Thursday, December 27, 2007

JW and Christmas

I have a co-worker who is a Jehovah's Witness. He does not celebrate Christmas, and it got me thinking. He is not extremely vocal about his view, but when asked, he will tell people that he doesn't celebrate Christmas. I have never heard him explain why he does not to someone, but I'm sure he would be ready to if necessary.

The real catch here is that he still buys his kids gifts during winter break from school. The logic is that of a caring parent, in that he doesn't want his kids to feel bad when they go back to school and everyone else is talking about what they got for Christmas.

But really, if you are not celebrating Christmas, and then still getting your kids presents, aren't you just celebrating secular Christmas? Really, if you look around, there is a LOT of secular Christmas. Santa, Christmas Trees, Miniature lights...where was any of that in The Bible? Sure, some of the theme could be interpreted in a Biblical light. God gave a gift to the world. Everlasting light. I can see those themes. But really, the Holidays just bring stress and consumerism to a whole lot of people. I'd love for there to be a revival of the reason for the season. I pray for that.

But back to my friend. The second thought I had was that maybe he uses this as a tool to share his faith with others. Yes, it is in a very subtle way, but just maybe. And if someone asks him why he doesn't celebrate maybe it gives him an open door to share his beliefs. The lesson Christians can take away is that maybe WE should do a better job at making opportunities to share our faith. And then when the door is opened, we need to walk through it, and explain why we do the things we do and act the way we do. We need to pray to God to open the doors, and to help us see the doors that are open. Then we need to walk through them.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Interesting Array

Well, I have a couple of unrelated items to blog about today. The only way I see them as related, is that I came across them today.

So the first thing was my excitement over email. Now, I know what you may be thinking..."Excitement over email?" "Who gets excited over email?" and "Has this guy been cryogenically frozen for the past decade or something?" Well, despite any evidence to the contrary, no I have not been frozen physically or mentally for the last decade.

No my excitement come in the form of a presentation about email I watched today. I actually came across this presentation back in July on Lifehacker. At the time - I looked at it and saw it was an hour-long video...and decided to watch it later. Well today, I came across another Lifehacker post and the page it linked to referenced Merlin Mann's video. So it came to pass that I decided to devote the time, bite the bullet, and watch it.

It really isn't as bad as giving up an entire hour. In fact, the actual talk is only about 30 minutes and the rest is Q & A. But the content is fabulous. I am one of those corporate workers, who at work used to pride himself in having two years of email archives, and at least 1,000 messages in my inbox at all time. As of this afternoon, I had zero. I can't say much more without rambling on forever, but watch it. It's good stuff! I may have to devote more time to it on another date.

The second thing I found really interesting was a cnet blog entry about Piracy as a leading indicator of sales. The long and short of it, is that some companies look at whether or not a show or movie or song is being pirated, as an indication consumer interest in Buying those products. So instead of being angry that people are ripping them off, they see it as market research. The theory is that if no one is willing to steal it, no one would be willing to pay for it. Wow, what a brave new world we live in.

Of course this brought to mind a story of a grandparent being
sued for $600,000 because his grandson downloaded 4 movies at his house. I found with a quick search on Google a blog post about it with almost 200 comments about the issue. Interesting eh?

Friday, December 14, 2007

God is Good

Just a quick note to brag on God.

My wife and I have had very bad sore throats for over a week now. My wife is at about two weeks, and I'm just shy of it. She has gone to the doctor several times, and they tested her for Strep throat (came back negative), then tested again for Strep (came back negative) and most recently for Mono (should hear back today). I admit, that I prayed about it in the beginning, but had kind of fallen off for most of the time. Well, last night we prayed about it again, as a couple.

This morning, instead of horrendously sore throats, like we have had every morning, they were a little bit better. Mine is feeling good enough that I didn't take any medicine today, and hers is feeling better on one side, and a little worse on the other. These are odd little sore throats we have.

Yeah, I know some of you will say it is silly to attribute getting better to God and to prayer, but I don't care. I truly believe in God the father, and that Jesus died so that we wouldn't be cut off from God, and that we would be saved. I'm not saying that God is a magical wish-granting machine either, and that if you send $29.99 to me I will pray for you and he will heal you. But if you believe in Him, and and follow his teachings, there is nothing wrong with asking Him to heal you, if it is His will. He may just answer your prayer, when all of the earthly methods and doctors and medicines have failed. But I think he wants us to really see that it is Him doing the work, not anything on this earth.

God is awesome and caring, and He hears our prayers, because he is a living God. I can't help but to brag on Him.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


So I decided to look up Facebook tonight. I've always been a guy who is pretty much "in-the-know" when it comes to things related to computers, but I admit I have been slacking on this one. I've heard of Facebook and other sites like it, and heard that they are this new wave of "social media", but have neglected them until now.

I signed up pretty quickly and easily. Since I'm not currently in college, I signed up as "an employee" with my work email address. Facebook automatically linked me to two groups, one for my employer, and one for my geographic area. The employer thing is kinda cool, and I like how it automatically found it based on my work email address. It could have helped that I work for a fortune 500 company. There were quite a few people in my employer's network, though one I did the math, it turns out to be less than 2% of the employees.

It was pretty easy to search around the site, and I actually found quite a few people I know through my High School's network. You can set it up for your class year to narrow things down a bit. I found a bunch of people I think I'd like to connect with again... and a few I didn't.

What really got me thinking and blogging though, was realizing the nature of the site, and the position it put me in. It lets you do a lot of things, and helps you let people know a lot about you. The thing is, I'm still living in an online world where there is but ONE reference relating my real identity with my online identity. Facebook is based on your name, where you live, who you know, and how to get in touch with you. Very much not anonymous.

So it's all in or not in at all. I honestly backed out for now. I found the privacy settings and basically hid my existence for now. Maybe in looking around a little more, I'll decide to go all-in, or at least let people start to find me, but it is kinda scary out there right now. Maybe because this puts me back into high school, where I was not the most outgoing, confident, or popular kid. There are actually a lot of different scenarios playing through my head now. I'll definitely be writing on this issue again later, to work through this brave new world (or, as it may be, old one).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Value of a Study Bible

I like to listen to biblical teaching as much as I can. Since I drive often for my day job, I get the chance to do that. So I was listening to some teachings yesterday and one of them mentioned Chapter 12 in the book of Romans. I wanted to investigate it further, so the next time I stopped at a gas station, I looked it up and read it.

The Bible I currently have is just a basic one, without commentary or mega-learning tools embedded in it. It does have Jesus's words in red, and it is a small size, which I find convenient. But I gotta tell you, I read this verse and really understood about 15% of it. I could read it just fine, but when it came to comprehension, I was a little lost.

So that night, I looked it up in our Nelson's Study Bible at home. Wow, what a difference. The Nelson's Study Bible has commentary on most of the verses of the Bible, and really helps in understanding. Sometimes it points to other verses in the Bible, which help explain, or put something into context. Sometimes it gives historical information about the time period, or the language, or the author. Sometimes it even gives Greek and Hebrew origins and their meanings. All this adds to comprehension and understanding.

The study Bible we have is the most expensive Bible we have ever bought, but I think we still only paid $40 for it. However, it has been the most helpful, and understandable bible we have ever owned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I do not live with my mother

Just to clarify, because I know it can be a common conception these days that bloggers live with their mothers. I do not live with my parents.

I'm married with your traditional 2.3 kids and a couple of pets running around the house. And some fish. I live in the city, but not a big city like New York or Chicago. I live in a modest house in a decent part of town.

I am employed full time by a corporation, but I also have aspirations of either moving up the corporate chain, or starting my own business. Here's the thing: I've read that people who own their own business work longer hours and make less money than their equivilants in the corporate world. They are also happier. Interesting.

Many people I've talked to who want their own business want to do it so they are their own boss, and they can more or less do what they want to do. Unfortunately, I think that neither of those statements are completely accurate. You are only your own boss so long as you are able to stay open, and have someone pay you for what you do. So in essence, your customer becomes your boss. If you lose your customers, you are fired. And you can do what you want for the most part, but if you are a one-man show, you'll have to do things you don't want to do. I don't care much for doing books and working with numbers all day. However, unless I'm willing to hire someone to do that, I'll have to do them.

So as with most things in life, there are two sides to the story. Well, we'll see where the Lord wants to take me, and the most important thing is that I'm willing to do His will, not my own.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CHRISTmas Lights

Woo-Hoo! The Christmas lights are up :). Every year I have this debate - Christmas lights shouldn't be put up before Thanksgiving, but after Thanksgiving the weather usually turns FRIGID in a hurry. Well, this year was no different. I waited until after Thanksgiving, and there was one good weekend. I didn't put them up then, so I got to put them up today. In the drizzling rain. Not very cool, but not too cold either, and at least they are up now. Most of them anyway.

Do you put up lights? I think of it as a nice thing to do for the neighborhood. They spread cheer. And this time of year, when I get home it's already dark, so I do it for me too. It's really cool to have them on a timer so they are on when I get home :).

We've actually reduced the amount a little this year due in part to energy costs, but I still think our little house cleans up nicely. I'll post a picture as soon as I get one and figure out how to post them.

P.S. - Dave Ramsey is coming to Grand Rapids on January 24th! Be there!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dirty Knees

To take something that the Devil has twisted and then use it for good is a great thing. I'm referring to an off-color joke having to do with the title of this entry. But it got me thinking yesterday, and I changed the joke a little to make it reflective of the Christian life. So here goes:

How do you tell who is the Senior Pastor in a church?

He's the one with the dirty knees.

Ok - ok - so maybe it's not that funny, but it is a reflection of the Christian life. When we are reborn in Christ, it's not just a one-time event. It isn't just washing yourself once and staying clean the rest of your life, because nobody can. No, it's about constantly being down on your knees, repenting of sins and asking for forgiveness.

Matthew 28:19 says "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

Jesus sends us out into the world, and if you're going into the world, you're going to get dirty. That's why you have to go back and get clean. Regularly! In Jesus' day, people wore sandals, and the streets weren't paved. I hate dirt driveways because I track sand into my car. I can't imagine wearing sandals on dirt roads, and WALKING everywhere. So it was customary that when you came into some one's house, they would wash your dirty feet.

The foot-washing job was usually looked at as a job for the lowest slave. I mean, who would want to wash people's dirty, callused, stinky feet. Well, the bible tells a story of a time when Jesus washed his disciples' feet. They were all bickering about who was the greatest disciple, and Jesus just puts on a towel, and begins washing their feet. There is more to that story,as a topic for another blog. The point I want to make, is that we need to keep washing ourselves. We get dirty. We sin. We become angry, and succumb to the flesh. But the important part is that we come back to him, and ask him to clean us again. And we don't live in the flesh, we live with Him.

Thank God, for continuing to wash us, and cleaning the dirty knees of our pants.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another Negroponte Hit

I recently Blogged about a man with a mission to give third-world kids laptops. Well, quite by accident I found another blog post referring to an Engadget Article about the same program. While the blogger doesn't hold the same view as I do on the underlying motivation for the program, it is interesting to see people are actually buying these things. Well, my previous post really says it all. We'll see how it progresses.

LED CHRISTmas lights

So the newest trend in Christmas lights this year is LED Christmas lights. They are pretty cool - they look like old-fashioned strings of lights, and are Waaaaay energy efficient. An article in the local paper recently pointed out that 600 of these lights, running 5 hours per day for 30 days, will cost approximately 56 cents. Total. Compared, as the article says, to running the same amount of traditional lights for the same time - at the price tag of $23.00. Wow. No wonder my electric bill is so high in December and January.

But of course - my analytical nature came in. These bulbs are great, they use very little energy, and i imagine that they hold up better in storage because there is no glass on the bulbs. But, they cost a lot more. A recent trip to the store priced out a strand of 600 conventional type bulbs for $16. Right next store were the fancy new LED lights - 100 for $18. Yikes! So for 600 lights, you will spend $92 more for LED bulbs. And it will save you $22.50 in energy costs.

Hmmm - so what's the ROI? Assuming you are buying new lights anyway, just over 4 years at the 5 hours for 30 days run time. Could be more or less depending on how much you are in the holiday spirit :). So overall, would I pre-pay 4 years of electricity to save on the fifth and succeeding years? Well, assuming the lights hold up at least that long. This year, I'm gonna have to say no. Too much upfront cost, and I have A LOT of lights to replace. Maybe in a couple years, when the price comes down a little, and I have more disposable income for this type of thing. :)

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Can we say "Gaudy"?

DirecTV last Friday made an offer to NASA. A 42" HDTV and DirecTV programming for the new living space on the International Space Station. They have even offered to have their top engineer assist in the installation of a dish on the station.

As if NASA Astronauts would be unable to install a consumer-grade satellite dish. I mean, most of the installers for consumers have at least a master's degree, right?

What a gaudy publicity move. At one point in the article, they were quoted "Sure, there’s the awe-inspiring view of planet earth from more than 200 miles up, but what do you do for an encore after you’ve entered your 180th day in space?” asked Jon Gieselman, DirecTV marketing senior VP.

Yeah -see? Marketing. Gimmick. The press they have gotten already is worth it, even if NASA doesn't accept the offer. Of course, DirecTV will have a field day if they do take them up on the offer. I can just imagine how far they could take it.

At one point, they do say it is one way to say "thank you" for all the technical advancements that they have obviously benefited from, but they do manage to get a plug in for their "capacity to carry 100 HD channels by year-end".

Full article on Here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sisted Twister

ok - ok - bad play on words (derived from Twisted Sister).

Beyond that - there has been a lot of turmoil lately in the household with Thanksgiving fast approaching and a recent announcement from my sister (who recently moved out of my parents' house to live with a guy who isn't her boyfriend, but she says she is following God's will in "living her own life"). Please pray for serenity and wisdom during this time. There are bad feelings floating around because of the whole issue, but we're trying to let them go and follow God's will.

I will update later with more details, but thank you for your prayers.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Style

I'm trying out a new template style. The dots were getting a bit busy for me. I put up a poll in the sidebar - so let me know if you like or not :^).

Dave is coming to Grand Rapids!

Dave Ramsey is coming to Grand Rapids January 24th! I've been listening to his radio show for a couple of months now and am Super-Geeked about seeing him live! You should definitely get tickets now!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Honorable Mention

Well, I was wondering about the whole blog thing. I had given it a little bit of time, and a few (very few) posts, and had come to the conclusion that maybe blogging was just not for me. It is fun to log different thoughts and wonder if someone might stumble across them, but then again...does anyone ever stumble across them? No one had left any comments on anything, and I was wondering if it was worth it.

Then I logged in. Hey! There are comments! On TWO posts nonetheless! :) That's when I remembered. I recently told A Raving Madman that I started a blog. Now, mind you, I didn't tell this person the address of my blog - so there is a weird stalker element here, but I digress. Said Madman felt it necessary then to post the link on another website. So through this act, I will be posting more to the blog, letting you all know how life is going, and the loose associations that go on in my head. May they be entertaining and hopefully informative to you :) !

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Monday, October 22, 2007


It's coming up on the retail season again. The time when some of us crazy birds look forward to Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving (or sometimes the night of Thanksgiving)), and retailers look forward to extra profit! Then there are others who dread the season altogether because of the crowds. I never mind crowds too much. In fact I find it kind of exciting to be caught up in the rush of people.

But what I find humorous in the last couple of years has been the commentary on Black Friday prices. Any good comsumer knows that it pays dividends to wait to make electronics purchases until that day. Prices are literally SLASHED in some cases. I bought my HDTV last year on that day because I saved 30%. Awesome. But every year, analysts and retailers start their commentary early. Saying price drops will not be as severe as the last year, and that things should be more reasonable. Then Wal-Mart comes out with a flat-panel TV priced 30% below cost or something ridiculous like that.

Me? I'll wait to see the fun unfold. I'll be there with the newspapers after filling my stomach with an insane amount of turkey. Plotting. Planning. Getting the best deals.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Well, I figure it's about time to bump my blog. It'd been a while since the last update.

So what's new? well, right now I am looking at router firmwares. I have a Netgear MR814v2 router at home, and I work with its predecessor, the MR814 at another location. At home, I had a consistant problem connecting my work laptop to my wireless network. It would connect for a while, and then eventually just crash the router, requiring a hard reboot. I just figured they were incompatible. Well, I found out quite by accident that they were, but it could be fixed.

I was playing with opening some ports in my router for VNC recently, to work on a computer remotely. I happened to look at the firmware upgrade page, which prompted me to see if I had the latest version. Turns out, my firmware was several years old. In fact, the most recent update is years old too, but newer than what I had. So I went through the process of upgrading the firmware, which was fairly annoying because I had to reset all of the settings and put them in again. Anywho, it turns out that the old firmware was incompatible with centrino-based wireless systems! D'oh! So after the upgrade, all is good :)

Now I just look at the possibility of getting a router I can flash with some custom firmware for added functionality ;^)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Oh My Goodness.

So this morning I was up fairly early (which means I got up when my alarm went off). While I was drinking my coffee and getting ready for my day, I turned on the TV. Now, I have a High-Def TV, so I tend to watch programs that are in HD, or at least favor them. So despite my inclination to watch something related to money or the economy
on CNN or something, I turned to Good Morning America in HD.
The show was mostly good, a little hurried I thought, but covered a variety of stories, and kept up the pace fairly well.

Then they got to a story about giving laptops to poverty-stricken children. My first thoughts were "why do children in poverty need laptops" and "I'll bet that these aren't even U.S. Children". Well, I was right about the second part (and probably the first). There is an organization called "One Laptop per Child" which manufactures low-cost, durable laptops designed for children.

Ok, first, why the heck do kids need laptops? I never had one, and I'm fine. Second, why not educate our own children? Why not send these laptops to impoverished children in the US? Does this company not realize that we could benefit from them? Why do we keep breeding talent elsewhere in the world. Listen, Outsourcing is already a problem! Why educate a global community? Do we need more cheap telemarketers??!!?!

Well, their CEO, Nicholas Negroponte was being interviewed, and at one point, the interviewer asks "What impact would you like to see in 5-10 years". His answer was something along the line of "poverty will be eliminated, and there will be world peace".

Hold the Phone!!! Ok, as a believer, this is pretty scary and exciting at the same time, because this is literally a sign of the apocalypse. It's exciting because it may mean the end is near, but it is scary because this man, whose name is frighteningly similar to Nicolai Carpathia (Character of the AntiChrist from the "Left Behind" series) is from a european nation touting world peace. Look into it. This isn't stuff to just throw around on a morning interview.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Strong Man

So I'm new to the whole Blogging thing. That's why there is one post on my site so far (this one). Lately I've been feeling like posting blogs would be kinda cool. Opening my thoughts up to the masses and seeing who is interested enough to read them. Well here goes.

I was driving down the highway today, and coming up to a stretch where there is and has been construction for months now. The speed limit for normal conditions is 70 mph, and in this construction zone, it is 60 mph all the time, and if there are actually workers out, it slows to 45 mph.

Most people ingnore the signs. Routinely traffic flows through at 70 mph or more. I'm even guilty of it. We all know that fines are doubled in construction zones. We all know that police monitor that strech. Most just take the chance. They don't care...even if there are workers present. But today, driving in the left lane of the two-lane road, I decided I was going to abide by the speed limit. So I set the cruise at 60 mph and watched as a beige minivan came up on my right side. Surprisingly though, he didn't pass me as I expected. Instead he also drove 60 mph, trailing just behind me in the right lane.

For a moment I thought "Awesome, another rule follower. Together we can hold back those hyper-agressive law-breakers." And then it occured to me. We could hold them back, but moreso, I would be required to hold them back, because I was in the strong position. People always tailgate the guy on the left in a situation like this because they think the left is the "fast lane". In reality, there is no fast lane, just two lanes of traffic regulated at 70 mph. But I digress...

It is a dreary day today. Not a sunny, happy day, but just an O.K. dreary day. I'm tired, and I've been through some things lately, so I'm a little weary myself. Plus I got up late and didn't get any coffee. We all know how that can affect our day. So what hit me was this: What happens when you are called upon to be the strong man, and you can't, or you feel you can't. This isn't just in relation to driving, but in many things. What happens when people look to you for something? When they need your help, or expect it, or even respect you for what you do? What happens when you don't feel you have the strength to do it? When you have to be the strong man but you can't.

There is a religious aspect to this. We have to draw our strength from somewhere. And God is always there to draw strength from. You can try to draw strength from other things. You can pump your body full of caffeine. You can get a natural high by belittling others, or exerting power over them, or bossing people around, or even flirting. But all of those things are fleeting. They won't last. You have to keep feeding them to maintain that high. Draw strength from him who is everlasting. He will give you strength to stand for him.