Thursday, October 28, 2004

Jason Pierce is Getting Married!!

In case anyone in the Wiklanski clan didn't get the e-mail, we received the following e-mail from Jason:
Hi everyone,

Sorry for the group email, but it is easier and I am lazy. I wanted to let everyone know, that I am getting married. SURPRISE! We have two dates and I am not sure yet which one it will be, but July 2 and Oct 1 are the choices so far, and yes, 2005. Her name is Candace, she has two boys, Gabe and Mitch. We have been together for only a few months, but when you know something is real and for sure, then why bother to put it off. I asked her Friday night, reserved the hall on Friday (yes, before I asked her). I just wanted to let everyone know and to make sure that your only plans for one of these weekends (I will have a definite decision very soon) were to be in Petoskey. Hope all is well with everyone, and I know that I don't have everyones addresses, so please send this on. Thank you.

Love, Jason
And another one bites the dust...
Three articles that can be considered somewhat important. I have been saying for a while that the time is coming that churches will have to decide what is really important; their 501c3 designation by the IRS or being a church. We are closer to that day than many realize:

IRS: Churches can't pray for Bush victory

Political snitches monitor sermons

Democrats back church IRS probe

Now I understand that these are all from WorldNetDaily which tends to get very over-wrought about minor rulings relating to very narrow circumstances. But even taking that into account, I think there is reason here for churches to at least start thinking about a response.

More later if I have time.
It's Thursday and I'm at work. That's a first in what seems like forever.

Not much to report over the last couple of days. I had a deacon meeting Tuesday night, and youth group last night. I'm looking forward to actually going home today after work and have nothing to do and nowhere to be. Well, that's not entirely true; I do have 11 credit hours of college material staring at me. I will probably start cranking through a bunch of that stuff tonight and try to get everything organized. I would like to get all the prep work done for the first paper and first exam. The tests are going to be a problem; I need an "acceptable proctor" to administer the test so I won't cheat. I'm 40 years old and I'm taking a Bible class (which cost me $500) so I can go into vocational ministry, but I have to have somebody watch me take a multiple-guess test to make sure I don't cheat.

Anyway, not much other to report. Other than the fact that the weather stinks. It's all my fault; ever since I hooked up the solar panels, we've seen the sun on maybe three or four days. This Saturday, we are going to try to cut and chip trees at the church again, so of course there are supposed to be high winds and lightning. We have to at least clear the trees away from the sides of the driveways and the parking areas so I can plow the drive this winter and have a place to stack the snow. We had to bring in a front loader last year; the parking area was getting mighty small even though we started out plowing nearly twice the area of the actual parking lot. If we ever start getting real snow again, we would be forced to pay to have snow hauled away two or three times during the winter.

Anyway, I need to do some work.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Another crazy weekend. We were busy; just not doing what we had planned. I was supposed to be at the church for a work day Saturday, but high winds and horizontal rain killed that (we were supposed to cut done a bunch of trees and run them through a chipper). I still had to go to the church for praise team practice, then home for some much-needed cleaning and organizing around the house. We both cleaned up and went into Traverse City for closet organizer parts and various other sundries. I was starting to get caught up on all the half-done projects, so of course we had to buy supplies for a bunch of new ones...

Anyway, by the time we did all that and spent two and a half hours at Outback (nearly an hour wait, plus everything running slow because of the huge crowd) that was pretty much our Saturday when we got home. Debbie hit the sack, and I did some reading and put together a lesson for Sunday morning, then did likewise.

Sunday was typical. We spent the afternoon at home napping, watching TV, reading, etc. We headed over to my sister's place after evening service to try to hammer out some details for my parents 50th wedding anniversary party that is in two weeks. All I can say is that I'm glad I only have to do this once. I hate planning things anyway, and this is just a huge pain. I'm sure we will pull it off, but I'll be glad when it's over.

Anyway, I have to run so I can get to the dealership at 5:30. GM has a recall on the tailgate cables on my truck. They rust through because the are made out of steel. The recall replaces them with stainless steel. Wow. What a revelation. Steel rusts in Michigan. It took the bright boys at GM over 100 years to figure that out. I'm amazed. At the stupidity of large groups of people working together, that is. Anyway, I have to waste an hour of my life because GM was too stupid (or too cheap) to put stainless steel cables on my $45,000 truck in the first place. Sheesh.


Oops. almost forgot. I don't care for people like Bill Maher as a rule, but this is something that people in the Church need to think about and figure out a coherent response to.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Chart of Church Denominations

Here is a .pdf file that shows where most if not all North American denominations came from.
Just a quick note. I just noticed I have a Mandatory Meeting at the main campus today, so I have to scoot over there for the rest of the day. A couple important articles:

A rather disturbing article on what on the surface appears to be a case of homicide by organ harvesting.

An another important article on how our educational system is having a negative effect on our ability to compete in technology. Again, we should be talking about this as a nation. We are not. As I and many others have said before, there are things we can't fix and there are things we won't fix. This is a problem of the second sort.

I will be hanging drywall this evening in our pastor's garage; ifI have the energy afterwards, I will post more here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I almost never post anything on Thursday's because I am at class. So in celebration of not having class today, I thought I would put something up here.

I had hoped to get a lot done today. I suppose I did, but it was all stuff that doesn't really look like much was done. I spent a couple hours at the high school just hanging around with some of the teens. I made a couple contacts that I normally don't see, which was good. I picked up $100 worth of spray foam and caulk, then spent the rest of the day working on sealing the place up. The basement in complete, and I got about 3/4 of the main floor done. The foam and caulk are disappearing fast; no wonder we spent so much money heating the place last year. I expect to do much better this year.

More work being done on our road today. There was a really big truck full of gravel and a road grader out doing a bunch of work. I talked to him about widening out the sweeps where our road T's into the paved road. Our road basically butts right into the paved road with no real apron or shoulders on the road. To turn right off our road, I either have to cross the center line on a blind curve, or roll the back wheels through the ditch. That's not too bad in the summer (other than a pretty good bounce), but I've almost lost my truck in the snow a few times in the winter. He is also going to see about moving the stop sign at the end of our road. They put it in the road instead of beside the road. Kalkaska road crews are not the brightest bulbs in the box.

Anyway, it's getting late and I want to be to work at a decent time tomorrow. I'm supposed to meet a couple people at the pastor's house to help him drywall his garage. Should be fun, fun, fun.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Daddy's Ten Rules of Dating

I may not have daughters of my own, but I do have my girls in the youth group. Males in Kalkaska and surrounding counties; take heed.

Rule One:
If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two:
You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three:
I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four:
I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing a "Barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five:
It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: "early."

Rule Six:
I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven:
As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process than can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight:
The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka -- zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:
Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless God of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten:
Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car -- there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

I'm trying to work from home today, without much success. I need to call the help desk and find out what the problem is. In the meantime, I found this while cleaning out my old mail:

It seems that with the terrorist attacks, duck-and-cover (if you don't know what that is, ask someone who was in school in the 1960's) is back, only our schools crank out such a high percentage of illiterates that they have to use pictures. These are actual signs proposed by the US government, with some rather irreverent interpretations.

Well, I have to call the help desk. More later. Maybe.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Some more gems in my old e-mail. This is from Keith, a very bright guy on one of my mailing lists. Understand that he wrote this on April 4, 2003 in response to an essay about how much the "average" Iraqi wanted us to invade Iraq:

I think this is likely to be true of some of the people in Iraq; a lot of Iraqis welcome this invasion. We will find allies among the Shiites and the Christians and the Kurds.

But there are millions of people there, coming from a tradition of shooting instead of talking. Millions are beholden to Saddam. This will make constructing a democracy difficult, and it will mean there are millions ready to shoot at us.

One of the irritating phrases that often comes up in conversation is "the average Iraqi". The vision conveyed is "average middle-class American with different clothes and language and religion", and behavior and reactions are extrapolated from that. Iraq is a hodgepodge of people, without a dominant archetype; if I had to characterize it, I would say a mixture of Shiite, Kurd, Sunni Arab, secular, with a sprinkle of oddball Christian. Or as herder, farmer, shopkeeper, army, bureaucrat, police. Or as revolutionary, disgruntled, apathetic, stooge, collaborator, ward heeler, leader. Or as cattle and rancher; the Baath monsters act like a species apart. If there are any with "average American" behavior, they left and came here.

The government resembles an insular Bolshevik street gang with millions of members, bound by evil initiatory acts that forever isolate them from their neighbors. The violence and murder committed by the Baath party performs no useful political function. Instead, it initiates the perpetrators into the cult of Saddam, and binds them to the regime as fear or greed alone never could. Street gangs and organized crime work the same way here. The opinions of the victims are not the opinions of the gangsters.

Will the shopkeepers fight? Of course not. Will the Baath regulars, informers, dependents? Of course. When the U.S. wins, the gangsters will get killed by their neighbors anyway.

Sampling one family, one neighborhood, one creed, or one border guard does not make a complete picture. You and I have a lot more in common with a Muslim Iraqi immigrant to America than any given Iraqi has with another Iraqi.

And this means we will see millions waving, and millions shooting, and millions in between hunkered down and waiting for it all to end. We should be ready for a long period of mutual annihilation, and it will be difficult to separate the people we can work with and the people we can't. If we go into this assuming "the average Iraqi will like us", and we encounter continuing heavy resistance, then we may decide "the average Iraqi hates us" and react vindictively. If we instead recognize that there are no averages, only individuals, we can make friends individually, one at a time, and work our way slowly but surely to a peaceful and friendly democratic Iraq.
Prophetic, to say the least.

And a quote that resonates with me:

A Committee is a blind alley down which good ideas are lured, and quietly strangled.
-Charles F. Young

And another one from Keith. It is four years old, but nothing has changed other than substituting "Kerry" for "Gore":

If this country has sunk to the point that four years of a single person of any persuasion can change things forever, then it is time to set off our own H-Bombs in the silos and hope God will be there to sort us out in the Hereafter.

I challenge anyone on this list to provide a quote from the Bible, counseling despair as a Christian virtue. Yes, we live in a sinful world. Yes, there are people that appear to our limited senses as more evil or less evil. But the most evil thing of all, I would think, is to assign any one of them Godlike powers to change the world forever, beyond the ability of any one of us to work towards its restoration.

The collectivist sin is to "act globally", that is, not act at all, and to pretend the actions of others are your own. Or that Bush or Gore or Browne or God will do the job for you, that you can sit back and be a drama critic. To pretend that your vote matters, is crucial, except ... when your politician does something loathsome, to cast off the responsibility by prating that the other guy would have been worse, or that somehow the responsibility gets diffused in a democracy.

But there is a worse sin than that. This sin is to act petulantly, and vindictively, and act to thwart those who don't act according to your wishes. "Voting for the lesser" is nothing more than acting to thwart those who think your lesser evil is the greater evil. As they act to thwart you. Are not Bush and Gore exactly the kind of reward an angry and just God would give to the American people for being so hard-hearted and nasty?

When tribulation comes, it will rain down on the good and the wicked alike. But there is a difference in what it means to each. A wicked man may sense in that tribulation worse to come, and will lose hope. A truly good man will look at the tribulation as an external event, a temporary storm cloud that cannot last forever. And even this agnostic can see that a single man, helpless, friendless, nailed to a cross by a mighty empire, can vanquish that empire and change the world forever. It is never hopeless when you do good.

A vote is a chance to speak the truth, quietly, timidly, allowing even the meek to be heard. If the Libertarians don't get enough votes they lose ballot access and that chance will be difficult to regain. But that is not the reason you should speak the truth; we can circulate those petitions again. The Democrats can take away your guns and money. But there is a world full of iron and gold ore; you can make more.

Nothing you have is irreplaceable in this world, except for your integrity and your soul. If you use your vote as a lie, or if you use it to thwart and punish others for disagreeing with you, if you write "George W. Bush" because other deluded fools are writing "Albert Gore", how can you ever be free? And why do you think you deserve freedom anyway, if you can use the sins of others to justify your own?

I don't agree with everything that Harry Browne is or says or does. Of the nominees presented at the LP convention, he was number three on my list. But I would be willing (gulp!) to stand in front of any judge (or Judge) and personally take what ever punishments Mr. Browne has coming to him (and there would be some, no man is perfect, and even unelected leaders have plenty of chances to sin). That is what my vote means to me. It is my word, my bond, my pledge of loyalty. My assent. Can you say the same about the folks you are voting for? If so, bless you and good luck.

I started this thread with the idea that votes come with both a public and a personal (spiritual?) dimension. The public dimension consumed the argument; most of the Bush voters are writing like there is no personal dimension. I can imagine why - to think that a single act could possibly cast one into the Pit, even a worldly one of separation from those whom your vote is intended to reject, is a hard thing to think about. But we aren't on this planet to think about the easy stuff.

It is better to win battles than to lose them, granted. But Jesus told us that the peacemakers were blessed, and didn't even mention the "victors". In the long run, which team do you want to be on?
It always strikes me as funny how the same junk gets recycled every four years. I'm closer now than at any time since I turned 18 to just saying forget the whole mess and stay home.

And this was a response from Bill on the same mailing list:

Imagine that we are all on a large ship together. The ship is slowly sinking and various compartments of the ship are becoming submerged or at least very wet. The ship is littered with holes of various sizes in the hull and water is coming onboard through all of them. Some people spend all there time trying to siphon and pump water from one compartment to another. They try to intercept water coming into one compartment and make it go into another compartment instead. Each person is thinking of the stuff that's in their favorite compartments. Some people want to save the guns so they are pumping water from there into the compartment holding the endangered baby owls. Some people want to save the dirty books and alternative artwork, so they are pumping water from there into the compartment holding all the American flags.

The majority of the people are fighting over which compartments should be pumped out and which ones can be sacrificed. All the while the boat just keeps getting lower in the water because there are not enough people trying to plug up the holes in the hull and bail water back out into the ocean again.

There are plenty of people on board who know that they really should be plugging holes getting the water all the way out of the ship by manning the bilge pumps but they keep getting distracted by the fact that their favorite stuff is threatened by water coming from somebody else's compartment so they abandon the bilge pumps for a while to try to save their favorite stuff. A few people are hanging on the outside of the ship and attempting to plug the holes below the water line to stop the ship from sinking. And a few people are laboring hard at the bilge pumps but not enough of them.

The bilge pumpers and hole pluggers keep yelling for help and trying to impress on others the importance of reducing the overall amount of water in the ship and the amount of water gushing into the ship but to no avail. Ninety percent of the energy on the ship is still just pumping water from one room to another. The compartment siphoners are always amazed at the bilge pumpers because they think they are wasting their time. "Look at all these wet flags", they say. "Why aren't you helping me keep these flags dry?" "The owls are up to their knees in saltwater now. How dare you let the owls get so wet?", they howl.

In every compartment there is a worker, completely focused on the task at hand. They must get this water to go someplace else or their stuff will be submerged. They scramble around for pipes and pumps and drill holes into other compartments to get water off of their stuff and onto somebody else's stuff.

Whenever the bilge pumpers start yelling for help all the compartment siphoners just ignore them. You see, there was a rumor that the bilge pumpers are only interested in getting all the water out of the ship because it was their marijuana shipment in the ballast hold that was the first thing to get flooded.

The bilge pumpers are completely focused on cranking their pumps. They can't understand why anybody would waste time pumping water from one place to another because it's obvious it's not reducing the amount of water in the ship. The hole pluggers are flabbergasted that the bilge pumpers don't understand the importance of plugging the holes before worrying about getting the water back out of the ship. "The water's just going to keep coming in until the holes are plugged", they say.

Well, of course the ship sank and everyone on board died. The investigators who looked into the event just shook their heads and kept repeating to themselves. "Why didn't they all work together to repair the holes first, then pump all the water out of the ship? That's the only way they could have saved themselves. And why are all these hoses just running from one compartment to another?"
Which is funny, but also quite sad when you think about it.

And that should be enough for now, unless I un-earth some more e-mails.
Wow. A whole week went by without me putting anything here. I'm not even sure where the week went.

Tuesday and Wednesday were consumed with homework for my last class session. Thursday was my last class session (Woo Hoo!!). This weekend was mostly sleeping. I have a lot of lost sleep to catch up on. It feels weird not having any reading or a paper or anything that I should be working on. It was great to just sit in a chair and do nothing. Saturday, I puttered around the house a little. I couldn't really work on much because is was raining/sleeting/snowing all day. The worst of the snow must have missed us because a couple cars in the church parking lot on Sunday morning had several inches of snow on them. We didn't have snow that stuck to anything at our place.

Because I was stuck inside, I decided to start sealing up the doors and windows better. Some had fiberglass insulation packed around them, some partially, some not at all. I either packed the fiberglass tighter or removed some of it to make room for the foam. The "Great Stuff" brand now has a version for doors and windows that is lower expansion so it doesn't jam everything up when it expands. It worked pretty well, although the lower expansion rate means it takes a lot more to fill any given opening. Three cans barely did the three basement windows and the French door. That means that I need ten or more cans to do all the windows and doors. Plus, I need a lot of caulk. The logs have dried out creating some cracks in the butt joints in the middle of the walls. I also need to seal a lot of other places where pipes go through walls, etc. I ought to be busy for a while.

This story is funny, weird, and a little sad. These kinds of stories always seem to come out of Alaska.

This story has some disturbing implications. I wonder what other brands are indelibly etched on our brains? The part that disturbed me most:

At the same time the researchers found that the Coke label stimulated a huge increase in activity in parts of the brain associated with cultural knowledge, memory and self-image - so much that the scientists could use brain scans to predict which soft drink an individual was likely to prefer.
So much for free will...

And as oil prices continue to climb, the ideas in this article will become more important. I just wonder if we will bother to do anything before a crisis. Probably not.

On a lighter note:


You are Form 5, Dragon: The Weaver.

"And The Dragon separated the virtuous from the sinful. He tore his eyes from his sockets and used them to peer into the souls of those on trial to make a judgment. He knew that with endless knowledge came endless responsibility."

Some examples of the Dragon Form are Athena (Greek), St. Peter (Christian), and Surya (Indian). The Dragon is associated with the concept of intelligence, the number 5, and the element of wood. His sign is the crescent moon.

As a member of Form 5, you are an intelligent and wise individual. You weigh options by looking at how logical they are and you know that while there may not always be a right or wrong choice, there is always a logical one. People may say you are too indecisive, but it's only because you want to do what's right. Dragons are the best friends to have because they're willing to learn.

Which Mythological Form Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

And that ought to be enough for now. I will sincerely try to update more often this week.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Made some progress this weekend. I got the generators swapped around so we can charge up the batteries a lot easier. I cleaned out the power shed and set up the door to the battery room so it is sealed. Well, not quite yet; I still need to foam in around the door frame. But I did get the threshold put in and the foam gasket around the door. It seals up pretty tight. The only job left is to put in a vent through the floor of the battery room to let fresh air in when the exhaust vent is running.

A big chunk of Saturday was spent cleaning the house for company on Sunday. We invited the youth group out for lunch after Sunday morning service, so we figured even if they were just teenagers, we should at least scrape up the worst of it. One advantage of having people over every couple of weeks: the house gets periodic cleanings. I did notice one thing while cleaning. We seem to be getting a huge amount of dust from somewhere. The first couple of times, it didn't surprise me much because we were cleaning up after the construction. But that should have been cleaned up several scrub-downs ago. Maybe I'm just used to having carpet that hides it all.

In any case, Sunday was normal except for the five teens running around our house all afternoon. We (barely) made it back for evening service, then headed straight home to crash. All in all, it went well. Nothing important got broken in spite of the pillow-and-water fight that broke out around 4pm and lasted for an hour or so. (For the record, Debbie started it, not the teens.) We have a stack of dirty dishes looking at us, but those will probably wait until next weekend. I know I won't have time to deal with them between now and my last college class, and Debbie will be out of town all day Tuesday at a conference.

Tonight is homework night. I have to get cranking on my final final project. Well, I have to stop at Home Depot to pick up some drywall for my pastor and some odds and ends for us. But that should be a quick stop. Should. My record at the big orange box isn't promising.

Some interesting things I found today:

Fred Reed has another column up. While reading it, just remember that despair is a sin.

More information about water on Mars. The signs are for a wet past. Signs of water everywhere except on younger lava flows. Sounds like what one would expect if a planet was wet early on, then dried out as it lost its atmosphere.

Vox Day's latest column addresses an issue that many misunderstand. Libertarians are often accused of wanting to dismantle government so the evil corporations can destroy the planet and enslave everyone. The reality is that libertairians would dismantle the legal fiction of the corporation as an individual.

And that should keep everyone busy.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I'll start with a bunch of articles that I found interesting this morning:

This is a different take on the Bloggers V. Big Media uproar. I'm on the side of the bloggers. Betting on history repeating itself is usually a good bet.

This is a good article on micro-radio stations. I think this would be fun to play around with. For twenty bucks, why not? Even if you are talking about a radio station that only transmits 200 feet and on AM. It would still be a good way to annoy a few people in your neighborhood.

Here is some new information on the Miller-Urey experiments that were done in the 1950's.

And still more water on Mars. Everywhere the rovers go, more evidence of water. Damn NASA; without them we would have a team of geologists up there doing this, not a couple RC golf carts.

I'm having fun right now trying to do this update. I'm at work right now running a REXX job to upload between 4,000 and 5,000 documents (spreadsheets and .pdf files, mostly) into our archiving system. As I'm typing this, nothing happens on the screen for a long time, then a whole line of text shoots on the screen. That's not so bad, although a bit disconcerting; using the mouse is an exercise in frustration. It jerks around on the screen so bad that it's hard to hit even great big push buttons. Closing a window is impossible without using the shortcut key (Alt-F4, if you've never been told that).

Only one more class session to go. Last night was interesting; my paper I had turned in last week became a point of discussion. I didn't think it was that great, mainly because I had thrown it together at 2am, but the instructor kept coming back to it. It made me a little uncomfortable. I have always done very well in school, but I don't like having it pointed out publicly. I only have three chapters of reading (about 40-50 pages) and a 10-12 page paper on one of the other books we read. Our study group seems to be about finished up on our group project (45 minute presentation on ethical dilemmas arising from abortion), we should be setting pretty for the end of the program.

I did get some bad news. Well, annoying news, really. I had used the materials that I had been given at the beginning of the program to select classes I needed to take through Moody Bible Institute's independent study program to fulfill my last 15 credit hours for Cornerstone. Last night, I was given an updated form and discovered 4 of the 5 Cornerstone classes no longer exist. Understand, I sent the list of Cornerstone classes I had selected to finish my degree, along with what I felt were corresponding Moody classes to my so-called academic advisor. "Looks good," he says. Right. Looks good other than the 4 non-existent Cornerstone class numbers. Feh. In any case, I'll be trying again with the updated information.

Debbie just found out today that our grand-niece's first birthday party is tonight. I love the way our family communicates so well. We will be late; Debbie is meeting me here in Traverse City at 6pm to grab dinner and a gift over at the mall. Then we will be scooting into Kalkaska as quickly as possible. The birthday girl will probably already be in bed for the night by the time we get there. Lovely. Just lovely. We also have about two weeks to plan for my parents 50th anniversary party the first weekend of November. At least I will have some time between the end of my classes at Cornerstone and going back to 40-hour weeks at work and starting the Moody independent studies. Not much time, but some.

Tomorrow is generator swapping day, plus some other odds and ends like running a phone line into the house. We still have to search through all our boxes and find our cordless phone/answering machine. That will save us another $8 a month because we can shut off the voice mail we've been using for the last 5 years. We will be normal people yet...

Well, I need to wrap things up here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Another late night last night. I have most of my reading done and I'm sort of prepared for youth group tonight. Then it will be another late night of reading and writing a paper for college tomorrow. At that point, I'm done with the reading for this class. All I have left is my individual project (10-12 page paper on mentoring) and I AM DONE. At least until the materials for my Moody classes shows up.

Rodney Dangerfield died yesterday. I grew up on his stand up routines. And of course Caddy Shack. But his movies mostly never did his style justice. Rodney working an audience was pure magic.

Anyway; just a short update and I'm back to work.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sorry for the crappy looking blog this morning. It rendered fine in Mozilla, but was broken in Internet Explorer. I made some formatting changes and all seems well.

Nothing much happened last night other than trying to clean out old e-mail and doing homework. I need to really crank out some work tonight, so don't expect much here the next couple of days.

Gotta run.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Fun With Electronic Publishing

This is some old correspondence I had with an outfit called Digital Owl. It was several years ago that all this took place, but I still don't see any indication that the PTB's (or PHB's; this is a Scott Adams book we are talking about here) get it.

It started when I purchased a new PC. Little did I know that this was a Violation Of Federal Law!!!

My editorial comments are in brackets:

From: Ric Frost
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 5:25 PM
To: randy
Subject: When you were offline...(via HumanClick)

[Meaningless subject line was due to customer support web form being sub-contracted through some other company. This should have been my first clue that this was going to take a while.]

User number 2777.

I recently purchased a new PC. Is there a way to transfer my digital owl content to my new pc? They are linked via ethernet.


From: Customer Service
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 9:59 AM
To: Ric Frost
Subject: RE: When you were offline...(via HumanClick)

Dear Ric Frost,

Due to the digital protection applied to the content it can not be copied or transferred to another computer. Viewing the content on another computer would require another purchase.

If you require any further assistance pleased contact us toll free 866-681-2788 or via email

Thank You

The Customer Service Team.

[At this point, I knew from Scott Adams' newsletter that the e-book was an experiment. I figured I would bring him into the loop as to how the experiment was going]

From: Ric Frost
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:51 PM
Subject: FW: When you were offline...(via HumanClick)

Scott; I sure hope that you find this unacceptable. I have not even had a chance to read your book _God's_Debris_; now it looks as if I never will. I wish you luck with the electronic publishing adventure, but you will need to find another publisher (Baen Books is more reasonable) to count me as a customer. Fool me once and all that...

Ric Frost

[Which got me a clueless manager type that didn't bother to read my original e-mail.]

From: Randy Janis
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 6:43 PM
To: Ric Frost
Subject: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

Dear Ric Frost,

As mentioned in a previous email, the content is digitally protected and cannot be transferred or copied to another computer.

This level of protection assures the author that there will be no unauthorized distribution of their work.

You made your purchase original purchase on May 14, 2001 and our records indicate that the content was successfully downloaded at 5:03PM Eastern Standard Time. As mentioned in the Help section on the storefront, "..If any downloaded content is corrupted or unreadable, we will gladly replace the same content." I am not sure the reason you feel that you will never be able to view the content, as we have had no correspondence stating that the content was unreadable and I can assure you that we want everyone who purchases the book to be able to view and enjoy it. To protect the author we don't provide multiple download links for single purchases as this could provide a means to distribute the book to individuals who did not purchase it. This is the exact reason more authors are beginning to distribute digitally protected content, as unprotected content can quickly and easily be distributed with the advent of the internet and email.

Scott Adams, by popular demand, has added printing rights to God's Debris and has the understanding that previous purchasers will request a new copy of the book with printing enabled. In order to resolve this issue, I have reset your account in order to provide you with the printable version of God's Debris. Please connect to the internet and click on the content download link below. TitleVision will launch automatically and the Download Assistant window will display. Please be patient as this may take a few moments depending on your internet connection speed. Once the Download assistant window is displayed, click on the 'Download My Content Now' button and the content will be downloaded to the new content shelf within TitleVision

Download God's Debris: [URL deleted]

If you require further assistance or have any questions please contact us at or toll free at (866)681-2788.

Thank You,

Randy M. Janis
Customer Service Manager
DigitalOwl, Inc.
phone: (407)681-2788 x246
fax : (407)681-3478

[Which prompted my somewhat snide reply]

From: Ric Frost
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2001 3:39 PM
To: Randy Janis
Subject: RE: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

I'm very glad for your concern over the rights of Mr. Adams. I'm somewhat less thrilled with your concern over the rights of your customers that have paid money for content that you force them to either abandon or re-purchase for having the nerve to do something so clearly illegal as purchase a new PC. If you had read my e-mail, I never said I had any problem downloading God's Debris; I simply would like to move it to a new PC because I have no intention of keeping my old desktop sitting around in my already-cramped living quarters just to read one e-book. As I have not yet had the time to read God's Debris, this means I will not be reading it ever as I refuse to re-purchase what I already own.

Let me ask you a question: Do you re-purchase all your hardcopy books when you move to a new home and burn your original copies? Do you take all your originals to the library and make Xerox copies at $.05 per page then burn the originals? No? Then why do you expect my understanding or support when you demand that I do precisely that with an e-book?

I completely understand authors desire to protect their work; what you are doing does not do that. Anyone with modest programming skills can capture anything that is put to the screen. I would not be surprised to find pirate copies already available on the net. All you are doing is alienating Mr. Adams' (and any other authors you publish) long-time fans.

[My original complaint about Digital Owl did in fact elicit a number of offers of the e-book as an ASCII text file, which I promptly accepted and forever banished Digital Owl to the trash bin. As I purchased a copy of the book, it cannot be considered piracy by any legal or moral standard.]

Ric Frost

From: Randy Janis
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2001 4:06 PM
To: Ric Frost
Subject: RE: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

Dear Mr. Ric Frost,

As stated in my previous email, we have enabled your account so that you can download the content to your new computer, which will not require you to repurchase the content.

[If you go back and read his e-mail, this is not what he said; he said he reset my account to allow the activation of the print option, not downloading a copy to my new PC.]

In the event a customer has to reformat their system or purchase a new PC we can provide a new link for the content, but we do not provide additional links just because a user wants it on another computer as this could provide a means for unauthorized distribution. [I said right from the start that I had purchased a new PC and was transferring everything to my new PC. I never asked for "an additional link just because a user wants it on another computer". We will leave for now the legal right I have under Fair Use to make as many copies of anything that I own that I wish to make. Just another indication as to how clueless this moron is.] All eBook systems work this way as the main goal is to protect the distribution channels for the author and the rights to the content are tied to the computer.

I apologize for the misunderstanding and hope you enjoy the content.

Thank You,

Randy M. Janis
Customer Service Manager
DigitalOwl, Inc.
phone: (407)681-2788 x246
fax : (407)681-3478

From: Ric Frost
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:30 AM
To: 'Randy Janis'
Subject: RE: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

All e-book systems most certainly do not work this way, but that seems at this point to be irrelevant. In any case, the link simply downloads a 662-byte file called gvf that doesn't seem to do anything.

Ric Frost

[Note that the process for installing Digital Owl e-books had completely changed during this conversation. If I had thought about it for five seconds I should have figured to download the software, but by this point, I was beyond fooling around in these clowns' crap-laden web site looking for a download link.]

From: Randy Janis
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2001 12:54 PM
To: Ric Frost
Subject: RE: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

Dear Ric Frost,

Prior to downloading your content you must have TitleVision installed on your system and we have included a link below to download TitleVision. Once installed, TitleVision will able handle the process of downloading and unlocking your content as done during your initial purchase. If you have saved the "gvf.egg" file to disk, connect to the internet (after TitleVision is installed) and double click on the file in order to initiate the download process. TitleVision will then start automatically, and you will be asked to register prior to downloading your content. Once registered, click on the 'Download My Content Now' button on the download assistant window and your content will be downloaded to the New Content shelf.

Please feel free to call toll free at (866)681-2788 between 9am-9pm and we will gladly assist you in the downloading of your content.

Download TitleVision: [URL deleted]

Thank You,

Randy M. Janis
Customer Service Manager
DigitalOwl, Inc.

From: Ric Frost
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 11:30 PM
To: 'Randy Janis'
Subject: RE: eBook Purchase: God's Debris

Sorry for the delay; it's been one of those weeks.

That did the trick; at least until my hard drive crashes or I drop my Palm Pilot.

Interesting sentence in the intro [of Scott Adams' book]: "For maximum enjoyment, share your legal copy with a smart friend and then discuss it while enjoying a tasty beverage." How precisely did Mr. Adams intend for me to do that?

In any case; good luck.

Ric Frost

And that is the last I ever heard from Digital Owl. As I said I received the book as a plain text file which I can convert to Palm file format with a free utility and read it as much as I like on any device I prefer and transfer it to any number of PC's. I see Scott Adams has come out with a sequel. If I bother, I think I will just buy hard copy from Amazon. Much simpler.

Michigan Temperature Conversion Chart

Another old one. It's hung around in my inbox long enough that it is relevant again:

+70 degrees:
Texans turn on the heat and unpack the thermal underwear.
In Michigan, people go swimming in the lakes.

+60 degrees:
North Carolinians try to turn on the heat.
People in Michigan plant gardens.

+50 degrees:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Michigan sunbathe.

+40 degrees:
Italian & English cars won't start.
People in Michigan drive with the windows down.

+30 degrees:
Distilled water freezes.
Lake Michigan water gets thicker.

+20 degrees:
Floridians wear coats, long underwear, gloves and woolly hats.
People in Michigan throw on a flannel shirt.

+15 degrees:
Philadelphia landlords finally turn on the heat.
People in Michigan have the last cookout before it gets cold.

+10 degrees:
People in Miami all die.
People from Michigan lick a flagpole for fun.

0 degrees:
Californians fly to Mexico.
People in Michigan look for their winter coats.

-20 degrees:
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Michigan are selling cookies door to door.

-60 degrees:
Polar bears begin to evacuate the Artic.
Michigan Boy Scouts postpone "Winter Survival" classes....until it gets cold enough.

-80 degrees:
Mount St Helen's freezes.
People in Michigan rent some videos.

-100 degrees:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Michiganians get frustrated because they can't thaw a keg.

-297 degrees:
Microbial life no longer survives on dairy products.
Cows in Michigan complain about farmers with cold hands.

-460 degrees:
ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero in Kelvin scale)
People in Michigan start saying, "Cold 'nuff for ya?"

-500 degrees:
Hell freezes over.
The Lions win the Super Bowl!

I started cleaning out my inbox and found this that I had written over a year ago. I'm pretty sure I never posted it here. It was written in response to a column written by Noah Knox titled "GM Talking to Unions, Not Christians"

In the ordinary course of things, I wouldn't even be reading a Knox column. It's not that I have anything against him personally, but he just seems to live in a different world than I do. But the title on this piece was just so over-the-top ridiculous that I had to click and see why on earth GM would give a rip what Christians thought over what its union employees thought (some of whom I presume are Christians). Anyway, the article was off-the-wall enough that I did something I rarely do: wrote a response. It was never published (which I didn't expect), nor was I even acknowledged (which I did expect). Obviously, Knox Knows All and isn't interested in the views of a peon like myself even to the extent to send an automated reply acknowledging that I took the time to engage in his article. Anyway, the great thing about the internet is even though Knox didn't think my response to be worthy his time, I can still inflict it on other helpless victims.

GM isn't talking to Christians, because GM has no reason to care what Christians think. This isn't because GM has been taken over by godless humanists trying to push Christians out of the mainstream. It is because for the last 150 years, Christians in the US have taken every conceivable step to make themselves irrelevant in our society by surrendering one area of influence after another to the government.


Nearly every Christian agrees that our schools are trying to indoctrinate our children in beliefs contrary to what we as parents want them to learn. Unfortunately, it was Protestant Christians who decided to use compulsory government education to indoctrinate Catholic children in Protestantism. Many warned at the time that the system would eventually turn on its creators, but to no effect. It did, and the response of the Christian community was to ignore the problem until it was far too late, then walk away.


Who's bright idea was it to have the government license marriage? Who's bright idea was it to require a minister to obtain a government license to be able to perform weddings? What possible reason could there have been for the Church to surrender marriage, the foundation of Godly society, to the government? I'll give you a hint: it's the same people who created our godless public education system. Once again, the Church pretended everything was fine until too late. Now, no one can understand why the Church feels it should have a say in the debate on homosexual marriage because there are precious few left alive that remember that the Church once defined marriage. You can't abandon something on the side of the road, then complain about how someone else uses it.


The Old and New Testaments both repeatedly state who is to care for the poor. It isn't the government. The job fell to the government when Christians in western society became more concerned with using what God had entrusted to them for their own glory rather than His. The government did what all governments do; create a bureaucracy that feeds itself and allows the poor to eat the crumbs from its table. The Church quotes verses like Proverbs 6:6-11 and pretends it didn't create the problem.

Social Security/Medicare:

From the Ten Commandments to Paul's epistles, who is charged with financially supporting my parents? Again, it isn't the government. Now our entire nation, and every nation that imitated us, faces a total financial meltdown as first Medicare, then Social Security begin eating us alive. Meanwhile, the Church sits on the sidelines, silent.

There is a wall that separates the Church from the rest of society, but it wasn't put there by its enemies. It was built brick by brick by the people inside the Church itself. Now Christians find themselves surrounded by this wall, shouting in vain trying to get those outside to listen, without a clue that those outside do not know or care what they are saying. I know this intimately because I have watched it happen first-hand as a deacon and leader of the youth ministries in my local church.

Is the situation hopeless? Certainly not, but the remedy will not be quick and will require Christians of every stripe to actively engage in society. Here are a few specific things you can do right now that won't cost you anything except some of your time:

Instead of watching Rush Limbaugh, use the time to read and study the Bible. Start in the gospels and pay particular attention to how and to whom Jesus did ministry. He went to where the people were, even if it meant entering Samaria, rather than sitting in the temple and waiting for the crowds to show up. He didn't spend a lot of time preaching to "religious" people; He spent most of His time with prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, and the like. Who are the lepers in your community that your church shuns? Where is the Samaria in your town that no one in your church would be caught dead in?

Instead of spending two hours every day listening to talk radio (the converted preaching to the converted) grab a couple cold bottles of water and head across the street. If you're like 90% of the Christians I know, you have lived across from the same people for 10 years and don't even know their names. Introduce yourself, offer a water, and have a conversation. Don't beat him over the head with your KJV Bible or stuff his mailbox with literature telling him he will burn in hell forever. Instead, engage him and live Christ's love in front of him.

The next time you feel moved to write a letter to your congress critter about how all those lazy welfare people need to get a job or starve, use the time instead to volunteer at a local shelter. Find out first hand what it really means to be flat broke in the middle of a society that uses wealth as the only measure of self-worth. If the experience doesn't move you to tears, beg God to forgive you and break the callous around your soul.

The next time you feel the need to vent about what the kids in your local school wear or how they talk or what music they listen to, don't waste your time at the next school board meeting. Find the teens in your church (you may have to search a bit; most churches hide them well out of sight) and offer to help them set up a student-led Bible study. If the school refuses to allow it on-campus, offer to open your home. I'm with teens most of the time; they don't bite, are mostly housebroken, and, amazingly, they're just people like you and me, trying to find answers in a world that treats them like interchangeable economic units whose only purpose is to consume ever greater quantities of stuff. A little unconditional love can literally work miracles.

If every person in the Church did just these four simple things, I wouldn't have to contact GM (how exactly does one contact a non-existent entity anyway?) to let them know how I feel. The men and women who own and operate the company would already know.

Busy weekend; we drove down state for Debbie's mom's birthday. It was a surprise party, which explains why I didn't have anything here about what we were doing and where we would be. Anyway, the surprise was complete, largely as a result of a month-long campaign by her children to lie to her at every conceivable opportunity. The party went well Saturday afternoon. The main course was deep-fried turkey. That alone was the price of admission. We stayed the night Saturday and started working our way back home around 1pm or so. We got home in time to unload the car, relax for about 5 minutes, then head back into town for evening service. I didn't have time to shave or change, so I was there scruffy and in jeans. Of course, I had forgotten that we were planning on having Communion. Normally I serve, being a deacon and all. That would have really looked cute. Fortunately, I was spared because there were enough other deacons appropriately dressed that I got to take a buy this time.

The solar panels kept us in business while we were gone. We are having a hard time keeping the batteries up to charge mainly due to temperature compensation. The inverter reduces the load automatically when the battery temp goes below 70 degrees F, which means the capacity is effectively reduced by some fraction. What that means is that what we get from the solar panels is almost completely offset by what we lose to the temp compensation and the extra we are using to run the heat at night. I had thought about looking into a way to heat the power shed. We won't be able to do that this winter, but I will certainly be working on something before next winter. I had hoped to work on getting additional solar panels before worrying about other improvements, but maybe a heat source makes more sense as the next step.

The X-Prize has been won by the flawless flight of a private spaceship. In 20 or 30 years, this date will be important. Make sure you remember where you were and when you first heard of this.

Fred Reed has a new article that needs to be discussed. It won't be. As a nation, we will (or our decendents will) suffer for that. As many have said; there are things we can't fix and there are things we won't fix. We know how to educate people because we have done it in the past. What man has done, man can aspire to. We simply no longer wish to. I've been watching the Kalkaska schools implode over the last few years. It isn't pretty, and the natives realize they have been screwed and are getting restless. Dark age indeed.

I need to go home and do homework. Later.