Thursday, December 30, 2004

Last night, instead of youth group I took everyone over to the Daily Grind for a round on us. We have been hitting things pretty hard for the last couple of months and I promised everyone a little bit of a break. I was going to do a roundtable talk, but it was 7:45 before everyone was served (they only have one person working that late at night) and there was no way I was going to try to talk over ice grinding in the blender and all the other bizarre noises coming from the kitchen area. So we just goofed off. I'm sure I will hear about it. So what's new.

I did something Tuesday I have only done one other time in three years: I completely forgot that there was a deacon's meeting. It didn't occur to me until I was talking to another of the deacons at church last night. He mentioned something about "last night's meeting" and it hit me. I have to admit that I rather enjoyed the month off. The amount of effort it takes to show up for these meetings probably has a lot to do with what I posted on Monday. It's hard to meet with a group of people to talk about ministry when you don't really feel any commonality of goals with them.

The debate in my mind obviously continues. I don't know if it is just my typical "5-year itch" (until my current job, I have never stayed with anything for more than five years) or if there is something more going on. I don't want to leave the church we are at, but I am finding it harder and harder to find reasons to stay.

Well, I'm need to get back to work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I think this is the longest I have gone without making an entry since I started this thing. It has just been crazy and if I have five minutes to get on the internet, my connection is down. Wireless has its advantages, but reliability isn't one of them.

Last week was mostly getting ready for our newest addition to the family. Nestina spent her first night in our house on Thursday. She went with my wife and I to my immediate family's Christmas on Friday morning, then the three of us went home for a little Christmas with just the three of us. Debbie and I drove down to her mom's house Friday night and stayed until Sunday morning. It was good to see everyone. Nestina spent Christmas at her mom's place. Her and a friend stayed at our place Saturday night, so of course there were all sorts of strange power problems that I have never had. They were able to get things working well enough to keep the heat going through the night and we left for home early Sunday. I still don't know what started the entire failure cascade, but I changed one setting on the inverter and checked everything out. It all looked good to me and I was able to fire up the generator Monday morning with no problems. I guess the house was just mad we left it alone on Christmas...

This will be a slow, boring week at work. Large chunks of the medical center are off for the week between Christmas and New Years, so any attempts to get anything done results in a voice mail message or a Groupwise auto-reply that states the person you need to contact is out of the office having fun, while you are a lifeless smuck for being at work. So I'm blogging instead of working.

We don't really have any plans for this weekend, other than working on the house. The church is having its annual New Years "bash." We will likely attend, and I'm encouraging the teens to attend as well. We'll leave the old people in the gym and we can go into the youth room and play loud music and act goofy. Besides, I'd like to have someone to talk to. I find I have less and less to say to the majority of the adults in the church. I'm not sure why that is. I feel I've become more of a spectator than a participant.

It's becoming more and more apparent to me that I am not where I belong, church-wise. I have no idea where I do belong, but I am certain of where I don't belong. Even with the deep theological disagreements I have with the Roman Catholic Church, I felt more at home in Christmas Mass (I know, that's redundant) with Debbie's family Saturday that I do at our current church. Maybe it is all just a phase, or maybe it is just me, but this has been building for some time. There is so much I would like to do, yet at every turn I feel constrained and boxed in.

Maybe the New Year is a time to strike out in a new direction; cut ourselves loose from our current congregation and go it alone for a while. I would like to stay where we are while starting something new, but I am sure that would be a no-go with our current church. There is simply no way I would be allowed to stay on in any leadership capacity while doing what would amount to a church plant. Unless that church plant was a GARB church, of course, but then I would be right back in the box that I am currently in.

I guess I don't know what to do at this point. I'm just thinking out loud.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Honda is back in business after a trip into town with it. I don't feel too bad; the shop I bought it from took a good half hour to figure out what was wrong with it. It was nothing major, but it was the sort of workmanship problem that Japanese companies are not supposed to have. The problem was a combination of the extreme cold (5 below zero) and a sticky reset button. I now know what to look for and the fix is pretty simple. I'm leaving the spare generator right where it is, just in case.

I also need to fill up all the gas cans today. We burned through this batch in pretty short order. We are getting just about zero from the solar panels right now. One of the windmills would be doing great things right now, but they don't work well sitting in a box in the garage. I was going to spend the money next summer to buy the other 800 watts of panels, but I might just set up one of our windmills instead. It would be great to do both, but I don't think we can scrounge up enough cash for that.

Well, I have to make some phone calls and check my work e-mail.
Crazy week end and weekend.

I picked up Nestina after school Thursday and we spent the evening in Traverse City. We once again covered a lot of ground and talked through the transition to her living here. The exact timing is still being worked out, but it still looks as if she will be with us before Christmas.

Friday was work and snowplowing at the church. I got home around 11pm. I will certainly be glad when the regular snow plow guy gets back from his vacation in the Caribbean.

Saturday, I picked up a new generator. The one we were using was getting cranky. It was supposed to be for the cabin anyway, so I dropped that one off for a complete mechanical check-out and dropped $4K on a twin-cylinder, water-cooled Honda. Very quiet. In fact you can stand right next to it when it is running and have a conversation at normal volume. Nice. The rest of Saturday was spent getting that set up and running, then working on homework, house stuff, and a lesson for Sunday.

Sunday started at 5am plowing the church parking lot again. I was also the church taxi driver. I picked up four people on the way to church the second time Sunday morning. Afterwards was dropping them all back off, with a brief stop at Burger King for lunch with everyone. Then back to the church for more plowing, to my parents to plow them out, and finally to actually plow my own road and driveways. Then back to church for evening service (only two people to pick up this time). Debbie finally made her way north and met us in the church parking lot. We told her it was all her fault for the below-zero temps because she has spent the last week in 80-plus degree weather. We had Communion and I was serving. I had wanted to sit with Debbie and our "kids," but I ended up being one of the servers. It will be nice when I get off the deacon board and can go back to a semi-normal existence. Afterwards, I dropped people off while Debbie went home to unpack. We sat up late trying to compress the last ten days into a couple hours.

Monday morning started badly. Our brand new $4K, twin-cylinder, water-cooled generator refused to start. I was outside at 4am dragging one of the old generators out of the garage and getting it hooked up and running. I am working from home so I can keep an eye on it and also try to figure out what is wrong with the Honda. I dragged the thing inside thinking that enough moisture had gotten into the fuel system while it was being shipped around the country to freeze up something in the carburetor, but no joy. Now I have to find someone who can help be drag the thing up into the truck and haul it back.

This whole thing brings up something I've been really wondering lately: are there any competent people left in the world? My parents have been fighting with every person that sends them a bill over charges that they never made, double billing, and lost payments. Everybody they know is going through the same thing. I have a virtual junk yard out here full of poorly-designed and poorly-manufactured products. Are we to the point where nothing more complex than a hammer can be purchased with any reasonable assurance that it will work more than once?

Anyway, I need to go off in search of a strong back and a weak mind. Too bad the youth group kids all live in Kalkaska and don't have cars...


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It's been a while since I put anything up here, so I thought I had better update everyone. Sunday was the Christmas program at the church, which meant that Saturday morning was the dress rehearsal. Of course, Debbie is on her cruise and I'm on my own this week, so naturally I was late and forgot that it was a real dress rehearsal and showed up in jeans and a polo shirt. At least my shirt was green, so I kinda matched...

Anyway, the dress rehearsal went as most of them do: poorly. I went home for a bit, then left to pick up a truck load of kids for the Mall Crawl. This year, we ended up not having anything special for the teens to do. We usually have them look for things or find the heaviest thing they can buy for $5 or some such. This year, we just let them wander around; all the leaders have a thousand things going on in their personal lives so the youth group has been getting short shrift. Unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Sunday was the Christmas program in the morning. It went pretty well. There were a couple technical glitches and such, but overall it was good. One of our teens had a speaking part that she thinks she did horrible on, and everyone else thought she did great. So it goes. As a fellow perfectionist, I understand where she is coming from. Sunday afternoon was all about snow removal. I had to get the ballast in my truck and put the plow on. The only problem I ran into was that some of my ballast was missing. I use six two-foot cement trailer pads for my weight and there were only four piled next to the garage. The only thing I can figure is that when we had our new porch steps added on and the railing put up on the deck, the crew must have used two of them to set the porch steps. In any case, I headed into Kalkaska to meet with one of our teens and her mom (more on that in a second), then plowed snow all afternoon, right through evening service (with a short break to sneak in and watch one of our former teens and her dad get baptized), then dinner with my parents, and finally home.

Monday was a half day of work, then a quick trip to the hardware to replace my missing ballast, followed by ten hours of snow plowing at my parents and home. I tried to do some homework, but I fell asleep after about an hour. Yesterday was work and homework.

Did I mention that we have some snow? We now have snow. Not too much (less than a foot) and if the weather liars are right most of it will be gone over the next couple of days. But we now have snow.

The big news. I've mentioned a couple times that we were busy with stuff that I didn't want to talk about at the time. Well, now is the time. Sunday, I met with one of our teens and her mom to hammer out some of the details, but the bottom line is that we are guardians of a seventeen-year-old girl. Her name is Nestina and she is a senior at Kalkaska High School. You will hopefully start seeing some posts from her on this site very soon. She will be moving in with us while the Kalkaska schools are out on break for Christmas. I'll try to get a picture of us posted here as soon as I can get her stand still long enough. In the meantime, everyone say "Hi" to the newest addition to the Frost household. I would also ask that you pray for all three of us as we work through the transition. As you all know, Debbie and I have a great deal of child-rearing experience that we are bringing to the table. To make it even more interesting, Nestina has been on her own for some time and will have to get used to the one thing that every teenager loves: Rules. So, again, please pray for all of us. A lot. And often.

In any case, if posts get a little sporadic here, you now know why.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Another day of work, then shopping, home, cleaning, organizing, filing, etc. I can almost see the top of my desk. I still have a pile to work through, plus two more on the floor and one on the foot stool. I don't have any idea where this crap comes from; I think the piles have started mating.

Youth group went ok last night. One new face, but still missing some that should be there. I had a chance yesterday to have some fairly long one-on-one conversations with several people which is always good. I wish I had more time to do that. I also met a parent, which is something else I wish I had more time to do. Ah well.

Tomorrow is just work, then Settlers of Catan night with all the church guys. This is one of the few men-only things we have at the church. I've never been able to go before and I have never played the game either, so this should be interesting.

Nothing much interesting going on in the world, which is most likely the result of inattention on my part.

That's it; it is way past my bedtime.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I am supposed to be working, but this was too good to leave until later.

Where I work, we use GEAC software for HR, GL and AP. Most of their support, for which we pay tens of thousands of dollars a year, is through their web page. Among other things, they post what they call solutions. Sometimes these are updates or bulletins for tax code updates, or they are just tips or ideas that may be useful. Our HR support person was browsing through all the new solutions and came up with this gem (I'd give a direct link, but it requires a user ID and password):

Topic: How to print an attachment [to a solution] without downloading it.

Resolution: " the file to your PC and print from there."

For this, we pay money.

Actually it isn't as bad as I made it out to be. You can print directly from their web if you use IE, if you have ActiveX running (almost no one in the corporate world does; it is nothing but a wide open path for malware), and if your PC recognizes the file extension, then you can print, otherwise, you have to download it to be able to print it. The problem is that with all those caveats, no IT shop sophisticated enough to be using GEAC is going to be able to use their solution.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Another day of work and homework. It poured down rain all day today. Good thing it was rain or we would be up to our necks in snow. On my way home, the rain did change to snow, but I doubt much will stick as the temps are still above freezing. As much as I hate damp weather, as long as it doesn't pile up, I don't have to plow it.

Here are some things you can do to annoy everyone during their Christmas shopping:

  1. Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they aren't looking.
  2. Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
  3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
  4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, "Code 3 in housewares" and see what happens.
  5. Go the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M & M's on layaway.
  6. Move a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.
  7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you'll invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.
  8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"
  9. Look right into the security camera; use it as a mirror, and pick your nose.
  10. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.
  11. Dart around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
  12. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.
  13. Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, say "PICK ME!"
  14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"

    (And last, but not least!)

  15. Go into a fitting room and shut the door and wait a while; and then yell very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"
I would advise only doing these in a store you never plan to enter again.

Here is a story that explains why any teacher with enough competence to get a job elsewhere almost always will. You can always tell when a stupid man is doing something he knows is stupid: he will always claim to be "just doing my job." Way to go, Fire Marshal Bill. I'm sure Susanna Robinson will leap right back into teaching at a public school when her 90 days in jail are over.

And while we are on the subject of the miserable prisons we call schools, here is something that I have been saying for 20 years. Computers in the classroom do not magically make every student above average. They are a tool that has a place, but first you have to be able to read to get any educational benefit from them. One would think that would be obvious, but one would be wrong.

This article almost reads like satire in the spirit of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Some of the ideas here can only be described as frightening. I get nervous around tortured logic; this guy has it locked in an iron maiden.

And that ought to be enough. I am off to work on my paper. And to figure out what I am going to do tomorrow for youth group. I need to have something to teach the kiddies.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Another crazy weekend. Friday I had to take my truck into the garage after work to have the snow tires put on. Then I picked up Debbie at her work and drove back into Traverse City to shop for wedding presents. Saturday was the wedding: one of the guys in my college study group was getting married down in Fremont. So we drove down there for the afternoon, then got home late Saturday night. Sunday was the typical Sunday. The church Christmas program is next week, so that is heating up. Debbie was feeling crummy Sunday afternoon, so I did Sunday evening service by myself. I wouldn't have bothered, but I had choir practice.

Today was just work and homework.

And Fred Reed has another column that people should (but won't) pay attention to.

And it's past bed time.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Sorry for the lack of posting folks. It seems like every time I have a minute to write something, the phone rings, or Blogger is down, or my internet connection is going wanky, or something. Anyway.

Since my last post, not a whole lot has happened. I've been dealing with a lot of issues that I can't really go into right now (and a lot that I will never go into on a blog...) but it has involved me being places other than home. Tuesday was a Deacons' meeting, which is always fun. We were trying to set the budget for next year, but we had a lot of year left at the end of the money. Non-profits are so much fun. Wednesday night I only had two teens show up, but we got into some good conversations anyway. Tonight, I am supposed to be working on a paper, but I'm blogging instead. So sue me. Anyway.

I thought this article was pretty funny, although I am sure most of the humor-impaired from both of the major parties won't think so. I think part of the process of becoming a party hack is to have any sense of humor surgically removed.

Good news: Day by Day is back!! I find his point of view balances out Doonesbury very nicely. When family issues forced the author of Day by Day to suspend publication for a time, I started feeling rather lopsided.

And this is important and written by someone who is qualified to speak on the issue of intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone in DC is listening. Ah well. With any luck, we will muddle on until I can get into a financial position to disappear some place in the Caribbean and live out my last days in blissful ignorance.

Other than that, not much going on, it seems.