a more routine basis. Until next time...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Well, it looks like we will not have phone service for a while. I will be calling Verizon this afternoon and giving them two choices: install what I paid for five years ago (that was never installed correctly) at no cost to me or anyone else, or disconnect both numbers. We will pursue wireless through a place that I had contacted when the line was first cut back in the beginning of August. I'm sure we can at least get data access working; voice may take some more effort, but as funny as it sounds, that is actually less important. The lack of data access is killing me with my job and at college. I have to get that back.

Another great U.S. company I will never do business with again is Northstar. We spent $3,000 on a diesel generator from these idiots and it has been nothing but a pain in the butt. It is unreliable, looks like it was put together by chimps, and puts out absolutely nasty power. The diesel engine is still in great shape, but the electronics on the generator end are trashed. We are currently in a serious scramble mode to figure out how to keep the lights on. One priority for the week will be to get the solar panels hooked up. I dragged everything out last night and it doesn't look to be that hard. The problem is that I have college tomorrow, work Friday, and a 50th wedding anniversary in Flint on Saturday. I may just blow off work Friday in order to get this taken care of. I probably don't have the vacation time, but when has that ever stopped me before. Some day we will get this all sorted out.

I have a software upgrade today on a real pain-in-the-butt system. It sort of runs over the network, but not really well. Most of the files are on the individual PC's meaning that each machine has to be updated in sequence. We are three updates behind, so I get to run through all this multiple times. Worse, some of the machines are not even on the main campus, so I will be trying to remote them. There are days I like my job better than others. This is definitely one of the "others."

Well, If I'm stuck here half the night working on this, I'll probably put some more time into cleaning things up here. Otherwise, it will be tomorrow or Friday before I have a chance to mess with things.