Journeying Down Life's Never-ending Road

Sarcasm, irony, thoughts, complaints, ideas, philosophies, happenings, creations, rants and raves with a very little chance of anything being new, unique, or interesting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Covet Class

For Wed. Nights this quarter one of the classes has been covering the Ten Commandments. Each week we have had a different teacher share his insight on a particular commandment. I ended the class by looking at the tenth commandment, "Do not Covet."

So, first, here is my usual link to the materials I used in class.
I think it was a good class. I hope that I really challenged people to reassess and to make lifestyles changes. I didn't want to get just caught up in the normal "covet" discussions like "Is it OK if my neighbor buys a new lawn mower that I like, so I go buy the same one?" I'm not here to be your heart's arbiter and judge. I wanted to be deeper and more intense than that. I think the class was intense...but....then I'm prejudiced.

After class I was asked, "How do you come up with this stuff?" First, all glory has to go to God because He has given me the skills and tools necessary. I am just a vessel. When I work on a class I often don't know "where" it comes from other than to say it truly is God speaking through me. It is His message. Now, that doesn't mean I don't have to do some work. I think it is through that work that God is given the opportunity. So, to answer this question, here is the process I generally use to prepare (or over-prepare my wife would say) for a class:

Depending on the topic, we start at least 6 weeks out from when I am going to be teaching. If it is a hard or broad topic, it may start way before that. In this particular instance, I begin studying for this class at the beginning of Sept.

6 Weeks out or greater
Step 1: Choose the Topic

Step 2: (this step takes the most time): Really study the topic. I use various methods to try and find out what the Bible says about the passage and the topic. For this class I did the following studies:
5 Weeks out
Create my outline including my introduction and conclusions. Of course, I don't really do outlines. I write my essay because I want to say things specific ways.

4 Weeks out
Prepare my handouts and other materials I may need for a class.

3 Weeks out
Prepare my PowerPoint and other visual materials that I may be using as teaching aides.

2 Weeks out
Marinade. I continue to review my notes from my studies. I refine my essay, handouts and visual aides. I may talk to some people about my ideas. I spend a lot of time just stewing on the material.

1 Week out
Practice. I run over the PowerPoint and usually "teach" the class two or three times to empty air. I make any last minute modifications.

Week 0 - Teach It

All in all, I really do spend about an hour in preparation for every minute I will be teaching. Anyway, I hope you find it useful.

1. I didn't do a class on "How to do a Word Study" because of the time constraints. If you are interested in that one, then I suggest you buy the book that all the material for that class came from.

2. Those are two separate documents. The first is the completed "Word Study" form. The second is a chart of all of the verses that is used in the first one. I did the form in MS Word and the chart in Excel. There is a place in the form where it says "See OT_Verses" chart...then go to the chart.

3. This is LONG. It's 31 pages, but contains the text of almost every verse in the Bible that deals with the words covet, coveted, coveting, covetous, envy, envied, envious, envying, greed, greedy, etc...

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kids doing Memory Work

Mihaela has successfully learned the Beatitudes. We did two takes because in the first one, she got really quiet at the end.

Take 1

Take 2

Noah knows his Old Testament books up to Nahum, but was more interested in playing on the computer than recording. Therefore, we only get the Pentateuch.

Noah must follow the Sadducee philosophy and only thinks the Pentateuch is important.

Lannom wanted in on the fun too. We are working on his Old Testament books. Not bad for a 2 and half year old.

Lannom loves the story of Joshua and Jericho.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I just fix computers

A conversation with Mihaela (age 5) . Her kindergarten class has had some parents come and speak to them about their occupations..

I arrive home. Mihaela jumps up and is very excited.

Mihaela: Daddy, Daddy, can I tell you something?

Me: Sure.

Mihaela: Will you come to my class and talk about email and computers?

Me: I'm not sure that would be exciting.

Mihaela: What exactly do you do again?

Me: I'm a computer programmer.

Mihaela (with all seriousness possible): hmmm...they won't understand that. Just tell them you fix computers.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Autobiography for Community Group

It was my turn to do my autobiography for our Community Group. Basically, it is a way to get to know everyone. I, for all intents and purposes, just redid what I did 15 months ago. So, here is my autobiography. It is still very boring.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Insurance and Health Care is NOT Medical Care

Words mean something. I know in our postmodern age we don't like to recognize the fact that words have definite meanings, but ignoring it doesn't change the reality. As our Democratically controlled congress works to pass a "universal health care" plan I think it is important for us to be sure we first know what it is we actually want and then secondly know what we are getting.

We Americans want to ensure that no person is ever denied medical care because of his inability to pay. This is a moral and worthy goal, after all, we are "our brother's keeper" and we must "love our neighbor as ourselves."

The legislation is being touted by those who look out and see that so many people lack health insurance. The problem, though, is that insurance is not medical care. Insurance should be be a way to pay for unexpected costs. We have been using health insurance, though, in a more hybrid way. We use it to pay for the unexpected costs and the expected, routine costs.

I carry car insurance in case my car unexpectedly gets damaged. My car insurance does NOT cover routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, or fried O2 sensors. I carry home-owners insurance is case a fire or weather unexpectedly causes me to lose my house. My home insurance does not cover routine maintenance to the house such as termite control, replacing batteries in the smoke detectors, etc... Insurance helps me to mitigate the risk of financial loss due to unexpected (and rare) occurrences.

Using health insurance for wellness visits, annual exams, and even (I'm going to get stoned with this one) childbirth labor and delivery costs (usually childbirth is expected - obviously if there is an emergency during that process, then it would be defined as the unexpected cost and be covered by insurance) has helped increase the entire cost of the medical care industry. Because people are not paying directly out of pocket for those routine costs, they don't shop around for the best price and they are more likely to consume the service (i.e., demand for the service increase, but supply stays the prices rise), so the costs of medical care rise.

Another thing that is important it to note is that medical care is NOT health care. Medical care is what doctors can do for you, such as lab tests, surgery, and medications . Health care is what you can do for yourself, such as diet, exercise and lifestyle. Herein lies a truth that the media and the government will not tell you when they compare the "American health care system" to "CountryXYZ health care system". Americans tend to be more obese, consume more drugs and engage in other risky lifestyle choices. So,they do tend to have less "health care."

However, countries with better health care DO NOT have more or better medical care. Compare medical care to those same countries, and America comes out a leader every time. America has four times as many MRI machines per capita than Britain or Canada. There are more than twice as many CT scanners per capita in the United States as in Canada and more than four times as many per capita as in Britain.

The "problem" is that all of this high-tech, advanced equipment and procedures cost money, a lot of money. And therein is trade-off. Selfish, spoiled Americans want the best treatment and equipment money can buy, but they want someone else to pay the cost. So, they whine and complain about the "cost of health care."

The legislation that is being proposed is a reaction from politicians to whining and complaining from the American people. People are upset about our current system of care. What is it that people are most upset about? Well, the cost of medical care and the fact that there are uninsured people out there.

So, the real issue Americans have is not necessarily with the quality or quantity of the medical care, it is with the personal, direct, out-of-pocket cost. They want the best care in the world, but they don't want to invest in good lifestyles or pay for it themselves.

So, we will trade-off an abundance of good, available medical care for an illusion of security so that we can keep our wide screen TVs, our cell phones, our expensive cars, our boats, and the other toys of our luxurious lifestyles. There are dangerous things in this bill and we can't just listen to the media and the politicians. For example, it is now being reveled that it will be illegal to have private medical insurance.

Oh sure, they say that you can still have private insurance. But the text appears to be only allow people who are already insured to keep that insurance. Nobody else would ever be allowed to get a new policy.

Who gets to make the decisions about what medical care you receive? Right now its you and your doctor and your insurance company. If you want to pay with cash, it can be you and your doctor. The most an insurance company can do is say, "We won't pay for that procedure." but they can't prevent you from paying for it. The government can.

Sure, doctors make mistakes. Insurance companies screw up and take advantage of people. Universal health care will not fix these mistakes. People are people and they will make mistakes. But, you can always sue them. When the bureaucrat makes a mistake, can you sue the government? What are the chances of you winning when you have to go before a judge (a government employee) to testify against the government?

Have you seen the bureaucracy you will have to navigate if you have a problem should the House of Rep pass the current "health care" plan? Its a nightmare. And you thought dealing with government workers down at the DMV was bad.

In all that mess, who will be making the choices of what care you get? If we have learned one thing it is that the "party of choice" doesn't really want you to make your decisions. They want to tell you what to eat, what to drink, which doctor to see, which treatments you can take, what you can smoke and not smoke, which drugs you may take, which schools you must send your kids to. As long as you choose what they deem as wise, you have freedom to choose. Do you really think they are going to let you have choice when it comes to your medical care?

To be honest, I feel a bit despondent about the who issue. I feel powerless. I did my part and voted and lost. This is what people think they want. I just hate that I have to suffer because of their poor choices. With a solid majority in the House, a filibuster-proof Senate, and rhetoric-filled, substantive-less President, we will have "Universal Health care."

Just remember, when it came time for the Good Samaritan to "love his neighbor as himself" he lovingly and voluntarily reached into his own pocketbook and paid for the medical care of the beaten Jew. He didn't use the power of his vote to force someone else to pay for it. Its not charity if it is comes from taxes. He was his "brother's keeper."


Monday, July 13, 2009

Are we rich?

After picking up Lannom's medicine at Adam's Drug in Millbrook, we drove by the now vacant Food World building on our way to Wal-Mart. The following conversation took place between me and Mihaela, my 5 year old.

Mihaela: Why did they close the Food World?

Daddy: Because the company went bankrupt.

Mihaela: What's bankrupt?

Daddy: That's when you don't have any more money left.

Mihaela: Wal-mart has money.

Daddy: Wal-mart has LOTS of money.

Mihaela: When you have lots of money your are rich, right?

Daddy: Yes.

Mihaela: Are we rich?

Daddy: God has blessed us beyond anything we can imagine.

Mihaela: So, we're not rich.

I laughed and laughed. No pulling anything over her.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sermon Slides: Respect (plus 1 extra)

Don did a series on Character Traits. One week he spoke about Respect. So, here are some scripture slides I created to go with that theme.

Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.'Romans 12:10

Photo by Penny Mathews found on Stock.xchng

1 Peter 2:17 - 'Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.'1 Peter 2:17

Philippians 2:3 - 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.'Philippians 2:3

Here is one that I did for our baby day that I haven't posted yet.

Psalm 22:30 - 'Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.'Psalm 22:30

As always, click on the thumbnail to get a full-size copy.


Crashes lead to use of Chrome

I have uninstalled FireFox from my computer for a while. My laptop has been crashing with erratic and random errors. According to the response from Microsoft when I submit the error report, it is a device driver problem. So, I contacted DELL who had me run all thier diagnostics from the utility portion of the hard drive. That diagnostic came back clean, so they say it is a software problem and recommend reinstalling the OS and all apps.

I do not want to reinstall the OS and all my apps becuase of a) the time it takes and b) the cusomizations I have done and c) its a brand new computer with a fresh install of everything.

Things I've done:

1) Ran memtest86 the complete test several times. All RAM comes back clean.
2) Ran Microsoft's Memory testing application, the complete test. Comes back succesful.
3) I've scanned for viruses, malware, and spyware using 3 different applications. None found. (no suprise since I am very keen on ensuring that I don't get that stuff).
4) Run two registry cleaners to ensure that there are no registry problems.
5) I have scan disked and defragged several times

I've noticed that it crashes the most when FireFox, Photoshop and Media Shout are all open. But there is no correlation there because it has crashed when none of those are open too. Anyway, it didn't start crashing until after I loaded FireFox. Earlier, I uninstalled and reinstalled FireFox. Now, I have completely uninstalled FireFox, deleted all its directories, and cleared the registry of all things FireFox and have switched to Chrome. We'll see if that helps.

If you're interested. Here is a log of all the crashes. Maybe you can see something that I am missing.

Also, fwiw...I use a program called Super(c) from eRightSoft to convert media. It works like a charm on my old computer. Everytime I use it on the one that is crashing, I get an error message that reads:
Runtime Error!

Program c:\progra~1\eright~1\SUPER\spk\1strRun.exe
This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way. Please contact the application's support team for more information.
If i try to convert a file, this dialog box begins popping up every two or three seconds. It will pop-up a new dialog box faster than I can shut them down.

I have already uninstalled Super and re-downloaded it and reinstalled it to no avail. I unistalled it again. I did contact thier support, but never recieved a reply (which doesn't surprise me since its a free program).

My gut says the two issues are related.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toto's "Africa" like you've never heard before...

This is an incredible piece of work. The Perpetuum Jazzile choir does an acapella version, complete with sound effects that will knock you socks off...

I'd hate to be the sound guy, though...that's a lot of microphones to keep up with. I do like the mic stands...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Destined to repeat it...

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." - Cicero, 55 BC

Thursday, May 07, 2009

No more floods

Torrential rainstorms have been sweeping across southern Alabama. Its been raining for days. As we stood by the back window watching the deluge of water rise in our backyard, Mihaela (age 5) quips: "Didn't God say there would never be any more floods?"

Thus, the questioning of God's power and authority begins...


Friday, April 24, 2009

Ravi Zacharias Quote from Yesterday

This quote has been going through my mind since yesterday. Ravi is talking about Hosea and shared a story of how his brother had an arranged marriage. Ravi asked his brother about how that would work and his brother said that Love is about the will.

Ravi replies with: "Marriage without emotion is a drudgery; without the will, marriage is a mockery. You need both."

I think this is a big problem for so many marriages. People forget that True Love is a combination of both feeling and a single-minded determination. I still get goosebumps and tingly about Erin. There are also times where I have to ignore my natural inclinations and react in understanding and servitude because that is what is best for our marriage.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

There are no scratches

Every Saturday morning I make pancakes with the kids. Mihaela is an expert egg-cracker and beater. Anyway, this morning I opened up the fridge and we were out of Bisquick. I mentioned it to the kids and Mihaela asked "How are we going to make pancakes?" I told her we would just have to make them from scratch.

We pulled out the old Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book found the recipe and went at it. When I served the first batch, Mihaela said, "These don't look like pancakes." I replied, "Yes they do. They are round and tan on both sides. They look just like our regular pancakes."

She said, "But you said these would have scratches. There are not scratches."


Monday, April 06, 2009

Is that Heaven?

While helping my mother-in-law prepare her house to sale, Erin found an old video of some commercials that her father had done 15 or so years ago for a church he was preaching at. Erin's father passed away about 15 months ago, so she wanted to watch the video to hear his voice and remember him.

In the commercial, Gary is spoofing a popular, local car commercial. So, he jumps out in front of the church wearing a crown and in a loud, car commercial voice, talks about the "deals" one gets at his church. Its very funny. If I had a Dazzler I would digitize and upload it.

Anyway, Erin plays the video and Mihaela sees it and yells in her childish excitement, "PAPA!!!" She then turns to me and asks with wonderment, "Is that heaven? Is that his crown?"

Needless to say, we teared up...


Sunday, April 05, 2009

My no good, very bad Sunday

The alarm blared through the sweet nothingness of sleep. I awoke and immediately took in the ambient sounds of drizzling rain peppered with distant beats of thunder. To most people this is not the kind of day one jumps out of bed. Rather, it looked like the kind of day to curl up in front of a warm fire with endless cups of coffee and good novels. However, its Sunday. I have a job to do. A job I love doing. Managing the tech portion of Sunday worship awaits. I jump out of bed and get ready.

It is a typical Sunday morning getting 3 children ready for church. Actually, its a little better than typical. There are no arguments about clothing choices. For the most part the children respond to directions with a sense of urgency, accomplishing their morning tasks of eating breakfast, getting dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, etc... The rain never ceases. Claps of thunder send Lannom (age 2) to my arms as he laughs and says its "scawy."

We make it out to the car in the rain and get to church. Getting kids, computer, bags, and Bibles loaded up in the rain is not pleasant, but manageable. We get to church. The first ones there, as normal. I love being the only one in the church on Sunday mornings. Its relaxing. Its peaceful.

The whole family has jobs to do to get ready for the sound check and video check. We each do our tasks, setting out microphones, turning on equipment, powering up monitors and projectors. Its a finely tuned dance. All is going according to plan.

The first problem crops up when Erin attempts to test the Media Shout script. The script runs, but there is something wrong with the display. It will flash the graphic for about 1/2 a second and then go black until the next cue is fired.

Meanwhile, I have started Media Shout on my laptop because I need to move my announcement script from my computer to the worship laptop and integrate it with the worship script. Problem two arises. When Media Shout starts on my laptop, it immediately begins running the announcement script, on my Primary (and only) display. It takes over my whole screen. I can stop the show, but I can't get to the script or the GUI to tell Media Shout that I want to run in Single Screen mode. See, I had last worked on the announcement script when I had 3 displays running. I had put the management GUI on screen three (to my left). Now, I was at church where I didn't have 3 screens, nor did I have my hardware to make 3 screens. Media Shout was running from screen 3...that I didn't have access to.

I attempted several things to force my computer to ignore the multiple displays to no avail. However, I couldn't focus on that problem. I had to fix the worship laptop. So, I went over and got that working. Not sure what it was, but a reboot and ensuring snug cables solved the problem.

Back to my laptop. After 40 minutes, several reboots, several End Tasks, and monkeying around in the Display Properties, and the ViBook software, I was finally able to force Media Shout to my main (and only Display). I quickly threw some scripture slides into the script and packed it and transferred it. I usually do all this Saturday, but I had been too busy. I can guarantee you that the packed script will be on my USB drive before Sunday morning from here on out.

As all this is going on, the preacher's notes for service arrive via email. Service starts in one hour and the notes are just coming in. Also, one of the other staff members approaches us and wants us to add a picture of the preacher on his wedding day because they want to rib him about turning 40. Also, the video that will be shown during the sermon has just arrived and needs to be incorporated into the script and sound checked. So, with less than one hour to service starting, we have a lot of work to do. While all this is going on, we have two people being trained for working the Tech Team. Erin is attempting to teach Andy how to do all this. He suddenly looks like he is considering "un-volunteering."

Anyway, as the announcement slides roll, I see the one about turning your cellphones down. I remember that I haven't turned mine to vibrate and pull it out of my pocket. I notice I have a little message icon. I check my text messages and it appears that at 1:59 AM, I had received a text notification that my database server at work was down. Nothing I can do about it right now. I have to get the stuff for church done.

As service starts and everything is running smoothly, I establish my VPN to work and attempt to start troubleshooting my crashed server. For some reason, I can't remote desktop to any of my machines. My computer is ignoring my LMHOST and HOST files and returning strange external IP address whenever I try to connect via a host name. I try to connect via IP addresses. I can finally get into some machines, but not the database machine. It appears as if I am going to have to go in to the office. Looks like I will be foregoing my nap today.

After church, I help Erin get the kids home. We feed them. We put them down to rest. I drive 30 minutes in the rain to go to work. The database server is completely locked up. I can't even log on via the console. I then spend 3 hours working on that problem. A failed hard drive in the mirror had caused the crash. After getting the machine back up and verifing the integrity of the data, I went home.

No more problems the rest of the day.